Friday, August 17, 2012

Ogunquit Playhouse & Maine Children’s Cancer Program Team Up

Jillian Dumais with Damn Yankees cast member Justin Flexen

Kids get chance to play ball with Damn Yankees cast

Story and Photo by Timothy Gillis
Staff Columnist

OGUNQUIT – The Maine Children’s Cancer Program visited the Ogunquit Playhouse this past Sunday, August 12, to catch a matinee edition of “Damn Yankees” and then play ball with the cast. It was a special day for several children as they got to meet the actors and actresses, team up with them in the field, and take their cracks at the bat.
The event, which took place on the field beside the playhouse, provided young cancer patients and their families a day’s respite from the ongoing battles.
“It was a fantastic day,” said Timothy Boynton, development manager for MCCP. “The families had a great time.” Also taking part in the festivities were physicians, board members, and staff members.
“The kids liked the play so much,” he said. “It’s all they’ve been talking about.” Part of the purpose of the event was to “keep cancer from getting in the way of kids being kids,” according to Boynton. “It’s great for them to be able to take a day off from thinking about being sick.”
The event is one of more than thirty that MCCP plans each year. Their big, annual walk is September 15, and they participate in the Maine Marathon, held on September 30.
Boynton was quick to point out that, contrary to most of their other functions, Sunday’s play and ballgame were not fundraising events, but the start of an important partnership.
“It’s the beginning of a relationship with the Playhouse,” he said. “We are a comprehensive cancer research center. We see fifty to sixty new children a year. We are currently treating 275 children with cancer right now, mostly from Maine. What’s unique about MCCP is that we focus on the whole family. Once someone is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is diagnosed with cancer. So we try to see the whole picture.

Lead Role on Injured Reserve for Ballgame
Sam Prince, who plays the lead role in Damn Yankees, had hurt his back during a scene in the performance when he jumps into a crash pad.
“It’s very safe. I just tweaked my back. I wish I could play, but I’m taking it easy.”
The minor injury was enough to keep him out off of the baseball game with the kids, but he could be seen cheering from the sidelines.
Prince, a 25-year-old actor from Garden of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is in his first production at Ogunquit Playhouse, and is visiting Maine for the first time as well. The scenic surroundings have certainly made an impression on him, though.
“I love Maine,” he said. “It reminds me of the north shore in Minnesota.” Prince received his musical theater degree from Oklahoma City University, where he studied opera.
Speaking about the baseball game with the children, Prince said this was one of the very reasons he got into acting.
“I wish we could do more of this, where we have theater and then talk to the kids after. It’s how I got started. Kids get starry-eyed,” he said. “It was cool to see myself in them.
Next up for Prince, he will head to New York where he’s got some leads on some acting contracts. Prince said national celebrity Carson Kressley, who plays the devil, has been fun to work with.
“He’s a great person, a very nice man. We’d had good times on stage and off.”
Prince said he has eaten lobster every other day since he’s been here for the play’s run.