BWW Review: Arts Bringing the Community Together: MIDCOAST MAINE'S GOT TALENT 2018
To an audience used to the likes of today's television talent show formats -The Voice, American Idol with their fiercely competitive, instant celebrity emphasis and often abrasive judging - the annual Midcoast Maine's Got Talent seems to hark back to a gentler era and a more positive model to showcase aspiring performers. Each year the Brunswick Rotary Club puts together this gala as a fundraiser for its social and civic programs, but also as a community service to help nurture the arts in Maine and to create an audience for the creativity and expression that artists provide.
This year's program focused on range and diversity: twenty-four acts that which included vocalists, dancers, instrumentalists, even cyclists, presented by performers spanning ages from elementary school to seasoned seniors, drawn from across the state of Maine - each of whom was chosen through a resume-based application process. The program, dynamically emceed by Maine State Music Theatre's Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark, was produced by Stacy Frizzle and a large committee of Rotarians, directed with tightly paced proficiency by Teresa Kelly-Gillis, and featured a nicely balanced sound design by Jud Caswell, pin-pointed lighting by Amie Howard, and a simple gold glitter décor by Carrie Orlando and Erin Vazdauskas. Steve Baldwin and Claudia Frost provided the able technical assistance.
The evening got of to a delightful start with a spirited and witty performance of "Comedy Tonight" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum by Maine's premier professional musical theatre company, Maine State Music Theatre and its cast of Cinderella. Curt Dale Clark anchored the number with his usual infectious charisma; Raymond Marc Dumont contributed the entertaining choreography, and Ben McNaboe accompanied gracefully on the piano.
The subsequent amateur performers demonstrated various levels of skill, depending on age and experience, but all exuded an inspiring aura of confidence, commitment, and a dedication to their craft. Among the evening's many highlights were Hannah Perreault's polished and passionate account of "Journey to the Past" from Anastasia, Julia Nadeau's sophisticated handling of "She Used to Be Mine" from Waitress, Brian Pelletier's compelling account of "This Is Me," Helena Schultz's soulful "You Lost Me," Juliet Frizzle's "keenly interpreted "Can I Be Her?," Elle Stevens' expressively choreographed and danced solo to "Unsteady," Jeannette Villanueva's accomplished vocal/guitar cover of "Tracks of My Tears," and Gemma Caswell and Marguerite Feiss-Benham in a witty rendition of "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better" from Annie Get Your Gun. Adding some unusual touches were the perennial audience favorite, the venerable Claude Bonang playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" on rhythm and bones instruments and the Woodside One Wheelers unicycling team lively combinations.
Other participants included vocalists Sloane Ovigele, Evelyn La Croix, Kaitlyn Prophett, Rory and Charlotte Wilson, Eli Chesaldine, Mahaley and Darin Hallett; singer-songwriters Erin Schott, John Grey, and Bob White; BJHS's a cappella girls' group, Miss Annabelle's dance team, guitarist/vocalist Paul Garrido and violinist Emily Sklar(and dancers from Becky Bec's Studio 48.
The evening left the audience with a positive feeling of shared community spirit and good fun - qualities much needed these days! But even more importantly, this Rotary project speaks to some significant shared values which make the Midcoast community so special: service, of course, but also, a love of and appreciation for the arts,and a belief in nurturing creativity, individual self-expression, as well as collaborative work.
Midcoast Maine does, indeed, have talent, but it has something just as precious: an understanding of the crucial role that the music, theatre, and all the arts play in a healthy, vibrant community.
Photos courtesy Brunswick Rotary, Teresa Kelly-Gillis
For more information on next season's Midcoast Maine's Got Talent or other Rotary programs, visit www.brunswickrotary.org