Taylor Mac’s “Little Fang.” Photo courtesy of Portland Ovations

Up in Evans Notch this past weekend a few of the deciduous trees have begun to turn to autumn colors, and that’s a sure sign that Maine’s performing arts performers, producers and presenters will soon open their fall-winter-spring seasons. First to go is Portland Ovations, which launches its 2019-2020 season on September 19 with Taylor Mac’s “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged).”

Singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, a three-time Grammy Award winner whose specialty is Americana, appears at the State Theatre on September 17.

Don’t tell the folks at Ogunquit Playhouse that summer’s over. The venerable playhouse’s 2019 season continues with “Menopause The Musical,” which runs through Saturday.

Taylor Mac

Twenty-four decades have elapsed since the American Declaration of Independence, a fact that has inspired the latest creation of Taylor Mac, a multi-genre playwright, performing artist and drag queen who will launch Portland Ovations’ 2019-2020 season on September 19.

Based in New York, where he works extensively in cabaret settings, Mac’s 20-plus-year career has been described as a category-defying confrontation with conformity. He goes by the stage name of judy (all lower case) which he says honors Judy Garland, and loves to perform in huge, elaborate and outrageously colorful costumes and headdresses in the style made famous by Carmen Miranda.

Is it a sign of genius? In 2017, Mac received the so-called “Genius Grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Mac has performed around the world in some of its most prestigious venues, including the Sidney Opera House and the Spoleto Festival.

His most recent critical attention came from “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music,” which he created with music director Matt Ray and longtime collaborator and costume designer Machine Dazzle. Their concept devotes one hour to the music of each decade of American history since 1776. This, of course, takes a full day and night to perform, which he did in a 2017 performance that garnered a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Mac is currently on tour with an abridged version of this musical marathon, and it’s opening the upcoming 2019-2020 season for Portland Ovations, in a co-production with Portland’s State Theatre.

Catch Taylor Mac’s “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged)” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at the State Theatre, 609 Congress St. in Portland. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Lucinda Williams

Three-time Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams has had a long and productive career, and she’s currently on tour with a show that emphasizes her many past accomplishments. Her style is best described as Americana, which fuses a number of American formats including country, blues, rock and soul, combining introspective lyrics and honest singing that connect with legions of fans.

The singer-songwriter’s first Grammy, Best Country Song, came from penning “Passionate Kisses” in 1994, which was a huge hit single for Mary Chapin Carpenter and is still a retro-radio staple. “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” copped a 1998 Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Associaion of America. “Get Right With God” garnered her third Grammy, in the 2002 Best Female Rock Vocal Performance category.

Catch Lucinda Williams at 8 p.m. Sept. 17 at the State Theatre, 609 Congress St. in Portland. Call 956-6000.

‘Menopause The Musical’

If menopause is the real bummer that my lady friends tell me it is, then why are thousands of women convulsing with laughter when they attend “Menopause The Musical” at the Ogunquit Playhouse?

The answer demonstrates the comic genius of Jeanie Linders, a playwright who created a theatrical sensation that debuted in Florida in 2001 and moved Off-Broadway the following year. Multiple productions have been touring the U.S. and the world ever since.

Hot flashes, sweats, mood swings, memory loss, insomnia, strained relations and other symptoms of “the change” become rich fodder for Linders, whose theatrical mega-hit involves four stereotypical characters and a comic re-write of the lyrics to 20 popular tines of the 1960s and 1970s.

The four are Professional Woman (Anise Ritchie), Soap Star (Kathy St. George), Iowa Housewife (Roberta B. Wall) and Earth Mother (Melanie Souza), This current production introduces a minor fifth character, Hostess (Cindy Williams), who tells a few jokes and participates in a couple of the musical numbers.

When I saw this show this past weekend — men comprised about a quarter of the audience — my top picks among the performers were Ritchie, whose imposing stage presence was equaled by her soaring soprano voice, and Wall, whose pantomime battle with a few items of intimate apparel brought down the house with gales of laughter.

Ogunquit Playhouse, a mile south of the village on Route 1, presents “Menopause The Musical” through Sept. 14. Call 646-5511 or visit OgunquitPlayhouse.org.

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