Community Players celebrate 35 years

3 months ago

In 1989, Dan and Barb Ladner joined with Margaret Coffin, Julie Daly, Barbara Dempsey, Rick Landen, Cissy Libby, Jeanette Perry, Glenna Smith and Sylvia Weinberg to create the Presque Isle Community Players. 

The first production that fall was a musical review dinner theater at the Northeastland Hotel. 35 years later, the players are still going strong. Getting back to their roots with dinner theater events at the Northeastland, now murder mystery dinners in partnership with Ignite PI, they are also moving into the future with big plans.

With appreciation for long-time board members, a new group has stepped up to lead the organization. At the Christmas show, Brian Lamont, Claudia Stevens and Tamia Glidden were recognized for their decades of service to the board. In January, Meg Hegemann succeeded Yvette Stephens as board president. Jessica Cameron became vice president, Stephens became treasurer and Travis Burnham became secretary. Additional board members include Allen Morrill, Danica Haskell and Annelise Wardwell.

One major change for the 35th year involves re-branding. The group will now be known as The County Community Players. 

“Newer members asked about the organization’s name, and we often have people from Fort Kent to Houlton and western New Brunswick participate,” Hegemann said. “We decided it was time to more accurately reflect who we are.” 

Updates to the website, logo and other details are coming soon, but for now picplayers.com is still active.

With four shows scheduled for 2024, the group is also considering offering season tickets. 

“We still have a couple of dates to confirm. Then we hope to announce the entire year’s schedule at once,” said Stephens. “Season tickets will be a way for people to save a bit of money by committing to support the players all year round.”

In addition to full theater productions at The Gauvin Family Center for Cultural Arts at UMPI, and dinner theater productions at The Northeastland, the group plans to participate in Mars Hill’s Shakespeare Festival, Presque Isle’s Pride Festival, First Friday Art and other events. 

“We are supporting as many opportunities as possible for people of all ages to participate in live theater in Aroostook County. There are many remarkably talented people here,” Hegemann said.

The group will also offer scholarships to students who intend to pursue higher education in the performing arts. 

People skilled or interested in the technical aspects of theater are especially encouraged to contact the organization. 

“Our capacity is often limited by people available to help with lights, sound, set, and other things backstage. There are many jobs that do not involve public speaking. Anyone who has organizational skills and attention to detail is a big help,” Hegemann said.

Current opportunities include four men and four women for a Mardi Gras-themed murder mystery dinner theater in early March, and six women ages 19-70 for the spring production, “Steel Magnolias” by Robert Harding. Auditions will be held at UMPI on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m.