2012-02-17 / Ticket

Cabaret celebrates romance, Longfellow

BY ROBERT JARRATT Special to The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — You say you weren’t able to celebrate with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day? Well, Friday, Feb. 24, provides a perfect solution to capture those lost moments.

It’s an evening cabaret in the cozy confines of the Robinson Room at the Inn at Brunswick Station. This soirée is one of the concluding events of Longfellow Days, the month-long celebration of one of Bowdoin College’s famous alumni, world-renowned poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

As cabaret suggests, the festivities will feature an array of musical entertainment, highlighting local and regional artists to complement chef Kevin Cunningham’s signature desserts. Cheeses and beverages also will be served.

In keeping with the “Poet of the Heart” theme this year, there will be readings of love letters from Longfellow and his wife, Fanny.

Performers include Maine State Music Theatre’s darling, Birdie Katz, who returns to her old haunts following a nine-month stint with the cast of “Fiddler on the Roof,” where she starred in the role of Yente, the Matchmaker. Her North American tour covered the United States and Canada.

Birdie will be heading to Indianapolis this spring for a two-month run of “The Music Man” at the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. She has performed in regional theaters in Florida and New York, has been a regular at MSMT during the past 16 years, sung National Anthems for the Orioles, Red Sox and Celtics and even kissed Paul Newman in HBO’s “Empire Falls.” A concert singer and soloist with orchestras and jazz combos, she has carved out her niche as one of Maine’s talented performers.

Now, in their fourth year, the area’s Merrymeeting Singers perform annual Twelfth Night and spring concerts of classical, popular and folk music. At the cabaret, they will sing an Elizabethan Madrigal and Shaker songs.

The Merrymeeting Singers include the local talents of Brad Mitchell, David Roundy, Elaine Hart- man, Judy Chamberlain, Louise Gephart, Peg Brightman, Sally Horne and Stephanie Bernier, all under the musical direction of Larry Lemmel.

Topsham resident David Dean will provide musical accompaniment as well as perform songs by John Hiatt and Billy Joel in his uniquely smooth style. Dean, who is originally self-taught, playing since he was 8 years old, studied music and piano at Vermont’s Johnson State College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music. He also plays guitar, writes some of his own music and performs in the pop-rock band Duke.

What would an evening of music be without one of Bowdoin College’s magnificent a cappella groups with their rare blend of musical harmony? The newest co-ed singing group, Ursus Verses, will perform songs from a repertoire that includes music from the top of today’s charts to those from 30 years ago.

Ursus Versus has risen quickly through the ranks of the collegiate a cappella scene by traveling and hosting invitational concerts at Bowdoin.

Finally, Brunswick’s man of the month, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, will be woven throughout the evening with Gary Lawless, co-owner of the Gulf of Maine Bookstore, and Maryli Tiemann, this year’s Longfellow Days chairwoman, sharing selected letters of Longfellow and his wife, Fanny.

“We know Longfellow wrote masterfully,” Tiemann said. “The surprise is in Fanny’s brilliance and ability to capture detail. Her writing reflects a woman of abundant insight and compassion. She’s an inspiration.”

The Valentine Buffet and Cabaret will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at The Inn at Brunswick Station on the corner of Maine and Noble streets. Reservations at $20 may be made at: brunswickdowntown.com via PayPal or phone 729-4439.

MARYLI TIEMANN contributed to this report.

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