Maskers to partner with Cold Comfort

By Dagney C. Ernest | Nov 28, 2012

Belfast — The board of the Belfast Maskers, which is marking its 25th anniversary year in 2012, has announced that the troupe is partnering with Castine’s Cold Comfort Theater to produce traveling theatrical productions. The new partnership will produce shows that will be presented in Belfast, Searsport, Islesboro, Castine and Bucksport under the banner of “Cold Comfort Theater and the Belfast Maskers present.”

The Maskers left its longtime Waterfront Railroad Theatre just over a year ago when the former railroad building, owned by the city, became uninsurable. Since then, it has been producing shows at various sites in Waldo County, in venues and outdoors during the summer.

“The loss of our theater home two years ago forced the Belfast Maskers to reconsider its current model for funding and delivering high quality live theater,” said Chip Curry, president of the Masker board of directors. A letter sent out to everyone on the Maskers’ mailing list stated it was doubtful the troupe would achieve a balanced budget this year.

Cold Comfort has been in existence in the 1970s but on production hiatus in recent years. Aynne Ames, artistic director of the Maskers since 2003, co-founded Cold Comfort and managed it for 20 years. She will be the managing and artistic director of the joint endeavor.

“We’re in the process of assembling a troupe committed to giving this a go for a year,” she said, adding that auditions will be held for show needing large casts.

“The board of directors of the Belfast Maskers is very excited to enter into a new partnership with Cold Mountain Productions. Through this partnership, we will strengthen community theater in Belfast and bring it back to many communities around Penobscot Bay,” said Curry.

Belfast Maskers was founded in 1987 by the late Basil Burwell. The troupe’s first true “home” was the Belfast Community Center, the former Emmanuel Baptist Church on Court Street. In 1992, the troupe moved into the former railroad building on Front Street, dubbing it the Waterfront Railroad Theatre. Artistic directors included Gardner Howes, Robert Hitt and Tobin Malone, under whose term the stage was remodeled into a black box theater in 2000; Swedish actor Liv Ullmann was among the financial supporters. The summer caps began in 2000 and regular summer outdoor productions in 2007, when the intern program also debuted. In the past 25 years, the Belfast Maskers have produced more than 150 shows.

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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