PI players to celebrate American folk music

Posted Nov. 04, 2010, at 11:55 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:49 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — With songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “The Banana Boat Song,” “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” “Good Night, Irene” and “This Land is Your Land,” the Presque Isle Community Players’ dinner theater is sure to feature something for everyone.

“No matter what your age, some of these classic folk songs were — and probably still are — a part of your life,” said Rod Thompson, musical director. “I think people will be amazed at the memories the songs will bring back to them when they hear them performed live.”

“This Land is Your Land: A Celebration of American Folk Music” will be presented Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 5, 6, 12 and 13, at the University of Maine at Presque Isle Campus Center. A social hour will begin at 6 p.m., dinner will be served at 7 p.m., and the performance will start at 8 p.m.

“Last year the Players performed ‘Guys and Dolls’ which was a musical theater production done on a stage,” said Thompson. “This is in a dinner theater format, and for all practical purposes, it’s a musical review.

“The nice thing about this particular genre of music is every one of those songs has a history or a story behind it,” he said. “When we first started with the song list, I had a list of about 80 songs … and a lot of them were right out of grammar school folk books. We did a lot of paring down, and now we have 25 songs that we’ll be performing.”

Thompson said one reason some songs didn’t make the cut was “the voices we have. Part of it was a mix of the voices we have, and part was just personal preference.”

The musical review will feature several solos, a few small group songs, and a couple of duets.

“About half the songs are going to be group singalongs and we hope the audience will recognize them and stamp their feet, clap their hands and, in some cases, sing along,” Thompson said. “We did a show recently at the Aroostook Centre Mall and one of the songs we did was the ‘The Banana Boat Song.’

While previous players’ performances were more story-based, Thompson said the musical review features more of an introduction to each song.

“In some cases we’ll say a few words about the original performers or writers, but it’s more about the music this time,” he said. “Normally the Players have done a dinner theater format and a music review every year. Last year they didn’t do the dinner theater because they couldn’t find a director and-or couldn’t find a venue at that point in time. The format isn’t new for us, however, this particular genre is.”

The dinner menu will include salad, rolls, baked stuffed chicken, pasta primavera, rosemary roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli, baby dill carrots, chocolate mousse, apple crisp, coffee, tea or water.

Thompson said tickets are still available for all the shows. Tickets are $24 per person and are available at the Aroostook Centre Mall’s Information Desk and at Goin’ Postal where credit cards are accepted. People can purchase tickets until 3 p.m. the day of the performance, at which time the food vendor needs to know how much food to prepare. A cash bar will be available. The admission ticket does not include drinks.