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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: May 1, 2017

Preview the shows at Maine State Music Theatre with free film versions

Written by: Ray Routhier
"Guys and Dolls" will be staged by Maine State Music Theatre this summer, but the film version of it will be shown for free at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick on Friday. MSMT's artistic director will be on hand to answer questions Photos by Roger S. Duncan

“Guys and Dolls” will be staged by Maine State Music Theatre this summer, but the film version of it will be shown for free at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick on Friday. MSMT’s artistic director will be on hand to answer questions
Photos by Roger S. Duncan

Going to see quality live theater is not cheap, and the folks at Maine State Music Theatre understand that.

They’re beginning a program this year called “Film Fridays” at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. For three consecutive weeks, beginning Friday, Maine State Music Theatre will show a film version of one of the musicals it is staging this summer. The films are free, and after each one, the music theater’s artistic director, Curt Dale Clark, will be on hand to explain the differences between the film and the live show, and answer to any questions.

It’s sort of like window-shopping, for a musical. People can get an idea of what the show is about, hear all the songs, and decide if they want to go see the full show later on.

“It’s a way for you to get your feet wet without plunking down the $55 for a ticket,” said Clark. “The bottom line is this community supports us to the bottom line, and it’s fun for us to give a little something back.”

The free film series begins Friday with “Guys and Dolls,” a 1955 film starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. On May 12, it’s “Grease,” the 1978 blockbuster starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. On May 19, the 1992 Disney musical “Newsies” will be shown. There will be free popcorn and a film trivia quiz with two tickets to the live show as prizes.

At Maine State Music Theatre, “Guys and Dolls” will run June 28 to July 15, “Grease” runs July 19 to Aug. 5, and “Newsies” will be on stage Aug. 9 to 26.

Of the three live productions, Clark said the one that will probably be most like the film is “Grease,” about high school students in the late 1950s.

That’s because the music theater paid extra for the show’s rights, to get the songs that are just in the movie. One of those is “Sandy,” sung by Travolta when he’s jilted at the drive-in.

But the other two musicals have some important differences. In “Guys and Dolls,” based on Damon Runyon’s stories about colorful New York gamblers, Sinatra’s character Nathan Detroit is given more to sing than the character in the Broadway show was. Because, well, he’s Frank Sinatra. In the Broadway show, some of the best singing is done by the Sky Masterson character, played by Robert Alda. But in the film, Masterson is played by Brando, not known for his singing, who bulls his way through “Luck Be a Lady.”

"Newsies" will be staged by Maine State Music Theatre this summer. The film version of it will be shown for free at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick on May 19.

“Newsies” will be staged by Maine State Music Theatre this summer. The film version of it will be shown for free at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick on May 19.

“Newsies” started out as a film, about newspaper sellers in the late 1800s. Then it was transformed into a Broadway musical in 2012, with more songs.

“It all has to do with the time period, when those films were being made. The film company would go to the author (of the musical show) and say, ‘We want to make a movie, but here’s what we want to change,’ ” said Clark.

The film series is just one free series MSMT is doing to let people get to know more about their shows. For each of the four main shows this summer – the three musicals plus “Always Patsy Cline” – MSMT will hold a free “Peek Behind the Curtain” event at Curtis Memorial Library. People are invited to come, for free, and hear actors, technicians and other crew talking about each live show. The one-hour events will be held at noon on the second Wednesday of each show’s run. The schedule for the “Peek Behind the Curtain” talks is: June 14, “Always Patsy Cline”; July 5, “Guys and Dolls”; July 26, “Grease”; Aug. 16, “Newsies.”

Film Fridays with Maine State Music Theatre

WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday, May 12 and May 19
WHERE: Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant St., Brunswick
HOW MUCH: Free
INFO: msmt.org; curtislibrary.com
SCHEDULE: Friday, “Guys and Dolls”; May 12, “Grease”; May 19, “Newsies”

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