From chance meetings with stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Kevin Bacon and Hugh Jackman to working for legendary producer, Victoria Crandall, at Maine State Music Theatre, Brian has a story to tell. His upbeat attitude has allowed him to see the humor in life, and his life has been a riot.
Did I tell you about taking piano lessons at the casket factory? How about the time I lead a tour to London and we ended up in the wrong country? Oh, I've got to tell you about the bats in our belfry. One part play, one part stand-up comedy and all hilarious.
"Allen is a natural born storyteller!"
Amusing show reveals the life of Brian, theater's executive and artistic director
The Maine Sunday Telegram by April Boyle, 11/14/2010
What do the words "blueberries," "Broadway" and "Brian" have in common? you ask. No, they're not the opening pages of the "Berenstains' B Book."
But, they are the cornerstones for a story with wacky events that could easily have come from the minds of Stan and Jan Berenstain or, better yet, Dr. Seuss.
Good Theater's latest offering isn't a children's tale, though. And, for Brian P. Allen, life is definitely crazier than fiction. "Blueberries, Broadway & Brian" is a revealing tell-all about Allen's 51-year journey from "blueberry queen" to executive and artistic director of the Good Theater.
Allen's charming walk down memory lane opens with a series of old photographs, projected on a screen on stage. Oohs, aahs and laughter filled the room Friday night as various images flashed of Allen as a smiling baby, a child in horned-rimmed glasses, a young boy playing in a kiddie pool with his younger sister and finally stopping on a picture of Allen as a young man that made him blush as he walked out onto the stage.
"It's only life -- you can't get it wrong," Allen told the audience at the close of the show. And, this perhaps best explains how a Maine boy, who was born to a family of blueberry mongers, could grow up to tour nationally, do shows off-Broadway, star in a reality television show, co-found a theater and hobnob with celebrities.
Allen's family owns and operate Allen's Blueberries, currently headquartered in Ellsworth. At age 8, Allen began raking blueberries and became second in charge at age 16. Blueberries were his life and a career in theater seemed unlikely for a boy born in Ellsworth and growing up in Union.
As Allen tells it, though, the theater bug first bit him when he starred as Sunny Bunny at age 7 in "Sunny Bunny's First Easter." Theater has been his true passion ever since.
"Blueberries, Broadway & Brian" is packed with tales of colorful characters and amusing adventures and misadventures from Allen's life. There are stories from his youth about taking piano lessons at a casket factory; bats in the belfry of his family's Adams family-esque home; and loving reminisces about his sister, his parents -- whom he refers to as the Stiller and Meara of Union -- his grandmother and his grandfather, who is still alive at age 96.
There are also plenty of zany tales about Allen's eight years working with Victoria Crandall at what is now known as Maine State Music Theatre and fun anecdotes about crossing paths with such stars as Susan Sarandon, Elizabeth Taylor and Kevin Bacon.
In "Carol Burnett Show" fashion, Allen wraps up the evening with questions from the audience that showcases his ability to think on his feet.
"I'm having a blast at 51," Allen says in his news release. "I get to do exactly what I want to do, exactly where I want to do it. So many people in the arts don't get to say that. I'm a lucky guy who can usually find the humor in most things and 'Blueberries, Broadway & Brian' is all about the humor.
The show lasts approximately an hour and half, and Allen's fascinating life story is sure to bring a smile to your face.
'Blueberries, Broadway & Brian'
The Times Record by Scott Andrews, 11/15/2010
Brian Allen, a fixture of Maine theater for three decades, spins stories about his experiences in a very funny, engaging, highly personal show at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland.
Brian P. Allen, co-founder and artistic director of Portland’s Good Theater, has loved the stage all his life. His first public performance was in the title role of “Sonny Bunny” in a grade school production, and after college he became the business manager of Maine State Music Theatre.
He’s had many theatrical experiences since then, including a national tour of an off-Broadway show he co-created.
His latest stage incarnation is a very funny, very engaging biographical retrospective that recounts his life and times, starting with the family blueberry business in Union up to the present. Along the way he’s met some interesting characters and had some fascinating experiences.
“Blueberries, Broadway & Brian” is divided roughly 50-50 between stand-up comedy and one-man play. It’s full of laughs and offers wonderful insights into characters such as the late Vickie Crandall, MSMT founder and longtime artistic director.
I saw it this past weekend and highly recommend the show to anyone interested in theater, especially its behind-the-scenes workings.
Written & performed by Brian P. Allen
Lighting - Jamie Grant
Stage Manager - Justin Cote
* Member Actors' Equity Association