Friday, March 4, 2005
Review: Under the Chestnut Tree: A Chronicle of Carlisle, Massachusetts
It was official. Carlisle began its 200th anniversary celebration on Friday night, February 18, with the first performance of Anne Marie Brako's tableau, Under the Chestnut Tree: A Chronicle of Carlisle, Massachusetts, on stage at the Carlisle School's Corey Auditorium at 7 o'clock. The play ran throughout the weekend, but the Friday night performance was the only one that included the Carlisle "Bicentennial" Senior Band and "Bicentennial" Chorus.
The Band, directed by Tom O'Halloran, opened the show with its rendition
of the theme from the film Chariots of Fire. The Spirit of Squaw
Sachem (Liz Oberg on Friday night) set the scene before the audience
was introduced to the three couples who were among the early founding
families of Carlisle — the Adamses, the Bloods and the Healds.
In 1662, Goodman Adams (Myron Feld), who was born in Carlisle, Scotland, brings his bride, Priscilla Ramsden Adams, (Liz Bishop) to their new home, which he calls Carlisle Castle. Goodwife Adams, whose parents came over on the Mayflower, is amazed to find no servants, no furniture, no food, and is about to learn she must take up sweeping and spinning as the couple starts a new life together in the Carlisle Castle. Feld and Bishop, comfortable in their roles, gave spirited and amusingly accented performances.
The next couple we meet are the Bloods, Robert and Elizabeth. The well-dressed
Robert (Adam Winegarden) and his pregnant wife (Debbie Lustibers) are
presiding over a prosperous farm. Together with the ghost of John Blood
(Police Chief David Galvin on Friday night), whose voice is heard offstage,
a discussion ensues as to the history of the settlers and their impact
first in the settlement of Concord and later as they move to make their
homes in what is now Carlisle.
Finally we meet the Healds, John Jr. (Charles Schweppe) and Sarah (Emily Fritz-Endres) who are discussing the terms of John Heald, Sr.'s will. They talk about the land they have inherited in the north of Concord, away from busy Concord center. There is also talk of the land belonging to the Bloods and the Adamses. For those in the audience who have lived in Carlisle and attended CCHS productions over the years, it was a pleasure to see Charles Schweppe and Emily Fritz-Endres back on stage, this time in Carlisle.
The play ends with a party at the Adamses' house, with the Healds, the Bloods and Goodman Robbins of Chelmsford (Paul McCormack) being welcomed to Carlisle Castle. Seeing the actors together on stage in the final scene, one was reminded of what appeared to be authentic period dress. This was possible thanks to the efforts of Kathy Booth and costumes lent by the 51 Walden Theater in Concord.
Playwright Anne Marie Brako delivered the epilogue, delving further into the history of the early settlers and calling each character on stage. This was followed by the Carlisle Minutemen, commanded by Lieutenant John Heald, Jr. (Scott Evans), who marched down the aisle and assembled on stage. Gabor Miskolczy, with his pitchfork instead of a musket, was especially entertaining. Finally the Bicentennial Chorus closed the tableau with "America the Beautiful."
This was a birthday celebration at which one gained insight into our heritage, becoming better acquainted with the first families to settle in our community and the problems they faced in leaving the surrounding towns and establishing their new settlement which was to become Carlisle.
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito