Picnic with the Pops will take fans back to the days of moonwalks and Harrison Ford as the rugged leading man du jour with two nights plucked right out of the Reagan era.
For the second consecutive year, the annual rite of late summer will feature different programs each night with a showing of the 1981 blockbuster “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with live orchestral accompaniment Aug. 18 and an evening of Michael Jackson’s music with singer and dancer James Delisco Aug. 19.
“I am amazed, having done some of his music, how complex some of the vocals and arrangements are,” Terrell said of Jackson, who reached the pinnacle of his popularity with the 1982 blockbuster album, “Thriller.” At a Tuesday morning news conference in the Kentucky Theatre, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray noted the enduring popularity of Jackson in the city with the annual Thriller Parade and Festival around Halloween.
Terrell said he told the Picnic with the Pops commission that to pull off a Jackson show, there had to be a first-rate performer, and he said he is confident Picnic has that in Delisco, who has performed Jackson’s music with a cover band and, more recently, with orchestras.
“He can deliver vocally and as a dancer,” Terrell said. “Colleagues give him high praise.”
Picnic commission chair Kip Cornett said the group was looking forward to an evening that won’t just engage the audience, but have fans dancing in the aisles. Both nights, he said, the evening’s programs will inspire the costumes and table decorating that are a staple of Picnic with the Pops.
Terrell conducted three sold-out performances of “Raiders” in March with the St. Louis Symphony and said the live orchestra adds to the thrill of the Indiana Jones adventure.
“Nobody makes a sound like John Williams,” Terrell said of the “Raiders” composer, “and for the orchestra, its great to play.”
Cornett said the first year of split shows for the 38-year-old Picnic — “The Wizard of Oz” Friday and stage and screen star Matthew Morrison Saturday — was viewed as a success, even with stormy weather the second night. The event aims to attract 5,000 to 6,000 people over two nights, he said, adding, “If we have great weather, this program should be a home run.”
Picnic features table and general seating. Renewal notices are going out to last year’s table holders now. Tables and general admission tickets will go on sale June 23.
Follow Rich Copley on Facebook and Twitter, @copiousnotes.