UMPI’s Wieden Hall auditorium was packed with spectators on Saturday, April 6, for a showing of John Cariani’s play: “Love/Sick.” Some of the money from the tickets goes toward renovations for the auditorium.
The play is written as nine short stories each involving two characters in a plot about love or mental illness. The mental illness is often satirical such as the “obsessive impulsive disorder.” That story involves two characters falling in love at first sight in a supercenter and hilariously failing to control their impulses to act on that love. The supercenter is mentioned in all of the stories as a running gag. The play itself brought the community of Presque Isle and others together for a night of laughter and enjoyment. There is a camaraderie among those involved with the performing arts in the area. “We always come to the plays. They usually have big turnouts. We are personal friends with some of the people in this. We know many of those involved,” two attendees of the play said.
There were families and people of all age groups attending the play. Others traveled long distances to see people they know perform. “I live in Atlanta, Ga. I’ve just flown up for the weekend to watch my sister in the performance,” Bill Glidden said. Glidden also noted that it was an impressive turnout. After the play, the actors–Jeff Ashby, Amy Daniels, Judy Crawford, Dan Ladner, John Kiehn, Matt St. Jean, Jonna Bouré, Tamia Glidden, Yvette Stephens, Debbie Lamont and Sherry Sullivan–all lined up in the hallway. They engaged with spectators and fans, signing autographs and thanking people for coming. “We’ve been around for so long, everybody knows everybody,” director Barbara Ladner said.
Barbara Ladner is a founder of the Presque Isle Community Players, which most of the actors are part of. That heightens the feeling of camaraderie, fun and purpose. They aren’t acting for money: they are doing it for noble causes and fun. “It’s a friendship between the university and the Presque Isle Community Players,” Barbara Ladner said. Dan Ladner, Barbara’s husband, who stars as the “Singing Telegram Man,” in “Love/Sick,” ran the performing arts center in Caribou “We did a musical every year for many years,” Barbara said. John Cariani grew up in Presque Isle and three of his plays have been performed in Presque Isle, including “Love/Sick.” Cariani remembered his roots while writing plays. The Presque Isle Community Players thank Cariani for his continued support. “We’ve had a friendship for years,” Barbara Ladner said.
The Presque Isle Community Players use events at UMPI as fundraisers to upgrade the auditorium. The Wieden Hall auditorium has a capacity of 400 seats and opened on April 2, 1960. The facilities have degraded and with help it could become a place for community events and theater. The Presque Isle Community Players represent the ideal of keeping history and important venues alive through art. This play or the next one they do could be the spark that lights the fire of renovation and recreation.