Artistic gems will sparkle in the spotlight for Hancher’s 45th anniversary season.

“That’s the year of the sapphire, and who doesn’t like a sapphire? The qualities of sapphire are loyalty, love, sincerity — and all those things really speak about Hancher,” said Chuck Swanson, Hancher’s executive director.

One of Broadway’s brightest stars enjoyed his Hancher experience so much last spring that he’s coming back with more. Leslie Odom Jr., who shot to fame playing Aaron Burr in “Hamilton,” will bring his band to Hancher Green at 7 p.m. Oct. 1. And unlike “Hamilton” tickets, this one’s free. Just bring your blankets and chairs — and note that the concert has been rescheduled from the previously announced date of Sept. 14.

The season launches Aug. 24 and 25 with dance from New York’s Monica Bill Barnes and Company (see story on pages 8 and 9), continuing Hancher’s tradition as a groundbreaking dance presenter.

“Hancher has a very long history with dance,” Swanson said. “It really started back in the ’80s with our relationship with the Joffrey, but over the years, Hancher’s presented dance from all over the world. Dancers love the big stage, the backstage area, the stage floor itself.”

The Joffrey helped christen the new Hancher Auditorium last year by presenting Christopher Wheeldon’s Chicago World’s Fair-flavored “Nutcracker” ballet. This year, the New York City Ballet will make its first Hancher appearances Oct. 24 and 25, featuring Iowa City native Miriam Miller.

Other season highlights include:

Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first trip to Hancher since 1982, coming May 6.

The Broadway touring trifecta of “The King and I” from Oct. 10 to 14; “Motown the Musical” March 1 to 4; and “Kinky Boots” from April 13 to 15.

Violinist Joshua Bell on Oct. 20. “He’s just a brilliant player and young and very charismatic, too,” Swanson said. “People can really relate to him. (That’s) another experience that will be in the memory book.”

The return of megastars: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a gala event Sept. 22; Straight No Chaser with a sold-out concert Dec. 8; Canadian fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy on Dec. 13; Broadway’s Brian Stokes Mitchell, with the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra on March 28; and Taylor Mac, with another chapter from “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged)” on April 28.

And “Embracing Complexity,” a two-year multidisciplinary series celebrating Islamic art, culture and Muslim artists.

GET OUT!

SEASON: Hancher.uiowa.edu/2017-18
LOCATION: 141 E. Park Rd., Iowa City
TICKETS: Hancher Box Office, (319) 335-1160, 1-(800) HANCHER or Hancher.uiowa.edu/tickets