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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

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.

Published in Cover Story
Tuesday, 18 June 2019 19:19

Take a chance on PTC - ‘Mamma Mia!’

BANGOR – There’s a whole lot of fun in the sun happening at the Bangor Opera House these days, a wealth of dreams and dancing queens.

Penobscot Theatre Company’s latest production – the final one of their 46th season – is the musical “Mamma Mia!” It’s a jukebox musical built on the tremendous catalog of 1970s Swedish pop supergroup ABBA, with book by Catherine Johnson. This production – directed and choreographed by Amiee Turner, with music direction by Phil Burns – runs through July 14 at the Bangor Opera House.

It’s the story of a young woman on the verge of getting married who is hoping to get a better sense of who she herself is by learning more about her history – specifically, who her father is, something her free-spirited and hard-working mother never told her. It’s about how powerful love can be … and what it means to allow yourself to feel it, no matter how much time may have passed.

It’s a lovely (albeit a tough thin) story, but the real highlights are the singing and the dancing – and as far as those are concerned, PTC’s production is pure dynamite. It is one of the biggest, brightest shows to grace this stage in some time, shiny and sweet and downright spectacular.

Published in Style

BANGOR – This summer, Penobscot Theatre Company is asking you to take a chance on them.

PTC will be closing out its 45th season with a production of “Mamma Mia!” This jukebox musical is based on the music of Swedish pop royalty ABBA, bringing loads of the quartet’s beloved songs onto the stage. From June 13 through July 14, the Bangor Opera House will be transformed into an idyllic Greek paradise, hosting a wedding about to be upended by unanticipated parental confusion – as in, who’s the father?

Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport continues to find the fun in this summer slot, bringing what will undoubtedly be a breezy delight to area theatergoers.

In advance of this month-long theatrical treat, we reached out to Amiee Turner, the show’s director and choreographer, to speak to her about the experience. Turner has a rich and varied theatrical background, having started her career as a Broadway dancer, dancing in half-a-dozen Broadway shows. She transitioned into directing and choreographing from there. In the years since, she’s helmed over 50 productions and produced about 70.

Turner was kind enough to answer a few questions from The Maine Edge.

Published in Cover Story

Once again, summer’s arrival is upon us. The weather is warming up and the days are approaching their greatest length. People near and far are going to descend on our state’s beaches, mountains and forests; people are going to swim and hike and boat and generally experience the outdoors in a fashion that one can only achieve in Maine.

But there are other summertime perks, too.

For those who love live theater, there are loads of options. Companies near and far are bringing exciting work to stages all over the region; no matter where you might be, there’s a good chance that you’ve got some excellent theater happening nearby.

Some of these companies are stalwarts of the scene, having been around for decades. Others are relative newcomers, bringing a new energy to the proceedings. Bangor, Belfast, Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Brooksville – they’ve all got something for you; Orono and Ellsworth and Stonington too.

It’s well worth your time to experience some of what our area’s summer stages have to offer. Here’s a look at just some of what’s to come.

Published in Cover Story

BANGOR – A musical tale of coming of age and coming out, a story of family and fate, is showing at the Bangor Opera House.

Penobscot Theatre is presenting “Fun Home,” a musical based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir of the same name, with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. The show runs through May 12.

Directed by Tricia A. Hobbs with musical direction by David John Madore, it’s the story of Bechdel herself, looking at her personal journey of gender identity through the lens of her past while also coming to terms with some of her family’s secrets. This is a challenging and thought-provoking piece, asking questions about self and selfishness and what it means to sacrifice. It is about choices – both those we make and those that the universe makes for us. It is about love and connection and secrets. It is about sexuality and discovery.

And it is one of the most emotionally impactful productions to grace this stage in a very long time.

Published in Style

BANGOR - As part of its 45th season, Penobscot Theatre Company presents “Ripcord,” a comedy written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Bari Newport. The show runs through March 31 at the Bangor Opera House.

Published in Style
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