Ticket holders to Community Little Theatre's "A Night at the Tonys" will get a sneak peek at the theater's new vintage photo exhibit celebrating Lewiston-Auburn's historic music, dance and theatrical halls on Saturday, Sept. 8 beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The exhibit, entitled “L/A’s Storied & Historic Music, Dance and Theatrical Performance Halls & Performers: A Visual Photographic Retrospective to Remember,” will be hung in the lobby of the Great Falls Performing Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn. The exhibit's official opening is set for 2 p.m., Sept. 15.
Featuring vintage photographs of area performance and dance halls dating back to the late 1800s, the gallery will include a diverse collection of original pieces submitted by local and regional history buffs as well as select items provided by the University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection and Androscoggin Historical Society.
“For a lot of people, I think they will be amazed at just how many performance, music and dance halls there were in Lewiston and Auburn,” said curator Michael Koch. “Right around the turn of the century, Lewiston and Auburn supported more than 25 various halls for entertainment with traveling acts coming in from all over the country.”
The show includes images of L/A’s performance halls and theaters as well as dozens of stage performance portraits showcasing an assortment of actors, many of whom are still well known in the area.
“Especially for the senior crowd, the feedback has been extremely positive,” said Koch. “So often we’ve heard about the theater and dance halls as being community gathering points, where all classes of people could come for entertainment. Although we may have lost the hall’s physical presence, we still have the memories.”
Koch claims to only have scratched the surface with his research and hopes the show continues to grow as word of the exhibit spreads.
“History and architecture research projects are a passion of mine,” said Koch. “What’s really thrilling about this endeavor is working with residents to identify the people in these photographs. They get caught up in the stories and you can just watch them get transported to a time before we lost community landmarks like the Empire Theatre or former Music Hall.”
Initially pitched as an idea to merge artistic space with theatrical performances to better establish the theatre as a destination in downtown Auburn, the concept intrigued Community Little Theatre staff.
“Having the exhibit here in the lobby of our theater is a great addition,” said Karen Mayo, vice president of Community Little Theatre. “We want to open our venue not just to the arts community, but the community in general. To do this, we need to provide stimulating programming that provides value.”
Running in conjunction with CLT’s annual fundraiser, volunteers and staff hope to draw interest to the location by offering a sneak preview of the exhibit to ticket holders.
“I like to think of this as a way to pay homage to the performers of Lewiston and Auburn for the last 100 years,” added Koch. “Every now and then it’s okay to take a step back and look at how far we’ve come. We may not have as many theaters and halls in the area, but the ones we do have are some of the best in Maine and New England.”
A glimpse of the exhibit will be offered to ticket holders attending Community Little Theatre’s event “A Night at the Tony’s,” Saturday, Sept. 8. The gallery will then open to the public Saturday, Sept 15 from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. with additional dates and times to be decided at a future time.
For more information about the exhibit, to purchase tickets for the fundraiser please visit www.laclt.com, call 783-0958, or visit Community Little Theatre at 30 Academy St., Auburn.
What: “L/A’s Storied & Historic Music, Dance and Theatrical Performance Halls & Performers: A Visual Photographic Retrospective to Remember.”
Where: Community Little Theatre, 30 Academy St., Auburn
When: Sneak preview 5:30 p.m., Sept. 8., official opening, 2 p.m., Sept. 15
Cost: $15 per ticket Sept. 8, for an entire evening of CLT performers in "A Night at the Tony's," as well as an auction, cash bar and light foods. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 7 p.m.