About Us

Tuesday, January 8

An Unprecedented Array of Entertainment at The Music Hall

“From world famous writer John Irving to New Orleans funk superstars Soul Rebels, from the amazing Carlye Brown’s African journey to the preeminent violinist of our times, Joshua Bell—we are so excited about the robust and diversified shows coming to The Music Hall this winter and spring,” says Executive Director and Lead Curator Patricia Lynch. “Some shows are already sold out, so make your plans now. And stay tuned for details about our second annual Portsmouth Singer Songwriter Festival, an amazing festival of talent coming to Portsmouth April 19 to 21.”

The Music Hall is a performing arts center featuring curated entertainment from around the world in two theaters in its downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire campus - one, a landmark 1878 Victorian theater, with a recently renovated upper lobby, the other the intimate Music Hall Loft around the corner, named “best performing arts venue” by Yankee Magazine and the recipient of the NH AIA award for design excellence.

Also, on screen in January-April

In addition to all of the shows and high-definition broadcasts noted below, The Music Hall also offers highly-rated films, including some you can’t see anywhere else on the Seacoast, announced monthly. In January, these include The Sessions (January 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, and 16 at The Historic Theater); The Central Park Five (January 22, 23, and 24 at The Historic Theater); and A Late Quartet (January 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, and 31 at The Historic Theater). Tickets for films are $9 Adults, $7 Seniors 60+, Students, & Military.

And, historical tours

And don’t miss out on the highly entertaining and informative historical tours of The Music Hall’s landmark Victorian theater on Chestnut Street, arranged and guided by Music Hall Historian Zhana Morris, also the theater’s production manager. Tours will take place at 5:30 on Tuesday, January 22; Tuesday, February 26; Tuesday, March 26; and Tuesday, April 23. Tickets are $7.50; $5.00 members.

Season Sponsor: River House Restaurant

Upcoming Shows

Writers in the Loft: Magnus Flyte’s authors Christina Lynch and Meg Howrey

Thursday, January 16 • 7pm • Loft

Ticket package: $30 includes reserved seat, book ($16, hardcover), bar beverage; author presentation, Q+A, and book signing meet-and-greet

City of Dark Magic is the bewitching debut novel of the mysterious Magnus Flyte (a pseudonym for the writing duo of Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch) —a perfect potion of magic, mystery, and suspense set in Prague. Once a city of alchemists, astronomers, heretics, and (it’s even been rumored) portals to hell; Prague is now the destination of every disaffected, beer-loving kid with a backpack. But when musicologist Sarah Weston accepts an invitation to spend the summer at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she discovers a city filled not with ex-pats, but with dark magic, where the fabric of time is thin and danger lies around every corner. Join us for an entrancing evening, wild with imagination, history, and romance

“The riddle of Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” alchemy and clandestine love fuse in this fast-paced, funny, romantic mystery.” —Kirkus Reviews

Series Sponsor: Citizens Bank

Writers on a New England Stage: Jared Diamond


Thursday, January 17 • 7:30pm
Book: The World Until Yesterday: What We Can Learn from Traditional Societies ($36 hardcover, $32.40 advance voucher)
Tickets: $13


The Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel takes the stage to discuss his latest book. The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as seen in traditional societies (such as the Inuit) and considers what this way of life gone by can mean for our personal lives today. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, it will be essential and delightful reading. Following his discussion, Diamond will be interviewed by Virginia Prescott, host of New Hampshire Public Radio’s “Word of Mouth,” which will air the segment to NHPR listeners. Live music performed by the Writers on New England Stage house band, Dreadnaught.

“ Taken together Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse represent one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual in our generation. ” —The New York Times

Series Sponsors: Auger Building Company, Inc.; Piscataqua Landscaping Company Inc.; Popovers on the Square; RMC Research Corporation; Calypso Communications; Haunted Milk; New England Audio Tech
Evening Sponsor: Middle Street Capital

Met @The Music Hall: Maria Stuarda (Donizetti)

Saturday, January 19 • 1pm
Tickets: $27.50 $15 for students

David McVicar, who directed last season’s Met premiere of Anna Bolena, directs the company premiere of the second opera in Donizetti’s famous trilogy of operas about Tudor history. “Donizetti’s three Tudor operas are very different in tone, mood, and musical content,” McVicar says. “With Maria Stuarda being a different kind of opera than last season’s Anna Bolena, which we presented with a great deal of historical accuracy, we’ve gone for a visual style which is freer. Rather than reflecting history, it reflects the romantic nature of this retelling of the story and the sweeping romantic nature of Donizetti’s music.” Joyce DiDonato sings the title role of the defiant Mary, Queen of Scots. South African soprano Elza van den Heever makes her Met debut as Mary’s formidable rival, Queen Elizabeth I. Maurizio Benini conducts a cast that also includes Francesco Meli as the Earl of Leicester, Joshua Hopkins as Cecil, and Matthew Rose as Talbot.

Series Sponsors: Tate and Foss Sotheby’s International Realty; The Library Restaurant; Maine Public Broadcasting Network, New Hampshire Public Television

*Post-Opera Dinner at The Library Restaurant
seatings at 4:30pm, 5pm, and 5:30pm

The Library Restaurant adjacent to The Music Hall will be offering special Post-Opera Dinners after opera broadcasts in its 2012-2013 season—exclusive seatings for a limited number of patrons each. All that Met patrons need to do is to call/come by The Music Hall Box Office to make their dinner reservation, then, after the opera broadcast, walk the few steps to The Library Restaurant, present their Met ticket, and enjoy the casual elegance at one of the finest steak houses north of Boston.  Patrons can choose from the full menu, or a special Met-exclusive, prix fixe menu ($38) including soup or salad, a choice of three entrees, a dessert, and a glass of red or white wine.

Intimately Yours: Guster: A Night of Acoustic Music

Saturday, January 19 • 9pm
Tickets: $36 SOLD OUT

This Boston-bred cult alt-rock band, best known for hit pop tunes including “Either Way” and “Two Points for Honesty,” is now, at 15 years on, operating at the absolute peak of its creative powers, making the most inspired, timeless music and playing to the largest audiences of its career. As the Boston Globe said, “the incongruously upbeat men of Guster know a little bit about making the simple sound splendid.” Don’t miss their Music Hall premiere!

Series Sponsors: Dos Amigos Burritos; Portsmouth Chevrolet; Raka; 92.5 The River
Evening Sponsors:  Carpe Diem Coffee Roasting Company; The Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric; Clear Eye Photo

Innovation and Leadership + Writers in the Loft: Katrina Kenison

Thursday, January 24 • 7pm
Book: Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment
Ticket package: $39 Includes reserved seat, book ($24.99 hardcover), beverage, author presentation, Q+A, and book signing meet-and-greet.


The author of Mitten Strings for God and The Gift of an Ordinary Day, inspires us with her latest book of reflections about beginning a new life without children at home—one of life’s great transitions, affecting a home, a life, a marriage. An inspiring, beautiful book for the massive group of women whose children have grown up, but who themselves don’t want to stop growing.

“This luminous memoir is a gift to any reader searching for meaning, clarity, and perhaps a bit of hard-won joy. Katrina Kenison is the best kind of guide through our life’s passages: a thoughtful, fearless friend who reaches out a hand and says, I’ve been here too.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion

Writers in The Loft Series Sponsor: Citizens Bank
Innovation and Leadership Forums Series Sponsor: Martin’s Point HealthCare

National Theatre of London HD Broadcast: The Magistrate

Sunday, January 27 • 1 pm
Tickets $27.50; $15 for students

Academy Award nominee and Tony Award-winner John Lithgow (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Shrek, 3rd Rock from the Sun) takes the title role of an amiable magistrate in this uproarious, brilliantly plotted Victorian farce written by Arthur Wing Pinero, with Olivier Award-winner Nancy Carroll (After the Dance) as his wife, Agatha. The director is Olivier Award-winner Timothy Sheader. The plot centers around a series of hilarious indignities and outrageous mishaps sparked by Agatha’s dropping five years from her true age—and her son’s age—when she married. In a similar vein to the National Theatre’s smash-hit comedies, She Stoops to Conquer, London Assurance and One Man, Two Guvnors, The Magistrate is sure to have audiences around the world doubled up with laughter.

“Effortlessly likeable actor John Lithgow has just wound up a big Broadway hit. . . Now he’s got his sights set on London as he takes on the title role of Arthur Wing Pinero’s Victorian farce set in the lunatic court of Posket, a police magistrate presiding over the trial of an outrageous 14-year-old called Cis Farringdon.”  –Time Out London

Series Sponsors: Seatrade International; Tate and Foss Sotheby’s International Realty; Maine Public Broadcasting Network, New Hampshire Public Television

Writers on a New England Stage: John Irving

Friday, Feb 1 • 7:30pm • Historic Theater

Tickets: $13
 Book: In One Person, $15.99 paperback. For each 1-2 tickets sold, the purchase of a book voucher ($15.99) is required. Vouchers can be redeemed on the night of the event for a signed copy of Mr. Irving’s discussed work, In One Person 


The author of The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Cider House Rules comes home to New Hampshire with his new book, the New York Times bestseller In One Person, a compelling and affecting exploration of sexuality, identity, and longing.

“It is impossible to imagine the American—or international—literary landscape without John Irving…. He is as close as one gets to a contemporary Dickens in the scope of his celebrity and the level of his achievement.” – TIME

Series Sponsors: Auger Building Company, Inc.; Piscataqua Landscaping Company Inc.; Popovers on the Square; RMC Research Corporation; Calypso Communications; Haunted Milk; New England Audio Tech
Evening Sponsor: Homes & Land Magazine

Writers on a New England Stage: Dave Barry


Tuesday, February 12 • 7:30pm
Tickets: $13 
Book: Insane City ($26.95 hardcover, $24.25 advance voucher)


Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist joins us with his first solo adult novel in over a decade – a dark comic masterpiece. Insane City is a riotous tale of a destination wedding gone awry with Russian gangsters, angry strippers, a pimp as big as the Death Star, a very desperate Haitian refugee on the run with her two children from some very bad men, and an eleven-foot Burmese albino python named Blossom. And there are still two days to go before the wedding… Dave Barry proves once again why he is a master writer for this generation.

“While reading Dave Barry’s Big Trouble, I laughed so loud I fell out of my chair. Luckily, there was a rug…” – Stephen King

Series Sponsors: Auger Building Company, Inc.; Piscataqua Landscaping Company Inc.; Grill 28; RMC Research Corporation; Calypso Communications; Haunted Milk; New England Audio Tech
Evening Sponsors: Avery Insurance; Wells Fargo Advisors

Happy Valentines Day! Live at the Loft: A Swinging Night in New York

Thursday, February 14 • 8pm
Tickets: $38, includes choice of tiramisu or French truffle

Join us for a night of romance on Valentine’s Day, featuring the Gaudy Baubles and their marvelous chanteuse, Renee. Escape to Manhattan for the evening with this Metropolitan themed retro cabaret—great songs and a great vibe! This one’s for you and your baby.

Series Sponsors: WOKQ and The Shark
Evening Sponsors: Best Western Plus Wynwood Hotel & Suites; DTC Lawyers, Donahue, Tucker & Ciandella, PLLC

Met @ The Music Hall: Rigoletto (Verdi)

Saturday, February 16 • 1 pm
Tickets: $27.50 $15 for students

Rising Italian conductor Michele Mariotti leads the new production premiere of Rigoletto, seen in a new staging by the Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer in his Met debut. Mayer’s approach transports the story from 16th-century Italy to Las Vegas in 1960, with a cast led by Željko Lučić in the title role, Diana Damrau as his daughter, Gilda, Piotr Beczala as the Duke of Mantua, Štefan Kocán as the assassin Sparafucile, and Oksana Volkova in her Met debut as Sparafucile’s seductive sister, Maddalena. “I’ve tried to imagine a recent world that captures the decadence of the Duke’s palace, where the participants are in pursuit of power, money, and beauty,” Mayer says. “Las Vegas in the ‘60s is such a world, where a kind of prankster energy could go bad—it’s the epitome of the kinds of events that happen in Rigoletto.”

Series Sponsors: Tate and Foss Sotheby’s International Realty; The Library Restaurant; Maine Public Broadcasting Network, New Hampshire Public Television

Pre-Show: Opera Connection
Saturday, February 16 • 11:30 am • The Loft
Tickets: $14

Opera expert/writer-producer Dennis Kleinman will lead a lively discussion on Rigoletto. Doors open an hour before – come early for coffee and pastries!

Post-Opera Dinner at The Library Restaurant
seatings at 4:30pm, 5pm, and 5:30pm

Intimately Yours: Soul Rebels

Sunday, February 17 • 7:30pm
Tickets: $22

Direct from New Orleans! Imagine blending the sounds of Mardi Gras Funk, rock, and reggae so seamlessly it defies category. Now distill that idea into an eight- piece ensemble, add a hip hop sensibility plus a 100 years of New Orleans jazz tradition, and you’ll get the powerful band known as the Soul Rebels. This shrewd crew of multi-instrumentalists creates a high energy, groove-laden affair engineered to force audiences worldwide to party with their contagious sound. They are proud of their hometown’s rich cultural heritage and take every opportunity to spread it around the world. From concerts at Bonnaroo to NOLA’s Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Soul Rebels continue charting new territory. Called “the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong” (Village Voice), the band combines top-notch musicianship and songs with grooves that celebrate life in time-honored New Orleans style.

“… A full on, joyous, positive album that makes you feel like celebrating – indeed, you may be hard pressed to hear a more vibrant, life-affirming record this year.” –BBC (UK)

Series Sponsors: Moxy; Portsmouth Chevrolet; Raka; 92.5 The River
Evening Sponsors: Avery Insurance; Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc.; Clear Eye Photo

Music Hall Presents The Fula from America: An African Journey

Wednesday, February 20 • 7:30pm
Tickets: $30 ($10 of each ticket goes to African Burying Ground)

Continuing its 130+-year tradition of celebrating its African American history, The Music Hall brings to the stage of its Historic Theater the acclaimed African-American writer/performer Carlyle Brown’s engrossing one-man show about searching for his identity in West Africa. Praised throughout the US for its honesty and spell binding storytelling, the solo show, set in 1981, is a journey of discovery, examining ancestry and what this means relative to one’s place in the world. Join us for an evening that will celebrate, raise funds for, and unveil the design for the African Burying Ground Memorial. With a pre-show welcome sung by Con Tutti, under the direction of Joanne Connelly, the evening will conclude with Randy Armstrong leading a group of African drummers in a procession to a candlelight memorial over the sacred African Burying ground adjacent to the Historic Theater.  In collaboration with the African Burying Ground Committee, Carlyle Brown and Company, and Kent Stephens’ Stage Force

“A tour de force recalling the best work of such monologists as Lily Tomlin and Spalding Gray” – Variety

Intimately Yours: Indigo Girls (with their full band)

Opener: The Shadowboxers
Saturday, February 23 • 8pm
Tickets: $40; $32

With 12 million copies sold of their 20 albums over their 25 years together, this Grammy Award winning (Best Contemporary Folk Album) folk rock duo returns to The Music Hall stage, accompanied by their band, The Shadowboxers, an uncommonly intelligent, remarkably accomplished young band equally adept at taut three-part harmonies, deep gut grooves and sophisticated songcraft. Don’t miss Amy Ray and Emily Saliers on their return visit!

“Two of the most mutually simpatico voices (and guitarists) in folk-pop” –The Seattle Times

Series Sponsors: Jumpin Jay’s Fish Café; Portsmouth Chevrolet; Raka; 92.5 The River
Evening Sponsors: People’s United Bank; Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc.; Clear Eye Photo

Joshua Bell, violin, and Sam Haywood, piano

Friday, March 1 • 8pm • Historic Theater
Tickets: $82; $68

Classical music superstar. Poet of the violin. Joshua Bell returns! Enchanting audiences worldwide with his breathtaking virtuosity and tone of rare beauty, Bell is dazzling.

“Joshua Bell is the greatest American violinist active today”—The Boston Herald

Evening Sponsors: Black Trumpet; Comcast; Northeast Delta Dental; Weyland Capital Management; Homes & Land Magazine; New Hampshire Public Radio

Met @The Music Hall: Parsifal (Wagner)

Saturday, March 2 • 12pm • Historic Theater
Tickets: $27.50; $15 for students

Jonas Kaufmann makes his Met role debut as the title character in Parsifal, conducted by Daniele Gatti and directed by noted film and opera director François Girard in his Met debut. “Parsifal is not just an opera—it’s a mission. At the end of his life, Wagner was trying to reconcile all the aspects of his spirituality. It’s a sacred piece in the history of music,” Girard says. The cast also features Katarina Dalayman as Kundry, the mystical woman who tempts Parsifal; Peter Mattei in his role debut as Amfortas, king of the Knights of the Holy Grail; René Pape in one of his greatest roles, the wise old knight Gurnemanz; and Evgeny Nikitin as the magician Klingsor.

Series Sponsors:Tate and Foss Sotheby’s International Realty; The Library Restaurant; Maine Public Broadcasting Network, New Hampshire Public Television


Pre-Show: Opera Connection
Saturday, March 2 • 11:30 am • The Loft
Tickets: $14
Opera expert/writer-producer Dennis Kleinman will lead a lively discussion on Rigoletto. Doors open an hour before – come early for coffee and pastries!

Post-Opera Dinner at The Library Restaurant
Seatings at 4:30pm, 5pm, and 5:30pm

Hilarity @The Music Hall: Ryan Clauson

Saturday, March 2 • 7pm & 9pm • The Loft
Tickets: $24

This high energy comedy show combines the topics of dating and health to create a show like nothing else you have seen before. Known as the “Health Champion,” a nicknamed coined from his obsession with living a healthy life, this stand-up comedian/dating coach has been the opening act for Saturday Night Live legend, Dana Carvey. He has also been featured on NESN, FunnyOrDie.com, and the Bonnaroo Comedy College Tour. Ryan has worked with thousands of men and women from around the world teaching the secrets to finding love based on his bestselling book, The Nine Rules of Attraction. He was voted Boston’s Best Young Comic by Going.com and is ready to “Bring the Funny” to the Music Hall Loft.

Series Sponsors:Alexander Technology Group, KBW Financial Staffing & Recruiting, and The Nagler Group; Chase Construction; Kennebunk Savings; Trade Wings; WHEB

Live @ The Loft: Chris Trapper

Saturday March 9 • 8pm
Tickets: $20

Chris Trapper began his career as the front man for late-90’s alternative rock band The Push Stars (Capitol Records). With four CD releases and several high profile national tours, The Push Stars served to establish Chris as an authentic talent. As a modern day singer/songwriter, Chris is most known for his song This Time, the #1 selling song on the Grammy nominated soundtrack for the film August Rush. A prolific songwriter of the highest caliber, Trapper’s music can best be described as lyrically driven roots-pop with a knack for telling everyday stories filled with extra-ordinary characters. His live show is a favorite among fans of alt–acoustic music— his onstage persona is warm and inclusive, and his organic understanding of classic pop melody is infectious.

“Classic Pop Perfection. . .” – The New York Times

Series Sponsors: WOKQ; The Shark

Hilarity @ The Music Hall: Comedian Todd Oliver & Friends: Dogs Gone Wild

Saturday, March 9 • 8pm • Historic Theater
Tickets: $34, $29

Todd Oliver’s fun, zany, sophisticated act will have you rolling in the aisles. Fans know him from his appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Today Show. Don’t miss his side-splitting comedy at The Music Hall!

“Knocked us over! So funny and amazing.” –Penn & Teller

Series Sponsors: Alexander Technology Group, KBW Financial Staffing & Recruiting, and The Nagler Group; Chase Construction; Kennebunk Savings; Trade Wings; WHEB

Evening Sponsors: J. Hilburn Men’s Custom Shirts & Apparel; Secure Planning, Inc.; Fosters Daily Democrat

The Fighting Jamesons

Sunday, March 10, 2013 • 7pm • Historic Theater
Tickets: $22; $18

Gear up for St. Patrick’s Day with this aggressive, energetic modern-day approach to Celtic rock. After sharing the stage with legendary Irish rock acts as Dropkick Murphys, The Saw Doctors, and Young Dubliners, the band is touring behind its debut album.

“Rollicking hybrid of Irish traditional and American rock’n