The football season is well under way. The baseball playoffs begin Friday. So it's also time for the fall season at Long Island's leading performing arts centers.
* Tilles Center's official opening is next weekend's sold-out "Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin." But tickets remain for Friday night's Classic Albums Live "White Album" performance and Saturday's "Let It Be" (both at 8). "Since Oct. 9 would have been John Lennon's 72nd birthday, we wanted to make this sort of a Lennon festival," says Tilles executive director Elliott Sroka. Portions of the documentary "Imagine" will be screened before each concert, and Beatles memorabilia is displayed in the Atrium.
* In its second season, Madison Theatre at Molloy College becomes the new home of the revitalized Long Island Opera Company. In its first fully staged production in more than a decade, the company performs Verdi's lusty "Rigoletto" Saturday night at 8 with a live orchestra and specially designed costumes and set. "This is a huge step for us," says director Joy Berta, crediting benefactor Marty Bevilacqua, also a major Madison Theatre contributor, for "making it possible." Another full-scale production, Puccini's "La Boheme," follows in April. A recent "Carmen" production, performed without orchestra at East Hampton's Guild Hall, "makes this a season for us," says Berta.
* Staller Center continues its season Oct. 13 with back-by-popular-demand saxophonist David Sanborn -- this time in the 400-seat Recital Hall. "We've switched our jazz series from the main stage for a more intimate setting," says Staller executive director Alan Inkles. Sanborn is followed on Oct. 17 by the Emerson String Quartet in its final season with cellist David Finckel. Paul Watkins replaces him next fall.
More season highlights:
TILLES "Election years are tough to schedule," says Sroka. "People are so distracted." That's why he's frontloaded Tilles' pre-election weekends with big names: After Patti and Mandy, "The View's" Whoopi Goldberg dishes what may be an evening of politically tinged comedy Oct. 19. "She likes to poll the audience," says Sroka, "to see if there's a good liberal/conservative mix." Next up is the Warsaw Philharmonic, Oct. 20. Kelli O'Hara and Nathan Gunn perform Broadway classics for the Oct. 27 Tilles gala.
"This is a major Broadway season for us," says Sroka. A "West Side Story" tour arrives on Nov. 11, followed by "Shrek The Musical" Dec. 16, "A Chorus Line" in March and "Hair" in May. The two-man parody "Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience" plays in January, and the current Broadway smash "Rock of Ages" in February.
The Long Island Philharmonic performs its New Year's Eve gala, plus Tilles' endowment concert in May, "Here to Stay: The Gershwin Experience."
STALLER "It's a theatrical year," says Alan Inkles. A show reminiscent of the Stony Brook International Theater Festival, "Donka -- A Letter to Chekhov," created by Cirque du Soleil alum Daniele Finzi Pasca, pays homage Nov. 10 to the Russian playwright through dance, acrobatics, juggling and visuals. It's preceded Oct. 27 by Colin Quinn, fresh from his Broadway solo, "Long Story Short." Staller's March gala stars Broadway's Brian Mitchell Stokes ("Man of La Mancha") and Laura Benanti ("Gypsy").
MADISON If you're in need of comic relief Thanksgiving weekend -- a diversion from visiting family -- try "My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish and I'm Home for the Holidays" Nov. 24 and 25. For a Halloween treat, try Jennifer Warnes in concert Oct. 31.
Post LIU, Brookville
INFO tillescenter.org, 516-299-3100
INFO stallercenter.com, 631-632-2787
Molloy College, Rockville Centre
INFO madisontheatreny.org, 516-678-5000