The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts began its festive announcement of the 2021-22 season with a dramatic video starting with the words “400 days ago the arts world went dark.”

What followed was a triumphant statement about the nonprofit arts center’s resilience, focused on the innovative flexible seating technology that allowed socially distanced audiences to enjoy Tobin programming beginning as early as June 2020, then continuing as regularly as possible through the current moment with 23 shows, virtual events, and Generation Next educational events that reached more than 15,000 local students.

“Your Tobin team did not sit idle,” President and CEO Michael Fresher announced to the crowd of 200 season subscribers, members, donors, and members of the media gathered Tuesday evening in the H-E-B Performance Hall.

“The measures we put into place allowed the Tobin Center to remain active when over 80% of U.S. theaters closed their doors,” he said.

The Tobin Center has now booked nearly 100 events through the end of 2021, said Aaron Zimmerman, vice president of programming, and he expected two to four new shows to be announced each week for the foreseeable future, as the entertainment industry gears back up for live, touring entertainment.

The 2021-22 season is centered on National Geographic Live! the fourth year the popular series will visit San Antonio. This time, the much sought-after photographer Annie Griffiths will lead the four-part series Nov. 21 with “Photography Without Borders.” Explorer Bob Poole will follow Jan. 30 with “Nature Roars Back,” and Ancient Egypt will make an appearance Mar. 27 with “When Women Ruled the World.” Nizar Ibrahim will close the series Jun. 12 with an animated look at the Spinosaurus, the “Lost Giant of the Cretaceous” and the largest of all carnivorous dinosaurs.

April Ancira announces the four National Geographic Live! events at the Tobin Cener for the Performing Arts.
April Ancira announces the four National Geographic Live! events that will take place during the 2021-2022 season at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The Ancira Auto Group is one of the sponsors for the series, which will include Annie Griffiths, one of the first female photographers to work with National Geographic. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

Jack Freeman, vice president of facilities and operations and an obvious crowd favorite, introduced the annual Signature Series with a humorous video.

In various costumes, Freeman announced the four events beginning with Cirque Musica, which arrives Dec. 29 with its Holiday Spectacular featuring acrobatic feats based on musical favorites of the season. The 1982 hit movie An Officer and a Gentleman will be brought to life in musical form March 20, and classic Broadway favorite South Pacific will bring its hit song “Some Enchanted Evening” to the stage April 9. The Signature Series will close June 18-19 with a visit by nationwide phenomenon Blue Man Group.

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Fresher pointed out that any member who is also a subscriber to these featured series events will receive a subscription fee waiver and free parking for those events. “These benefits alone are near nearly enough to pay for the rest of the membership,” he said.

After the main announcements, Zimmerman pointed out that several shows are already booked and selling well, in particular the Gabriel Iglesias “Here Comes Fluffy” tour, which had added several shows to keep up with ticket demand. The four-week run is set to start June 23 and end July 17 with two final performances to be taped for a Netflix comedy special.

Flashy rock guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen will inaugurate the official end of all safety restrictions at the Tobin Center with an Aug. 1 show.

Other featured events include jazz artist Herbie Hancock Sept. 14, voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams on Sept. 20, rough-hewn comedians The Jerky Boys on Sept. 22, guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela on Sept. 28, game show The Price Is Right Live Oct. 10-11, and backcountry comedian Ginger Billy Oct. 28.

Fresher said Zimmerman faced a “massive challenge” months ago, with most acts “canceling, postponing, moving [dates],” yet through their work venues throughout the country have had nearly 30 acts to book, thanks to Tobin Entertainment, the center’s subsidiary booking agency.

“We’re out there way ahead of everybody else,” Fresher said.

Tickets for all Tobin Center performances and events, including season subscriptions, are available through the online box office or by calling 210-223-8624. Information on memberships, beginning at $150 annually, is available here.

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with an indie rock...