Back in an earlier life as a Bangor Maine broadcast news director, I interviewed Eaton Tarbell, a patron of the performing arts.
He designed lots of buildings around the state. Tarbell was a regular on the airwaves for colorful sound bites. On the show often to check in and update the listening audience with the latest happenings behind the curtain at Lakewood Theatre , Maine’s oldest summer theatre in America. Lakewood Theatre raises the curtain on first rate performances of comedies, dramas, musicals, and children’s shows. The productions at Lakewood run on stage from late-May through mid-September. This year marked the 117th season for Lakewood. Where is Lakewood Theatre? Find the productions, a restaurant to at 76 Theatre Road, Madison, ME 04950 • (207) 474-7176.
This past weekend, I was fortunate to take in a live show at the Portland Stage.
The live radio broadcast simulated for the holiday play production Of “It’s A Wonderful Life”. In the handout Anita Stewart, the Portland Stage Executive and Artistic Director spells it out simply. The mission to discover the character who you think you know from your introduction during the first scene. But as the play progresses the unexpected side of the character appears. The unexpected happens. It points the process we all do in quick scans, sudden judgements as we filter all we think we need to know to sum it up nice and neatly.
The connective play thread this season at the Portland Stage according to Stewart is to open up the possibility that there is a different way of approaching one another. The play characters help us understand the World is full of complex people if we just open up to take the time to go beyond that initial layer when we size them up maybe just a little too pat. And if you see yourself in the characters, maybe it will help accepting others in the community. Small towns, the handful of cities in Maine and our families, in our lives that are comprised of folks just like you and me. And many others that are not carbon copies. So we learn to embrace those differences that help us grow and learn that benefits us all.
If you can rip yourself away from the holiday carol singing, the mad dash to present shopping ’til you drop.
Take the time to squeeze in a play performance at the Portland Stage for “It’s A Wonderful Life; A Live Radio Play.” An adaptation by Joe Landry to help you celebrate the Holiday Season with a beloved classic. The show bill teaser promises “This heartwarming story of renewal is retold as a 1940’s radio broadcast. Complete with sound effects performed live on stage. With the help of an ensemble and angle called Clarence who has been waiting around 200 years to get a set of wings. George Bailey discovers the million ways we are tied to those around us.”
The play runs from November 24 through December 24, 2017. There’s even a Christmas carol or two that the audience gets invited to sing. To warm up the audience because they are part of the radio theatre broadcast. You feel part of the production because the audience is relied on to put their hands together when the applause light shines.
When the hand held signs instruct to “hiss” or “ahhh” or a variety of other commands right on cue. To help the at home audience fill in what they can not witness first hand watching the stage production. That radio land audience that only has their ears to guide the vivid imagination parked behind their unused eyes.
Amidst AM static with the reception degree of crackling tied to the weather, the type and height of antennae. Or the distance away from the transmitted filled with tubes and causing cancer to the majority of first class engineers keeping the signal pumping, the radio station on air.
The audience of thousands tuned into the broadcast signal beamed into each and every living rooms. Where families crowd around the wooden early radio cabinet using the all there was medium for family entertainment. The same device connecting them to the outside World. Used to collect most of their important news from stock market crashes to Pearl Harbor Sunday morning bombings. To follow the radio serial shows, the baseball games and to catch musical performances. Along with the nightly news, crop reports, local weather forecasts and political race results.
The play production intermission means tasty cookies, fresh moist cakes and other delicacies with a variety of refreshments all calling you in unison from your theatre rows and rows of seats. As the house lights come on you rise to saunter to the lobby. To stretch your legs between play production scenes for a little snack.
The chatter is loud after being silent so long. Knowing whispering is really talking. While all attention is eyes forward to follow the unfolding story line. Watching the play line by recited line develop the characters carefully from out in the audience.
Talking between scenes now about the play characters, comparing notes on how the performance is hitting each of those sitting around you. Studying the large black and whites on the wall. Peeking at upcoming play productions and cursing yourselves for past ones missed and still talked about because they were that
good. Milling around and exposed to new people you get to know that love the same performing arts. Performed under hot spot lights,bathing your favorite characters in colorful pools, inside the shadows of the gels. The audience that follows the actors, the series of season play productions through out the year once the bug bites you. To challenge, inspire, to reflect. That is what the Portland Stage acting troupe strives to do and puts the mission in writing so they never forget either.
Have you been in community theatre as a character, playing in a cast? Do you make it a habit to attend plays, to follow the productions of a acting group? Break a leg. Maine has lots of folks dedicated to small town community theatre. This blogging channel on Maine has featured community theatre before and will again. The play production live audience makes the stage characters soar, stay flat or flop badly. That audience is the reflections, is the indicator of just how are we doing behind the footlights. Maine, so many sides to this jewel. Her facets are many and life is so short.
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