Millikin University’s Kirkland Fine Arts Center and College of Fine Arts announce the 2023-24 Performing Arts Season

Featuring best-in-class comedy, theatre, art, music and dance!

Kirkland Fine Arts Center

DECATUR, Ill. – Millikin University’s Kirkland Fine Arts Center and the College of Fine Arts are pleased to announce a jam-packed Kirkland Series and Performing Arts Series lineup for the 2023-24 Season. The university is proud to contribute to the vibrant and life-giving arts scene in Decatur and Millikin welcomes the community to join us for a year of thrilling live entertainment, art, theatre and music. 

Janelle James
Two-time Emmy-nominated comedian Janelle James comes to Millikin on Oct. 14.

This year’s Kirkland Series kicks off with the beloved, two-time Emmy-nominated comedian and actress currently playing Principal Ava Coleman in the popular sitcom Abbott Elementary – Janelle James! Bringing her one-of-a-kind humor to the Kirkland stage on October 14 at 7:30 p.m., Janelle James is a powerhouse of incisive commentary and clever wit. 

The NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet comes to Millikin in December.

In December, experience the holiday magic of “NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet,” as the international touring group returns to Kirkland Fine Arts Center for the first time since 2019. 

Cozy up in February with the Grammy award-winning singing sensations All-4-One, best known for their Billboard top-10 hit “I Swear,” and in May, don’t miss the megahit alternative band Marcy Playground who will be playing a heart-tugging show of familiar songs and new material. 

Arts at Millikin
The Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra performs in concert.

“We’re mixing things up at Kirkland Fine Arts Center this year with a roster of huge talent and beloved favorites hand-picked to delight the Decatur community,” said Bryan Diver, Director of Kirkland Fine Arts Center. “Laugh it up with the uproarious Janelle James, be awed by the beauty and athleticism of the Nutcracker, fall in love again with All-4-One, and then chill out in the spring with Marcy Playground. What a season!” 

In addition to this fantastic lineup, the 2023-2024 season will include a full calendar of plays, music, and operas in the Albert Taylor Theatre and the Virginia Rogers Theatre, including the beloved annual Halloween Percussion concert and a stage adaptation of the popular story “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.” This season the School of Theatre & Dance is also proud to present the world premiere of “The Spell of Red River,” an original musical commissioned by Millikin’s New Musicals Workshop and made possible through a leap of faith and a generous donation from Charlene Callison and Larry Balsamo.

Millikin Director of Choral Activities Ben Hawkinson (middle) at Vespers.

At Kirkland, the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra (MDSO) returns for a thrilling new season of “Masterworks,” featuring classical favorites and storied guests, like soprano Indra Thomas and award-winning guest conductor Richard Hagland, and the Millikin Symphonic Wind Ensemble will premiere a new composition by award-winning composer Shuying Li. School of Music Faculty Recitals will present chamber selections from across contemporary and classical repertoires, while off campus, jazz and choral ensembles will be entertaining Decatur and its denizens from Decatur Brew Works to Central Christian Church. As always – don’t forget to save the date (December 2 & 3) for Vespers, the annual holiday choral extravaganza at Kirkland Fine Arts Center.

Winter, Oil on Canvas, 40” x 40” by Lyle Salmi.

In addition to all these performing arts selections, the School of Art & Creative Media has a full slate of guest-artist, faculty and student exhibitions planned at the student-run Blue Connection Gallery downtown and in Perkinson Gallery at Kirkland Fine Arts Center, starting with “Re:flect,” a beautiful collection of abstract impressionist paintings by Professor Emeritus Lyle Salmi. Be sure to check out the latest at Blue Connection Gallery during First Fridays, hosted in collaboration with the Decatur Arts Council, and mark your calendars with a roster of events that spotlight student film and other media productions.

“We strive to create programming that appeals to a wide range of tastes while offering performance learning opportunities for our students that can translate from Millikin to the global arts community. This year’s season is a great showcase of Millikin’s talent, as well as artists important to the wider culture,” said Jessa Wilcoxen, College of Fine Arts Interim Dean.

For a complete list of season events, visit or check the Millikin calendar.


Single ticket sales for all 2023-2024 events, excluding Vespers, will be available for purchase after Labor Day on September 5. Vespers tickets go on sale on November 7, 2023. Advanced purchase of tickets is offered to Friends of Kirkland. Find out how to renew or join by contacting Bryan Diver at 217.424.3925 or donate on our website. 

Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone or in person at the ticket office between 12 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Tuesday-Friday. Discounted tickets, as well as handicapped seats, are not available online but can be purchased at the ticket office. For further inquiries, contact the Kirkland Ticket Office at 217.424.6318 or visit Events at Kirkland Fine Arts Center are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

For further information, please contact LJ Pemberton, Marketing and Patron Relations Manager at Kirkland Fine Arts Center, at 217.424.3931 or