Midcoast schools hit the stage

Class warfare, the musical

By Dagney C. Ernest | Nov 07, 2012
Photo by: Marti Stone A community dance provides the backdrop for a key sequence in “West Side Story” at Camden Hills Regional High School.

For the next two weekends, most of the Midcoast high schools will be putting on their big fall musicals … and, as most musical theater does, the shows offer tales of star-crossed lovers and the way they overcome the barriers between them — or not. The challenges range from royal vs. peasant and ethnic divides to, well, those who love rock ‘n’ roll and those who fear it.

Dance is a strong component of all the local musicals staged this year. Camden Hills Regional High School’s “West Side Story” has two levels of choreography, dance by alum Katie Thompson and fight by YMCA instructor Jonas Contakos. Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro is doing “Once On This Island,” a show set in the Caribbean, and director Nancy Durgin is pleased to see the choreography develop.

“Thanks to the magic Dixie Weisman weaves with this talented cast, WE DANCE! They follow her expert guidance and talent with enthusiasm and delight,” she said.

Belfast Area High School is doing a new show built around the music of Elvis Presley and filled with 1950s-era dance moves. And a stageful of people dancing the waltz at a ball is, of course, a key sequence in Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” this year’s offering by Oceanside High School in Rockland.

The music also runs the gamut, from island forms at MVHS to classic Broadway ballads at OHS; and from the famous Leonard Bernstein score at Camden Hills to Elvis, Elvis and more Elvis at BAHS.

“Musically, this is one of the most exciting shows I have ever done … the arrangements are fantastic, making the tunes even better that the original. It is both spine-chilling and heart-warming, pensive and exhilarating,” said Belfast music director John Cameron.

“The West Side Story” score, built around complicated and changing beat patterns, is notoriously difficult, according to Camden Hills band director Nancy Rowe. Thus the show’s pit band members are professional musicians, with the exception of senior Orion Krause in the percussion section. Having Rowe at the baton frees director Kim Murphy to concentrate on her acting and singing ensemble of around 50 students.

Both Camden Hills and Oceanside mounted shows last year set at Notre Dame de Paris and OHS director Alison Machaiek has relied on her technical theater class students to transform last year’s cathedral, which won design awards at the 2012 Maine Drama Festival, into this year’s fairytale castle. Camden Hills also relies heavily on its tech department, and both schools have as many or close to students working behind the scenes as on the stage.

Given the calendar-jamming nature of the Midcoast musical season, it takes some planning to get to all the shows — and it takes a ferry to get to the non-musical “Major Barbara” running Friday through Sunday, Nov. 9 through 11 on North Haven. Also doing a “straight play” this month is Mount View High School in Thorndike, which will open “The Spiral Staircase” Wednesday, Nov. 14 for a four-night run at the Clifford Performing Arts Center. Following are the performance times and ticket information for the Midcoast high school musicals … and keep an eye out for the much anticipated stage adaptation of “Nightmare Before Christmas,” coming next month to Searsport District High School.

“All Shook Up” at BAHS

The Elvis (and Shakespeare)-inspired musical will be presented Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m.; Sundays, Nov. 11 and 18 at 3 p.m. in the gymnasium of Belfast Area High School, 98 Waldo Ave., Belfast. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and will be sold at the door.

“Cinderella” at Oceanside

The Just Off Broadway Players will present their production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fairytale Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. at Oceanside East, 400 Broadway, Rockland. Tickets at the door are $8, $6 for students and senior citizens.

“Once On This Island” at MVHS

The Medomak Valley Players will present Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s Broadway show Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in the Dolloff Auditorium of Medomak Valley High School, Manktown Road in Waldoboro. All tickets are $10, at the door.

“West Side Story” at Camden Hills

Camden Hills Regional High School will present the classic Broadway musical Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in the Strom Auditorium of the school, off Route 90 in Rockport. Reserved seats are $12. General admission tickets are $10, $6 students and senior citizens in advance at stromtickets.com or HAV II in Camden. Tickets will be $15/$12/$8 at door. For more information, call the box office at 236-7800, ext. 282.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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