September 21, 2006


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Getting judged
Festival offers community players a chance to learn from the pros
By Heidi Masek

There are more than 50 community theater groups in New Hampshire. That’s a lot. Community troupes give stage-crazy local amateurs a venue, but once a year the New Hampshire Community Theatre Association gives them a chance to push themselves further.

The 35th New Hampshire Festival of Community Theatre Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts in Milford, offers a challenge. Companies have ten minutes to set up, an hour to perform and ten minutes to break down their set. Then the cast gets to hear three theater professionals analyze them. Two of the ten groups participating this year will be chosen to represent the state at a March New England Regional Festival of Community Theatre, which NHCTA is hosting.

“When we say it’s a competition, the only person you’re competing against is yourself up on that stage,” said Sally Nutt, NHCTA president, running the festival for the first time this year.

“It’s a festival. Festival means party,” Nutt said. It’s the cornerstone of the association, which has a mission to be an “education and support network for all the theaters in addition to having fun.”

But it’s not just for theater folk, Nutt said. As an audience member, listening to the judges is interesting, too.

Kevin Gardner, a Shakespeare instructor at St. Paul’s School in Concord is returning as an adjudicator this year. He’s adjudicated national festivals and has worked with NHPR. He’s also an expert on stone walls. Genevieve Aichele, co-founder and artistic director of the New Hampshire Theatre Project in Portsmouth and Lynn Kremer, drama professor at Holy Cross in Massachusetts round out the panel.

“To have somebody who does that for a living to be able to coach us, that encourages us all to raise the bar,” Nutt said.

Each judge will offer a workshop that the public is welcome to join. Workshops cost only $5 and performances $10—or you can buy a pass for the weekend for only $25.

Nutt has been told this is the largest number of entries to the festival in recent history. There are 22 community theater companies in the association.

“I think it just speaks to that need to communicate,” Nutt said.

Although applying for the festival pretty much guarantees your company a spot, somehow they manage to get a good mix, Nutt said. There’s comedy, serious drama, Shakespeare, new work, simple and complex sets, young and veteran performers, a one-man show and a cast of 23.

Being judged
Here’s the skinny on at the 35th New Hampshire Festival of Community Theatre at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts, Route 13 in Milford. Tickets are at and at the door.

Saturday, Sept. 30
9-10:15 a.m. “A Physical Approach to Acting” with Genevieve Aichele: workshop on “creating and enhancing emotional depth, character relationships and text meaning through physical characterization, tempo and staging.” 
10:30-11:45 a.m. “Using Your Voice” with Lynn Kremer: workshop on “proper breath support, hyper- and hypo-nasality, projection, articulation, regionalism, phrasing, and vocal variety.”  
Noon performance session #1
Rising Star Productions, Newton Junction: The Diary of Adam and Eve by Charles Whitman, directed by Dan Baulieu. 
Manchester Community Players: Surviving Evil, written by Tom Anastasi, directed by Alan Kaplan. 
Milford Area Players: I Hate Hamlet, by Paul Rudnick, directed by Mike Wood. 
6 p.m. performance session #2
My Act, Merrimack: Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, directed by Timothy L’Ecuyer.  
Nashua Theatre Guild: Perfectly Good Airplanes, by Stephan LaRoque, directed by Jerry White.  
Ghostlight Theatre, Salem: One Flea Spare, by Naomi Wallace, directed by John Sefel. 
Sunday, Oct. 1
10-11:15 a.m. “Using Games in the Audition Process” with Kevin Gardner: workshop.
11:30 a.m. performance session #3
Actors Circle, Peterborough: Sure Thing, by David Ives, directed by Mariah Herlihy.  
SKIT, Sunapee: Speaking in Tongues, by Andrew Bovell, directed by Mary Morris. 
ActorSingers, Nashua: I Never Saw Another Butterfly, by Celeste Raspanti, directed by Amy Friedman. 
Franklin Footlight Theatre: Laundry & Bourbon, by James McLure, directed by Ethan Murphy. 
5 p.m. hors d’oeuvres and cash bar. 
6 p.m. awards dinner with Van McLeod, commissioner of NH Department of Cultural Resources. Dinner catered by Elisha’s Restaurant

09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother