Rockland is book-ending this summer season with celebrations of local talent. Both will benefit local organizations … and one offers a little fortune with its shot of fame.

A show of talent

On Thursday, June 9, a variety show dubbed “Mid Coast Maine Has Talent … Or Not!” will run from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St. The show is presented by the Strand and emcee Paul Benjamin, co-founder and producer of the North Atlantic Blues Festival, as a fundraiser for Rockland Main Street, Inc.

The show is not a talent competition, Benjamin said, but rather a chance for people to get on stage and perform for their community. Some of the 18 acts have done more of that than others, and it will be up to Benjamin to keeps things free and flowing.

“We decided to do a ‘Tonight Show’ format, to keep things fun and informal. It will be a real family friendly show,” he said.

Each act will perform between eight and 10 minutes, he added, and there will be a lot of variety. The lineup features acoustic/folk singers and songwriters Nick & Louise, Lizzy Dickerson, Tom Albury, Lynne Frey, Dusty & Joanna, Jackie Bater and Aldan Mason; dancers Annika Charland and Sydny Fields, Aubrey Anderson and Christian Clayton, Kea Tesseyman and also her Kinetic Energy Alive hip hop dancers; comedians Beth McKinney and Big Ben (Perry) and Stanley; youth gospel group Harmony 4 Him; Celtic harp player Nancy Schroeder; local cable raconteur Al Gardner, singing an Elvis song; vocalist Elise Bell, who will sing solo and with the Downtown Divas; and local YouTube hitmaker Erwin Robinson, performing “Driving Old Memories” as his nostalgic video appears on the big screen.

It’s quite the diverse lineup and it will be up to Benjamin, and his eye-popping “Memphis suits,” to keep everyone relaxed and entertained. To that end, he will be chatting in-between acts with folks from Rockland Main Street, Inc.

Tickets are $15, $10 for students. They are available in advance at the Strand, Grasshopper Shop and Fiore Olive Oils in Rockland; and at Planet Toys in Camden. Tickets also will be available at the door.

A talent show

Those who take in “Mid Coast Maine Has Talent … Or Not!” and think “Hey, I could do that” have a chance to test the theory. Rockland Kiwanis have announced TalentedME!, a talent search that will wind its way through six summer weeks to conclude with a grand finale that will award its winners handsomely, to the tune of a total of $1,300 in cash prizes.

The idea for a talent search came up as Kiwanians were reviewing last year’s fundraiser, the Build and Bid to Benefit Kids Birdhouse Bonanza.

“It was a lot of work and didn’t fly as well as we’d hoped. Someone said, what about a talent search? We don’t think anyone else has done that locally, search for raw talent,” said John Batty, a member of the service club’s board of directors.

TalentedME! has set no limit on age, type of talent or, for that matter, state of residency. Competitors younger than 18 have to have parent or guardian authorization, but Batty said the search is open to all. Applications, which must describe the talents, can be downloaded at and must be postmarked or delivered by June 30.

During the month of July, the Kiwanis organizers will sift through the applications and choose between 30 and 40 acts for the competition.

“We’re hoping for all types of talent — comedy, soloists, bands, magic, etc.,” said Batty.

Those selected for TalentedME! will be required to pay what Batty called a good faith entry fee of $25. They will be assigned to one of four Thursday preliminaries — July 21 and 28; and Aug. 4 and 11. At each preliminary, approximately 10 acts will compete for the right to move on to the semi-final, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 15. Those who make it all the way through will compete in the final on Thursday, Sept. 15.

All the performance showcases will take place in the second-floor auditorium of Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education, 24 Lincoln St. Audience members will be charged $5 and, in exchange, will be part of the process, as winners will be determined by both a panel of three judges and audience applause.

And how much will those winners win? Batty said the minimum prize pool is $1,300, but local businesses and organizations can raise the ante by buying ads in the TalentedME! program.

All money raised aside from prizes will go towards the wide range of charities supported by Rockland Kiwanis. These include the Key Leader Program, Salvation Army’s bell ringing, Holiday Hugs, annual Family Safety Day/Bike Rodeo, sponsorship of youth sports teams, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Institute in Boston, pediatric EMS training for LifeFlight of Maine, Kiwanis International Worldwide Service Projects, Dial-A-Story, the annual Foster Family Picnic, Area Interfaith Outreach food pantry, annual Kids Kraft Extravaganza, Red Cross blood drives, Meals on Wheels, annual Special Olympics Dinner, annual Children’s Concert, Kiwanis Park in Rockland, Midcoast playgrounds, Rockland Community Skate Park Project, community festivals and events, the Kiwanis Aktion Club of Midcoast Maine, E-waste recycling and more.

For more information on the talent search, send email to or call 596-6989.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to