With the announcement of its third season lineup, the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University is setting itself up to emerge from the pandemic while reigniting people’s passion for the arts. 

During an announcement Saturday, the McKnight Center unveiled its season lineup headlined by country megastar Tim McGraw and Broadway legend Bernadette Peters. 

With the goal of providing as entertaining of a season as possible and plenty of educational opportunities for OSU and Stillwater Public Schools students, this season is shaping up to be the best so far for the McKnight Center.

“We were planning to come back bigger and better than ever,” Mark Blakeman, The McKnight Center’s Marilynn and Carl Thoma Executive Director, told the News Press in an interview Thursday. “Our board challenged me. They said, ‘We want you to think big.’ We know the loss of momentum is really difficult for arts organizations and we talked about it and they encouraged me to look for huge opportunities. When we put this season together, that’s exactly what we tried to do. We tried to put in as much diversity as possible. We tried to find huge stars, and we’re really trying to reignite people’s passion for the arts and we’re trying to captivate people’s attention.”

The most notable name on the season schedule is McGraw, who has sold 80 million records and recorded dozens of No. 1 hits. While season subscribers will be the ones with a chance to see McGraw, Blakeman said an act of this magnitude was a huge get for the season schedulers. 

“McGraw, he typically plays in arenas and amphitheaters,” Blakeman said. “Part of what we want to do at the McKnight Center is make a huge impact on people, and we’re putting a mega country superstar in a theater that seats 1,100. You can’t go anywhere else and get that. You can’t see Tim McGraw in a more personal and intimate kind of environment. And that’s really what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to make an impact on people in the biggest way possible.”

The educational opportunities are once again a major focal point of the McKnight Center’s programming for its third season. The Buddy Holly Story, which will relaunch its national tour following a weeklong residency in Stillwater, will provide opportunities for master classes for OSU students as well as unique musical opportunities for kids in local schools. Sarah Coburn, an OSU graduate, will also be in residency at OSU and will provide learning opportunities for students. 

“We continue to ask the performers to be part of learning experiences for OSU students and also to provide programming to local schoolchildren,” Blakeman said Thursday. “That’s a core part of our mission and who we are: creating impactful learning opportunities.”

Those who had previously been season ticket holders were given the first chance to purchase tickets on Saturday. Ticket sales will be open to the general public in August. The McKnight Center simulcasts many of its performances on a screen outside of the performing arts center. 

For more information, visit McKnightCenter.org or contact the box office at (405) 744-9999.

2021-22 Season 3 Performances at The McKnight Center

• The Buddy Holly Story with Artist Residency for Students – Sept. 16-18

• Family Concert Series with Doktor Kaboom – Sept. 26

• Tim McGraw – Oct. 8

• Itzhak Perlman – Oct. 9

• Broadway Songbook: Brian Stokes Mitchell– Oct. 10

• Silent Film Nosferatu with Live Organ Accompaniment by Peter Krasinski – Oct. 28

• 4th Annual Chamber Music Festival – Nov. 4-7

• National Geographic Live Exploring Mars – Nov. 14

• The Polar Express with the Tulsa Symphony – Dec. 2

• Million Dollar Quartet Christmas – Dec. 9-10

• Sarah Coburn In Concert – Jan. 29

• Bernadette Peters Valentine’s Day Special – Feb. 14

• STOMP – Feb. 18-19

• National Geographic Live Greenwood: A Century of Resilience – Feb. 24

• Philadelphia Orchestra – March 10

• Pilobolus Dance Company – March 24

• Tower of Power – April 9

• South Pacific – April 22-23

• Family Concert Series with Dan and Claudia Zanes – May 14