Comedian Marley to perform at Franco Center

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LEWISTON — Bob Marley may create a new home-stage in Lewiston’s Franco-American Heritage Center.

The comedian has signed to play a pair of back-to-back shows on March 30 in the center’s grand performance hall at 46 Cedar St. If the shows go well, Marley might return once or twice a year, he said.

“Lewiston draws a great crowd in,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “They’re good laughers. They’re good Mainers.”

Plans call for tickets to go on sale Friday. Shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Admission is $24.50. Each 90-minute show will feature an opening act and likely will include a video segment.

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Though the sometimes-goofy, rubber-faced comedian has performed at many venues in the area, few fit him, he said. Some are too big. Some are too small, and some would push ticket prices too high, he said.

“I feel like, in Lewiston, we should have more of a place to be,” Marley said.

Louis Morin, the Franco center’s executive director, hopes to fill the void.

Marley’s annual Merrill Auditorium concerts in Portland have become a New Year’s tradition, drawing huge crowds for more than a decade.

Since Morin came to the center last fall, he has aimed to broaden the audience that attends events at the Little Canada landmark. Popular events such as the French-language “La Rencontre,” which features a noontime meal and show and draws a largely elderly crowd, will continue.

But Morin is adding younger acts, too. Concerts with Grateful Dead and Phish cover bands are planned. And a second of three scheduled comedy nights is planned for Friday evening. The 8 p.m. show will feature comedians Tom Hayes, Jay Grove and Tammy Pooler.

There will be adjustments, though.

Morin is considering putting a curtain in front of the former Catholic church’s Madonna, which stands above the stage.

Marley laughed at the idea.

“Marley’s coming!” the comedian joked. “Cover up the Virgin Mary! Hide the kids! Bring the dogs in!”

He promised to be mindful of the building’s history.

“I’ll have to be cautious of that,” he said.

He will play, though. Lewiston, like Biddeford and Buxton, is a regular part of his act.

The Maine native, who shot an ad for Lewiston-Auburn’s “LA: It’s Happening Here!” campaign has worked the experience into a routine.

“I did the commercial and it took me like 45 takes because I kept messing around. Eventually, what I end up saying to the audience is, “LA, What Happened Here?”

Some folks greet such jokes with furrowed brows.

“Of course, I’m kidding,” he said. “My wife’s whole family is in Lewiston and I have relatives there.”

He hopes the shows in Lewiston will show folks a good time.

“At this point, I’m kind of like everybody’s relative,” he said. “People know me.”

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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