The fifth annual Festival, which launches Oct. 9 with Unity — The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson, will feature an all-star Show Boat, a concert from Tony-winning Broadway veteran Chita Rivera, a celebration of the work of songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb, the Lincoln Center Theater production of Act One, the award-winning Elton John musical Billy Elliot and more.
In a statement PBS president Paula Kerger said, "The fifth annual PBS Arts Fall Festival is a celebration of performing arts and music from the stage and screen, from the pop charts, and more. Gloria Estefan serving as this year’s host and a Latin tribute to the music of Michael Jackson are among the many highlights of this year’s festival programming. The festival is an enduring testament to PBS’ longstanding commitment to the arts, which is reinforced with this fall’s lineup of our signature quality programming and exciting performances that will captivate audiences."
Vanessa Williams, Julian Ovenden, Lauren Worsham, Norm Lewis, Fred Willard, Jane Alexander Star in the New York Philharmonic's Show Boat
The complete lineup, according to PBS, follows:
UNITY – THE LATIN TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON
Oct. 9, 9 PM-10 PM ET World-class drummer and percussionist Sheila E. hosts a concert special that showcases award-winning Latin artists and a 37-piece orchestra performing Latin-infused arrangements of the songs on Tony Succar’s album "Unity: The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson." The album and concert feature 16 songs that inspired musicians from all over Latin America to come together to celebrate and reimagine hits such as “Smooth Criminal,” “I Want You Back” and “Billie Jean.” On its release in April 2015, the album topped the Amazon Latin World Music Charts, the iTunes World Music Charts and the Billboard Tropical Charts at #1. Produced by Unity Entertainment Corporation and Oregon Public Broadcasting in association with Universal Music Classics.
LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER –Kern & Hammerstein’s Show Boat in Concert with the New York Philharmonic
Oct. 16, 9 PM-11 PM ET
This groundbreaking musical redefined entertainment and changed the face of American theater. Spanning the years from 1880 to 1927, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyrical masterpiece concerns the lives, loves and heartbreaks of three generations of show folk on the Mississippi River, in Chicago and on Broadway. The musical’s impact remains unparalleled, addressing racial prejudice, and introduced a bi-racial cast to Broadway at its premiere while also pointing the way toward a new synthesis between music and spectacle. This New York Philharmonic production features an all-star cast led by Vanessa Williams and Downton Abbey’s Julian Ovenden, as well as Norm Lewis, Jane Alexander, Fred Willard, and Lauren Worsham. The Philharmonic’s full sound highlights the lush musical score at the center of this epic show.
GREAT PERFORMANCES: Billy Elliot the Musical
Oct. 23, 9 PM-midnight ET
Billy Elliot the Musical comes to "Great Performances" in a special celebration performance from London’s West End. Based on the popular 2000 film, Billy Elliot the Musical took the West End and Broadway by storm and won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Musical. Featuring a rousing score by Elton John, Billy Elliot takes place during North East England’s contentious mining strike of 1984 and tells the inspirational story of a young boy’s journey from the boxing ring to the ballet barre, transforming his family along with his entire community.
LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER – “Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton” (w.t.)
Oct. 30, 9 PM-11 PM ET
Composer and performer Danny Elfman descends on Lincoln Center with a symphony orchestra and choir, led by conductor John Mauceri, as well as a colorful assortment of Tim Burton fans. This unique episode arrives just in time for Halloween and captures all the excitement of this cultural invasion, climaxing in wildly entertaining performances of Elfman’s most beloved scores from films in collaboration with Tim Burton such as Batman, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas, which features Danny Elfman singing his iconic songs. Accompanying the music are film clips from select movies as well as original sketches and storyboards created by Tim Burton.
GREAT PERFORMANCES — Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ to Do
Nov. 6, 9 PM-10 PM ET
Legendary Broadway performer Chita Rivera has been lighting up international stages for over seventy years. With starring roles in such iconic Broadway shows as West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, and Chicago, Rivera returned to Broadway in 2015 to star in the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical The Visit. In addition to archival clips from Rivera’s many shows and TV appearances, this career retrospective also features interviews with Dick Van Dyke, Ben Vereen, Carol Lawrence and many more to tell the story of Rivera’s peerless show biz virtuosity.
LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER – Act One
Nov. 13, 9 PM-11:30 PM ET
Few have captured the magic of the theatre better than Moss Hart, a poor kid from the Bronx who went on to become a lion of Broadway. The writer of classic comedies with George S. Kaufman including You Can’t Take it With You and The Man Who Came To Dinner, and the director of the original production of My Fair Lady, Moss’s memoir (“Act One”) has captivated theater lovers for over 50 years. In this Tony Award-nominated Best Play from Lincoln Center Theater, James Lapine has fittingly re-imagined this memoir for the stage, creating a world as vivid and transformative as the stage itself. Act One features a first-rate cast led by Tony Shalhoub, Andrea Martin and Santino Fontana.
FIRST YOU DREAM—THE MUSIC OF KANDER & EBB
Nov. 20, 9 PM-10 PM ET
First You Dream is a landmark television event: a tribute to John Kander and Fred Ebb, the legendary Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy-award winning songwriting team whose Broadway shows include Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Act, Curtains and The Scottsboro Boys and timeless songs including “New York, New York,” “All That Jazz,” “Money Makes the World Go Around” and “Maybe This Time.” Directed for stage by Eric Schaeffer and produced by HMS Media, First You Dream features sparkling new arrangements of some of the greatest songs to ever grace a Broadway stage, performed by a stellar Broadway cast that includes Kate Baldwin (Finian’s Rainbow, Big Fish, Thoroughly Modern Millie), Heidi Blickenstaff (Something Rotten, The Addams Family, The Little Mermaid), James Clow (Peter Pan, Wonderful Town, Company, She Loves Me), Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera, Porgy & Bess, Les Miserables), Julia Murney (Crimes of the Heart, First Lady Suite, Evita) and Matthew Scott (Jersey Boys, Sondheim on Sondheim, A Catered Affair).
GREAT PERFORMANCES: “Andrea Bocelli: Cinema” (w.t.)
Nov. 27, 9 PM-11 PM ET
From the internationally famous Dolby Theater in the heart of Hollywood, Andrea Bocelli pays musical tribute to the silver screen in a lush concert of beloved songs from the movies. Joined by Grammy-winning producer David Foster, the renowned tenor performs memorable favorites from blockbuster classics including The Godfather, Scent of a Woman, Dr. Zhivago, Once Upon a Time in America, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and many more.