Emma David is one of nine featured soloists in “Paquita,” a terpsichorean showcase that’s running through this weekend at Maine State Ballet in Falmouth. Courtesy/Maine State Ballet oto)

With the calendar flipping to October and a chill in the air, it’s clear that the fall-winter-spring seasons of southern Maine’s performing arts organizations are fully underway.

Maine State Ballet opened its 2019-2020 program year this past weekend with a double bill. “Paquita” and “The Firebird” are presented as a package, with performances slated through Sunday.

Portland Ovations opens its 2019-2020 Broadway and Beyond series this Friday and Saturday with a national touring production of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”

The Portland Bach Experience celebrates the turning of the calendar page with Oktoberfest.

Maine State Ballet

The period between Oct. 4 and Nov. 24 has been designated as Portland Dance Month by a coalition of performing arts organizations and independent artists.

There’s no better way to join the fun than by attending Maine State Ballet’s 2019-2020 season-opener, which debuted last Saturday and continues through this weekend.


What I saw on Saturday was a double bill based on two contrasting styles of dance. “Paquita” is an epitome of classical ballet, while “The Firebird” exhibits a neo-classical style trending toward modern. The former is a light-hearted collection of pieces that showcase Julia Lopez, recently promoted to principal dancer by the company, eight other soloists and a full ensemble of 15. And I should also note that “Paquita” showcases the incredible artistry of Gail Csoboth, the company’s longtime costume designer.

“The Firebird” tells a fairy tale, complete with an evil sorcerer who lives in a deep, dark forest and holds captive a beautiful princess and her eight ladies-in-waiting. When a handsome prince stumbles upon this place, he falls in love with the princess, but the sorcerer captures him and is about to execute him when he is rescued by a beautiful creature – half bird, half woman and 100 percent ballerina. You can guess the rest.

Rhiannon Pelletier, another of the company’s principal dancers, shines in the title role. I can’t claim any expertise in ballet, but I found the evening to be totally entertaining and engaging.

Maine State Ballet presents “Paquita” and “The Firebird” at its Falmouth headquarters at 348 Route 1, with performances at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Call 781-3587.

‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’

Sixty-one years ago a high school student from Brooklyn, New York, wrote a song and proposed to sell it in the reigning marketplace of pop music, Tin Pan Alley. Her mom laughed, treating Carol Klein’s goal as a joke.

But Klein persisted and the song, “It Might As Well Rain Until September,” became a hit for herself and later Bobby Vee. Thus began the real-life story that is the basis for the Broadway show “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”


The national touring production of this show is opening Portland Ovations’ 2019-2020 Broadway and Beyond series this Friday and Saturday.

Under her new stage name and with husband-lyricist Gerry Goffin, Carole King became the reigning Queen of Pop Music, penning chart-toppers for the big names of the day, including Vee, the Drifters, the Shirelles, and the Righteous Brothers.

Most of her early successes were as co-writer, but when she recorded her own material in her own voice and style, “Tapestry” became one of the top-selling albums of the 20th century. That, in turn, led to national and international tours.

“Beautiful” was written by Douglas McGrath as a jukebox musical in biographical format. The Broadway production won two Tony Awards.

It has a large cast of characters, including Goffin and many prominent figures from the pop music world of the 1960s and beyond.

Portland Ovations presents “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” for three performances at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall: 8 p.m. Oct. 4 and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 5. Call PortTIX at 842-0800.


Portland Bach Experience

Palaver Strings will be featured this Friday and Saturday in Portland Bach Experience’s Oktoberfest. This 11-member ensemble is based in Boston, but they’re making an impact in Portland, and four performances this weekend is one of the ways they’re making their mark.

Portland Bach Experience is the brainchild of Emily Isaacson, also known as the leader of the Oratorio Chorale. For this weekend’s Oktoberfest, Palaver Strings will play four times. The first three will be informal performances in venues not normally associated with music – such as the Customs House. The final performance will be in a traditional concert format in a Falmouth church.

That concert, titled “Like Father, Like Son,” will feature the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the musical genius of the Baroque period, and son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, an early exemplar of the Classical.

For tickets and information, visit PortlandBachExperience.com.


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