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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: April 30, 2018

Daytime Players stage a comedy about the glory days of a college bar

Written by: Bob Keyes

The cast of “Sammy’s”: Matt Kennedy, Penny Davis-Dublin, Chris Roberts and Harley Marshall.
Photo courtesy of Daytime Players

Three former bartenders return to their beer-hall stomping grounds to celebrate their glory days in “Sammy’s: The Greatest College Bar in the History of Mankind,” a new original play by Portland playwright Harley Marshall and the Daytime Players.

“It’s all autobiographical – with some exaggerations,” Marshall said.

“Sammy’s” gets a three-performance premiere at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at School Arts Center in Standish.

Marshall tended bar at Sammy’s in Kansas City, Kansas, beginning in the 1960s. He got out of the bar business and into theater, and many years later he moved to Maine. This play resulted from his return to Kansas City in 2013 to attend the wake of one of his bartending buddies. “That’s what brought us all together again, this guy’s wake,” Marshall said.

In the play, the guy is not dearly departed, but nearly departed, still among the conversant thanks to a guardian angel. He returns to the bar to hang out with his pals and deliver a message that he can’t quite remember, but mostly to relive the glory days at Sammy’s. Among the three, they’ve survived nine marriages. One of his buddies “married his first wife for the second time just to make sure it wouldn’t work,” Marshall said.

The play is meant to be nostalgic and funny, recalling the 1960s. Sammy’s had the best jukebox in town, “with black music, the Doors, ‘Eve of Destruction’ and Bob Dylan” and a well-stocked condom machine. “It was the kind of place people came looking for love, even if it was just till closing time,” Marshall said.

The bar is still open. Depending on how things go in Portland, Marshall is toying with bringing the play to Sammy’s to perform it there.

If not for Sammy’s, Marshall might not have gotten into theater. The bar gave him a sense of the dramatic. After tending bar at Sammy’s, he moved to New York to pursue his interest in theater. After a few years in New York, he moved back to Kansas City and ran a theater, the Actors’ Ensemble, that specialized in new work.

He and his wife moved to Maine eight years ago, and they have mounted mostly original plays since forming the Daytime Players in 2015.

“Sammy’s: The Greatest College Bar in the History of Mankind”

WHERE: Schoolhouse Art Center, 16 Richville Road, Standish
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $10
INFO: schoolhousearts.org

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