Page 56 - WCM Summer 2022
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 Small SpaceS, Big performance Courage and Vision in Western Maine by Shellie Leger
  Rangeley Lakes Regional School’s January 2022 cast of Little Shop of Horrors taking a bow at RFA’s Lakeside Theater.
“Theater is a verb before it is a noun,
an act before it is a place.”
~ Martha Graham
The core of healthy rural communities relies on its citizenry’s capacity and willingness to join together in building culture – in whatever context is relevant and vital to them. Some visionaries in western Maine have answered the call, and created vibrant spaces in which community members may find outlets for creativity and friendship.
Rangeley Friends of the Arts
Valerie Zapolsky and her cousin Millie Hoekstra work tirelessly (with help from family and friends!) to keep Rangeley Friends of the Arts (RFA) thriving. Their motto, We Bring the Arts to Life, remains meaningful as a result of grassroots muscle, and a “cri de coeur” that a few citizens really can change the world.
Valerie and Millie have deep roots in Rangeley. They spent summers helping their grandad at his farm, and Valerie’s father, Paul Ellis, was an enthusiastic supporter of RFA. He functioned in many roles: producer, president, benefac- tor and set builder. Life carried Valerie and Millie away from Maine. Valerie became a pediatrician, practicing in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, and Millie, residing in Massachusetts, worked as an events planner. “In 2003,” Millie says, “we owned two houses, one in Massachusetts and one in Maine. Our kids said we couldn’t sell Maine, so we moved back.”
Valerie returned in 2013. “My parents settled full time in Rangeley in 1974. Mom was a singer, and my father, a lover of the arts. They brought perform- ing arts to Rangeley, but RFA was homeless. We used schools, churches, and outdoor spaces. Finally, in 2014, The Lakeside Theater on Main Street in Rangeley became our home,” says Valerie. The Sound of Music was the advent of live theater for RFA.
Arts, Entertainment, Adventure and More in Western Maine
 Courtesy Maine Local Living School
Rangeley Friends of the Arts

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