Out & About: Musical theater, music festivals, ballet beckon
As we approach the middle of August, summer stock musical theater continues at a torrid pace, but the classical music festival season gradually draws to a close.
Ogunquit Playhouse is offering an outstanding production of the earliest collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
There’s one more concert left on the 2013 schedule for the Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival, currently holding forth in Harrison. The final program focuses on musical fantasies over the centuries.
Last week’s “Out & About” looked at Portland Chamber Music Festival’s first two concerts. This week we wrap up the four-concert schedule with a quick glance at what’s happening Aug. 15 and 17.
And Maine State Ballet is set to run “Don Quixote” for two weekends in Falmouth, beginning Aug. 9.
‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’
In the final third of the 20th century, the most successful composer-lyricist team in musical theater was Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Their first collaboration was a school project that later evolved into “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which first ran on Broadway for 21 months in 1982-1983.
“Joseph” is a powerfully lyrical adaptation of the story of Joseph and his 11 perfidious brothers from the Bible’s book of Genesis. Ogunquit Playhouse is currently running a wonderful, fully professional production of this first Webber-Rice collaboration.
“American Idol” competitor Clay Aiken is the best-known name in the large cast, which is directed and choreographed by Jayme McDaniel. Aiken has a fine voice – he’s released five CDs – but I found his interpretation of the title role annoyingly beatific.
Another big name is Keala Settle, who has impressive credentials in musical theater. Settle boasts a fine soprano voice that’s gets showcased in the role of the Narrator.
My pick for best performer goes to Matthew Ragas as Pharaoh of Egypt. In the Webber-Rice musical telling of this Biblical parable, Pharaoh is written as a charismatic Elvis Presley character, and Ragas has mastered this rock-and-roll icon to the max. He’s so good that a well-deserved and much-appreciated reprise is built into Ogunquit’s production.
Ogunquit Playhouse, a mile south of the village on U.S. Route 1, presents “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” through Aug. 25. Call 646-5511 or visit ogunquitplayhouse.org.
Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival
The Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival is an exemplar of its genre, a gathering of world-class classical musicians who perform a series of five Tuesday evening concerts in one of Maine’s most magical summer venues, the historic and rustic Deertrees Theatre in Harrison.
The final chords of this summer’s musical magic will sound on Aug. 13. For her final concert of the summer artistic director Laurie Kennedy has picked a program based on the theme of “fantasy,” a loosely defined format that has intrigued composers since the Renaissance.
The program opens with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Phantasy Quintet,” scored for string quartet with an extra viola. It is a lyrical, shimmering, ethereal piece of many moods and textures that is all developed from a single theme. In startling contrast, Fred Lerdahl’s “Waltzes for Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass” is an imaginative contemporary exploration of various waltz forms.
The final work will be Franz Schubert’s monumental “Octet in F Major for Strings, Clarinet, Bassoon and Horn.” Here Schubert’s love of melody is front and center, in combination with poignant shifts in mood.
Catch the final concert of the Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison. Call 583-6747.
Portland Chamber Music Festival
Calendar-wise, Portland Chamber Music Festival is the last of its genre, with the final pair of performances slated for Aug. 15 and 17. Thursday’s penultimate evening will open with Samuel Barber’s “Summer Music,” a lush and lyrical work that PCMF artistic director Jenny Elowitch describes as “the most beautiful 20th-century woodwind quintet.”
PCMF resident composer Laurie San Martin’s “Circus Maximus” will be the second piece on Thursday. The occasion will also mark one of the first Portland appearances of the Hikari Trio, comprising Elowitch as violinist, Elizabeth Anderson as cellist and Yuri Funahashi as pianist. The concert will conclude with Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F Minor.
Saturday’s concert will open with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Horn Quintet, a delightful and unusual work. The evening will continue with Thomas Ades’ “Court Studies,” a series of excerpts from his opera, “The Tempest.” PCMF’s 20th anniversary season concludes with a splash: Louis Spohr’s Nonet in F Major. Most of the musicians who have been engaged for the second week of the festival will be on stage for this grand finale.
Both concerts will be performed at 8 p.m. at the Abromson Community Education Center, 88 Bedford St., on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus. Call 800-320-0257 or visit pcmf.org.
A chapter from western civilization’s first great novel will dance to life for the next two weekends in Falmouth, as Maine State Ballet presents its signature production of “Don Quixote.”
“Don Quixote” is a colorful, comic ballet in three acts based on an episode from the famous 1605 novel by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus, “Don Quixote” was first presented by the Ballet of the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow in 1869.
Staying true to much of the original choreography, Maine State Ballet artistic director Linda MacArthur Miele has added additional staging and filled in where the original choreography is missing. Maine State Ballet premiered its production in 1999 and has kept it in the repertoire ever since.
It is the tale of a poor barber in love with village girl. A crisis arises when the girl’s father wants to marry her off to a wealthy man. Don Quixote, Cervantes’ famous knight-errant, and sidekick Sancho Panza arrive on the scene and the terpsichorean fun begins. True love prevails in the end and Don Quixote moves on to other adventures.
The cast numbers more than 60. Janet Davis and Caitlin Bernard share the role of the village girl, partnered by Glenn Davis as the barber. They share the stage with veteran actors Ron Trell, Jonathan Miele, James Herrera and Christine Marshall Dow. New featured soloists include Rhiannon Pelletier as a sultry woman and Maiki Saito as a bullfighter.
Maine State Ballet presents seven performances of “Don Quixote” at 348 U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth: Aug. 9 at 7 p.m., Aug. 10 at 2 and 7 p.m., Aug. 15-16 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m. Call 781-7672.