BANGOR, Maine — Every time Bangor Community Theater appears to be down for the count, it rises like a phoenix from its own ashes, according to a longtime member.
This month, BCT will present an original musical revue, “Labours of Love,” at Peakes Auditorium at Bangor High School and The Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth in an effort to raise seed money that might be used to launch a full-scale production in the near future.
“Labours of Love” is being co-sponsored by Community Health and Counseling.
The show, conceived and directed by Heather Astbury Libby of Glenburn, features 30 Broadway show tunes and 25 performers and musicians. Many of the songs are from musicals familiar to theatergoers, she said. Others they won’t know unless they are as fanatic about following the Broadway musical scene as Libby said she is.
The community theater group has been around the Queen City in one form or another for 50 years, according to Steve Robbins of Bangor. For the past 25 years, it has had a reputation for mounting quality productions featuring the best singers and actors in the region.
Last year, BCT had to cancel a production of “Annie Get Your Gun” when the director couldn’t find enough actors to fill the roles.
Robbins has performed in dozens of shows. He was instrumental in keeping BCT alive in January 1997 when the group staged “The Music Man” at the Bangor Opera House just six months before Penobscot Theatre Company bought the historic building. The money raised from that show allowed BCT to perform “Gypsy,” “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific” over the next three years.
“It’s like a phoenix,” he said Wednesday of BCT. “You can’t keep art down.”
Putting up a musical, however, is not as easy or as inexpensive as it used to be, he said. Theatergoers want the same high-quality production BCT has always presented but can’t afford tickets in the $30 to $40 range that would pay for the cost of a show.
“It used to be we could do a show for between $5,000 and $8,000 including the royalties,” Robbins said. “Now, the royalties are $5,000 or $6,000 and we can’t put up a show for less than $15,000 to $20,000.”
A musical revue seemed like a good alternative to a full-blown production, Libby said. She selected the songs and came up with a slim story line to tie them together about the sale of a bar in New York City with a 1940s theme that’s up for sale. The songs tell the stories of the owner, employees and patrons. Robbins and his son Zach Robbins wrote the dialogue in a day.
BCT’s collaboration with The Grand also may lead to a closer relationship between the two institutions, according to Libby.
Robbins is not surprised by the latest developments.
“BCT is very cyclical,” Steve Robbins said, “Always has been. Always will be. Always.”
If you go
What: “Labours of Love”
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21
3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 22
Where: Peakes Auditorium
Bangor High School
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 26, and Saturday, Sept. 27
2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28
Where: Grand Auditorium
Tickets: $15 Adults; $10 children, seniors
Call: 947-0366, ext. 260 for Bangor show
667-9500 for Ellsworth show