BETHEL – Ross Timberlake and Lynn Arizzi have taken their love of the performing arts, and citing the abundance of talent in Western Maine, organized a group that aims to help business and promote the arts.

“This is a great example of the creative economy at work,” said Timberlake, a guitarist and small business owner who represents the business side of the Bethel Performing Arts Project.

Arizzi taught music and directed plays in schools in Florida and Virginia and continues to play music and direct plays in Bethel. She represents the performance part of the duo.

“I love this,” she said before she began directing the cast of “Good Help is So Hard to Murder,” a dinner theater production to be staged at the Victoria Inn next month. “We work with organizations and businesses. We hope to have porch plays, with the Bethel Historical Society.”

The performance project is a way for businesses and organizations to promote themselves through the arts.

Flutists played at a downtown restaurant. Singers performed at a hardware store. “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” was staged at an inn, and a harpist played at the Irish shop.

“When a business has an event, using performing artists calls attention,” said Timberlake.

He wrote a well-received comedic play, “The Legend of Lefty,” that was performed before a full house at the Bethel Inn.

Local actors helped raise awareness about a medical issue, too. They staged “Strangers Among Us,” about families facing Alzheimer’s disease.

The opportunities to showcase talent are almost limitless.

“Lynn and I hope people will do these things on their own. We’re going at a snail’s pace. We don’t want to get in the way,” Timberlake said.

They’d like to see businesses step forward with ideas – perhaps a storyteller for an event, a poetry slam or a musician.

Arizzi, Timberlake and others work with the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, schools and churches.

Arizzi hopes to direct a production that will involve both the Senior Players and high school teenagers, and the two plan to hold an open meeting at the beginning of each month to discuss performance events that businesses and organizations could host.

Both want ideas from the community on participation or sponsorship for projects or to help shape the Bethel Performing Arts Project through an advisory committee.

Arizzi was directing the all-female cast of “Good Help is So Hard to Murder” on Thursday at the Victoria Inn. On May 14, 15 and 16, the inn will host a murder mystery dinner theater, using actors from the Senior Players.

“I’ve wanted to do a dinner theater,” said Stacey Sahin, who owns the inn with her husband, Kamil. “This is the first one, and they are wonderful.”

Any performer, business or individual who wants to become involved may call Arizzi at 824-0080 or Timberlake at 824-6545.

“We want to be a resource for people who want to perform,” Timberlake said.


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