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‘Babette’s Feast’ gets its world premiere in Portland

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    ‘Babette’s Feast’ gets its world premiere in Portland - Staff photos by Gregory Rec | of | Share this photo

    Abigail Killeen laughs during a rehearsal for "Babette's Feast" on Friday at Portland Stage Company. Killeen, an affiliate artist at Portland Stage and a member of the theater faculty at Bowdoin College, was the driving force behind bringing "Babette" to Portland. She will also act in the play.

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    Michelle Hurst, left, playing the role of Babette, and Juliana Francis Kelly rehearse a scene from the Portland production of "Babette's Feast." Made into a movie released in 1987, "Babette's Feast" is based on a short story by Isak Dinesen. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

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    ‘Babette’s Feast’ gets its world premiere in Portland - Staff photo by Gregory Rec | of | Share this photo

    Sturgis Warner, left, kisses the hand of Sorab Wadia as Steven Skybell, center, and Jo Mei look on during a rehearsal of "Babette's Feast" at Portland Stage Company.

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    ‘Babette’s Feast’ gets its world premiere in Portland - Staff photo by Gregory Rec | of | Share this photo

    Michelle Hurst plays Babette in the play that premieres Jan. 23. "If the audience walks away thinking 'Babette’s Feast' is about food, we've failed," said Abigail Killeen, who developed the project. "And this is pretty evident in our adaptation."

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    ‘Babette’s Feast’ gets its world premiere in Portland - Staff photo by Gregory Rec | of | Share this photo

    Jo Mei, left, listens to another cast member while Abigail Killeen looks over her lines during rehearsal. The performance tells the story of a refugee from 19th-century Paris who appears on the doorstep of two spinster sisters, who take her on as their cook.

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    ‘Babette’s Feast’ gets its world premiere in Portland - Staff photo by Gregory Rec | of | Share this photo

    Director Karin Coonrod talks with cast members, from left, Sturgis Warner, Jeorge Bennett Watson, Steven Skybell, Juliana Francis Kelly, Sorab Wadia and Jo Mei. Coonrad and Killeen set off to Europe in 2013 to explore all the places important in the story, starting with Paris.

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    ‘Babette’s Feast’ gets its world premiere in Portland - Photo courtesy of Karin Coonrod | of | Share this photo

    Killeen on a boat approaching Berlevaag, Norway, about midnight in July 2013. "Babette's Feast" is set in the town of Berlevaag.

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    Berlevaag, Norway, the small fishing village that serves as the setting for "Babette's Feast." Killeen said that seeing the contrast between Berlevaag and Paris opened her heart to the "very real struggle of refugees." Photo courtesy of Karin Coonrod

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    Killeen says the set of the play will resemble the landscape she and her colleagues experienced in Norway – simple and stark, but beautiful. Photo courtesy of Karin Coonrod

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    Karin Coonrad and Abigail Killeen on their trip abroad. Coonrad said the cast of "Babette's Feast" is not a group of white Norwegians sitting around a table together, but rather "a company of the world," featuring actors of various ethnic backgrounds. Photo courtesy of Karin Coonrod

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