Contrary to 21st-century lore, vaudeville is not dead — in fact, for going on seven years, Midcoast Maine has had its very own vaudeville troupe. That band of anything-for-a-laugh colleagues will present the latest edition of their “The New Vaudeville Revue” Saturday, Feb. 18 at American Legion Hall No. 43, 143 High St. The shenanigans will begin at 7 p.m.

A week and a half before the one-night-only show, three of the regulars and a guest star gathered in the basement Fallout Shelter of Waterfall Arts Belfast. Ando Anderson of Belfast, shadowed by his well-named canine cohort, distributed a lyric sheet for a Renaissance-style madrigal and handed a venerable cassette player to Kristen Burkholder of Northport. She gave it a quick listen, then stood to sing while Jenny Tibbetts of Jackson and Scott Anthony Smith worked out a pantomime to the words. A couple of run-throughs set the sketch and they were on to the next, which involved a plastic horned Viking hat-clad Burkholder interacting with Smith as a lead-in to a jingle for Viking Lumber.

The jingle itself is a reprise, but everything else headed for the Legion Hall stage — and, eventually, local cable channel BCTV-2 and its counterpart in coastal Knox County — is original material written by Anderson, Burkholder and Tibbetts. The fourth member of the troupe, Peter Conant of Appleton, is on leave for this show but will be back for the one scheduled for March 31.

Asked how the Revue came to be, all present pointed to producer and emcee Anderson, longtime lynchpin of the local music scene. The jingles, created for local businesses that sponsor the shows, are a throwback to Anderson’s original concept of an old-time radio show along the lines of “A Prairie Home Companion.” “The New Vaudeville Revue” has been from the beginning a scripted variety show, and scripts need writers —in this case, writers who can perform. Anderson said he had seen Burkholder and her partner Nathan Raleigh at the <15 Minute Play Festival and he knows Conant, longtime actor with the Belfast Maskers. He had seen Tibbetts at a poetry slam in Montville.

“I knew Kristen had done writing and knew Peter was really quick witted and knew Jenny was a good writer, so we tried it. Mike Hurley said if you do it, do it at the Colonial, so we did,” Anderson said.

That was in April 2006 and the same core of writers/performers remains, supplemented some months by guests such as Smith. The skits are interspersed with a variety of talented local acts, everything from young musicians — this month features the Boomshop barbershop quartet from Mount View High School — to experienced dancers — this edition’s guests include local dancers Shana Bloomstein and Heléna Melone. There has always been a featured poet; Tibbetts fit that bill for the inaugural show and current Belfast Poet Laureate Jacob Fricke will do so on the 18th. And there has always been a house band, which the Vaudevillians all agreed has been integral to the show’s success — this month’s features regular Jeff Densmore on drums with Willy Kelly on guitar and Joe Allard on bass.

“Ando comes up with all the jingles and all the songs, and Ando knows everybody and everybody knows Ando, so the music is always right there,” said Burkholder.

Anderson, who had brought his guitar this night to run through a song with the cast, said he is less quick about writing sketches.

“We have two writers who were really great at putting out a good product from the get go; it’s a slower process for me and Peter,” he said.

Conant, reached by phone the next day, agreed, saying he thinks he does best adding gags to what the others have written “but we all have to write and I do my share.” Burkholder called Conant the one-line king and the others readily concurred.

“Every sketch has a touch of Peter,” Burkholder said.

The Vaudevillians will meet to toss around ideas, usually loosely around a theme — this month’s show is a post-Valentine’s Day exploration of love in all its many forms. Whoever comes up with an idea that sounds promises is usually tasked with coming up with a sketch, and the script is reworked by the company. Sometimes, it happens overnight, as Smith was discovering. An experienced performer, he looked a little stunned as he rifled though his growing pile of pages.

“Fear, panic — there’s a lot to learn … We just talked about this last night and now it’s done,” he said, looking at a script Burkholder had brought in.

On the other hand, Smith said he has admired the show for a long time and was excited to be asked to take part … and that he knows the nature of live vaudeville is sometimes things slip and that becomes part of the show: “It’s humor, it’s slapstick, it’s part of the show, and it’s been a success for six or seven years … I don’t know how they do it!”

Looking back at the Revue’s first years, it is hard to figure out how the troupe produced an original variety show every month. They all have jobs, after all — Anderson is a carpenter and teaches guitar; Conant is a general contractor; Tibbetts and her husband run a farm; and Burkholder, who also performs as half of the piano/vocal Tango duo, has a massage therapy practice. These days, “The New Vaudeville Revue” is a winter gig producing several shows each year in the long off-season. For a number of years now, the show has been produced at the Legion Hall and rehearsed at Waterfall Arts or in Anderson’s office, where their audio equipment is stored between performances.

“Ando’s office or Kristen’s closet, it’s all there,” said Tibbetts.

Determining the right microphones for such a show took a lot of doing at first, they said, but the system they have now is a keeper. It is supplemented by the equipment brought in by BCTV-2’s Ned Lightner and Jim Campbell; and the Revue’s sound man Ed Goguen.

“BCTV-2 has been there from the very start, so every show has been broadcast,” said Anderson.

Of course, not every Midcoast community gets the Revue on its lineup. In fact, most of the troupe have never seen their show on TV. Conant hasn’t, but keeps running into people who have.

“I’ll be on the ferry to Vinalhaven and someone will say, hey, I saw you on that thing there — I saw you wearing a dress,” he said.

Dresses and wigs are much-used props for the tech-light shows. As serious as the writers are about putting together a good show, they are more than willing to put the men in women’s clothes for the easy laugh.

“Apparently, that’s funny. We tried putting the women in men’s clothes but it didn’t get the laughs — Jenny plays a boy a lot though, she can do it,” said Conant.

“We do have fun! But it’s really about the process — the four of us hammer out the ideas and wrote and rehearse and we laugh so hard. That’s really the best part for me and if we can share that with an audience, even better,” said Tibbetts.

“I think a benefit of this is the happenstance nature of it … Ando picked us out and it’s become something you never could have planned. I think people around here are a special breed — what we care about is what’s best for the show,” said Burkholder.

The Revue has a faithful audience of all ages, which sometimes can be disconcerting, given some of the humor involved. Tibbetts, whose particular brand of physical humor is the kind that can be appreciated from everyone from infants to old folks, said she thinks the bawdy bits sail over the young one’s heads. Conant credits her with being a bit more cutting edge in her writing but said they can’t as a rule count on their audience to be following the pop culture of the moment.

“A lot of them don’t have televisions, so we tend to be kind of retro,” he said.

Which is not to say “The New Vaudeville Revue” is out of touch.

“It’s all about life here in Maine, all of us, right now,” said Burkholder.

Tickets are $12, available in advance at the downtown Åarhus Gallery and also at the door. The show has two intermissions, as it is presented and film in three 30-minute acts. For more information, call 322-7123.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to