Sometimes, the Central Coast simply seems blessed. Not only are we graced with beautiful scenery and pleasant winter weather, but we also benefit from an amazing performing arts scene.
This winter, local audiences will experience gifted comedians, dancers, musicians and singers — even a celebrity chef. Here are just some of the great acts performing in San Luis Obispo County in January and February.
Cohan Center, Cal Poly, Jan. 10 ($35.80 to $85)
Before Mandy Patinkin dazzled movie audiences as swordfighter Inigo Montoya in “The Princess Bride” or wowed television fans as CIA chief Saul Berenson on “Homeland,” he was a Broadway sensation. In fact, he won a Tony Award for his 1980 Broadway debut as Che in the blockbuster musical “Evita.”
The Emmy Award winner, whose screen credits include “Chicago Hope,” “Criminal Minds” and “Dead Like Me,” returns to the stage for his one-man show “Dress Casual,” accompanied by pianist Paul Ford.
“Country Royalty: A Tribute to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline”
Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Jan. 11 ($29 to $45)
Tennessee native Jason Petty has always idolized Hank Williams, portraying the country star in “Hank Williams: Lost Highway” and saluting him in “Hank & My Honky Tonky Heroes” and “The Swingin’ Cowboys: A Tribute to the Music of the Great American West.”
His latest tribute, “Country Royalty,” stars Petty as Williams and Grammy Award-nominated Western swing singer Carolyn Martin as Patsy Cline. Together, the two channel their heroes, performing more than 20 chart-topping hits backed by a live band.
Cohan Center, Jan. 15 ($32.60 to $58)
Whether dealing with a difficult dinner, a crummy cook or a struggling restaurateur, celebrity chef Robert Irvine is up to any challenge.
Irvine, who honed his kitchen skills in the British Royal Navy, is best known for his appearances on the Food Network shows “Dinner: Impossible,” “Restaurant: Impossible” and “Worst Cooks in America.” Now he’s taking his no-nonsense approach to cooking on the road in a show that features elaborate cooking challenges, a question-and-answer session and plenty of audience participation.
“Some Enchanted Evening”
San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, Feb. 14 through March 16 ($35)
Few names evoke Broadway’s Golden Age as immediately as “Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
One of the most successful songwriting teams in musical theater history, composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II created “The Sound of Music,” “South Pacific” and “Oklahoma!” among other shows. They won 34 Tonys, 15 Academy Awards, two Grammys and a Pulitzer Prize.
Celebrate their songs with “Some Enchanted Evening,” an intimate musical revue directed by Kevin Harris.
Internet Cat Video Festival
Cohan Center, Jan. 21 ($10 to $20)
Calling all feline fanatics! The Internet Cat Video Festival is the purrfect way to celebrate your love of cute, cuddly kitties.
At the heart of this social media-fueled festival is a 75-minute reel of 85 cat videos ranging from six-second Vine videos to short films. Also featured are a cat-themed costume contest, cat-related vendors and representatives from local animal shelters and humane societies.
Proceeds benefit the Cal Poly Cat Program, which cares for feral cats found on the campus.
“In My Life: A Musical Theatre Tribute to The Beatles”
Clark Center, Jan. 25 ($29 to $45)
Tribute band Abbey Road brings the legacy of legendary rock band The Beatles to life in this family-friendly musical biography.
More than a simple tribute concert, “In My Life” tracks pivotal moments from the Beatles’ extraordinary career, transporting audiences from Liverpool’s Cavern Club to Shea Stadium in New York City to the rooftop of their Apple Corp. offices in London. (Beatles manager Brian Epstein serves as the narrator.) The soundtrack likewise spans the gamut from sweet to psychedelic to raucous.
Cohan Center, Jan. 23 ($99 to $135)
Standup comic Jerry Seinfeld appeared regularly on late-night television in the 1980s.
His eponymous sitcom “Seinfeld” dominated the airwaves in the 1990s. In 2012, his Emmy Award-nominated Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” took the Internet by storm.
Now Seinfeld is returning to the stage, embarking on a massive standup tour. Central Coast audiences have two chances to catch the Golden Globe Award-winning comedian.
The Irish Rovers
Cohan Center, Jan. 28 ($20 to $38)
After nearly 50 years on the road, the popular Canadian-Irish Celtic band is bidding “farewell to rovin’ ” with one final international tour.
Founded in 1963 in Toronto, the group is known for its rollicking reels, jigs and ballads, including “Black Velvet Band,” “Wasn’t That A Party,” “The Unicorn” and “The Orange and the Green.”
Cohan Center, Feb. 5 and 6 ($29.20 to $58)
Founded in 1993, this Quebec-based contemporary circus troupe has presented almost 4,000 performances in more than 440 cities and 40 countries.
In Cirque Éloize’s latest show, the dreamlike “Cirkopolis,” 12 aerial artists, acrobats, contortionists and jugglers must bring color and creativity to a grim, grey factory-city. Innovative set design is paired with video projections and an original musical score.
Cohan Center, Feb. 9 ($35 to $90)
Back in 2007, a man walked into a Washington, D.C., subway station and pulled out his violin. Only a handful of people paused to listen to his 43-minute performance, and just one person recognized him. He collected about $32.
That baseball cap-clad busker was Grammy-winning violinist Joshua Bell, considered one of the finest musicians on the planet.
Audiences should have no trouble recognizing Bell when he performs with British pianist Sam Haywood. After all, who could miss a couple of virtuosos?
Cohan Center, Feb. 17 ($38 to $85)
Known for their luscious harmonies, slick outfits and smooth-stepping choreography, the R&B group The Temptations found fame in 1964 with the Top 20 hit “The Way You Do the Things You Do.” Countless other hits followed, including “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”
Six members of The Temptations were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
Bahia Orchestra Project
Cohan Center, Feb. 21 ($14 and $12 general, $12 and $9 seniors and students)
Established in 2007 by Brazilian pianist and conductor Ricardo Castro, the government-sponsored Bahia Orchestra Project, making its North American debut, seeks to expose children to symphonic music.
Accompanied by Jean Yves Thibaudet on piano, the young musicians perform popular Brazilian dance music arranged for full symphony orchestra and Brazilian percussion. Dancing drummers pump up the party atmosphere.
Elvin Bishop with James Cotton and Paul Thorn
Cohan Center, Feb. 27 ($29.20 to $59)
Three extraordinary artists come together for one amazing night.
Guitarist-singer Elvin Bishop, who has performed with the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead, mixes blues, rock and barroom boogie. Grammy-winning harmonica player James Cotton has played with a long line of blues greats.
Roots singer-songwriter Paul Thorn, meanwhile, has been hailed as the “Mark Twain of Americana.”
Cal Poly Rec Center, Jan. 31 ($40 to $50)
Imagine being trapped in a snowstorm, your only guide the persistent beat of electronic dance music.
DJ Steve Aoki headlines this leg of the Winter White Tour, with other acts yet to be announced.
The all-ages winter wonderland features a mind-melting laser show, a snowflake-spangled photo booth and Winter White yetis interacting with hundreds of white-clad concertgoers. It’s a flurry of fun activities under one roof.
Fremont Theatre, Feb. 25 ($30 to $40)
The Baltimore filmmaker, author and artist behind “Hairspray” and “Pink Flamingos” is back with the latest version of his one-man show, “This Filthy World: Filthier & Dirtier.”
In the spoken-word show, the man that Beat icon William S. Burroughs dubbed “the Pope of Trash” offers a comprehensive retrospective of his entire career, dissecting his upbringing, his obsessions and his films.
MORE UPCOMING WINTER ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS
W. Terrence Spiller
Spanos Theatre, Jan. 11. The pianist and Cal Poly Music Department chair performs music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Béla Bartók, Frédéric Chopin and Maurice Ravel at a benefit recital. ($12, $9 seniors and students)
San Luis Obispo Jewish Film Festival
Palm Theatre, Jan. 11 and 12. Honor “Local Hero” actor Peter Riegert and watch his feature-length directorial debut, “King of the Corner,” at this festival dedicated to Jewish culture. ($10 to $72, $118 to $150 festival passes)
Spanos Theatre, Jan. 16. Director Keo Woolford will be on hand for the screening of his movie about a lounge performer who prepares a group of high school boys for a traditional hula festival. ($10 to $18)
Fine Arts Quartet
Spanos Theatre, Jan. 17. The fifth concert in the six-part Beethoven Cycle series features the elite Fine Arts Quartet, founded in 1946. ($38.40 to $47)
Great American Melodrama, Jan. 23 through March 9. This madcap musical revolves around two bachelors and a jilted lover reincarnated as a pizza delivery girl. ($18 to $24, discounts for children, seniors, students and active military)
“Bach in the Mission IV"
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, Jan. 25. Cal Poly’s Early Music Ensemble joins students, faculty members and professional guest artists to play music by Johann Sebastian Bach. ($14, $12 seniors and $9 students)
Cohan Center, Jan. 26. The Cal Poly organist presents his fourth Forbes Pipe Organ recital. Also performing is the Cal Poly Early Music Ensemble. ($16.80 to $35)
Cohan Center, Jan. 27. Nominated for two Grammy Awards, the Australian guitarist is known for his distinctive finger style. ($20 to $38)
“The Frog Prince”
Clark Center, Jan. 28. The California Theater Center presents a stage version of the classic fairytale about a vain princess and her amphibian friend. Recommended for kindergarten through fifth grade. ($10.05)
Clark Center, Jan. 29. Back by popular demand, this Chinese troupe features cyclists, contortionists, gymnasts, jugglers and tumblers. ($39 to $48)
Spanos Theatre, Jan. 31, Feb. 1, 6, 7 and 8. Diverse, dynamic dances abound at the Orchesis Dance Company’s 44th anniversary concert. ($12 to $20)
“A Sensational Century”
Cohan Center, Feb. 1. Robert Thies joins the San Luis Obispo Symphony to perform moving music by Béla Bartók, Samuel Barber and Sergei Rachmaninoff. ($20 to $75)
“In the Mood”
Clark Center, Feb. 5. This showcase, which includes period costumes and choreography, pays tribute to Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and other big band greats. ($36 to $48)
Clark Center, Feb. 6. Song, dance and storytelling are used to celebrate the rich history and heritage of Ireland. ($35 to $46)
PAC Open Keyboard
Cohan Center, Feb. 7. Community members are invited to play the Forbes Pipe Oregon during this Art After Dark outreach event. (free)
“A Night at the Mission”
Mission San Luis Obispo, Feb. 8. This benefit concert features performances by several Cal Poly chamber groups, including a clarinet ensemble, brass and flute choirs, and saxophone and string quartets. ($12, $9 seniors and students)
Cohan Center, Feb. 8. The Moscow Festival Ballet performs the romantic ballet about a young peasant girl overcome by love. ($30 to $66)
Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks
Cohan Center, Feb. 8. Vocalist Kim Nazarian and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra pay tribute to the “First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald. ($29 to $56)
“The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark”
Marian Theatre, PCPA Theaterfest, Feb. 13 through March 2. Troubled prince Hamlet must avenge his father’s death in William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, best suited for ages 12 and up. ($15.50 to $32.50)
“The Vagina Monologues”
Pavilion, Feb. 14, 15 and 16. Performances of Eve Ensler’s play, which celebrates female sexuality, have become a St. Valentine’s Day tradition. (TBA)
Clark Center, Feb. 15. Canada’s award-winning neo-folk group is one of roots music’s most adventurous bands. ($29 to $39)
Cohan Center, Feb. 16. Known for his covers of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” this ukulele wizard is touring in support of his album “Grand Ukulele.” ($26 to $55)
“Songs of Travel”
Cohan Center, Feb. 22. Cal Poly’s Arab Music Ensemble and PolyPhonics offer a preview of their upcoming Carnegie Hall concert, performing works from Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East alongside the University Singers. ($8 to $14)
VENUES• Clark Center for the Performing Arts, 487 Fair Oaks Ave., Arroyo Grande 489-9444 or www.clarkcenter.org
• Cohan Center, Pavilion, Rec Center and Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly, 756-4849 or www.pacslo.org
• Fremont Theatre, 1025 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo 543-1843 or visit www.slobrewingco.com
• Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville, 1863 Front St.,Highway 1, Oceano 489-2499 or www.american melodrama.com
• Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, 751 Palm St., San Luis Obispo 756-2406 or http://music.calpoly.edu
• Palm Theatre, 817 Palm St., San Luis Obispo 426-5465 or www.jccslo.com
San Luis Obispo Little Theatre 888 Morro St., San Luis Obispo 786-2440 or www.slolittletheatre.org