The upcoming season at the Collins Center for the Arts kicks off with a concert that exemplifies much of what’s different at the University of Maine performing arts center. It’s a rock show, tickets are relatively inexpensive ($28-$33), and it’s a co-presentation with Waterfront Concerts. Jam band moe. will take the stage on Friday, Sept. 12.
“This is a partnership with Waterfront Concerts, and it’s really exciting for us,” said Danny Williams, the Collins Center for the Arts’ executive director since March, replacing longtime director John Patches, who retired in January after 22 years. “We have an opportunity here to build a great relationship with Waterfront Concerts, and to further diversify the programming we offer here. … We could foresee up to 10 co-presented concerts each year.”
Aside from moe., there are four collaborations planned with the Waterfront Concerts for the Collins Center for the Arts’ 2014-15 season, including swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Sept. 20, comedian Kevin James on Oct. 14 and r&b singer Boz Scaggs on Oct. 16. At least two more high-profile music and comedy acts for 2014 and 2015 will be announced in the coming weeks.
Williams’ goal is to offer the most varied season possible — one that reaffirms the Collins Center for the Arts’ longstanding commitment to presenting world-class dance, theater and classical music and to being a resource for the student body at UMaine, while bringing in audiences who might not otherwise attend a Collins Center for the Arts performance.
There are five categories for the various events this season. There’s the Chamber Music Series, which takes place mostly at Minsky Recital Hall on the UMaine campus; the School of Performing Arts Series, which features UMaine student performing arts ensembles; the Bangor Symphony Orchestra Series, with concerts on Oct. 12, Nov. 23, Dec. 20-21, Feb. 1, March 8 and 21 and April 12; the Broadcast Series, which includes The Met in HD and the London National Theatre simulcast; and the Maine Stage Series, which includes all other national touring performances, from rock concerts to ballet to Broadway musicals.
“We want to offer something for everybody, which includes our roots, of course, along with new audiences,” said Williams. “Diversity is the key.”
The chamber music series this year includes performances from the exceptional Parker Quartet on Sept. 14, pioneering cellist Matt Haimovitz on Oct. 26, vocal ensemble the Vancouver Chamber Choir on March 3, and the Amernet String Quartet with UMaine music professor pianist Phillip Silver on March 29. All performances are at Minsky Recital Hall, except for the Vancouver Chamber Choir, which is set for St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bangor.
The Maine Stage Series, in addition to concerts, boasts several unique events, including the national tour kickoff for “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” the Stephen King and John Mellencamp-penned musical set for Nov. 8 and 9. “Ghost Brothers” also is set to be the Collins Center for the Arts’ gala event, with a special party set for the evening of Nov. 8 at UMaine’s Fogler Library — a departure from previous gala events, and appropriate, considering the literary impact of King, UMaine’s most famous alumnus. Details about the Fogler gala will be announced in the coming weeks.
“We want to try different things and not do the same thing every year simply because it’s been done every year,” said Karen Cole, who started as the Collins Center for the Arts’ associate director over the summer. “Fogler is a beautiful space with a gorgeous reading room that will be really special, and it’s only a short walk through the Union to the Collins Center.”
Other highlights include the touring Broadway musicals “Sister Act” on Jan. 16 and “Memphis” on April 28; plays including Aquila Theatre’s “Wuthering Heights” on Sept. 30 and a circus-tinged children’s theater production of “Harold and the Purple Crayon” on Nov. 16; crowd-pleasers such as “Dancing Pros Live!” hosted by Alan Thicke on Nov. 18 and Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas show on Dec. 9; and unusual offerings such as “Cirk la Putyka: Slapstick Sonata,” a European physical theatre show set to classical music slated for Oct. 28, and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, a inventive, all-ukulele ensemble playing many genres of music, set for April 23.
For a full schedule of the events for the 2014-15 Collins Center for the Arts season, visit collinscenterforthearts.com. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 581-1755.