Fort Kent school is hosting an ‘intergalactic’ musical written and composed by northern Mainers

2 weeks ago

FORT KENT, Maine – Students from Fort Kent, Madawaska and St. Agatha schools will be performing in an upcoming musical play written and composed by northern Mainers.

Nan’s (Intergalactic) Diner will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Kent Community High School cafeteria on Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1.

The play was written by Fort Kent theater director Doug Clapp in 1993. The music was composed by Steve Vonderheide, who was a music teacher at Fort Kent Community High School at the time.

Fort Kent’s theater program has worked with neighboring schools in the past for larger productions. Just last year, they had 30 elementary students from three schools participate in “Oliver,” based on the Charles Dickens novel. And before that, they collaborated with outside schools for a production of “Annie.”

Clapp, who was teaching at Wisdom High School in St. Agatha 1993, has written about 25 plays, five of which are musicals. Each musical featured collaborations with local musicians, including University of Maine at Fort Kent music professor Scott Brickman and former local radio engineer Andy Rebscher.

“These are all good musicians,” Clapp said. “And Vonderheide did a lot of the work on digital keyboards, so we were actually able to have orchestration.”

Vonderheide also arranged a piano piece written for the play by local piano teacher Joanne Zafante.

Clapp also wrote and directed the 2015 feature film “Quintuplets,” with local collaborator Charles “Chaz” Pelletier and music from Vonderheide.

FORT KENT, Maine — Students from schools in Fort Kent, Madawaska, and St. Agatha rehearse for the musical play “Nan’s (Intergalactic) Diner,” which was written by theater director Doug Clapp and composed by former Fort Kent music instructor Steve Vonderheide. The play is set for May 31 and June 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the Fort Kent High School Cafeteria. (Chris Bouchard | St. John Valley Times)

The idea for Nan’s Diner came from an inside joke when Clapp was playing in a local band and he and the drummer saw something strange on the way home from a gig.

“Some guy had a driveway that went way up into the woods,” he said. “And he had a light post with a big glass ball on top, and they were blue. He put blue bulbs in them. We used to joke about how there was a diner up there and aliens came down at night to eat at it.”

And when Clapp began writing plays, he decided to flesh out this idea. It soon became a play with musical numbers.

The premise is that Nan, the owner of the diner, made a deal with aliens allowing them to stop by at night, as long as no other humans were present. Alien buses, cargo ships, and trucks would stop by the intergalactic diner. Nan would keep their presence at the diner a secret, and in return she would profit from their business.

“They serve the aliens all the weird food that they eat,” he said. “And close the diner to the regular truck drivers that would normally come up, and then reopen again a couple hours later to serve the aliens. But something goes a little haywire.”

He said some criminal aliens end up attempting to rob the diner. Some humans spot flying saucers near the diner and try to get the FBI involved.

The play has a large cast, with about 16 students coming from schools in Fort Kent, Madawaska, and from Wisdom. Students are also helping to create some of the alien masks that will be used in the play. The masks are built around the basic face shape of each of the actors, and then a layer of Crayola Model Magic is added along with any other required paint and prosthetics.

Each mask takes about 10 hours to make.

“That process is part of what makes this play a little extra fun,” he said.

Guests will be able to choose between a meal of chicken or salmon. The play itself is roughly two hours long. Tickets are $20 for students and $25 for adults.

“We want people to come, have a good meal, and have some fun,” Clapp said. “It’s a little off the wall, and it has a cult classic kind of feel to it.”