Archive for Maine

By Popular Demand, “CONNIE FRANCIS SHOW” Returns To Franco Center

Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2017 by Ringer

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Thanksgiving Weekend 2017

Back by popular demand, “The Connie Francis Show,” as it is often referred to, is coming back to the Gendron Franco Center for the third year in row.

AMONG MY SOUVENIRS, Louis Philippe’s musical tribute to America’s sweetheart, will be center stage for one show only, a 2 PM Matinee on Sunday, November 26th when the widely-popular, infectious and sentimental hits of Connie Francis will once again fill the air.

With the same original cast that sold out the Center’s 400-seat Performance Hall in 2015, AMONG MY SOUVENIRS features the dreamy, bouncy, trademark Connie Francis hits that are embedded in the hearts of America’s teen culture from the 50s and 60s:  Who’s Sorry Now, Where The Boys Are, V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, Lipstick On Your Collar, I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter, Stupid Cupid, Follow The Boys, Among My Souvenirs and many more.

AMONG MY SOUVENIRS is a multi-media presentation created in 1994 by Louis Philippe’s Reindeer Theatre Company in Westbrook. The songs are performed live (singing along is encouraged), while nostalgic images are projected on big-screen, and a narration of the star’s life, career and personal struggles provides more sentimental trivia and interesting biographical history.

 “This is a chance to reminisce and re-connect with friends and re-live some powerful memories of the late 50s and 60s.  It is truly one of the most moving and fun shows Reindeer Theatre Company ever staged” said Philippe.

AMONG MY SOUVENIRS will also include a few French songs which Philippe discovered in the singer’s well-noted portfolio of foreign recordings in Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, German and Irish.

Krista LeBeau Johnson of Westbrook has been the star of the show since it was reincarnated in 2013.  “Krista has an incredible appealing stage persona much like Connie’s and she easily captures the iconic Francis trademarks—her powerful and mesmerizing vocal delivery of infectious pop melodies and schmaltzy lyrics that all combine for a supreme night of nostalgia,” Philippe stated.

In addition to Music Director Philippe on piano, the back-up combo includes Bruce LeBeau of Westbrook on bass, Marc Mailhot of Westbrook on drums, Tom O’Donnell of Farmington on guitar (the original guitarist from the 1994 revue).  Narration is handled by Maureen Knott LeBeau of Westbrook.

The touring production has been hosted by public venues, service organizations, non-profit groups, and church and hospital fundraisers.  “We’re always open to bringing the show to more venues, particularly for worthy fundraising events,” Philippe said.  Interested individuals or groups can call 207-857-9002.

The Gendron Franco Center is located at 46 Cedar St., Lewiston.  All seats are $18, reserved, and can be obtained by calling the Box Office at 207 689-2000, or visiting www.francocenter.org online.

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City Theater’s MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’s is deliciously silly romp

Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , , , , on May 10, 2016 by Ringer
Murder at the Howard Johnson's 1

Rebecca Cole, Karl Carrigan and Ryan Lane star in City Theater’s MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’S. photo credit: http://www.audrahatch.com

May 2016

City Theater in Biddeford takes a break from its highly-reputed lineup of powerful, emotional blockbuster musicals to serve up the refreshing farce MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’s.

Sam Bobrick and his writing partner Ron Clark have concocted a deliciously silly romp about a ridiculous love triangle between Arlene Miller (Rebecca Cole), her husband Paul Miller (Ryan Lane) and her lover, the couple’s dentist, Mitchell Lovell DDS (Karl Carrigan).

It’s Christmas, 1978, and the iconic and colorful room at Howard Johnson’s is where Arlene and Mitch plot to murder Paul if he doesn’t agree to a divorce.  He doesn’t.  They don’t.  By the following July 4th, Arlene and Paul are again at Howard Johnson’s, this time celebrating their plan to murder Mitch for cheating on Arlene.  They don’t…but there are fireworks.  And by the end of 1979, the two men have joined forces to murder Arlene for moving on with another man.  They don’t.  Life goes on.

Directed and produced by Linda Sturdivant, MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’s is a zany comedy about a trio of dysfunctional characters brilliantly depicted by this top-notch cast that gives a nod to a cache of marriage and relationship issues and a wide-range of personality quirks.  Collectively, the Cole-Carrigan-Lane team drives every scene with lots of energy, great lines, and fast-moving twists and turns—some predictable à la television sitcoms or soap operas while others are a righteous sideswipe to one’s sense of humor.  As inept and clumsy as their unfiltered characters are, all three actors are quite commanding, changing courses of this love triangle on a penny, impressively aware of the fourth wall and instinctively knowing precisely how much schmaltz to give to make the shtick work.

Lane’s portrayal of Paul Miller provides the anchor for these actors to jump into the shallowest of waters.  He’s bland, realistic to a fault, always getting the shaft in life, and his introverted interpretation provides the perfect juxtaposition to Carrigan’s outrageously extroverted role of Mitchell Lovell, DDS. Unlike Miller, Lovell is a splashy-dressing over-the-top womanizer with the right looks, moves, and lines— and if you don’t believe him, ask him.

And perfectly balanced (or imbalanced as this case may be) between the polarizing personalities of the men in her life is Arlene.  Cole is masterfully in control of Arlene, bouncing between the extreme highs and lows of this everyday housewife searching for happiness, not ever staying in one emotional place. Her subtly over-exaggerated expressions were flawless.

This is a play that involves little thinking and abundant enjoyment.  There is no deep-rooted hidden social agenda, no hidden statements, no psychological  bombshells, no epiphanies of marriage and morality, no moral to the story.  In Arlene’s words:  “Life is so complicated for those of us who think.”

The collaboration of Bobrick and Clark’s eloquent creativity is undeniably successful in making an audience laugh.  In addition to writing over 40 plays, a sampling of Bobrick’s television credits include The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, The Smothers Brothers Show, Bewitched, and numerous musical variety shows. Mr. Bobrick also created the teenage hit series Saved By The Bell.  Among Mr. Clark’s credits:  Monologues for Jack Carter, Alan King, Henny Youngman as well as dozens of other stand-ups of the period and writing for The Jackie Gleason Show, The Danny Kaye Show, The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Kraft Music Hall, The Tim Conway Comedy Hour, The Van Dyke Show and Moonlighting.

MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’s runs from Friday, May 13th to Sunday, May 22nd, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2 PM.  For tickets and reservations, call 282-0849 or visit www.citytheater.org.  [And when you see the show, pay extra attention to the “Housekeeping” staff…a priceless touch of reality!]

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-Louis Philippe

“UNE STUDENTS SHINE IN ‘LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS’ AT CITY THEATER”

Posted in Archive Press Releases with tags , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by Ringer
Brianna Turcotte as Audrey. Photo by Audra Hatch (www.audrahatch.com)

Brianna Turcotte as Audrey. Photo by Audra Hatch (www.audrahatch.com)

James Muller as Seymour. Photo by Audra Hatch (www.audrahatch.com)

James Muller as Seymour. Photo by Audra Hatch (www.audrahatch.com)

April, 2014

What do you get when you combine (two huge community resources), the chemistry of University of New England’s student theater group and the spirit of Biddeford’s City Theater with a popular 60s rock/r&b/doo-wop musical? You get a must-see win-win-win community theater experience par excellence that is nourishing for everyone—especially an unsuspecting audience.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is coming to the City Theater stage, 205 Main St., Biddeford, for one weekend only: Friday and Saturday, April 11 & 12, 7:30 PM, and Sunday, April 13, 2PM. General Admission tickets are $10 (free for UNE students) and will be available at the door. FMI, call UNE at 602-2891.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, a favorite with young theater groups since it exploded off-Broadway in 1982, is a comedy horror rock musical (book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken) about Seymour Krelborn, a poor young nerdy orphan guy who raises a mysterious plant that brings money to the run-down flower shop he works at. His fame mushroomsalong with his secret love for co-worker Audrey, who is “tied up” with her sadistic dentist boyfriend.

As it turns out, Audrey II, the once “unique and interesting plant in the window”, feeds on human blood and flesh and has come from an unknown planet to conquer Earth (ugh, I hate when that happens). Seymour then battles some rough choices with conflicted heart, i.e. save the girl or save the world?

James Muller and Brianna Turcotte make a perfect leading couple, very closely emulating the Rick Moranis-Ellen Greene duo who immortalized the roles in the 1986 movie. UNE’s duo was in sync from beginning to end, easily executing their comic relief shtick with precision yet capturing their emotional moments with realistic tenderness. Vocally, it was their show and they hit it out of the park—individually and together! Bravo!

Cudos to Director Valerie Lyons whose brilliant casting choices and creative adaptation to “fit” the cast were appealing and refreshing. Kaylee Dubois brought the perfect chutzpah to her role as Mrs. Mushnik, and Nickalaus Collins was flawlessly fabulous as Orin. There was not one scene that Dubois and Collins could perform any better.

The outstanding performances were relentless. Every ensemble member exuded a commanding professionalism that made their presence and characterizations believable and vital, truly transforming Main Street in Biddeford to Skid Row. The winos (Alexandria Makucewicz and Halie Pruitt) were classic. The soloists in “The Meek Shall Inherit” were absolutely divine (Standing O to Colleen DeCola, Abby Randall and Chloe Rossignol). Notable roles were also rendered by Briar Bragdon, Casey Hutchinson, Samantha Levesque and Eliza Richard.

But what set this production immediately into its rightful groove was the supreme (pardon the pun) doo-wop trio that rocked and wailed their threads of the story with trademark wall-of-sound vocals and just the right amount of z-snapping diva attitude. Katie Getz, Nicole Mirando and Jacki Noto as Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette are a show-within-the-show. You won’t want to miss a single subtle nuance, facial expression, and the not-so-subtle-but-appropriately- decadent tribute to Motown (thank you Barbara Kelly).

Special acknowledgments need be given to two individuals who were unseen by the audience, whose parts in the production were arguably the most critical: Alyssa Funke, the puppeteer for the ever-growing Audrey II creations, and Becca Minardi who spoke and sung the words of Audrey II from her backstage perch. Funke and Minardi met the physical and logistical challenges of their tasks with finesse and credibility. (And again, cudos to Director Lyons for daring to create a monster with a female voice…it worked for me).

The show has some awesome and memorable music. Music Director Bethany Perkins, a woman with many hats in Southern Maine’s theater circles, aptly and consistently led the pit with drive and energy.

Choreographer Mariel Roy did a great job catering to the cast’s varying levels of dance experience in creating wonderful tableaus with simple, upbeat and fun moves and dances that worked well with every number.

But even more powerful than the vibrant, entertaining show the UNE Players can be credited for is the process that has birthed interesting metaphoric tentacles of reality and wonderful life lessons that this monster of a show holds for all who participated.

Unlike typical community theater shows where wanna-be actors, singers and dancers, some strangers, of various sizes, ages and experience levels filter in from area towns for the chance to be on stage, this cast was already a cohesive group of talented students and friends even before auditions, making this run of Little Shop perhaps even more unique.

“UNE doesn’t have it’s own theater space so they rent City Theater,” said Linda Sturdivant, City Theater’s Artistic Director who also teaches a class in theater production at UNE each Spring as part of the school’s Arts program. “That class is directly connected to the production and everything that I have to do to produce the show they do right along with me from props to press releases.”

About two weeks prior to opening night, the students move in to the performing space where City Theater technical crews are prepared to provide the cast with an enriching opportunity and a great place to play.

“These students are just plain nice,” said Director Valerie Lyons.  “They function as a team, as if by instinct.  They help and teach each other, swooping in to take each others places wherever necessary to keep everything moving, good-naturedly and without ego.  They are self-supporting, and this production would not have been possible without that.”

“Everyone of the cast members performed a transformation, each to the very limit of their ability, and created characters that, for the most part, were diametrically opposed to their real-life personas.  These sweet, innocent young adults became an evil sadist, a cranky old lady, and a desperate murderer.  And they’ve had a great time doing it…” Director Lyons added.

Music Director Bethany Perkins said: “Everyone was really conscientious about learning their parts – and there are some tough pieces! I’m very pleased with their dedication. And they were fun! We often got laughing but we stayed on task.”

As with most student groups, despite their success with this performing arts effort, admittedly some of them will soon be headed into a medical career (that’s what UNE is known for). Some may continue to pursue their stage skills, and some may never set foot again on a stage. Having witnessed firsthand the level of talent within this group of UNE Players, it would be sad if some individuals gave up their dreams of being on stage too soon, without fully experiencing the possibilities. Hence, the UNE-City Theater relationship is vital for the development of the arts and all sorts of personal and inter-personal skills.

Finally, from Seymour: “Often the process feels daunting but rewarding. You leave strike on Sunday afternoon feeling a weight lifted from your shoulders, but also a little empty. But THIS particular cast is much more justified in calling the experience bittersweet. The play itself is fun, has good music, is visually appealing, and tells an interesting story. So if I had to sum up this particular process, I’d call it unifying. Everyone will know what I mean when I say that, somewhere along the line, this became ‘our show’”.

And from Audrey: “This whole experience, from UNE to Levittown, has been a wild rollercoaster, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our producer, director, tech crew, musicians, costumer, fellow actors, and everyone involved in this show. Every single person has helped out equally, and I can personally say I have had a blast getting to know everyone and watching them grow!”

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–Louis Philippe

REINDEER LAUNCHES NEW STATEWIDE COMPETITION FOR YOUNG DJs

Posted in Archive Press Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by Ringer

May 11, 2012

REINDEER LAUNCHES NEW STATEWIDE COMPETITION FOR YOUNG DJs

Reindeer Records—creators of The Rock-Off and The Off-Ramp competitions—are launching another unique and exciting competition, this one for young DJs across Maine.

The Reindeer Spin-Off is an opportunity for young DJs under the age of 21 to show their creative deejay skills and stage personality while being able to rock a crowd with some great music.

The Spin-Off kicks off with a summer pilot series at Club Texas in Auburn.  Showcase dates are Sunday July 22 and Sunday July 29, with the Finals set for Sunday, August 19.  Additional showcase dates are possible depending on demand.

Each Showcase will feature up to 8 artists who will be evaluated by a celebrity panel who will apply the same criteria used in similar events in major cities nationwide—Music, Technique, Image, Stage Presence and Audience Appeal.

The deadline for interested DJs to sign up is Sunday June 10.  FMI – contact Reindeer at 857-9002 or events@reindeergroup.org, or visit www.reindeergroup.org.

The Spin-Off is designed to raise money and awareness for Reindeer’s Alternative Music Program (RAMP) and its efforts to create and implement an accredited music program for Maine’s Alternative Education students.

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THE RESISTANCE WINS REINDEER’S OFF-RAMP:EXIT 27 COMPETITION

Posted in Archive Press Releases with tags , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2012 by Ringer

May 6, 2012

THE RESISTANCE IS “BEST YOUNG BAND IN MAINE”

The Resistance, a neo-classic style alternative/hard rock quartet from the Waterville area, took the honors of “Best Young Band in the State of Maine” in Reindeer Records’ statewide Off-Ramp: Exit 27 high school band competition.

Since last November, The Resistance was one of three bands that faced unique music industry-based tasks that were evaluated for certain criteria by various panels of judges.  The tasks included Songwriting (this year’s theme was “Second Chances”), The Recording Studio Experience, Marketing, Live Event Production and Music Video Production.

The Resistance represented Maine Central Institute, Erskine Academy, Warsaw Middle School and Edward Little High School and featured Sierra Carey on lead vocals, Jerad Smith on lead and rhythm guitar, Jessica Smith on drums and Patrick Buzza on bass.

“The Resistance did consistently well on all the tasks,” said Off-Ramp Executive Producer and Reindeer Group President Louis Philippe.  “Not only are the musicians talented, but the band leadership is very defined, their goals and passion are very clear, and they embrace challenge and responsibility in a role-model way…that’s a recipe for success,” Philippe added.

“When we first saw this band in last year’s competition, they were a soft-spoken shy band from up North that was right out of the box for the first time.  Today, they proved they are serious about their music and professionally-focused with a tremendous attitude.  Plus, they’re great kids, they truly deserved to win,” Philippe noted.

The results were announced Sunday in a video broadcast on Reindeer’s website, www.reindeergroup.org, which also includes music and videos from all of this year’s participants and critique sessions for fans who were following the bands on their journeys.

Other contenders included Last Man In Space from Mount Blue High School and Saint Monday from South Portland High School (which had been recently disqualified).

In addition to the title, The Resistance won some cash, as did some of the other participating musicians.  “Rather than give one winning band a huge lump sum, we reconfigured the prize money to reward all the bands for their commitment, hard work, and superb effort,” explained Philippe.

The Off-Ramp is designed to raise money and awareness for RAMP (Reindeer’s Alternative Music Program) and the larger goal to create, produce and implement an accredited music curriculum for Maine’s Alternative Education outlets.  More info can be found on Reindeer’s website.

Early registration for next year’s competition, The Off-Ramp: Exit 28, will begin in August—but it’s never too early for potentially interested bands to sign up.

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JOEL CARPENTER TO HOST LOCAL MUSIC NIGHT

Posted in Archive Press Releases with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2012 by Ringer

April 5, 2012

Reindeer Recording Artist Joel Carpenter, a Portland-based acoustic singer-songwriter, will be hosting another night of local talent as Coffee House Bookings presents Local Music Night, Saturday, April 21st, at The Portland New Church, 302 Stevens Ave., Portland.

In addition to performing songs from his recent debut CD “Dirty Words” Joel will be turning the stage over to a great line-up of local acts that will include Tom Cook, Louis Grassi and Whit Walker.

Doors open at 7 PM.  All ages are welcome.  Tickets are $10, available from the artists, at the door, or by visiting facebook.com/joelcarpentermusic.com.

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OFF-RAMP BANDS ADVANCE TO TASK #4: PRODUCE A LIVE EVENT

Posted in Archive Press Releases with tags , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by Ringer

February 29, 2012

March will be a busy month for the three high school rock bands that are competing in Reindeer’s statewide Off-Ramp: Exit 27 competition.

After 25 years of producing the wildly popular Rock-Off events, Reindeer created The Off-Ramp as a more in-depth educational and hands-on experience for young musicians.  It is also designed as a fundraising and awareness effort for RAMP, Reindeer’s Alternative Music Program, and its plans to incorporate the elements of the competition into an accredited music curriculum for Maine’s alternative education students.

 LAST MAN IN SPACE from Farmington, SAINT MONDAY from South Portland, and THE RESISTANCE from the Waterville area, have already completed three of their five tasks in this unique six-month industry-based competition—Songwriting, The Recording Studio Experience and Marketing.

For their Live Event Task, each Band is asked to “produce and host a sensational live show to benefit RAMP’s curriculum goals.”

“Effective branding of the Reindeer/RAMP product is a very important factor of this Task,” said Reindeer President Louis Philippe.  “This task not only challenges their creative planning, organizational, communication and marketing skills, but it gives young musicians a chance to promote the cause of making music possible for students who may not be as fortunate as they are, who might be outside the mainstream.”

 The schedule of live shows is as follows:

SHOW MOVED

Host Band: THE RESISTANCE (Off-Ramp Band from Waterville area)
Special Guests: Saint Monday
With: Louis Grassi, Nate Britten
Date: Saturday, March 31st         Time: TBA
Venue: Palermo Legion hall, 33 Veteran’s Way, Palermo
Tix:  $7/advance; $10/door, all ages welcome
Contact:  Jerad Smith – 465-6518

Host Band: SAINT MONDAY (Off-Ramp Band from South Portland)
Special Guests: Last Man in Space and The Resistance
Date:  Saturday, March 17th         Time: 6 PM
Venue: Woodfords Club, 179 Woodford Street, Portland.
Tix:  $3/all ages welcome
Contact: Izaak Onos – 400-7641

Host Band: LAST MAN IN SPACE (Off-Ramp Band from Farmington) 
Special Guests:  The Resistance, Saint Monday,
With:  Neurotik, After the Rush Hour, and The Brother’s Cup
Date:  Sunday, March 25th           Time: 3 PM
Venue:  Emery Community Arts Center, Main Street, Farmington
Tix:  $2/students, $5/adults, all ages welcome
Contact:  Eli Cohen – 778-4965

For more information about The Off-Ramp, the RAMP curriculum, or this year’s participating bands, visit reindeergroup.org.

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