Norway street dance reunites band, raises money for Opera House project

0

NORWAY — It was like stepping back in time in downtown Norway on Saturday night as people were “dancing in the street” like they used to in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

It was a one-time, good-old-fashioned street dance. And they were dancing for a cause.

Hundreds of people filled Town Square and lined Main and side streets to listen to a reunion concert from Creation Completed, as the band helped raise money for the Norway Opera House’s second-floor renovation project.

The five-piece band — Alan Bean, Bill Holden, Rob Baker, Dave Ryerson, Karan Shaw Bracy and Annie Somers — used to rock the Opera House as teenagers in the late 1960s and wanted to give back to one of the first venues they played.

Advertisement

Norway Opera Corporation Treasurer Bruce Cook was thrilled with the turnout, pointing to the people sitting beyond the square in the municipal parking lot enjoying the tunes. He said at least a dozen seats were sold, at $200 a pop, for the auditorium in the Opera House on Saturday evening. Donors will get their names inscribed on the seats or on plaques on the wall, depending on the style they purchased.

On top of gathering to help the nonprofit organization restore the Main Street building, reunions were the name of the game Saturday night.

This was true for Cynthia and Al Westcott, who taught many of the band members and those in the crowd at Oxford Hills High School in their respective music and English classes.

“It is unreal,” Cynthia said of the number of people she reconnected with during the first half of the concert. “This is just a fantastic night.”

Al added, “This is kind of like a 30-year class reunion from several classes.” 

There were hugs galore from old friends, as young parents and grandparents danced with children. Most of the crowd swayed back and forth as Creation Completed belted out tunes such as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” and the Rolling Stones’ “Time is on My Side.” But Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” seemed to sum up the night with its chorus, “Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good,” as members of the crowd shouted back at the band, “So good! So good! So good!”

“This is my era,” said John Williams, executive director of the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce, as he and his wife, Wendy, navigated the large crowd.

Even though she wasn’t even born when Creation Completed was in its heyday, the music from that era resonated with 25-year-old Hannah Gentempo of Norway.

“It’s so cool to hear this music and dance to it,” she said as she danced with her boyfriend, Ben Proctor.

Drummer Rob Baker said the band had five practices together before taking the cement stage in Town Square on Saturday. He couldn’t believe the crowd.

“I’m really surprised. It’s a lot more than I expected,” he said during a set break. “I’m thrilled.”

Baker saw many people he hasn’t been in touch with for more than four decades, some of whom he didn’t recognize. He shared the band’s goal with a former teacher during the break.

“The only thing I promised is we would sound better than we did in high school because we sucked then,” Baker said, laughing.

As of Saturday night, $7,770 of the $9,000 goal had been raised for the second-floor renovation project.

Those who couldn’t attend the reunion concert but want to donate can do so: A GoFundMe page has been created at www.gofundme.com/norwayoperahouse. Tax-exempt donations also can be made on the Norway Maine Opera House website, www.saveouroperahouse.org, or checks can be mailed directly to Norway Maine Opera House, P.O. Box 271, Norway, ME 04268.

eplace@sunmediagroup.net

Advertisement