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FREEPORT — Jason and Matt Tardy discovered their new theater on Craigslist.
The brothers from Turner tired of leaving their young families and packing their equipment-heavy act, Audiobody, into vans and planes. They wanted a high-traffic home base in Maine.
They Googled “Freeport” and “stage” and were shocked when an ad popped up on the popular online sales site.
It read: “Theater for sale in Freeport, Maine.”
That was only a few weeks ago.
On March 8, the Freeport Theater of Awesome will be born.
The Buckfield natives have leased the former Freeport Factory Stage at 5 Depot St..
It’s a small theater, 99 seats, but it’s in the middle of the shopping hub, across the street from a parking garage and around the corner from L.L. Bean’s retail store.
“What we’re trying to do is reboot what the Oddfellow Theater was doing,” said Jason Tardy, 33.
As a teenagers, Jason and his brother, Matt, now 31, apprenticed in Buckfield with Oddfellow Theater founder and owner Michael Miclon. Miclon’s theater thrived for 14 years, until he closed the doors at the end of 2011 to begin work on a movie project.
Miclon has agreed to bring his “Early Evening Show” to the Tardys’ theater. Other Oddfellow regulars will likely follow. But the brothers’ act – a combination of music, comedy, juggling and techno-gadgetry – will be the lead attraction.
“I think we have something unique here,” Matt said. “Maybe there’s a unique way to present that to people without having to travel all over the place.”
Recently, the guys have been getting more work at venues across the country. But both men have wives and young children. The travel was taking a toll on their families, their sleep and their equipment.
“We’ve been doing this for almost 20 years,” Matt said. “Being on the road just kind of wears you out.”
They began to think about acts such as Blue Man Group, which took off in popularity after their work was installed in a Manhattan theater.
“It takes us hours and hours to set up,” Matt said.
He and Jason believe their act will improve with a permanent performance space.
“The show itself ought to grow tremendously just by staying in one place,” Jason said.
There’s also a chance to connect with audiences from around the world who visit Freeport.
“I think they’ll have a great opportunity down there,” Miclon said. “What they’ll have that the Oddfellow Theater never had is a transient population. We had to drag everybody up here.”
Since they are staying fairly close, they’ll be able to maintain their current base of fans, Miclon said.
In fact, the brothers and Miclon are veteran Freeport performers. All have performed at L.L. Bean dozens of times.
The brothers’ first shows are planned for March 8 at 7:30 p.m. and March 9 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for children. Admission is $2 more for tickets purchased at the door.
People may purchase tickets to any of the Tardy productions at their newly created website, awesometheater.com.
The brothers hope people will appreciate the less-than-humble name for the theater.
“We wanted a name that really grabbed peoples’ attention,” said Jason, who said the brothers contemplated such titles as the Audiobody Theater.
In the end, “The Freeport Theater of Awesome” struck the right note.
“It shows our sense of humor, Matt said. “We’re taking ourselves too seriously.”