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ORONO – They say opposites attract … but do they really? And for how long?

True North Theatre is bringing a Neil Simon classic to the stage with their production of “The Odd Couple.” Directed by Angela Bonacasa and starring TNT regulars Tellis Coolong and Tyler Costigan, the show runs through Jan. 19 at the Cyrus Pavilion Theatre on the campus of the University of Maine at Orono.

It’s the best-known of Simon’s many theatrical classics, a story about the difficulties inherent to starting over and the importance of friends who will support you even as you drive them crazy. It’s also arguably his funniest, with the mismatched pair at the show’s center an iconic stage dynamic; their relationship laid the foundation for a hundred comedies – some brilliant, others derivative, but all undeniably inspired by Oscar and Felix.

True North gets it, featuring fine performances from that central duo and a general understanding of just how hilarious this script is - an understanding that is ulitmately executed wonderfully.

Published in Style
Tuesday, 10 December 2019 12:05

‘Matilda: The Musical’ a magical good time

BANGOR – The power and importance of storytelling is springing to life at the Bangor Opera House this holiday season, courtesy of one very special little girl.

Penobscot Theatre Company has opened their production of “Matilda: The Musical,” based on the classic children’s story of the same name by Roald Dahl, with book by Dennis Kelly and music & lyrics by Tim Minchin. The PTC production – directed and choreographed by Jeff Payton and Matthew Shaffer with music direction by Phil Burns – runs through December 29.

It’s a huge undertaking for PTC, with a massive, kid-heavy cast and a significant logistical load on the production side. It’s the sort of show where the spectacle of the thing is an integral aspect of the proceedings; the bigness of it all is baked in. And thanks to some great performances and bold aesthetic choices, this huge undertaking is a successful one.

Published in Buzz

December is here, and hence the holiday season is in full force. The snow has started falling, the lights have started shining and the shopping has started in earnest. Hopefully, you’re out there shopping local whenever you can – a thriving community depends on consumers buying from their neighbors.

But shopping local doesn’t end with retail. You should shop local when it comes to your Yuletide entertainment as well. And here’s the thing – you can do that, because there is an embarrassment of riches out there for locally-offered holiday performance.

Sure, you could sit at home and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the umpteenth time or run through your Christmas Spotify playlist. But where’s the fun in that?

Especially when you take into account that our region is absolutely jammed with possibilities. There are stage shows and concerts galore. There is comedy and drama and so much music. There are holiday classics and brand-new creations. All of it right here in your backyard.

Look, if you want to stay home and drink hot toddies in front of a roaring fireplace, that’s perfectly OK. No judgment – sounds like you’ve figured out what it is you want from the holiday season and life in general. But if you’re looking to be entertained, well … you’re in luck.

In recent years, it seems as though every December has had a wealth of options. But this year more than ever, it feels like there really is something for everyone out there.

Please note that this isn’t even close to everything out there. I’ve just chosen a handful of options that might pique your interest. Keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground, because there is just so much out there, with so many people celebrating with their own joyful noises.

Published in Cover Story
Tuesday, 15 October 2019 20:43

Let ‘The Sunshine Boys’ in

BANGOR – Vaudeville is alive and well (well … sort of) on a local stage.

Ten Bucks Theatre Company is offering up their production of the Neil Simon comedy “The Sunshine Boys” at their theater space in the Bangor Mall. Directed by Ben Layman, the show runs through Oct. 20.

It’s a tale of a friendship gone sour, featuring a pair of stubborn men whose once-intimate connection is long in the past, courtesy of a number of slights both real and perceived. It’s about what a monumental task it can be to forgive (even if age has made it a little easier to forget). A love of show business can run deep, but deeper than a friendship?

Depends on the friend.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 18 September 2019 08:53

Celebrating Lucas! A 2019-20 BSO season preview

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.

Published in Cover Story

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.

Published in Cover Story

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.

Published in Cover Story

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.

Published in Cover Story

ORONO – A modern take on a classic myth is currently washing over an Orono stage.

True North Theatre is presenting Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” at the Cyrus Memorial Pavilion Theater on the University of Maine campus. Directed by Tricia Hobbs, this reimagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus is running through June 30.

This play demonstrates once again the artistic flexibility and creative range of True North. While the company itself is still young, the people involved bring a significant depth of experience to all facets of the theatremaking process. Whether they’re tackling American classics like “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” or broad British farces like “Table Manners,” True North almost always hits its mark.

That trend continues with “Eurydice,” a play that is demanding both performatively and technically. It’s a piece with a tremendous amount to say about love and loss and the sacrifice that leads to the latter is often made in full service to the former. It is also darkly funny and unabashedly weird. A challenging work for sure, but as usual, True North proves fully capable of rising to meet it.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 08 May 2019 11:34

Family tries – ‘I Remember Mama’

BANGOR – A classic story about family life in the early 20th century is playing out on stage here in Bangor.

Bangor Community Theatre is presenting John van Druten’s “I Remember Mama” at the Bangor Grange Hall. Directed by Irene Dennis, the production runs through May 12.

Adapted from the book “Mama’s Bank Account” by Kathryn Forbes, it’s the story of the Hanson family living in San Francisco in the year 1910. Viewed through the eyes of one of the younger Hansons – one of the family’s first generation of native Americans – it’s a tale of the tight embrace of family ties, of what it means to have and to want, of the American Dream.

Published in Style
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