Houlton theater to bring the Allagash to life

Posted Sept. 10, 2010, at 10:43 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:50 a.m.

What a delightful educational collaboration is taking place to help young residents of northern Maine understand and learn more about the special area of our state known as the Allagash.

Maine author Tim Caverly, who has written a series of children’s books set there, is working with Houlton Star Bright Children’s Theatre president Barbara Hogan to bring one of his books to life by adapting it into a stage production.

“An Allagash Haunting” is the second in Caverly’s series of children’s books.

It features 10-year-old Olivia, who meets an unexpected visitor while on a canoe trip with her parents in the Allagash.

To bring this production to life, HSBCT needs to raise approximately $7,000, and the hope is that business owners and individuals will contribute to this project.

“We are just getting under way and have been getting some responses” to its request for donations, Barbara told me, “but really, we have just started to roll this out.

“Tim and I have been working on adapting his narrative” and roughing out a script.

“I’ve been enjoying that,” she said.

“From a children’s theater point of view, it’s a wonderful opportunity to work with a Maine author” on a project “pertinent to our area. We’re looking to do it up big.”

Tentative plans call for the play to debut April 29-30, 2011, at Houlton High School and, it is hoped, be staged the next week in Millinocket with plans to take it to other locations in the fall.

“But this isn’t a project where we’ve been handed a script, so we’re having to make the transition from narrative to dialogue” and cover all the bases in between, she said.

Because the idea is to take the show on the road, that means coming up with a tightly written script, fine-tuned and very transportable sets and scenery, and costumes that travel well.

The project is a joint effort that includes HSBCT board members and Caverly.

“We have board members who are great at scenery and makeup and, usually, we are able to pull from within our board” to fill positions ranging from production to directing, Barbara said.

Board members Glynn Porter and Mary Miller are heading up the fundraising committee.

At this point, Barbara said, letters have been sent to business owners, and board members have been speaking with individuals who “have been supportive of us in the past.”

Caverly, she added, has been making the rounds, speaking to groups and individuals to help meet the $7,000 goal.

Tim Caverly is a name many readers instantly recognize.

He retired in 1999 after a 32-year career with the Maine Department of Conservation, which included 18 years as supervisor of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

According to the HSBCT release, he now works for the Millinocket school system, has written two books with a third in the works, uses his books as a literacy project and, through grants, has distributed 900 books to 40 Maine schools.

More information about his books and work is available at www.allagashtails.com.

HSBCT was founded in 1968 at the former Ricker College.

After the college closed, according to HSBCT, community members pitched in to keep it going and now boast that “it is among the oldest continuing children’s theaters in the country.”

Keys for supporting this project, according to HSBCT, include promoting knowledge and appreciation of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and northern Maine history through drama and literature, using the work of a Maine author who has a unique, firsthand experience in the Allagash area, offering a look at the days of logging and river drives, continuing the tradition of supporting the arts in the area and enabling HSBCT to be part of the process, from script-writing to production.

You can help fund this effort by sending a check payable to Houlton Star Bright Children’s Theatre, with Allagash Stage Project on the memo line, and mailing it to HSBCT, Attn: Treasurer, 448 Drew Lake Road, New Limerick 04761.

HSBCT is a 501(c)3 organization, so your contribution is tax-deductible.

For information, call 532-2901 or e-mail Houltonstarbright@gmail.com.

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I am on vacation. My column returns Wednesday, Sept. 22.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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