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BANGOR – A Dickensian classic has been given a whole new look courtesy of a collaboration between Penobscot Theatre Company and Atlanta’s The Object Group.

“A Christmas Carol” is part of PTC’s Digitus Theatrum season, a filmed experience that features iconic local actor Ken Stack not just reprising his beloved portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge, but voicing all of the characters in the Dickens original via his own adaptation of the story. All this is brought to life via the stylized, intricate puppets and puppetry of The Object Group as directed by Michael Haverty.

It’s a visually striking production, with a unique aesthetic that renders it quite unlike any other version of “A Christmas Carol” that you’ve seen. It balances the traditional tone of the story with explorations of both the spookiness and silliness inherent to the tale. A household link – viewable as many times as you like – can be purchased by going to PTC’s website at www.penobscottheatre.org or by contacting the box office at 942-3333.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 16 December 2020 13:30

‘Deck the Balls’ with wows of folly

BANGOR – As part of their holiday bill of fare, Penobscot Theatre Company is offering an adults-only show inspired by a seasonal classic.

PTC is working in tandem with Bar Harbor’s ImprovAcadia to present “Deck the Balls,” an interactive online improv performance inspired by the beloved Frank Capra film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as part of their Digitus Theatrum season. IA’s owners and co-founders Jen Shepard and Larrance Fingerhut are joined by longtime IA performer Mike Shreeman for a full improv comedy show built on the foundation provided by the film. The show runs through December 27; tickets and more information are available at the PTC website (www.penobscottheatre.org) or by calling the box office at 942-3333.

It’s important to note that this show is created live and in the moment every night. This is not a recorded performance; each night, Jen, Larrance and Mike create a brand-new comedy show, one driven by different ideas, different characters … different everything. The only things that remain the same are the performers and the fundamental inspiration. The rest is up to them … and you.

Published in Style

What do you think of when you think of clowns? You probably have a pretty specific picture in your head, no? But here’s the thing – there’s so much more to clowning than giant shoes and greasepaint grins. It’s part of a grand performance tradition, one that goes back centuries, a meticulous and hilarious brand of physical comedy that has long endured.

There are modern practitioners of this weird and beautiful brand of slapstick performance, renowned clowns whose antics have commanded the attention of audiences all over the world.

Avner the Eccentric is one such practitioner, a beloved and acclaimed performer who is considered to be one of the greatest clowns in the world by those with an understanding of such things. And now, you can experience that greatness in your very own home.

“Exceptions to Gravity” is a show that Avner has performed around the world and now – thanks to a cooperative agreement with Penobscot Theatre Company – you can stream a heretofore-unseen filmed version of that show as one of the offerings for PTC’s unconventional season. You can purchase access or find more information at www.penobscottheatre.org.

Published in Buzz

BANGOR – Penobscot Theatre’s latest production is something quite different, a phantasmagoric feast … for the ears.

The first production as part of Digitus Theatrum, PTC’s all-digital season, is “Ghost Postcards from Maine,” an original audio experience featuring five new tales of terror from Maine writers and brought to life by some of your PTC favorites. The streaming show is available through November 8 and is available at www.penobscottheatre.org or by contacting their box office at 942-3333.

The theatre commissioned five writers – Travis Baker, Sam Collier, Carrie Jones, Michael Kimball and Robin Clifford Wood – to create new stories inspired by some of Maine’s ghostly legends. These stories run the thematic and stylistic gamut, each lending a unique perspective on some of our state’s scariest stories. Some will likely be familiar, while others will be new to you, but regardless, the end product here is an audio experience unlike anything you’ve ever heard, a ghoulishly good time for this Halloween season.

Published in Buzz

BANGOR – Adapt. Adapt. Adapt.

That’s what so many performing arts organizations have had to do over the past few months. The pandemic has completely upended the model, leaving thousands of people scrambling to figure out how to go forward in this new landscape.

And that’s what Penobscot Theatre has done: Adapt.

PTC has officially announced their 47th season. Titled “Digitus Theatrum,” the 2020-21 slate was shared with the public by Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport via a virtual town hall event held Aug. 17. It is the most unique schedule in the history of the company, a collection of online offerings that are unlike anything many theatregoers have ever seen.

From a haunted audio adventure to a holiday puppet extravaganza, from a homegrown collection of solo works to an avant-garde theatrical adventure, Digitus Theatrum isn’t the theatre to which we are accustomed. It is something different, a collection of ideas that is somehow both pragmatic and ambitious.

PTC will be offering a variety of subscriptions and a wealth of programming for audiences of all ages over the course of the season, with their mainstage bill of fare enhanced by a variety of new and different kinds of creative entertainment. For information about ticket and subscription options, contact the PTC box office at 942-3333 or visit the theatre’s website at www.penobscottheatre.org.

Published in Cover Story

BANGOR - Penobscot Theatre Company has announced its 47th season, an assortment of plays and musicals professionally produced and staged at the company’s historic home.

After the unexpected curtailment of the current season, Penobscot Theatre Company looks forward more than ever to lighting-up the marquee and welcoming patrons to the historic Bangor Opera House for the 2020-21 Season. Performances are set to begin just after Labor Day and extend into early July. 

“We have great confidence in the future of Penobscot Theatre Company and we’re eager to share an extraordinary line-up,” said Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport. “By subscribing, you’re committing to Penobscot Theatre Company - to our institution, to the artists you’ve grown to love and to the value of theatre in our community. Of course, the health and safety of our artists and audience are our highest priority, and we’ll remain closely attuned to public health guidelines in the coming months.  Improvisation is at the heart of our craft and if we must adjust our plans, we will; but at this time, based on all the information at our disposal, we’re proceeding cautiously but optimistically.” 

Published in Buzz

BANGOR – One of the most challenging and beautiful theatrical works to grace an area stage in years took place at Penobscot Theatre last weekend. Alas, it saddens me to say that due to the current circumstances, you won’t be able to watch it from a seat in the Bangor Opera House.

That’s the situation with Penobscot Theatre Company’s new production. “Safety Net,” a play written by Daryl Lisa Fazio and directed by PTC’s own Tricia A. Hobbs. While the measures taken in recent days due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus mean that the Opera House seats will remain unfilled, PTC is hoping to take unprecedented action of its own.

Here’s how it’s going to work. Through this next week – up to March 22 – PTC will be presenting a livestream of the production at regular showtimes. From Wednesday through Sunday, March 18-22, the company will present a real-time video performance of the show. Tickets can be purchased in the usual way via the PTC website – www.penobscottheatre.org. Purchasers will be given instructions, a link and a password dedicated specifically to the night of their ticket purchase. It might not be the usual manner in which you see a play, but I’d advise you to take advantage of it.

Because any way you slice it, this is a remarkable piece of theatre.

(Full disclosure: I can’t speak to the experience of watching this show on video. I was one of four non-production personnel in the house for one of the early performances. But if watching it on a screen is even a tenth as impactful as seeing it on stage, it will be worth every cent and every second you spend on it.)

Published in Buzz

BANGOR – Silly schemes and sexy shenanigans are unfolding (and undressing) at the Bangor Opera House.

Penobscot Theatre Company’s latest production is the farce “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” adapted by Robin Hawdon from Marc Camoletti’s “Pyjama Pour Six.” Directed by Chris “Red” Blissette, the show runs through February 16.

It’s a madcap whirlwind of amorous misfortune and mistaken identity, with the questionable-at-best decisions made by a group of oversexed friends and lovers resulting in an ever-escalating spiral of lies that threatens to blow up at every turn. And with every untruth, the collapse comes closer. Will any of these relationships survive the night?

All of this playing out in a high-octane dance of entrances and exits and – of course – slamming doors galore, driven by a first-rate ensemble. It’s energetic and entertaining, a frothy bit of fun that will induce some warming, welcome laughter at this ever-so-cold time of the year.

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

BANGOR – The music of an American icon is ringing forth from the stage of the Bangor Opera House.

Penobscot Theatre Company’s production of “Woody Guthrie’s American Song” – conceived and adapted by Peter Glazer from the songs and writings of Woody Guthrie – is directed by Chris “Red” Blissett and music directed by Jeremy Sevelovitz, both of whom also star. The show runs through Sept. 29.

It’s a celebration of the legendary life of Woody Guthrie, one that uses his vast catalog of songs and an assortment of other writings to tell a tale of early 20th century America. With six actors taking turns embodying Guthrie himself, sharing his stories of the common man and the hardscrabble lives being lived by the struggling population through times of war and depression. Heather Astbury-Libby, John Burstein, Gaylen Smith and Tova Volcheck join Blisset and Sevelovitz to bring this performance to life.

Published in Style
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