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2015: The Year in Arts & Entertainment

Some of the highlights of 2015 on local stages



Ozzy Osbourne fans weathered a deluge in New Orleans City Park to hear the Prince of Darkness bark at the cloud-covered moon while Tom Morello and Slash shredded a couple of Black Sabbath hits at the pinnacle of Halloween night at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. Unfortunately, the heavy rains and a resulting field of muck forced the festival to cancel its final day. It seemed like one of the only times in 2015 that a New Orleans festival got smaller instead of bigger.

  The year was marked by growth across the arts and entertainment spectrum. There are new festivals, such as the Snake Oil Festival of burlesque and sideshow acts, and others continue to grow, such as the French Quarter Festival, which now boasts 23 music stages. The theater scene saw the addition of new facilities including the long-awaited Jefferson Performing Arts Center and the Ashe Power House Theater (see "Year in theater," ). In the visual art community, the Joan Mitchell Center refurbished its campus, adding residence buildings that welcomed a wave of visiting artists. The concert calendar is as busy as ever and New Orleans is drawing more and more touring comedians. A slew of new restaurants opened all over the area (see "Year in dining,"). Carnival welcomed two new krewes, both of them all-female groups with African-American leadership. The Krewe of Athena paraded in Metairie, and the Mystick Krewe of Femme Fatale rolled in Orleans.

  The Faux/Real festival epitomized some of the expansion. A grand leap from what formerly was the New Orleans Fringe Festival's binge weekend of alternative theater, Faux/Real spread its offerings over three weeks and added literary readings, restaurant popups, cocktail events and more. There were theatrical highlights, such as See 'Em On Stage's Terminator: The Musical, and there also were French Quarter and second-line pub crawls led by local mixologists.

  Hell Yes Fest! spread its comedy shows over 11 days, and it included everything from Tim Heideker and Nikki Glaser doing standup at Publiq House to a recording of Doug Benson's Doug Loves Movies podcast at Cafe Istanbul. Outside the festival, it was a big year for touring comedy shows, with stops by Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Saturday Night Live veterans Sasheer Zamata and Brooks Wheelan and shows by Kyle Kinane and native New Orleanian Sean Patton.

  The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival featured blockbusters The Who and Elton John, the duo of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, new country darlings Sturgill Simpson and Kacey Musgraves and many others. Essence Music Festival welcomed Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliott, Slick Rick, Esperanza Spalding and others. The electronic music-driven Buku Music + Art Project increased its growing profile with an edition headlined by A$AP Rocky, Bassnectar, Boosie Badazz and TV on the Radio.

  The international art biennial Prospect.3 finished in January, and the city remained an incubator for contemporary performance art and installation work at a more grassroots level. New Orleans Airlift launched the second iteration of the musical architecture project, The Music Box, this time in the form of a Roving Village (See "Year in music,"). And Splish, a collaborative installation art/theater piece at an Upper 9th Ward art space Port, brought together visual artists, actors, musicians and other performers to create a night at a roadside mermaid attraction.

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