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PBS Fall Arts Festival Offers Thrills, Chills & Beautiful Music

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With the 2014 PBS Fall Arts Festival, we’re continuing an AETN Friday night tradition — and the new season doesn’t disappoint! You have a front-row seat (and backstage pass) to the best of the arts  … on-air and online.

To put her own freshly-minted stamp on the series is new host — not to mention Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress/accomplished singer — Kristin Chenoweth. And, with along with a new star host, we have a star-studded line-up!

Friday, Sept. 26, 2014 at 8 p.m.

The New York Philharmonic’s acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim’s iconic “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is a guaranteed thrill. Bass-baritone Bryn Terfel stars as the eponymous barber who, along with his romantically inclined landlady Mrs. Lovett — played by Emma Thompson, seeks vengeance on a merciless world.

Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 at 8 p.m.

The always incredible series is bursting at the seams with talent in this 40th anniversary celebration! Guest hosts Jeff Bridges, Sheryl Crow and Matthew McConaughey highlight memorable moments from ACL’s remarkable run in the two-hour show. Even better are the returns of the brightest stars in the series’ history as they retake the Austin City Limits stage for unbelievable performances. Some of our favorites include Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Foo Fighters, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Clark Jr., Lyle Lovett, Alabama Shakes and Buddy Guy, but you can be sure that many more outstanding acts are on the lineup for this American music institution’s celebration!

Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 at 8 p.m.

Nathan Lane takes a phenomenal turn as hay headliner Chauncey Miles, who faces a changing world and his own self-loathing during the fading twilight of burlesque in 1930s New York. But don’t take our word that Douglas Carter Beane’s play is outstanding — it received five Tony Award nominations, including Best Actor for Lane, and the cast features Tony Award-winners Cady Huffamn, Lewis J. Stadlen, Jenni Barber and Jonny Orsini.

Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 at 8 p.m.

Based on the play by Dubose and Dorothy Heyward, with music by George Gershwin (including, of course, the jazz standard “Summertime”), “Porgy and BessSM” introduces a new perspective on the American theater staple, brought to life by the SanFrancisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus and directed by John DeMain. Eric Owens stars as the disabled Porgy and Laquita Mitchell as the headstrong Bess; together they tell the moving story of the couple’s love and the community on Catfish Row in coastal South Carolina that sustains them both.

Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, at 8 p.m.

Classic crooner Tony Bennett and pop icon Lady Gaga are teamed up on the stage of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater in New York City for this very special concert. Join them to enjoy selections from their collaborative classic jazz recording “Cheek to Cheek.”

“Michael Feinstein at the Rainbow Room”

Friday, Oct. 31, 2014 at 8 p.m.

Savor performances by an all-star cast at the legendary New York restaurant and nightclub as two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy-nominated entertainer Michael Feinstein headlines your Halloween evening! Featured guests include Christine Ebersole, American Idol’s Jessica Sanches, tap duo the Manzari Brothers, June Squibb and many fun surprises! 


Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, at 8 p.m.

Take an up-close look at the music industry’s resilience in the digital from the perspective of groundbreaking artists, music label mavericks and game-changing managers. While these crucial players have shaped the business over the pat 100 years — and molded pop culture in the process — today’s artists are challenging the paradigm even further, taking control of their careers and sometimes shucking the system altogether to record and release music on their own. To thrive, record labels large and small innovate to make it big. On top of being entertaining and thoughtful, “Hitmakers” also has a soundtrack you won’t want to miss. And, of course, there are always those interviews and performances form Melissa Etheridge, The Roots’ Questlove, Sharon Jones, rising DJ/producer Steve Aoki and more!

Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, at 8 p.m.

Take in an encore presentation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” in one of musical theater’s biggest blockbuster’s return to “Great Performances.” The musical — which reigned over an 18-year Broadway run and unending touring production — is based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” and boasts musical highlights aplenty, including Elaine Paige’s return to her original role as Grizabella, the faded “glamour cat” singing the show-stopping standby “Memory.”

“Kristin Chenoweth: Coming Home”

Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, at 8 p.m.

Bringing the season home — to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, that is — Kristin Chenoweth performs music from her career in a classically trained voice expertly set off by her gift for acting and comedy. Kristin performs Broadway, television and film songs — including “Popular,” “For Good,” “GLEE” favorites, and beloved pieces from “Les Mis”  and “Phantom of the Opera” — backed by a 13-piece orchestra. Another treat? (Kristin’s song and dance friends from Broadway join throughout the special.)

"PBS Fall Arts Festival," Fridays at 8 p.m.