Out & About: ‘The All Night Strut’ is tuneful, nostalgic

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Multiple genres of music are represented on southern Maine’s concert schedule during these waning days of the summer performing arts season. All feature Maine companies and/or Maine artists.

The top offering is Maine State Music Theatre’s season-ending show, “The All Night Strut,” a tuneful and nostalgic look back on a golden age of American popular culture. The production is mounted at Portland Stage Co.

Portland-based ChoralArt will perform a cappella when the Ocean Park Association concludes its summer of 2017 this Sunday at Jordan Hall in Old Orchard Beach.

Also on Sunday, the Mallett Brothers, a Maine band with a well-established national following, hold forth at Vinegar Hill Music Theatre in Arundel.

Katie Matzell is an emerging singer-songwriter from Maine who’s about to release her first recording. She’ll perform a preview on Friday in her hometown of Portland.

‘The All Night Strut’

Melody and nostalgia are the hallmarks of Maine State Music Theatre’s final show of the 2017 season. “The All Night Strut,” co-produced with Portland Stage, features 26 tunes, mostly drawn from the American Songbook.

“The All Night Strut” was conceived and first directed by Fran Charnas and presented by groups such as the Boston Pops. This current Portland production is directed and choreographed by Buddy Reeder.

Four vocalists and three instrumentalists carry the show. The singers are soprano Missy Dowse, alto Esther Stilwell, tenor Curt Dale Clark and baritone Bryant Martin. Clark is Maine State Music Theatre’s artistic director, and Dowse is a veteran of several of the company’s shows.

Ed Reichert, now in his 26th year with the troupe, plays piano and music directs. Anita Stewart, artistic director of Portland State, created the set, which evokes a New York penthouse nightclub, with an outline of the city’s famous skyline in the background.

The songs are all hit parade tunes that span 32 years and four periods of American History: Roaring ’20s, Great Depression, World War II and Fabulous ’50s. Some of the titles are “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “In the Mood,” “White Cliffs of Dover,” “Rosie the Riveter,” “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Tuxedo Junction” and “As Time Goes By.”

These timeless tunes evoke nostalgia; most were first popular during the lives of the parents of most audience members. The show also evokes another sort of nostalgia: We’ll have to wait until late next spring before Maine State Music Theatre returns for its 2018 season.

Maine State Music Theater and Portland Stage present “The All Night Strut” through Sept. 10 at 25A Forest Ave. in Portland. Call 774-0465 or visit portlandstage.org.

ChoralArt Camerata

Ocean Park, the southernmost district of Old Orchard Beach, represents a unique Maine summer experience, one that harks back more than a century to the Chautauqua movement and its emphasis on spiritual self-improvement and cultural edification.

Since the 1880s cultural life in Ocean Park has revolved around three imposing wooden edifices, which host a series of dramatic and musical events each summer.

This Sunday in the beautiful B.C. Jordan Memorial Hall, the Ocean Park Association presents the final event of its summer music series, hosting the ChoralArt Camerata. Comprising between 12 and 18 a cappella voices, the Camerata is the smallest of the three musical sub-units of the longstanding ensemble formerly known as the Choral Art Society. Based in Portland, ChoralArt has been a cornerstone of the Maine music scene since 1972.

Sunday’s program is drawn from two earlier 2017 performances, Epiphany in January and SpringSong in June. Director Robert Russell’s selections emphasize modern and contemporary choral works. The list features songs by Stephen Paulus, Jake Runestad, Will Todd, Javier Busto, Niels La Cour, Arvo Part, Karl Jenkins, Kinley Lange, Jean Berger and Saigelyn R. Green. The latter is a music student at the University of Southern Maine.

The group will also present a variety of folk songs and spirituals, including “Sommerpsalm,” a beautiful Swedish summer hymn arranged by Waldemar Ahlen.

Catch the ChoralArt Camerata at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at B.C. Jordan Memorial Hall, 46 Temple Ave. in Old Orchard Beach. Call 934-9068.

Mallett Brothers Band

Maine’s backwoods traditions will be celebrated this Sunday when the Mallett Brothers Band plays in Arundel. Revolving around two sons of Maine folk singer Dave Mallett – of “Garden Song” fame – this highly hirsute, checked flannel-clad sextet has just released “The Falling of the Pine,” an album that aims to capture the essence of 19th-century Maine via a series of reimagined folk songs.

Imagine six woodsmen who have spent the winter cutting thousands of board feet of white pine and then driven those logs down the Penobscot in a wild springtime rush of whitewater. After months of dirty, dangerous work deep in the woods, they show up to describe their lives in a concert. That’s the big idea.

The band is led by guitarists Luke and Will Mallett, and the idiom can be characterized as Americana, an amalgam that blends rock ‘n’ roll with folk styles and earlier traditions. Over the past seven years of touring Maine, New England and the U.S., the band has earned a solid reputation for authenticity and professionalism.

Catch the Mallett Brothers Band at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at Vinegar Hill Music Theatre, 53 Old Post Road (just off Route 1) in Arundel. Call 985-5552.

(The Mallett Brothers Band will also be featured on Sept. 2 when Deertrees Theatre hosts a fund-raising event for K9s on the Front Line and the Travis Mills Foundation. The final schedule of band performances for this event has not been released. Visit Deertrees-Theatre.org.)

Katie Matzell

One of Maine’s up-and-coming singer-songwriters is performing this Friday, previewing her debut album.

Thirty-something Katie Matzell grew up in Wiscasset and now lives and performs in Portland. A student of theater at Boston’s Emerson College, Matzell is about to release her debut EP. I don’t know much about her, but based on the strength of a couple of YouTube video performances, I’m planning to attend this Friday’s concert.

Matzell’s straight-ahead style of writing and singing emphasizes traditional romantic themes undergirded by pleasant melodies and solid-if-basic instrumentation. On Friday, Matzell and her backup band are the headline artists on a twin bill. Micromasse, a Portland blues group, leads off.

Catch Katie Matzell and Micromasse at 8 p.m. Aug. 25 at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.

“The All Night Strut” is a show that celebrates a golden age of American pop culture. It’s also Maine State Music Theatre’s season-ending production. Bryant Martin, left, Esther Stilwell, Missy Dowse and Curt Dale Clark are the cast.

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