’70s band reunites to raise money for Norway Opera House

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NORWAY — There will be dancing in the street when the band Creation Completed recreates itself in August.

More than 45 years after six students from Oxford Hills High School created the rock band in the late-1960s, Alan Bean, Bill Holden, Rob Barker, Dave Ryerson, Karen Shaw and Annie Somers have reformed to raise funds for the Norway Opera House second floor renovation project by making music for a street dance.

“We haven’t seen each other in 40 years but we’ve been practicing a couple of times a month,” keyboardist Annie Somers, who lives in Middlebury, Vt. and graduated in 1974, said.

creation completed

The street dance, which has been approved by the Norway Board of Selectmen, is set for Saturday, Aug. 29 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. It is expected to draw alumni from New England and beyond. It will be held in the Town Square on Main Street, directly across the street from the Opera House.

“This is just a dream I had two years ago that it would be so much fun to get together. It would be such a hoot,” Somers said of the band that represents graduation classes between 1970 and 1974.

Bean, the group’s founder is from Norway; Holden, Barker and Ryerson are from Harrison; Shaw, who now lives in York, is from Paris and Somers originally hails from Norway.

Street dances were routinely held on Norway’s Main Street “back in the day” when the group’s music teacher was A. J. Walker — who is expected to attend — held concerts downtown on weekend nights, Somers said. Students and their families turned out in droves. Somers and her band mates hope to recreate that atmosphere.

“It’s like a giant class reunion,” said Somers, adding that everyone, including the general public, is welcome to come to the event. The hope is that many former students, their families and friends will meet together that night as they did so often years ago.

The street dance will feature songs from Jefferson Airplane, Vanilla Fudge, Cream, the Turtles, Three Dog Night, Chicago and more. The band’s founder, Alan Bean, has been gathering music and found original set lists from 1970 that the band will use, Somers said.

The idea to fund raise for the second-floor  Opera House performance hall renovation came about through a conversation with Norway Downtown’s  Brenda Melhus, who suggested money raised go toward the project.

The Opera House is the centerpiece of the downtown National Historic District. It once served as the center for community events such as dances, plays, graduations and military ceremonies.

Somers said she and the band are thrilled to help restore the second floor and its stage.

“We performed on that stage,” she said, adding it was used as a recreation center where kids would go to listen to records and jam with their friends. “It was a very special place to kids our age.”

Constructed by the Norway Building Association on Main Street, the Opera House was owned by the town from 1920 to the mid-1970s, and by a succession of private owners for another 30 years or so until the town was forced to take the building by eminent domain when a roof collapse threatened the stability of the building.

The Norway Opera House Corporation took ownership of the vacant and dilapidated building from the town in 2012.The first-floor and basement renovation of the three-story brick landmark on Main Street was completed in 2013, bringing in businesses ranging from a luxury handbag store to gems to a yarn and wine shop.

The $4 million renovation of the second-floor hall of the 1894 Norway Opera House requires raising about $1.5 million in local donations. The majority of the money will come from grants and state and federal historic tax credits, according to Norway Opera House Corporation officials.

The fundraising evening is an outgrowth of the Class of 1970 reunion, which has scheduled activities earlier that day.

Although the event is free, donations are being requested to help with the Opera House restoration project. Vendors are also encouraged to apply for permits through the town for the event.

“Back in the day when we had street dances no one needed selectboards or porta potties. It’s so funny. It’s gotten so complicated,” Somers chuckled.

Further information on the event is available at www.m.facebook.com/events/690841087711872?ref=m_notif&notif_t=like.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net