ORONO — Dinner inspired by White House menus, a political comedy performance and the unveiling of a refurbished chandelier sculpture will be among the highlights of the gala set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine.

The Capitol Steps will kick off the 31st season at the CCA with a humorous look at politics. The satirical Senate staffers, who delve into current headlines to create song parodies, began performing in 1981. They’ve recorded more than 30 albums, performed for five U.S. presidents and have been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” CNN’s “Inside Politics” and NBC’s “Today Show,” according to a news release from the university.

“I cannot think of a better way to kick off our 31st season — which happens to fall within high political season — than with a gala performance from the Capitol Steps,” said CCA Executive Director Danny Williams in the release. “Their quality and appeal are emblematic of what audiences can expect throughout the season.”

The celebratory evening begins at 5 p.m. with a reception in Miller’s Café at CCA, where the renovated “Flame of Inspiration” will be unveiled. The 21-foot-tall, one-ton bronze sculpture was the centerpiece of the lobby when the Maine Center for the Arts — now the Collins Center — opened Sept. 20, 1986.

Castine artist Clark Fitz-Gerald created the sculpture, which was a gift from the class of 1942. It graced the foyer for more than two decades, including when Yo-Yo Ma and Isaac Stern performed at the 1986 MCA grand opening.

During extensive renovations to the center between 2007 and 2009 — and the Maine Center for the Arts transition to the CCA — the flame was removed and stored. Metal sculptor and artist Stephen Fitz-Gerald, son of Clarke Fitz-Gerald, prepared the flame for its second unveiling.

“By reinstalling the flame, we not only return this signature piece to its intended home, we honor the Class of ’42’s exceptional generosity,” says Williams in the release.

At the gala dinner, Esther Nettles Rauch will be presented the Wilma Award. Named in honor of Wilma Bradford, the annual award is given to a community member who has made substantial contributions to the center and to the promotion and enhancement of cultural activities in Maine.

Gala tickets — which include the reception, dinner made following recipes in White House cookbooks and great seats for the show — are $115–$125 per person.

Capitol Steps tickets are $25–$45 per person. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit collinscenterforthearts.com, or call 581-1755. To request a disability accommodation, call 581-1755.

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