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Wednesday, 18 September 2019 08:53

Celebrating Lucas! A 2019-20 BSO season preview

Written by Allen Adams

BANGOR – The Bangor Symphony Orchestra, led by musical director and conductor Lucas Richman, is set to kick off its 124th season next month.

The BSO is one of the cultural cornerstones of our region. It has the lengthiest history of any of our area’s arts organizations. Indeed, it has one of the lengthiest histories of any community orchestra in the entire country, bringing music to the Bangor masses since the waning days of the 19th century.

The 2019-2020 season features the symphony’s standard selection of excellence, with the six shows of the Masterworks series taking place at the Collins Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Maine. Other BSO traditions will continue to be observed as well – their beloved partnership with the Robinson Ballet on a production of “The Nutcracker” will happen in December, while their annual Pops concert (titled “Music of the Knights” for reasons that will soon be made clear) has moved from its usual slot in March into late May.

It also marks the tenth year in the tenure of the BSO’s music director and conductor Lucas Richman; this season is intended to celebrate his time here in Bangor, with original works and performances from the man himself along with the usual excellence of the orchestra and its guest artists.

In addition, thanks to the symphony’s partnership with the Bangor Arts Exchange, the BSO is also providing a wealth of smaller-scale programming over the course of the year, with numerous events – many of them free to the public – taking place in the BAE building, located on Exchange Street in downtown Bangor.

Labor Day has passed us by and there’s a bit more of a chill in the nighttime air. Summer has moved on and we’ve made our way into fall.

But while summer blockbuster season may be over, there are still plenty of big movies coming to the big screen over the next couple of months. There are sequels and reboots, literary adaptations and animated affairs – not to mention a few award-season contenders.

No matter what you’re looking for, this fall has something in store for you.

BANGOR – A pair of comedy legends will be landing at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Steve Martin and Martin Short are bringing their touring show – titled “Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t” – to town on Sept. 14; the show is presented by Waterfront Concerts and the CIC. The throwback variety team-up has been through a number of iterations – including a 2018 Netflix special titled “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” that was nominated for four Emmy Awards.

The show will feature comedic sketches and conversations with the duo, as well as plenty of music; Grammy-award winning bluegrass performers (and frequent Steve Martin collaborators) Steep Canyon Rangers will be in the house, as will pianist Jeff Babko, the longtime arranger and house band member for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” who got his start in TV on Martin Short’s talk show.

Anyone with any knowledge of comedy likely knows who these two are.

With Steve Martin, perhaps you’re familiar with his iconic, game-changing standup work in the 1970s. Or his iconic guest turns on “Saturday Night Live.” Maybe you’re a fan of his film work – everything from the lunatic absurdity of “The Jerk” or “The Man with Two Brains” to more mainstream fare like “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” or “Parenthood.” He’s also an accomplished musician, novelist and playwright, because of course he is.

With Martin Short, you might have first encountered him on the paradigm-shifting Canadian sketch show “SCTV.” He did a turn on “SNL” as well, which in turn led to films like “Innerspace” and “Three Fugitives” and “Mars Attacks!” He created the iconic character Jiminy Glick and brought him to a wide variety of stages and screens. He also hosted an eponymous syndicated talk show and, oh yeah, has a Tony.

As someone with a deep love of comedy that was formed in large part when these two were in their heyday, I have a heartfelt admiration for them both. Each of them helped shape my comedic sensibility in a very real way. While a decade-plus in this business has largely inured me to feeling starstruck, there are still occasional exceptions. This interview was one of those exceptions.

Seriously – I was talking to two of the “Three Amigos.” It’s a miracle that I was able to keep it together. But I did manage to avoid completely fanboying out. Well … mostly avoid. Judge for yourselves.

The 2019 National Football League season – the 100th in the history of the league – is upon us. We’re just a week or so away from kickoff for the first game of the season – this year’s first matchup sees the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 5.

As always, there’s plenty to anticipate. Lots that we know, lots that we don’t know - and a whole lot that we think we might know but don’t actually really know. Anybody who has read one of these previews in the past know that I live my life in that last category.

And so once again, I will attempt to anticipate how the season will play out. Once again, I will do my best impression of a monkey throwing darts in my ever-Quixotic effort to make sense out of the whole mess. I’m even going to try to predict the 2019 regular season records of each team – a fool’s errand inside a fool’s errand.

(For those interested, I will also be continuing our popular “Kibbles and Picks” online-only feature, wherein I attempt to pick the winners in each week’s schedule of NFL games and try to achieve a greater rate of success than that reached by my dog Stella (who has defeated me handily the last four years in a row and in five of six seasons overall, by the way). If you’re interested, you can check out our website at www.themaineedge.com every Thursday or find Kibbles and Picks on Facebook to see if man can begin to even the score against beast. It’s possible, but I wouldn’t count on it – she’s far better at this than I am.)

And so here it is - your almost-certain-to-be-way-off 2019 Maine Edge NFL Preview.

(y = division winner; x = wild card)

BANGOR – Bangor’s professional theatre company is getting ready to kick off the 2019-2020 season.

Penobscot Theatre Company is launching into its 46th season in just a couple of weeks. The company has been a mainstay of the region’s cultural scene since its very beginnings back in 1973 – nearly half-a-century ago – growing right along with myriad other aspects of the city’s vibrant evolution.

For year 46, Artistic Director Bari Newport and her team have put together another interesting, engaging season – one aimed at connecting with all manner of audiences.

“We pride ourselves on doing a wide variety of work,” Newport said. “And next season is a perfect example. The wide demographic that we reach, both geographically and in terms of interest level. ‘I like comedies.’ ‘I like to bring my family.’ ‘I like new work.’ ‘I like musicals.’ ‘I like historical pieces.’ ‘I like dramas.’ We truly reach a wide variety of different types of people and I want our season to reflect that.”

It is a wide-ranging season, to be sure – from musicals and dramas to farces and one-woman shows, this program has got them all. If the mission is to try to come up with something for everyone, it seems clear that this is mission accomplished.

“We've been really focused on being distinctive,” said Newport. “And I think that we are. I think that our work is very much our own. I think it’s vibrant and optimistic and colorful – energetic. We try to really dig in to every aspect.” 

Let’s take a closer look at PTC’s 2019-2020.

BANGOR – There’s another great slate of shows gracing the stage of the Gracie Theatre this season.

The Gracie Theatre – located on the campus of Husson University – will be presenting a wide range of entertainment over the course of this season, their eighth. Music and comedy and more will be offered up to arts lovers and cultural consumers of the region.

The Gracie has been a welcome part of the region’s creative scene for years now, one that has thrived over the past eight years, bringing a wonderful and diverse crop of performers to their Bangor stage every season. This year’s slate is no exception, featuring some fun new acts and a familiar face or two.

Jeri Misler, the managing director (and more!) of the Gracie, was kind enough to answer a few questions from The Maine Edge about the upcoming season and what it means to put a program like this together.

ORONO – It’s another big year for the CCA.

The Collins Center for the Arts is heading into its 34th season of exceptional arts programming on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono.

The CCA – formerly known as the Maine Center for the Arts – has been a vital hub for the performing arts in the region ever since the Bangor Symphony Orchestra christened its stage all the way back in 1986. The iconic building has played host to memorable acts large and small over the years, bringing a wonderful variety of arts and entertainment to our area.

The Collins Center is a foundational piece of the region’s cultural community; for over three decades, they have been a key part of the scene, offering quality programming at affordable prices year after year.

The 2019-2020 season is no exception, with a wonderful variety of music, theater and dance aimed at audiences of all ages. As per usual, the powers that be at the CCA have managed to ensure that there really is something for everyone. No surprise there – accessibility has always been a watchword for the organization.

Danny Williams, the CCA’s Executive Director, and Associate Director Karen Cole sat down with The Maine Edge to discuss some of the highlights of the upcoming season. Williams hit the ground running with a story about the performer officially opening the CCA season on Sept. 13, the legendary Chubby Checker.

As we prepare to hurtle headlong into the dog days of August, we should do our best to really embrace the opportunities for outdoor fun provided by the too-brief summer months. The clock is ticking – it’s time to really start leaning the fun in the sun portion of 2019. Even the cruelest of weather patterns will allow us a few days over the coming weeks in which to get out and enjoy what the season has to offer.

However, there’s only so much lounging one can do. There are only so many places to go for a swim. And sometimes, you’re looking for something fun that doesn’t involve taking a trip to the coast or to your favorite dipping spot.

That’s where lawn games come in.

Nothing says summertime quite like being out in your yard with a frosty beverage in your hand and the scent of the grill in your nostrils. If you can add an element of competition to that, how can you go wrong?

There are plenty of traditional games that many of us have played since we were kids and will likely bring back fond (or not-so-fond) memories of Julys gone by. However, there are also some more adult-oriented games that prove to be a lot of fun as well.

We’re going to take a look at a few personal favorites. We’ll revisit a couple of classics, but we’ll also bring some newer games to the table – some that you may have heard of before, others you may not have. And among these newer games, chances are good that you’ll find at least one that speaks to you in that so-special “crush your enemies and see them driven before you” summertime kind of way.

(As an aside, if there’s anyone out there with a set of vintage lawn darts that they’re looking to get rid of, by all means contact me. Nothing says summertime fun like potential grievous bodily harm and the looming specter of death. This is very real talk – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you’ve got a line on getting me my Jarts fix.)

“If we were living today like we did at 20, we would positively, undoubtedly be dead by now,” Robby Takac said when I asked the bassist and co-founding member of the Goo Goo Dolls about some of the changes he and band mate Johnny Rzeznik have experienced after more than three decades together.

Takac’s matter-of-fact response was a refreshingly honest reaction to a question about some of the myths and realities of life in 2019 for the mega-successful rockers, as their July 30 concert at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor with co-headiners Train and soul-singing opener Allen Stone draws near.

I got a lot of that honesty from Takac, as he explained why the Goo Goo Dolls today are - in some ways - the same band they were in the ‘80s, when they were cranking out punk records in Buffalo and opening shows for bands like Motorhead, Bad Brains and The Dead Milkmen.

BREWER – One of central Maine’s beloved cultural traditions is marking a milestone this summer.

Ten Bucks Theatre Company’s production of “Richard III” – running July 18-21 at Brewer’s Indian Trail Park, July 25-28 at the Orono Public Library Amphitheater and Aug. 1-4 at Fort Knox in Prospect – marks the company’s 15th outdoor production.

Since their first Shakespeare Under the Stars production – “Taming of the Shrew” in 2004 – Ten Bucks has produced a show almost every summer since, with 2008 being the lone exception.

Julie Lisnet is one of the co-founders of Ten Bucks Theatre Company and was there at the table when the decision was first made to set off on this Shakespearean journey.

(Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, I am also a co-founder of Ten Bucks Theatre and I was also part of the conversations that led down this path.)

“Hard to believe TBT will be 20 in 2020,” Lisnet said. “I’m getting old!

“So, it [Shakespeare Under the Stars] came about because in 2002, PTC shut down the Maine Shakespeare Festival. Most of us co-founding members – you, me, Catherine LeClair, Bob Libbey, Rebecca Cook, Ron Adams, Kenny Volock, Sharon Zolper – we had all been involved with Maine Shakespeare. After PTC shut it down and no Shakespeare was had in 2003, people started asking TBT to take up the mantle. So we did.”

What followed was the aforementioned “Taming of the Shrew” in Brewer’s Indian Trail Park and a long list of outdoor shows:

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2005); “Macbeth” (2006; “As You Like It” (2007); “Twelfth Night” (2009); “Romeo and Juliet” (2010); “Hamlet” (2011); “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2012); “The Tempest” (2013); “Julius Caesar” (2014); “Dracula,” the sole non-Shakespeare of the bunch (2015); “The Comedy of Errors” (2016); “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (2017); “Macbeth” (2018); and opening this weekend, “Richard III.”

Over the years, Ten Bucks has expanded into new venues. Early on, shows stayed put in Brewer, but subsequent productions have hit the road – the current run sees them play three venues in three weeks, starting at Indian Trail Park before spending a week at the Orono Public Library Amphitheater and then closing out the run with a week at Fort Knox in Prospect.

All of it done out of a love of Shakespeare and a passion for their craft. Scores of people coming together with a simple singular goal – to bring out the Bard.

In an effort to look back at this history, I spoke to six people who have been extensively involved with the outdoor productions of Ten Bucks. Joining Lisnet are Aimee Gerow, Katie Toole, Nathan Roach, Ben Layman and Adam Cousins. Each was invited to share thoughts and memories of their times on the outdoor stage. And share they did.

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