December 14, 2006

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Players remember Peter Bridges
Manchester Community Players revive Christmas Stories with late music director’s wife
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

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.

Christmas stories
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.


12/07/2006 Young talent

11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
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
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10 Ways To Survive The Audition
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A Figaro Worth Cheering
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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
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Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
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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
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Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
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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
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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
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother