Friday, January 7, 2011

Ogunquit Playhouse Receives Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Theatre

The Ogunquit Playhouse is thrilled to announce that it received the Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Theatre from the New England Theatre Conference at their 59th Annual Convention, held this fall in New Haven, Connecticut. Jeff Watts, NETC President, presented Executive Artistic Director, Bradford Kenney an award recognizing the Playhouse as one of the most important cultural landmarks in New England. Among the many accolades Mr. Watts shared with audience members, who represented theatres from all over New England, he thanked the Ogunquit Playhouse for producing the highest quality Broadway plays and musicals since 1933.
The New England Theatre Conference, Inc. is a non-profit Corporation, composed of individuals and organizations in the six-State region of New England, who are active or interested in the performing arts. It is committed to develop, expand and assist theatre activity in New England on the educational, community and professional levels. The New England Theatre Conference promotes excellence in theatre for our region, and supports quality theatre and performance in all of its diversity. They believe that theatre is essential to the quality of life for everyone!
The Ogunquit Playhouse is America’s Foremost Summer Theatre, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, producing the finest Broadway musicals each season, with performances Tuesday through Sunday, from May through October. Main Stage tickets go on sale in March. Gift Certificates, Flex-Passes and Season Subscriptions are on sale now! The 2011 titles under consideration include: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Curtains, and Miss Saigon. 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: Jeff Watts President of NETC, Bradford Kenney Ogunquit Playhouse Executive Artistic Director, Cheryl Farley, Ogunquit Playhouse Director of Marketing and Public Relations, and Moe Doucette, Board Member of NETC. (Courtesy photo)

Opening Scenes

By Chip Schrader
Movie Review Editor
“How Do You Know” opens with a sequence of scenes where a man in a finely tailored suit “George” (Paul Rudd) calls a softball uniform clad “Lisa” (Reese Witherspoon) for a blind date after getting her number from a mutual friend. This call has the poor timing of catching Lisa at softball practice while he is in the midst of another day’s work in a high level corporate office. Lisa is taken aback by this phone call from out of the blue and prepares to practice for the big tryout, while the viewer knows this phone call is only the beginning.
Paul Rudd’s performance as George, a man who ends up feeling foolish throughout the film, is charming and believable, just as Rudd’s fans might expect. His pursuit of Lisa comes as his previous relationship, where he never called the shots, ended and his job landed him in a criminal investigation. His father is played by the volatile and comic Jack Nicholson, a man who played high stakes corporate games his whole life, but always found his priority in his son.
Witherspoon and Owen Wilson, as “Matty,” have great chemistry that pulls together an otherwise well-worn and predictable relationship where George comes into the triangle. While Matty seems to have all the wrong moves and manages to dupe Lisa into accepting his philandering, he manages all the right words to keep her in his life. A particularly telling scene is after a potential one night stand, Matty offers Lisa a change of clothes from a closet loaded with small and extra-small clothes he keeps on hand for all of his conquests. After initially being revolted that he keeps a closet of women’s clothes for one night stands, Matty charms Lisa into seeing him again.
To George’s dismay, he keeps just missing that perfect opportunity with Lisa unless he decides to make the opportunities himself, and manages to always meet Lisa in his worst moments, a la “When Harry Met Sally.” As the story goes along, these characters seem to miss each other at that magical moment as Matty manages to hold on to Lisa.
The story goes into predictable outcomes, but there is some dancing in between major points where the story seems fresh and doesn’t go in a straight line. The story of the investigation of a crime that George knows nothing about and is innocent of, makes the movie move along at a leisurely, but pleasant pace.
“How Do You Know” is not a cinematic masterpiece, nor a work of genius, but it works. All of the characters are not terribly new, but some of the scenes turn the romantic comedy conventions around. One example is when Lisa calls George from outside his window pretending she isn’t there, but hoping he is home. While this Romeo and Juliet set up is commonplace, it is seldom the woman who is the more assertive seeker, particularly when she is spoken for.
Rudd plays his strength as the sensitive guy who always winds up with his true love’s friend, and he continues his niche as the innocent and socially awkward lead that started with “I Love You Man.” Wilson also treads common terrain as his “Wedding Crashers” fans might recognise, his charming smile is used to its fullest and spinning his romantic ineptitude into boyishness. All in all, this movie offers very little that is new, but it is a breath of fresh air with its lighthearted storyline and satisfying conclusion. One of the better romantic comedies of the year. 3 out of 5.
Photo caption: (Courtesy movie poster image of “How Do You Know”)

Season of Wishes: A Success!

Close your eyes. Open your heart. Let the Season of Wishes Begin.
That was the national tagline associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America holiday campaign, Season of Wishes®.
Across the country, the 66 local level chapters of the wish-granting organization put their best foot forward to encourage the public to consider making local donations and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine followed suit.
To kick off the Season of Wishes in Maine, wish child Cameron Tufts of New Gloucester was invited to light the Christmas tree in Monument Square, downtown Portland. Thanks to the Portland Downtown District and WHOM radio, Cameron was on stage with Santa and the city mayor to flip the giant candy-cane switch.
“I’m really not sure what was more beautiful,” said Vicki Parker, volunteer wish granter who is working with Cameron to grant his wish, “the lights on the tree or the light from Cameron’s smile when everyone clapped with delight after he flipped the switch. What a wonderful moment - and memory - for him after battling leukemia for three years.”
The goal this year for the Maine chapter was higher than any other seasonal campaign they had attempted: raise enough money to grant 15 wishes ($90,000). Why a higher goal this year?
A wish is granted to a Maine child every five days, on average. Each wish costs approximately $6,000 and to ensure wishes would be granted to each child scheduled through February, this was the amount needed.
To promote the campaign and raise awareness, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine teamed with radio partner 107.5/105.5 Frank FM. The station interviewed and broadcast stories from wish children, parents and volunteers.
“It’s a joy every year meeting these kids, and seeing first hand how these wishes transform their lives,” said Leif Erickson, On-Air Talent and Music Director of Frank FM. “It’s an honor to be a part of this, and to use the power of radio to help those in our community who really need it. I’m already counting down the weeks to next year’s campaign!”
The public responded in full force and came forward to generously donate gifts of $5, $10, hundreds or thousands of dollars, ultimately surpassing the $90,000 goal. In total, $103,000 was raised, which is enough to grant wishes to 17 Maine children with life-threatening medical conditions.
“Most of the donations that came through were of small denominations,” said Tom Peaco, Executive Director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine. “Even when businesses came forward to give us a large check, it was usually a result of employees donating $15 here or there. These small numbers added up quickly as everyone came together to help our local children during their most challenging times.”
Corporate and major support came from VIP Parts, Tires & Service; Macy’s; Kepware Technologies; People’s United Bank: S. Maine Division; Village Candle; KeyBank; Dunkin’ Donuts of Greater Portland; Snap-On Tools; Auburn Fire Fighters Local 797; Stantec; Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker; Norton Lights, and the Ring Family Farm.
One of the first wishes to use funds from this campaign will be from a 12-year-old boy living in Ellsworth who had wished to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney, Australia.
Other upcoming wishes that will be granted because of the generous donations to this campaign include: Cameron, 9, of New Gloucester who wishes for a room renovation; Lea, 11, from Auburn who wishes to go to Walt Disney World®; James, 8, of Portland who wishes to go to Sea World®; Sam, 9, of Scarborough who wishes to go on a Nickelodeon® Cruise; Tonika, 15, of Augusta who wishes to go to Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas; Ethan, 9, of Turner who wishes to go on a dinosaur dig with a paleontologist; Erika, 17, of Edgecomb who wishes to go to New York City; Rachel, 16, of W. Baldwin who wishes to go to Paws Up Ranch in Montana; and eight more Maine children.
Photo caption: For his wish, 9-year-old Cameron Tufts of New Gloucester told his wish granter Vicki Parker (left) that he would like a room renovation, which will be made possible because of generous donations to Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Season of Wishes campaign. Norton Lights, recently featured in The Weekly Sentinel, was also a major contributor to the overall success of the campaign. (Courtesy photo)