Every year you can expect a certain amount of sameness from the arts scene – and a whole bunch of the unexpected too. The 2019-20 season is no different.
For example, Anchorage Opera will present two familiar classics this season but this February will produce “Frida,” a work based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. While the classics are revered, a steady diet of traditional work can actually be counterproductive for the art form, according to Anchorage Opera spokeswoman Judy Berry.
“It will be stronger for opera for its long-term health: not throwing out those masterpieces, but making room for new masterpieces,” Berry says.
Anchorage Community Theatre recently presented Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound” and will be doing “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in December. But ACT will also produce an offbeat, goth-infused musical called “Constance & Sinestra and the Cabinet of Screams,” and a musical called “Always … Patsy Cline,” about the tragically short life of the country singer.
And of course the Anchorage Concert Association will open its usual mixed bag. You’ll see tried-and-true productions like “The King and I,” “Chicago” and “The Nutcracker,” and well-known artists like The Capitol Steps and The Portland Cello Project. But you’ll also get a chance to see acts such as master magician Adam Trent, postmodern diva Meow Meow, jazz ensemble Sammy Miller and The Congregation, the dazzling spectacle of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze,” and lightning-fast improv with “Whose Live Anyway?” and The Improvised Shakespeare Company.
“It’s about variety,” says ACA spokesman Jason Hodges. “If we can be your first experience to the performing arts, we’d love that.” (Note: This guide runs through Dec. 31)
Unless otherwise noted, all performances take place at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and all tickets are available through CenterTix (263-2267).
Friday-Sunday, Sept. 6-15: “The Underpants” — Comedian and author Steve Martin reimagined a 1919 German play called “Die Hose” to create this bawdy comedy of manners that is still relevant a century later. Show times are 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Friday, Sept. 13: Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore — Whistling Swan Productions brings these two roots music legends to Anchorage for a concert of old-school blues and folk music along with original compositions. Joining them will be Rick Shea, Christy McWilson and Jon Langford. Show time is 7:30 p.m. (davealvin.net)
Friday-Sunday, Sept. 13-15: Sitka Music Festival Autumn Classics — Friday, Alfredo Oyaguez, cellist Zuill Bailey, pianist Susan Reed and the Atlanta-based Vega Quartet will perform “Danzas Espanolas,” the Turina piano quartet and short string quartet works by Puccini, Garner and Schulhoff. On Saturday, the performers will present the Glazunov Cello Quintet and works by Falla, Granados and Rodigo. The Sunday performance features the Haydn string quartet in B flat major, the Bartok string quartet No. 3 and the Walton cello concerto. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the UAA Recital Hall. A discount is available if you subscribe to both the Autumn and Winter Classics concert series. (sitkamusicfestival.org)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 13-14: Wild Kratts Live 2.0: Activate Creature Power! — Zoologist brothers Chris and Martin Kratt, who have an Emmy-nominated TV show, present a show that lets kids and parents help defeat a comic villain and save the animals of the world. Show time is 6:30 p.m. tonight and 1 p.m. Saturday. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Tonight through Oct. 6: “Hearts Like Fists” — In the mood for a fight-infused superhero noir comedy about nurses who become nighttime superheroes to take down the villainous Doctor X? Cyrano’s has you covered. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Cyrano’s, 3800 DeBarr Rd. (cyranos.org)
Sept. 19, 20 and 22: Sitka Music Festival Autumn Classics — Natasha Paremski will perform all four Rachmaninoff concertos on Sept. 19 and 20 (nos. 1 and 3 on Sept. 19 and 2 and 4 on Sept. 20). Grammy-winning cellist Zuill Bailey will perform Beethoven’s cello sonatas on Sept. 22. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the UAA Recital Hall. A discount is available if you subscribe to both the Autumn and Winter Classics concert series. (sitkamusicfestival.org)
Sept. 20: Che Apalache — This four-man string band has members from the United States, Mexico and Argentina, and their repertoire shows: Che Apalache has songs in Spanish and English, with styles ranging from Latin roots music to classic bluegrass. Show time is 7:30 p.m. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Sept. 20-Oct. 6: “Mamma Mia!” — Valley Performing Arts presents this musical story of a young woman seeking the identity of her biological father. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Glenn Massay Theatre, 8295 East College Dr., Palmer, AK 99645 (907-373-0195)
Sept. 21: Anchorage Symphony — Van Cliburn medalist Daniel Hsu returns to Anchorage to perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The symphony will also present works by Ravel, Berlioz and Gershwin. Show time is 8 p.m. (anchoragesymphony.org)
Sept. 27-29: The Suitcase Junket — Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Matt Lorenz presents a “fantastically patchwork sonic palette” of jangly folk, rock and blues. Show times for this Whistling Swan Productions show are 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Jitters in Eagle River, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Voth Hall (in the ACPA) and 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at Vagabond Blues in Palmer. (thesuitcasejunket.com)
Sept. 28: Adam Trent, magician — Now you see it, now you don’t – master magician Trent uses sleight of hand but also holograms, a robot, video screens and high-tech props. Show time is 7:30 p.m.; the performance is suitable for families. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Sept. 28: “Delights and Defiance of Divas” — Three divas – no waiting! Mezzo-soprano Linda Porter and sopranos Mari Hahn and Stasia Jamieson perform a concert of trios, songs and arias from operatic and art song milieus. Show time is 7:30 p.m. (ArtsUAA.com)
Oct. 1-6: “Mamma Mia!” (see above)
Oct. 3-6: “Hearts Like Fists” (see above)
Oct. 4-12: Anchorage Design Week — The Anchorage Museum hosts this design festival for the fourth year. Expect keynote speeches and talks, workshops and weekend socials, design community events, and a series of site-specific installations at the museum and other places in the city. See website for specific information and schedules. (AnchorageDesignWeek.org)
Oct. 5: We Banjo 3 — Two pairs of brothers from Galway, Ireland, perform “Celtgrass” music, a mix of traditional Irish tunes plus bluegrass and folk (including original tunes). 7:30 p.m. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Oct. 5: “The Cheechakos” (with the Anchorage Symphony) — The symphony performs as a backdrop to the first full-length feature filmed entirely in Alaska. It’s the story of an engineer who saves a shipwrecked woman from a dastardly gambler. 8 p.m. (anchoragesymphony.org)
Oct. 11-12: The Improvised Shakespeare Company — Watch nimble minds at work as this ensemble takes a suggested title from the audience and improvises a two-act play in a Shakespearean style. 7:30 p.m. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Oct. 11-20: “Romeo and Juliet” — The University of Alaska arts department presents Shakespeare’s classic tale of young lovers from feuding families. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the UAA Mainstage Theatre. (ArtsUAA.com)
Oct. 11-Nov. 3: “Constance & Sinestra and the Cabinet of Screams” — This “heartbreaking and twisted musical gothic fairy tale” is intended for ages 12 and up. 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Anchorage Community Theatre, 1133 E. 70th Ave. (actalaska.org/tickets)
Oct. 18: The Rad Trads — Indie rock, Americana and soul from a band that’s straight outta Brooklyn. Infectious energy is helped along by live horns and five disparate vocal styles. 7:30 p.m. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Oct. 18-Nov. 10: “Summerland” — Cyrano’s Theatre Company presents the Alaska premiere of a work by Anchorage playwright Arlitia Jones about a Victorian-era “spirit photographer” who claims to capture images of the dead. 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. (cyranos.org)
Oct. 18-Nov. 3: “The Haunting of Hill House” — Just in time for Halloween, a spooky story based on the story by Shirley Jackson. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Valley Performing Arts, 251 W. Swanson Ave., Wasilla. (907-373-0195)
Oct. 22-27: Disney’s The Little Mermaid — Like many teenagers, Ariel longs to see the world beyond her own home. This musical features the songs that made the animated film so much fun. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Oct. 25-26: Gloria! — The Alaska Chamber Singers present three masterworks for chorus and orchestra: Poulenc’s “Gloria,” Handel’s “The King Shall Rejoice” and Honegger’s “King David.” Show time is 8 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3900 Wisconsin St. (alaskachambersingers.org)
Oct. 25-Nov. 3: “Devilfish” — Perseverance Theatre premieres playwright Vera Starbard’s mythic work about an Alaska Native village destroyed by a sea creature. The sole survivor, a young girl, is guided by a wolf and an old legend to begin her life anew. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Nov. 1-3: “The Barber of Seville” — Anchorage Opera presents Rossini’s classic comic opera about love and marriage, which features manic energy and one of the most recognizable arias of all time. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. (anchorageopera.org)
Nov. 1-3: “Constance & Sinestra and the Cabinet of Screams” (see above)
Nov. 1-3: “Devilfish” (see above)
Nov. 1-3: “The Haunting of Hill House” (see above)
Nov. 1-10: “Summerland” (see above)
Nov. 1-March 15, 2020: SKJÆRINGSPUNKTER (“Intersections”) — Sámi artist Aslaug Magdalena Juliussen will create installations and sculptures that reflect life in northern Norway and the Arctic landscape. Juliussen uses elements such as reindeer antlers, bones and domestic textiles in this show at the Anchorage Museum. (anchoragemuseum.org)
Nov. 2: Soul Street Dance Company — “Breakin’ Backwards” is a mix of dance and athletics, including but not limited to traditional and classical dance, beat-boxing, Capoeira, poppin’ and power moves. It’s all done to music ranging from classical to Elvis to hip-hop. Show time is 7:30 p.m.; the program is recommended for ages 6 and up. (akjt.org)
Nov. 8: Sammy Miller and The Congregation — This performance of “jubilant jazz” is a great introduction to the genre, both for kids and newbie adults. Show time is 7:30 p.m. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Nov. 8: Natsuki Fukasawa — This Steinway artist, who tours worldwide, makes a stop at the UAA Recital Hall. Show time is 7:30 p.m. (ArtsUAA.com)
Nov. 9: Anchorage Symphony — Violinist Zach DePue performs Dvorak’s Concerto for Violin. The orchestra will also perform Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture” and Price’s Symphony No. 1. Show time is 8 p.m. (anchoragesymphony.org)
Nov. 14-17: Dance in Performance — Nine dances, with more than two dozen performers, showcase a wide range of choreographic styles. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the UAA Mainstage Theater. (ArtsUAA.com)
Nov. 16: Whose Live Anyway? — Inspired by the comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” this evening of improvisation features Greg Proops (from the British version of “Whose Line”), Dave Foley (“The Kids in the Hall”), Jeff B. Davis and Joel Murray. Show time is 7:30 p.m. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Nov. 29-Dec. 1: The Nutcracker — Ballet West presents this annual holiday tradition with help from some young Alaska dancers. Show times are 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Nov. 29-Dec. 22: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” — The worst kids in town show up to audition for the holiday pageant and things get, well, interesting. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Anchorage Community Theatre, 1133 E. 70th Ave. (actalaska.org/tickets)
Nov. 29-Dec. 22: “White Christmas: The Musical” — Valley Performing Arts presents this family musical based on the Irving Berlin movie musical. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at VPA, 251 W. Swanson Ave., Wasilla; some Saturday matinees will be scheduled. (373-0195)
Dec. 1: The Nutcracker (see above)
Dec. 1-22: “White Christmas: The Musical” (see above)
Dec. 1-22: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” (see above)
Dec. 7-22: “Stinkykids: The Musical” — Ever have a feeling it was going to be one of those days? That’s what happens to Britt, a girl who wakes up with gum in her hair – a mistake that jeopardizes the big trip to Captain Happy’s Jumpy-Fun-Super-Bouncy-Indoor Place. Show times are 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Cyrano’s, 3800 DeBarr Rd. (cyranos.org)
Dec. 13-15: Christmas With the Alaska Chamber Singers — The annual holiday concert features works by Bach, Grant Cochran, other works for chorus and harp, and traditional carols. Show times are 8 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14 at St. Patrick’s Parish, and 4 p.m. Dec. 15 at St. Andrew’s Church in Eagle River. (alaskachambersingers.org)
Dec. 20-22: Dan Bern — A longtime favorite with Whistling Swan fans, Bern brings his acoustic guitar and original songs to three locales. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Jitters in Eagle River, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at the ACPA and 6 p.m. Dec. 22 at Vagabond Blues in Palmer. (745-2233)
Dec. 20-29: “A Christmas Carol” — Anchorage playwright Arlitia Jones reimagines the classic Charles Dickens play about the true meaning of the holidays. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, 4 p.m. Dec. 22, noon and 4 p.m. Dec. 24, and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27 and 28. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Dec. 27-29: Cirque Dreams Holidaze — An extravaganza for the season, with music, dance, stylized acrobatics, multiple costume changes and lots of “how did they DO that?” imagery. Show times are 4 and 8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. and 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. (anchorageconcerts.org)
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the location of “Mamma Mia." It will be at the Glenn Massay Theatre in Palmer.