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Opening Night Party: 50th-Anniversary Celebration Kickoff

An Opening Night Party that’s been five decades in the making! Krannert Center invites all to celebrate its vibrant history with fabulous artists, dancing, food and beverage, and a by-the-decades car display surrounding the Center. Come dressed from a decade of your choice, 1960s to the future!

South Carolina-based Ranky Tanky—whose name is loosely translated as “get funky”—performs timeless music of Gullah culture born in the southeastern Sea Island region of the United States. Combining influences from West Africa and American jazz into arrangements all its own, Ranky Tanky “is a joyous listen” (Elmore Magazine).

Baracutanga, with members representing four countries (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, US), prides itself on arranging traditional South American rhythms in new ways. This blending of ancestral traditions with a modern sensibility results in an exciting Latin flavor all its own that leaves dancers always wanting more.

Steel guitarist AJ Ghent returns by popular demand after setting the stage ablaze at ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival 2015. Ghent, who calls James Brown and Prince big influences and whose family helped to create the “sacred steel” tradition, plays his steel stand-up style, constructing a musical sound that can be heard howling from the church to the streets to the clubs. Fusing blues, funk, rock, and pop, Ghent creates an unforgettable experience for audiences, an energized and soulful musical paradise!

Musical breezes will blow through the Amphitheatre as local favorites New Orleans Jazz Machine and clarinet/sax player Carl Johnson serve up Dixieland and swing classics, and we’ve got even a little more fun up our sleeves—throughout the night, Chicago’s own Mucca Pazza will pop up in performance, combining marching band traditions and street theatre with rock band sensibilities to create eccentric, frenetic fun. The kickoff of Krannert Center’s two-season 50th-anniversary celebration promises to be a one-of-a-kind, sound-good, feel-good occasion!

Ranky Tanky, 6:30pm—Lobby, Stage 6
Baracutanga, 7:45pm—Lobby, Stage 5
AJ Ghent, 9pm—Lobby, Stage 6
New Orleans Jazz Machine, 6:15pm and 8:15pm—Amphitheatre (rain location: Studio Theatre)
Mucca Pazza—wait and see!

All ages are welcome.

Doors open and food and beverage sales begin at 6pm.

Keep the party going! Join us for our free 50th-Anniversary Celebration Family Day on Saturday, September 8 at 10am.

If you believe in the life-affirming experiences that Krannert Center and the performing arts at Illinois make possible, please make a gift:,, or