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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

BANGOR – An unforgettable tale of pathos and pain, humor and heart, is gracing the Ten Bucks Theatre stage.

“The Elephant Man,” written by Bernard Pomerance and directed by Julie Arnold Lisnet, is running at the new Ten Bucks space located in the Bangor Mall. Performances of the show run through April 7.

It’s based on the true story of John Merrick, a man living in London in the Victorian Era who was afflicted with a malady that resulted in drastic deformation of his body. Despite bleak beginnings, Merrick eventually encountered a benefactor that allowed him to experience life beyond the limitations imposed upon him by his disorder.

It’s a tragic tale, to be sure, but one that also features moments of uplift and hope. Through keen curiosity and relentless gentleness, Merrick manages to find a home – a home where he is finally able to be spoken to, rather than gaped at.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 14:13

Wake up Maggie – ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’

ORONO – A classic of the American stage from one of the 20th century’s greatest playwrights is currently in Orono – a sultry Southern night to warm audiences caught in the grip of a bracing Maine January.

The Orono-based True North Theatre is presenting the Tennessee Williams masterpiece “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Cyrus Pavilion Theater on the University of Maine campus. Directed by TNT artistic director Angela Bonacasa, the show runs through January 20.

This piece – a personal favorite of Williams that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955 – is a magnificent deconstruction of a Southern family in crisis. Insularity and infighting, fault-finding and favoritism – audiences bear witness to it all as some of the most iconic characters in American theater history crawl and sprawl across the stage.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 12 December 2018 16:17

PTC’s latest brimming with ‘Elf’-confidence

BANGOR – There’s a new elf in town – and good luck keeping him on a shelf.

Penobscot Theatre Company’s latest holiday production is “Elf: The Musical,” based on the Will Ferrell film of the same name, with book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, lyrics by Chad Beguelin and music by Matthew Sklar. This production, directed and choregraphed by Ethan Paulini with music direction by Larrance Fingerhut, runs at the Bangor Opera House through December 30.

It’s a madcap romp that follows a young man who ventures forth on a journey to find out who he really is, leaving behind an idyllic life at the North Pole to track down his father and discover just where he might fit in the wider world. It is a journey for which he is both utterly ill-equipped and uniquely well-suited – figuratively and literally.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 05 December 2018 14:48

Season’s greetings from area stages

If your holiday tradition involves taking in a show, you’re in luck – performances abound.

Area performing arts groups are bringing a wealth of holiday shows to local stages over the coming weeks. From longstanding traditions to fun new experiences to beloved classics, all manner of Yuletide fun will be treading the boards. No matter what kind of showgoing experience you’re looking for this season, you’ll be able to find it.

Published in Happenings
Wednesday, 14 November 2018 12:34

‘The Curious Savage’ a satisfying surprise

ORONO – There are some curious goings-on currently afoot at the University of Maine.

UMaine’s School of Performing Arts is presenting John Patrick’s classic 1950 comedy “The Curious Savage.” The production, directed by Julie Arnold Lisnet, is taking place at Hauck Auditorium on the University of Maine campus; the show runs through November 18.

The show tells the story of a widowed woman whose deceased husband placed a lot of money in her care – money that her unpleasant stepchildren would like to get their hands on. They’re willing to go so far as to have her committed, but what they don’t count on is the strength and smarts of their stepmother – or the help she might find in unexpected places.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 12 September 2018 11:39

PTC’s ‘The Graduate’ achieves highest honors

BANGOR – Here’s to you, Penobscot Theatre Company.

For the first show of its 45th season, PTC presents the Maine premiere of “The Graduate,” directed by Bari Newport. The play was adapted by Terry Johnson from the novel of the same name, written by Charles Webb, as well as the screenplay, written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 15 August 2018 11:55

Great shows grace the Gracie in 2018-19

BANGOR – There are some great shows that will be gracing the stage of the Gracie Theatre – located on the campus of Husson University – over the next year.

This marks the seventh season for the Gracie. Seven seasons of quality programming aimed at enhancing the cultural landscape of the region. Seven seasons of wonderful performances offering something for audiences of all ages to enjoy. Seven seasons of seeing things you won’t find anywhere else in the area.

Whether you’re looking for music or comedy or one-man shows featuring Hollywood icons, Gracie Theatre Managing Director Jeri Misler has come up with something for you. Misler was kind enough to chat with The Maine Edge about what’s going on at the Gracie and talk about some of the highlights, as well as about the process of assembling such a diverse season.

Published in Cover Story
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