Players remember Peter Bridges
Manchester Community Players revive Christmas Stories with late music director’s wife
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
For Tom Anastasi, this production of his play Christmas Stories is bittersweet. He wrote the music and lyrics with Peter Bridges, a well-known theater music director in the area, who died in June.
“I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas play,” said Anastasi, a professor at Daniel Webster College. It came together when Bridges and Anastasi were working on You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. For this presentation of Christmas Stories by Manchester Community Theatre Players, Peter Bridges’ wife, Heather, is directing Act 1. “This is really a celebration of his creation,” Anastasi said. Bridges also left his two-year-old son, James. Proceeds from this production will go toward helping the Bridges family.
Three separate plot lines intersect as Christmas stories unfold in the same town. In “Christmas Prayer,” a stressed couple is having trouble dealing with their three children during the holidays, and start to think about solving it through divorce. Bridges wrote the six songs that are in this act. “The powerful thing about songs is they can make you feel what a character is feeling in ways dialog can’t bring out,” Anastasi said.
Act 2 is performed in reverse. “Just What I Wanted” starts Christmas morning, and then shows events from midnight back to 9 a.m. on Christmas Eve while a father decides how to spend his Christmas bonus. The characters interact with a Salvation Army Santa during holiday shopping in Act 3, “The Bell Ringer.”
The play is not a children’s show, although it is appropriate for all ages.
Scott Katrycz directs acts 2 and 3, which are not musical. Many of the actors from last year’s production have returned, including Gina Carballo, recently seen in Children of a Lesser God from Bedford Off Broadway. Dan Merriman, Dan Barth and Judy Mitchell are also returning.
Although Anatasi teaches in the business division of Daniel Webster and directs the college’s MBA program, he has also written other plays that have received attention locally. Deadline, produced by Manchester Community Theater, has been nominated for a NH Theater award. Surviving Evil, a play based on the experiences of a Holocaust survivor, has been on tour and seen by 5,000 high school students. Magic of Crime was a 2002 HippoPress Outstanding Production. Christmas Stories won the New Hampshire Theatre Award for best original community play for 2004.
by Tom Anastasi with music by Peter Bridges
Dec.14-16, 7 p.m.; Dec. 17, 3 p.m.
Tickets at the door: $10 or $5 for students and seniors.
Daniel Webster College Collings Auditorium, 20 University Dr., Nashua, 577-6293.