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Guess who celebrates 100 this year?

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What do Fenway Park, L.L. Bean, Oreo cookies—and the Stonington Opera House have in common? 2012 is their Centennial anniversary. The Stonington Opera House is on the National Register of Historic Places, and its 100th anniversary is a cause for celebration both in our area communities and at the state level.

image of Stonington Opera House, circa 1912

The Stonington Opera House is one of a string of historic opera houses throughout Maine, all of which were once at the center of their communities often housing municipal offices and stores and hosting high school graduations, town meetings, and other community events.
    Opera House Arts (OHA) recently released their special, celebratory season schedule for this Centennial year, which includes the restoration and reopening of a second historic building, the 1870 Burnt Cove Community Church.
    “Stonington was quite a different place 100 years ago, with a thriving commercial Main Street and rooming houses hosting a much larger population consisting primarily of granite workers, many of them immigrants, and most of whom attended a wide variety of events at the Opera House,” said Opera House Arts’ Executive Director Linda Nelson. “This Centennial gives us all an opportunity to celebrate Stonington’s past, its cultural uniqueness and longevity, and the renewed vibrancy of its Opera House.”

   OHA’s 13th summer season will launch with sparkle June 2 at 7 p.m. when Maine Public Broadcasting host and acclaimed classical singer Suzanne Nance christens the newly-renovated Burnt Cove Community Church. “Suzanne Sings! Songs about Life, Love, and Other Good Stuff” will feature the versatile, crystalline soprano, accompanied by pianist Maureen Zoltek, singing classical song cycles, opera, Broadway show tunes, and more.
    Then Paul Sullivan returns to the Opera House stage with special guests in his new show format, PS, I Love Music, and Opera House Arts’ largest summer season ever spirals out from there with “10 Star Acts,” a 1912 Vaudeville show; Shakespeare in Stonington: Antony & Cleopatra; Kenny Barron at the 12th Annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival; a re-staging of OHA’s own beloved musical, “Burt Dow, Deep Water Man” in mid-August; pop music star Ingrid Michaelson August 23; and Maine state historian Earle Shettleworth September 12.
“We like to say Opera House Arts’ productions, whether at our historic Opera House home or at the Burnt Cove Church or producing new work at some other island site, are down home, home spun – and world class,” said Artistic Director Judith Jerome. “We’re delighted to present such a rich and various season to celebrate this historic milestone with our communities.”

The Centennial Celebrations will include but not be limited to:

The Historic Opera House Tower as a Window to History: The front of the Opera House, a 40'x40' wall facing Stonington Harbor, will become a projection screen on which will be projected historic community images: boats, harbors, buildings, people. Take a step back in time!
100 Years of Movies: 10 months of the best films in various important genres from 100 years, commemorating the fact that movies have screened almost continuously at the Stonington Opera House since 1918.  Additionally, in the spirit of how movies appeared at the Opera House during their hay day in the 1930s-1950s, Opera House Arts will screen an historic serial, Zorro’s Fighting Legion from 1939, weekly throughout the summer.
Centennial Gala Production: Ten Star Acts, A 1912 Vaudeville Show. July 5-8. The historic Opera House stage returns to its roots with the kind of travelling variety show to which it played host in 1912. Song, dance, comedy, melodrama, a family full of historic and sometimes familiar characters, all in period costume: this show will transport you back to 1912 with a little bit of a modern twist. Directed by Shakespeare in Stonington favorite Jeffrey Frace (Hamlet, Measure for Measure).

Shakespeare in Stonington: Antony & Cleopatra at the newly renovated Burnt Cove Church. July 12-22. Directed by Craig Baldwin (Elizabeth Rex, Much Ado About Nothing), this unique, site-specific performance engages the audience in a spellbinding setting of Egyptian ritual and mystery at the Burnt Cove Church.

July 28: 100th Anniversary PARADE in downtown Stonington, featuring Batacuda!, an African-influenced Brazilian percussion style related to samba. free workshop with Roni Ben-Hur and Café in learning batacuda at 3:30 before the parade.

The 12th Annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival featuring Jazz Master Kenny Barron, and Roy Nathanson and Sotto Voce. August 3-5.

Burt Dow, Deep Water Man. August 9-19. The revival of Opera House Arts’ original musical version of Robert McCloskey’s classic Deer Isle tale. Book and music by Maia Aprahamian and area students, featuring a community and professional cast of all ages.

The Millay Sisters. August 23. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Maine poet Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Renascence in this cabaret performance of tunes from 1900 through the Jazz Age. Rachel Murdy, Margi Sharp.

Ingrid Michaelson & Friends in a Benefit Concert August 24. Pop star Ingrid Michaelson.

Greetings from Stonington: A Post Card View from a Century Ago. September 12. Maine State historian Earle Shettleworth.

    The Stonington Opera House was first built, on the same footprint as the existing theater, in 1886 as an amusement hall, and enlarged at the turn of the 20th century. But that original grand structure burned to the ground in 1910 and was rebuilt in its current historic form by the town’s doctor and Renaissance man, B. Lake Noyes, in 1912.
    The Stonington Opera House has lead the revival of Maine’s opera houses with its reopening under the aegis of the not-for-profit organization Opera House Arts in 2000, which rescued the old wooden building from abandonment, decay, and disuse.
    Opera House Arts (OHA) is one of only a handful of year-round theaters in Maine to operate under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract. OHA not only presents but commissions and produces new work from Maine artists
    The Opera House, part of the Maine Performs network, has become a noted destination for performance in Maine. Showing movies nearly continuously since 1918, the Opera House is open 52 weeks a year with a full schedule of film and exciting original events unlike the schedule of any other theater in Maine

Check the Opera House website for more information and a full schedule of events: Opera House Arts is located in the Opera House, at the corner of Main and School Streets in downtown Stonington. 367- 27   

Check our calendar for more information on events at the Opera House and other places around our area.

©2010-2012 Arts Guide – a publication of Mozelle! Studio

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