A host of famous faces is headed to the Central Coast this season.
The star-studded list includes “A Prairie Home Companion” humorist Garrison Keillor, “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and musical icons Jackson Browne, Dr. John and Dean Torrence, half of the legendary surf duo Jan & Dean. There are tributes to Barbra Streisand and John Denver.
Local venues will also welcome African chorus members, Australian puppeteers, Chinese acrobats and Russian ballet dancers.
Here is a sampling of the events coming to Central Coast venues in January and February.
"Hair: A Celebration of Peace and Love!"
Cohan Center, Cal Poly, Jan. 10 ($30 to $84)
“Let the Sunshine In” with this exuberant rock musical set during the 1960s.
Winner of the 2009 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, “Hair” follows a group of bohemian hippies in New York who practice a lifestyle of pacifism, free love and long-flowing locks in a society constrained by violence and intolerance. Through chart-topping hits such as “Aquarius,” “Good Morning Starshine” and, of course, “Hair,” they comment on the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution and race relations.
The Peking Acrobats
Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Jan. 11 ($39 to $48)
China’s most gifted contortionists, cyclists, gymnasts, jugglers and tumblers return for another evening of family-friendly fun.
A regular fixture at the Clark Center, the elite Chinese troupe demonstrates dexterity, grace and strength with stunts that “push the envelope of human possibility ... and twist you around in your seat,” according to The New York Post.
Their feats, both visually thrilling and physically demanding, stem from a 2,000-year-old acrobatic tradition.
California Missions Tour
Jan. 12, Mission San Miguel; Jan. 12, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa; Jan. 13, Mission Santa Barbara ($15 to $35 per concert)
Violinist Shunske Sato joins the San Luis Obispo Symphony Chamber Players for three concerts celebrating the music of the California missions.
Featured on the program are Antonio Vivaldi’s Baroque masterpiece,“The Four Seasons,” and “Ecos armónicos,” a modern composition by Cal Poly music professor Craig Russell inspired by the secular and sacred music that resonated through California’s missions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
San Luis Obispo Jewish Film Festival
Palm Theatre, Jan. 12 and 13 ($10 to $72, passes $92 to $118)
Actor/director Richard Benjamin is slated to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Jewish Film Festival, returning to San Luis Obispo for a third year.
Benjamin, who won a Golden Globe Award for his turn in “The Sunshine Boys,” has appeared in more than 40 films, including “Catch-22,” “Portnoy’s Complaint” and “Westworld.” He’s also directed 21 movies, such as “Mermaids,” “The Money Pit” and “My Favorite Year.”
In addition to two receptions, the festival features screenings of six films about Jewish culture — “Broken Promise,” “Goodbye, Columbus,” “Hava Nagila,” “Music Man Murray,” “Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria” and “Sara of Rhodes” — paired with conversations with the filmmakers.
Spanos Theatre, Jan. 18 ($30, $23 students)
As the host of TV’s “Dangerous Encounters,” National Geographic Channel reptile expert Brady Barr sometimes finds himself in some pretty sticky situations.
In addition to losing a finger and breaking his arm, wrist, leg and back, Barr has been bitten by everything from crocodiles to giant snakes. He recently survived an attack by a 12-foot reticulated python while working in waist-deep guano inside a bat cave in Indonesia.
Barr will share some of his harrowing experiences during this informative, engaging talk.
"Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It"
Cohan Center, Jan. 19 ($50 to $90)
Step inside the mind of one of show business’s most prolific performers.
Best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek” and the title role in “T.J. Hooker,” William Shatner won a Golden Globe Award and two Emmy Awards for his portrayal of attorney Denny Crane on “The Practice” and “Boston Legal.” More recently, the 81-year-old actor hosted an interview show, “Shatner’s Raw Nerve,” and appeared in the sitcom “$#*! My Dad Says.”
Shatner will discuss his career as an actor, director, producer and Priceline.com spokesman in his one-man show, “Shatner’s World.”
Unity of San Luis Obispo, Jan. 18 through Feb. 3 ($20, $14 children)
Kelrik Productions kicks off its 2013 season with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that revolutionized the theater world.
Based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” “Cats” takes place at the Jellicle Ball, where the eldest of the Jellicle cats, Old Deuteronomy, must decide which of the furry felines in the neighborhood will be reborn. Ultimately, Grizabella’s plea for a new life — “Memory” — wins him over.
Other Kelrik shows this season include “The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and stage adaptations of Disney’s “Tarzan” and “The Little Mermaid.”
"Late Nite Catechism"
Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Jan. 19 ($39 to $48)
School’s back in session in “Late Night Catechism,” a hilarious Catholic school spoof that transforms audience members into students in an adult catechism class.
Over the course of the play, the irrepressible Sister goes from a benevolent instructor who rewards her ‘students” for correct answers with glow-in-the-dark rosaries and laminated saint cards, to an authoritative drill sergeant. Her abrupt mood swings are sure to strike a chord with anyone who survived teachers, books and dirty looks.
Claire Lynch Band
Clark Center, January 26 ($28 to $38)
Bluegrass beckons in the form of the Claire Lynch Band.
Led by Claire Lynch, the former frontwoman of the Front Porch String Band and winner of two International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year awards, the group continually pushes the boundaries of the bluegrass genre — creating a seasoned sound that is simultaneously unpretentious and sophisticated.
Come hear the bluegrass songstress that country icon Dolly Parton calls “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.”
Jackson Browne Acoustic
Cohan Center, Feb. 4 ($51 to $86)
Legendary singer-songwriter Jackson Browne brings his 2013 Acoustic Tour to San Luis Obispo.
Playing guitar and piano, Jackson will perform unplugged songs spanning his entire body of work, which includes “Doctor My Eyes,” “The Pretender,” “Running On Empty“ and “Somebody’s Baby.” (Browne also co-wrote the hit Eagles song “Take It Easy.”)
Known for his environmental and political activism, Browne was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.
Feb. 8, SLO Brewing Co. ($40, $45 at the door)
Delve deep into the rich musical heritage of New Orleans with the Crescent City’s favorite son.
Five-time Grammy Award winner Mac Rebennack kicked off his colorful musical career in New Orleans in the 1950s writing and playing guitar on recordings by the likes of Art Neville and Professor Longhair. Switching to organ and piano, he went west in the 1960s to record with Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison.
Rebennack launched his solo career with his 1968 album “Gris-Gris,” establishing his voodoo-flavored alter ego — Dr. John, the Night Tripper — and his unique blend of funk, rhythm & blues and Creole-rooted psychedelic rock.
"Cocktails with Larry Miller: Little League, Adultery & Other Bad Ideas"
Cohan Center, Feb. 9 ($30 to $75)
Comedian Larry Miller might have one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces.
A recurring character on “Boston Legal” and “Law & Order,” Miller has appeared in more than 50 films, including “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries.” He’s also known for his appearances in Christopher Guess’s mockumentary movies, including “Best in Show” and “Waiting For Guffman.”
His one-man show, which tackles marriage, children, drinking and other ticklish subjects, combines Miller’s comedy, acting and musical abilities in a fresh, funny way. The performance benefits charities supported by Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
The Jan & Dean Show
Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Feb. 9 ($39 to $48)
A wave of sun-kissed nostalgia brings Dean Torrence and The Surf City Allstars to the Central Coast.
As the influential pop duo Jan & Dean, Torrence and Jan Berry released some of surf music’s most enduring hits in the late 1950s and ’60s, including “Barbara Ann,” “Dead Man’s Curve,” “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” and “Sidewalk Surfin’.” Their biggest hit, “Surf City,” was co-written by The Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson.
The group reunited in the 1980s, but their comeback was cut short by Berry’s death in 2004. Now Torrence carries on the Jan & Dean legacy.
Cohan Center, Feb. 13 ($30 to $78)
One of America’s most beloved humorists returns for a solo evening of folksy anecdotes and witty observations.
A prolific author, essayist and performer who also owns a St. Paul, Minn., bookstore and publishes poetry collections, Keillor writes and hosts two radio shows: “A Prairie Home Companion,” produced by American Public Media, and NPR’s “The Writer’s Almanac.” His latest books include the detective fiction spoof “Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny,” the short story collection “Life Among the Lutherans” and the novel “Pilgrims: A Woebegon Romance.”
African Children’s Choir
Cohan Center, Feb. 26 ($21 to $48)
Formed in 1984 by human rights activist Ray Barnett, the first African Children’s Choir featured orphaned and vulnerable children from the Kampala and Luwero regions of Uganda. Proceeds from that first tour funded the purchase of a children’s home in Kampala.
Over the years, the choir has performed with the likes of Josh Groban and Wyclef Jean while raising funds for education, agriculture and medical aid programs throughout Africa.
MORE EVENTS COMING SOON TO THE CENTRAL COAST
W. Terrence Spiller
Spanos Theatre, Jan. 11. The Cal Poly Music Department chair and pianist focuses on the music of Ludwig van Beethoven in this benefit recital. ($12, $9 seniors and students)
The American String Quartet
Spanos Theatre, Jan. 12. Join the American String Quartet — Peter Winograd, Laurie Carney, DAniel Avshalomov and Wolfram Koessel — for the next chapter in their innovative Beethoven Cycle. ($45, $36 students)
San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, Jan. 11 to 27. The Academy of Creative Theatre teaches families about tolerance and acceptance in this musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling.” ($15, $13 students)
“The Fox on the Fairway”
Great American Melodrama, Jan. 24 to March 10. “Lend Me a Tenor” playwright Ken Ludwig penned this charming, madcap farce about love, life and man’s obsession with golf. ($18 to $22)
Cohan Center, Jan. 25. Known for his interpretations of the works of French composers, the Louisiana-based organist sits down at the acclaimed Forbes Pipe Organ for the first time. ($17 to $33)
“Bach in the Mission III”
Mission San Luis Obispo, Jan. 26. Soprano Elissa Johnston and oboist Paul Sherman join the Cal Poly Early Music Ensemble for a chamber music concert featuring J.S. Bach’s most engaging works. ($14, $12 seniors, $9 students)
Avner the Eccentric
Cal Poly Pavilion, Feb. 1. Described as a “thinking man’s clown,” Avner Eisenberg uses physical comedy to create a charismatic performance that touches the heart. (Tickets to be announced)
Spanos Theatre, Feb. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9. Cal Poly’s Orchesis Dance Company explores the power and elegance of the human condition with dynamic choreography in a number of styles. ($14 to $17)
Cohan Center, Feb. 2. The San Luis Obispo Symphony evokes the exotic, enchanting “One Thousand and One Nights,” with “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. ($20 to $75)
St. Olaf Choir
Cohan Center, Feb. 6 . With 75 mixed voices, the St. Olaf Choir is considered one of the finest college a cappella choirs in the United States. ($14 to $44)
“The Streisand Songbook”
Clark Center, Feb. 7. Singer-songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway celebrates the music of Barbra Streisand with a song-studded program that spans the musical icon’s career. ($43 to $49)
Cohan Center, Feb. 8 The Russian National Ballet Theatre company celebrates the timeless tradition of classical Russian ballet with Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty.” ($21 to $56)
ERTH: Dinosaur Petting Zoo
Cohan Center, Feb. 14. Discover the fascinating world of prehistoric Australia with this one-of-a-kind show featuring giant lifelike puppets. ($16 to $23)
“Watergate and Other Solid Gold Hits!”
SLO Little Theatre, Feb. 15 to March 24. From the creative team behind “My Generation” and “This is Rock ’n’ Roll: The Alan Freed Story” comes a new musical featuring the hottest hits of the 1970s. ($35)
The Big Laugh
Atascadero Lake Pavilion, Feb. 16. Stand-up comic Orny Adams (MTV’s “Teen Wolf”) headlines a night of fiercely funny comedy. Also performing are Bill Dwyer, Mrs. Hughes, Lizette Mizelle and Myk Powell. ($30, $35 at the door)
Russian National Orchestra
Cohan Center, Feb. 16. Led by conductor Andrey Rubstov and pianist Daniil Trifonov, this acclaimed orchestra performs works by Bedřich Smetana, Sergei Prokofiev and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. ($30 to $64)
“Take Me Home: The Music of John Denver”
Clark Center, Feb. 16. In this tribute to the famed singer-songwriter, Jim Curry pours his heart into “Rocky Mountain High,” “Annie’s Song,” “Calypso” and other popular songs. ($34 to $42)
“ Flamenco Vivo!”
Cohan Center, Feb. 18. Spanish master guitarist Paco Peña brings the sexy, passionate flamenco to life with the help of dazzling dancers. ($30 to $54)
Severson Theatre, PCPA Theaterfest, Feb. 21 to March 17. In William Shakespeare’s magical play, Prospero, the wrongly banished ruler of Milan, must decide whether to use his mystic arts to revenge or to forgive. ($20 to $32.50)
ATASCADERO LAKE PAVILION
9315 Pismo Ave., Atascadero
CLARK CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Clark Center for the Performing Arts
487 Fair Oaks Ave.,Arroyo Grande
COHAN CENTER, SPANOS THEATRE and PAVILION, PERFORMING ARTS CENTER at CAL POLY
1 Grand Ave., San Luis Obispo
GREAT AMERICAN MELODRAMA & VAUDEVILLE
1863 Front St. (Highway 1), Oceano
MISSION SAN MIGUEL
775 Mission St., San Miguel
MISSION SAN LUIS OBISPO DE TOLOSA
751 Palm St., San Luis Obispo
MISSION SANTA BARBARA
2201 Laguna St., Santa Barbara
817 Palm St., San Luis Obispo
PEWTER PLOUGH PLAYHOUSE
824 Main St., Cambria
927-3877, www.pewterplough playhouse.org
SAN LUIS OBISPO LITTLE THEATRE
888 Morro St., San Luis Obispo
SEVERSON THEATRE, PCPA THEATERFEST
800 S. College Drive, Santa Maria
SLO BREWING COMPANY
1119 Garden St., San Luis Obispo
UNITY OF SAN LUIS OBISPO
1490 Southwood Drive, San Luis Obispo