Take a walk back in time through the doors of the Carousel Music Theater in Boothbay Harbor for a dinner theater with cabaret experience.
The venue: a red barn. The shows: all original. The talent: outstanding.
Dating back to 1919, light musicals, comedies and mysteries were performed outdoors, sometimes under the protection of a tent, and in barns. Many states across the country have them. The Carousel Music Theater, built in 1982, is one of Maine's barn theaters.
Carousel's 2013 season opener, “Rocket Man” features, as one might expect, the songs of Sir Elton John. The script was written by Mary Miller, performer and long time drama teacher at Boothbay Region High School.
Michelle Bruckner, a Carousel alumni from the early 1990s, is the director and choreographer for the show. The show opened June 24 and runs through July 21.
This jukebox musical tells the story of two aspiring actresses from Hope Falls, Va., who get a lucky break and star in a Broadway musical, “Rocket Man,” when two of the Broadway show's female leads walk out. Elton John fans will be hard-pressed not to sing along with the all new group of actors for the 2013 season.
The cast arrived June 16. They include Grant Jacoby and Maggie Wakim from Massachusetts natives, Teresa Morrison from New Jersey, Scott Mulligan from Seattle, and Carissa McCurdy from Ohio. The next day scripts were distributed, choreography and memorization began. For seven days the cast worked from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a lunch and dinner break.
“I thought, oh my God, we have to learn all this!” Morrison said. “We shocked ourselves with how much we could do in a short time.”
Wakim, Morrison and Mulligan are recent college graduates. Although all five have been performing for many years, this is the first professional acting gig for Morrison and Wakim.
In addition to their roles in the productions at Carousel, the actors are also the cabaret singing wait staff. The volume of songs acting troupes at Carousel must learn is staggering. For audiences of “Rocket Man” a Nat King Cole cabaret will be performed; so don't be surprised when your waiter or waitress bursts into song after serving your soup, sandwich or dessert.
“So much of the job is interacting with the public and showing the audience who you are; getting to know the cast is part of the experience of the Carousel, very different than just going to see a show,” said Robb Barnard, owner (and former performer) at the Carousel.
The actors all live together in the cast house adjacent to the theater.
McCurdy, who has the most stage experience of the group has lived with fellow actors before.
“You learn to adjust to each other,” McCurdy said. “It's a good bonding experience.”
The theater's other shows “Thank God, I'm A Country Boy,” runs July 23 through August 18 and the final show, “A Musical Midsummer Night's Dilemna” runs August 20 through October 12.
The doors of the Carousel Theater open at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday. For more information and reservations, call the theater at 207-633-5297 or visit the theater’s website: www.carouselmusictheater.org.