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Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 30, 2019 and Island Ad-Vantages, May 30, 2019 and The Weekly Packet, May 30, 2019
Opera House Arts announces 20th anniversary season

Opera House Arts (OHA), under the leadership of Per Janson, has announced in a news release the performing arts center’s 20th anniversary season.

OHA’s summer lineup will feature something for everyone, including Shakespeare in Love; Avalon, a world premiere at Nervous Nellie’s; a collaboration with Bates Dance Festival and The Yard; the 19th Annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival, featuring this year’s American Pianists’ Association Award winner; as well as plenty of concerts and family shows. This summer OHA also introduces Pay-What-You-Wish Previews for the first performances of its two mainstage theater productions as well as an expansion of its free ticket policy for students attending live performances to include all students from Hancock County, grades K-12.

The season kicks off June 3 with The Worksong Project, a concert by Bennett Kosnesni, featuring his own twist on field hollers and sea shanties found deep in the Bagaduce Music archives. Following this start is a series of Live! For $5 shows on Wednesday evenings. Audiences of all ages can catch Sue’s School of Dance, Jennifer Armstrong’s Songs & Stories, and Shane Miclon’s acclaimed juggling for just five dollars a ticket.

Miclon will also make a guest appearance at OHA’s 20th Anniversary Summer Gala on July 6, where The Circus is the theme, and attendees can celebrate all things Under the Big Top.

Continuing the concert series throughout the summer are performances by Russian pianist Arsentiy Kharitinov, as well as the soulful interpretations of Kafari and Jake Hoffman, honoring the roots of bluegrass and old-time music. Kafari and Hoffman will also host a free workshop for all ages on July 17 at the Burnt Cove Church Community Center.

Before July is through, OHA will open its 20th Shakespeare in Stonington production, Shakespeare in Love, by Lee Hall, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, and directed by Julia Sears.

To further celebrate the classics, OHA’s concert series continues with members of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra as well as a free performance by the young artists of Kneisel Hall’s chamber music conservatory, both just before award-winning Happenstance Theatre’s vintage clowns take to the Opera House stage in Preposterous!, another Live! For $5 performance for the whole family.

August begins with the 19th annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival, curated by music journalist Larry Blumenfeld, featuring legendary masters alongside today’s most electrifying up-and-coming musicians. Aruán Ortiz and Don Byron launch the festival with their synergetic sound on Friday, August 2, followed by recent grand prize winner of the American Pianists’ Association Awards, Emmet Cohen, in a performance on Saturday, August 3, featuring world-renowned jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb.

In the spirit of riffing and improvisatory response comes a unique multi-disciplinary dance performance from Joanna Kotze and her team on August 6. What will we be like when we get there is a playful collaboration with the Stonington Opera House itself, exploring the immediacy of space and the objects found there. The day prior, the artists will host a public talk and free workshop.

In addition to producing extant plays over the past twenty years, OHA has built a legacy of commissioning original, site-specific theater. At the height of the summer comes the world premiere of playwright-performer Melody Bates’ reimagining of the Arthurian legend, Avalon, co-directed by Joan Jubett and Laura Butler Rivera, with dramaturgy by OHA co-founder Judith Jerome. Set in the outdoor sculpture park that is co-creator Peter Beerits’ beloved “Nellieville,” this immersive play spirits you along the grounds, both magical and haunting, creating a singular atmosphere for this bold new work to be born.

Bookending Avalon is a diverse range of music, including Matt Dane and Annie Antonacos, Palaver Strings, David Mallet’s beloved folk songs, and the unique rhythms of Duo Yumeno. as well as a continuation of Live! For $5 performances.

At the close of the summer, Opera House Arts will sponsor the Maine Outdoor Film Festival (MOFF) for the second consecutive year on August 29. MOFF provides independent filmmakers, capturing stories of the great outdoors, a platform to showcase their creative work while bringing short films to Maine folks wherever they might be, for free. This event is a great way catch a movie without missing out on a lovely summer night Down East. Food vendors line the Stonington Ball Field, just up the street from the Opera House and iconic Fish Pier, so audiences can enjoy a picnic before the movies begin to roll.