For the last 10 years since my closest friend moved to Brunswick, Maine, I have been coming to visit each year and grown very attached to this community. Perhaps the chief attraction for me each summer has been to attend thrilling performances of Broadway-quality productions at Maine State Music Theatre. Over the course of the past seven years, I have increased the number of shows I have attended and the time spent in Brunswick. I have gradually fallen in love with this extraordinary theater company and the people who make it happen, and I am now deeply involved as an audience member, donor, volunteer and whole-hearted supporter of the many events MSMT presents.

As a born and bred New Yorker, I have always loved live theatre, and I have extensive experience with Broadway and West End shows. And I can honestly say that the work that MSMT does truly meets these standards! I can remember my first season here saying to my friend after seeing a production “Les Miserables,” “This is amazing! How do they do this in Brunswick, Maine?” And the quality of excellence extends to everything the company produces from their children’s shows to the vibrant concert series to the many free events such as Peek Behind the Curtain, the huge MSMT Concert on the Mall, and in recent years, the co-productions with Portland Stage and the Public Theater. I have also been energized by interaction with the intern company — one of MSMT’s truly remarkable features.

With MSMT as the centerpiece of my visits, I have enjoyed the opportunity to stay in fine hotels like the Brunswick Hotel and Tavern and the Brunswick Inn, eat in almost all the exciting local restaurants, revel in the post-performance nightlife on a beautiful summer’s evening, take part in programs at other local treasures like the Curtis Library, and, of course, enjoy the town’s natural beauty and storied history. I have used Brunswick as a destination and departure point to tour the state of Maine enjoying its many attractions from York to Calais to Fryeburg, and spending a significant portion of my vacation dollars here. I have made numerous new friends and feel myself part of an extended family that all began with a childhood friend and her passion for MSMT.

I have visited twice this summer, and the darkened Pickard Theater, the silence of Maine Street, the absence of crowds reflects a sadness about the pain this pandemic has injected and lurking anxiety about the future. I dream of the day when exuberance and joy will return to enliven Brunswick — when the restaurants, hotels and shops will again be at full capacity, and the town bustling with locals and tourists. Most of all, I pray for a speedy return to production for MSMT, because this theater is in, so many demonstrable ways, the cultural engine of the town and the region.

I have always been a firm believer that the world cannot exist without the arts, and when an organization like MSMT is such a prime mover for a community, the loss looms even greater. Like theaters across the country, MSMT is struggling to secure a fair share of the government aid needed to make a full recovery. And they also rely on individual donations and support —financial and moral — of patrons like me to navigate the challenge-filled road that lies ahead. In some ways, this support seems to me all the more crucial here in Maine, because MSMT is truly the creative heart of this community. Ensuring that theaters like MSMT flourish again — and soon again — makes excellent business sense, but more than that, it is a wisdom that becomes the cornerstone for a healthy, whole society, which will emerge from this pandemic and find new joy, healing and human connection.

Lisa Miglietta lives in Hackensack, New Jersey

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