Flipping through the new year's calendar, 2015 is already packing a wallop with entertainment options.

While it's hard to imagine Theatre Cedar Rapids ever topping last summer's "Les Miserables," I loved "Shrek" for the holidays and can't wait for the highflying fun of "Mary Poppins." I saw that show on Broadway on my 50th birthday (trying to reclaim my youth) and it was spectacular. The first national tour, which came through the Des Moines Civic Center shortly thereafter was amazing, as well. I have high hopes for the spoonful of sugar TCR will add in May.

So many wonderful events are on the horizon and others haven't even been announced yet, like Hancher's 2015-16 season. That's the final vagabond season before the University of Iowa's new Hancher Auditorium opens in the fall of 2016.

In the meantime, here are my top 15 for 2015 - so far:

 

1. "MARY POPPINS," May 1 to 30, Theatre Cedar Rapids, 102 Third St. SE. The musical based on the beloved Disney movie opened in London in 2004, hopped across the pond to Broadway in 2006, played for more than 2,500 performances and snapped up seven Tony nominations. Audiences will be transported to London's Cherry Tree Lane in 1910, where the Banks household is in total disarray. Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before "practically perfect" Mary Poppins lands in their lives. With her no-nonsense practicality and a heaping helping of magic, she leads the entire family on a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious journey of discovery. Details: $35 adults, $24 students, Theatrecr.org (Auditions: Kids March 7 and 8, adults March 8 and 9, callbacks March 10)

 

2. MIRANDA LAMBERT, 7:30 p.m. March 14, U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids. Country's reigning queen, a superstar blend of heartfelt lyrics and feisty style, is returning to Eastern Iowa with her "baggage claim" in hand, as well as all her other hits. Among those titles are "Over You," "White Liar," "The House That Built Me" and "Heart Like Mine." In my email interview before her June 2013 sold-out show in Riverside, she talked about the joys that keep her on the road: "There's nothing like playing in front of an audience and having them respond and even sing your own songs back to you. How can you not feel great feeling the positive energies from thousands of people all at once?" Tickets: $52.75 at venue box office, 1-(800) 745-3000 or Uscellularcenter.com

 

3. "KINKY BOOTS," Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St. This multiple-Tony winner promises to lift your spirits to new high-heeled heights. Inspired by a true story, "Kinky Boots" features Tony-winning music by Cyndi Lauper and a book by four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein. It's described as the tale of a struggling shoe factory owner who works to turn his business around with help from Lola, an entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos. Together, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible. Tickets: $43 to $149, Civic Center Ticket Office, 1-(800) 745-3000 or Desmoinesperformingarts.org

 

4. STEVE MILLER BAND, 7:30 p.m. May 22, U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids. Some people call him the space cowboy, some call him the gangster of love. Some just call him Maurice. By any name, he speaks of the pompatus of love (whatever that is). "The Joker" was a gigantic hit for Steve Miller in 1973, and last May, he released a live version to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that album. He also released two new albums in recent years - the 2010 chart-topping blues album "Bingo," and its 2011 successor, "Let Your Hair Down" - the first new Steve Miller Band records in 18 years. I'm ready to fly like an eagle with this hitmaker in May. Tickets: $39.50 to $89.50, center box office, 1-(800) 745-3000 or Uscellularcenter.com

 

5. ISABELLA ROSSELLINI at Mission Creek Festival, March 31 to April 5, downtown Iowa City venues. Celebrating its 10th year of celebrating music, film, literature and food, I'm most excited over the chance to see actress Isabella Rossellini in her one-person show, "Green Porno." It's based on her Web series in which she examines the mating habits of various animals, and features her with giant props and costumes. I especially like her snail get-up. As a side note, the model-turned-actress is working on a master's degree in animal behavior, so it all fits. And did I mention she's Ingrid Bergman's daughter? Play it again, Ms. R. Dates, times, places and individual ticket prices are yet to be announced. Keep an eye out at Missionfreak.com

 

6. BUSH, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8, Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Gavin Rossdale and the gang, celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album, "Sixteen Stone," are touring in support of their latest release, "Man on the Run." The British alt-rockers owned the 1990s, took a 10-year hiatus after releasing "Golden State" in 2001 and came back blazing with "The Sea of Memories" in 2011. Theory of a Deadman opens the show. Tickets: $39.50 to $225, Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com

 

7. JOFFREY BALLET, 7:30 p.m. March 7 and 2 p.m. March 8, University of Iowa's Space Place Theater, 339 N. Madison St., Iowa City. Eastern Iowa loves the Joffrey Ballet. So much so that tickets are sold out for both Hancher performances. Lucky ticketholders will see such diverse chamber works as a pas de deux from "Son of Chamber Symphony" and "After the Rain," as well as a setting of "The Man in Black," with music by Johnny Cash. Hancher.uiowa.edu/joffrey

 

8. "ROMEO & JULIET," 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Orchestra Iowa and Ballet Quad Cities will be romancing Prokofiev's famous rendition of Shakespeare's most famous love story. Perfect pairings all around for the year's most romantic holiday. Tickets: $19 to $49, Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com

 

9. THE B-52S, 8 p.m. Feb. 14, Riverside Casino Event Center, 3184 Highway 22. If you prefer your Valentine's celebration in a "Love Shack," the B-52s are bringing their party music to Riverside. Riding pop's new wave in 1976, the Athens, Ga., band grabbed our attention two years later with "Rock Lobster" and had their biggest hits with "Love Shack" in 1989 and "Roam" in 1990. More than 35 years and 20 million album sales later, the band still is in the studio and on the road. Tickets: $50 to $65 at the Casino Gift Shop or Riversidecasinoandresort.com

 

10. CHEECH & CHONG AND WAR, 8 p.m. Jan. 22, Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. The Paramount will be smokin' with these hot acts in the house. Seems only appropriate to pair up everyone's favorite stoners with the band that brought us "Why Can't We be Friends." The audience will be rolling in the joint over Cheech & Chong's iconic comedy skits, like "Dave's Not Here," combined with "Basketball Jones" in the duo's first reunion tour in more than 25 years. I'm hoping Dancing Star Tommy Chong will throw in a little fancy footwork, too. Tickets: $47 to $81, Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com

 

11. "THE BOOK OF MORMON," Jan. 6 to 11, Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St. One of the most hilarious shows to roll off Broadway and across the country will make converts out of its audiences. If you missed its first trip to Des Moines in 2013, don't miss it this time around. From the makers of "South Park," it's a raunchy and riotous ride as cultures collide during a squeaky-clean Mormon mission trip to an African tribal community where a warlord reigns and horrors run rampant. Tickets: $48 to $150, Civic Center Ticket Office, 1-(800) 745-3000 or Desmoinesperformingarts.org

 

12. BELA FLECK & ABIGAIL WASHBURN, 8 p.m. Feb. 24, Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City. Husband and wife are bringing their dualing banjos with dueling styles to the Englert for a virtuoso evening you have to hear to believe. Fleck bridges classical and jazz realms, creating a sound akin to a harpsichord. Washburn is described as having "the earthy sophistication of a postmodern, old-time singer-songwriter." Sounds like a match made in the musical heavens. Tickets: $35 and $55, Englert Box Office, (319) 688-2653 or Englert.org

 

13. TIM MCGRAW, 8 p.m. July 25, Great Jones County Fair grandstand, Monticello. Thankfully for country music fans, this Louisiana native who studied sports medicine on a baseball scholarship found a better fit swinging his guitar. He's hit home run after home run on his meteoric rise to the pinnacle of success, from "Don't Take the Girl" and "Not a Moment too Soon" in 1994 to "Shotgun Rider" in 2013. Not to mention his unforgettable turns in "The Blind Side" and "Four Christmases" on the silver screen. Tickets: $55 and $65, Greatjonescountyfair.com

 

14. "MAN OF LA MANCHA," 7:30 p.m. June 18 to 21, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre at Brucemore, 2160 Linden Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids. The opera company's Young Artists will be tilting at windmills on their quest for "The Impossible Dream." This is one of my favorite musicals, and I can't wait to see the lovely lawn by the Duck Pond transformed into ye olde Spain of the Inquisition days. Ticket prices to be announced; (319) 362-7375 or Brucemore.org

 

15. "THE BRINTON SILENT FILM PROJECT," 8 p.m. April 25, Red Cedar Chamber Music at CSPS Hall, 1130 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids. More than 20 short silent films - ranging from comedy and magic to drama with special effects - will spring to life to music by 19th- and 20th-century composers, performed by the Red Cedar Chamber Music ensemble. For some extra flair, four films are set to new music written for this project by Harvey Sollberger of Strawberry Point. Tickets: $15 advance, $18 door, $5 student rush, (319) 364-1580 or Legionarts.org Details: Redcedar.org

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com