Friday, July 11, 2008

Neil Sedaka Surprises, Delights Playhouse Crowd

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
An American music icon graced the stage of America’s foremost summer theater on Tuesday night. Prolific songwriter Neil Sedaka, author of multiple #1 hits on the Billboard charts and an artist immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, thrilled a packed house in a surprise appearance at the Ogunquit Playhouse.
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” the production currently at the Playhouse, was inspired by Sedaka’s music, and features 19 of his hit songs, some that date back as far as 1958. During the introduction of Tuesday’s performance, Playhouse Executive Artistic Director Bradford Kenney alerted the audience to Sedaka’s presence among them, noting that his songs contribute to “the fabric of American culture.” At the conclusion of the show, Sedaka joined the cast onstage and received a standing ovation. “To see my songs come alive is a great thrill,” he said, “it was a marvelous production, I want to see it on Broadway!” Sedaka then led the audience in an impromptu singing of his hit song “Love Will Keep Us Together,” while laughing and exclaiming, “What’s the key? I didn’t rehearse! It’s not my key!”
Following the show Sedaka, 69, sat down with The Weekly Sentinel at a Gala party in his honor held at one of Ogunquit’s finest restaurants, Five-O.
Sedaka provided background on the play, explaining “The directors approached me two and a half years ago with the idea, and I gave them 200 of my songs to work with…My mother-in-law owned “Esther’s Manor” in the Catskills of New York, which is where the play takes place.”
Regarding his longevity, Sedaka said “I write songs and I sing because I love it and I never get tired of performing to a live audience…It’s wonderful to be able to play a Beethoven sonata, but even better to travel the world as an American musical ambassador. I put my heart into the songs and performances, I can’t do anything else, I’m terrible at everything else…I write things that are emotional and chaplinesque, songs that are singable and memorable.”
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” is at the Ogunquit Playhouse through July 12th. Information is available at or by calling 646-5511.
Read the article on the Ogunquit Playhouse website!

Caption: Neil Sedaka leads the cast of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” in an impromptu performance of one of his hit songs at the Ogunquit Playhouse. (Courtesy photo)

“Holiday” Brings Independent Retirement Living
to Southern Maine

By Joe Hessert
Staff Columnist
Retirement is supposed to be fun, relaxing and enjoyable – that’s the way Holiday Retirement has felt since 1971 and it’s a feeling that they plan to share with the communities of Southern Maine. Their new Kittery Estates complex, opening this fall at 220 State Road, will provide a lifestyle option where Holiday’s live-in staff does ‘all the work and [their tenants] do all the living.’
It’s an approach that has served them well and has impressed Greg Rydza who recently moved to Kittery with his wife, Susan. The Rydzas are one of three sets of managers who will live on site and be on-call to Kittery Estates’ residents 24 hours a day. “It’s a great company,” said Greg who managed Windham Falls in Groton, CT for Holiday before moving to Maine. “Any time there was an issue in Groton the head of the company asked me ‘What’s the right thing to do for the resident?’ and that’s what we did.”
North America’s largest provider of independent retirement living, Holiday has over 300 retirement communities across the United States and Canada and each one has guest rooms where vacationing members are welcome to stay free of charge. So retirees living in Kittery Estates have no-cost reservations at Bear Canyon Estates in New Mexico, Victoria Park in Alberta or Augustine Landing in Florida. Holiday also has two communities in Hawaii, which are popular destinations for residents at Holiday communities across the country.
And whether residents are vacationing at a Holiday location or coming home from a free bus trip to the Ogunquit Playhouse, they’ll have a warm gourmet meal cooked from scratch by one of Holiday’s world-class chefs waiting for them. In Kittery, Executive Chef Michael Rosenberg will be preparing three delicious meals for residents every day. And that’s just part of the appeal of Holiday living, said Rydza. There is a housekeeping service free to all residents in addition to the beauty salon, exercise room, free bus trips and more. “People will move into Kittery Estates,” Greg joked, “and never having to run to the store to buy toilet paper again. We take care of that too.”
Another reason that communities like Kittery Estates have become so popular is the community outreach opportunities that they provide to residents. Holiday’s Seniors Serving Seniors and Seniors Serving Society programs were named Most Innovative Programs of the Year in 2005 and 2007 by the International Council on Active Aging. That’s good news for the communities of southern Maine. Residents at Kittery Estates will have the opportunity to share their time and knowledge by helping school children learn to read, collecting food donations for local food banks, working with Habitat for Humanity and supporting Maine troops abroad.
Kittery Estates is the third Holiday Retirement facility to be built in Maine, following Sunbury Village in Bangor and The Woods at Canco in Portland. For more information about retirement at Kittery Estates contact managers Susan and Gregory Rydza at 207-438-9111, visit or stop by their business office at 99 State Road in Kittery.

Caption: An artist’s rendering of Kittery Estates. (Holiday Retirement photo)

The Howe Brothers

Ripsaw Showcases Local Brothers’ Talent
By Joe Hessert
Staff Columnist
Identical twin brothers Mike and Geoff Howe have been building things together since they were children growing up in Augusta. “We were always taking stuff apart and putting things together,” said Mike in his office at Howe & Howe Technologies located on route 236 in Eliot. “We really didn’t receive toys as kids,“ added Geoff with a smile, “we got tools.”
Their first project together of any size was a log cabin that they built when they were eight.
And now the brothers have a new project. The federal government, at the urging of Senator Susan Collins, has invested three million dollars to support the Howe brothers as they develop, construct, test and procure their 6,500 pound robotic “Ripsaw MS-1” vehicle that does zero to 50 mph in 5.5 seconds and has no problem hurdling over sand dunes or crashing through small buildings.
Designed to work by remote to scout out combat zones and keep American troops out of harm’s way, the Ripsaw MS-1 (which underwent its first public test run at a site in Lebanon this week) is the product of years of hard work for Mike and Geoff, who started collaborating on it in 2000 before they had any financial support.
“We both had day jobs when we started working on it,” said Geoff, who mortgaged his house to help purchase materials to build their original Ripsaw.
In a way, though, this project started long before 2000. Both of the Howe’s grandfathers served in the military and their paternal grandfather, Sydney W. Howe, was wounded in north Africa when his troop carrier exploded. “He went into the service at 18,” said Geoff, “a great looking, strong young man.” And while he survived the explosion, Sydney was horribly disfigured.
“I love the Ripsaw,” said Geoff, “But blow it up. Blow up twenty of them if it will prevent one proverbial knock on the door for the mother of one of our soldiers.”
And with any luck that’s exactly what the Howe’s vehicle will do: save the lives of American troops.
Having the support of Senator Collins and the federal government has allowed their project to progress to the completion of MS-1 (Military Spec 1) – the first of three phases of development, the toughest of which will be getting the vehicle ready for procurement where it will have to pass a rigorous assault of tests at the US Army Aberdeen Test Center, the premier test facility in the world.
“The vehicle is built. That’s the easy part,” Geoff joked.
But he and Mike couldn’t be more serious about seeing this project through and bringing jobs to Maine by contracting Maine companies to build Ripsaws for the Department of Defense.
In the meantime, said Geoff, it’s satisfying to take the Ripsaw out of the garage for test runs. Seeing what he and his brother have built together this time – watching the vehicle in action and witnessing what their creation is capable of doing – is his favorite part of the job.
For more information visit or to speak with Mike or Geoff call 439-0990.

Caption:Mike and Geoff Howe stand with the Ripsaw in progress. (Weekly Sentinel photo)