Gary and Carol Hinte’s hilltop home has taken on a theatrical quality this summer — no surprise for a man who literally was born in a theater and a couple who have spent much of their many years together, in some fashion, backstage.

“This is the second summer in a row that this place has become theater central. It looks more like a theater than a house,” said Carol earlier this month.

Said theater is the Belfast Maskers, and the show that has transformed the Hintes’ home is “Annie,” opening Thursday, July 27, in the new United Farmers Market of Maine. Gary’s studio is filled with paintings that will become rear-projected scenery … and their backyard is devoted to the show as well, as platforms for the audience risers are being constructed there from last year’s show flooring.

“I’m really excited about ‘Annie,’ it’s got a cast of 30 or 35,” said Carol. “I’m the producer and I can’t keep track of how many people are in the show!”

Gary, meanwhile, is keeping on track, producing some 35 to 40 small acrylic paintings that will be photographed and projected on screens during the performances. It’s a technique he tried locally for the first time last summer with “The Addams Family Musical” — a trying production by all accounts.

“I’d never done a show outside before, and I had no idea what the weather would do. It turned the whole stage into a sail, I thought we’d go sailing across the bay,” said Hinte.

Non-meteorological challenges were many, as well, including last-minute changes in both cast and direction. But, as it must, the show went on. “Annie” has thus far been smoother sailing, and Gary is glad the production is inside the former Mathews Brothers building.

“It’s very hard to do a show outside in the weather and have scenery,” he said.

And scenery is his medium. A lifelong artist, Hinte had several art-related businesses in California, as well as a 15-year career creating scenery for Foothill Youth Summer Theater in Los Angeles County.

“It had a full stage and a full scene loft and the equipment we needed to put on a reasonably good show. We were operating out of a very rich community, and they had a beautiful high school, all customized out, with a 600-seat theater,” he said.

“Annie,” with its multiple youngsters — and a dog — can scare off those who heed W.C. Fields’ advice to “Never work with animals or children.” But the vibe is pleasantly familiar to the Hintes.

“We’re kind of used to it, because we were with a children’s theater for so long,” said Gary. “The energy that young people have on the stage may not be professional, but it’s fresh. It’s exciting to watch them working.”

He’s used to working in such a way that creating the several dozen “Annie” paintings is not a daunting assignment. Part of his career was doing production painting in a factory, turning out paintings for furniture stores, “and then I had my own factory, two or three of those. So I have some experience in producing art work by the pound, so to speak,” he said. “It wasn’t very glamorous, but it was a skill I developed.”

It’s a skill that has hardly gotten a break. After he retired from running his businesses, he went to work for Grosh Backdrops and Drapery, whose studio originated in the 1920s as a manufacturer of backing scrolls — handpainted scrolling scenery used in early films. The four-story building had a huge frame weighing six to eight thousand pounds, which allowed scenic designers to work their way up and down 25-by-50-foot canvas backdrops. These days, as when Hinte was working there, Grosh Studio produces backdrops for rental by community, school, dance company and church stage productions.

“It was quite interesting! I was born in a ‘thee-ay-ter,’ you know,” he said.

It’s true. Hinte was born to a dancer at the Liberty Theatre in Elizabeth, N.J.

“My father was a stagehand and had been a stage manager in Vaudeville,” he said. “So that was a thrill, to work in a studio like that, so old they actually had all the equipment to make production backing.”

Sometimes more than one artist would work on a drop, he said, but when he did his own designs, he did them himself. It took him two or three days, he said, “with a big brush!”

After he retired (again), he and Carol started spending seasons in Santa Fe and then Mazatlan, Mexico. Gary said he finds painting Belfast Harbor more interesting than the Pacific. And it was the harbor that first drew the couple to Maine, encouraged by friends from Santa Fe who summered in Lincolnville. Though to be more precise, it was a boat that started their voyage east.

“We bought a sailboat in an eBay auction and decided to bring it up and keep it here. But after we got here and got a house for ourselves, we realized, after one season in the water with the boat — and ‘in the water’ was a literal thing — we were a little old to start sailing,” Gary said.

But they did “make the leap” from west to east coast, still spending half the year in Mexico. That got to be a little much, too.

“It was a long trip. We had to take a van, because we had two big dogs and a cat and all my working tools, so we had to trek back and forth every year,” Gary said.

These days, the couple visits Europe, “while we still can,” said Gary, who is 84. But not in the summer, which is when Midcoast Maine shines … and the Maskers need scenery.

Hinte first tried the projected scenery approach in California, when a flooded stage took precedence over traditional scenery construction one production. The show was “Grease,” and projecting vintage photographs turned out to be a good solution. He remembered that experience when he came on to last summer’s musical.

“When I saw all that would be needed to do a complete visual production, I thought, well, the first thing we need to do is get a projector! It was exciting, it was fun visually, you know, to work that way,” he said. “So that sort of turned me on to doing more theater here, in my old age.”

It also allows him to design and produce scenery without climbing ladders and lugging canvas, which can be an expensive burden to anyone — especially a troupe without a physical home.

“I think Gary’s work has gone a long way to put the Maskers prominently back on the map,” said Carol. “After it lost the theater, it floundered for a little bit, but now it’s coming back strong.”

Belfast has a lot of theater for its size, Gary said, citing the middle and high schools; Cold Comfort Theater, led by former Maskers Artistic Director Aynne Ames; Midcoast Actor’s Studio; and The Playhouse, helmed by Mary Weaver.

“She does a good job. We source a lot of our young people from there; she’s started a whole movement for getting children acting in a theater,” he said.

And while “Annie” will present a lot of children acting in the former factory-cum-public-market, the couple would like to see the Maskers in its own theater again.

“There was a time when it wouldn’t be that difficult to get another theater together. The surplus income and the slack that people used to have just isn’t there anymore,” he said.

What is there in Belfast, which Gary describes as “a kind of a family town,” is a good cross-section of audience that comes to the Maskers’ shows. He credits the children for that most.

“The young people are the lifeblood of a theater company. The parents come out and volunteer and they support the operation of the company,” he said, “and the kids have a certain kind of energy.”

That energy will be on full display, backed by Gary Hinte’s scenic design — Carol will run two projectors backstage — in the Belfast Maskers' summer musical, “Annie.” Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., July 27 through Aug. 6, at United Farmers Market of Maine, 18 Spring St. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $10 for kids. They can be purchased at the door; or reserved by calling 563-9123 or via