For many arts organizations, fall marks the start of a new season of programming, but since the start of the pandemic, that’s come with an asterisk. Events have been canceled, postponed or presented digitally. Audiences have been limited and subjected to strict protocols. But this season, the Maine arts schedule is as full as any fall before it, and in some cases, we’re finally seeing those shows that were supposed to happen back before “variant” was part of our vernacular. The coming months are on track to bring more cultural riches than we’ve had in a while. Here are the highlights in visual arts, theater, music, dance and more.


“At First Light,” Bowdoin College Museum of Art, open through Nov. 6

An exhibit at the Bowdoin Museum of Art attempts to capture 200 years’ worth of artwork depicting the state of Maine.

Featuring more than 100 pieces from acclaimed artists, including Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Lynne Drexler, Marsden Hartley, Lois Dodd, Katherine Bradford, William Wegman and more, the exhibit titled “At First Light,” opened in June and runs through Nov. 6.

Originally scheduled to coincide with Maine’s bicentennial in 2020, the exhibit highlights Bowdoin’s diversifying collection, particularly pieces of American art, but explores how artists have shaped our understanding of Maine’s landscapes, communities and people.


For more information, go to

“Song,” Laura Dean Dance Co., 1977. Oil on canvas. 96 by 144 inch. Milwaukee Art Museum, Promised gift of Alex Katz in honor of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley, L126.1993. © Alex Katz / Licensed by VAGA, New York, New York.

“Alex Katz: Theater and Dance,” Colby College Museum of Art, open through February

For more than 70 years, New York artist Alex Katz, who has deep ties to Maine and lives part-time in Lincolnville, has been one of the most prolific painters of the 20th and 21st centuries.

His work has been featured in more than 250 solo exhibitions across the country and internationally, including at the Colby College Museum of Art, which has an entire wing devoted to the more than 400 pieces the artist donated in 1992.

Katz is lesser known for but also accomplished in designing sets and costumes for theater and dance productions dating back to the late 1950s.

For the first time, an exhibition of that work, titled “Alex Katz: Theater and Dance,” is on display at the Colby museum through Feb. 19. For more information, go to


“Louise Nevelson: Dawn to Dusk,” Farnsworth Art Museum, opens Sept. 23 

When renowned sculptor Louise Nevelson emigrated with her family from what is now Ukraine at the turn of the 20th century, she landed in Rockland at the age of 5.

It’s only fitting that a major retrospective of her work would be presented at the Farnsworth Art Museum, also in Rockland.

Beginning Sept. 23 (Nevelson’s birthday) and running through the end of 2025, “Louise Nevelson: Dawn to Dusk,” will be exhibited at the Farnsworth, which has the second-largest holding of her work. More than 40 paintings, drawings and figurative sculptures will be on display, as well as examples of abstract painted wood constructions and collages she became known for and handcrafted jewelry.

“When I was growing up in Rockland from grammar school to high school, there was no museum,” Nevelson said in 1985 during an exhibit at the Farnsworth. “One of the great joys of my life is that we have a first-rate one now – a beautiful building that encloses creative works that can stand with the great ones.”

Ray Yamamoto as Manford Lum in “The Great Leap,” playing at Portland Stage. Photo by Rachel Philipson



“The Great Leap,” Portland Stage, Sept. 14 to Oct. 2. 

Portland Stage, in collaboration with New York-based Hangar Theatre, opens its fall season with a production of “The Great Leap,” by playwright Lauren Yee.

It’s the story of Manford Lum, a playground basketball legend in San Francisco’s Chinatown who joins an American college team traveling to Beijing for a cross-cultural “friendship” game. Lum’s story is set in the late 1980s, in post-cultural revolution China, and was inspired by Yee’s father who, like Lum, was a hoops star who played on an American team during an exhibition series in China.

Written in 2018, the play has been on several regional stages, including Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre in 2019-20.

The Portland Stage production is directed by Natsu Onoda Power, a theater professor at Georgetown University and artistic director of the college’s Davis Performing Arts Center.

The same cast and production crew, including Portland Stage’s Anita Stewart as set designer and Myles Hatch as stage manager, presented “The Great Leap” at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York, in August.


For tickets ($20-$70) and more information, go to

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” Ogunquit Playhouse, Sept. 15 to Oct. 30

The regional premiere of the Broadway hit “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” comes to the Ogunquit Playhouse this year, which is also when the legendary singer-songwriter turned 80.

The play, written by Douglas McGrath, charts King’s rise from teenage songwriter in Brooklyn to pop royalty, albeit with some struggles along the way, and includes a host of imminently recognizable songs, including “It’s Too Late” and “So Far Away.”

In addition to her own success as a musician (her 1971 album “Tapestry” remains one of the top-selling albums of all time), King was a prolific songwriter who wrote or co-wrote many titles made famous by other artists, including “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin, “Up on the Roof” by the Drifters and “You’ve Got a Friend” by her longtime friend and collaborator, James Taylor.

She wrote one of her most famous songs, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” at age 17 with her first husband and writing partner, Gerry Goffin, who plays a major role in the musical.


The musical ran from 2014 to 2019 on Broadway, putting a spotlight back on King’s music catalogue much the same way “Jersey Boys,” did for the Four Seasons a decade earlier. For tickets ($47-$108) and more detailed information about performances, go to

“Chicago,” Portland Ovations, Oct. 7-8

Another national tour comes to Portland for a pair of shows in October that will feature a bit of the old razzle dazzle.

The classic musical “Chicago,” set in the 1920s and known for its endless string of big song-and-dance numbers, first premiered in 1975, but the 1996 Broadway revival has now been going strong for 25 years.

The Merrill Auditorium stage will host the national tour on back-to-back nights.

Written by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, the musical follows nightclub dancer Roxie Hart, who murders her lover and is imprisoned while she awaits trial. Inside, she meets a former dancer, Velma Kelly, who sees in Hart an opportunity to help get her out and revive her career. Outside, meanwhile, Hart’s slick lawyer, Billy Flynn, does whatever it takes to rebrand his client from murderer to victim.


“Chicago” is both a great introduction to musical theater (you’ve probably already heard “All That Jazz” anyway) and a show that theater enthusiasts can keep coming back to.

Tickets are $45-$80. For more information, go to


Dimensions in Jazz series, Portland Conservatory of Music, Sept. 9 to Oct. 28

The Portland Conservatory of Music is hosting a series, Dimensions in Jazz, throughout September and October to showcase the best in contemporary jazz musicians.

Organized by local jazz promoter Paul Lichter, the 2022 lineup features: saxophonist Anna Webber and her band Simple Trio (Sept. 9); Japanese artist Satoko Fuji on piano and Natsuki Tamura on trumpet (Sept. 16); the Joe Fonda Trio of New York (Sept. 24); Boston-based trio The Fringe, featuring George Garzone on saxophone, John Lockwood on bass and Francisco Mela on drums (Oct. 8); Pandelis Karayorgis, a Boston-based pianist, and his quartet (Oct. 15); and a sextet led by Maine Wabanaki bassist and composer Mali Obomsawin, whose latest work, Sweet Tooth, is a suite for Indigenous Resistance, weaving together original compositions and arrangements with archival pieces from her community at Wabanaki First Nation (Oct. 28).


Tickets are $20 in advance, $15 for seniors, $5 for students, and $25 at the door.

Gary Clark Jr., State Theatre, Sept. 15

The State Theatre has lots of concerts all fall, but here’s one of the highlights: Gary Clark Jr. is a guitarist and singer from Texas who blends blues, rock, soul and hip-hop. In 2020, his song “This Land” won the Grammy for best rock song.

Tickets to Clark’s Sept. 15 show at the State Theatre in Portland are $45 in advance and $50 on the day of the show. For more information on this show and the full State Theatre fall schedule, go to

Stevie Nicks, seen here at the Bonnaroo festival in June, will play Bangor Sept. 22. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Stevie Nicks, Maine Savings Amphitheater, Sept. 22

How important is Stevie Nicks to the history of rock and roll? Well, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice, first in 1998 as a member of Fleetwood Mac and then as a solo artist in 2019.


Her raspy yet powerful voice is instantly recognizable on some of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits of the ’70s like “Tusk,” “Rhiannon” and “Go Your Own Way.” She also had hit duets with Tom Petty (“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”) and Don Henley (“Leather and Lace”). Her solo hits include “Edge of Seventeen” and “Stand Back.” Tickets to her show in Bangor are $49.50 to $199.50. For more information, go to

Portland Symphony Pops! Music of Queen, Oct. 15-16

For years, the Portland Symphony Orchestra has combined world-class symphonic music with more recognizable songs as part of its Pops! series.

The first Pops! concert of the 2022-23 season will feature the songs of Queen, the British rock band that rose to stardom in the 1970s in no small part thanks to larger-than-life lead singer Freddie Mercury.

Members of the orchestra will perform songs from Queen’s catalog under the direction of guest conductor Brent Havens, who has written music for television, movies and industrial productions for three decades as part of the company he founded, Virginia-based Windborne Productions, Inc.

Accompanying the orchestra on vocals will be Justin Matthew Sargent, a singer and actor who has appeared in Broadway musicals, has performed with John Legend and Alice Cooper, and has done a stint as guest singer for the band Air Supply.


For tickets ($12-$91) and more information, go to


“Can Can Parisien,” Maine State Ballet, Oct. 8-15

Before its attention turns to the holiday standard, “The Nutcracker,” Maine State Ballet will kick off its 2022 season with five performances of “Can Can Parisien” at the Ballet’s Lopez Theater in Falmouth.

The dance comedy invites audiences to visit 1870s Paris and meet a host of colorful characters, including a glove seller, her admiring baron, a love-smitten tourist and a mysterious lady in red.

Can can dancing originated in the early 19th century and is known for its high energy and high leg kicks (think the Rockettes).


The ballet is pulling out the stops to make the theater feel like France, too. Prior to the show, the concession area will transform into a café with bonbons and fizzy drinks, art prints from French Impressionists hung on the wall and cast members in character wandering around.

Maine State Ballet is a professional dance company and school founded in 1986. For tickets ($15-$22) and additional information, go to

“Giselle,” Portland Ballet, Oct. 22-29

The Portland Ballet opens its 2022-23 season with consecutive weekends of the classic 19th-century French ballet “Giselle.”

The romantic tale follows a peasant girl, Giselle, who falls in love with a nobleman whose betrayal condemns her to an unearthly realm. The ballet is still performed often all over the world and is considered one of the more challenging to dance.

The company will perform matinee and evening shows on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Sanford Performing Arts Center before heading to the Westbrook Performing Arts Center for performances on Friday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 29.


Tickets are $12-$34. More information at

“Flamenco Intimo,” Portland Ovations, Oct. 26

His full name is Juan Manuel Fernandez Montoya, but on stage he goes by the singular Farruquito, and he’s among the top flamenco dancers in the world.

The 40-year-old Spaniard, who performs internationally, will bring his electric dance performance to Merrill Auditorium as part of Portland Ovations Raise the Barre dance series.

Born into flamenco royalty, Farruquito first appeared on Broadway when he was just 4 years old, alongside his grandfather, El Farruco.

Flamenco dancing, set to guitar-based folk music and known for its expressiveness and passion, originated in Spain but is practiced in other European countries as well as in Latin America.


Portland Ovations is a nonprofit performing arts organization that brings a variety of live shows to Merrill Auditorium year-round.

Tickets are $25-$50. For more information, go to


Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival, Sept. 17 and 18

Portland’s Indigo Arts Alliance, along with eight community partners, will present the third annual Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival on Sept. 17-18, celebrating Black children’s books and their creators.

The festival, founded in 2020 by the nonprofit alliance, includes events in Portland, Lewiston and Rockland and will honor author and artist Ashley Bryan, who died in February. Bryan’s picture book, “Beautiful Blackbird,” provided the name and inspiration for the event.


Participating venues and organizations include: the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Ridah Ridah Entertainment, the Farnsworth Museum, LA Arts and the Lewiston Public Library.

More than 4,500 books will be given away during the festival.

The full schedule of events and additional information is available at

Elizabeth Strout book event for “Lucy by the Sea,” Sept. 20

Pulitzer Prize-winning Maine novelist Elizabeth Strout’s latest book, “Lucy by the Sea,” will be released Sept. 20, when Strout will do a virtual book event at 8 p.m. on Zoom as part of the Random House Studio Session series. Strout will talk about returning to the characters of Lucy Barton and her ex-husband, William, as they end up stuck together for several months in Maine during lockdown.

Strout, who lives in Brunswick and New York City, is the New York Times best-selling author of “My Name is Lucy Barton” and “Oh, William!” as well as “Olive Kitteridge,” which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Tickets to the online event are $23.80 to $30 and include a copy of the book. For more information and to register, go to


Maine Lit Fest, Sept. 30 through Oct. 8

People always say Maine is full of great writers. But the upcoming Maine Lit Fest, with about two dozen free events at locations in Waterville and Portland from Sept. 30 through Oct. 8, provides undeniable evidence. It’s a chance to see and hear a huge range of Maine literary talent, from writers of comics, children’s books and fiction to poets, cookbook writers and journalists. The festival is organized by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.

Some of the Waterville highlights include a talk by “Big Nate” comic strip artist Lincoln Peirce and a workshop with Maine Poet Laureate Julia Bouwsma, both on Oct. 1 at Green Block + Studio. Some of the Portland highlights include a celebration of Native writers on Oct. 4 at the University of Southern Maine with Morgan Talty, Terese Marie Mailhot and Joan Naviyuk Kane. On Oct. 8, in Monument Square, there will be an “illustrator draw off” featuring Chris Van Dusen, Scott Nash and others, as well as an event hosted by Richard Russo focusing on new Maine authors. For more information and specific times and locations, go to

Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan, Oct. 16

Authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan will share the State Theatre stage on Oct. 16 to talk about their new book “Mad Honey.” The novel is being billed by its publisher as a love story and suspense tale and a “powerful exploration of the secrets we keep and the risks we take in order to become ourselves.”

The evening is presented by the State Theatre and Print: A Bookstore in Portland and each $35 ticket comes with a copy of the book. Picoult is a New York Times bestselling author who has published 28 novels and lives in New Hampshire. Boylan is a transgender activist, former faculty member at Colby College in Waterville and best-selling author of “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders.” For more information go to



Camden International Film Festival, Sept. 15-25

The 18th edition of the Camden International Film Festival will feature in-person screenings and events Sept. 15-18, but also online presentations until Sept. 25. Venues include the Camden Opera House, the Strand Theatre in Rockland and the Shotwell Drive-In in Rockport. The festival’s website features descriptions of some 40 short films and more than 30 features from filmmakers based all around the world.

Some of the features include: “5 Dreamers and a Horse,” about several Armenians and their contrasting visions of their country; “All That Breathes,” focusing on two brothers in New Delhi, India, trying to save a bird called the black kite from the city’s polluted air; and “Subject,” focusing on how five people’s lives changed after they were the subject of acclaimed documentaries. One of the shorts has a very strong Maine connection, “Deerfoot of the Diamond,” about Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot tribe member from Maine who is recognized as the first Native American to play Major League Baseball, in the late 1800s.

All access passes to the festival are $250; virtual passes are $100. Some tickets may be available at the door if a screening is not sold out. For more information and passes, go to

A parade featuring Portland’s Shoestring Theater puppets will kick off the Puppets in Portland festival. Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Puppets in Portland, Sept. 20-25


The city’s vibrant puppet scene will take center stage Sept. 20-25 during the Puppets in Portland international puppet festival, at various times and locations. The event kicks off Sept. 20 with a free parade at 6 p.m. down Washington Avenue through Kennedy Park to Mayo Street Arts. It will feature the giant puppets of Shoestring Theater.

Puppet performances during the festival include “War Maker” by the Dafa Puppet Theatre, based in the Czech Republic, and “Body Concert” by New York-based Lone Wolf Tribe and inspired by Japanese Butoh dance. There will also be a performance by Tanglewood Marionettes of “Cinderella.” For more information on the festival, including times, locations and ticket prices go to

Taylor Tomlison and Nikki Glaser at the State Theatre in Portland, Oct. 7 and 8

Need a few laughs? If so, mark the second weekend in October on your calendar now. The State Theatre in Portland is hosting comics Taylor Tomlinson and Nikki Glaser on back-to-back nights, Oct. 7 and 8. Tomlinson, 28, has gained a huge following in the past couple years through two stand-up comedy specials released on Netflix, “Quarter-Life Crisis” in 2020 and “Look at You” in 2022. Tickets range from $28.25 to $158.25 for VIP packages.

Glaser, 38, has hosted three hit podcasts, including the daily “Nikki Glaser Podcast” launched in 2021. This year, E! launched a reality TV series called “Welcome Home Nikki Glaser” about her moving back in with her parents. Tickets range from $39.50 to $149.50 for a VIP meet-and-greet package. For tickets and more information on both shows, go to

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