Belfast, Rockland school musicals open

Sets in the cities

Nov 08, 2017
At left, the cast of Belfast Area High School’s “Working” is ready to share their stories. At right, Keller Lessard porthole-peers down on, from left, Trevor Lawry, Elliott Spear and Ella Finger in Oceanside High School’s “Anything Goes.”

The high school musical season is in full swing the second weekend of November, with Camden Hills Regional and Medomak Valley shows offering their final performances (see stories linked below) and Belfast Area and Oceanside high schools opening their big shows Friday night, Nov. 10.

The schools of the Midcoast’s two cities are mounting student-driven productions, according to their directors, one a flashy Broadway classic and the other a musical theater adaptation of a seminal work of oral history. Both have large casts and crews that have been hard at work since late summer.

“Working: The Musical”

Belfast Area High School Performing Arts and Footlights Booster Club co-present “Working: The Musical” Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Nov. 10 through 19, at the school, 98 Waldo Ave., Belfast. Tickets at the door are $8, $5 for students and senior citizens.

Based on Studs Terkel's best-selling book of interviews with American workers, “Working” — this is the Tony Award-winning 2012 Revised Edition — paints a vivid portrait of the men and women the world so often takes for granted, including schoolteachers, phone operators, waitresses, millworkers, masons and housewives. The updated show features new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” renown, as well as favorites by Stephen Schwartz, Craig Carnelia and James Taylor.

Both vocal director David Coffey, who shares musical direction with Patrick Munson, and stage director Judi Erickson had “Working” on their Top-5 lists when they first met to discuss show choice for 2017.

“It is so different from other productions I’ve been involved in,” said Erickson. “No hero, no princess — but 25 talented students portraying American men and women who work for a living.”

Those students are Olivia Andrews, William Bickford, Ashley Blais, Daisy Bradney, Jordyn Brewer, Caneel Cheskin, Paige Ford, Caitlin Friel, Madison Hemingway, Madison Johnson, Charles E. Lagerbom, Talia LaRue, Alyssa Limeburner, Fletcher Marriner, Hannah Marsden, Phoebe Norman, Aiden Pike, Audrey Richdale, Bryan Spaulding, Quinnten Silveira-Charbonnier, Hope Thomas, Alex Tripp, Emily Wakeman, Mercedez Whitmore and Macartney Wyatt.

The stage crew includes Kaya Wentworth, Sydney Densmore, Bryan Spaulding, Bonnie Dyer, Terryjean “TJ” Evangelista, Sophie Richdale, Andy McBride, Ayla Fitzjurls, Madison Martz, Jordyn Brewer, Jenna Howard, Madison Hemingway, Alyssa Limeburner, Ian Maddocks, Alice Dyer and Madison Burgess. And the staging itself, as well as lights and sound, are the purview of technical director Amber Callahan.

One reason the production team was drawn to “Working,” considered by some to be one of the most accessible, relevant and substantive musicals ever created, is the pedigree of the music. Schwartz’s long line of successes includes Broadway blockbuster “Wicked”; it’s hard to get away from Miranda’s influence (Camden Hills is doing his first smash show); and “Working” contains the only two songs Taylor has ever written for the stage.

“When you have lyrics by people like that, you can’t help but be drawn to the work. The music is modern and riveting,” said Erickson.

And Terkel, she said, was not a man to pull any punches.

“He believed in the reality of life — and that people would see themselves in one or more of the characters he wrote about,” she said.

This BAHS production has been particularly student-driven, and executed. Erickson credits cast and crew members with poster and playbill, set design, construction and painting/decoration, the choreography, costumes and makeup “and so much more.”

“Anything Goes”

Oceanside Theatre will present “Anything Goes” Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., Nov. 10 through 18, plus a single matinee Sunday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m. Tickets at the door are $8, $6 for students.

The much-revived Cole Porter musical has a song list to go singing out the door with. Included are familiar favorites “You're the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and the title tune. The show is populated with gangsters, showgirls, sailors, the upper crust and a shiny Oceanside specialty.

“The set is really awesome (and sparkly!),” said director Alison Machaiek. “Completely student executed, from set design and construction to costume selection and organization to choreography to promotion, including T-shirt, poster and program layout.”

Such student ownership is a hallmark of Oceanside Theatre, said Machaiek, who helms the show with technical director David Johanson and musical directors Barbara Hendricks (vocal) and Marlene Hall (pit band). Another is the involvement of sports team members. “Anything Goes” includes football players, boys and girls soccer players, “a host of” field hockey players, most of the golf team and cross-country.

“These kids are actors, artists, athletes, in addition to maintaining their academic grades,” said Machaiek. “The fall musical is the largest extracurricular activity at Oceanside.”

Machaiek said she is really proud of this year’s “incredibly talented and diverse group.” The show includes four foreign exchange students; the young woman playing Reno is from Sweden.

The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker (played by Keller Lessard) is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt (Myla Ferland), who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Jack Freeman). Johanna Sandin plays Reno Sweeney, a nightclub performer in cahoots with Moonface Martin (Elliott Spear). Ella Finger plays Erma, girlfriend of Public Enemy Number One. Zoe Goff plays Mrs. Harcourt, and Robert Scott plays wealthy Elisha Whitney.

The ship’s crew is led by Anthony Radzimirski as the Captain and Trevor Lawry as the ship’s Purser. Their crew of sailors includes Julian Noice, Mike Dougherty, Josh Peaco, Uriah Thongsopaphone, Titus Kaewthong, Alex Mahar, Aiden Andrews, Nathan Phaenephom, Logan Sheridan, Jacob Cormier, Michael Norton and Cody Ward. Reno’s angels include: Abby Veilleux, Harriet Yankura, Lauryn Arsenault, Erin Dugan, Casey Pine, Taylor Hamlin, Cassidy Boynton, Skylar Prior, Raechel Joyce, Katherine McCue and Makaila Hickey.

Rounding out the large cast are Emma Young, Emma Gerrish, Grace Young, Julia Bartlett, Marina Lamkins, Heather Stevenson, Kat Cova, Krista Butler, Delia Saastamoinen, Grace Cody, Valerie Lorleburg, Jordan Beal, Kristina Ferguson, Emily Tyler, Ignacia Gomez Vega, Bailey Noble-Roy, Mackenzie Murray, Lydia Laslavic, Elayne Gufstason, Paige Nystrom, Jade Phillip, Amanda Frost, Chloe Courant and Julia Clough. Lower school students hitting the stage are Kaleb Pietroski (sailor); and Gabby and Lyla Tolman (passengers).

Stage managers include Amber Johnston and Kimberly Roman. Kalli Grover handles light design and operation; and Sara Dorr runs sound. The running crew is led by Hunter Fowles and includes Seb Sanfilippo, Connor Harvey, Matt Waldron and Jun Nirita. Pit band members include Lynne Henry, Lauren Casey, Ashley Boden, Vicki Littlefield, Chris Blum, Abe LeMole, Kathy Downing, Patrick Blum and Christine York.

That’s certainly a lot of personnel, but Machaiek said, “This particular group has been a blast to work with from the very first rehearsal!”

But wait, there’s more

Severe weather and power outage-driven school closures have caused Mount View High School in Thorndike to postpone “The Will and the Spirit” by David Meyer, a spooky comedic thriller, to the spring. But Searsport District Middle/High School, another Waldo County location hit hard by recent closures, is forging ahead with its big musical production of “The Wiz” Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 16 through 18, at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $5 at the door. And wrapping up the season the first weekend of December will be Vinalhaven School, presenting “School of Rock” Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2, at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $10.

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Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for more than 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.

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