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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: May 23, 2016

Portland Ovations’ next season includes Chenoweth, Alan Cumming and ‘Pippin’

Written by: Bob Keyes
 "Once" Courtesy photo

“Once” Courtesy photo

Portland Ovations is enlisting big stars and big Broadway shows for its 2016-17 season.

The schedule, announced Wednesday, includes concerts by Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, stage and screen actor Alan Cumming and performances of the musicals “Pippin,” “Once” and the 20th anniversary tour of “Rent.”
Lisa Fischer, who is best known as a backing vocalist for the Rolling Stones, will perform in Portland as part of the series, as will classical music pianist Emanuel Ax.

 Pianist Emanuel Ax Courtesy photo

Pianist Emanuel Ax Courtesy photo

“The season has blockbusters, but it also has artists who are known for being of the highest quality and creating work that can move you physically and emotionally. The season is about enriching your mind, body and soul,” said Aimee Petrin, Portland Ovations’ executive director.

As it has in the recent past, Portland Ovations is presenting its concerts at performances spaces across greater Portland, including Merrill Auditorium, State Theatre, Port City Music Hall, USM’s Hannaford Hall and the Westbrook Performing Arts Center. Tickets go on sale to Portland Ovations members June 1 and to others June 20, through PortTix.

The season’s sub-themes are transcendence and physicality. Portland Ovations has grouped several performances in a series called Seeking Resonance. It includes classical, gospel, global and Jewish music and dance by clarinetist David Krakauer and his ensemble A Far Cry; high-energy R&B and gospel of the Jones Family Singers; Hanukkah songs by the LeeVees, which includes Guster band member and Mainer Adam Gardner; the Ragamala Dance Company; and Yuval Ron and his multinational dance ensemble.
Collectively, those five shows give audiences the opportunity to connect with their religious and spiritual lives through performance, Petrin said. Tickets are available individually or for the series at a discounted price.

Many of the other performances express physical joy and wonder. There are cirque shows and acrobats, modern dance performances and musicals that are built around choreographic feats. The touring version of “Pippin” that is coming to Portland is the recent Broadway revival by Diane Paulus, which includes high-wire circus acts.

Kristin Chenoweth Courtesy photo

Kristin Chenoweth Courtesy photo

“Rent” will be at Merrill on Nov. 5; “Once” on Feb. 8-9; “Saturday Night Fever” on March 31; “Annie” on April 27; and “Pippin” on May 13.The blockbusters are likely to be Chenoweth, Cumming and Fischer.

Chenoweth begins the season Sept. 29 at Merrill. She has won Tony and Emmy awards and starred on Broadway in “Wicked.” She is touring with a songbook of pop, country, gospel and show tunes.

Cumming will be at Merrill Feb. 18 with a show he is calling “Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs.” He’ll perform a range of material with a pianist and cellist. The show stems from dressing-room performances that he gave when he starred as the Emcee in a revival of “Cabaret.” Cumming also appeared on the CBS drama “The Good Wife.”
Fischer performs a cabaret-style show at the State Theatre on March 25. She is touring with her trio Grand Baton, covering songs from Led Zeppelin, Tina Turner and the Stones. This will be her second performance in Portland with Ovations. She was here in 2012 as a singer in trumpeter Chris Botti’s band.
Other highlights: Mike Daisey’s “Khan and the Whale: The Wrath of Moby Dick,” Nov. 18; the Gloaming, an Irish-American supergroup with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, April 20; and Emanuel Ax, April 15.

For details visit portlandovations.org

 

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