Archive for July, 2013

Theater at Monmouth: “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” (REVIEW)

Posted on July 30, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Insane hilarity and delicious fun. If no one else, in reviewing TAM’s production of “The Knight of the Burning Pestle”, doesn’t use phrases or flavor along these lines, they need to go back and start over in their analysis.

Simple as that. Really, it was THAT well done…

Okay, from the top. Deep breath…

bill graceThe first clue one gets that this show is NOT going to be a slow starter or predictable appears before you even get to your seat, as local grocers “Citizen” (Bill Van Horn) and his wife (Grace Bauer), along with a handful of other actors similarly attired come up through the hallways of Cumston Hall with the audience.

Dressed in full 17th century English garb (Francis Beaumont’s play was originally set at London’s Black Friar’s Theatre in the 1600s), complete with tankards of ale, they chat and sit among the audience to await the beginning of the play. With them is their much-admired apprentice “Rafe” (Max Waszak), squires “Tim” (Ambien Mitchell) and “George” (Ryan Simpson)- and the back doors/ exits of the theater are … um… protected… by a pair of large and menacing, unnamed soldiers (Josh Carpenter and Luke Couzens).

Seeing this set-up before the play even began, I quickly scurried to an available seat at the far right of the theater, as to be able to fully witness what was about to unfold. All indications were that this was to be immersive/ interactive theater at its best- and I didn’t want to miss a single second of it.

Even as producing artistic director Dawn McAndrews was welcoming those assembled and asking that we “shut off all devices that bing, beep, ring or shine lights to the stratosphere” , the ever-friendly, likable and amiable Citizen was speaking up and quickly getting chuckles- as such gizmos were completely foreign to him and his wife, equally chatty and familiar with the audience.

What fourth wall?

The original play onstage began. Called “A London Merchant”, its storyline was barely introduced by Simon Kiser‘s soon to be long-suffering narrator “Prologue” with the initial opening act commencing before Citizen and wife “Coney” were interrupting the production, demanding more action and better acting, as well as a show that celebrated their city and the common folk- and story lines and inclusion for their dear apprentice Rafe as an important part of the cast. Money talks, as do enough shillings given to the poor acting company, and in short order young Rafe and the two awkward squires join the original acting professionals on stage.

theater_rafe_mainQuickly what had started as a tale of two suitors, Jasper (Alexander Harvey), elder son of the musically inclined and well-named Master Merrythought (Mark S. Cartier) and the more dour Mistress Merrythought (Janis Stevens), and Sir Humphrey (Mike Anthony) for the hand of the beautiful Luce (Aislinn Kerchaert), daughter of the wealthy Venturewell (James Noel Hoban), as well as the Merrythoughts’ complicated division of wealth for their sons (Jasper the favorite of his father and Michael/ Mick, as played by Simon Kiser, the apple of his mother’s eye) became even more so with the addition of Rafe and the grocers’ squires. The acceptance of the money meant that some quick improvising had to be made- and so in the blink of an eye, the show included new subplots unconnected to the original script to sate Citizen and his wife, as grocer boy turned knight-errant Rafe (or now “The Right Courteous and Valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle”, as he insisted upon being evermore addressed by his squires) such as taking on a dragon and winning the heart of a princess of a faraway land. Giving long-winded monlogues of describing the glory of England and in particular the working class, as well as his beloved (and never seen) love Susan, and finally in his uproarious deathbed scene.

While attired wearing the Golden crest of the Burning Pestle- a ridiculous phallic-shaped tool emblazoned on his chest and the ever-present weapon of choice in his hand throughout the rest of the show.

That the original cast did not HAVE enough members to cover such additional roles needed to be immediately addressed- and as such, the local barber (Josh Carpenter) was quickly enlisted to play a bit part, the shy and not at all made for theater “Tim” pressed into double-duty as the newly added “Princess of Maldonia” (how Ambien Mitchell, an extraordinarily talented actress, was able to not only act BADLY as the very nervous, stumbling and untalented “Tim”- but then portray “Tim” as a badly acted caricature of a royal damsel as “Princess Pompiona” so perfectly is a true credit to her great range as an actress and comedic talents) and a local young woman for hire/ of ill-refute “Tapster” (Hannah Daly) chosen to play a … “Boy??” (a repeated, running gag throughout the bawdy show).

Control of the show shifts back and forth, between the original players telling the tale of Jasper and Luce’s rather classic Shakespearean-like troubled romance with the subplots involving the Merrythought clan, Sir Humphrey and Venturewell, and the jovial Citizen and wife Coney- who rather than sit quietly and watch the play unfold, speak directly to the characters and offer encouragement, information or advice directly to the players. Hilariously performed is an ongoing flirtation that develops between “Sir Humphrey” and the Citizen’s wife, who takes a fancy to him, as well as how Citizen and his wife hiss and boo whenever “Jasper” appears, throwing the actor off his original focus, time and again. The actors vary between being annoyed with the grocers, long-suffering, amused, confused, bemused… it’s all there and after awhile, it becomes clear that the show has taken on a insanely funny life of its own, as even the original cast cannot control their mirth.

Wicked, delicious fun… and hard to believe that this is a 400 year old play, as the timing and humor translate so well and seem reminiscent of the much more modern humor of a “Monty Python” or “Saturday Night Live” comedy troupe. Well done!

CAST (in order of appearance):

Prologue/ Boy/ Michael: Simon Kiser
Citizen: Bill Van Horn
Citizen’s Wife: Grace Bauer
RAfe: Max Waszak
Venturewell: James Noel Hoban
Jasper: Alexander Harvey
Luce: Aislinn Kerchaert
Humphrey: Mike Anthony
Tim/ Pompiona: Ambien Mitchell
George: Ryan Simpson
Mistress Merrythought: Janis Stevens
Master Merrythought: Mark S. Cartier
Captive/ Tapster: Hannah Daly
Host/ Greengoose: Frank Omar
Barber/ Hammerton/ Soldier: Josh Carpenter
Servant/ Knight/ Captive/ Soldier: Luke Couzens

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Theater at Monmouth: “Our Town” (REVIEW)

Posted on July 30, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

“It goes so fast; we don’t have time to look at one another.” Hannah Daly, “Emily”

our town

Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town” opened on July 19th and is set in a fictional town called “Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire” in the early 1900’s. It is impossible not to see striking similarities between that location and so many other small New England towns- in fact, the cast photo used for the play’s online promotion was taken in the large Monmouth Center Cemetery which borders Cumston Hall, the Theater’s home. Within that cemetery lie the remains of many generations of families eerily similar to the Gibbs, Webbs, Herseys, Crowells and Newsomes of Grover’s Corners, right down to those who served and died in the Civil War, and no doubt some of their lives mirrored those of the characters in this play.

TAM’s exceptional cast and crew worked their magic with transforming the past back to life in the telling this simple tale; it was surreal during the intermission to step outside for those few minutes and into what appeared to be a future version of the tale currently being told inside.

Mark S. Cartier ("Stage Manager") speaks with TAM audience members before the beginning of the play.

Mark S. Cartier (“Stage Manager”) speaks with TAM audience members before the beginning of the play.

From the moment the narrator “Stage Manager” (Mark S. Cartier) lays the initial groundwork of the three act play, introducing the audience to the town by verbally painting the layout and imagery of Grover’s Corner, one quickly envisions a rather nondescript, sleepy little hamlet about to awaken with the rising sun. But rather than leave one simply seeing the immediate, the Stage Manager is key throughout the production to showing the audience that more lies below than what one sees immediately upon the surface of the town- there are layers here, of time and human existence, in which the present occupants play their part but are but a piece of a continually changing and ever-forgotten tapestry of ordinary individual human existence.

As the day starts (this first act being called “Daily Life”), a young boy Joe Crowell (Alexander Harvey) expertly delivers the newspapers and Howie Newsome (Ryan Simpson) the milk along with his Bessie to the townfolk. (Note: the lighting and sounds effects utilized are especially important here and well used; one clearly sees the town “wake up” as it goes from quiet dark silence to a busy, bustling typical morning full of light and activity.)

Lifelong resident Mrs. Gibbs (Grace Bauer) greets her exhausted husband Dr. Gibbs (James Noel Hoban) at the end of a long early morning house call delivering newborn twins before awakening their children, George (Luke Couzens) and Rebecca (Aislinn Kerchaert) and getting ready to go to school. Next door, the Webb household is also getting ready for their day, as Mrs. Webb (Ambien Mitchell) prepares breakfast for her family, “Grover’s Corner Sentinel” editor husband Charles (Mike Anthony) and their children, Emily (Hannah Daly) and Wally (Simon Kiser). George and Emily are seen to be typical and ordinary young people, beloved by their families and friends- he wants to be a baseball player and she is among of the brightest children in school- and one sees that they are, even as teenagers, interested in each another. Mrs. Gibbs dreams of going to Paris and over chores, tells her friend Mrs. Webb of some money she came into that could be used for the journey, but it is not to be.

With the second act (“Love and Marriage”), the story takes the audience to three years later. Not much has changed, as the town wakes on this stormy morning- Howie and Bessie still deliver the milk, but now Si Crowell (Max Wasnak), Joe’s younger brother delivers the papers. It is the wedding day of George and Emily, having fallen in love, and we see the families prepare the two to wed and in doing so, take their places in the town’s society as a married couple. There are moments of sheer terror and panic for both young people, as they see the path before them and fear what lies ahead- but ultimately with encouragement and support of their families, all fears are conquered. They wed with the entire town in attendance and bearing witness, including neighbor Mrs. Soames (Janis Stevens), who mentions to the audience about “how lovely a wedding it is”, as she cries- a staple participant in these ceremonies.

Monmouth Center Cemetery

Monmouth Center Cemetery

The third act (“Death and Eternity”), set nine years later, takes place at the large town cemetery and predictably deals with the end of one’s life as a natural conclusion to the cycle- and yet is full of rich depth and classic dramatic elements. The Stage Manager speaks at some length, telling of the Grover’s Corners townsfolk buried there whom the audience met earlier and what caused their passings: Mrs. Gibbs (pneumonia while travelling to Ohio to see Rebecca), Wally Webb (burst appendix while camping in North Conway), Mrs. Soames and Simon Stimson (Josh Carpenter), the church’s alcoholic and tortured organist (suicide by hanging) are among the newly dead and they speak to one another throughout the final act.

The town’s undertaker Joe Stoddard (Frank Omar) and Sam Craig (Max Wasnak) a young man returning home to Grover’s Corners for his cousin’s funeral appear. The audience soon learns that the cousin is Emily, dying in childbirth to her and George’s second child. After the funeral, Emily joins the dead, asking them about if it is possible to go back to be among the living. Mother-in-law Mrs. Gibbs tells Emily that they “must forget the life that came before and wait”. Emily refuses to do so and despite the warnings of the dead, she decides to return for just one day, picking her 12th birthday. But it is soon too painful for her, as she realizes just how much life should be valued, “every, every minute” and Emily returns to the cemetery. Before finally taking her eternal spot, she asks the Stage Manager whether anyone living realizes the value of their lives and life while they live it, to which he replies, “No. The saints and poets, maybe – they do some.”

CAST (in order of appearance):

Stage Manager: Mark S. Cartier
Dr. Gibbs: James Noel Hoban
Joe Stoddard: Frank Omar
Howie Newsome: Ryan Simpson
Mrs. Gibbs: Grace Bauer
Mrs. Webb: Ambien Mitchell
George Gibbs: Luke Couzens
Rebecca Gibbs: Aislynn Kerchaert
Wally Webb: Simon Kiser
Emily Webb: Hannah Daly
Professor Willard/ Warren: Bill Van Horn
Editor Webb: Mike Anthony
Joe Crowell: Alexander Harvey
Simon Stimson: Josh Carpenter
Mrs. Soames: Janis Stevens
Si Crowell/ Sam Craig: Max Waszak

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Theater at Monmouth: “The Year of Magical Thinking” (REVIEW)

Posted on July 28, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

    “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you knows it ends.”
    Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

joan d“The Year of Magical Thinking” under the direction of TAM’s producing artistic director Dawn McAndrews, has been one of the most extraordinary performances I have yet to witness (others would agree), as Janis Stevens performed this critically acclaimed one woman play. Days later, I am still struck by the deeply personal and tumultuous nature of the play itself, Janis’ extraordinary ability to convey the words of Ms Didion into a place beyond her solitary journey and personal connections and to an overarching reach for all, as death is a part of life and how we grieve, how we mourn the loss of those to whom we are closest, is a deep thing within us all, quite often something hard or nigh impossible to adequately describe in mere words.

The Theater at Monmouth is now Ms. Stevens’ third venue for performing “Magical Thinking”, written and set in 2003-4, and it was striking how well a single actor was able to tap into the depths of her considerable talents to tell such an emotionally-driven and personal tale, as Joan went from a confident world renowned writer to worried mother and grieving widow with the sudden loss of husband John Gregory Dunne, questioning herself and the life they shared (“Why do you always have to be right. Why do you always have to have the last word. For once in your life just let it go.” ), a woman who had great grasp of words and ability for gathering facts (“Information is control.”)- yet unable to process fully the events that were rapidly spirally beyond her control.

Janis makes one believe it was HER story being told, with masterful utilization of her body and voice through the varied moments of the one act play, be it in Joan’s frenzied focus on minute details and daily schedules, her practiced rituals to stave off “the vortex” of doubts and fears that threaten to consume her if she allows or breaks from her stringent daily course forward, her physical and mental exhaustion, the internal battles for control of Joan’s thoughts and emotions, of joyous memories of the past, and her outwardly projected confidence as she urged and willed daughter Quintana to live. Of paralyzing fear, not knowing what was the “right step” forward- and of finally starting to come to accept (“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.” ) her losses.

shellsEqually dramatic and compelling to the play was how the deliberate choices of a simple seaside dock as the stage, dark background lighting as to emphasize Joan’s solitude and usage of sound effects throughout the 90 minute performance were effectively utilized, as the story being told switched from an apartment in Manhattan, to the coasts of Malibu and Hawaii or a Parisian sidewalk, inside hospital ICUs and ERs on both coasts and even a Kansan cornfield, as Joan’s year went from the rapidly changing demands of the current situations to scarcely allowed moments of past reflections. This vortex of overflowing emotions and memories was one she tried desperately to avoid, as not to deflect her from her desire to “fix” what had “gone wrong”, to be able to cling to a belief that she could change the outcome of what had already transpired.

When asked the difference between her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking and the play, Joan Didion answered: “When I was writing the book, I did not know whether or not I would survive. When I was writing the play, I knew that I had survived.”

CAST: Janis Stevens

Set Designer: Jim Alexander
Lighting Director: Lynne Chasse
Sound Designer: Rew Tippen
Stage Manager: Melissa A. Nathan

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Politicians, Parades and Photo Ops

Posted on July 23, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Now that the 126th Legislature is at ease, the focus turns for many in elected office to getting out into the public eye- have some fun, relax, chat with folks and enjoy summer- and how better to do that than at a parade? So here are a selection of photoquick s from recent events.

One note: It seems odd to me that for all of the events I have seen so far, not ONCE has there been any sort of presence from either Eliot Cutler or his team…

1. Maine Democrats at Portland Pride Parade (June 15).


No gubernatorial candidates; nice to see a large group of Dems, though!

2. Jay- Livermore Falls July 4 Parade (July 3).


A torrential thunderstorm, high winds and heavy rains didn’t stop this parade- or LePage target/ Senate Majority Leader/ 2nd Congressional District candidate Troy Jackson!


3. Winslow July 4 Parade.


Newly chosen Maine Republican Party Vice Chair Susan Morissette (L, blue shirt) waves to crowd; U.S. Senator Susan Collins chose to forego her Bangor-Brewer parade route (attended by Governor Paul LePage) as to march instead with the Kennebec GOP and Senate Asst Minority Leader Roger Katz (R- Augusta).


Senator Katz had at that time just penned his opinion piece regarding his embarrassment over Governor LePage published around the country, leading to speculation of a possible primary challenge between the two- and possibly support for Katz by Collins.

4. Lisbon Moxie Festival Parade (July 13).


Both Senator Snowe and Governor Paul LePage (dark blue shirt) chose to stay right in the center of the parade route and NOT go to the edges to shake hands or greet those along the parade route.


Unlike Congressman/ potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, who cheerfully greeted folks all the way down the parade route on an extraordinarily hot and humid day:


Likewise for Troy Jackson:


(Note: Emily Cain had planned on attending “Moxie”, but was unable due to illness- in her stead was staffer Jackson Pineau and campaign manager Levi Knapp.)


5. Ft Fairfield Potato Blossom Festival Parade.


Governor Paul LePage (far left) and First Lady Ann LePage (far right) both attended the parade; unlike the Moxie one, the Governor cheerfully greeted kids along the route.

NOTE: It did seem very odd, in light of that morning’s BDN bizarre story “Emails: LePage wanted to hire Miss Maine for education position; Bowen called plan ‘nuts’”, to see the Governor so upbeat.


Senator Angus King was walking the parade route…


…As were a large group of enthusiastic Aroostook Dems and Maine Dems from all corners of the state, who had just prior to the parade seen enough state committee members in attendance to hold a quorum. At that meeting, gubernatorial candidates Mike Michaud and Steve Woods, as well as 2nd Congressional District hopefuls Emily Cain and Troy Jackson spoke to those assembled.


Democratic visitors from all over the state marching in the parade.


Senator Emily Cain and campaign manager Levi Knapp.


Kennebec Dems Rep. Lori Fowle (Vassalboro), MDP’s Jon Hiller and Jeremy Kennedy, and Portland Rep. Matt Moonen.


Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson… no, wait- this is a large group of his supporters!


Then this will be Troy… nope, more supporters and Senator Colleen Lachowicz (Waterville)!


“Hi, I’m Troy Jackson… how are you?” (cheerfully said a few thousand times by this point)


Mike Michaud greeting folks towards the end of the parade route- time to quit and call it a day now, right Mike?

Nope! There are folks up on the hill to walk to and greet- they couldn’t come down to the street, so Mike walked up to say hi to each and every one of them instead. Nicely done!

THIS IS CLASS. And indicative of how folks connect with Mike…

More pictures of more events (fairs, parades, etc) to follow this summer, as time and opportunity allow!

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As Goodall Takes SBA Regional Job, Maine Dems’ Turn at “Musical Chairs”

Posted on July 23, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Last week at the end of the first half of the 126th Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall (D-Sagadahoc), who was named last month as New England Regional SBA Administrator for the Obama administration, formally resigned his post in an address to his colleagues (apologies for the less than stellar camera work!).

It was announced that the Senate Democrats chose as his replacement Second Congressional District candidate and Assistant Majority Leader Senator Troy Jackson (D- Aroostook) and to fill Jackson’s slot, Senator Anne Haskell (D- Cumberland). Via press release:

    Maine Senate Democrats elected new leadership following the resignation of Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall. Senator Troy Jackson of Allagash was elected Senate Majority Leader and Senator Anne Haskell of Portland was elected Assistant Senate Majority Leader. Both Senators were unchallenged and unanimously elected by the entire Senate Democratic caucus.

      “Democrats in the State Senate are well served by the experience, commitment, and tireless advocacy of Senators Jackson and Haskell,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “We have a team of leaders who will continue fighting for the very things important to Mainers like improving our economy, getting people back to work, a strong public education system, and affordable health care.”

    Senate Majority Leader: Senator Jackson served as Assistant Senate Majority Leader for the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature. He served as the Senate Democratic lead on the 2013 Redistricting Commission. This is his third term in the Senate and he previously served three terms in the House.

      “This is a great honor. I will do my best to lead by example and serve the Senate and my caucus,” said Senate Majority Leader Jackson. “We’re a hard working group and I know that we will continue to focus on the job the people of Maine sent us here to do.”

    A logger by trade, Jackson is the former Chair of the Labor Committee, and is known in Augusta as an advocate for working families and small businesses. He lives in Allagash with his partner Lana Pelletier, and their sons, Chace and Camden.

    anne haskellAssistant Senate Majority Leader: Senator Haskell chaired the Taxation Committee and served on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee for the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature. This is her first term in the Senate. She previously served six terms in the House where she chaired and served on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.

      “I am humbled and honored to have the trust of this hard working caucus,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Haskell. “We made great strides this session—with so much work coming out of committees unanimously and with bipartisan support. However, we also understand how much we have left to do. We’re still living in challenging economic times. It is our responsibility to make our state stronger and prosper. I look forward to working on that in the months to come.”

    Haskell lives in Portland with her husband, Lou, where she enjoys visiting their summer camp, spending time with their grandchildren, and participating in an active lifestyle.

That still left Senator Goodall’s SD seat open. Last week, Governor LePage set a special election date for August 27th and Monday the Sagadahoc County Democrats selected Eloise Vitelli as their nominee against Green candidate Daniel Stromgren of Topsham and probably former GOP State Senator Paula Benoit.

Eloise Vitelli chosen as Democratic candidate for Dist. 19 special election on Aug. 27. Seen here with David Sinclair (left) and Will Neilson (right). Photo credit to Times Record.

Eloise Vitelli chosen as Democratic candidate for Dist. 19 special election on Aug. 27. Seen here with David Sinclair (left) and Will Neilson (right). Photo credit to Times Record.

Vitelli defeated Will Neilson, an Arrowsic resident and mostly non-practicing attorney who owns Solo Bistro in Bath and Bath City Councilor David Sinclair, also an attorney.

She won on the first ballot, garnering what Bronwen Tudor, chairwoman of the Sagadahoc County Democratic Committee called “a significant majority” of the 89 votes cast.

Vitelli was nominated by House Majority Leader Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, who said she could hit the ground running in the Senate due to her experience supporting entrepreneurs and helping shape state policy. Berry considered running for the seat before endorsing Vitelli in early July.

More via BDN:

    Vitelli, who was chairwoman of the Sagadahoc County Democratic Committee for four years, said Wednesday that Goodall asked her to run for his seat, which includes Sagadahoc County and the town of Dresden.

    “He turned to me when he knew he got the [SBA] position,” she said. Vitelli said she has helped Goodall with all of his Senate campaigns and has “worked closely with him” since then. She also wrote him a letter of recommendation for the SBA position, she said.

    Vitelli said she hopes to bring her experience in economic development — which she called “my clear passion” — to the Senate 19 seat.

    “Above that, I hope to bring a sense of how to make good decisions at the government level,” she said. “I’m a strong believer in the art of compromise. I guess I am old enough to be able to take the long view, and recognize that things don’t happen overnight, that we have to work together to find solutions. And I hope to bring an even temper.”

    Vitelli said the “incredibly important” race — likely against Benoit of Phippsburg — will be “very interesting. I don’t know how often it’s happened that two women have run against each other.”

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Maine GOP Plays Musical Chairs, as Republicans Name Rick Bennett 3rd Party Head Since November

Posted on July 23, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

bennettOver the weekend, the Maine Republican Party selected current Trucost board member, former board member of the Maine Heritage Policy Center and co-Senate President Rick Bennett of Norway as their third chair since last year. Via MRP press release:

      The Maine Republican Party State Committee has elected former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett, as the new Chairman of the Maine Republican Party.

    The vote, cast by the party’s 77-person state committee, demonstrated broad support from all areas of the Republican Party, with a majority of members from across the party’s diverse areas pledging support for Bennett in advance and an even greater number delivering votes the day of the election.

    “The Maine Republican Party is ready to make the case to the people of Maine that the liberal leadership and policies of Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves are bad for the Maine people, bad for Maine’s small businesses, bad for Maine’s economy, and bad for the generations of Mainers who will inherit our decisions,” Mr. Bennett said.

    Susan Morissette from her "For the People" website, poses with Bruce Poliquin. 'Nuff said.

    Susan Morissette from her “For the People” website, poses with Bruce Poliquin. ‘Nuff said.

    “It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work electing Republicans who will grow Maine’s economy, protect Maine’s small businesses, control the size and scope of government and give the next generation of Mainers a stronger, more prosperous Maine than we inherited,”
    Mr. Bennett concluded.

    In addition to electing Mr. Bennett as new party Chairman, the Maine Republican State Committee also elected former State Representative and current Kennebec County Republican Chair Hon. Susan Morissette as new Vice Chair.

Morisette previously served one term as HD 54 Representative of Winslow before losing her re-election bid to Catherine Nadeau.

gop-splitBut one needs a scorecard to keep up with all of the scandals, claims of manipulation/ disregard of party rules (see RNC2012), changes in leadership and controversies in the Maine Republican Party since 2010- oh, how the party of Margaret Chase Smith and Bill Cohen has fallen in recent years!

When Paul LePage first was elected Governor in 2010, Maine also witnessed both State House chambers go from blue to red- the first time that the state had gone to Republican control in both the Executive and Legislative branches in over 40 years. It heralded a time of devastating party splintering and questionable ethics such as the state had never before seen and was part of a much larger picture nationally.

The chair of the Maine Republican Party at the time, Charlie Webster, claimed much of the credit for the flip, But then… well… Charlie Webster quickly went from being “the man” to being “Crazy Uncle Charlie, that guy that has to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner”, telling more and more wild tales:

June 2011: Democrats “steal elections” via same day registration:

    “If you want to get really honest, this is about how the Democrats have managed to steal elections from Maine people,” Webster told a columnist for the Portland Press Herald in a piece published Friday. “Many of us believe that the Democrats intentionally steal elections.”

July 2011: Webster claimed that UMF College Republicans “parked their vans” on Election Day in 2010, as to prevent students getting to the polls, and submitted a list of 206 names to then Secretary of State Charlie Summers to investigate for voter fraud:

None was found and the accusations/ witch hunt resulted in national attention.

Sept 2011: Webster, still determined that SOME fraud had indeed occurred, insisted that “Canadians were able to come across the border and vote illegally”:

    “Do we want people who live in a motel deciding who we send to the state legislature when they never vote again in Maine?” he asked. “Do we want people who are illegal aliens — illegal Americans — from Canada or another state? … Do we want them influencing our elections?”

LD 1373, “An Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process”, was introduced by Rep. Rich Cebra (R-Naples) that was passed by the GOP-led 125th Legislature and supported by Secretary of State Charlie Summers and signed law by Governor Paul LePage, went to referendum in November- and was soundly smacked down by Maine voters by a 60-40 margin:

    “Maine voters sent a clear message: No one will be denied a right to vote,” said Shenna Bellows, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. “Voters in small towns and big cities voted to protect our constitutional right.”

    “We felt good coming in and we knew we had run a better campaign,” Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said. “It feels good to get a win but this isn’t the last vote of 2011, it’s the first of 2012. We need to take this momentum into next year.”

Nov 2012: Grant’s statement of the Rich Cebra sponsored bill LD 1376’s 2011 defeat being the “first vote of 2012” proved true, as Democrats regained control of both legislative chambers.

maine-gop-chair-suspicious-of-dozens-of-black-votersCharlie Webster then announced that he would not seek re-election and held an interview with WCSH’s Don Carrigan and still determined that there was indeed voter fraud occurring within the state, claimed that it was being committed by “dozens of black people” travelling into towns. The story garnered more national headlines and Webster later apologized for his remarks.

Then the termed-out of the Legislature Rich Cebra came in as the new party chair, somehow managed to make an even bigger mess than the one he had found time and time and time again… and promptly left- after seven months with no warning.

Cebra_ethicsOn July 3, news broke that Maine Republican Party Chair and former Rep. Rich Cebra abruptly stepped down from his position as head of the party amid multiple controversies, and that his Vice Chair Beth O’Connor had given notice a few days’ prior as well. O’Connor originally planned to run against Cebra for the top slot, but chose at the time to pull her name before the vote.

From Dec 2012:

    “It’s a new day in Maine,” said Cebra, who praised O’Connor’s withdrawal as a sign that the Maine Republican Party “is a unified party that works.” He said he planned to focus initially on “ground work,” building the party’s base by strengthening local and county committees.

    John Frary, a committee member and party stalwart from Farmington, described O’Connor’s withdrawal as “a noble gesture for party unity.”

So much for that idea!

Rep Rich Cebra of Naples, who also served from Dec 2012 to July 2013 as MRP Chair before abruptly resigning.

Rep Rich Cebra of Naples, who also served from Dec 2012 to July 2013 as MRP Chair before abruptly resigning.

    “Cebra has been a big disappointment,” Vic Berardelli, a Republican state committee member from Penobscot County and chairman of the Maine Republican Liberty Caucus, said by phone Wednesday. “I stuck my neck out and lost some good friendships in my efforts to get Rich Cebra elected as Maine Republican Party chairman. He did not have the management and fundraising ability or people skills to bring factions together.”

About that fundraising and money management… one wonders what the numbers actually DO show!

More previous reaction from Charlie Webster and Bruce Poliquin:

    Webster said he had heard a couple of days ago that Cebra might resign, but he said he didn’t know why and had no other information.

    Among those eyeing the job is former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, who said he is considering the post after being approached by a number of people asking him to take the job. Poliquin is also considering running in the 2014 2nd District congressional race, now that Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud is likely going to challenge LePage in next year’s gubernatorial election.

    “It’s a very difficult job and it’s important to be able reach out to all factions of the Republican party to make sure our message gets out about limited government and more economic growth and more jobs for Maine families,” he said. “It’s critical to get that message out. I’m sure we’ll find somebody who can do that.”

So, here’s the mess that Webster and Cebra left for Bennett- time will tell as to what he chooses to do- or even CAN do- with it.

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(UPDATED) Mike Heath at LePage Defense Press Conference: “Maine IS Being Sodomized by the Left”, Warns of “Violent Revolution”

Posted on July 17, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

(7/20/13) One last update: My Dirigo Blue cross post made The Rachel Maddow Show’s blog “This Week in God”.

5PM UPDATE: Link to Paul Madore clip, who veered way off course and didn’t defend Governor LePage’s remarks hardly at all, but rather used the golden opportunity of media in the room to vent his views on the Catholic Church and those within who support marriage equality, “Traditional Catholics are being moved to the back of the bus”. He repeatedly equated homosexuality with pedophilia “The bulk of homosexuals practice pedophilia. There’s a higher percentage of homosexuals that practice pedophilia” and issued veiled threats towards gay priests and others, whose names he claimed he could reveal at any moment.

All in all, a very strange day in Augusta!

4pm UPDATE: Maine Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, the target of Governor LePage’s original vile and crude remarks, has responded to today’s press conference:


    AUGUSTA – Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash issued the following statement in response to Michael Heath’s, the former director of the Christian Civic League, and Paul Madore’s, the director of the Maine Grassroots Coalition defense and praise of Governor LePage’s vulgar remarks. Earlier this month, Governor LePage lobbed as series of insults at Senator Jackson, including a crude sexual reference.

    During the Heath-Madore press conference, they quoted biblical references in defense of their homophobic claims. They praised LePage for “speaking like a man” and equated homosexuality to pedophilia and saying “the vile tide of perversion which these forces unleashed is now at high-water mark, as sodomy and transgenderism have encroached on every institution in our state, in particular our public schools.”

    Maine Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, condemns anti-gay and anti-Catholic Church statements made by Michael Heath and Paul Madore in Augusta Wednesday. (Photo credit BDN)

    Maine Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, condemns anti-gay and anti-Catholic Church statements made by Michael Heath and Paul Madore in Augusta Wednesday. (Photo credit BDN)

    The press conference lasted for 45 minutes and drew a crowd of six supporters, including Heath’s one wife.

    “Today’s display was nothing more than hate and fear mongering in the name of God. There is nothing more disgusting than using religion to promote hate and violence. As a Democrat and a Catholic, I oppose this hatefulness and bigotry.

    The Governor’s comments are not defensible. They were vile—not fit for a school yard and certainly not fitting of our state’s chief executive. People across our state, people across the political spectrum, and from all walks of life, including the Christian Civic League, have spoken out against the Governor’s vulgarity. Today, we are seeing who the governor’s supporters and friends are—they are the fringe, they are the bigots who spread fear and hatred. This is not Maine and not who we are as Mainers.”


Maine Democratic party has also weighed in and is calling for the Governor to denounce Heath and Madore’s statements:

    “In a bizarre press conference, conservative activists Michael Heath and Paul Madore defended Governor LePage’s comments about Senator Troy Jackson in the Hall of Flags with disgusting and hateful comments of their own, comparing homosexuality to pedophilia. We call on Governor LePage to denounce these hateful comments said on his behalf.”

Not likely. The Governor’s press secretary told me before the event today that they were in no way affiliated with the two, as others are also reporting tonight. Via BDN:

    “This group has no affiliation with the Office of the Governor or the governor nor do they speak for the Office of the Governor,” said Bennett. “This group does not reflect the views of the governor.”


Interesting times at the State House today as Mike Heath, former head of the Christian Civic League and most recently, the Iowa State Chairman of the Ron Paul for President campaign and Paul’s Maine chairman, Lewiston native Paul Madore of the Maine Grassroots Coalition, held a 40 minute long press conference originally billed as a “Defending Maine’s Governor Press Advisory”:


    “Later today I’ll be holding a press conference in the State House with my good friend Paul Madore. Paul is a gutsy carpenter from Lewiston. He and his wife Susan very successfully homeschooled nine children. These wonderful young people have blessed Paul and Susan with 26 grandchildren.

    We will be praising Governor Paul LePage for a recent angry outburst. You can watch his comment in context here.

    Nearing the end of this legislative session the Governor was frustrated by the Left’s objections to his budget. With the cameras running his emotions sparked and the RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNANT MAN Paul LePage blasted through the veneer of Governor/politician. He said he was tired of being sodomized by the Left. And he named names.

    Thunderstorms leave in their wake purified air. That was the effect the youtube video had on me. When I was done watching it I thought, “This guy just spoke for me in so many ways.” The truth is like that. It purifies all it touches.

    The most refreshing aspect of this incident is the Governor using sodomy in it’s proper context. It is a negative. It is ugly. It is force. And it is violent.

    This act of sodomy, which is the black heart and soul of sexual orientation theory, used to be universally condemned. Now it provides the basis upon which the West grants special legal privileges and rights.”

About a half dozen supporters were in attendance, including Heath’s wife Paulie and mother-in-law, who worked for a time many years in the State House with the Liquor Commission.

On Heath’s website, he shared a clip of Governor LePage to provide context and added his own comment of “Governor LePage doesn’t want to be Sodomized by Liberals”, which is retrospect gave Maine press a fairly good idea that the comments by the two were not going to stick to strictly the political nature of LePage’s original analogy but rather take a turn towards their oft-mentioned views on homosexuality.

Boy howdy. Did it ever…

Here is the first clip recorded: Mike Heath’s “Sword of the Spirit” (hey, HIS title, not mine!) press statement.

His prepared remarks are below.

Page 1:

heath 1

Page 2:

heath pg 2

Q&A portion of the press conference.

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Theater at Monmouth: “The Taming of the Shrew” (REVIEW)

Posted on July 16, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

NOTE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to attend and review TAM’s “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” and as such, am linking to an excellent review.

BONUS: This MPBN interview in which Dawn McAndrews, Theater at Monmouth’s Producing Artistic Director, discusses this season’s shows. ~AP

Link to Theater at Monmouth website.

shrew_web3When Scott Moreau wrote in his review of Theater of Monmouth’s “The Taming of the Shrew” of “those audience members who refrain from Shakespeare’s works due to it’s seemingly foreign language”, he well could have been describing me in years past- works of The Bard and I parted company as soon as high school was concluded and didn’t pick up again for decades.

Fast forward to my first TAM performance and the 2011’s summer season opener, “Much Ado About Nothing”. Adapted from the classic version and set in post WWII era and yet told in traditional 16th century Shakespearean language, it was the incredible skill of the ensemble in telling the tale that captivated the entire audience and me, as the intimidation barrier quickly faded and I found myself not only thoroughly enjoying the tale- but UNDERSTANDING it.

So after seeing the familiar names of TAM veteran actors Ambien Mitchell, Mark S. Cartier and Bill Van Horn (who were all magnificent in “Ado”) among the cast, it was with great anticipation that I went to last week’s opening of “The Taming of the Shrew” – and came away even more impressed than ever with the quality of their individual work, the ensemble as a whole and the incredible efforts made by all in transforming Cumston Hall once again into a place of magic and wonderful story telling, as the colorful and distinctive costuming by Kathleen Brown and lighting by Lynne Chase give a clear sense of time and place that enhance the tale well.

The play, directed by Sally Wood, is set in late 1800’s Italy and tells the tale of wealthy landowner and gentleman Baptista (Mark S. Cartier) of Padua with two very different daughters- the beautiful and friendly Bianca (Aislinn Kerchaert), who is greatly admired and surrounded with potential suitors for her hand- and her sister Caterina aka “Kate” or “Kate the Cursed”. The sisters are quickly established to be polar opposites in temperament, demeanor, conduct and behavior- where Bianca is gentle and the object of many a man’s affections, Kate is feared as her sharp tongue and quickness to physically harm anyone who crosses her- a reputation that is known far and wide. Yet Baptista will not allow for his younger daughter Bianca to be wooed or wed until her older sister has found a match- a prospect that pleases no one, especially Kate.

"Petruchio" (Josh Carpenter) and "Kate" (Ambien Mitchell); photo credit to Aaron Flocke.

“Petruchio” (Josh Carpenter) and “Kate” (Ambien Mitchell); photo credit to Aaron Flocke.

The bold, brash and confident Petruchio (Josh Carpenter) learns of Kate and decides that he will be the one to break through and “tame the shrew” (hence the title); she presents a difficult challenge and he embraces the opportunity to best and win her. Thus begins a clever and highly entertaining tale of complicated intersecting story lines, multiple identity switches and deceptions by not one but two “tutors” who are in actuality suitors for Bianca’s hand, Lucentio (Luke Couzens), a rich newcomer who switches identities with his manservant Tranio (Alexander Harvey) and Baptista’s neighbor Hortensio (James Noel Hoban, brilliant in the lead role of 2012’s hilarious “Tartuffe”), as well as another local, Gremio (Bill Van Horn).

A special shout-out must go to Petruchio’s long suffering man servant Grumio (Mike Anthony), who takes his role as the comedic foil and practically steals the scenes with his hilarious presence, timing and presentation- no easy feat with this high caliber cast!

A politically correct play? Not even slightly. On occasion, Petruchio’s calculated approach and treatment of Kate is nothing short of shocking, as he methodically goes about his pursuit of her, and reveals himself to be as deeply flawed as she. They are equally skilled in viciousness and cruelty towards those in their proximity, verbally and physically abusive, and unpredictable. Yet “Shrew” is a very real and compelling love story- ugly, messy and complicated, showing the intricate foibles of human relationships as the two eventually learn to trust, to be vulnerable, to fall deeply in love and learn to respect the roles of each other both within their society and their relationship with each other.

CAST (in order of appearance)

Lucentio: Luke Couzens
Tranio: Alexander Harvey
Baptista: Mark S. Cartier
Kate: Ambien Mitchell
Bianca: Aislinn Kerchaert
Gremio: Bill Van Horn
Hortensio: James Noel Hoban
Biondello: Max Waszak
Petruchio: Josh Carpenter
Grumio: Mike Anthony
Tailor/ Haberdasher:
Hannah Daly
Pedant: Simon Kiser
Vincentio: Frank Omar
Widow: Grace Bauer

*Related: Theater At Monmouth Opens 44th Season With Family Classic: “The Velveteen Rabbit” (REVIEW)

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Weekly Democratic Address by Leader Seth Berry (Bowdoinham): Lawmakers Accomplish Much For the People of Maine, While Governor Picks Fights

Posted on July 13, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio file here.

seth berry house glassLawmakers in Augusta wrapped up an unprecedented legislative session this year. Despite a divided government and a governor prone to personal attacks and distortions, Democrats and Republicans were able to work together on some of the most important issues of the day.

We passed a bipartisan, compromise state budget that protects property tax payers from the massive tax increases proposed by Governor LePage, while also making sure that public schools get the support they need for the classroom.

Working with reasonable Republicans, we also ensured that elderly Mainers and people with disabilities will be able to afford their life-saving medicines.

And we passed a bipartisan comprehensive energy plan that will help to reduce heating costs while also protecting the environment.

While the governor wanted to fight, Democrats were willing to do the hard work necessary to build consensus and find compromises to move our state forward.

Good morning. I’m Rep. Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, the leader of the Maine House Democrats.

When Democrats first took office, we made a commitment to work to strengthen our middle class and Maine’s economy. We passed a responsible budget that will prevent massive property tax hikes across the state for working families and businesses.

We worked with Republicans to reject Governor LePage’s harmful budget and prevented a state shutdown that would have undermined our economy. We put more money into classrooms for children and restored funds to help seniors and people with disabilities pay for their medicine and care.

Democrats set out to strengthen our workforce and ensure that our workers would be able to get the skills they need to succeed in this global economy. We delivered on that promise — passing key measures to close the state’s skills gap and provide that critical training.

Maine people elected Democrats because we offered a positive alternative to Governor LePage and his harmful agenda that puts the interests of corporations ahead of people and stands up for polluters instead of mothers looking out for their children.

We put the brakes on the Governor’s special interest agenda: Stopping the roll back of rights for workers and women; putting much needed resources into classrooms; fighting against toxins in baby bottles and pollution in our air and water.

While we were able to find common ground with many Republicans, Governor LePage’s confrontational approach and record-breaking veto spree sought to divide our state and pit people against one another

More than two-thirds of the bills vetoed by the Governor had bipartisan or unanimous support. It was disappointing to see Republicans flip flop on vote for vote.

Time and again, good work was sacrificed as Republicans joined with the governor to put party loyalty ahead of loggers in Aroostook County, businesses along the coast, at risk children, and working families in every community in our state.

Despite these challenges, we accomplished a lot for the people of Maine.

Nearly 500 bills became law this session, from ensuring that veterans could get work and transition smoothly into the state’s workforce, to protecting teens from suicide.

Governor LePage’s obstructionism cost Mainers much this year, from life-saving health care to clean water and safe children’s products.

But Democrats won’t stop standing up for Maine values. We will continue to work on behalf of the people

Thank you for listening; I’m Rep. Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. The House Democratic Leader.

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#TAMPONGATE IN TEXAS! Legislature Orders Troopers Confiscate Tampons- But Allows Guns in Austin State House

Posted on July 12, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

smuggleSome days, it is as if America has forgotten the past 50 years or so- and nowhere has that been more apparent over the course of the past decade than in state legislatures throughout the country. Today’s story out of Texas, however, raises the bar for simple jackassery, abandonment of common sense and ridiculousness, as lawmakers decide the rights of women to access safe healthcare options.

Which is to say, Paul LePage just loves Rick Perry today!

Quickly, here’s the deets via HuffPo:


    State troopers are confiscating tampons, maxi pads and other potential projectiles from those who are entering the Texas capitol to watch the debate and vote on a controversial anti-abortion bill. Guns, however, which are typically permitted in the state capitol, are still being allowed.

    Several people tweeted that troopers were taking the objects before allowing entrance into the gallery.

More reports confirmed the actions of troopers:

    Rick Perry‘s Texas Republican state government continues to embarrass itself, demean and wage war on its women citizens. As if calling into a special session the Texas state legislature for the sole purpose of closing 37 of the 42 women’s clinics that are qualified to perform abortions, leaving only five in the nation’s second-largest and second-most populous state weren’t bad enough, this afternoon Texas state troopers confiscated maxi-pads and tampons from scores of women who wanted to attend the anti-abortion debate.

Think Progress:

Bloom County circa 1985 cartoon sums up today's confusion in Austin TX.

Bloom County circa 1985 cartoon sums up today’s confusion in Austin TX.

    According to Jessica Luther, a freelance writer and pro-choice activist who has been coordinating much of the push-back to the proposed abortion restrictions over the past few weeks, Senate officials are confiscating any objects they believe may cause a similar disruption in the gallery during Friday’s vote. Protesters aren’t allowed to carry water bottles or even feminine hygiene products, just in case they might throw them at lawmakers.

    Even though the Texas legislature may not be comfortable with feminine hygiene products, it’s a bit more relaxed when it comes to firearms. Individuals with concealed carry licenses are permitted to bring their guns into the Senate gallery. In fact, a Texas Republican recently insinuated he might do just that during the current special session.

Business Insider opined:

    As the Texas Senate took up debate on controversial abortion legislation today, security at the statehouse confiscated tampons, maxi pads, and other potential items that could be thrown from women entering the building.

    It sparked what’s surely one of the most unusual hashtags ever on Twitter: #tampongate.

And so with this in mind, an online game of substituting “Tampon” for “gun/arms/weapons” in famous quotes oft used by gun rights advocates just writes itself.

A quick sampling:


    “A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves and include all (wo)men capable of bearing tampons.” – Richard Henry Lee

    “The Second Amendment of our Bill of Rights is my Concealed Tampon Permit, period.” – Ted Nugent

    “Happiness is a warm tampon.” – John Lennon

    “I have a very strict tampon control policy: if there’s a tampon around, I want to be in control of it.” – Clint Eastwood

    “One (wo)man with a tampon can control 100 without one.” – Vladimir Lenin

    “The right of the people to keep and bear tampons shall not be infringed.” – James Madison

    “Tampons in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self defense.” – John Adams

    “No free (wo)man shall ever be debarred the use of tampons.” – Thomas Jefferson

    scared-tampon“I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my tampon and keeps on shooting.” – Che Guevara

    “A woman who demands further tampon control legislation is like a chicken who roots for Colonel Sanders.” – Larry Elder

    “It’s better to have a tampon and not need it than to need a tampon and not have it.” – Christian Slater

    “I’ll give you my tampon when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” – Charleton Heston

    “When tampons are outlawed, only outlaws will have tampons.” – Clark Goddard

    “The right of the people to keep and bear tampons shall not be infringed.” – James Madison

An updated live blog via BurntOrangeReport has been set up of the ongoing debate in Texas. The latest:

    “The floor debate started with Senator Glenn Hegar laying out HB 2, which was substituted for SB 1 after passing the House.

    Senator Royce West peppered Hegar with questions about his support for a woman’s right to choose. Hegar danced around the issue, citing Roe as precedent. Hegar did not come right out and call for Roe to be overturned or state his own personal opposition to abortion rights, though he has previously campaigned on overturning Roe v Wade.

    As debate continued, Senator Bob Deuell made the charming remark that low-income abortion seekers are “unsophisticated patients” who need the legislature’s help.

    Yes, Senator Deuell actually said that poor and less-educated women need the legislature to make decisions for them.”

Missing Ann Richards and Molly Ivins today…

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