Music, marionettes and satire at the Strand

Dec 25, 2017
The Capitol Steps

Rockland — The downtown Strand Theatre is setting its 2018 performance schedule and already has tickets on sale for some standout performances headed Midcoast way. Here is a taste of the live performances headed to the nonprofit cinema’s stage.

Vance Gilbert has been the opener of choice for artists as varied as Aretha Franklin, Arlo Guthrie and Anita Baker; and he will open the mid-winter season Friday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Strand. An integral part of the national folk scene, Gilbert’s catchy, pop-friendly melodies support keenly crafted, hard-hitting lyrics. Tickets are $15 in advance and will be $18 at the door.

On Thursday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m., the internationally acclaimed Cashore Marionettes will present “Life In Motion,” which sets scenes taken from everyday life to music by Beethoven, Vivaldi, Strauss and Copland. In the performance, Joseph Cashore presents his collection of marionette masterworks, portraying characters of depth, integrity and humanity in a medium unlike anything else. “Life in Motion” is no children’s show, but a moving, humorous and theatrically satisfying evening for adults and young adults. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

On March 3, the Strand will host West Africa’s Tal National, a six-piece band from Niamey, the capital city of Niger. The band's joyously hypnotic music reflects the rich history of Niger as a cultural crossroads along ancient trade routes. Live performances combine original songs with new arrangements of West African folk songs, with themes of love, tolerance, peace and feminine beauty. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $15 in advance, $18 at the door.

Musical wunderkind Casey Abrams returns to the Strand stage Saturday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m., accompanied this time by Portland's Maine Youth Rock Orchestra. Known for his wild creativity as a songwriter and performer, Abrams has built a strong following since his public debut on 2011’s “American Idol,” bolstered by multiple album releases and worldwide touring with Post Modern Jukebox. The Maine Youth Rock Orchestra gives classical orchestral students age 12 through 18 opportunities to perform with professional touring artists, creating transformational experiences for both students and audiences. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Another anticipated return is The Capitol Steps, bringing its distinctive blend of musical and political comedy back to the Midcoast Friday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. The Washington, D.C.-based comedy troupe began as a group of Senate staffers more than 30 years ago and has become an institution. Each show consists of tasteful lampooning calculated to leave both sides of the political spectrum laughing. The Capitol Steps has recorded more than 30 albums including the latest, “Orange Is the New Barack.” The troupe has been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS; and can be heard twice a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide, thanks to the “Politics Takes a Holiday” radio specials. Tickets are $50 in advance, $55 day of show.

The Midcoast is a full participant of the 21st-century ukulele revival, with weekly groups in both Rockland and Belfast. So the announcement that virtuoso and YouTube sensation Jake Shimabukuro, who has been credited with igniting the boom, is headed this way is creating quite the strum, er, stir. Shimabukuro found worldwide fame 11 years ago via his viral video playing The Beatles’ “My Guitar Gently Weeps”; this year, he has been named in Guitar Player Magazine’s 2017 Hall of Fame Awards. The young musician’s innovation, advocacy and enthusiasm for the instrument is matched by his fast and complex finger work; and his arrangements combine elements of jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, classical, folk and flamenco. General admission tickets are $50.

Lobby and balcony bars are open for all live shows to those age 21 and older. For tickets and information on all upcoming live concerts, films, HD broadcasts and events at the Strand, visit; call 594-0070, ext. 3; or email

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