|FROM The Camden Herald, April 3, 1997
BRINGING THE ARTS TO CAMDEN
By Susan Mustapich
In the entertainment industry, the old saying "Build
it and they will come" just doesn't cut it. Now that
the renovation of the Camden Opera House is nearly complete,
entertainment professional Chuck Kruger is on board to ensure
that performers and audiences will indeed arrive.
Kruger, who has over 20 years of experience performing as
a singer-songwriter and presenting and producing concerts,
festivals, conventions and stage shows, is behind much of
the big-name entertainment that has come to the Midcoast in
For the past two years, Kruger has booked MBNA's annual employee
party, which featured Sha-Na-Na one year and Chubby Checker
the next. Kruger's April engagements include Tom Rush at the
Waldo Theater and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary
fame, at the Portland High School. Other clients include L.L.
Bean, the Augusta Civic Center, Apple Computer, Clipper Cruise
Lines and Bates College.
Kruger is also the man behind the entertainment at this year's
Lobster Festival, which will feature a legendary Motown group.
Last year, Kruger was approached by the town of Camden to
bring three- to- five special events to the Opera House, geared
toward families and year-round residents. Each event is sponsored
by one or more local businesses, with proceeds going to the
Opera House Events Fund.
"The idea was to bring in local businesses and other
community groups to work together and attract national acts
to town during the quieter times of the year," Kruger
said recently. "The beauty of it is that we can schedule
events when the town isn't in full summer season, enhance
town life for year-round residents and also benefit local
restaurants and stores."
Town Manager Roger Moody sees the Opera House partnership
as a way to enrich the cultural life of the area.
"With MBNA's support, the renovation of the Opera House
went far beyond our original goals," he said. "The
beauty of the restored building inspired the committee to
seek new events to present there."
The first event was Rick Charette and The Bubble Gum Band,
a musical family show especially for children. Jaret &
Cohn Real Estate and Camden National Bank sponsored the event.
Over 300 people attended, and with the assistance of the corporate
sponsors, the event covered costs and contributed $600 to
the Opera House fund. The fund will provide a basis for putting
on future shows.
Lee Szelog, marketing manager at Camden National Bank, sees
the Opera House partnership as "a great opportunity to
support our local community, where we always like to put our
emphasis. The Rick Charette concert was a lot of fun, and
it laid the groundwork to continue the effort."
"The Camden Opera House is a beautiful facility,"
Szelog added, "and if people have the opportunity to
see a play or a concert there, they shouldn't pass up the
Kruger expects to announce the Opera House's next special
event, which will take place in June, shortly.
Kruger's expertise comes from his experience in the entertainment
business and his understanding of the industry from the perspective
of performer, presenter, producer and agent. Over the course
of his career he has developed extensive contacts with artists
and management on a national level. Another tool at his disposal
is tour information available on-line and through industry
publications that details artists' tours and itineraries.
The business side of booking acts involves calculating the
gross revenues an event will generate based on the ticket
price the market will bear and the number of tickets that
might be sold. Kruger then tries to put the event together
for about half that amount.
The town of Camden receives proceeds from various organizations
who use the Opera House. The Camden Civic Theatre pays a percentage
of ticket sales, and most groups pay a rental fee. Kruger's
productions turn over to the town all proceeds above cost.
The type of act the Opera House can attract is limited by
the size of the theater, which seats 490, and the drawing
power of acts that have less drawing power in cities like
Portland or Bangor. But the Opera House Committee, local businesses
and Kruger are not counting themselves out.
"The committee wants to stretch and attract known acts
who may not play smaller theaters but who know me or enjoy
the area," explained Kruger. "The Smothers Brothers,
who will be sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation in August,
don't usually play in smaller concert halls or come to Maine.
We're expecting more acts like this, and there's no reason
why we shouldn't get them."