Michael Miclon, New Artistic Director at Johnson Hall (Gardiner ME)
Michael Miclon, a well known Maine variety entertainer and until recently, the proprietor of vaudeville theatre Odd fellows Hall of Buckfield ME, has been named Artistic Director of Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center. Johnson Hall is a nonprofit organization that presents a wide range of programs and community events in historic Johnson Hall Opera House in downtown Gardiner, Maine. The Opera House was built in 1864, and is the artistic nerve center of Gardiner.
This is a great choice. Miclon is one of the scores of performers in Maine who was inspired by Gardiner’s own vaudeville hero Benny Reehl. In fact, Miclon will be taking over the spot previously held by Benny’s wife Denise, who retired in December. SEE ARTICLE (Prior to his death Benny was co-artistic director with Denise)
Miclon studied comedy and juggling with Benny and also at the Celebration Barn in nearby South Paris and started his life as a variety performer, touring schools, churches, theatres, and streets throughout the world. When the opportunity came to purchase a theatre (a dream of nearly every performer I know) he seized it, and for nearly 14 years presented amazing acts and nurtured all kinds of performances, some with startling national successes.
Folk star Ray LaMontagne got his start there. Odd Fellows Hall was the jumping off place for Eepy Bird (viral videos of Coke and Diet Mentos, and many other everyday objects). Amanda Huotari, current director of the Celebration Barn, would often perform there as part of the resident company. Audio Body, the Tardy Brothers–all of them were supported and featured at Miclon’s Odd Fellows Hall. After 14 years, Miclon felt it was time to move on, and closed the theatre in 2011 to pursue other projects, mostly with the cadre of performers and friends that he had made during his time at Odd Fellows Hall. (One cool project is a film based on an Odd Fellows show Richard 3.
This is one example of a theatre getting it right. Although one might have the feeling that the lunatics are in charge of the madhouse, Miclon is clearly the right guy for the job. He knows intimately the problems and travails of the performers that will be touring through the new facility, he knows intimately the pleasures and perils of running a venue, and all that is associated with it. Now he will have the support of a community minded organization and a well-supported theatre to help him. And he brings with him 14 years of good will and support from a nearby town.
Johnson Hall couldn’t have picked a better artistic director, and we wish Michael much success in the next phase of his career.