Laura Levin, Carol Mason and Roland Dube are among the cast members in Lamoine Community Arts production of Merle Allan Bragdon’s play, “Getting to Know You, A Speed Dating Adventure in a Retirement Village.” PHOTO COURTESY OF LAMOINE COMMUNITY ARTS

Lamoine troupe delivers funny, poignant production



LAMOINE — A dear old friend of mine moved into a retirement home several years ago. As a single woman, she said the first six months or so were tough, like being the new kid in high school entering sophomore year. Eventually, however, she formed new friendships and found her “tribe” of like-minded people. 

I thought about Jessica last week when I attended the dress rehearsal of Lamoine Community Arts’ production of “Getting to Know You, A Speed Dating Adventure in a Retirement Village.” The original play opened last Friday to a (huzzah!) live audience. How she would love this play and its premise of a speed dating event involving the residents of a retirement village in Washington state. As a beautiful buxom blonde with a British accent and a love of adventure, she’d have been the belle of the ball. 

It has been two years since the LCA has staged one of its excellent productions at its charming Grange Hall Theater. LCA’s veteran actors, however, have been workshopping community member Merle Bragdon’s play throughout the pandemic – tweaking it here, polishing it there – with home and online readings. 

The result is an engaging, funny, at times silly, and ultimately poignant look at love and romance in the senior lane. 

LCA fans will be thrilled to discover how many of their favorite community actors signed on for this project. Roland Dube, Robin Vesey, Brent Hutchins, Lolly Lovett, Sharon and Tom Sinclair, Barbara Bland, Anne and Fred Stocking – wonderfully familiar faces that I, and clearly the entire community, have sorely missed as the first two shows completely sold out.  

I am sure, as I did, they all had a swell time from the moment Roland Dube as Sidney blurted out “Do you like sex?” to his first speed date Carol Ann Duffy as Dorothy. The fun continued to the end when old acquaintances Terri and Bill find each other again after decades and discover the old spark is still there. 

I attended the Thursday dress rehearsal. As expected, there were still a few rough spots and some timing issues to be ironed out. But oh, what fun to meet all the personalities the playwright imagined and have now been brought to life by this seasoned cast. 

I wish I could introduce them all to you, but here are a few memorable ones, all of whom you get to know surprisingly well in the five minutes of time each speed dating pair is allowed.  

There’s Morty (Brent Hutchins,) a former shopkeeper who finds retirement a letdown and gets some good advice from Robyn Vesey’s Rose. Tom and Sharon Sinclair are darling as a pair of secret lovers, James and Gloria, who, with the help of event coordinator Joyce (an excellent Carol Mason), overcome their guilt (while he’s a widower, her husband is still alive) and go public with their relationship. And we all have met a Marvin (Peter Johnson) or two in our lives – I think sometimes I AM a Marvin – the know-it-all who has to correct and/or elaborate on everything you say. We all have responded with the same lack of enthusiasm as Betty (a terrifically exasperated Lolly Lovett.), who eventually finds someone who does spark joy in Phil (Tom Sinclair) from Philly, a horny old nonagenarian who drives a pink Cadillac. 

Laura Levin is a hoot as Jane, who has attended the event with her husband Tom (a beleaguered Gordon Donaldson), looking to spice up her life with a little side action. 

And haven’t we all run across an Estelle (a spot-on Andrea Gabel-Richards) in a bus or restaurant? You know her, the person whose cell phone is attached to their face and, in this instance, has more pressing conversations to engage in than getting to know her poor speed date (Blane Shaw), who doesn’t manage to get in a word. 

In the opposites-attract department, Kathy Stanley and Gordon Donaldson are just great as the pair with nothing in common but who in the end find this is a turn-on. 

Interspersed between each dating episode is some fine singing by Jim Crotteau and Faith Perkins of relevant love songs ranging from Buddy Holly to Bruce Springsteen. 

The all-cast effort at costuming is excellent, with each character dressed just as one would expect for their age, station and personalities. The set lit by dozens of flameless candles is effective and romantic.  

Daniel Clement has done a fine job helping all the actors carve out relatable characters. The pacing needs to pick up especially as there is very little physical action in the play, and I wish most of the characters looked at their dates more than at the audience.  

The other wonderful thing about this theater troupe is how much the community at large supports it. It also appears that, as in the “before times,” everyone in the Lamoine area who is not directly involved in the play is going to come watch it (fully masked.) So, it would be wise for those who haven’t gotten tickets for one of final three shows, at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5-6, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, to reserve ‘em now at www.lamoinearts.org. For more information, call 667-6564. 

Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.

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