A match made in Maine
Hardworking Manchester actor co-stars with Sally Struthers
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
George Peihl is known around Manchester for 30 years of theater involvement, including founding Stage One Productions. Last year, he took a trip down to New York to audition for the Ogunquit Playhouse, a 74-year-old summer theater in Maine. True, he wasn’t a stranger there. Kim Starling, an associate artistic director at Ogunquit, had come from Manchester and worked at the Palace Theatre and Stage One.
But everyone must audition to act at Ogunquit, and Peihl ended up with the part of the sheriff in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, with Sally Struthers as Miss Mona.
This year he’s back in Maine, rehearsing Hello, Dolly! with Struthers. She plays Dolly Gallagher Levi, a “matchmaker extraordinaire” whose latest client is herself. He plays Horace Vandergelder, who has hired her to find him a wife.
“I had a few people pulling for me ... it’s really a wonderful place to work,” Peihl said.
“I had hoped he would come back. I certainly put my vote in,” Struthers said. Struthers stressed that all actors must audition but said the company “didn’t need pushing,” to select Peihl again. “He stole the show last year he was so incredible,” Struthers said.
Peihl had played the role of the sheriff before but hadn’t played Vandergelder. “It’s wonderful, thrilling piece of theater,” he said.
This is Struthers’ fourth year at the theater, and she said “it’s getting to be a habit.” She is well known as Gloria in All in the Family in the 1970s and has dozens of TV, film, stage and voice credits.
“I look forward to this now, it’s like a working vacation,” Struthers said. She can enjoy evenings for two weeks during rehearsals, and summer days in Maine during the two weeks of performance, she said.
Peihl started performing in Manchester in 1976 when he worked for the Merrimack Valley Theater Company. He also produced summer stock at the Palace Theatre for 18 years. Stage One produces dinner theater at the Chateau Restaurant, 201 Hanover St. Manchester.
When asked if his hometown contingent tends to fill the Ogunquit audience, he said, “There do seem to be a lot of folks from Manchester who come up.… A lot of people didn’t expect to see me up here.”
Hello, Dolly! by Michael Steward and Jerry Herman runs Tuesday, July 25, through Saturday, July 29, and Monday, July 31, through Saturday, August 5, at 8 p.m. at John Lane’s Ogunquit Playhouse, 10 Main St., Ogunquit, Maine, (207) 646-5511. Tickets are $36 to $46, ogunquitplayhouse.org.