Theater at Monmouth: “What The Butler Saw” (REVIEW)

Posted on August 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

A few notes:

  • Theater at Monmouth now has a blog. The first post, “Made in Maine: Local Talent in TAM’s Summer Company” features discussions with actors Isabella Coulombe, Anna Doyle, and Michael Dix Thomas- all Maine natives. Check it out!
  • In celebration of TAM’s 45th season and the British Invasion theme, Gritty’s in Auburn has created “A Hard Day’s Pint”, an ale available through August with a portion of the proceeds going to support the theater.
  • The huge annual Silent Auction is going on now in Cumston Hall Library’s Reading Room; many items upon which to bid from area merchants and donors. The auction concludes August 21.

—–

Who knew a job interview could go so terribly, terribly wrong? Orton's What the Butler Saw is for mature audiences only! Call the box office at 933.9999 for tickets. — with Anna Doyle and James Noel Hoban. (from TAM's Facebook page)

Who knew a job interview could go so terribly, terribly wrong? Orton’s What the Butler Saw is for mature audiences only! Call the box office at 933.9999 for tickets. — with Anna Doyle and James Noel Hoban.
(from TAM’s Facebook page)

The infamous yet never identified “They” remark frequently that in regards to acting, “tragedy is easy; comedy is hard.” When one thinks about this old saying, it has some grains of truth- but what is perhaps an even harder task is making great comedy seem utterly effortless.

TAM’s opening night performance of Joe Orton’s “What The Butler Saw” does exactly that- they nailed it. From director Brian P. Allen’s notes:

    “I think ‘Butler’ lends itself well to TAM. Trust and familiarity among the cast are necessary in order to make the split-second timing of the show work. The six actors need to breathe as one, and while that isn’t always easy to accomplish in a short summer repertory rehearsal period, TAM’s resident company atmosphere generates the environment required to pull off such a delicious farce.”

Yup. What he said.

Set in a private London clinic circa early 1965, the play begins innocently enough- an established psychiatrist (Hoban) is interviewing a beautiful young woman (Doyle) for employment as his secretary.

Or so she thinks. It quickly becomes apparent that more lecherous intentions lurk in the doctor’s plans… but there is also an old cliche about the best laid plans… Cue the wife!

Who is quickly revealed to be not as innocent as SHE could be, either!

Cover ups, misunderstandings, government official and police investigations, costumes and quickly made-up excuses and stories start flying, faster and faster- by the perfectly timed suspenseful cliff-hanger moment of “A-HA!” discovery marking the break for intermission, one can barely breathe for the aching ribs. And immediately as the audience comes back in, the onstage madness picks right back up where they left off. When eventually everyone’s stories all sort out and the play concludes, tears of laughter are just rolling down one’s cheeks.

Oh, what fun!

Lewd, naughty, clever and definitely an “adult situation” sort of play- but omigosh, what a fantastic ride. To use a few more cliches, this was a grand slam- together, the team hit this one over the wall and out of the park.

Cast (in order of appearance)

Dr. Prentice: James Noel Hoban
Geraldine: Anna Doyle
Mrs. Prentice: Denise Cormier
Nicholas Beckett: Graham Emmons
Dr. Rance: Mark S. Cartier
Sergeant Match: Max Waszak

Production Team

Set Designer: Dan Bilodeau
Costume Designer: Kathleen P. Brown
Lighting Designer: Cecilia Durbin
Sound Designer: Rew Tippen
Stage Managers: Jeff Meyers, Melissa A. Nathan

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Theater at Monmouth: “As You Like It” (REVIEW)

Posted on July 15, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Sometimes, it is hard to pinpoint why one doesn’t particularly care for a play, even when the performance itself was well acted, entertaining and an enjoyable venture out of the house on a pleasant summer’s evening. And yet that is where I find myself, trying to write about “As You Like It”.

Apparently mine is not a singular reaction along this vein to this rather popular Shakespearean work; others have panned it too. So I find myself somewhat consoled that the likes of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (who in discussing it called the work “As YOU Like It”, stressing the fact that he himself did not) also came away thinking that Ole Bill had phoned it in on this effort.

Please don’t get me wrong- the complexities were well built as there was great character development with clear understanding of each’s motivations. From the beginning introductions of the main characters, we see what drives them and the challenges they will face, the bonds they share of love and friendship, and the overall tempo of the play moves right along well enough.

Amiens (aka James Noel Hoban) and Company in the Forest of Arden in TAM's 2014 production of As You Like It. Directed by Catherine Weidner. Photo by Rene MInnis.  (Via TAM FB page)

Amiens (aka James Noel Hoban) and Company in the Forest of Arden in TAM’s 2014 production of As You Like It. Directed by Catherine Weidner. Photo by Rene MInnis. (Via TAM FB page)

The TAM cast was magnificent, the production crew did some terrific stuff (I especially liked the silly magical “PING!” with accompanying bright light flash, signifying an instant falling in love by various characters) and truly did wonderful work with the play itself, which tells a complicated and multi-faceted tale of struggles within families, differences within classes and how those differences reinforce one’s view of the world and its participants, heroes and heroines fighting for justice while others overcome human failings such as jealousy to become more good-hearted and generous, with many intertwining love stories folded in for good measure.

There is adventure with challenges, disguised characters and intrigue, plenty of dancing and period music with lyrics that help tell the story, and some of the most iconic and well known Shakespearean lines ever uttered (“All the world’s a stage- And all the men and women merely players…”) (“I met a fool i’ the forest,
A motley fool”
), and the character of Rosalind/ Ganymede (Erica Murphy) serves as an emotional and purposeful examination of gender roles that is thought provoking.

And maybe all of that, when smooshed together as it was, is part of why this play just didn’t click for me.

Setting aside obvious recycled snips lifted from his own previous work, Shakespeare slung together a play with just so much action, so many plots, so many characters with their own quandaries and unrequited love issues that weren’t always necessary to drive the story, making their late additions appear superfluous. The eventual resolution of all the convoluted layers and predicaments happened so quickly and too easily- to “wind it down and call it a day”. What should have felt clever instead felt forced, with an epilogue that rather than clarify could have been interpreted as an apology by the author for his haste.

Eh. Move over, Mr. Shaw…

Cast (in order of appearance)

Orlando: Michael Dix Thomas
Adam: Wendy Way
Oliver: Leighton Samuels
Charles/
Sir Martex: Max Waszak
Celia: Lindsay Tornquist
Rosalind: Erica Murphy
Touchstone: Graham Emmons
Madam LeBeau: Janis Stevens
Duke Frederick/
Duke Senior: Mark S. Cartier
Duke’s Man/
Musician: Turner Frankosky
Jaques: Will Harrell
Phebe: Lisa Woods
Silvius: Ryan Simpson
Corin/
Hymen: Bill Van Horn
Amiens: James Noel Hoban
Audrey: Denise Cormier

Production Team

Set Designer: Dan Bilodeau
Costume Designer: Jonna Klaiber
Lighting Designer: Cecilia Durbin
Sound Designer: Rew Tippen
Fight Director: Paul Dennhardt
Fight Captain: Max Waszak
Stage Managers: Jeff Meyers
Melissa A. Nathan

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Theater at Monmouth: “Tales From The Blue Fairy Book” (REVIEW)

Posted on July 1, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

After last year’s debut assignment reviewing performances at Theater at Monmouth (TAM), I was quite excited to take the task up again for New Maine Times. It was nice to be able to meet the extended family of young local actress Isabella Coulombe, performing for the first time with TAM, chat with Dawn McAndrews (who adapted the play from Andrew Lang’s 1889 “The Blue Fairy Book”) and “Welcome Home!” long-time TAM actors and favorite honorary Monmouth natives Bill Van Horn, Mark Cartier and Janis Stevens.

photo (2)The play, TAM’s 45th season opener and this year’s Family Show production, opens with a bored young girl named Violet (Coulombe) in her grandmother’s attic on a rainy and stormy day, trying desperately to get some sort of cellphone signal- certainly a frustration many in Maine can relate to! Her grandmother (Wendy Way) finds her there and the two discuss Violet’s “antsiness” wanting to find something to do. So Grandmother digs out from a stack of dusty books one that she tells the girl “was one of your father’s favorites, when he was a boy”. The two sit together and Grandmother starts to read the first tale to Violet, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, as the characters from the book appear and act out the tales as narrated.

As the grandmother reads more stories,“The Bronze Ring” and “The White Cat”, Violet finds herself getting more and more drawn into the wonderfully fanciful stories- she loses her skepticism and her boredom fades quickly as she is drawn into the imaginative worlds within the book, discovering despite herself the same simple love of the adventures within the volume that her grandmother and father shared years before.

The play ends as Violet decides to read a story to her grandmother, “The Stars in the Sky” and in the narration, becomes the girl within the story who immerses herself within a magical brook and the light of twinkling stars reflecting upon the grass, trying to reach up and to be within the very stars in the sky. As she asks, “What is a dream, without a challenge?”, she “climbs stairs without steps” and finds herself surrounded with the joy and bliss of the stars.

A lovely, fanciful play- well acted and a true pleasure.

—–

Cast (in order of appearance):

Violet: Isabella Coulombe
Grandmother: Wendy Way

  • East of the Sun/ West of the Moon

    White Bear/ Horse 2/ West Wind/ Prince: Ardarius Blakely
    Father/ Horse 3/ South Wind/ Old Servant: Michael Dix Thomas
    Daughter: Anna Doyle
    Old Woman/ North Wind: Wendy Way
    Horse 1/ East Wind/ Long-Nose Troll: Graham Emmons

  • The Bronze Ring
    Wise Woman/ Rag Woman: Wendy Way
    King/ Sultan: Graham Emmons
    Prime Minister/ Minister’s Son: Ardarius Blakely
    Gardener/ Gardener’s Son: Michael Dix Thomas
    Princess/ Herald: Anna Doyle

  • The White Cat
    Queen: Wendy Way
    Oldest Princess: Ardarius Blakely
    Middle Princess: Michael Dix Thomas
    Youngest Princess: Graham Emmons
    White Cat/ Prince: Anna Doyle

  • The Stars in the Sky
    Fairy Queen: Anna Doyle
    Young Girl: Isabella Coulombe
    Mill Pond/ Big Fish: Michael Dix Thomas
    Babbling Brook/ Dappled Horse: Ardarius Blakely
    Fairy Man: Graham Emmons

    Adapted by Dawn McAndrew
    Directed by Luke Bartholomew

    Production Team:

    Set Designer: Tricia A. Hobbs
    Costume Designer: Stephanie Peters
    Lighting Designer: Jim Alexander
    Sound Designer: Rew Tippin
    Stage Manager: Katie Moshier

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
  • Theater at Monmouth Presents 45th Season’s Family Show: “Tales from the Blue Fairy Book” (press release)

    Posted on June 26, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

      “Once Upon a Time” Comes to Life at TAM this Summer

    blue fairyMonmouth, Maine – Theater at Monmouth’s Family Show opens June 28 at 7 p.m. with a world premiere production Tales from the Blue Fairy Book based on Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book. Adapted by Dawn McAndrews, Tales from the Blue Fairy Book bursts with classic tales from around the globe, including East of the Sun, West of the Moon; The Bronze Ring; The White Cat; and The Stars in the Sky.

    Stuck at her grandmother’s house with no cell phone reception or internet, Violet reluctantly turns to The Blue Fairy Book for entertainment. Soon the characters come to life—literally—and pull Violet and her grandmother into their magical tales, leading this 21st-century young girl on a once-upon-a-time adventure of the imagination. “If your heart is truly set on reaching the stars, then you won’t turn back,” the Fairy Man tells her, “Go forward; go forward and mind you take the right road.” Take the right road and come along for an adventure through these colorful tales. From princesses to fairies, kings to dwarves, there’s a magical happily-ever-after for both girls and boys.

    Luke Bartholomew returns to TAM for his second season to direct Tales from the Blue Fairy Book. Bartholomew, who played Wintergreen in the 2012 fall musical production, Of Thee I Sing, revels in the multi-layered story telling of the script, “It’s an inventive, fun, and meaningful show for the whole family, perfect for today’s audiences! The fairy tale characters take Violet and her grandmother on a journey of discover full of boundless joy, heart, and adventure…”

    The first of Andrew Lang’s Colored Fairy Books, The Blue Fairy Book was originally published in 1889 with illustrations by Henry J. Ford. The twelve Colored Fairy Books combined a myriad of stories from different cultures and sources, many of them appearing for the first time in English.

    Each summer, TAM’s Family Show features a children’s literature classic produced for young people and the young at heart. Previous productions have included adaptations of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, and Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit.

    Tales from the Blue Fairy Book features Isabella Coulombe as Violet and Wendy Way as the Grandmother. Fairy Tales characters are portrayed by Ardarius Blakely, Anna Doyle, Michael Dix Thomas, and Graham Emmons. Set design Tricia A. Hobbs, costumes by Stephanie Peters, lights by Jim Alexander, and sound by Rew Tippin.

    Performance Calendar: OPENING 6/28 at 7 p.m.; additional performance dates 7/5, 7/12, 7/19, 7/26, 8/5, 8/7, 8/12, 8/14, 8/19, 8/21 at 1:00 p.m. Running time is 50 minutes. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. For calendar and reservations, please contact the TAM Box Office at 207.933.9999 or visit http://www.theateratmonmouth.org.

    # # #

    Theater at Monmouth, founded in 1970, was named the Shakespearean Theater of Maine by the State Legislature in 1975. The theatre’s mission is to present innovative approaches to Shakespeare and other classic plays through professional productions that enrich the lives of people throughout Maine. Since its founding, TAM has produced expertly crafted, engaging productions in its three-month Summer Repertory Season entertaining audiences from 36 states and through Education Tours annually reaching more than 15,000 students statewide.

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    Theater At Monmouth’s 45th Season Opens with Variety Show (press release)

    Posted on June 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

    tam british invasion


      British Invasion Storms Monmouth with Variety Show

    Monmouth, Maine – Theater at Monmouth kicks off its 45th Anniversary Season with the return of Black Fly Follies on Saturday, July 5 at 7:30 pm. TAM’s annual variety show, which turns 15 this season, introduces audiences to the summer repertory plays and company members on the Jewel Box stage of Cumston Hall. The 2014 Follies celebrates The British Invasion with improv, show tunes, Jimmy Fallon-style lip sync battles, parodies, and stage combat. This one-night-only extravaganza will be hosted by TAM funny-man, Mike Anthony. Black Fly Follies is a one-of-a-kind experience for new and returning audiences.

    Join us for the rest of the plays of Season 45 where there’s something for everyone—Shakespeare’s most ardent lovers take center stage through the iconic story of star-crossed lovers, Romeo & Juliet, and the whimsical, forest of Arden-bound soul-mates of As You Like It. We’ll revisit Oscar Wilde with A Woman of No Importance—surely the inspiration for Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey. And for those who think of the British Invasion as something with more sixties swing we offer Joe Orton’s outrageous farce What the Butler Saw. And for families, a world-premiere adaptation of classic tales from Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book.

    Throughout the season, TAM will present other special events to complement the plays including:

    Thursday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. The Making of “A Hard Day’s Night” with Mark S. Cartier
    In late 1963, as Beatlemania blossomed in Britain, the Beatles were offered the chance to star in their own rock ‘n’ roll film. Mark S. Cartier traces how the group conquered America, unleashed the British Invasion, hosted their own television special, and launched their first world tour—all while simultaneously helping to create what Andrew Sarris of the Village Voice calls “the Citizen Kane of juke box movies.”

    Thursday, August 14 at 7:30 p.m. Point Last Seen with Odelle Bowman
    Hannah Nyala, search and rescue tracker, is so attuned to nature’s messages that she can read the history of a footprint and the secrets of desert sand. Adapted from the memoir of the same name, Hannah escapes an abusive marriage by teaching herself to track in the Mojave Desert. This multi-media performance explores finding one’s way in barren landscape.

    Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 p.m. Legends: The Music of Judy Garland with Kelly Caufield

    An engaging evening featuring many of Judy Garland’s most well-known songs and few surprises. Highlights include beloved hits from her movies, the Gershwin recordings, Broadway and cabaret standards, and more. Directed and co-written by Brian P. Allen. Musical direction by Victoria Stubbs.

    Tickets for Black Fly Follies and all other special events are $25. For more information and reservations, contact the TAM Box Office at 207.933.9999 or visit www.theateratmonmouth.org.

    # # #

    Theater at Monmouth, founded in 1970, was named the Shakespearean Theater of Maine by the State Legislature in 1975. The theatre’s mission is to present innovative approaches to Shakespeare and other classic plays through professional productions that enrich the lives of people throughout Maine. Since its founding, TAM has produced expertly crafted, engaging productions in its three-month Summer Repertory Season entertaining audiences from 36 states and through Education Tours annually reaching more than 15,000 students statewide.

    http://twitter.com/TAMonmouth | http://www.facebook.com/TAMonmouth |http://theateratmonmouth.org/

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    Theater At Monmouth 2014 Announces 45th Season Theme: “The British Invasion”

    Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

    Via press release:

    tam british invasion

      THEATER AT MONMOUTH CELEBRATES SEASON 45 WITH “THE BRITISH INVASION”

    Monmouth, Maine – The British are coming to Monmouth for Theater at Monmouth’s 45th season. The British Invasion, running from June 28 through September 28, 2014, features a line-up of plays from England’s greatest playwrights.

    In celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th and TAM’s 45th, the Summer Repertory will include William Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Romeo & Juliet; Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance; and Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw. Opening June 28, the Family Show is a world premiere adaptation of Andrew Lang’s Tales from the Blue Fairy Book. The Fall Musical, opening September 18, is The Sorcerer, the second production in a three-year commitment to Gilbert & Sullivan. Since its founding in 1970, TAM has produced more than one hundred of Shakespeare’s works and many other British classics both during the Summer Repertory Season and throughout Maine.

    SUMMER REPERTORY SEASON

    Performances take place in Cumston Hall, a 250-seat Victorian opera house designed by Harry Cochrane. Since its founding the Theater has rehearsed and performed in rotating repertory, inviting audiences to see the actors in different roles in four different shows in one weekend. Each of this season’s six productions features newcomers as well as TAM favorites including Mark S. Cartier, Janis Stevens, and Bill Van Horn.

  • As You Like It | July 10 – August 22
    by William Shakespeare | directed by Catherine Weidner

      When Rosalind and Orlando are banished from the court by the usurping duke, they flee for their lives into the wild. It isn’t long before the lovers find each other and act out a bizarre ritual courtship that ends, as all good comedies do, with everyone paired up two-by-two.

    Catherine Weidner is a director, actor, and chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Ithaca College. Recent directing includes: Jane Austen’s Emma for Nebraska Repertory Theatre; Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, and Merry Wives of Windsor for Illinois Shakespeare Festival; Two Gentlemen of Verona for Theatre at Monmouth, and a one-man Henry V in Austin, Texas for Rude Mechanicals. She has worked at The Guthrie Theater, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, La Jolla Playhouse, and Bread & Puppet. From 2007- 2013 she taught Classical Acting and Heightened Text at The Theatre School at DePaul University.

  • A Woman of No Importance | July 17 – August 23
    by Oscar Wilde | directed by Will Rhys

      In this dark comedy of serial seducers, moralizing monogamists, secret pasts, and simmering heartbreak, which will the idealistic George Arbuthnot choose—social advancement or loyalty of the heart? Surely the basis for Downton Abbey, Wilde’s deliciously witty satire lays bare the moral contradictions of Victorian England.

    Will Rhys was artistic director at The Cleveland Play House where he directed over 25 productions including plays by: Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet); Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities); Sam Shepherd (Buried Child); and Ferenc Molnár (The Guardsman). Regional credits include The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre; and Macbeth, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Is He Dead? at Theater at Monmouth. Mr. Rhys is a founding member of The National Theatre of the Deaf and served as Artistic Director from 1992 to 2000.

  • Romeo & Juliet | July 24 – August 24
    by William Shakespeare | directed by Dawn McAndrews

      In a world consumed by self-interest and divided by hatred and mistrust, Shakespeare’s impetuous young lovers defy family, friends, and society to be together. With no one to turn to but each other, Romeo and Juliet provoke both fate and fickle fortune in their quest for pure and passionate love.

    Producing Artistic Director Dawn McAndrews directs Romeo & Juliet in her fifth season with TAM. Dawn has worked as a director, producer, and educator at theatres across the country including Shakespeare Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre, Arena Stage, Portland Stage Company, and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Directing credits include The Language Archive (Public Theatre), The Glass Menagerie and Three Days of Rain (1st Stage) Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (The Orange Girls) and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Antigone (Saint Louis University). TAM credits include The Mousetrap, On the Twentieth Century, Romeo & Juliet, Henry IV Part 1, Of Thee I Sing, Hamlet, The Year of Magical Thinking, and This Wonderful Life.

  • What the Butler Saw | July 31 – August 23
    by Joe Orton | directed by Brian P. Allen

      When a psychiatrist invents a series of outrageous lies to cover up his attempts to seduce his young secretary, all manner of mayhem breaks out in the ward. Clothes are discarded, sensibilities skewered, and political correctness flouted in Orton’s risqué and ferociously playful farce.

    Brian P. Allen is the co-founder and artistic director of Good Theater, a professional company in Portland (www.goodtheater.com) where he has directed more than 40 productions. Recent favorites: Clybourne Park, The Grand Manner, Becky’s New Car, The Outgoing Tide, Good People, Striking 12, Death by Design, August Osage County, Next Fall, and Little Me. He has appeared in several Good Theater productions including Ancestral Voices.

    FAMILY SHOW

    Each summer, TAM presents a play for children of all ages adapted from classic literature.

  • Tales from the Blue Fairy Book | June 28 – August 21
    adapted by Dawn McAndrews from the collection by Andrew Lang | directed by Luke Bartholomew

      Lang’s Blue Fairy Book bursts with classic tales from around the globe, including East of the Sun West of the Moon, The Bronze Ring, The White Cat, The Stars in the Sky, and more. From princesses to fairies, kings to dwarfs, there’s a magical happily ever after for both girls and boys.

    FALL MUSICAL

    The Fall Musical features talented voices and musicians from Maine and professional actors from away.

  • The Sorcerer | September 18-28
    music by Arthur Sullivan, libretto by W.S. Gilbert | directed by Bill Van Horn

      What happens when a magically brewed cup o‘tea intoxicates unsuspecting residents of an entire community? Alexis, a young man obsessed with the idea of love leveling all social distinctions, engages J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers, to find out. When the potion causes everyone in the village to fall in love with the first person they see—the results are mystical mayhem.

    Associate Artistic Director Bill Van Horn returns for his thirteenth season to direct this comic gem from G&S. Van Horn also frequently acts, directs, and writes for the acclaimed Walnut Street Theater. In 2013, he directed TAM’s Patience and appeared as Citizen in The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Professor Willard/Warren in Our Town, and Gremio in The Taming of the Shrew.

    SPECIAL EVENTS

  • 15th Annual Black Fly Follies | July 5 at 7:30 p.m.
    Theater at Monmouth’s annual variety show returns featuring the talents of our summer company. Black Fly Follies goes British Music Hall with songs, comic routines, and variety acts popular in England during the turn of the 20th century.

  • The Making of A Hard Day’s Night with Mark S. Cartier | August 7 at 7:30 p.m.
    As Beatlemania blossomed in Britain, United Artists offered the Beatles the chance to star in their own rock ‘n’ roll film. Cartier traces how the group conquered America, unleashed the British Invasion, hosted their own television special, and launched their first world tour—all while simultaneously helping to create what Andrew Sarris of the Village Voice calls “the Citizen Kane of juke box movies.”

  • Point Last Seen with Odelle Bowman | August 14 at 7:30 p.m.
    Hannah Nyala, search and rescue tracker, is so attuned to nature’s messages that she can read the history of a footprint and the secrets of desert sand. Adapted from the memoir of the same name, Hannah escapes an abusive marriage by teaching herself the skills of tracking in the Mojave Desert.

  • Legends: The Music of Judy Garland with Kelly Caufield | August 21 at 7:30 p.m.
    An engaging evening featuring many of Judy Garland’s most well-known songs and few surprises. Highlights include beloved hits from her movies, the Gershwin recordings, Broadway and cabaret standards, and more. Directed and co-written by Brian P. Allen. Music direction by Victoria Stubbs.

    MONMOUTH, MAINE

    Monmouth is located along Route 202 in the Winthrop Lakes region of central Maine. By car, the Theater is 25 minutes from Augusta, 25 minutes from Lewiston, 45 minutes from the Mid-Coast region, 60 minutes from Portland, and 90 minutes from Bangor. Monmouth and neighboring towns Winthrop, Hallowell, Augusta, and Lewiston offer a variety of attractions suitable for the whole family, including the Monmouth Museum, Cobbossee Colony Golf Course, Mount Pisgah Hiking Trail, Children’s Discovery Museum, Maine State Museum, Viles Arboretum, Bates College Museum of Art, Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary, and more. You can enjoy your stay in Monmouth at one of the several bed and breakfasts or nearby hotels, including Annabessacook Farm B&B, Maple Hill Farm B&B, A Rise and Shine B&B, the Hilton Garden Inn, and The Senator Inn & Spa.

    cumston hallCUMSTON HALL
    All performances take place in historic Cumston Hall, which towers dramatically over Monmouth’s Main Street. While Dr. Charles M. Cumston donated the funds for the building to the Town of Monmouth in 1899, it has always been a gift shared with the community at large. A registered National Historic Building since 1976, the building’s architecture is a mix of Romanesque-style asymmetrical columns and towers and varying external textures of the Queen Anne period. The 250-seat opera hall features elaborate plaster carvings, and a fresco mural ceiling.


    SUBSCRIPTIONS, SINGLE TICKETS, AND GROUP SALES

    Single tickets for Summer Repertory and Fall Musical $30 for adults, $27 for senior citizens, and $20 for students. Tales from the Blue Fairy Book tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children. Opening Nights are Educator Nights. Educators receive 20% off with photo id. To reserve single tickets, subscriptions, or arrange group sales, please visit our website, www.theateratmonmouth.org, or call the box office at 207.933.9999. You can find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TAMonmouth, follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TAMonmouth, and stay current for latest updates on our blog.

      # # #

    Theater at Monmouth, founded in 1970, was named the Shakespearean Theater of Maine in 1975. The theatre’s mission is to present innovative approaches to Shakespeare and other classic plays through professional productions that enrich the lives of people throughout Maine. Since its founding, TAM has produced expertly crafted, engaging productions in its three-month Summer Repertory Season entertaining audiences from 36 states and through Education Tours annually reaching more than 15,000 students.

    Bonus: An overview clip of last season’s performances.

    *RELATED:

    Theater At Monmouth Opens 44th Season With Family Classic: “The Velveteen Rabbit” (REVIEW)
    Theater At Monmouth: “The Taming Of The Shrew” (REVIEW)
    Theater At Monmouth: “The Year Of Magical Thinking” (REVIEW)
    Theater at Monmouth: “Our Town” (REVIEW)
    Theater at Monmouth: “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” (REVIEW)

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
  • 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

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    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

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    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

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

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

    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)

    Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

    « Previous Entries

    Liked it here?
    Why not try sites on the blogroll...

    %d bloggers like this: