Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 7 : Winter 2011 - Page 17

Presque Isle Community Players by Sandy Gauvin Humble Beginnings What do a large musical like Guys and Dolls, a dinner theater tribute to the memorable songs from World War II, an original play written by a local playwright, and an intimate theatrical piece such as Love Letters with a cast of only two have in common? The answer is easy – they have all been staged by the Presque Isle Community Players, an active group of performing arts enthusiasts who have worked hard to bring a diverse mix of live theatre to the Central Aroostook Area for more than 20 years. Incorporated in 1989, the PICP was established for charitable, benevolent, educational, and professional purposes. “The purpose is for literary and cultural activities — fostering and developing an interest in theatre and its related activities, both for local audiences and for interested performers,” states Dan Ladner, one of the founders of The PICP. “The group wanted to offer alternatives to what the other local theatre groups were already doing. Because no other local theatre group was staging dinner theatre productions, the Players started there.” Founding members include Margaret Coffin, Julie Daly, Barbara Dempsey, Barb (Frick) Ladner, Dan Ladner, Rick Landeen, Cissy Libby, Jeanette Perry, Glenna Smith, and Sylvia Weinberg. The group now has a core membership of about 45 local residents and dozens of other volunteers who devote an incalculable number of hours to the process of putting on a show. Their upcoming performances feature current members in addition to some new talents. Veterans Jim and Twink Derosier join Claudia Stevens, Debbie Lamont, Sherry Sullivan, Frank Grant, Rod Thompson, Elaine Moody, Lin Chalou, Melbourne Smith, Mike Eisensmith, Sandy Gauvin, and Nadine Strelka.  Brian Lamont and Gary Bowden work diligently in the background, as do many others. Basics In order to provide quality, staging a performance requires much time, preparation, and skill – much more than is evident to the general public. The play and theme of a dinner theater are chosen about a year in advance, as is the director, the producer, the location, and dates of performance. Two-three months before curtain time, auditions are held, actors are chosen, and rehearsals begin. Performers begin by the cast learning blocking, dialogue, lyrics, and music. They learn songs and movements as well as lines. Initially, they meet twice a week to practice; however, soon, rehearsals are held three times a week until the week before opening night. That week, rehearsals are held each night. During this whole time, actors and other volunteers work on creating, building, and painting sets and finding props and costumes. Not only is there a lot of work in preparing for a performance, but there’s a tremendous amount of fun. One can always hear laughing and bantering back and forth, someone hitting a sour note just to be funny, or a bunch of people singing just WINTER 2011 Community Players 15