Friday, June 6, 2014

Buddy Holly rides the Downeaster gravy train….

                      Maine State Music Theatre

One of the unmistakable ways to know life here in town has changed to non-winter mode is the arrival of the Maine State Music Theater season, which provides four full scale productions (plus a number of special events) at the Pickard Theater on the Bowdoin College Campus.

                                    Buddy Holly

Side and Mrs. Side have had season tickets for nearly 20 years, and last night we attended the opening performance of the first show of the season: “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story.”  It was a great show, typical of the first rate productions MSMT is widely known for, and it included an ‘opening act’ called The Hayriders that we really enjoyed.

We’re not here to plug the show; others will do just fine at that.  Instead, we want to tell you about a ‘surprise’ we received before the curtain opened.  And not a particularly pleasant one.

To provide some context, we remind you of this recent post: “MaineBiz earns “Five Backsides” Award.” In it, we expressed befuddlement that a business publication could present an award to a public enterprise created with taxpayer funds, with an operating loss of nearly 45%.  And that a state employee, who heads the responsible state authority, could be declared the ‘Non-Profit Business Leader of The Year.’

We found the very idea of such an award bizarre on any number of levels, which we identified in that post.

Back to last night.  In the MSMT tradition, before the curtain rises, a theater official comes out to welcome the audience to the show, and to elicit thanks/applause for the major ‘sponsors’ backing the MSMT enterprise.  Last night was no different. 

First, the Artistic Director thanked the ‘season sponsor,’ The Highlands and Highland Greens, who have held this position for several years.  Then  he moved on to ‘show sponsors,’ which included Lebel & Harriman, a financial advisory firm, and then….are you ready….drum roll, please……The Downeaster and NNEPRA…..”for the first time.”

We did a mental, if not physical double take when we heard the words.  Are you kidding?  A publicly funded enterprise, operating at a huge loss, and run by a state authority, is sponsoring a theater group?

We have no idea how much money is involved, but we assume it’s not pocket change.  Getting mentioned on stage with only two or three others surely marks elite status in the donor hierarchy.




We don’t know if any quid pro quo is involved in this arrangement, or even any quid pro quinn. 

We were sitting right up front, and the volume of many of the songs in this ‘juke box musical’ was  quite high. None-the-less, we thought we heard a verse during the classic “Peggy Sue” number that went something like this:

Patsy Quinn, Patsy Quinn, oh how you can dish the spin, my Patsy, my Patsy Quinn…in…in…in…..innnnn. 

Oh we love you gal, we love you Patsy Quinn.

It’s hard to be sure, but that’s what it seemed to us, hearing aid battery condition notwithstanding.

We know many in these parts call us “The Big Popper,” so you have to allow for our imaginative interpretations of musical history.


And you KNOW what we LIKE, baby!


Given the way things unrolled, we were going to stretch another iconic thought and say that what we witnessed last night was “the day the honor died.”  You know, ‘bye bye Miss American Pie; drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry’ and all that.


On reflection, we thought that a bit bizzaro, so we decided against it.

Because we have a reputation to protect.  We’re not sure what it is, but we’re going to do our best to see that it’s preserved.

We owe you that at least, don’t we?                       

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