MSMT Creates Offstage Magic for Local Children
Creating magic on the Pickard main stage each summer is what Maine State Music Theatre does each season - and does with consummate skill. But increasingly in recent years, MSMT has been expanding its community outreach and finding ways to attract new audiences and serve diverse and often underserved constituencies. The latest endeavor in a long list of community events was to host a holiday party for the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters at the MSMT rehearsal studios on Saturday, December 9, 2017.
Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark, who is, himself, a member of the Bath-Brunswick Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, and the MSMT staff, Board, and volunteers put together an afternoon of games and social interaction that brought more than fifty youngsters and their big brothers and big sisters to the theatre's year-round home at 22 Elm Street in Brunswick. The afternoon featured card and board games, gingerbread house and cookie decorating, making GORP, painting tree ornaments and crafting miniature reindeer, as well as food, refreshments, and MSMT giveaway gift bags.
While not a performance per se, Clark sees events such as this one as an opportunity to meet the public and to introduce youngsters to MSMT. "Our theatre is a wonderful resource right here in this community, and it makes me happy to be able to show visitors our facilities and give them a peek at what goes on behind the scenes." Audience Services Manager Susie Sharp hosted the refreshments and was on hand along with other staff to answer questions about MSMT, its performances, and its upcoming season. One teenager shared with Sharp how thrilled she had been to see Newsies last summer on a student rush ticket. "I had seen it in New York, but this production was was even better! I could not believe how fabulous the dancing was!" she enthused.
Adding to the festive atmosphere were the ten elegantly decorated building windows - each with a different design - and the elaborate decorations in the large rehearsal hall - some fifteen stunningly decorated Christmas trees, lights, Menorahs, and other trappings of the season. The entire effect is strikingly theatrical and gives the visitor the impression of entering into a magical wonderland.
" I hope when folks come downtown to Hannaford's or wherever, they see the lights and the decorations and it puts them in the spirit of the season and brings them some joy," Clark says. "It's our little way of saying 'thank you' to the wonderful community of which we are a part." Expressing his thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters and their Program Director Aurora Hodgkins for partnering in the project, Clark adds, "When community organizations work together, everyone benefits."
Photos by Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold (used with permission of the subjects)