Spoleto keeps it eclectic, international and exciting for 2011 (reviews pour in)

Image by Kneehigh Theatre An energetic moment during Kneehigh Theatre's The Red Shoes

Update May 30: The Charleston City Paper has been on top, inside and all over the Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto scene since the action kicked off on Friday afternoon.

With twenty reviews in, you'll be able to get a great grasp on this season's hits and know to steer clear from some of the misses.

Make your way over to the Charleston City Paper's Spoleto Buzz page for the plethora of coverage. 

The Post and Courier has plenty of coverage as well; take a look.

Update May 25: Opening day of the Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival arrives this Friday and the chatter on which performances may become the 2011 season's must-see hits are abound.

The Charleston City Paper has taken it upon themselves to create a Spoleto/Piccolo Spoleto guide which features a "Top 10 must-see list" for each festival, a handy guide to festival artists on Twitter, both text and video updates on the performances by genre and soon, performance reviews.

If you're ready to dive in to all things Spoleto, hop on over and check out the guide.

First reporting: The 2011 lineup for Spoleto Festival USA has been unveiled.

The three-week long arts festival returns May 27th through June 12th and has booked yet again an eclectic mix of talent from around the world. There's always a little bit of something for everyone during Spoleto, and this year is no exception.

I'm a fan of the more offbeat productions that Spoleto pulls in, so I'll give a quick preview of this year's more daring performances.

First up, The Red Shoes. Cornwall-based Kneehigh Theatre (2009’s Don John, 2006’s Tristan & Yseult) are back again, this time with a macabre, twisted take on the 19th-century fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Leave the kids at home for this one. This is the story of a poor little girl who becomes so enamored of her new red shoes that she commits the blasphemy of wearing them to church, then can’t stop dancing until her feet are chopped off.

Another Spoleto veteran, performer, writer, and director Taylor Mac is back this year in Comparison is Violence or the Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook. Mac returns to Charleston with his newest show in which he dissects the darker side of comparison while singing Tiny Tim songs and selections from David Bowie’s classic glam-rock album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. Mac employs full-blown glam aesthetics to explore the human condition and challenge the contemporary culture of fear.

Indie-poppers Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips will be performing live with a four-piece band beneath large-scale video projections of Andy Warhol's Screen Tests. The performance, 13 Most Beautiful..., is the perfect soundtrack for taking a look back at Warhol's 1960s New York art scene.

It's not very often that a circus comes to town, but Spoleto has scored one, and a super cool one at that. Australia’s most innovative circus company, Circa, makes its Spoleto debut with its newest show, hailed by The Herald (UK) as “truly a circus, but with a poetic, life-affirming modern twist.” The show combinines heart-stopping acrobatics with contemporary choreography and cheeky humor.

I don't want to overwhelm you with a full Spoleto rundown, but if you're in the mood to be overwhelmed, there are plenty of festival previews out there. Charleston Scene, the Charleston City Paper and The Post and Courier each have their own take on what's to come.

Tickets to all shows are one sale now.

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