Cowan Center Announces First Full Season Since Pandemic; performers to include rock band ZZ Top | Local News

The 2021-22 season at UT Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center will feature a star-studded lineup of artists, speakers and musicals, including an iconic rock band.

This upcoming calendar of events will be the first full season since before the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the cancellation of several live performances.

ZZ Top will perform on December 1 as a special event to bring their four decades of rock, blues and boogie music to East Texas. The group is known for songs like “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimme All Your Lovin ‘”.

The group was named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is originally from Houston. Cowan Center member sales for ZZ Top begin August 30, and public sales begin October 25.

Cowan Center Executive Director Susan Thomae-Morphew made the announcement with video Thursday during a sponsorship luncheon. She also recognized 25 years of performances and other events at the center.

“It just feels like people are hungry for live shows (live concerts and performing arts),” said Thomae-Morphew. “We hope and imagine that people will come from afar to come back to the live shows.”

While shows have been canceled for the 2020-21 season with the exception of one in May this year, Thomae-Morphew said those at the Cowan Center have used the time to make improvements.

“We are going to have new seats and carpets at orchestral levels when we open in October,” she said. “We have a lot of new equipment on stage. So we worked really hard while we were closed to use the time and keep us going.”

She noted that the work during cancellations and before this season included booking, changing the booking, and returning money for deeds and patrons.

“Our poor agents and performers – everyone’s been through this. We’ve all been on this road together, and it’s been a whirlwind,” said Thomae-Morphew. “We haven’t been idle at all. It’s a tough season to book but it’s here.”

Thomae-Morphew called the support from the Tyler area community incredible.

Everyone at the Cowan Center is excited about the 25th anniversary, she said, adding that the performances started with composer Marvin Hamlisch in 1997.

“It has grown and changed over the years and adapted to what we think our clients wanted,” she said. “We interviewed people, found out their dreams for our future, and made arrangements for this performing arts center to reflect what people want in their backyard. It is Tyler’s premier performing arts center.”

Cowan Center series include Performing Arts, Broadway, Big Series, Kids @ Nite Series, Distinguished Lecture, Arts in Education and the ZZ Top Special Event. The big series was previously called the Braithwaite series.

Bret Baier of Fox News will be this year’s distinguished speaker for this season.

The new Kids @ Nite series will feature Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live and “Madagascar The Musical“.

Thomae-Morphew said staff at the Cowan Center plan to reveal the new series last year to serve the entire community. This will be the centre’s first series of children’s shows.

“We try to book a diverse lineup from dance to musicals to concerts and see creative things that people have never heard of and can try,” she said. “What we’re doing is trying to serve everyone. We hope to develop this market (for children) and serve these people.”

Arts in Education will also present Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live for school groups.

The Performing Arts series will include the vocal group Naturally 7, the dance group Viva Momix, the musical ensemble Celtic Woman and the Blue Man Group.

Broadway shows include “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl and “Fiddler on the Roof”.

Michael Cavanaugh will perform music by Billy Joel and Elton John. The story of Simon & Garfunkel will be played out. Comedian Tom Papa will also visit the Tyler Performing Arts Center. All three events are part of the Cowan Center Big Series.

For dates and ticketing information, visit The box office can be reached at 903-566-7424 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, except UT Tyler holidays and December 15 to January 2.

Membership orders at the Cowan Center begin at 9 a.m. on July 27. Subscribers receive priority access to all seats.

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