Ticket holders to Community Little Theatre’s “A Night at the Tony’s” fundraising event on Saturday, September 8 will get a sneak preview of a new exhibit of historic photographs entitled “L/A’s Storied and Historic Music, Dance and Theatrical Performance Halls and Performers: A Visual Photographic Retrospective to Remember.” The exhibit will be on display in the lobby, which CLT plans to use going forward as a gallery space.
Featuring vintage photographs of area performance and dance halls dating as far back as the late 1800s, the exhibit will include a diverse collection of original pieces submitted by local and regional history aficionados as well as select items provided by the University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection and the Androscoggin Historical Society.
“I think a lot of people will be amazed at how many performance, music, and dance halls there were in Lewiston and Auburn,” said curator Michael Koch. “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 from the senior crowd, the feedback has been extremely positive,” said Koch. “So often we’ve heard that the theater and dance halls were community gathering points, where all classes of people could come for entertainment. Although we may have lost the halls’ 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,” continued 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 and the 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 of a gallery intrigued Community Little Theatre (CLT) 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 to the community in general. To do this, we need to provide stimulating programming that provides value.”
“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.”
After “A Night at the Tony’s,” the exhibit will be on display for viewing by the public on Saturday, Sept 15 from 2 to 7 p.m., with additional dates and times to be announced.
General seating tickets are only $15. For more information about the exhibit, to purchase tickets for “A Night at the Tony’s,” or to become a sponsor, see visit www.laclt.com, call (207) 783-0958, or visit Community Little Theatre at 30 Academy Street in Auburn.