Bath theater director to step down after next show

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BATH — Four years after he co-created the Lanyard Theatre Company, Kevin O’Leary is stepping down from the role of artistic director.

A teacher of English and drama at Morse High School in Bath, the Portland resident intends to hold the reins to Lanyard through the performance of Linda Giuliano’s “The Black Madonna.” The performance is at Morse on Wednesday, Aug. 12, and Thursday, Aug. 13, and then at Breakwater School in Portland on Friday, Aug. 14, and Saturday, Aug. 15.

All performances are at 7 p.m., and the suggested donation is $5.

“It was a long time in coming,” O’Leary said on Sunday of his decision, which he made around the time of his directorial debut during Lanyard’s performance of “Where I Dwell” last June.

“I’m not a business manager,” said O’Leary, who just turned 50. “I never have been; I’m not a money guy. … I don’t want to be thinking 24 months out anymore; I don’t want to be hitting the same people up for money, I don’t want to have to do the nuts and bolts of running a theater company, right now.”

Lanyard has built a loyal following over the years, leading to sold-out shows, O’Leary said. Other members of the company have approached him about taking the torch from him while he decides his next step.

“Right now, the future is uncertain,” O’Leary said. “The only certainty is that I am not going to be running the show.”

John Upham, who founded Lanyard with O’Leary in the fall of 2005, resigned last year. If Lanyard continues, O’Leary said he himself may remain as a writer in residence or an occasional director.

O’Leary performs the role of Vinnie in “The Black Madonna,” which also stars Joseph Barbarino, Elizabeth Lardie, Cathy Counts, Denise Poirier, Paul Haley, Kerry Rasor, Karen Ball, Cynthia Babak and Michael Howard, who also directs.

“The Black Madonna” is set in the Bronx, and the protagonist, Sarah, has descended upon a Sicilian Italian-American community because she is studying the lore and myth of the Black Madonna and its effect on people.

“The myth goes that if older women touch this statue of the Black Madonna in the Bronx, they can become fertile and have kids,” O’Leary said.

Sarah, who is writing a doctoral paper on the statue, moves into the community. “It’s a journey of her discovery of self,” O’Leary said, “her passions, her fears about having kids herself, her passion of intellect.”

O’Leary pointed out that the protagonist in Giuliano’s full-length plays tends to be based on the author herself, an expression of her outlook on life.

Call O’Leary at 773-2727 or 831-2434 for more information on the performance.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.