Bucksport Boasts Vibrant Community Theater



BUCKSPORT — For budding performers in the Bucksport area, joining the Riverbend Players is a quick route to the stage.

Members of the Riverbend Players rehearse before a dinner theater performance in Verona Island last October. From left to right are Sandi Blanchette, Oliva Jacques, Suzi Leeman, Amber Harvey, Rita Pollard, Paula Webster and Shelly Curtain.
Members of the Riverbend Players rehearse before a dinner theater performance in Verona Island last October. From left to right are Sandi Blanchette, Oliva Jacques, Suzi Leeman, Amber Harvey, Rita Pollard, Paula Webster and Shelly Curtain.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of experience or even talent. Members join for the sheer fun of performing.

“This group has just gelled,” said group President Suzi Leeman. “We get along great. If someone has an idea, it just takes off.”

Rita Pollard (left) and Suzi Leeman perform in character as the Grouchy Old Ladies at the Riverbend Players’ 2007 holiday show at The Alamo Theatre in Bucksport.
Rita Pollard (left) and Suzi Leeman perform in character as the Grouchy Old Ladies at the Riverbend Players’ 2007 holiday show at The Alamo Theatre in Bucksport.
The Riverbend Players started in 2004, when about a dozen members of the Bucksport Community Theatre formed a new group to put on smaller, more diverse productions.

The two groups coordinate when possible. Many Riverbend Players continue to perform in the Bucksport Community Theatre’s summer musicals.

The Riverbend Players usually stage a couple of shows each year. They are the traditional opening and closing act for the Bucksport Bay Festival in late July.

The community is the group’s first resource for filling roles, audience seats and the costume and prop collection.

Shows are typically a collection of short skits and other acts.

Past guest performers have included a juggler, magician, unicyclist and barbershop quartet.

“Sometimes it feels like a variety show,” Leeman said.

The group is interested in doing a full-length play sometime in the near future. Members are also looking for a venue for dinner theater performances. They used to perform at Kravings on Verona Island, but the restaurant has since closed.

One of the group’s signature acts is a skit called the Grouchy Old Ladies. The sketch is modeled after “The Muppet Show” characters Statler and Waldorf. The two disagreeable old men heckled the rest of the Muppets cast from their balcony seats.

Leeman and fellow Grouchy Old Lady Rita Pollard describe themselves as “the female version” of the act.

“I’m like the proper one,” Leeman explained.

“Prissy is the word,” Pollard said.

Some of the group’s skits are original, while others are adapted from existing plays. Riverbend Player Shelly Curtain writes many of the skits and often directs performances. Another member, Laura Emack, is a budding playwright.

Past performances have included “Golden Radio Days,” a spin-off of “A Prairie Home Companion,” a Wild West-themed dinner theater show and a holiday skit about Santa and his reindeer going on strike.

The Riverbend Players have an e-mail list of over 100 potential cast and crew members.

“We love to get people involved,” Leeman said. “This town is full of talent.”

The Riverbend Players hold business meetings the first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Jewett Community Center.

For more information, contact Suzi Leeman at 469-5885 or [email protected]

The group also has a Web site at www.riverbendplayers.com.

For more arts stories, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

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