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Author of upcoming 125th anniversary musical shares reflections of what inspired him to write

April 2, 2004


Rehearsals continue for the University of Maine at Fort Kent's creative anniversary production "UMFK: 125 The Musical". With UMFK spirit, students, faculty and community members continue working to stage a show that will trace the history of the university in a two-act production.

The work of more than 20 actors, musicians, vocalists and stage crew can be seen April 22, 23, and 24 in the Fox Auditorium each night on the Fort Kent campus at 7:30 p.m. The dedicated group of individuals has been working collaboratively as a team since the end of January.

Charles "Chuck" Closser is professor of oral communication and theatre and performing arts at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Having written the book and lyrics for the show, Closser is one of many who can tell you firsthand the amount of work and effort put forth for the upcoming musical.

"The show is loosely based on the history of the school. This means we have taken a great deal of artistic license in writing dialogue for known personalities from the past," said Closser.

A musical usually starts with a theme story or idea to serve a central focus. In this case it was the idea of a celebration of UMFK and its 125 years of existence.

Closser began by reading historical accounts of events in the area. This soon led him to people with colorful stories about people later used and mentioned in the musical. It was important for Closser to create characters that would be fun and enjoyable to the audience.

"It's a celebration of 125 years, not a reiteration, we hit the highlights," says Closser.

When creating the book for the musical Closser made the characters appear contemporary instead of them looking like a "dusty photograph". Audience members will be able to connect with the cast in this visual medium.

"I was looking for the lighter side and creatively tried to make the people mentioned in the musical come to life," Closser recollects.

Practices are held most evenings in the Fox Auditorium. Rehearsals have allowed the actors and chorus proper rehearsal space. Blocking and staging the cast has been a collaborative effort between Closser and Joseph Zubrick.

In addition, Scott Brickman and Suzie Paradis hold instrumental and dance rehearsals tying their expertise in with that of Closser and Zubrick. "It cannot be stressed enough that what is taking place continues to be a collective effort of many participating," said Closser.

Next week's article on "UMFK 125: The Musical" will give you an inside look and focus on the cast.

Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased in the UMFK university relations office and at any local Key Bank branch.

For more information, contact the university relations office at 834-7557.