On Wednesday night at a members-only preview party, Portland Ovations unveiled the slate of more than 20 shows that it will bring to Greater Portland during its upcoming season.

The season begins in September and highlights include appearances by Anthony Bourdain, the Alvin Ailey dance troupe and the Handel & Haydn Society, along with the musical theater productions of “Mamma Mia,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot” and “South Pacific.”

Shows will take place at Merrill Auditorium, USM’s Hannaford Hall, South Portland Auditorium and the Westbrook Performing Arts Center.

When it came time to hand out the coveted 2011-2012 catalogs, Executive Director Aimee Petrin told the crowd of roughly 100 supporters “because you’re here tonight, you get them first.”

Petrin also walked us through each upcoming performance. She pointed out that the “Good vs. Evil: Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert” show will include a special after party with the celebrity chefs for VIP ticket holders, and that the India Jazz Suites show “will be one of the standouts of the season.”

Petrin told us to be on the lookout for a “spontaneous urban dance event” when the Trey McIntyre Project dance company is in town and for the flash concert the Shuffle.Play.Listen duo will perform at Space Gallery the night before its show at Merrill.

When describing the Golden Dragon Acrobats from China, Petrin said it’s the kind of show that “makes you wonder did you pay the liability insurance?”

Before the preview we all enjoyed a reception in the Rines Auditorium at the Portland Public Library featuring appetizers and drinks donated by Whole Foods Market.

“I’ve been on the board for six years, and they’ve really changed as an organization,” April Ylvisaker told me during the reception.

She’s been impressed by the organization’s increased community outreach and the wider diversity of shows it now brings to Greater Portland.

“Art really has a way of bringing people together whether they know it or not,” board member Mary Noyes told me. “To be in that live setting really impacts those in the audience.”

Board President Janet Bowne agreed, when she told me, “The experience of live performance is so critical to humanity. When it’s cold and snowy, you may say ‘Do I want to go?’ But even if you don’t like it, it flips a switch in your brain.”

Barbara Gulino of Whole Foods Market, which is a corporate sponsor of Portland Ovations, told me: “Thank goodness for Portland Ovations. They bring the arts to Portland, so you don’t have to feel like you have to go to Boston.”

After the season’s schedule was revealed, board member Marcia Minter echoed this sentiment when she told me, “It’s a wonderful variety. We’re so lucky to have these quality performances coming to us.” 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

akamila@pressherald.com

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Twitter.com/AveryYaleKamila