PORTLAND- Singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik hit Top-40 pay dirt with his 1996 mega-hit, “Barely Breathing.” He then conquered the musical theater world with his Tony- and Grammy-winning Broadway show, “Spring Awakening.” His new CD, “Whisper House” (RCA Victor) combines his talents for haunting melodic songwriting with theatrical storytelling – and it all takes place in a Maine lighthouse.

Sheik will perform all the songs on that CD Thursday, March 12, at the Port City Music Hall.

“Whisper House” began as a collaboration with director Keith Powell, perhaps best known for his role as Toofer In NBC’s hit comedy “30 Rock.” The storyline, told through a series of 10 songs, follows a young boy named Christopher who is sent to live with his Aunt Lily in a lighthouse in Maine during World War II. He becomes convinced that the lighthouse is haunted by those who have perished over the years in ships driven up on the rocks near his new home.

Sheik recorded the grippingly ethereal songs as demos over an intensive 10-day period after which his record label expressed interest in releasing the songs as a completed disc. “I actually didn’t mean for this to be the next Duncan Sheik record,” the songwriter said. “It’s just, I made the demos, and then everyone said, ‘Oh, this is your next record, so now we’re putting it out as the next record.’ And that’s just what happened.”

On the “Whisper House” tour with Sheik are singer-keyboardist Holly Brook, who plays a prominent role alongside Sheik on several of the songs; and Lauren Pritchard, the actress and singer best known for her Grammy-winning role of Ilse in the Broadway production of “Spring Awakening.”

Looking ahead, a stage production of “Whisper House” is in the works with Keith Powell directing. Sheik is also at work on two other projects – a chamber piece based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Nightingale,” and an ’80s tribute disc including acoustic reworkings of songs by Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, The Smiths and New Order.

The concert, a 21-plus event, will begin at 9 p.m. at the music hall at 504 Congress St. Also performing will be Lauren Pritchard and Holly Brook. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door; they are available online at www.portcitymusichall.com and at all Bull Moose music stores. For more information, call 899-4990.


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