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Fall Arts Preview

An early look at the upcoming arts and culture season.


People think about change this time of year.

Recently, Harry "the Hat" Kollatz posted on social media that the fall season inspires in him a kind of reverie. As he told me later, "the days get shorter and the memories get longer."

I think most of my finest autumn memories are rooted in my Richmond childhood, back in the '70s and '80s — when we actually had an autumn.

Those brilliant days when the air felt crisp and alive with a certain earthiness, like the world was an outdoor nature bakery. A gorgeous blanket of colors — burnt oranges, deep reds, pale yellows. My fourth-grade excitement at selling caramel-covered apples and cider to raise money for some cause. Carving pumpkins and watching the "Peanuts" Halloween or Thanksgiving special, dozing off to the light-as-a-feather jazz piano of Vince Guaraldi.

All that feels like classic fall stuff to me.

Remember those plastic Halloween costumes and Ben Cooper masks at Ben Franklin or Standard Drug Store? Orange, sugar-covered pumpkin cookies at Ukrops? The old Boo House in Richmond, my first ever haunted house — and those round orange Boo stickers on cars? I had my kindergarten birthday party there with a bunch of little kids and my dad nearly had a heart attack after the first big scare, not because of the Wolfman but because every single child screamed and ran in a different direction into the darkness, down blind hallways. He was worried about losing somebody.

Adulthood fall is just busy and filled with work. Style is mostly an arts and culture publication, and undoubtedly, this is the arts and culture time of year.

So what are the biggest events this fall? You can decide based on some of these previews, but I think it's a safe bet the hottest tickets will be Broadway in Richmond's "Hamilton" and the Edward Hopper show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Kudos also to the Richmond Folk Festival that celebrates its 15th edition in October, Maggie Small's final performances as a Richmond Ballet dancer, and soon we also get to see Kehinde Wiley's largest public artwork unveiled in December in front of the VMFA.

Generally speaking, I'm always in need of a laugh, so I'm excited to see comedians Patton Oswalt at the Carpenter Theatre (Sept. 12) and an old fave Todd Barry at the renovated Ashland Theater (Oct. 25).

I could go on with my own little fall reverie. Instead I'll try to end this on a hopeful note: There's so much hate in America today that it's physically and emotionally draining all of us. Whenever you're tempted to hate someone on social media, just for a moment try thinking of the offending person as a happy little kid on a perfect autumn day, with a bit of a runny nose and a ridiculous puffy jacket.

Remember what it's like to be happy in fall.

Ten Years Later
The Richmond Performing Arts Alliance celebrates a decade while still working on a promise to the local arts community.

Symbiotic Collaboration
Some of the upcoming big events and partnerships in the visual arts world.

Swan Song
Richmond Ballet dancer Maggie Small prepares for her final performances before retirement.

Talking Dance
The upcoming dance season offers artful forms of exchange as well as the inaugural RVA Dance Awards at the Hof.

Odd Embraces
The upcoming theater season offers a little something for everyone.

Sex and Violence
Virginia Opera gets back to high-stakes basics with this fall's offerings.

Read Me a Story
Diverse literary events are happening this fall.

Concert Notes
A brief look at some of the season's most anticipated shows.

Nostalgic Flicks
The fall movie lineup is awash in sequels and reboots and sequels about reboots.

Atomic Age
Richmond filmmaker Rick Alverson's "The Mountain" is his most daring work yet.

The Fourth Annual Afrikana Film Fest: Sept. 12-15