Lea Wait, sharing secrets from my past. I was a late bloomer, at least so far as dating was concerned. In high school I definitely fell into the “nerd” category. I only attended my senior prom in my role as editor of the high school newspaper — and my “date” was the high school junior who was the newspaper photographer. I don’t even remember that we actually danced.
But during my summers in Maine no one knew I was a nerd. I worked (usually in the box office, but also cueing lines or doing whatever else was needed) at the Boothbay Playhouse, a summer equity theatre, and during one of those years I also worked, during the day, at the Boothbay Register, a weekly newspaper in Boothbay Harbor. (That summer I only worked at the Playhouse at night.)
In 1955 the film adaptation of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel had been filmed in Boothbay Harbor. The stars, Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, had won the hearts of everyone in the region and had signed autographs for many of them. Best of all, many residents of the Harbor had gotten jobs as extras in the film. In the 1960s, before cable TV or videos or DVDs made it possible to see any movie at almost any time, the Opera House (aka movie theatre) in Boothbay Harbor would have one showing of Carousel each summer so everyone could come and once again relive the excitement of that filming, and see themselves on the big screen.
My date had been one of those extras. Not, you understand, anyone who could be identified in the film. He’d been one of the many young (and not so young) people hired to sail their boats across the harbor during the scene in which everyone is heading out to the island clambake.
Our date involved joining practically the entire population of Boothbay Harbor (standing room only!) at the Opera House to see Carousel. You couldn’t hear all the words in the movie, since everyone was busily pointing out themselves and their friends, singing along with the cast, talking about where parts of the film were shot, and remembering what Shirley Jones’ favorite ice cream soda flavor had been at the local drugstore and who’d served her.
It was, I’ll admit, a fun date. More fun than the relationship, which was short-lived. But I loved the movie. I still do.
Today few people remember Carousel, or remember it was shot in Boothbay Harbor. Even Carousel Wharf (see picture), where the song and dance “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” was filmed, which for years was pointed out by tour boats, is now hard to locate. But it’s still there, part of the Carousel Marina, at 125 Atlantic Avenue, a berth for visiting yachts on the east side of the harbor.
I read recently that plans are on the drawing board to re-make Carousel, this time with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in the starring roles.
If that ever happens, it would be wonderful if they’d consider coming back to Boothbay Harbor. Carousel Wharf is still there, and we still do great clambakes. That drugstore Shirley Jones visited is gone. But I’m sure we could find a way to get Round Top Ice Cream in Damariscotta to supply the cast and crew with ice cream sodas.
Maine is waiting. And in the important ways, it hasn’t changed all that much since 1955.