Patrick Dorow steps into a hallway in the Kittery Community Center. It’s a quiet Tuesday afternoon outside the building, but inside, the sound of children’s laughter spills into the hallway. With community programs, daycare, and fitness classes all under the same roof, it’s a busy place, but these things seem like sources of inspiration for Dorow as he manages Patrick Dorow Productions (PDP).
PDP is set to bring 13 musical productions to the Seacoast during the company’s 2016 season, starting with “Smokey Joe’s Café,” which opens on Feb. 12 at Star Theatre, located within the Kittery Community Center in Kittery, Maine. The season includes six main-stage productions featuring professional actors from the Seacoast and beyond, and a series of teen and youth productions.
This year’s slate of shows includes musicals “Nunsense,” “Cats,” and “American Idiot.” The latter show is a stage adaptation of Green Day’s rock opera of the same name.
“‘American Idiot’ is going to be very groundbreaking,” Dorow says. “No one’s done something like that around here … I think we’re going to get performers that come out of the woodwork that we’ve never seen because it’s a very specific type of show.”
Later this fall, PDP presents the musical “Cabaret,” which Dorow himself will perform in.
“It’s dark and real,” says Dorow, “a really dramatic, beautiful piece of art that I’m excited to sink our teeth into. I’m very excited about each individual show, but collectively there’s something for everyone … there’s a little bit of everything throughout the whole year.”
The company’s last production for the year will be “Home for the Holidays,” their traditional season closer. Dorow says “Home for the Holidays” is an example of how rapidly PDP has grown. The first year of the production featured 10 performers at the North Church in Portsmouth for a one-night performance. The last production had a cast of 50 and filled The Music Hall.
Three years ago, Dorow started his production company with his mother and stepfather.
“We started it as a family business,” Dorow says. “The core to all of our business is having a family aspect.”
It’s turned out to be a large family. A network of actors young and old have built their careers around PDP. Dorow places a lot of emphasis on the importance of mentoring.
“That’s a combination of pairing the best local talent, including our teens who we’ve been training for years, with guest artists from Broadway and national tours and television,” Dorow says.
Dorow already has access to a vast network of professionals who he has worked with since he began his career as a child. Ari Wilford, who has been cast in Broadway’s “Once,” and Alison Cusano, who starred in “A Night with Janis Joplin,” are two professionals Dorow calls friends.
“These are all friends of mine who I grew up with or have performed with that have gone out to continue their careers, and I give them a call and they come in to do a gig, and it’s just a fun night of music,” Dorow says.
Actor Chelsea Hermann has her roots in PDP shows. Now studying musical theater in New York, Hermann previously performed on stage at the Prescott Park Arts Festival, the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, The Players’ Ring, and with PDP. She plays Delee in the upcoming production of “Smokey Joe’s Café.” She says Dorow’s dedication to his company has been unwavering.
“He truly wants to make more opportunities available to not just adults, but kids as well,” Hermann says. “He’s very passionate about the kids in this area growing up with what we had as kids — a very strong theater home base. We both grew up with Seacoast Repertory Theatre, surrounded by theater professionals. I think he’s trying to recreate that atmosphere in his own way.”
For Hermann, coming home to perform with old friends is a treat.
“It’s nice to be able to take a step out of the hustle and bustle of New York to come home to familiar faces and such a support system,” she says. “I get to see my family, perform, and breathe a little easier, and that I will always be thankful for.”
Patrick Dorow Production’s 2016 season begins with “Smokey Joe’s Café,” Feb. 12-28, Star Theatre, 120 Rogers Road, Kittery, Maine. Tickets at patrickdorowproductions.com.
Top of page: The cast of Patrick Dorow Productions’ Youth MainStage show, “Life on a Plate: The Story of a Pea,” by Miles Burns. courtesy photo