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Out & About: Portland Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Music Theater

Lifestyle

Out & About: Portland Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Music Theater

October has arrived with its usual outburst of fall colors plus the usual outburst of musical and theatrical activity. (This fall also marks the 20th anniversary of “Out & About,” which debuted in 1992.)

The Portland Symphony Orchestra, Maine’s premier performing arts organization, opens its 2012-2013 program year with two performances of “Fanfare for a New Season,” Oct. 7 and 9.

Lyric Music Theater, which epitomizes community theater in Maine, recently opened its 60th season with “Anything Goes,” the classic Cole Porter musical comedy about romance aboard a transatlantic ocean liner. It runs through Saturday in South Portland.

Portland’s Good Theater will open its 2012-1013 season Oct. 6-7 with a special two-night musical event, which features Broadway star Florence Lacey.

Catch another great musical artist on Columbus Day, when Regina Spektor motors into Portland’s State Theatre, part of a national tour in support of her latest CD, “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats.”

Portland Symphony Orchestra

Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” is one of the best-known pieces by an American classical composer, and it will be prominently featured when the Portland Symphony Orchestra opens its 2012-2013 musical year Oct. 7 and 9 with a program titled “Fanfare for a New Season.”

Those concerts also mark the start of maestro Robert Moody’s fifth season with the PSO – a milestone that’s definitely worth celebrating.

The concerts will begin in a rousing fashion with contemporary composer Mason Bates’ “Mothership.” The first half concludes with one of the most memorable musical spectaculars from the Romantic Era: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Doing the solo piano honors will be Andrew Russo, who has made 10 commercial recordings, one of which got a Grammy Award nomination.

The concerts will wrap up with Copland’s “Symphony No. 3,” which includes his famously brassy fanfare.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra plays this program twice at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall: Oct. 7 at 2:30 p.m. and Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

‘Anything Goes’

Lyric Music Theater’s forte is classic Broadway musicals, and no show exudes the spirit of the Great White Way as “Anything Goes,” with score by Cole Porter and script by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.

Since its 1934 debut, “Anything Goes” has been a staple of American musical theater at all levels, from Broadway to high school productions.

Lyric, which exemplifies community theater in Maine, has mounted a fine production which runs through this Saturday in South Portland.

The story is far too complicated to explain, but the characters include a nightclub diva who doubles as an evangelist and a machine gun-toting gangster who wouldn’t hurt a flea. Sandwiched in between are the expected ingenue and juvenile plus numerous improbable characters. The setting is a transatlantic ocean liner en route to Europe.

Lyric’s excellent cast, led by director Celeste Green, is capably headed by Amy Torrey as the singer-evangelist, with Kelsey Gibbs and Sean Senior giving laudable performances as the ingenue and juvenile. Top character roles go to David Bass-Clark as a comically hyperactive but undersexed English nobleman and Adam Normand playing buffoon as the gangster.

Lyric Music Theater, 176 Sawyer St. in South Portland, presents “Anything Goes” through Oct. 6 with 8 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday. Call 799-1421.

An Evening with Florence Lacey

“Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s haunting refrain is familiar to millions of aficionados of musical theater. This weekend the holder of the world record for most performances of Eva Peron in “Evita” will be holding forth in Portland as Good Theater launches its 2012-2013 season with a special two-night run of “An Evening with Florence Lacey.”

I didn’t know that anybody kept such statistics, but Lacey’s claim certainly seems credible. She’s played the charismatic and enigmatic wife of the Argentinean dictator on Broadway, the U.S. national tour and an amazing 12 years on multiple international tours.

And don’t write her off as a one-trick pony. Lacey has also starred in Broadway productions of “The Grand Tour” and regional stagings of “Sunset Boulevard,” playing the mesmerizing aging diva, Norma Desmond. Other starring roles have include “Les Miserables” and “Hello Dolly.”

A native of the Pittsburgh area, Lacey’s professional career in musical theater around the world spans four decades and many thousands of performances. Plus her husband is in the longest-running Broadway show in history, “Phantom of the Opera.”

Capitalizing on his many New York theatrical connections, Good Theater co-founder and artistic director Brian Allen has snared Lacey for a two-night Portland gig in a format that is modeled on the old Merv Griffin television show. Allen will interview Lacey, who will perform a number of her best-known songs from her long career. Victoria Stubbs will music direct and play keyboards.

Good Theater presents “An Evening with Florence Lacey” at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St. in Portland (top of Munjoy Hill) at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 and 2 p.m. Oct. 7. Call 885-5883.

Regina Spektor

Monday night concerts are comparatively rare in Portland, but this Columbus Day promises a major exception. Regina Spektor, a Russian-born singer-songwriter who has found an interesting niche in the New York musical scene, will be coming to Portland’s State Theatre on a national tour in support of her most recent CD.

As a child of 10, Spektor arrived in America in the late 1980s, part of a wave of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union. She’s found a new home in New York’s East Village musical milieu. She listened to Joni Mitchell as a teenager and counts her among her own chief influences. Spektor is also frequently compared to Ani DiFranco.

Spektor recently released her sixth studio album, an 11-song compilation of brand new and fairly new songs under the intriguing title, “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats,” which is spinning on my CD player as I write this..

This 2012 album covers a broad spectrum of her writing and vocal talents, which range from infectious pop melodies, such as “Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quittez Pas),” which is sung in both English and French, to baffling abstractions, such as “All the Rowboats,” which is about paintings “imprisoned” in art museums.

“How” is based upon a slow and majestic melody, which “Jessica” is has a rollicking melodic bounce and equally catchy and clever lyrics.

Only Son will open the show, which is slated for 8 p.m. Oct. 8 at the State Theatre, 609 Congress St. in Portland. Call 956-6000.