BANGOR, Maine — Voice teacher Molly Webster, using the graceful, gestural musical shorthand of a choral director, put singers through their vocal paces at a recent rehearsal for the Rotary Club’s seventh annual Music Off Broadway production, Music from the Movies. More than 40 voices from bass to soprano romped through the lively verses and choruses of “Be Our Guest” from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
“A to F-sharp,” Webster said, illustrating with a sweep of her hand and singing the phrase. The singers adjusted accordingly, watching her hands as she called for a bigger build up, or responded to her request for a snappier tempo, their voices melding with the piano work of accompanist Joe Weisheit.
One of the singers was Roger George who serves as the show’s producer — as he has for the last seven years.
“It has wonderful energy. We always make sure the audience wants more,” George, the owner and operator of a hair salon, said of the current show.
Sitting at the back of the rehearsal room at Fairmount School in Bangor was show director Heather Astbury-Libby, a banker, and Stephanie Erb, show choreographer and occupational therapy assistant, who will stage the production that includes 30 songs and 22 dance numbers.
“One of the challenges of staging such a show, is that we have no script, so we get to be very creative,” Astbury-Libby said. “There are many things that go on behind the scenes. There is a big need for structure.” She has been a part of the Music Off Broadway productions all seven years.
Erb also has been with the show since its inception. Her biggest challenge, she said, is keeping the dance moves in the show clean and crisp. She has worked with local show choirs and community theater and middle school productions.
The singers, made up of community members, will perform music from movies including “The Wizard of Oz,” “Blues Brothers,” “Footloose,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Dirty Dancing,” “9 to 5,” “Top Gun” and “Sister Act.” A Disney medley also will be sung.
“All these people have full-time jobs and families. They are teachers, lawyers, contractors, waiters, students — from all walks of life. They give heart and soul to the show, for charity,” Astbury-Libby said. The singers come from Bangor area towns, including Newport, Ellsworth, Bucksport, Bangor, Hampden, Brewer and Corinth.
The show’s reputation is getting out to those who love to perform, Astbury-Libby said. This year 10 new singers joined the cast.
Music Off Broadway is the Rotary Club’s largest annual fundraising effort with proceeds going to support local nonprofit service organizations.
Proceeds from the 2012 show will benefit The Charlotte White Center, Hammond Street Senior Center, Phillips-Strickland House, Camp Jordan and The Gifts of Music scholarship fund.
“The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service. Every year, the Rotary Club of Bangor is active in many projects and contributes more than $25,000 to organizations in our local community,” said Steve Rich, club president. “Music Off Broadway is one of our most visible and successful fundraising efforts.”
Music Off Broadway will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 25, at Bangor High School’s Peakes Auditorium. Tickets are $18, $15 seniors, $10 youth and available from club members or at BookMarc’s, Mr. Paperback at the Airport Mall, Patrick’s Hallmark store at Broadway Shopping Center and at the door the day of the performance. Credit card ticket sales are available by calling Dorsey Furniture at 843-7301.
Taking part in the show in addition to George, Erb and Astbury-Libby are Jen Myers, Drew Myers, Roland Dube, Bob Potts, Stephanie Colavito, Rose Upton, Tyke McKay, Chuck Somers, Nancy Dymond, Todd McKinley, Kelly Scheetz, Jody Chasse, Michael James Fay, Nathan Roach, Heather Elkins, John Grover, Ayla Geel, Stephen Elkins, Elena Desiervo Burns, Nancy Marks, Sue Gormley, Steve Gormley, Sabrina Wirey, Leeanne Boutaugh, Kurt Schaller, Liz Ashe, Dan Baumert, Cory Ricker, Katrina Dresser, Heather Wood, Jacob McKay, Boo Upton, Annette McCoy, Julie Hatch, Randy Hunt, Joan Day, Priscilla Henderson, Gail Ledford, Jennifer Jamison, Ben Layman and Susan Patten.
The Rotary Club of Bangor meets at noon Tuesdays at Wellman Commons, 300 Union St. For information visit bangorrotary.org.