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Penobscot Theatre Company Announces MR. BEN'S PLAYHOUSE

Experience Bangor’s coolest new virtual hangout with a fun and engaging series for kids of all ages.

Penobscot Theatre Company Announces MR. BEN'S PLAYHOUSE

The Northeastern-most, year-round, professional theatre company in the country kicks off the new year with the long-awaited Mr. Ben's Playhouse! Activate your imagination and prepare for take-off as Mr. Ben and the Opera House Gang launch into the extraordinary world of theatre through five, fifteen-minute episodes, unveiled weekly starting Saturday, January 9th.

The series follows beloved, long-time Penobscot Theatre Company actor and director of education, Ben Layman, as 'Mr. Ben.' Layman approached producing artistic director Bari Newport last May with the idea of creating an original children's series that was a marriage of Mister Rogers and Pee Wee's Playhouse, centered around Penobscot Theatre Company's renowned Dramatic Academy. Newport loved the idea and hired actor, comedian, writer and filmmaker Brad LaBree to helm the production along with Kat Johnson, a multi-talented visual artist, actor and designer.

"I grew up with one of the greats - Mister Rogers," says LaBree. "And in this strange time the world is experiencing now, I thought about all the wonderful and kind lessons we learned during Mister Rogers and wondered how to put my own spin on it with the collaboration with so many theatre community members."

Community members who appear in episodes 1-5 include Penobscot Theatre Company favorites Christie Robinson, Allen Adams, Grace Livingston Kramer, Birdie Sawyer, Julie Arnold Lisnet, Jen Shepard, Zach Robbins and Ira Kramer. Bangor City Councilor Angela Okafor also visits Mr. Ben's Playhouse.

Each of the five, 15-minute episodes follows the narrative of one important theatre derived lesson, each of which is applicable far beyond the stage: imagination, listening, being heard, health & fitness, and empathy. The episodes are released each Saturday morning from January 9 - February 6. After each episode is released, it will be available for the duration of the run.

"We wanted to give children the opportunity to wake up early on a Saturday morning, make a bowl of cereal and sit down with something captivating, made just for them," says Newport. "We wanted to give kids the experience we had in the 70s and 80s with Saturday morning cartoons."

As producer, creative art director, puppet designer and puppet fabricator, Kat Johnson brings each episode of Mr. Ben's Playhouse to stunning, visual life. Drawing inspiration from the abstract design of Pee Wee's Playhouse and the familiar living room simplicity of Mister Rogers' neighborhood, Kat weaves waves of vibrant color and shapes to Mr. Ben's world.

Eight puppets make up Mr. Ben's colorful Opera House Gang: Rufus, Chops, Tony, Spidey, Roger, Spoony, Cassie, and Carol help to guide audiences through the thematic lessons of the series. With the gang hard at work audiences will meet and enjoy a few more surprise creatures along the journey.

Ethan Levesque of Northern Oak Media behind the camera and in the editing room. And brought to life with a catchy jingle written, engineered, and performed by actor/musician, Ira Kramer.

Mr. Ben's Playhouse is included in the Family Style subscription. Half-Season Family Style subscriptions are still available and also include The Tiniest Librarian (February 11 - 28) and Bee Parks and the Hornets (April 11 - May 2). Save $20 with a Half-Season Family Style subscription. Single, household tickets are $40 and grants access to all five episodes in the series. Tickets and subscriptions can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at (207) 942-3333.

Mr. Ben's Playhouse is made possible in part, through the generous support of Farrell, Rosenblatt, & Russell and Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications.

Portland Pie Company teams up with Penobscot Theatre Company to pair Mr. Ben's Playhouse with a Family Pizza night each Monday (January 11, 18, 25 and February 1 & 8) during the run of Mr. Ben's Playhouse. Mention 'Penobscot Theatre Company' at checkout and a percentage of proceeds will be donated back to the theatre company.

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