SANFORD — A local theater group has canceled a musical variety show called “Oh Susannah” after complaints that the Civil War-era promotional materials were racially insensitive.

The Sanford Maine Stage Theater Company was scheduled to perform “music and songs of the old south” Saturday and Sunday at Nasson Little Theatre.

Promotional material posted on Facebook last month said: “You won’t want to miss this show as we return to a time long past … a time of charm and grace, master and slave, the Confederacy & the war between the North and the South, with all the music of the time.”

That drew numerous comments on the theater company’s Facebook page, many of which were deleted Thursday evening, along with the promotional description, which at one point sported a Confederate flag.

Nasson Community Center Executive Director Lucas Lanigan said the decision to cancel was a collaborative one.

“Nasson Community Center and the Little Theatre did not feel comfortable moving forward with the show, given the climate it was creating,” Lanigan said. “I explained the concerns and the public’s perception and it was decided overall, that it was better for Nasson Community Center’s reputation and Sanford Maine Stage’s reputation to cancel because of the perception we were supporting a racist show or the perception the actors themselves were racist, which could not be further from the truth.”

Lanigan said he spoke with members of a local organization called Project CommUnity at their meeting Wednesday. The group had expressed concern about the production.

Nasson Community Center posted a further statement Friday afternoon.

“As a theatre and community center we decided with Sanford Maine Stage that continuing the show would violate all we strive to maintain on a daily basis,” the statement said, citing maintenance of a safe space, tolerance of others and having a judgment-free zone. “We decided this was not fair to the people affected by the content, actors and their families, and the negative attention being brought to our community.”

In a social media posting, Sanford Maine Stage producer Mary Stair said there was no intent to offend. “There were some great songs and music written during the Civil War, and it was our wish to bring those to you,” she said.

In an email in response to questions, Stair said Sanford Maine Stage members are disappointed. “The show was just singing a lot of the songs from that era, but some people wanted to make something out of it that it was not,” she said.

Stair said there had been threats, but declined to say what those were, saying that it was time to move on.

Michael Alpert, president of the Greater Bangor Area Branch of the NAACP, said he had written to Stair late Thursday afternoon, suggesting the production be canceled.

He said the term “Old South” is a euphemism for slavery.

“Slavery was at the economic and cultural center of that time and place,” Alpert said in a phone interview. “It is an era all Americans should view with shame, and not celebration.”

He suggested the theater company could replace the production with excerpts from previous performances or take the opportunity to host a discussion on racial sensitivity.

“I think the solution is more education,” Alpert said.

Project CommUnity issued a statement regarding the production and the cancellation.

“The content of this show and the way it was marketed, using language and imagery which has deep historic and modern day associations with racism, was hurtful to many,” the statement said. “We commend the Sanford Maine Stage company and the Nasson Community Center and Little Theatre for understanding that it was not appropriate for this show to continue as planned.”

Lanigan said those who had purchased tickets in advance will be reimbursed.

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