Dance, musical comedy, jazz, rock and organ music are five disparate genres in this week’s picks of the tix.
Dance aficionados will want to check out Shaping Sound, a modern terpsichorean troupe that will visit Portland this Friday.
“The Music Man,” the 1957 Broadway sensation that never seems to lose its lustre, gets a wonderful community production in South Portland.
Dimensions in Jazz will present a contemporary pianist/bassist combo on Nov. 15 in Portland.
Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ will host a guest artist at the keyboard of the mighty instrument on Nov. 17 in Portland.
Dark Star Orchestra, an outstanding Grateful Dead tribute act, will visit Portland on Nov. 19.
A contemporary dance company that’s best known for multiple appearances on television is doing a live tour, and a performance is slated for Portland on Friday. That’s the quick summary of Shaping Sound.
Founded in 2012 by dancer/choreographer Travis Wall, Shaping Sound represents a fusion of diverse styles – jazz, modern and hip-hop among them –performed with emotional and energetic athleticism.
Shaping Sound rose to fame on TV shows such as “Dancing With The Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” and now the troupe has its own reality show: “All The Right Moves.”
In 2011 and 2013 Wall collected Emmy nominations for choreography on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and in 2015 he won the statuette.
Shaping Sound represents Wall’s attempt to shape his own creative destiny. “My goal was to continue pushing the envelope and opening up new doors and seeing where it takes us,” he explained.
Of all the Broadway musicals that I’ve seen over the years, I think I like Mededith Willson’s “The Music Man” the most. I’ve seen at least a dozen productions, ranging from rank amateur to national touring companies, in the past three decades.
By far the best community production that I’ve ever seen is currently running at Lyric Music Theater in South Portland. A fantasy-romance-comedy based on Willson’s fond memories of his Iowa childhood in the early days of the 20th century, “The Music Man” pushes many creative buttons.
Director Charles Merenghi gets stellar performances from the show’s two principal actors. David Aaron Van Duyne is mesmerizing as the fast-talking con man who sets out to swindle the simple folk of River City, Iowa, while Jennifer McLeod’s golden-throated soprano voice simply fills the hall with four of the loveliest tunes ever sung on stage.
The very large supporting cast is also terrific, led by Adam Gary Normand, Newton Curtis, Angela Libby and Patty Shaw Sprague.
Lyric Music Theater, 176 Sawyer St. in South Portland, presents “The Music Man” through Nov. 21 with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Call 799-1421.
Satoko Fujii is a jazz piano virtuoso who was born in Japan and now lives in Germany. She’s currently on a North American tour with bassist Joe Fonda, and the pair visit Portland on Nov. 15 under the auspices of Dimensions in Jazz and the Portland Conservatory of Music.
In concert and on some 75 albums as a leader or co-leader, Fujii synthesizes jazz, contemporary classical, avant-rock and Japanese folk music into an innovative music instantly recognizable as hers alone.
Fujii’s creativity can’t be confined to one setting. Her recordings and performances span solo, duo, small ensemble and big bands in five cities. She’s collaborated with some of the top musicians in contemporary jazz: Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, pianist Myra Melford, drummer John Hollenbeck, violinist Carla Kihlstedt and guitarist Elliott Sharp.
Writing for the Guardian, music critic John Fordham characterized Fujii as “a virtuoso piano improviser, an original composer and a band-leader who gets the best collaborators to deliver.”
Hear Satoko Fujii and Joe Fonda deliver at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 at Woodford’s Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St. in Portland. Call 828-1310.
There are two cities in the U.S. with an official civic organist. Portland, of course, is one. Ray Cornils is the master of the mighty Kotzschmar Memorial Organ in Portland City Hall.
On the Pacific coast, Carol Williams is the other. She plays a regular outdoor concert series on San Diego’s Spreckels Organ in Balboa Park.
On Nov. 17 Williams will visit Portland, courtesy of the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, for an adventuresome recital that will cover a lot of creative ground. Two pieces are identified with San Diego a century ago: “Expo,” which was the official march of an international exposition in 1915, and “Spreckels Centennial Fanfare,” which was written by Williams to celebrate her instrument’s 100th anniversary.
Williams wrote four other selections and arranged several others, including “California Here I Come” and “Phantom of the Opera.” She’s arranged a medley of George Gershwin tunes, and she’ll perform it as a duet with Cornils.
“More like the Dead than the Dead.” That’s the catchy phrase that Dark Star Orchestra fans use to describe a wonderful Grateful Dead tribute band that will visit Portland Nov. 19. I was there when they came here about a year ago, and I’m reserving my tickets for this one.
Approaching 18 years together, Dark Star Orchestra has played more Grateful Dead shows than the Grateful Dead, in almost half the time. Their performances have been endorsed by critics and fans, and the band has played alongside every living member of the original Grateful Dead.
Re-creating historic Grateful Dead set lists, and intermittently crafting their own, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within the Grateful Dead’s musical canon. Matching equipment, stage layout and even members – various eras could included female vocals or multiple drummers – Dark Star Orchestra’s commitment to “raising the Dead” has been very successful for two decades.
Although they re-create set lists song for song, Dark Star Orchestra doesn’t try to match Grateful Dead songs note for note. That would be way too formulaic and would be of a great disservice to the free spirit of the Dead’s legendary live performances.
Catch Dark Star Orchestra at the State Theatre, 609 Congress St. in Portland, at 7 p.m. Nov. 17. Call 956-6000.
Shaping Sound is a contemporary dance troupe that will perform Friday, Nov. 13, in Portland.