Friday, May 28, 2010

Ogunquit Playhouse Gets “A Big Face Lift”

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
People attending plays at the Ogunquit Playhouse this year will be the beneficiaries of something they likely will not notice. During the off season, the Playhouse undertook a total reconstruction of its stage area and rigging counter weight system, upgrading the entire area with state of the art infrastructure and expanding the area of the stage floor. The project will permit the Playhouse to produce a wider array of plays than has been the case even in the recent past.
“The old girl got a big face lift,” said Executive Artistic Director Brad Kenney. “The rigging has 30 percent more ability to (lift). It’s state of the art with clean, manageable lines that can hold a myriad of things. And there’s an extra 12-foot depth at the center of the stage. That’s important for shows like “Chicago” and “The Sound of Music.”
Board member Peter Lewis helped oversee the work of the project.
“We tore out the stage, the cat walk - everything back stage has been replaced or fixed,” said Lewis. “In the last five years, shows have been a lot “heavier,” with more weight for the props. We replaced the old wooden infrastructure with a steel superstructure. We replaced the counterweight system. We now have the most sophisticated counterweight there is. This was a restoration of a system that needed to be replaced. We couldn’t have opened this year without this project. We were compromising the building.”
Project planning began in September 2009, with actual work beginning just after the first of the year. It was finished May 19. Scott Teas of TFH Architects of Portland designed the steel superstructure. Jim Stockman of Lighting Design, Inc. of Kennebunkport served as consultant for safety, operations, and efficiency. Paul Nolan of Major Theater of Quincy, Mass. designed and installed the rigging counterweight system. Warren Construction of South Freeport did the work.
“We used a professional review team,” Lewis said. “They worked with the board and staff and built it out for the next 20 years. It’s been built to accommodate wind shear and seismic activity. This structure would save this portion of the building in an earthquake. The steel posts go eight feet into the ground.”
Given that the work took place over the winter, a key decision was to build an extensive ramp into the rear of the building to transport the heavy equipment.
“We didn’t have to take the roof off in the winter to do the work,” Lewis said. “We brought the heavy equipment inside.”
This project follows on the heels of an upgrade to the building’s electrical system that was done four years ago. More work is planned.
“We have three, five, and 10 year vision plans,” Lewis said. “Things like enhancing the children’s theater to building a mezzanine in here, maybe winter offices. Additional seats would be a big thing.”
All of that requires planning and money. “The cost of this renovation was more than the original amount paid to John Lane (to purchase it),” Kenney said. “The project was under budget and on time. The building has been protected.”
Photo caption: Renovations at the Ogunquit Playhouse included installation of a state of the art rigging counter weight system. (Courtesy photo)

Veterans Families Honored in Blue Star Service Banner Presentation

It is an American tradition to display a Blue Star Service Banner in the window of your home when a son or daughter is proudly serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Blue Star Service Banner was designed and patented in 1917 by World War I Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the 5th Ohio Infantry. Queisser’s two sons served on the front line. His banner quickly became the unofficial symbol for parents with a child in active military service. When displayed, the Blue Star Banner is a reminder to all of us that war touches every neighbor and every neighborhood.
Charles S. Hatch Post # 79 recently honored the families of twenty-two men and women from Berwick who are currently serving on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces. The family members of these service personnel were presented with Blue Star Banners for display in their homes. The blue star represents one family member serving, and a banner can have up to five stars. Banners with two blue stars were presented to Peter and Pattie Anderson for daughters Kayla and Kellie and to Paul and Peggy Diego, for sons Nicholas and Paul.
Blue Star Service Banners with a single star were presented to Glenda Gallant for SFC Raymond Bragdon, USA; Richard and Karen Cordier for SPC Patricia Cordier, USA; Donald and Gail Fortin for SSG Craig Durand, USA; Wendy Glick for 1Lt Warnie Glick, USA; Rick and Jacqueline Mueller for Timothy Mueller; Craig and Cynthia Plaisted for SN Cameron Plaisted, USN; John and Cynthia Poulin for SSG Zachary Poulin, USA.
Other Berwick personnel serving in the U.S. Armed Forces include PFC James Best, III, USA; CW4 Michael Derevjanik, USCG; Ryan Decker, USA; SGT William Gagnon, USA; Capt Linda Grant, USN, LT Matthew Hook, Geoffrey Koppel, SGT Andrew Marini, PFC Alicia Nutter, USA; Eric Ryea and Kevin Weeden.
Blue Star Service Banners were delivered to the families who could not attend the formal presentation.
Photo caption: A portion of the members of the families representing 22 individuals from Berwick presently serving on active duty with the U. S. Armed Forces who received Blue Star Banners from Charles S. Hatch Post #79. Seated (l-r) Gail Fortin, Jacqueline Mueller, Cynthia Plaisted, Lorraine Grant, Wendy Gick, Kim Tetu. Standing (l-r) Rick Mueller, John Poulin, Cynthia Poulin, Craig Plaisted, Glenda Gallant, Patty Anderson, Karen Cordier, Richard Cordier, Jr. (Courtesy photo)

Local Towns Observe Memorial Day with Parades, Services

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Memorial Day will be marked by parades, speeches, and the laying of wreaths at memorials to those who fought and died in America’s Wars.
High and middle school bands will take part in the ceremonies and parades in most Southern Maine towns as will members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, police and fire departments and scouts of all ages.
Veterans of the more recent conflicts will also take part in the parades, most of which will conclude with ceremonies at war memorials or cemeteries.
VFW members, in some cases with the help of local scouts, have placed American flags on the graves of veterans in both public and private cemeteries. In South Berwick and York alone more than 2,000 flags have been placed honoring veterans.
Speakers for the events this year include Cmdr. Paul L. Dinius, captain of the USS Helena that is undergoing overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Cmdr. Dinius will speak in South Berwick, the host town of the Helena.
In York, Sgt. Maj. Andrew Binger, United States Marine Corp, retired, will speak and in Eliot the speaker will be Retired United States Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Downer.
The Second Annual Memorial Day Concert and Ceremony will be held at noon Saturday at Fort McClary State Park on Pepperrell Road in Kittery Point.
The original Memorial Day, then known as Decoration Day, was proclaimed by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1868 calling for the placing of flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was first called Memorial Day in 1882 and was then so proclaimed by President Johnson.
A partial list of parades and ceremonies planned for Monday include:
9 a.m. Parade from the Elementary School with services at the library following the smaller services at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Brooks Cemetery.
1:45 p.m. Parade from Town Hall to Mousam River Bridge for services in memory of sailors and Marines. Parade to memorial monument for ceremonies and decoration.
9 a.m. Parade from the ambulance station on Walker Street to Orchard Grove Cemetery.
11 a.m. Parade from Bourne Lane on Shore Road to the square and Ogunquit River Bridge for remembrance of those lost at sea ceremony. Parade to Veteran’s Park for additional ceremony.
10 a.m. Bicycles decoration contest for K-3 students at Central School. 10:30 VFW Color Guard ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial at Town Hall. 11 a.m. Parade from Central School to the War Memorial at Portland Street.
9 a.m. Parade from Wells High School to Wells Corner and on to Ocean View Cemetery.
9 a.m. Parade from St. Christopher’s Church in York Village to First Parish Cemetery with laying of wreaths at memorials along the route.