For 90 years, performances were held in Hoch Auditorium. Yes. That Hoch Auditorium (or Budig Hall), where students now attend Biology 100.
Before it was a lecture hall, Hoch Auditorium was the main stage for hosting productions. That is until it was damaged in 1991 from a lightning strike.
Two years later, construction on the Lied Center was finished and performances began in the 1993-1994 school year, 90 years after the inaugural season of the University Concert Series — now 2018 marks the venue’s 25th anniversary.
The Lied Center is celebrating the anniversary this weekend with a free, two-day festival featuring music, art and food.
Below are some of the most memorable performances from the performance center’s storied history.
“The Secret Garden”, Sept. 28, 1993
The first production ever in the Lied Center was “The Secret Garden.” The show was performed eight times to help open the venue and set a precedent for future shows. Over 11,000 patrons attended the eight performances, setting a high bar for performances to come — one that the Lied Center has matched and exceeded over the last 25 years.
Yo-Yo Ma with the Silk Road Ensemble (2004)
One of the great musical talents visited Lawrence in 2004 as a part of the 10th anniversary concert series. Ma played with the Silk Road Ensemble, the group he founded and played with before he stepped down in 2017.
St. Petersburg State Ice Ballet in Sleeping Beauty (1996), The Nutcracker (1997), Romeo & Juliet (1998), Cinderella (2000)
Looking at the Lied Center stage, it’s hard to fathom that three years in a row, it hosted an ice show with the St. Petersburg Ballet. Five tons of ice were used to create the stage. The self-refrigerated rink was sprayed with a mist every 20 minutes over 12 hours to keep the surface smooth. After the performance, sledge hammers and wheelbarrows were used to break up the ice and remove it from the stage.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
The group first stopped in Lawrence to perform back during the 2014-2015 school year and will return once again in October to commission a piece written specifically for the Lied Center’s 25th anniversary. The piece contains 15 movements, each one representing a different University basketball legend.
Ira Glass (2016)
The radio broadcaster known for “This American Life” and “Serial” came to the Lied Center in 2016 to share with the audience seven things he had learned. Though he admittedly said he had obviously learned more than seven things, he engaged the audience in a frank discussion two nights before the 2016 presidential election.
The Beach Boys (2017)
A sold-out crowd heard the iconic 1960s band perform 40 songs in 2017. The group performed hits like “Barbara Ann” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” and moved toward more somber songs as a tribute to fallen member Carl Wilson and late friend George Harrison.
Mamma Mia! (2012)
The ABBA-inspired musical has been performed at the Lied center twice, most-recently in 2016. But its first performance was in 2012, four years after the movie premiered and 13 years after the stage show premiered on Broadway. Here’s hoping for a sequel to the stage show makes it to Lawrence in 2022.
Kristin Chenoweth (2017)
The Tony and Emmy Award winner dazzled crowds when she stopped at the Lied Center in May 2017 to showcase her skills. She performed songs from the Great American Songbook that highlighted her long and storied musical theater and television career.
Kenny Rogers (2017)
Rogers made a stop in Lawrence during his farewell tour in a concert that turned more into an intimate conversation between him and his audience. The evening was bittersweet and featured an array of songs, from works by Dolly Parton to “We Are the World.”
Nick Offerman (2015)
The comedian stopped in Lawrence to perform a stand-up set. The comedian, known for his role on “Parks and Recreation” started as a stand-up comedian and returned to his roots for the show. He also tweeted his admiration for a local barbecue place, solidifying his love for the town.