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‘Music Off Broadway … and Beyond’ to grace the Gracie

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A moment from a previous year's "Music Off Broadway" event. This year's showcase fundraiser features performances on June 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and June 16 at 5 p.m. A moment from a previous year's "Music Off Broadway" event. This year's showcase fundraiser features performances on June 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and June 16 at 5 p.m. (photo courtesy Jeff Kirlin - The Thing Of The Moment)

BANGOR – One of the area’s annual musical highlights is hitting the high notes once again.

The Rotary Club of Bangor is getting ready to present its annual “Music Off Broadway” fundraiser at Husson University’s Gracie Theatre. This year’s event – titled “Music Off Broadway … and Beyond” – will have three performances – June 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and June 16 at 5 p.m. Tickets are on sale at www.bangorrotary.org and at Patrick’s Hallmark Shop and Rebecca’s downtown.

It’s a chance to see some of the region’s most talented musical performers bringing their talents to the stage – all in service to a very good cause.

Bob Potts is the producer of this year’s show as well as one of the performers. He’s a longtime veteran of the event and was gracious enough to answer a few questions regarding the event.

The Maine Edge: What is the timeline for you as far as producing a show like this one?

Bob Potts: Truly, we begin planning as soon as the previous year’s show closes. We do a postmortem meeting to celebrate what went well and discuss what can be improved to make future shows better. Then we sit it aside for a few months. Usually in the fall we start shopping around for venues - we have wanted to hold it at the Gracie for several years, but schedules would not allow it - but this year the stars aligned and Husson University has been very gracious and generous to the Rotary Club. We're looking forward to being at the Gracie Theatre for the first time!

TME: How long have you been working on this?

Potts: The production team usually starts meeting around Christmas time or right after the first of the year to start discussing themes, dates, venue, cast, etc. As you can imagine the closer we get to the dates the busier things get, but I am fortunate to have a GREAT production team who is dedicated, works hard and is doing the show for all the right reasons - to raise money for charity.

TME: How do you choose the program and the singers/dancers/etc. who perform in it?

Potts: The last few years we have held open community auditions to capture fresh new talent. We usually have a rough idea of what we'd like to do, but then we see who we have for available performers and what their abilities are. Not everyone can sing everything, so finding the right songs to be sung by the right people that also fit the theme and scope of the show can be a challenge, but also what makes it fun and exciting when it all comes together! This year is no exception and we look forward to sharing what we have put together!

My production team, led by the talented Heather Astbury-Libby, are the creative geniuses behind the show and deserve a ton of credit for the many hours they put in, not only rehearsing but planning, finding sheet music, making copies, securing rehearsal space - you name it.

TME: What does the rehearsal process typically look like?

Potts: It moves FAST! Everyone in the cast volunteers their time and we're all busy with our jobs and lives, so we put this show up in about four weeks. Our first rehearsal was May 22. We like to hit it hard and fast and get it up and done, rather than drag our rehearsals out over several months. It's exhausting but a LOT of fun, and the cast is almost like a family now. We look forward to coming together each year and doing the show, and we introduce some new people here and there to always keep it fresh. Rehearsals are held on evenings and weekends after cast members work their regular day jobs.

TME: How many performers are involved with this year's show?

Potts: We have 18 people in the adult cast this year, and NEW this year, we're involving more than 30 students from Cooperative Community Arts Program who will be kicking off Act 2 and performing songs by shows from Lin-Manuel Miranda. This year's show is a mix of both Broadway tunes and popular music.

TME: Are there any numbers to which you yourself are looking forward?

Potts: We kick off the show with a BANG this year, doing a lively medley of songs from Gloria Estefan's musical "On Your Feet!" That's fun!

Seven of this year's performers were selected to take part in audience voting. Throughout the month of May, Facebook users could vote for one of three songs they'd like to hear a singer perform at Music Off Broadway, and the public will need to attend one of the shows to find out which song received the most votes. Kind of fun and a cool way to involve our audience and I am looking forward to revealing those winning songs the public chose.

Together we hope to raise a lot of money for local charity and the cast and Rotary Club members look forward to putting on a heck of an entertaining show for folks this weekend!

(Performances of “Music Off Broadway … and Beyond” will take place at the Gracie Theatre on June 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and June 16 at 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.bangorrotary.org.)

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