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August 24th

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WORLD PREMIERE OF ORIGINAL MAINE MUSICAL: THE LAST FERRYMAN BY PAUL SULLIVAN AT THE STONINGTON OPERA HOUSE

New commission tells the true Down East Maine story of the creation, during the Great Depression, of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge and its lasting impact on Maine’s second largest island

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Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House (OHA) is proud to announce the world premiere of an original Maine popera: The Last Ferryman, August 14-24, 2014. OHA commissioned music and lyrics for the new theatrical work, which celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge, from Grammy Award-winning, Maine-based pianist Paul Sullivan, and book and research from Linda Britt of the University of Maine at Farmington. The production features four Actors Equity opera singers based in Boston and New York City, portraying characters based on historic community figures including Charlie Scott, whose family ran the ferry across Eggemoggin Reach for more than 100 years; Frank McGuire, to whom the bridge is dedicated; and his wife, Annie. The piece, which has been in development for more than a year, was conceived of by OHA founding directors Judith Jerome and Linda Nelson. Jerome is the director for the production, which will include choreography by Gretchen Berg and Gwyneth Jones of the Portland-based Berg, Jones & Sarvis dance company. Sullivan will conduct and play keyboard in a three-piece pit orchestra for the show.

“The experience of live theater—real people on stage, music, dancing, sets and lighting—can be transformative,” said Nelson, the Artistic Director for the new musical. “In developing original theater at the Opera House, we like to explore how change functions in and impacts our communities—and also how we can use theater as a mirror for our lives, to understand and to celebrate the things that make our coastal Maine communities so unique.”

Jerome, Nelson, and Britt, in collaboration with the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society and many community members, delved into the archives for information on how the bridge was created and funded. Several song lyrics and pieces of dialogue were drawn directly from newspaper reports on the bridge during the time of its construction. Additionally, OHA collected oral histories with students through a year-long educational project exploring the history of the bridge at the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School. These stories and more have been used to create portraits of key historic island figures, including the Scotts and the McGuires, as well as Raymond Small, treasurer of the Bridge District, Ralph Barter, Lewis Tewksbury, Dr. B. Lake Noyes and other members of the Stonington Lions Club, a primary advocacy group for the bridge.

"The 1930's were a fascinating and troubled time in this country," Jerome noted. "And so much of our existing infrastructure -- highways, bridges, trails and more -- were built as a way to pull the country out of the Great Depression and the 25% unemployment it created."

Opera House Arts’ coined the term “popera,” for popular opera, with its original musical version of Robert McCloskey’s childrens book, “Burt Dow, Deep Water Man” in 2010. The directors see The Last Ferryman as an extension of this genre original to their work at the Stonington Opera House.

New York City-based singer JASON MARTIN, a four-octave tenor, stars in the title role as Charlie Scott, whose family ran the Eggemoggin Reach ferry from Sargentville to Deer Isle for more than 100 years. MARVIN MERRITT, a high school junior from the island, plays SAMMY, Charlie’s real-life assistant and adopted son. PAUL FARWELL, a Boston-based bass-baritone, plays Frank McGuire, who owned the Settlement Quarry in Stonington and helped to spearhead the bridge from the passage of the first legislation in 1933 to his untimely death in 1937. DONATA CUCINOTTA, an operatic soprano from the New York City area, plays Frank’s wife, Annie; and EMILY HECHT, a mezzo-soprano from Boston, has helped to create the fictional character of Lucia, based on some of the Italian families who immigrated to Stonington to work in the quarries. The cast also includes many community favorites, as well as a six-member children’s chorus ranging in age from eight to eleven years old.

Pianist and composer PAUL SULLIVAN has made Maine his home for the past 25 years. Since living here he has continued to tour the world with the Paul Winter Consort, won a Grammy Award, composed pieces for dance companies and advertising agencies, and produced and distributed 20 recordings on his River Music Label. Three of these recordings have won National Indie Awards. Before moving to Maine Paul played jazz at some of New York’s most prestigious clubs, and was involved with numerous Broadway and Off Broadway productions.

JASON MARTIN’s (Charlie Scott) regional theater credits include: "Twelfth Night", "Macbeth", "To Kill A Mockingbird", "Adventures of Tom Sawyer", and "A Christmas Carol" (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); "36 Views" (Quantum Theatre); "Offenbach" (Bard Summerscape Festival). NY credits include: "Twelfth Night" and "As You Like It" with Classic Stage Company's Young Company. TV/Film include: "The Knick" (upcoming for HBO/Cinemax, produced/directed by Steven Soderbergh), "Child Eater" (upcoming Erlingur Ottar feature), "You Can't Kill Stephen King" (Loco Dawn Films), and "The Onion News Network" (IFC Network). Jason has an MFA from Columbia University and BA from Pepperdine University.

DONATA CUCINOTTA (Annie McGuire) has been honored as Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Finalist and made her Lincoln Center Debut at Avery Fisher Hall last year. Her Off-Broadway credits include “Yeoman of the Guard” (Ensemble), “¡Figaro 90210!” (Roxanne) Regional: “Sweeney Todd” (Johanna), “HMS Pinafore” (Josephine), “Pirates of Penzance” (Mabel), “The Firefly” (Nina), “The Gondoliers” (Fiametta), “Die Fledermaus” (Adele), “Pride and Prejudice” (Anne de Bourgh), “South Pacific” (ENS Dinah Murphy), “A Chorus Line” (Cassie), “Unfinished Sermons” (Mrs Simposon), “Merry Widow” (Hanna u/s), and “Most Happy Fella” (Rosabella u/s).

PAUL D. FARWELL (Frank McGuire) recently appeared in the Huntington Theater Company's acclaimed production of "Our Town", directed by David Cromer. Other credits include work with Gloucester Stage Company, New Repertory Theatre, Freeport Shakespeare Festival, Lyric Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Wheelock Family Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, North Shore Music Theatre, Publick Theater and Merrimack Repertory Theatre.

EMILY HECHT (Lucia) has performed in theatre all over the East Coast, and sings with two bands. She graduated from Harvard University in 2011 with an English/Dramatic Arts degree. Ticket prices for the eight performances August 14-24 range in price from $35 for premium reserved seating to Island Students Free, and include fixed income and other discounts. Thanks to the generosity of its donors, OHA is able, for this production, to extend its popular Island Students Free program to students from Brooklin and Sedgwick schools who, with Deer Isle-Stonington, make up School Union 76.


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THE BAROQUE ORCHESTRA OF MAINE FEATURED IN OPERA HOUSE ARTS’ CHAMBER AT THE CHURCH SERIES IN STONINGTON

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The Baroque Orchestra of Maine, better known as BOOM, will be featured in a dynamic, multi-media concert in Opera House Arts’ Chamber at the Church series Tuesday, August 26 at 7 pm.

In this special, one-night only program, the world-class baroque musicians of BOOM bring to life some of the fundamental patterns found throughout nature, exploring through baroque music, poetry, visual art, and Cymatics the themes of beauty, balance and conversation. The program includes the music of Biber, Corelli, Locke and more played on baroque violin, cello and harp; live recitations by Maine poet Jeff Volk; films of both Cymatics and artists collaborative 'Colors in Motion,' "Conversations" by visual artist Ann Provan, and more woven into an unforgettable tapestry of sound, color and spoken word. The video clips include excerpts from Volk’s award-winning documentary film, Of Sound Mind and Body: Music and Vibrational Healing, which features Kay Gardner, a legendary Stonington musician who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 60 in 2002.

Violinist RACHEL EVANS has been a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, jazz group String Fever, contemporary music ensemble Continuum, and the Meridian Quartet. She was a principal player and recitalist at the Carmel Bach Festival for many years and appeared in chamber ensembles at the Boston, Berkeley, and Utrecht Early Music Festivals, Charles Ives Festival in Germany and the Victoria Festival in Australia, and The Leopold Mozart Festival in Germany.

CHRISTINE GUMMERE has been playing baroque cello since 1985, when she was invited by harpsichordist James Richman to be principal cellist for Concert Royal. She has also performed with Concordia, a chamber symphony led by Marin Alsop; String Fever, a string swing band; and the Riverside Symphony, an orchestra specializing in 20th century music, where she was principal cellist for 19 years.

CHRISTA PATTON is an historical harpist and early wind specialist. She has performed, recorded, and toured the Americas, Europe, and Japan with many of today’s outstanding early music ensembles, including Apollo’s Fire, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, the Folger Consort, the New York State Baroque Orchestra, Early Music New York. Christa is co-director and musical director of the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College specializing in the works of early 17th century composers.

JEFF VOLK is a poet, producer, and the publisher of books and videos about Cymatics, a science that demonstrates how audible sound creates harmonic, geometric patterns found throughout nature and in the sacred art and architecture of the world's Wisdom Traditions. His documentary, Of Sound Mind and Body: Music and Vibrational Healing, won the 1992 Hartley Film Award through the Institute of Noetic Sciences and features the work of musician Kay Gardner, former Stonington resident. Volk founded The International Sound Colloquium in 1993, which became the premier conference exploring trans-cultural practices of sacred sound and healing music.

ANN PROVAN’s paintings, sculpture, and installations investigate the perception of space through relationships of organic and geometric forms. Provan grew up in Berkeley, California and attended the Ecole des Beaux Art in Paris. She received a Masters in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been shown at the New Museum in New York City and in galleries throughout the U.S. and world, most recently at Das Verborgene Museum in Berlin in 2013. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Oregon, Franklin Furnace, and private collections.

Opera House Arts’ Chamber at the Church Series is held at its historic, restored, 1870 Burnt Cove Church facility at 17 Airport Road in Stonington. Parking and facilities are limited.


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OPERA HOUSE ARTS ANNOUNCES 15TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON FEATURING ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS ON THE THEME OF TRANSFORMATION AND CHANGE

Special season will also celebrate retirement of founding Artistic Director Judith Jerome



Opera House Arts (OHA) is pleased to announce major programs and dates for its 15th anniversary season, including two original theatrical productions in summer 2014. The upcoming season will also celebrate the work and honor the retirement of founding Artistic Director Judith Jerome on November 1, 2014. The theme of OHA’s 2014 season—which is also the 75th anniversary of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge, connecting the Stonington Opera House’s home to the mainland—is Transformation and Change, reflecting both the large cultural change represented by the bridge opening, as well as the structural change of the Opera House in Jerome’s retirement.

The season will be anchored by two original theatrical productions. Beginning July 3, OHA will unveil a special Shakespeare in Stonington production featuring a new play by OHA affiliated artist Melody Bates. Titled R&J&Z (Romeo & Juliet & Zombies), the production was developed over two years of artist residencies in the community and school, in repertory with an original production of the Bard’s masterwork, Romeo and Juliet.

On August 14, OHA will premiere The Last Ferryman, directed by Jerome, a new “popera” commissioned by OHA from Grammy Award winner Paul Sullivan to tell the story of the creation and impact of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge. Like R&J&Z, The Last Ferryman is the culmination of year-long school and community research and participation. The opening of the bridge, connecting Stonington and the extended community to the mainland, represented an enormous cultural change.

“These programs are fitting ways to celebrate Judith’s retirement,” said Richard Howe, chairman of the Opera House Arts’ Board of Directors. “They highlight the originality, creativity, and community engagement at the heart of OHA’s mission and the program she has helped to develop so strongly over 15 very busy years.”

The opening of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge 75 years ago, on June 19, 1939, was a moment of huge cultural change for Deer Isle and its primary economic center, Stonington. Dependent until then on the kindnesses of weather and ferry service, islanders access to the mainland, including to critical medical services, was often blocked by time (the ferry stopped running at 6 p.m.) or temperature (Eggemoggin Reach froze over several winters in the period just before the bridge opened, making crossing dangerous or impossible). Through its year long The Bridge Project/The Last Ferryman, a close collaboration with the schools both on the island and across the bridge in Sedgwick as well as with the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society, OHA seeks to give community members, participants, and audiences a chance to study, understand, and discuss major community change, and the ways communities deal with broad cultural shifts such as this.

Likewise, the development of Melody Bates’ original script, R&J&Z, which takes off from Act V of Romeo and Juliet and introduces the concept of traditional Haitian notions of zombie-ism to Shakespeare’s tragedy of star-crossed lovers, and is also deeply integrated with school and community while exploring a moment of significant cultural change. Romeo and Juliet are the new, young generation of Montagues and Capulets: and they don’t fit. Are they doomed to extinction, or does the metaphor, magic, and horror of R&J&Z open for us the possibility that their tale lives on in perpetuity, a gateway to a new world order? In collaboration with the Deer Isle-Stonington High School, both scripts are part of a year long “Shakespeare Immersion” program, sponsored by OHA, for students in grades 9-12, in which all island students are reading Romeo and Juliet and having multiple opportunities to see performances and films of it, as well as to participate in the development of R&J&Z.

OHA’s 15th anniversary season begins November 1, 2013, the start of its new fiscal year. In addition to the large original summer performances, it includes a very special Valentine’s Day concert by the Daponte String Quartet, Whirlwind Romance; in March, the premiere of a solo performance developed from Chapter 7 of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, also celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014; in April the premiere of a one hour, educational cabaret version of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s Sweet Sixteen; and a concert version of West Side Story as OHA’s Annual Gala Benefit on July 7.

“I’m very proud of how much original programming we have in development this year,” said Jerome. “Commissioning and developing new performance relevant to our particular communities is at the heart of what we do, and we’ve more in the pipeline as we look toward 2015 and beyond.”

JUDITH JEROME is one of four founding members of Opera House Arts, founded in 1999 to restore the 1912 Stonington Opera House, on the National Register of Historic Places, to its central role as a community arts institution at the heart of Stonington’s Main Street and working waterfront. She shared Artistic Director duties with founding co-Artistic Director CAROL ESTEY through 2006. Jerome holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, for which she was awarded the Monroe Lippman Award for Distinguished Dissertation in 2007. She began her performance career in the bosom of her large storytelling Texas family, and then with the renowned Dallas Little Theater in 1956. She raised three daughters and performed in most of the theaters in Denver, CO in the two decades leading up to her move to New York in 1995, writing and performing much of her own material. She worked closely with the Colorado Council on the Arts, as a visiting artist in schools and communities, as a teaching artist with the Colorado Aesthetic Education Institute, and as a supervisor of artist’s residencies. In New York City she has performed at Dixon Place, HERE, Peculiar Works Projects, among others. She was managing editor of Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Studies from 1996-1999, and taught as an adjunct professor at NYU before helping to found Opera House Arts. At the Opera House, in addition to her role as Artistic Director, she is known for both her stage performances (Lace, a solo spoken word piece detailing island geneology; The Ferry Musicals: the Moose Boy; The Duck Variations) and direction (Women and the Sea; Last Gas).

While retiring from her administrative duties as Artistic Director, Jerome will continue with OHA as a member of its Board of Directors and on an annual consulting retainer to direct special projects. In response to Jerome’s retirement, OHA will restructure staffing along more traditional lines for a theater of its size, naming current Executive Director Linda Nelson as Producing Artistic Director and creating additional administrative staff lines reporting to Nelson for development, marketing, and artistic support.

Opera House Arts (OHA) is one of only a handful of year-round theaters in Maine to operate under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract. OHA not only presents but commissions and produces new work from Maine artists. The Opera House, part of the Maine Performs network, has become a noted destination for performance in Maine. Showing movies nearly continuously since 1918, the Opera House converted to true digital cinema in March 2013 and is open 52 weeks a year with a full schedule of film and exciting original events unlike the schedule of any other theater in Maine.


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