The 2013 PBS Arts Fall Festival returns in October with seven weekly programs that highlight Broadway classics, music from around the country, and legendary superstar Barbra Streisand.
Underscoring PBS’ ongoing commitment to giving audiences a front row seat and a backstage pass to the best of the arts on-air and online, the series will be hosted by award-winning television, film and stage star Anna Deavere Smith (“Nurse Jackie,” “The West Wing”) starting Friday, October 18, 2013 at 8pm.
New offerings in the Festival include: the television premiere of GREAT PERFORMANCES “Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn,” featuring the great singer’s return to her hometown; A RAISIN IN THE SUN REVISITED: The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage, which explores the impact of the groundbreaking play; NASHVILLE 2.0 which looks at some of the greatest Americana and folk music artists in the country music capital**; and a GREAT PERFORMANCES “40th Anniversary Celebration” with a star-studded lineup celebrating the iconic series at Lincoln Center. Also scheduled from GREAT PERFORMANCES are a star-studded version of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company, San Francisco Opera’s new operatic version of Moby-Dick and a re-airing of the 1999 London stage revival of Oklahoma!
“PBS’ commitment to arts programming has been strong for more than four decades, and our role as the broadcast industry’s only true home for the arts is solidified by this fall’s robust lineup,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “With the incredible 40-year run of GREAT PERFORMANCES on public television, and the constantly regenerating pool of creative talent we bring to viewers through the Festival, I think this is the strongest fall ever for the arts on PBS.”
“The Festival showcases all forms of art from across the country, with great star power and fantastic performances. It’s a veritable arts road-trip from New York to San Francisco with exciting stops along the way,” said PBS Vice President of Programming and Talent Management, Donald Thoms. “With Anna Deavere Smith as our host and guide, we expect these shows to resonate with audiences who seek out classic performances, cutting edge music and some of the greatest artists of all time.”
The full PBS Arts Fall Festival line-up follows below.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “40th Anniversary Celebration”
Friday, October 18, 2013, 8pm
Throughout its 40-year history on public television, GREAT PERFORMANCES has provided viewers with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of art, serving as America’s most prestigious center for the lively arts. Over four decades, GREAT PERFORMANCES has provided a national stage where popular artists reveal the surprising dimensions of their creative gifts and often go beyond audiences’ wildest expectations. The honored series has also offered artists a chance to pay homage to the influential figures in their lives and careers, and has spotlighted emerging artists in their feature-length television debuts. In celebration of this legacy, GREAT PERFORMANCES hosted an all-star celebration from Lincoln Center. A stellar roster of alumni share personal stories of what GREAT PERFORMANCES has meant to them, with reminiscences and performances by Julie Andrews, Audra McDonald, Don Henley, David Hyde Pierce, Josh Groban, Itzhak Perlman, Peter Martins, Patti Austin and Take 6, Met Opera star Elīna Garanča and Michael Bublé.
A RAISIN IN THE SUN REVISITED: The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage
Friday, October 25, 2013, 8pm
Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 drama, A Raisin in the Sun, was the first Broadway play to depict the strength and humanity of an African-American family striving for a piece of the American dream by buying a house in a white working-class neighborhood in Chicago. More than 50 years later, playwright Bruce Norris created Clybourne Park, a sardonic Pulitzer Prize-winning prequel and sequel that takes place in the same Chicago house and revisits the questions of race, real estate and gentrification in America.
Inspired by Hansberry’s original and Norris’ follow-up, Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Baltimore’s Center Stage, penned a third play, Beneatha’s Place, which follows two of the Raisin characters to Nigeria and its post-colonial struggles. Center Stage mounted Clybourne Park and Beneatha’s Place as “The Raisin Cycle” and as part of its 50th anniversary season. Producers James Arntz and John Paulson, in collaboration with Maryland Public Television, present A RAISIN IN THE SUN REVISITED: The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage. The 60-minute performance documentary captures the history and legacy of Raisin and the backstage challenges of mounting two issue-driven plays simultaneously.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Moby-Dick from San Francisco Opera”
Friday, November 1, 2013, 8pm
One of the nation’s leading opera companies, San Francisco Opera has been the site for many memorable GREAT PERFORMANCES productions. In October 2012, GREAT PERFORMANCES partnered with the company once again to record composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s acclaimed adaptation of the classic Herman Melville novel Moby-Dick. Joshua Kosman in The San Francisco Chronicle dubbed the opera “a masterpiece of clarity and intensity, with a score that is at once thematically compact and richly inventive.” Fresh from his headline-making appearance as a last-minute replacement in the title role of Siegfried in the Metropolitan Opera’s epic Ring Cycle, Jay Hunter Morris stars as the obsessive Captain Ahab. Richard Scheinin in the San Jose Mercury News raved that the tenor “sang with a pressurized fury that practically shook the seats of the War Memorial Opera House.”
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Stephen Sondheim’s Company with the New York Philharmonic”
Friday, November 8, 2013, 8pm
Legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s groundbreaking musical Company — which premiered in 1970 with a book by George Furth and a cast including Broadway luminaries Dean Jones, Elaine Stritch and Donna McKechnie — has continually acquired generations of new fans through various regional productions and its 1995 and 2006 Broadway revivals. Centering on Bobby, a bachelor celebrating his 35th birthday with his ten closest friends (who happen to be five couples), Company culminates in Bobby’s transformation from unattached swinger to tentative monogamist. This New York Philharmonic gala concert production starring Neil Patrick Harris as Bobby and directed by Sondheim veteran Lonny Price, won rave reviews. Harris’ co-stars include Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert, Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”), Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls), Jon Cryer and Martha Plimpton, who perform the show’s many standards including “Another Hundred People,” “Barcelona,” “Side by Side,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” and “Being Alive.” Also starring Craig Bierko, Katie Finneran, Aaron Lazar, Jill Paice, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Jim Walton and Chryssie Whitehead.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!”
Friday, November 15, 2013, 8pm
Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2013, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s landmark musical Oklahoma! is still “doin’ fine” in this award-winning production from London’s National Theatre. The magic of the original cast was captured in this handsome film adaptation that returns to GREAT PERFORMANCES for a special encore telecast. The acclaimed production, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Susan Stroman, set box office records during its runs in London’s West End and later on Broadway. Critics and audiences alike were captivated by its fresh take on a venerable classic. The London production features a sensational, star-making performance by Hugh Jackman as Curly — before his ascent to international movie stardom. Also featured are cast members Josefina Gabrielle as Laurey, Maureen Lipman (The Pianist) as Aunt Eller, and Shuler Hensley as the menacing Jud Fry, for which Hensley won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Friday, November 22, 2013, 8pm
The performance-filled documentary NASHVILLE 2.0 captures Nashville, known around the world as “music city,” in its role as the historic home of music icons and institutions, as well as rising stars and young musicians who arrive with new sounds and dreams of making it big. Creating the musical landscape of tomorrow, Nashville is home to Americana music, the 21st century version of country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B, gospel and blues. This special explores the American musical melting pot, looking to the future while embracing the breadth and genius of roots music artists. From Emmylou Harris to Mumford and Sons, Rosanne Cash to the Avett Brothers, The Mavericks to Jason Isbell, NASHVILLE 2.0 tells the story, sings the songs, and celebrates the vibrancy of the Americana music scene.
GREAT PERFORMANCES “Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn”
Friday, November 29, 2013, 8pm
Superstar Barbra Streisand makes a historic homecoming at the new Barclays Center arena with her first Brooklyn concert. Joined by special guests Il Volo and Chris Botti, Streisand performs an extensive selection of songs from throughout her five-decade career, and duets with son Jason Gould on “How Deep is the Ocean.” The seemingly endless collection of hits and fan favorites includes “Nice N Easy,” “Didn’t We,” “No More Tears (Enough is Enough),” “Rose’s Turn,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Some Other Time,” “Make Our Garden Grow,” along “Evergreen,” “The Way We Were,” “People,” and “Happy Days are Here Again.” Reviewing her opening night, Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote, “Like few singers of any age, she has the gift of conveying a primal human longing in a beautiful sound.”
* dates and times subject to change
Funding for the launch of PBS Arts has been provided by Anne Ray Charitable Trust, public television viewers and PBS.
About Anna Deavere Smith
Anna Deavere Smith is well known to television audiences for playing Gloria Akalitus on Showtime’s hit series “Nurse Jackie” and Nancy McNally on NBC’s “The West Wing.” But she made her name first in theater, where her acclaimed solo works explore American character and its multifaceted national identity. Smith has won numerous accolades, including two Obie Awards, two Tony nominations and a MacArthur “Genius” fellowship. Through her theater work, Smith is known for looking at controversial events from multiple points of view. She is author of the acclaimed plays Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, Fires in the Mirror and House Arrest. Her most-recent play Let Me Down Easy, which, along with her other plays, was seen on PBS, tells the human side of the American healthcare story.