With an original script and a cast of characters sure to delight area music lovers, supporters of Jesup Memorial Library of Bar Harbor have brought back a highly popular fundraiser as part of the library’s 100th anniversary celebration.
After a 14-year hiatus, the library is conducting a cabaret fundraiser as it introduces “Phantom of the Library,” written by Anne Bahr and co-directed with her husband, Bob Bahr.
The curtain goes up on this “Phantom” at 7 p.m. Friday, March 4, and Saturday, March 5, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at the library on Mount Desert Street.
Your $15 admission includes pie and coffee.
Seating is limited to 100 guests per performance, and tickets are only being sold in advance, so be sure to get them as soon as possible. Tickets can be obtained at the library by calling 288-4245 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this week, I had an absolutely delightful conversation about this production with Bob that included a lot of guidance from Anne, who was otherwise occupied with a can of paint.
Bob said the cast features local favorites as well as well-known area musicians with Joe Cough and Lindsay Smith Wilson in the lead roles, supported by Josh Howie, Barbara Entzminer and Lin Gould along with Roland Dube, Chuck Somers and Stephanie Erb.
Bob said this is a unique opportunity for actors to perform in a library. The first floor has been transformed for this event, with a stage at one end and tables and chairs filling the rest of the main room.
“It’s a beautiful building,” he said of the facility that features a marble entryway and spiral staircases leading up to the balcony.
Bob, who was formerly with The Grand in Ellsworth and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, added that since the library has had a concert series in the past, “Bar Harbor audiences are used to this sort of a setup.”
Since the production honors the 100th anniversary of the library, Anne’s story line is about a young man who is offered immortality by Mr. Jesup if the young man “would stay inside the library and guard it, forever.
“So, he’s been there 100 years,” Bob said.
But the arrival this year of a new librarian “who catches his eye” may just make him change his mind.
Without giving away any more of the story, suffice it to say, through music the Phantom tells the new librarian the history of his life starting with Ragtime in 1911, then into the Depression era, through World War II and into the ‘50s.
Then you will learn what life was like for the Phantom in the Beatles and Karen Carpenter eras, and how much he always enjoyed the children of the library.
“They do some songs from Disney, which is very cute,” Bill said.
I won’t give away the ending, but as you can imagine, it will be a duet and appropriate to the times.
From our conversation, I’m quite convinced that what seems to have worked well and been fun for everyone involved is the evolution of the production.
Anne, who had previously been part of the library’s Cabaret events, first wrote the script, and then she and Bob fit the actors-singers into roles based on their needs and wants.
Bob explained that when they issued their casting call, they sought out folks who had a particular song, or songs, they’ve always wanted to perform but never had the chance to, and then Anne and Bob reworked the script around those longed-for, musical opportunities.
So you can rest assured that these amateur performers, in this beautiful setting, will be giving it their all for the “Phantom of the Library.”