PANAMA CITY — Season subscriptions are now available for the Panama City Music Association’s 73rd season of musical theater, opera, dance and contemporary music at the Marina Civic Center.
“We have a vibrant arts community, and I think we are a central part of that,” said Bob Borich, PCMA talent chairman. “We have a distinct personality in town nobody offers — opera, symphonic orchestra, classical. These sort of shows are uplifting and good to the community. If anyone is thinking of relocating to the area, look at the cultural offering. We are supplying needs that a community of this size does not often offer.”
The season opens Jan. 17 with a swingin’ multi-media tribute to the legacy of Frank Sinatra, followed with Giacomo Puccini’s opera masterpiece “La Boheme” on Feb. 1, “Women of Ireland” on Feb. 28, and then closes with the internationally acclaimed Moscow City Ballet’s production of “Cinderella” on March 8.
“We try to achieve a balanced program of shows with a tradition of presenting of fine arts,” Borich said. “We try to work in something a little more commercial and achieve this with ‘Sinatra’ and ‘Women of Ireland.’ The others are in line with what we have been doing a long time, opera and dance. We are trying to broaden our base of support. For 73 years, we have pretty much stuck to classical format. But the emphasis has always been on quality, and this is the best in the genre we can find.”
“Centennial Sinatra” and “Women of Ireland” both were booked through CMI Entertainment.
“I go way back with the Panama City Music Association — over 20 years. It’s a great organization that just provides unbelievable content and shows for Panama City,” said CMI Entertainment booking agent Sean Casey.
Steve Lippia performs Sinatra’s hits during “Centennial Sinatra,” a celebration of the life and music of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.”
“In 2015, Sinatra would have turned 100 years old,” Casey said. “From the younger generation to those in their 40s and 80s, everyone loves his music. He’s a musical icon like Elvis and the Beatles. And Steve is a sensational vocalist. So many people say you close your eyes and you would think it was Sinatra. He doesn’t try to look or act like him. He said, ‘I’m Italian American and sometimes it just happens.’ ”
Audiences will be taken from Sinatra’s early days with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey to his collaborations with arrangers such as Billy May, Nelson Riddle and Don Coasta, to work with the Count Basie Orchestra at the Sands in Las Vegas and his concert at Madison Square Garden. Lippia also will be accompanied by a 10-piece swing band.
“The big band uses the original Nelson Riddle charts by his composer,” Casey said. “The big band sound is as authentic as it gets with vocals. At every concert I’ve attended, people get up and dance in the aisle. You are in for a real treat.”
“Women of Ireland,” comprised of Ireland’s leading female performers, will present a fast-past concert with Irish step dancing, two bands, Irish and Celtic songs, and vocals and fiddle-playing.
“Obvious comparisons are to the ‘Celtic Woman,’ ” Casey said. “But the idea ‘we have to try harder’ is definitely ‘Women of Ireland.’ Dancers here have been stars in ‘Riverdance.’ We have singers from ‘Riverdance’ and the musicians are just some of the greatest talent out of Ireland. It’s musical celebration with a large cast that will fill the stage.
“They will be doing all the Irish favorites and contemporary, which makes for a well-rounded show for all ages,” Casey said. “‘You Raise Me Up’ is becoming a standard as much as ‘Danny Boy.’ ”
Teatro Lirico d’Europa, an internationally acclaimed opera touring company, will bring traditional opera to the stage during the melodic production of “La Boheme.” Since its world premiere in 1896 at the Teatro Regio in Torino, Italy, audiences have been captured by the tale of young bohemians struggling to follow their artistic dreams and find love during a Parisian winter.
The performance of “Cinderella” will feature 42 dancers from Moscow City Ballet, the only ballet company featured at the recent Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The company has established its reputation with clear style and choreography through artistic director Luidmila Neroubachtchenko.
Show times for the PCMA productions at the Marina Civic Center, 8 Harrison Ave., are at 7:30 p.m. with the exception of “La Boheme” and “Cinderella,” both 4 p.m. Sunday matinees.
Season subscriptions are available and can be purchased online at PanamaCityMusicAssoc.org. An adult subscription for the four shows starts at $125 and includes a parking pass and intermission receptions. Special ticket prices for students also are available. For ticket information and the best seats, call PCMA at (850) 236-1260.
Individual performance tickets will be available after Dec. 10.