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Thumbs Up follows 20 year-old aspiring-writer Lexi up the Maine coast as she hitchhikes her way to Canada. Along the way she falls in with a wild mix of characters as she chases down her ever elusive vision quest. This funny and poignant story playfully explores the wisdom of the adage, “You can’t get there from here!”
Building on Celebration Barn’s tradition of original, physically based theater, the Celebration Ensemble is a collaboration between Amanda Huotari, Ian Bannon, Kavi Montanaro and Kelly Nesbitt. With backgrounds in music, photography, puppetry and improvisation, the foursome works collaboratively, telling stories through movement, sound and visual imagery.
“Innovative, intensely funny and uniquely Maine”
– Kara Larson, Portland Performing Arts Festival
|Amanda Huotari is Executive Director of Celebration Barn Theater. With a BFA in acting from Emerson College, she also studied physical theater at the Lecoq School in Paris, France and trained in Italian comedy with Antonio Fava in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Her solo show, The Soiree, has been featured at festivals across the US and beyond including Orlando Fringe Festival, The New York Clown-Theatre Festival and Teatro R101 in Bogota, Colombia.|
|Ian Bannon is the Managing Director of Celebration Barn and Director of Education for Figures of Speech Theatre in Freeport. After graduating from Juniata College with a major in Psychology and Theatre, Ian moved to Maine to attend The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Ian has studied storytelling with Milbre Burch and Antonio Rocha, puppetry with Theodora Skipitares, improvisation with Keith Johnstone, and collaborative theater with Michael Rhodes. He currently teaches theater residencies in schools around the state and tours Figures of Speech’s one-man puppet show, Jester King of Java.|
|Kavi Montanaro is a photographer for Guiding Stars, a company that promotes healthy food for grocery store customers. He saw the world of this father’s early ensembles first hand while growing up at Celebration Barn. Most recently he has studied with improv master Keith Johnstone, puppet-artist Theodora Skipitares and provocateur Laurie Carlos. An artist of eclectic interests, Kavi explores music, writing and videography.|
All photos by Tim Greenway
|Kelly Nesbitt is an occupational therapist and Portland based performing artist who can often be found playing her own original music around town. She serves on the board for Mayo Street Arts and is an avid organizer of local events. At Celebration Barn, she’s studied with Avner Eisenberg and Julie Goell, Robert Post, and Laurie Carlos. Kelly has also studied with Pig Iron Theater Company in Philadelphia. Performance highlights include the Cassandra Project, Philadelphia’s Puppet Uprising, and the International Women’s Clown Festival in Andorra.|
|Fritz Grobe A Maine native, Fritz Grobe left mathematics studies at Yale University to become a circus performer, going on to win 5 gold medals at the International Jugglers Festival. He has since directed, performed with, and developed acts for several national and international touring shows. Starting in 2004, he appeared in a leading role and as featured solo clown in the original cast of the Cirque du Soleil spinoff Birdhouse Factory. Since 2006, he has been half of EepyBird, best known for their viral videos featuring the explosive combination of Coke and Mentos that have been viewed over 100 million times. They have appeared on Letterman, Mythbusters, Ellen, The Today Show, and more.|
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