Friday, February 25, 2011

Jayme McDaniel Joins Ogunquit Playhouse as New Associate Producer

The Ogunquit Playhouse is pleased to announce the appointment of Jayme McDaniel to the position of Associate Producer. Jayme McDaniel is well acquainted with the Ogunquit Playhouse; in 2009 he directed and choreographed the highly acclaimed production of “Singin’ in the Rain,” for which he received an IRNE nomination for his choreography and in 2001 appeared in “42nd Street.” Until recently, Jayme was the Associate Artistic Director at the Ordway in St. Paul, Minnesota. As Associate Producer, Jayme will oversee all theatrical operations for the 79-year-old company, named by the press as “America’s Foremost Summer Theatre.” Responsibilities will include the supervision of all casting, production coordination, hiring of stage managers, company management, music directors and all technical crew.
Executive Artistic Director, Bradford Kenney stated, “Having Jayme McDaniel continue his close relationship with the Playhouse, now as one of the leaders of our theatrical operations, is an outstanding opportunity for the Ogunquit Playhouse. Jayme’s broad experience in top-level regional non-profit and commercial theatre operations will further enhance the Ogunquit Playhouse’s position and relationships in the American Theatre Community.”
Jayme McDaniel has vast experience as director and choreographer for many of our nation’s most respected Regional theatres including North Shore Music Theatre, the Ordway Center, Paper Mill Playhouse, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, 5th Ave Theatre, as well as on Broadway. He also enjoyed acting in his early career, which included performing at the Ogunquit Playhouse during its Summer Stock days. Most notably, Jayme was the Director/Choreographer on the final national tour of “Hello, Dolly!” with Carol Channing. In 2007, the Minneapolis Star Tribune lauded him as the Outstanding Director of a Musical.
Upon receiving the news that he was selected as the new Associate Producer for the Playhouse, Jayme stated, “I have had Playhouse fever ever since performing in “42nd Street!” I love the Playhouse, love the town and am most happy and grateful to return to the wonderful Ogunquit Playhouse as the new Associate Producer.”
Five main stage musicals are slated for the 2011 season at the Ogunquit Playhouse, running twenty-two weeks from May 25 through October 23. The season includes the new Broadway hit musical “Legally Blonde,” “Miss Saigon,” “Summer of Love,” a Golden-Age Broadway classic and a Best Musical of the year cutting-edge Broadway hit we can’t announce yet!
The Ogunquit Playhouse is America’s Foremost Summer Theatre, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, producing the finest Broadway musicals each season, with performances Tuesday through Sunday, from May 25 to October 23, 2011. Main Stage tickets go on sale late March and range in price from $47-$75 per show. Gift Certificates, Flex-Passes and Season Subscriptions are on sale now! For a complete list of show times, pricing and more information about the season, visit our website Tickets on-line or through the box office at 207-646-5511.
Photo caption: Jayme McDaniel recently joined Ogunquit Playhouse staff as the new Associate Producer. (Courtesy photo)

Women Veterans Honored with Plaque at State House

Democratic and Republican lawmakers dedicated a permanent bronze plaque to honor Maine women veterans at a ceremony at the State House on February 18. Lawmakers worked with the Maine Veterans Service to raise more than $50,000 for the plaque and to compile the first recorded list of women veterans in the state.
More than two hundred and fifty people attended the ceremony to hang the plaque in the State House Hall of Flags in a prominent position among existing plaques honoring veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. There are 10,000 Maine women veterans but no recorded list existed prior to this effort.
The plaque design depicts Maine women who served in different U.S. military capacities over four centuries. This included Hannah Watts Weston, a Revolutionary War patriot, Emily W. Dana, a Civil War nurse, Patricia A. (Chadwick) Erickson, a World War II Army Air Force Service pilot, and Sgt. Annette M. Bachman, a soldier in the Maine Army National Guard who served in the War on Terrorism.
Silver commemorative coins with the image from the plaque were given to all Maine women veterans who attended the event in a show appreciation for their sacrifices.
Photo caption: Rep. Cain sings National Anthem at ceremony to honor Maine Women veterans. (Courtesy photo)

Lewia Selected For Maine Principal’s Award

Wells High School Principal James Daly has announced that senior Meaghan Lewia has been selected to receive the Maine Principals’ Award for 2011 from the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA).
Every year, the MPA seeks out outstanding seniors for recognition from high schools across Maine. The selection of one student is done at each participating high school, usually by the principal.
“Meaghan Lewia is a tremendous kid,” wrote WHS Principal Daly recently when asked to comment. “She is a great role model for our younger students. She is a star in the classroom, athletic field, and community. I am very proud of her efforts over the last four years.”
According to the Maine Principal’s Association, “The criteria for this award are academic excellence, and outstanding school citizenship.”
On April 2, recipients of the award and their school principals will gather in Bangor at the Spectacular Event Center for a luncheon. At that time, students will receive a plaque and a pin from their school principal plus they will have a chance to win one of five $1,000 scholarships.
“It’s an honor,” said Lewia in an interview when asked how she felt to have been picked. In her comments she added, “I just worked hard to consistently do my best and do everything I can to improve and push myself to be the best that I can be and feel good about it.”
During her high school career, Lewia has been Class Vice President, a member of Interact, and has played soccer, basketball and softball. In the summer, she has worked at the Beachcomber in Wells.
“Meaghan is a well-rounded student that has taken advantage of the optimal opportunities at Wells High School,” wrote Principal Daly in a letter to her parents. “Meaghan is truly deserving of this award for both her academic accomplishments as well as her citizenship.”
After high school, Lewia says she plans to attend Colby College where she would like to major in both math and science with a goal of working in biomedical engineering. In college, Lewia also plans to continue playing softball.
Meaghan Lewia is the daughter of Scott Lewia and Eileen Sheehy of Wells.
Photo caption: WHS student Meaghan Lewia, pictured here with Principal James Daly, was recently selected to receive the Maine Principal’s Award. (Photo by Reg Bennett)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unique Opportunity to View Historic Collection from Grace Kelly’s Wedding

American actress Grace Patricia Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 in two separate ceremonies: a civil ceremony on April 18 and in a Catholic Mass on April 19. The wedding was called “The Wedding of the Century” and is still considered one of the most beautiful weddings ever. Guests included Cary Grant, David Niven, Gloria Swanson, Aristotle Onassis, Ava Gardner, and Aga Khan. Onassis gave the couple a 147-foot yacht as a wedding present. The couple traveled around the Mediterranean on the yacht for their honeymoon.
Donald Polland of Columbary House antiques is representing a client whose family was close to the action during the wedding planning and the parties and celebrations surrounding Kelly’s wedding in Monaco. As part of the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce’s annual wedding expo, the Columbary House will feature a collection of the items that will eventually be sold later this summer.
Columbary House will be open Saturday through Monday, February 19, 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The business is located at 1286 US Rte. 1, Cape Neddick.
Photo caption: A program from Grace Kelly’s 1956 wedding, on display this weekend at Columbary House Antiques. (Courtesy image)

Center for Wildlife Caring for Record Number of Injured Owls

2010-2011 has been an especially difficult winter for owls in Maine, and the Center for Wildlife is providing medical care for their heaviest load ever of injured owls. CFW has admitted 36 owls (30 of them barred owls) since October. On average, the Center sees fewer than ten each winter, so with more than triple that many, all of its flight enclosures are full. In 2008, its previous record owl year, the Center had only 17 admissions by January 1, and by that day this year had already hit 27!
Nearly all of these owl patients were hit by cars. Hunting in the winter is especially challenging, as many rodents hibernate or den up for days on end, and the ones who are active can hide under snow. Thus, food becomes scarce just at the time when owls burn extra energy keeping warm through the extreme cold. Making matters worse are the heavy storms that make hunting impossible on some nights – leaving the owl even hungrier and further compromised the following night. Fortunately, most of the Center’s patients this winter are not starving: they seem to be managing to find sufficient food, but they’re doing so by hunting in the roads. On plowed roads, prey animals are easier to locate, and food trash thrown from car windows attracts rodents to the road, which in turn attract hungry owls.
This dangerous road hunting is the cause of most owl admissions – all but two patients were hit by cars, sustaining various injuries including leg and wing fractures, lacerations, head trauma, and most commonly, eye trauma. The large eyes, which allow owls to see well in low light, also mean that most trauma to their head results in some level of damage to one or both eyes. Many of these owls have a good chance of recovery, but they need lots of time as eye injuries heal very slowly. The most seriously impaired will be kept through the winter, saving them from having to adjust to hunting with a vision handicap at a time when heavy snow cover makes hunting most difficult. Having such a large load of long-term cases puts a strain on the Center’s cage space and human resources, and CFW depends on donations from the public to provide the medical care, food, housing, and monitoring necessary to get these birds back into the wild.
CFW has set up a special Emergency Owl Treatment Fund and you can help by donating by credit card on CFW’s website ( or by mailing a check to: Center for Wildlife, P.O. Box 620, Cape Neddick, ME 03902. All donations are tax-deductible.
Photo caption: The Center for Wildlife is currently caring for a record number of injured owls, putting a strain on their resources this winter. (Courtesy photo)

Higher Catch Limits Allowed in International Waters

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced recently that fishermen from Maine and other New England states will effectively be allowed to catch more haddock, scallop and other valuable groundfish species in waters shared with Canada.
This announcement was the result of negotiations between the U.S. and Canada and the increased share for American fishermen was made possible by a bill Pingree co-sponsored last year. The bill, signed into law President Obama last month, allows fisheries managers to set more equitable catch limits for U.S. fishermen in grounds shared with Canada.
This decision actually increases limits on yellowtail flounder, but since haddock and scallop are typically caught at the same time as flounder, a limit on flounder is effectively a limit on haddock, scallop and other valuable species.
For years, U.S. fisheries managers have been at a competitive disadvantage when negotiating catch limits for grounds shared by both the U.S. and Canada off the Northeast coast. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the U.S. has had to keep a 10-year timeline to restoring fish stocks while Canada did not have to follow a similar regulation. As a result, fishermen from Canada have been allowed much higher catch limits.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Snowy Days Mean Happy Times for Maine Skiers

By Scott Andrews
Staff Columnist
Snowy days mean happy times for Maine skiers and the $350 million industry that serves them. That’s the bottom line -- at least so far -- on the 2010-2011 ski season, say industry officials.
While some Mainers may rebel at the thought of more snow, skiers and snowboarders revel in this year’s abundance of the white stuff, and they’re heading out to the slopes and trails in big numbers.
“We’ve had a wonderful start to the season and all of our members are reporting excellent attendance,” says Greg Sweetser, executive director of the Ski Maine Association, the trade group that represents virtually all of the state’s ski industry.
“We’ve been blessed with abundant snow this season,” adds Sweetser. “People see it and touch it and shovel it and then they want to get out and play in it.”
Although Sweetser and others caution that there’s plenty of time remaining this season, they’re very optimistic about results to date.
And skiers and snowboarders are finding plenty that’s new when they arrive at the slopes; most Maine resorts have made substantial capital investments in recent years.
Last month, Sugarloaf opened a large new area for skiing and snowboarding on its eastern edge. Opening the Brackett Basin glades is the first step in a 10-year plan to upgrade the resort, says communications director Ethan Austin. When completed, the Sugarloaf/2020 plan will include trails and glades on the bare summit of adjacent Burnt Mountain, a prospect that has tantalized skiers and riders for decades.
When completed, Sugarloaf/2020 will result in the largest ski area -- as measured in acres -- in the eastern half of the U.S. (Sugarloaf’s parent company, Michigan-based Boyne Resorts, already claims the most skiable acreage in the U.S. at Big Sky, Montana.)
Sunday River, Maine’s busiest ski resort, recently announced that real estate sales -- primarily condominiums and vacation homes -- surged 53 percent in 2010. It’s the highest level ever, and additional projects will be announced this spring.
“Achieving such a success in a still-hesitant economy is a testament to the confidence our guests have in the resort,” says Mark Hall, vice president of development.
Shawnee Peak modernized and upgraded its principal lift for this season and business is solid, according to spokeswoman Melissa Rock. “We booked out all of our lodging for President’s Week back in January, and that’s a whole lot earlier than ever before,” adds Rock. “We’re doing well, and I believe that the best is yet to come.”
Saddleback and Mt. Abram are also enjoying solid attendance. Both are celebrating 50th anniversaries in 2010-2011 and both are in the midst of multi-year expansion plans.
Camden Snow Bowl also has expansive plans for the future. Officials of the non-profit, municipally owned ski area are eyeing a new chairlift and a massive increase in snowmaking capacity. A multi-million-dollar fund-raising campaign is currently in progress.
Photo caption: Maine skiers and snowboarders couldn’t be happier with this season’s weather reports, and the state’s resorts are meanwhile investing in a variety of expansion plans. (Photo courtesy Sunday River)

Opening Scenes: ‘The King’s Speech’

By Chip Schrader
Movie Reviewer
“The King’s Speech” opens with an old style microphone shot from multiple angles in the middle of an empty studio. An unknown man gargles and spits into a bucket, sprays a liquid into his mouth, and recites a humorous array of vocal exercises. Finally, he sits at the chair and measures the distance from his face to the microphone with his hands, and introduces the Duke of York to his radio audience. As the Duke of York steps up to speak, his stammer causes a jam in his speech to the point he is mute. The crowd at Wembley Stadium is visibly uncomfortable.
Colin Firth brings the low-key dignity of the man who would become King. From his stammer to his hot temper, Firth seems to have mastered the complexities of a man who had to be badgered by his therapist into using profanity. The scene where Firth is pacing around the Doctor’s office repeating the same cuss word with increasing speed and ferocity is enough of a comic break to endear viewers to this otherwise reserved and cool character.
Geoffrey Rush plays the peppy therapist, Lionel, who labors to enunciate his lines at a tryout for a lead role in a play. Rush’s portrayal of Lionel is assertive, confident, and subdued as he manages a great deal of laughs from the careful viewer along with some lively scenes where Lionel and the King verbally spar. Rounding out the talented, and Screen Actors’ Guild Award winning ensemble, was Helena Bonham Carter as the Duke’s wife, a no-nonsense and devoted wife to the Duke and mother of the future Queen (Elizabeth).
The acting and writing of “The King’s Speech” is superb. It is a dignified drama that does not plummet to the level of tugging at emotions, or even plea any sympathy from its audience. While the viewer is engaged with each character and feels their frustrations and struggles, never once are they in agony over the emotional turmoil of the character. “The King’s Speech” is high drama with the signature English “stiff upper lip” in place of cheap sentimentality; all the while the viewers sit at the edge of their seats to see the King succeed.
The setting is the gloomy and foggy English landscape, the close-up shots are off-center to photograph the palatial old English rooms, and the predominant colors circle around gray and wood tones. Each frame is hypnotically shot as the acting does plenty to captivate the scene.
“The King’s Speech” is rightfully at the center of the Oscar contest, and the actors are serious contenders. Carter’s recognition for this role is deserved, but Firth and Rush are the standout nominees for this film. The writing and cinematography are excellent, although “True Grit” might have the edge for being the most cinematic. Whether they win all or nothing, “The King’s Speech” is among the handful of must-see films, and stands at the top of even that list. 5 out of 5.
Photo caption: (Courtesy movie poster of “The King’s Speech”)

MaineHousing Grant Brings Jobs, Homes

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
MaineHousing has approved nearly $30 million in federal Low Incoming Housing Tax Credits for construction of privately owned apartments including $3.31 million for a project in Berwick.
“This provides some badly needed affordable rental housing in several Maine communities, and gives Maine’s economy a boost,” said MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick. “We expect the housing will generate several hundred jobs just in construction alone.”
The developments slated for funding and the tax credit also includes 24 units for seniors in Biddeford ($4.8 million), 29 units for families in Ellsworth, ($5.8), 48 units for families in Lewiston ($5.2 million), 25 units for seniors in Freeport ($5.5 million) and 24 units for families in Portland ($5.28 million).
The Berwick project is scheduled to provide 34 units for families and restoration of the historic Sullivan school, according to Dan Simpson, a spokesman for MaineHousing. He said he expects there will be other sources of funding for that project as well.
Simpson said one aspect of granting the funds is that the apartments “need to be affordable to low income families.”
The project, as presented to MaineHousing for funding, includes two efficiencies, 15 one-bedroom units, nine two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units.
McCormick said apartments affordable to working families are essential to attracting and retaining good jobs, and therefore a key component to economic development.
MaineHousing received 11 proposals from throughout the state and granted funds to six of them, Simpson said.
The criteria used for selection includes the need for affordable housing, location close to downtown and transportation, and leveraging of other funding sources. The developments in Berwick and Biddeford, for example, involve adaptive re-use of historic school buildings, while the Lewiston development involves converting a portion of the historic Bates Mill into housing.
According to a release from MaineHousing, the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program is a way to raise private capital to finance affordable housing. The tax credits are used to attract private investors, such as banks, insurance companies and other large corporations, to participate in the ownership of the housing developments. As part of the ownership, they receive the credits and use them to offset federal taxes.
Most of the new apartments will be restricted to households earning 50 percent of the median income or less. The tax credit funds are meant to replace the direct federal rental assistance that once was used to subsidize affordable housing.
“The tax credits are a public-private partnership to raise private capital to invest in housing with a public purpose,” McCormick said. “Many of our housing programs operate on that same public-private model.
The mission of MaineHousing is to assist Maine people to obtain and maintain decent, safe, affordable housing and services suitable to their unique housing needs.

Friday, February 4, 2011

From BA to Fenway, Student Finalist to Sing at 2011 Red Sox Game

Sixth grade Berwick Academy student Sarah Khan of Sanford, Maine recently earned a spot as a finalist for the “Coca Cola Sing Your Way to Fenway” competition. An avid Red Sox fan and accomplished singer at school, Sarah beat out many hopefuls to become one of 12 finalists to compete at Fenway Park for a chance to sing the National Anthem during a 2011 Red Sox home game.
Sarah’s talent and passion for singing are attributed to her education and training at Berwick Academy. Since kindergarten, Sarah has remained involved with the arts as an avid singer, dancer, pianist and violin player. She has worked extremely hard to stay an active honors student and continues to develop her singing talents with the help of her BA voice coach Tina Murphy. Sarah’s parents Dr. M. Amir Khan and Dr. Naila Aslam-Khan are extremely proud of their daughter and appreciate everything Berwick Academy has done for Sarah to make her such an eligible candidate for this competition. Sarah’s mother Naila commented, “Basically, her whole musical background is from Berwick. I think the culture of creativity and the warm encouraging environment at school has given her a place to explore and grow as both a musician and student.”
Sarah is familiar with singing for audiences at Berwick Academy and in the community. Most recently, she performed at BA’s annual Winterfest for the Arts, in which the School’s most talented artists are chosen to participate. This fall, Sarah sang the National Anthem before the start of the first Boys’ Varsity Soccer game on Berwick’s new turf field for Blue and White Weekend. In November, Sarah played the lead of Jasmine in the Middle School musical production of “Aladdin.” Additionally, she is a new member of the Pease Greeters, a group that sings “God Bless America” and welcomes the troops who are returning from overseas flights at Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, NH.
As a finalist, Sarah has been given the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at a Portland Seadogs game this summer. Sarah is an amazing talent and the entire Berwick Academy community wishes her the best of luck as she continues on in this competition.
Photo caption: Sarah Khan ‘17 sings the national anthem for the BA community at this year’s fall Blue and White Weekend. (Courtesy photo)

Governor Honors Past President : February 6, 2011 Proclaimed Ronald Reagan Day

February 6, 2011 will be the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, and the seventh since his passing. In honor of our 40th President of the United States of America, the life of Ronald Reagan was celebrated at the State House in Augusta on Tuesday, February 1. Governor LePage signed a proclamation declaring Ronald Reagan Day in Maine as dozens of people gathered in the Hall of Flags to celebrate the life and legacy of one of our nation’s presidents. Photo caption: Ronald Reagan (Photo courtesy

Book Review: ‘The Whisperers’

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
Set between Southern Maine and the wilderness-shrouded highways of the Quebec border, “The Whisperers” is John Connolly’s newest installment of Detective Charlie Parker’s adventures. Parker is a whip smart private eye who is deeply tied with the city of Portland, Maine and its surrounding cities. More often than not, his knowledge of the who’s who of the region gets him out of jams, into a few pickles, and lands him some good leads.
A troubled Gulf War Veteran’s treatment of his girlfriend has her boss concerned for her well being, and has the boss wondering of his own son’s, another Veteran, suicide. As Detective Parker starts snooping and contacts an old friend, Jimmy, to get some dirt, the detective finds himself in the irony of being water boarded by a group of men associated with this Veteran.
The story takes some turns as more Gulf War Veteran suicides crop up. These deaths begin shortly after Herod, an elderly man riddled with disease and an icy moral code, offers an ultimatum to a father that is too grizzly and heart wrenching to depict in this review.
Herod is a fascinating character who is often described with zombie-like features, and has a history of his own with death. As we learn more of this almost superhuman (or subhuman) villain, we also learn of a mysterious organization that collects ancient relics that are believed to possess supernatural powers. As these deliveries fail to make their destination to the organization, more suicides emerge.
Connolly’s astute use of recent politics and history by injecting details like water boarding, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the lack of veterans’ benefits adds a sufficient amount of cultural context to an otherwise straight ahead piece of hard-boiled fiction.
The local references like the Great Lost Bear in Westbrook, or the Longfellow Bookstore in the Old Port will attract local interest, but more interestingly, this is another nationally bestselling author who brings Southern Maine into the spotlight.
As for the writing, Connolly writes smoothly. The descriptions slide down easily and the transitions from connected story lines are seamless and each chapter leaves threads that will be picked up in future chapters. His descriptions of the characters are his strongest asset as they are depicted in full dimension and color, and the converse naturally in unique voices. But, with each chapter, Connolly feeds his audience just enough detail and dirt to satiate readers until the next chapter as the pages beg to be turned.
While the Private Eye has a quick wit, like many other private eyes, his persona doesn’t get much deeper than that for the most part. But, who reads hard-boiled mysteries to look into the mind of the P.I. when the diabolical mind like Herod’s often more interesting?
Charlie Parker is the classic “Code Hero” from the Sam Spade and Jake Barnes (The Sun Also Rises) school of heroes. Connolly uses first person narration from Parker’s point of view and two other third person points of view, a method that nicely adds layers to the storytelling. This is a fun and well-written book that pulls in elements from the headlines and the horror genre to reel in readers. Highly recommended!
“The Whisperers” by John Connolly, Atria July 2010. 416 pages.
Photo caption: (Courtesy book cover image of “The Whisperers”)