January 20, 2013

Skowhegan theater studio gives children escape on the stage

Midge’s Theater Arts Studio plays 'Pied Piper, The Musical at 2 p.m. Feb. 16

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN — Six-year-old Lyric Whitaker normally is a shy little girl.

click image to enlarge

Midge Pomelow, right, rehearses a scene from "Pied Piper of Hamelin" with Cody Pomelow, 13, right center, Zoie Hills, 9, left center, and Lyric Whitaker, 6, left foreground, at Midge's Theater Arts Studio on Water Street in Skowhegan Tuesday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

But not when she is playing Bongo, the silly policeman in “Pied Piper, The Musical.”

“Lyric is probably the most shy of any of the children in the family, or even in the group,” said her grandmother, Midge Pomelow, who opened Midge’s Theater Arts Studio in September on Water Street in Skowhegan. “Some children are born performers, and there are others that just need to know that this is an outlet. By being someone else, being able to put themselves in a different place and become a different person, they can forget all that other stuff and just be what it is they are supposed to be within the part.”

The new studio is open to all area children and is run privately, independent of area schools, which have their own drama programs. Enrollment costs $10 per student per day. The group meets after school four days a week.

Rehearsals and performances are in space previously occupied by a martial arts school, and Decal Gymnastics before that. It was McLellan’s Department Store many years ago, with entrances on both Water and Commercial streets.

Pomelow, 56, was the performing arts instructor at Carrabec High School for 12 years and has acted and taught summer drama camp at Lakewood Theater for more than a decade. She majored in theater at what is now the University of Southern Maine.

Pomelow, of Solon, said 12 children attend studio sessions, with a couple of older students as volunteers. The group had its first performance in October, when more than 100 people showed up for the performance of “Peter Pan.”

The student performers said they signed up for a variety of reasons. Lyric Whitaker said it was “really fun,” but was too shy to elaborate.

Others were more outgoing.

“I’m doing this because it gives me a chance to hang out with my friends and express my inner artistic side,” said Romy Gerstenberger, 11, of Norridgewock.

Emma York, 11, of Skowhegan, said she likes acting and meeting new people. She said “Pied Piper” is not just about ridding the town of Hamelin of its rat population.

“The people don’t pay him, so he takes away their children and hides them in a mountain,” she said. “The message is, if you take responsibilities now, you won’t pay for it later.”

“Pied Piper, The Musical” will be performed at 2 p.m. Feb. 16. Admission costs $5. Pomelow can be contacted on Facebook at Midge’s Theater Arts Studio or by calling 431-0511.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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