Friday, September 17, 2004
Quality community theater groups flourish in our own backyard
At this time of year — theater season — there is a great deal of excitement generated in our home. This is not only because there is a whole slew of new shows to attend at the community theaters in our area; but also because my husband, Tedford (day job: computers; daydream job: actor), is tracking audition information for the shows that strike his fancy. (I don't know anyone else who keeps a spreadsheet to keep tabs on these particular statistics!) I'm pleased to report that he has been cast in The Secret Garden, the musical that will be shown here in Carlisle this November by our town's theater group, the Savoyard Light Opera Company. Auditions wrapped up late in August, and the show will begin rehearsals this month.
As I perused my husband's unique spreadsheet, I was surprised to note how many community theater groups we have within a short drive of Carlisle. So who needs Boston theater? We have a wealth of quality theater right in our own backyard.
Here is a listing of local theaters. Be sure, of course, to contact the theaters directly before heading out for an evening of entertainment, as some information could change.
The Acme Theater, (affectionately known as the "Home of the Misfits") makes its home in a former school building that now houses artist studios and is called ArtSpace Maynard, at 61 Summer Street.
Coming up: Breaking Legs (comedy about a Mafia family), Sept. 17-Oct. 9; Criminal Hearts (comedy), Nov. 12-Dec. 4; New Works Winter Festival 2005 (original plays); Jan. 14-22; Tomfoolery (comic works of Tom Lehrer), Feb. 11-March 5; Four Dogs and a Bone (comedy about the movie business) April 15-May 17.
Subscription: four shows for $44
Nashua, New Hampshire
Actorsingers will also celebrate its 50th anniversary this coming year with an Anniversary Gala on January 22 (open to the public at $50 per person). The group generally performs two major musicals every year, with a smaller show in the summer and a children's musical. They have performed in various venues, most notably the Edmund Keefe Auditorium in the Elm Street Junior High in Nashua.
Coming up: Man of La Mancha, Nov. 5-7; Jesus Christ Superstar, April 29-May 7.
Subscription: both shows for $24.
Arlington Friends of Drama
At over 70 years old, The Arlington Friends of Drama is one of the ten oldest continually operating community theater groups in the country. They operate out of their own theater space at 22 Academy Street in Arlington.
Coming up: I Remember Mama, (Richard Rogers musical), in October; Death by Chocolate (comedy), in December; The Women (Clare Booth Luce classic), February; The Kiss of the Spider Woman, (Tony award winning musical), April; Misery (Stephen King thriller), June.
Subscription: $78 for all five shows (a savings of $23).
The Burlington Players have a four-show season and also run a Children's Theatre Workshop for children grades 1-7, starting in September. They perform at the Park Playhouse (Overlook Park), in Burlington.
Coming up: All in the Timing (six one-act comedies), Sept. 17-Oct. 2; The Memory of Water, Nov. 5-20; Proof, March 4-19; Out of SightOut of Murder, May 6-20.
Individual tickets (musicals): $12-$18.
Individual tickets (plays): $10-$15.
The Concord Players began their run in 1856 as the Concord Dramatic Union, created by Louisa May Alcott (of Little Women fame). Their performances are held at 51 Walden Street in downtown Concord.
Coming up: Sunday in the Park with George (Stephen Sondheim musical), Nov. 12-27; Full Gallop (one-woman show about Diana Vreeland), Jan. 21 & 22; Angel Street (classic thriller), Feb. 11-26; The Memory of Water (play about three sisters after their mother's death), April 22-May 7.
The Footlight Club
Jamaica Plain, Mass.
The Footlight Club claims to be America's oldest theater, performing every year since 1877 and now celebrating their 128th season. Their theater, Eliot Hall (located at 7A Eliot Street in Jamaica Plain), was built in 1831 and is a Greek Revival building registered with the National Registry of Historic Places.
Coming up: Bad Seed, Sept. 17-Oct. 2; The Rocky Horror Show, Oct. 19-Nov. 13; Fuddy Meers, Feb. 4-19; Violet, April 1-16; Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet), June 3-18.
Individual tickets (musicals): $14-$20.
Individual tickets (plays): $12-$15.
Harvard Community Theatre
The adult division of the Harvard Community Theatre performs between one and three productions a year, usually at the Cronin Auditorium in the Bromfield School, Harvard. There are also groups for children, grades 6-12.
Upcoming season and ticket info unavailable at press time.
The Hovey Players began in 1936 in the Hovey Memorial Building (pronounced like "Lovey"). The buildingand the group that was "born" there, are named after prominent Waltham resident Hamblin Levi Hovey (1838-1904). The group now performs in the Abbott Memorial Theatre, 9 Spring Street at Joel's Way, in Waltham.
Coming up: The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespearean comedy), Sept. 17-Oct. 2; Scotland Road, Nov. 12-27; Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (play about contemporary women), Jan. 14-29; The Fall of the House of Usher(from the Edgar Allen Poe story), March 11-26; Looking for Normal (drama/comedy).
Subscription (for five shows): $50-$60.
Regular price (for five shows): $85
Although the Lexington Players is a relatively new group, founded in 1995, they have already won numerous local theater awards. They generally perform three shows a year, in fall, spring and summer, at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Lexington.
Coming up: Little Shop of Horrors (comedy musical thriller), Oct. 21-24.
Individual tickets: $15 each.
Subscriptions: $40 for all three shows.
Thirty years ago the Groton Theatre and Littleton Theatre evolved into the Nashoba Players, a group offering a combination of dinner theatre, drama, comedy, musicals and melodrama. Their home stage is in the Parish Center for the Arts on the common in Westford, although they also perform at the Groton School in Groton.
Coming up: Sofia and Saul's Wedding (mock wedding), fall 2004; The Sisters Rosensweig (comedy) and Dames at Sea (musical), both to be performed in spring, 2005.
Nashua Theatre Guild (NTG)
(603) 320-2530; nashuatheatreguild.org
The Nashua Theatre Guild, which was formed in 1961 in the barn of a Nashua library (and rejected the early name of "Merrimactors"), typically performs four productions a year in the Court Street Theatre, Nashua.
Coming up: Robert Fulghum's "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten", Oct. 28-31; NTG Night of One-Acts, March 10-13; Lillian Helman's "The Children's Hour", April 21-24.
Needham Community Theatre (NCT)
The Needham Community Theatre was founded in 1956 and traditionally presents two shows every year: a musical in the fall, and a smaller drama or comedy in the spring. Their performance space is in the Newman School on Central Street in Needham.
Coming up: Scrooge: The Musical, Nov. 19-Dec.4; The Women (Clare Booth Luce satire), spring 2004.
Newton Country Players
The Newton Country Players perform at the Yamawaki Art & Cultural Center at Lasell College, 47 Murtle Street in Newton.
Coming up: Lend Me a Tenor, fall 2004; The Secret Garden, spring 2005.
Subscription/membership: $35 for both shows.
North Regional Theatre Workshop (NRTW)
North Reading, MA
(978) 658-0192; nrtwinc.com
Founded in 1978 at the Congregational Church of North Reading, NRTW mounts several major productions every year, including musical variety shows and choral concerts. They traditionally present a cabaret-style performance called Home for the Holidays every December in the Great Hall of Methuen's Nevins Library.
Coming up: Home for the Holidays, Dec. 10-12.
Ticket info: unavailable.
Open Door Theater
Since 1980, this uniquely inclusive group has provided a theater experience open to adults, children (ages nine and up), and people with special needs. They generally perform one large musical every spring in the R.J. Gray Junior High Auditorium in Acton.
Coming up: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, April 1-10.
Ticket info: unavailable.
(781) 942-2212; qptheater.com
Founded over 65 years ago, the Quannapowitt Players make their home in a turn-of-the-century red schoolhouse; a historic building in Reading. The Quannapowitt Playhouse offers a black-box performance space with intimate seating at 55 Hopkins Street in Reading.
Coming up: Nunsense (musical), Sept. 10-Oct. 2; Reckless (bittersweet comedy), Nov. 12-Dec. 4; Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 (self-explanatory), Feb. 4-26; Three Days of Rain (mysterious love story), April 15-May 7.
Individual tickets (musicals): $15-$16.
Individual tickets (playes) $13-$14.
Subscription: four shows for $44.
Savoyard Light Opera
The Savoyard Light Opera Company was formed in Maynard 30 years ago (performing HMS Pinafore as part of Maynard's centennial celebration), with its first Carlisle performance in November of 1988. When the group began, they performed only Gilbert and Sullivan shows, but began alternating them with other, comparably challenging musicals in 1990. The group gets its name from the Savoy Opera House in London, where the Gilbert and Sullivan musicals were originally performed. SLOC performances are held in the Corey Auditorium in the Carlisle School.
Coming up: The Secret Garden (musical version of Frances Hodges Burnett classic children's book), Nov. 12-21.
The Stratton Players
(978) 345-6066; strattonplayers.tripod.com
The Stratton Players, founded in 1925, are celebrating their 80
Coming up: The Spitfire Grill (musical), Sept. 24-Oct.10; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Dec. 4-10; The Turn of the Screw (Henry James ghost tale), Jan. 11-30; The Time of My Life (comedy), March 11-27; Impossible Marriage (comedy), May 6-22.
The Sudbury Savoyards
(978) 443-8811; sudburysavoyards.org
The Sudbury Savoyards perform one Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera every spring (at the Lincoln-Sudbury High School), and a comic play every summer (at the Sudbury United Methodist Church).
Coming up: The Mikado, spring, 2005.
(978) 263-9070; theatreiii.org
Founded in 1956, Theatre III has its home in a former church at 250 Central Street in Acton. The group typically presents three shows a year, both musicals and regular plays.
Coming up: The Most Happy Fella (Frank Loesser musical), Nov. 5-20; Falsettos (offbeat musical), Feb. 25-March 12; How the Other Half Loves, (comedy), May 6-21.
Subscription: $36 for three shows.
Turtle Lane Players
Auburndale (Newton), MA
(617) 244-0169; turtle-lane.com
In 1980, the Turtle Lane Players began as a spin-off from the Vokes Theatre in Wayland. They eventually bought and renovated the old Auburndale Club, turning a basement bowling alley into dressing rooms, but maintaining a first floor pub in addition to the performance area. The Turtle Lane Playhouse is located at 283 Melrose Street in Auburndale (the northwest corner of Newton).
Coming up: All Night Strut, Sept. 17-Oct. 10; Annie Get Your Gun, Nov. 5-Dec. 30; Miss Saigon, Feb. 4-March 13; Damn Yankees, April 29-June 5.
Subscription: $45-$60 for three shows; $60-$80 for four shows.
© 2004 The Carlisle Mosquito