'We wanted to go big and grand. We knew we had Christine [Mild] with her powerhouse performance and Charis [Leos] so we wanted to play it large and create an environment that would support them. The production concept we came up with turned out to be a wonderful envelope to wrap around the show and the entire staging fell into place.'
Co-director/choreographer Marc Robin was talking about his and Curt Dale Clark's vision for their new staging of Always, Patsy Cline, which opened Maine State Music Theatre's 2017 season on June 7th. Robin was part of a panel that also featured Patsy star Christine Mild and stand-by Heidi Kettenring, MSMT Charge Scenic Artist Sean Cox, and MSMT Board Vice President Kristine Ganong. The discussion on June 14th, moderated by Broadway World Maine editor Carla Maria Verdino-Sullwold was the first in the now four-year-old summer series of free public forums, A Peek Behind the Curtain, held at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. The series, designed to give theatre-goers insight into the creative processes of producing each of the summer main stage shows, featured a lively and far-reaching conversation about Patsy Cline, MSMT's Theatre for Young Audiences program, and the theatre's burgeoning role in the community.BWW Review: MSMT's Enchanting SLEEPING BEAUTY Offers a Fresh and Relevant Perspective on a Classic Fairytale June 14, 2017
MSMT opens its Theatre for Young Audiences with three performances of Marc Robin and Curt Dale Clark's musical retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale, Sleeping Beauty, in a striking visual production, performed with energy, conviction, and style by a company of young actors. The hour-long musical version puts a contemporary spin on the familiar story and subtly raises issues and values which seem remarkably current, despite the fact that the show was written more than twenty years ago.BWW Interview: Twenty-six Roles and Counting: Charis Leos at Maine State Music Theatre June 9, 2017
'I love it here! This Always, Patsy Cline will be the twenty-sixth production I've appeared in with MSMT, and by the end of this summer, the number will be twenty-nine.' Actress Charis Leos - a huge favorite with Maine audiences and critics alike - is reflecting on her long association with the Brunswick theatre and what the future holds for her here and in the other numerous regional theatres where she lights up the stage with her vibrant, inimitable gifts as a musical theatre performer.BWW Review: Patsy Cline Is Alive and Well and Dazzling at Maine State Music Theatre June 9, 2017
About half way through the musical, Always, Patsy Cline, Louise says of the legendary singer, 'She blew the roof off that old honky tonk!' And much the same could be said for the electric atmosphere at the Brunswick's Pickard Theater, where MSMT opened its 59th season with a dazzling production of the musical that includes twenty-seven songs made famous by the singer, who remains to this day - fifty-four years after her untimely death - a towering presence in the world of country and pop music.
With true betes de scene, Christine Mild as Patsy and Charis Leos as Louise, accompanied by a virtuoso band, performing an unforgettable songbook, this production delivers not only powerhouse vocal-dramatic values, but also offers the audience a vibrant and poignant journey to another time and place that magically come alive through in the charismatic story of its protagonists. The Ted Swindley musical which focuses on the last six years of Patsy Cline's life and on her friendship with a Texas divorcee and fan, Louise Seger, is so much more than a catalog of songs strung together by a chronological narrative. Indeed, the book is touching well-constructed - funny, sad, warm and human by turns - and the songs are integrated into the story with a seamlessness that lets the play move from reality to memory.BWW Interview: The Yodel, the Cry, the Catch, the Growl - Christine Mild Brings Patsy Cline to Life June 6, 2017
'It's all in the way she placed her voice. I like to call it the Kermit the Frog place - the soft palate at the back of the throat, and that's what activates the yodel, the catch, the cry, the growl which are the iconic hallmarks of her singing. Patsy Cline wasn't really a technical singer; this all just came naturally to her, but for me as an actress and technical singer who has to do the show eight times a week, I have to make sure I am singing in a healthy, safe way and understand how to make that happen. So if I place the voice right - if I place it in the 'Patsy place'- it all happens without trying.'BWW Review: Live in Living Color: Vibrant CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Closes Lyric Season June 5, 2017
It's hard to imagine why this gem of a show had such a short Broadway run, but it is finding new life in regional productions, not the least of which opened here at South Portland's Lyric Music Theater this past weekend. Directed by Mary Meserve with sparkling choreography by Raymond Marc Dumont and featuring a large cast with strong vocal-dramatic abilities, anchored by Eric Berry-Sandelin's charismatic performance as Frank Abagnale, Jr., this is a delight not to be missed!BWW Interview: An Evening of 'Short Stories' and a Song Book To Die For: THE ALL NIGHT STRUT May 26, 2017
The All Night Strut has a songbook to die for! It may not be as riotously funny as The Irish and How They Got Way was, says Maine State Music Theatre's Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark, but I know from experience that the audience will leave the theatre exhilarated! Clark, who will co-produce the show with Anita Stewart, Artistic Director of Portland Stage, describes the musical revue as a collection of vignettes, each of which plays out before the next one begins. It is sort of like an evening of short stories that paints a colorful and poignant picture of 20th century America in the years of the Great Depression, World War II, and the post-war.BWW Interview: BWW Hosts NEWSIES Film-Stage Talkback with MSMT May 20, 2017
Maine State Music Theatre hosted a special series of free FILM FRIDAYS events which previewed the summer shows, showed the original (or subsequent) movie and offered a talkback with Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark, in interview with BWW's Maine Editor, Carla Maria Verdino-Sullwold. Here is an sli8ghtly edited version of the talkback of May 17, 2017, which discussed the 1992 Kenny Ortega film version of NEWSIES and the 2012 Broadway staging, and gave some hints about what Midcoast Mine could expect this summer at MSMT! Have a look/ listen!BWW Review: Mad Horse Finishes Season with Dark, Apocalyptic Comedy May 8, 2017
Mad Horse Theatre's 2018 has certainly pushed the envelope in repertoire choices, fearlessly programming provocative, often dark, edgy, but always intensely human plays. Its last selection of the season, Anne Washburn's 2012 Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play, coming on the heels of The Nether and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, brings this adventurous season to a stirring conclusion.BWW Interview: MSMT Launches New Public Film Series May 7, 2017
The rain was pouring down outside and the aroma of fresh hot popcorn wafted through the Morrell Meeting Room as a sizeable crowd gathered on this gloomy Friday evening at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick to enjoy a new public film series, created by MSMT, hosted by Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark, and facilitated by Olivia Wenner, Group Sales and Outreach Manager. The project, part of MSMT's community outreach program, is entitled Film Fridays and offers free screenings in HD and surround sound of three movie musicals which will be produced in their stage versions this summer at MSMT. The movies are then followed by a talkback with Curt Dale Clark, moderated by Broadway World Maine Editor Carla Maria Verdino-Sullwold and - to add a little levity and spice - by a special trivia contest with prize of two complimentary tickets to MSMT's stage show for the winner.BWW Interview: So Many Moving Parts: Reba Short Directs MR BURNS at Mad Horse Theatre May 3, 2017
"This is probably the hardest play I have ever done," director Reba Short confides about her latest assignment, Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play that opens at South Portland's Mad Horse Theatre Company Friday, May 5th. "There are so many moving parts to this play. I have had to call up every class ever took in college and every skill I've ever learned. It's a very complicated work that moves from realism to kabuki like stylization and takes place in three distinct realms and times. I completely understand why [playwright] Anne Washburn called it a 'beast of a play.'"Summer Stages Maine: A Sampling of Best Picks April 20, 2017
There are plenty of reasons to make Maine your summer destination: the breathtaking coastline, beautiful beaches, pristine trails to hike, waterways to sail, and wildlife to observe. But Maine also has a long history of being home to respected summer theatres, and in recent seasons the wealth of performance offerings has not only increased in number, but also in quality. Maine can proudly say that it boasts some of the finest regional theatre companies in the country. Here are my editorial picks among the many possibilities for theatre-lovers.BWW Review: Genuine Voices and Situations in Portland Stage's STRING AROUND MY FINGER April 16, 2017
Portland Stage's latest production is an engaging staging of Brenda Withers' new play, String Around My Finger, which had won the 2015 Clauder Competition and then been developed through the theatre's Little Festival of the Unexpected. The four-character play, set entirely in a hospital where a young couple finds themselves coping with the miscarriage of their child, resonates with a genuineness of dialogue, character and situation.BWW Interview: A Desire To Be the Absolute Best We Can: MSMT Launches Its 2017 Season April 6, 2017
'At the end of last summer I told myself that we were not going to try to top the 2016 season. I was going to think of 2017 as a completely separate and unique adventure, but the end result is that we are already topping our previous metrics in terms of ticket sales.' The speaker, Curt Dale Clark, Maine State Music Theatre's energetic and charismatic Artistic Director, is reflecting on the sold out 2016 season which garnered the company lavish critical and audience acclaim and made an MSMT ticket one of the hottest items in the region.BWW Review: Searing LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT at Mad Horse April 2, 2017
In one of its largest, most ambitious productions in recent seasons, Mad Horse Theatre has mounted a searing account of Stephen Adly Guirgis's riveting drama, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. The sixteen-member cast under the direction of Stacey Koloski forms an intense, cohesive ensemble to recount this imaginary narrative about the fate of Christ's betrayer and to grapple with huge questions about guilt and salvation, doubt and faith, blame and forgiveness.BWW Review: Good Theater Closes Season with Luminous and Lyrical TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL April 1, 2017
Good Theater Artistic Director Brian P. Allen chose to close the season with a lovely, lyrical production of Horton Foote's platy, The Trip to Bountiful, in which Louisa Flaningam's luminous interpretation of Carrie Watts is surely one of the Portland theatre calendar's highlights.BWW Review: Maine State Ballet Mounts Impressive SWAN LAKE March 26, 2017
Maine State Ballet opens its spring season with an ambitious full-length production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake that offers a compelling account of the timeless Romantic classic and demonstrates how this Maine company continues to grow artistically. Presented several times in the past decade in shortened versions, the current production uses most of the original Marius Petipa choreography with some additional dances by artistic director Linda MacArthur Miele and features lavish and lovely scenic drops and costumes by Gail Csoboth.BWW Interview: Holding a Mirror Up to the Audience: Director Stacey Koloski Discusses THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT March 22, 2017
"Superficially the play is a courtroom drama with judge, jury, and attorneys, but really it is a universal exploration of the themes of forgiveness, self-forgiveness, and the willingness to accept others."
Portland-based theatre artist Stacey Koloski is talking about her latest project, directing Stephen Adly Guirgis's play, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at Mad Horse Theatre in South Portland. The drama with a cast of sixteen comprised of company regulars and guest artists opens Friday, March 24.BWW Review: Brave, Bold, and Beautiful SPRING AWAKENING at Lyric Music Theater March 20, 2017
South Portland's Lyric Music Theater is taking a bold and daring step in presenting the 2006 musical adaptation of Frank Wedekind's 1891 provocative play, Spring Awakening. The wrenching musical drama explores with a piercing honesty the lives of teenagers and their adult authority figures locked in a lethal struggle as the young men and women search for freedom of expression, sexual liberation and fulfillment, and the embrace of their true identities in a dark, corseted world of repression and convention.
The issues raised by Frank Wedekind's play remain as potent and relevant today as they did in the late 19th century, and the Steven Sater book and lyrics and Duncan Sheik music remain true to the essence of the piece. Wedekind's world - the world of Freud and nascent psychology - is a bleak place where adults abuse their children psychologically and physically, where creativity is stifled, and love - as a total expression of body and soul - is forbidden. In this dark universe, the young villagers long in secret and search for a path through the pain.VIDEO: Theatre Miniatures No. 4: Dustin Tucker March 18, 2017
Actor Dustin Tucker is a critically acclaimed and popular figure on the Portland, Maine, theatre scene. Known especially for his work at Portland Stage and the Theater at Monmouth, Tucker's artistic journey began in Amarillo, Texas, continued at Interlochen Arts Academy, and then on to Broadway, off-Broadway, and the national regional theatre scene. In recent years he has come to call Maine his home base.