Saturday, January 3, 2015

Time Off & Time On Again

Happy New Year 2015!!

We've been a combination of busy and enjoying our time off.  

We went to L.A. to visit friends and to see what's going on there.

Trout stayed home and enjoyed time with our friend, Lizz. 

After we got home, we were busy with Christmas going's on!  I made candies with friend (an annual tradition) and cookies with friends (a new tradition?) and we saw so many people that we never get to see.

We visited the St. Elizabeth Monastery on Orcutt Mountain.  Three Friars live up there and they make all manner of wonderful treats.

This was the first Christmas that we stayed in Maine. We've spent holidays on ships before but never in our own home.  It was pretty fun.  We saw friends on Christmas Eve spent the evening at home making a Pot Pie and opening presents.  On Christmas Day, we went to our friend Amy & Eric's for Brunch and games.  

We took a walk in the park.

On New Year's Eve we performed at The Rock & Art Shop as a part of the Downtown Countdown in Bangor.  It was so much fun.  The shows were very well attended and we couldn't have asked for better hosts or a cooler venue. The cast included: Andy Bolduc, Larrance Fingerhut, Lizz Mathews, Amy Roeder & me.

We had to stay home because we're very busy starting in January.  Larrance starts working on Guys on Ice for Penobscot Theater.  It opens on January 29th, 2015.  I start teaching at College of the Atlantic (Intro to Improvisation), Penobscot Theater (Improv 1) and two classes for ImprovAcadia - Improv for Tweens & Teens and Intermediate Improv for Adults.  I will be teaching 5 days a week!

Hope you all had a lovely Holiday season! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The rest was August...


I was surprised to see I hadn't posted since July.  It was a very busy summer.

For the first time ever I left during the season to go home to Omaha.  My Mom had been feeling poorly. She went in to the doctor they informed her she needed Bypass surgery.  I flew home at the end of July to help her settle back into her house after her surgery.  The good news is that she's doing great.  She's started a new exercise and diet plan and she's getting healthier everyday.

August was very August.  We had big crowds, it was hot and everyone was just a little on edge.  I went the longest I've ever gone without a day off - I did 52 shows in a row.  It was grueling and I hope to never do it again.  I missed my days off due to a couple of actors changing their schedules late in the season.  Of course, Larrance went from July 4th to August 24th without a day off and covering my work while I was in Omaha.  He is Iron Man.

One of the many things that makes this job delightful is getting to see the some of the same customers year after year.  Every night in August we have returning customers and it was lovely see them and their families; to hear how their year went and what their hopes are for the next.  It reminds me that we are part of peoples' lives and they are part of ours.  I think about regular customers throughout the year and wonder how they are faring.  I'd like to think they do the same in regards to us.

So, what has happened since July?

August happened.  No big events; just busy, busy, busy.

September and October were uneventful.  The schedule eases up considerably by Sept. 1st.  We had many old friends in the cast and it was so lovely to see them all.  At the end of August, Amy Roeder moved to Bangor, ME in August.  Out of our 11 years, Amy has been a cast member for 10 of them.  She moved to Bangor to become the Director of Education at Penobscot Theater in Bangor.  She pulled double duty all Fall as the Director of Education and as an actor at ImprovAcadia.

We closed for the season on October 18th but we hardly slowed down.  We did a show for the Grow Smart Maine Summit in Augusta.
Dennis & Jen at Grow Smart Maine Summit.  We closed the Summit.  Photo by  Faces Maine

Jen singing - Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?  An improvised song about blueberries.
Performed at Cumston Hall in Monmouth, ME with Capital City Improv.

The stage at Monmouth

Larrance in the theater box at Monmouth.  I wanted to do a scene in there but never got a chance.
The ceiling

A ham.

Muses?  Muse babies?

We were a part of the first ever Improv ME Festival in Brewer, ME.  Photos to come.

This week we finish our 10 week course at College of the Atlantic.  Then things slow down for about a month.  During that time we're going to visit LA and work on personal projects.  Larrance is working on his own music, I'm writing and trying to learn how to reupholster some cushions.

In January, Larrance will begin his tenure as a Music Director at Penobscot Theater.  He's MD'ing a show called Guys on Ice.  It's a musical about Ice Fishing and beer.

I'll be teaching at College of the Atlantic again and for Penobscot Theater.  We're going to offer classes through ImprovAcadia too.   

We'll also be performing with Capital City Improv in Augusta at the Governor Hill Mansion.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"No Power? No Problem." A Story.


This past weekend was the 4th of July which is the official start of the high season in Bar Harbor.  We had two sold out shows on Thursday, July 3rd.  Traditionally we're closed on the 4th, we don't try to compete with fireworks.  Then we reopen on the 5th and it's game on.

This year was a bit different because Hurricane Arthur headed up the coast and hit Bar Harbor on the 4th.  They talked about canceling the fireworks but the winds were predicted to be worse on the 5th so they kept them on the 4th.  

In Ellsworth, where we live, the storm wasn't bad.  Bar Harbor was another story.  They had very high winds and many limbs (probably weakened from the winter) fell taking the power lines down.  When we woke up on Saturday, we realized we had no power at the theater.  After a bit of sleuthing, we discovered it's been out since 7:30am.  Everyone was sure it would be back on shortly.

We arrived at the theater at 2pm to find it dark and silent.  No power.  Larrance had an old analog phone in the storage room so we dug it out and hooked it up.  Now, we could answer the phone.  We fielded calls all day telling people we were sure we'd have power back on by 7'ish.

Meanwhile, I called Bangor Hydro/Emera power and they said 10:30pm but I didn't believe them.  If that was true, we'd lose our whole night and everything in our freezers and refrigerators.  I couldn't believe it.

So we kept taking calls.....then at 7pm our staff, Frank & Bryce, and the actors arrived to find us sitting in the dark.  We all chatted and everyone agreed we should stick around until 10pm to see if we could at least do that show.  I was standing outside and I said, "I suppose we could do the 8pm show in the courtyard."  The power didn't come on but a light went off in the room.  We leapt into action.  The actors got into show clothes, we carried chairs to the courtyard, Bryce and Frank got the bar ready to serve what little we could (red wine, sodas, mixed drinks, iced tea) and then the customers arrived.

Right before the show started, someone mentioned that they'd heard the power wouldn't be back on until the next morning or maybe as late as Tuesday.  That was a sobering and very depressing thought.  We pushed it aside and moved foward.

We weren't sure they'd go for it but the audience seemed energized by the idea.  One woman told me, "We have to stick together.  I'm not leaving.  I want to see you through this."  So at 8pm we all went down to the courtyard and did an hour long show...

When we were just about to start, Shelby came up and said our neighbor, Great Maine Breakfast, was just about to start his generator.  If you haven't been around generators, they are very loud and smelly.  Larrance ran down and asked if he might wait to turn it on.  Larrance told him it would 45 to 60 minutes.  Without hesitation, he agreed to wait.

So the show was on....

The beginning of the show!

Bill, Jen, Shelby & Mark take the stage while Larrance stands by.

In the audience, there were regular customers and first timers and they made for an amazing audience.  They were supportive, friendly and ready to laugh.  

For Larrance and me, the evening went from a huge downer to an uplifting experience.  We felt buoyed by the audience and our actors' willingness to play along.

After the show, the generator roared to life.  I delivered some cold beers to thank our neighbor for waiting and we went back inside.  We sat down and I wondered if we should have a drink or wait to see if the power would come back on.  Larrance said to wait so we sat in the darker dark and chatted.

At 9:15pm, the power came back on.  We cheered!  I jumped up and down and, really.  

Larrance called every single reservation and I listened as the they all cheered.  We did a 10pm show for about 40 people.  The show was funny, lively and very festive.

We left the theater that night feeling renewed and grateful.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Almost July....


It's officially summer!  Apparently Maine didn't get the message as it was in the low 50's last night.  So cold!

We're almost to the beginning of our busy season.  The Fourth of July marks the start of high season.  We have two shows every night but Sunday on which we only have one.   It also means that we have a full roster of performers so we'll be up to four or five actors for the rest of the season.

I was asked to present the Acadia Arts Achievement Award this year.  Sherry & Ivan Rasmussen were the recipients.  I gave a little speech and they got a big rock with the word ART carved on it.  This is the fifteenth year this award has been in existence.  Sherry & Ivan were instrumental in the creation of the Acadia Arts Achievement Award so it was wonderful to see them receive it.  Congrats to them!

We had the deck painted at our cabin.  I love it!

Next week, we'll have our second rental!  We have quite a few rentals but there's still room in our schedule so if you need a place to stay......come here!

In other exciting news, Amy Roeder is moving to Maine.  Amy has been an ImprovAcadia cast member for 10 of our 11 years.  She is going to be the Educational Outreach Director at Penobscot Theater in Bangor, ME.  We're so happy that she's going to be living here!

~ J

Thursday, June 5, 2014

ImproVision is Seven


We're in our second full week.  So far we've done eleven shows, one workshop and had one family rent our cabin.

Today the third actor of the season arrives.  He is the third of twenty-five.

So far we're only doing one show a night but soon we'll start adding 10pm shows until we have a 10pm show every night but Sunday.

This weekend brings COA Graduation and the first ImproVision of this season.  ImproVision is a collaboration with Reel Pizza that we've done for the last seven years.  Basically they pick out a terrible B movie, we get a barebones breakdown (i.e. a man enters at 2 minutes, a woman in pink is in one scene); and then we find out what the movie is when you the audience does, the movie is shown without sound and we improvise a new storyline and a soundtrack for the movie based on an audience suggestion.  The audience suggestion is given via a Wheel of Styles which is spun by one lucky audience member.

The movies are truly terrible, "classics" like Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Frogs and Attack of the 50ft Woman.  We give the movie a whole new storyline and even a new theme song.

The posters for the show are very popular.  They are awesome.  I wish I had a pic of one but I don't.  The artist who makes them uses images like this but with great taglines like, "Like a Wet Primordial Slap of Comedy!"

The Seventh season of ImproVision starts this Friday at 11pm at Reel Pizza.  You can get tickets at the Reel Pizza box office.  Take a nap and then come to the show!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It Takes 2

Hi All,

Well, we did it.  We opened on Friday, May 23rd and it was great.  We had a full house, a great cast, a wonderful staff and we hired a photographer to document the whole thing.  I'll post those photos next blog.  The opening weekend was very busy and a lot of fun.

Now we are in the "after Memorial Day" pause which means that it's gotten very quiet on the island.  The streets are pretty much empty after 8pm.  Our houses are much smaller like much, much, much smaller.  Tuesday we had 12 people and last night?  2.  2 people. It's very odd to go from a super busy weekend to super non-busy but it happens every year.  It will start building next week until we are at fever pitch by the end of June and then it doesn't stop until Labor Day.  Then another dip and then it builds to Columbus Day weekend.

But let's talk about the 2 people who came last night.  We've done shows for 2 people before and we also canceled shows because we only had 2 people.  Why the different reactions?  A few years ago we only had two people (during this exact week) but they let Larrance know they were at ImprovAcadia because it was their anniversary.  They had driven down from Bangor (an 1.15 hour drive) and were so excited to see the show.  We did an anniversary show just for them. They came back the next year and we had a crowd.  They volunteered for the interview and told the whole crowd about their private performance.  It was real nice.

Other times we cancel because the 2 people are uncomfortable or they can come back the next night.  We take it on a case by case basis.  We talk to them, see what they want and adjust accordingly.

Last night, as I mentioned, we had only 2 audience members.  Larrance got to chatting with them about what they wanted to do - come back the next night or have us do a show - and they asked if we could do a workshop.   A workshop.  They asked if we would teach them the basics of improvisation, let them try it and maybe perform a little.  So, we did!  It was great. They were naturals.  They grasped "yes, and..." immediately and asked very astute questions.  We ended the workshop performing a Larrance's Choice for them.

In all my years working here, I've never taught a workshop instead of doing a show.  It was a really fun and so very rewarding.  We got a chance to interact with them and they got a chance to try something completely new to them in a safe environment.

They're coming back tonight to see the show with the improv-ized eyes.  I can't wait to hear what they have to say!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Eleventh Season!

Hi All,

We open for our Eleventh Season this coming Friday, May 23rd!  Yay!  The first show of the season at ImprovAcadia will be at 8pm on Friday.

However, we also open for our First season at Tall Pines!  Our first guests arrive on Friday too!

We didn't think we'd have any renters in the cabin until later in June so this was a welcome surprise.  It also meant we couldn't put the cabin on the back burner.  We had to get it, the theater and the house all ready by today.  It has made the last month truly jam packed.  I don't think we've had one full day off this month so, frankly, opening for business seems like a break.

The theater was pretty easy to get ready.  We touched up the paint in the dining room and the annex.  Cleaned everything.  Ordered a ton of delicious desserts, wine, beer and drinks and we are ready.

As a little pre-season amuse bouche, we did a 30 minute show for the Annual Bar Harbor Bank & Trust dinner.  There were 150 bankers and their spouses and we made them laugh!  It was a great way to kick-off the season.

At the cabin, we've been cleaning and re-organizing everything.  It was so much work.  The cabin was built in the early 90's.  The original owner cared for it but filled it with knick knacks from floor to ceiling.  The second owner (we're the third) cared for it at first but then it seemed to fall into neglect about 8 years ago.  No one had really gotten in there to look at all the nooks and crannies.  We threw out like 20 bags of garbage.  Granted like 5 of those bags we're from the new stuff that we had to buy but most of it was from stuff just left there.  Here's a before and after of the kitchen...

 The most dramatic is the living room but I don't seem to have that photo.  Well, here's a few more of what it looks like now.

As with any new business there were all kinds of things that needed to be done that we didn't anticipate.  We made lists to keep ourselves organized. It seemed that every time we took something off the list, three more things took its place.  BUT we're done!  Well....almost.  We'll go back after this weekend and do some yard work and work on getting a fan to ventilate the bathroom.  BUT I think it looks great.

The house gets spring cleaned twice a year.  We empty each room and clean it.  This year there was extra cleaning because of this noob:
But we were glad to do it.

Alright, enough.  If you're in Maine this summer, come up here and see a show, stay in my rental or meet my cat.  Biiieeee!