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Wednesday, 20 April 2016 11:28

Good (and not-so-good) grief

'Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead'

Published in Happenings

Bangor Community Theatre's latest a sweet, breezy comedy

Published in Happenings
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 11:14

Nerd' is the word

Ten Bucks Theatre presents frantic farce

EDDINGTON There's an old saying that states 'Houseguests, like fish, begin to stink after three days.' But what if the host feels an obligation to that houseguest? Well, then one just plugs one's nose and tries to stick it out.

'The Nerd' features just such a houseguest and just such a host. Ten Bucks Theatre is presenting their production of Larry Shue's farce at Comins Hall in Eddington. The show runs through May 5; all tickets are $10.

 

Published in Buzz
Patrons to vote on first show of group's 20th season

WINTERPORT Next fall, Winterport Open Stage will be entering its 20th season. As part of that celebration, they are using their spring production of the musical 'Nunsense' to offer its loyal audience an opportunity to make its voice heard.

'Nunsense' with book and lyrics by Dan Goggin - will be running from April 19 through 28 at the Samuel L. Wagner Middle School in Winterport. The cast, rich with local favorites, includes Heather Astbury-Libby, Brianne Beck, Tina Burns, Elena DiSiervo Burns and Kari Stowe. The show is helmed by director and choreographer Dominick Varney, with musical direction by Phil Burns.

Published in Buzz
UMaine's Maine Masque presents Yasmina Reza play

ORONO The Maine Masque is the University of Maine's student-run theater group. Every year, members choose a play to be presented in the final mainstage slot of the season. Every part of this production is student-run students perform in these pieces, of course, but they also produce, direct and design it. They are completely in charge.

This year's offering is Yasmina Reza's 'God of Carnage,' directed by third-year student Goldie Irvine.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 14:30

Some wonderful one-acts

Judging the state one-act festival

FREEPORT - I'll be honest - I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. As a rule, I have relatively little use for the young people of today. To be truthful, though, I didn't have much use for young people even when I was one of them. And I enjoyed my curmudgeonly attitude. Relished it even.

So imagine my surprise when my fist-shaking, 'Get off my lawn!'-shouting ways are met full on by a group of teenagers whose passion, enthusiasm and talent force me to reconsider my sweeping generalizations about the younger generations.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 12:34

The soul of Wit'

PTC presents Pulitzer Prize-winning drama

BANGOR There are few things as powerful as live theater.

Seeing stories unfold right in front of us is a beautiful thing. We are separate from the action onstage, yet the performers are undeniably present. That combination makes theater capable of telling tales in a way that impacts us in a way that is unlike any other art form. And even then, some pieces achieve more so much more. 

Published in Buzz

LEWISTON/AUBURN - The recent Broadway hit, 'Time Stands Still,' makes its Maine premiere March 15-24 at The Public Theatre, Lewiston/Auburn's Professional Theatre. Intelligent, witty and thought-provoking, 'Time Stands Still' explores the romantic and professional relationship of a photojournalist and a war correspondent hoping to make a difference in the world by traveling to the hotspots of global conflict.

Published in Happenings
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 13:44

Growing pains Spring Awakening'

UMaine production combines old story, new music

ORONO We live in a world that has become oversensualized in a lot of ways. When it comes to teenagers especially, it can sometimes seem like adolescence has become a race to the finish line of sexuality. At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy they grow up so fast these days.

Of course, while it can be argued that kids today learn too much too soon, it can also be very easy to forget that not so long ago, young people were kept in the dark about basic emotional interactions and their very natural (and very human) sexuality. Too much knowledge might merit our concern, but so too does too little.

The musical 'Spring Awakening,' based on a century-old German play of the same name, offers an exploration of a time when the physical and emotional sensations of the youth were misunderstood unknowns. The University of Maine School of Performing Arts is presenting their own production of the musical, which features book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik. The show runs through Feb. 24 at Hauck Auditorium on the UMaine campus.

The action takes place in Germany in the late 1800s. Wendla (Hope Milne) is a young girl who is just starting to realize that there is so much about the world that she simply doesn't know. Her parents, rather than deal with her as an adult, instead insist on treating her like the child she no longer is.

Meanwhile, Melchior (Austin Erickson) is a young man whose intelligence and inquisitiveness make him a bit of a handful in the strict authoritarian schools. His classmate Moritz (Garrett Rollins) doesn't have Melchior's natural gifts, and so finds himself struggling both with the high academic expectations and the stern and harsh strictures of the system.

We watch as these teenagers along with their friends slowly begin to discover the realities of who they are. This self-exploration wends its way through a number of basic truths of growing up. However, these kids have not been equipped to deal with the realities of the world. Things like puberty and sexuality (hetero and homo alike), pregnancy and abuse (physical and sexual) are thrust into their lives, and they haven't the slightest idea of how to deal with them.

'Spring Awakening' ostensibly centers on Melchior and Wendla; Erickson and Milne ease us through a developing relationship that dances from sweet to unsettling to sad. Their interactions are the foundation on which the rest of the show is constructed. Strong voices blend with childlike innocence to create a jarring juxtaposition. Theirs is an engaging love, despite being doomed from the start.

Rollins offers a nicely awkward counterpoint to the more self-assured Melchior. His journey might be the most well-defined of them all; we are forced into empathy as he bears us along on his sad descent. The barefoot Bohemian Ilse, played with brash fearlessness by Blaise Collette, stands out as well. And Nellie Kelly as Martha, alongside Collette and the rest of the cast, belts out perhaps the most aggressively moving song of the entire show, the chillingly powerful 'The Dark I Know Well.'

Of course, at its core, this show is about the ensemble. The world of this play is an off-kilter one a 19th century story wedded to 21st century songs. Real investment from every player on the stage is needed for there to be any hope of verisimilitude. The young girls, the schoolboys, even the adults ranging from cruel to clueless all add their own unique facets to the tale being told.

Director Tom Mikotowicz deserves credit for assembling a quality cast and tasking them with such a challenging piece of work. The world of adolescent sexuality is a minefield from which many of these players aren't so far removed Mikotowicz strikes a balance between the subtle and the overt. Music director Craig Ouellette has assembled a first-rate octet of an orchestra, providing not only the tunes behind the songs, but the backbeat of the production itself.

Scenic designer Dan Bilodeau has created a set that manages to be minimal while still feeling epic a feat no doubt aided by Shon Causer's high-octane lighting design. The two designs elevate each other, combining into something much greater than either individual aspect.

'Spring Awakening' is the best kind of academic theater both challenging and entertaining; credit to the School of Performing Arts for mounting a show that can offer lessons to performers and audience members alike.

('Spring Awakening' is playing at UMaine's Hauck Auditorium through Feb. 24. For tickets or more information, visit the School of Performing Arts website at umaine.edu/spa.)

Published in Happenings

PTC production offers weird, wild trip to the Florida swamps

BANGOR We are not alone in the universe at least, not according to some eccentrics living in the swamps of Florida.

That's part of the story behind 'The Sugar Bean Sisters,' a play by Nathan Sanders. Penobscot Theatre Company is presenting their production of the show a Maine premiere through Feb. 17 at the Bangor Opera House.

It's the tale of the Nettles sisters, two spinsters living out their days in their deceased father's shack in the town of Sugar Bean, Florida. There's Willie May (Irene Dennis), a born-again Mormon who supports their little family by way of her 'grapefruit fortune,' a settlement for an injury she received while working at a citrus plant. And then there's Faye Clementine (A.J. Mooney), a woman whose main claim to fame is an appearance on the cover of 'The Weekly World News' after a UFO sighting 20 years ago.

Published in Happenings
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