SELBYVILLE – A comedian, a Tony Award winner and other notable performers will grace the Freeman Stage at Bayside this summer.
In a press conference Thursday, Michelle Freeman, president of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, unveiled the first portion of this year’s lineup of artists who will usher the Freeman Stage into its 11th season.
“This season will be our biggest yet,” she said.
This year’s performers include two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, a Tony Award winner and, combined, have more than 66 Grammy Awards and over 75 Grammy nominations, 18 Country Music Association Awards and over 50 nominations, and six American Music Awards.
Headlining performances include Smokey Robinson on June 1, The Wailers on June 15, Chris Janson on June 22, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers with special guest The Wood Brothers on June 30, comedian Jeff Foxworthy on July 7, Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. on July 8, Straight No Chaser on July 24, The Beach Boys on Aug. 3, O.A.R. with special guest Matt Nathanson on Aug. 9, Cheap Trick on Aug. 10, Vince Gill on Aug. 11, and Voodoo Threauxdown featuring Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Breed Brass Band and Galactic on Aug. 16.
Other performances include the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, the First State Ballet, Clear Space Theatre Company and Brown Box Theatre Project. “Locals Under the Lights,” where local artists have their moment in the spotlight, will also be back this summer.
Performers new to the stage include the Jazz Ambassadors, Cajun band BeauSoleil, Tusk, a Fleetwood Mac tribute, and The Piano Guys. Midtown Men, The Celtic Tenors and Delaware’s All-State Theatre will also take the stage this summer. On Sept. 7, Hotel California, an Eagles tribute, will return to perform and special guests from Operation SEAs the Day — a week-long beach event for wounded veterans and their families — will be in attendance.
Patti Grimes, executive director of the Freeman Stage, said arts programs like the Freeman Stage produce thriving communities through community partnerships, economic development and children.
“Those are the three mainstays of why the arts are so important and critical,” she said.
Todd Lawson, administrator for Sussex County, said the county has worked with the foundation for many years to provide transportation grants that allow children to view performing arts shows at the Freeman Stage.
“We are creating and building dreams as a result of that,” he said. “Who knows where that will go.”
Linda Parkowski, acting director of the Delaware Division of Small Business, Development and Tourism, said the Freeman Stage has generated $27 million in economic development in Sussex County over 10 years.
“The Freeman Stage is more than dollars,” she said. “It’s about people, it’s about a team, it’s about you, it’s about the leaders, it’s about partnerships, and it’s about the experience you allow the customer to have.”
Janet Hickman, principal of Georgetown Kindergarten Center, said programs offered by the Freeman Foundation allow her students to experience arts in education.
“To every hand that goes into this endeavor, thank you so much,” she said.
Officials with the Freeman Stage said the outdoor performing arts venue has attracted nearly 400,000 visitors since 2008 with a diverse offering of dance, theatre, live music and performances for young audiences.
A second announcement, dubbed “Vol. 2,” will reveal additional performers on April 9. Tickets will go on sale March 26 at 10 a.m. For more information, visit freemanstage.org or call 302-436-3015.