Play practice, theatre production in the twin Maine towns of Smyrna and Merrill begins mid January.
And by April the Maine play spring production bugs have been worked out. The many practices, read through over and over of stage lines. Cast selection, discussion of needed props, what period costumes all held after work every Friday night. Leading up to the house lights dimming, the curtain being raised. And on with the show. Break a leg.
It’s lots of work, plenty of fun and what a feeling of accomplishment. When after the laughs, tears and in between, the parts are played out. The audience responds at the curtain fall of a small local Maine community theater. And you get a standing room only, everyone on their feet curtain call applause. From all sixty five local theatre play patrons. Clapping, wolf whistling, shouting out words of approval. Giving back their sincere appreciation to another troupe performance in the former Methodist Church property bought for $15,000 by the Smyrna Merrill Historical Society.
The live, show must go on with the Maine local theatre audience connecting with the players.
Making them work harder. Everything all tied, based on the reaction the cast receives. Hears, sees and just senses up on stage. Under the bright lights. Wearing all the make up and while acting, each playing their assigned part to the hilt, maximum in the current play. Creating comedy, performing a musical, drama… the good kind.
The Southern Aroostook County drama, usually a comedy directed by Alberta McDonald. McDonald who has a day job in the town office that shares both Smyrna and Merrill muncipal government functions. Smart. Under one roof because each town is small. Like most in Maine. Especially Aroostook County that boasts only eleven people per square mile. In a land mass the exact same size as the entire states of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. The troop of thespians have packed up, traveled north to Bridgewater Maine. Acting out on the road to perform at their historical society on US Rt 1 in what was formerly a Grange hall building.
McDonald loves the local community theatre, the Maine performing arts.
Was involved acting in more than most of area local high school productions. The desire to act, to create a play production never faded. I asked her about the costs involved. She shared the figure of about six hundred dollars for a play. She says Hit Plays dot com also lets you pre-screen for free. So you don’t order and then groan when you figure out this is not best for the cast you have to work with. But you had to take a chance because most sites don’t allow the free read through, demo spin before you part with money.
Some of the productions, that are all a fun income generator for the non profit Smyrna – Merrill Historical Society, are dinner theatres. Sit down full course meals, dining fare tied to the theme of the play. To enhance the experience of acting combined with good home cooked Maine food. And served graciously by the cast, always in character. The former church roof now turned to historical society, play production headquarters is needing new shingles or a metal covering. To keep the northern Maine weather outside where it belongs.
Past productions included The 12 Daze of Christmas, Mugsy Sent Me, Hood of Sherwood. This spring’s play is The Great Nursing Home Escape. Snacks will include jello and prunes. Alberta McDonald beamed, lit up telling me about the production. The great cast she has to work with, all her local neighbors. It’s a way off off Broadway theatre production. A dinner theatre play this year with two performances, April 26 and 27th at 6pm.
But because of the very small size of the Maine theatre play production, it is special, intimate and live.
Definitely local Maine. Like a pot luck supper where the best everyone has to offer gets brought in a covered dish. Cooked up, served up on stage. Or by the crew during the meal in cast character as they dish it out. For the pleasure, entertainment of a local community where everyone on stage knows all the members of the audience. And many are somehow related, connected in the small surrounding communities of Northern Maine.
Maine, we make our own fun. Money is not needed and it’s low cost, no cost entertainment across the board.