Kent, Wash. – August 29, 2005 – The Kent Arts Commission is proud to announce its 2005-2006 Spotlight Series performing arts season. The season, which begins in September and runs through April 2006, features music, theater, dance and family performances from well-known artists and rising stars. Fourteen performances on three stages offer something for every interest and all ages. From a country music legend to African acrobats, from a jazz trio to Hawaii’s ukulele sensation, from zydeco music to fiery flamenco dancers and more, Spotlight Series delivers first-class entertainment!

Spotlight Series kicks off on Saturday, September 17 with In the Mood. This 1940’s musical takes a retro look at the life and times of America’s greatest generation. Singers, dancers and the sensational String of Pearls big band orchestra deliver the music that an entire generation listened and danced to, from up-tempo rhythms to intimate ballads. Authentic costumes and choreography put the finishing touches on re-creating this sentimental and romantic era. In the Mood is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Kentwood High School Performing Arts Center, 25800 164th Ave. SE, Covington.

Hawaii’s young ukulele sensation, Jake Shimabukuro performs on Saturday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Kent-Meridian High School Performing Arts Center, 10020 SE 256th St., Kent. Known for his lightening-fast fingers and innovative style, 27 year-old Shimabukuro is considered a ukulele virtuoso. He has dazzled audiences throughout Hawaii, Asia and the American mainland and has been featured in USA Today, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Sunset Magazine, Los Angeles Times and, most recently, Associated Press declared, “Jake Shimabukuro is perched on the verge of stardom.” Jake’s repertoire includes rock, blues, jazz, classical, funk and swing, and his renditions of songs by Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Beethoven and the Beatles provide new insight into what the humble four-stringed, two-octave ukulele is capable of.

Former Ray Charles trumpeter and South King County local, Bobby Medina comes to Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center on Sunday, December 4 at 3 p.m. Medina is joined by his Red Hot Band for a not-to-be-missed holiday concert featuring exciting renditions of holiday favorites from around the globe, as well as music from their Vegas style variety show. Diana Ruiz will add award-winning vocals.

The enchanting Yuletide music of Pam and Philip Boulding and their five children is a treasured tradition throughout the Northwest. Performing on Celtic harps, hammered dulcimers, whistles, strings, percussion and instruments from around the world, the Bouldings present Kent’s 19th annual Magical Strings Celtic Yuletide Concert on Sunday, December 11 at 3 p.m. at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center. Irish dancing, drumming and storytelling by special guests add to the memorable performance.

The Big Time is a wild and fun family musical with songs by a real pop star! Imagine Toy Story meets FAME, crossed with Spinal Tap! Best pals Lamp, Sock and Vacuum Cleaner form a three-guitar band and become a rockin’ household hit. Written by NPR host John Moe, with songs by Chris Ballew of pop band, The Presidents of the United States of America, The Big Time is performed by theater simple at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center on Saturday, January 7 at 2 p.m.

Seattle-based theater simple also presents 52 Pick Up on Saturday, January 7. This intimate showpiece of acting, improvisation and human emotion features one woman and one man navigating the events of their relationship. At the top of the show, the performers throw a deck of cards in the air. Each card has the title of a scene written on it and the performance is determined by chance as the cards are picked up throughout the show. No two shows are ever alike, but they always serve from side-splitting comedy to wistful poignancy to quiet heartbreak in the proverbial turn of a card. 52 Pick Up, which is not recommended for ages under 13 due to adult language and situations, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center.

Cantabile delights audiences with their unique blend of comedy and classics on Friday, February 3 at 8 p.m. at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center. This London-based vocal quartet breaks all musical boundaries, taking audiences from jazz to madrigals, from folk to Broadway, from Mozart to Elvis to Elton John – all with their signature mix of musical virtuosity and British humor. Cantabile has 13 solo albums, more than 2,000 live performances and 200 TV appearances to their credit. They have performed aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2, in New York's Carnegie Hall and at the Opera in the Covent Garden Festival to name a few venues.

Led by Jeni’s powerful and honest voice, the Jeni Fleming Acoustic Trio defies easy classification. Whether they perform folksy, acoustic renditions of Jerry Jeff Walker, or rock out with a pop cover of Cyndi Lauper, the jazz comes out in every tune. Capable of delivering classical and jazz in one breath, breezy folk tunes and vibrant original pop in another, the Trio is winning the hearts of audiences from coast to coast. They perform at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center on Friday, February 10 at 8 p.m.

Spotlight Series hosts Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience for a hot-off-the-bayou Mardi Gras celebration on ‘Fat Tuesday,” February 28. Terrance Simien is a master of zydeco, an exotic blend of musical sounds and cultures that reflect the mixed African, French, Spanish and Indian heritage of the Creole people of south Louisiana. A remarkable songwriter and singer, Simien is often compared to Aaron Neville and Al Green. He and his band bring contemporary influences of rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and funk to the zydeco art form and were named one of Billboard magazine’s “Top Ten Performance Acts of the Year.” They perform at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m.

Sarakasi African Acrobats perform at Kentwood Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 10. Sarakasi is a new and unique African Cirque Show, featuring native African acrobats, dancers and musicians. A fusion of cultures from Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia, this authentic African circus is performed with authentic choreography, music and costumes.

Another enchanting performance for children, Missoula Children’s Theatre’s “Robin Hood” comes to Spotlight Series on Saturday, March 11. Local students team up with professional actors to bring this charming tale to life in two performances (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.) after only one week of intensive rehearsals. Robin Hood and his Merry Band set out to rescue Maid Marion, encountering a variety of colorful characters along the way. Wacky humor and an original score add to this fresh new look at a legendary outlaw. Performances take place at Glenridge Elementary, 19405 120th Ave. SE, Renton.

One-man extravaganza Tomas Kubinek performs mind-boggling miracles and surreal feats of the most virtuosic variety at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. His theatrics are executed with conviction and charm, reducing people of all ages to giggles, howls and screams of delight. Kubinek’s internationally acclaimed performances play to packed theaters around the world. After a sold-out run on Broadway, The New York Times lauded his work as “Absolutely expert!” As actor or acrobat, conjuror or clown, he is a consummate master of whimsy who beautifully balances the absurd and the profound.

Kathy Mattea is one of country music’s most distinctive and critically acclaimed artists. She performs at Kentwood Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 2. Mattea’s 20-year career has landed her two Grammy awards, two Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year awards and her song Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses was named CMA Single of the Year. Folk, bluegrass and Celtic influences set Mattea apart from her country music peers, and she has fiercely loyal fans both inside and outside the country music community. In an era of grandstanding artistry and pop celebrities who change with each new trend, Kathy Mattea has remained grounded in who she is: A folk-based roots performer and a well-written song’s best friend.

Internationally renowned Carmona Flamenco presents a lively mixture of traditional and contemporary Spanish Gypsy art at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center on Saturday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. This evening of fiery flamenco features colorful dances, soulful songs and riveting instrumentals. For more than twenty years, Seattle-based Carmona Flamenco has performed throughout Spain and the United States, sharing with audiences the precision and passion of flamenco.

Many of the Spotlight Series artists will also conduct educational activities in conjunction with their performances. Jeni Fleming will present a music workshop for local students, theater simple will offer a series of classes for high school drama students, Cantabile will incorporate local choir students into their performance and Terrance Simien will present “Creole for Kidz” as a school assembly. These activities are part of the Kent Art Commission’s Spotlight on Arts In-School Education Program.

Tickets for all Spotlight Series performances are on sale now at the Kent Commons, 525 4th Avenue North, Kent, or by phone with a Visa or Mastercard during business hours at (253) 856-5050. Spotlight Series is presented by the Kent Arts Commission and Kent Parks, Recreation and Community Services and partially sponsored by 4Culture, WESTAF and a variety of business and individual sponsors. For information call (253) 856-5050 or visit


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