August 3, 2006

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Nashua Publisher's Note: Peeking at Peacock
By Jeff Rapsis

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the future of Nashua’s Court Street Theatre and how important it is to the city. But talk is just talk—actually attending a show is a far more concrete way to demonstrate your support.

Fortunately for you, there’s a spate of interesting productions coming up at the theater, which is located in the city’s old fire alarm headquarters building at 14 Court St. All shows are being staged by the Peacock Players, the acclaimed youth theater troupe, which will harvest a bumper crop of productions from its summer camp program. About the Peacock Players: descended from the youth program of the now-defunct American Stage Festival, the players offer year-round opportunities for area youth to take part in production and get experience in all the crafts of live theater, on-stage and off.

I had the privilege of playing keyboard a few years ago for a Peacock production of Into the Woods, and was more than impressed with the dedication that the kids brought to the show. It’s a good program that continues to thrive under the leadership of a local board of directors and the day-to-day management of Christa Tsechrintzis. So what about those shows? They’re worth checking out even if you don’t have kids in the program.

The first one is “Songs for a New World,” a revue of songs by up-and-coming theatre composer Jason Robert Brown. It’s directed by Peacock alumnus Aaron Chilleli, a young man who I recall played the narrator role a few years ago in Into the Woods, and who is now one of the program’s summer instructors.

What’s it about? It’s a work that uses the medium of the theatre song to delve deep into personal experiences and emotions that go way beyond today’s typical pop tunes. Here’s a description of the show that I didn’t write: “Brown transports his audience from the deck of a 1492 Spanish sailing ship to a ledge 57 stories above Fifth Avenue to meet a startling array of characters ranging from a young man who has determined that basket-ball is his ticket out of the ghetto to a woman whose dream of marrying rich nabs her the man of her dreams and a soulless marriage. These are the stories and characters of today, the songs for a new world.”

Peacock will stage four performances “Songs for a New World”: Friday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5 at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $12 and can be purchased at the door, by phone at 886-7000, or online at www.peacockplayers.org.

The following weekend, Peacock will stage “Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party,” a show produced by older alumni of the program that Tsechrintzis described as “R-rated” and “not a youth show by any means.” It sounds pretty racy, but to find out more you’ll have to attend yourself.

After that, on Aug. 18 to 20 comes what should be a very sweet show: a production of The Sound of Music in which the youth performers work onstage alongside their parents and other adults.

It’s already in rehearsal and sounds like a special family treat in more ways than one. It’s why Hippo is a media sponsor for Peacock Players. I plan to attend, and I hope to see you there!

For more info on Peacock Players shows, visit www.peacockplayers.org or call 886-7000.


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