June 11, 2009

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Curtain Calls
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

• Football action: The Manchester Wolves play on the Acting Loft Field at the Verizon Wireless Arena this season.

How does an educational theater nonprofit become a naming sponsor for a minor-league arena football team? Good question.

Acting Loft board chair Charlie Basbas said it started when the Acting Loft wanted to find a way to thank a very generous donor. The board enlisted help from a supporter with access to Keyspan’s luxury suite at the arena, and took the donor to a Wolves game. He was so impressed he decided to help both organizations. Basbas said the anonymous donor now sponsors the Wolves in the name of the Acting Loft.

It’s not unusual for grants or donations to be earmarked for a specific purpose, or for a donor to help two organizations at the same time this way, Basbas said. However, he does end up explaining the situation while fundraising.

Stephanie Bike, general manager for the Wolves, and Basbas say the team and theater have a symbiotic relationship. Both organizations are in the business of family entertainment. Last season, the Acting Loft was an endzone sponsor.

Basbas freely admits that a child who is dragged to a show might be happier at a Wolves game and vice versa. Both organizations benefit from exposure to the others’ patrons, yet they don’t compete the way a match-up of the Acting Loft and another theater would. Wolves game events aren’t far off from what the Acting Loft does. Bike said half-time can include a kids’ touchdown dance contest among other activities to get kids onto the field. 

Acting Loft volunteers staff an information table at games. Bike’s daughter will attend Acting Loft camp this summer. The ArenaFootball2 league season runs from March through July with playoffs in August. The Wolves have been in Manchester for six years, and the 25-team AF2 league is 10 years old.

How have league members reacted to a field named for a theater? Some owners and general managers of visiting teams have asked “how the heck” it happened, Bike said. But a field-naming sponsor is a big deal, it’s a “hard thing to come by throughout the league,” Bike said. The fact that it’s a nonprofit is huge, she said. The owners brought the Wolves to the community for the community, Bike said.

A few Wolves players and the coach have said they’ve acted, Bike said.

Acting Loft night at the Wolves is July 24. Theater campers can invite their families, and the Acting Loft is providing the national anthem performance and possibly other performances.

• The end: Phoenix Academy is no longer. The performing arts school had existed for about two years at 25 Front St. in Nashua, part of that time as All Access Productions. Student enrollment had dropped from 80 in January to 24 in May, as the economy took a toll on Phoenix families and students, director Brandon Mallard said. About 10 students from northern Massachusetts had to leave Phoenix after layoffs at a company that had employed members of each of their families.

“It got to the point that most of the kids there weren’t paying for classes,” Mallard said. Some cleaned the space in exchange, and adult students sponsored a few teens.

Phoenix ended up two months behind in rent, and then Mallard got a call from StageCoach Productions, which had been using the place to rehearse Alter Boyz, reporting a padlocked door. The landlord eventually allowed Mallard to retrieve other people’s items inside, but won’t let him take Phoenix property. “It’s nobody’s fault,” Mallard said.

“There was so much positive that came from [the school],” Mallard said. He doesn’t want the negative ending to overshadow that. Friendships were formed, and students who couldn’t get into ensembles before are now leads in local shows, he said.

• Making a comeback: Yellow Taxi Productions isn’t staging a park performance this summer, but its members are busy.

The Nashua professional company brings back its courtroom-drama version of Jodi Picoult’s The Pact, this time at the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 South Main St. in Concord (225-1111, ccanh.com). It’s part of the Spotlight Café series Thursday, July 23, and Friday, July 24, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20. The Pact is set in a New Hampshire town where a teenager stands trial for shooting his girlfriend. YTP commissioned Jeannette Angell to adapt the novel and the resulting April shows sold out. It has a great ensemble cast.

Also, YTP produces a free staged reading of The Devil Gets Her Say, a new piece by Boston playwright Meron Langsner, Friday, June 19, at 8 p.m., at their millyard venue in 5 Pine St., Extension in Nashua (791-4558, www.yellowtaxiproductions.org). A modern scientist summons Dr. Faustus but gets Mephistopheles too. A talk with the playwright follows. Actors include YTP artistic director Suzanne Delle and Casey Preston, who played Pale in Burn This for YTP in May. Phil Allen directs.

• Cause: The Friends of the Concord City Auditorium are raising money to update their system of ropes, pulleys, etc. that are used on stage. Summer Theatre in Meredith Village presents Forever Plaid on the Concord stage, Friday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, June 20, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., at 2 Prince St. in Concord to benefit the Audi Fly Space Project. Tickets cost $15. Uno’s Chicago Grill on Fort Eddy Road in Concord (225-7474) hold “Forever Plaid Day” Monday, June 15. Visit wearing plaid between 11 a.m. and midnight for a chance to win show tickets, and tell your server you are there for the “Dough Raiser.” Cast members will be there between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and 5 and 7 p.m.


Casey Preston and Suzanne Delle will perform in a free staged reading of new play The Devil Gets Her Say. They are seen here in Yellow Taxi Productions’ May performance of Burn This. Ceaser Photography Studio photo. 

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4/30/2009 Journey to and through Motherhood
4/23/2009 Concord does the Full Monty
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3/26/2009 The original sitcom
3/19/2009 Palace to produce The Producers
3/12/2009 British farce and new romantic comedy
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2/26/2009 Serious stories
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2/12/2009 On Golden Pond writer honored
2/5/2009 Divorce and death
1/29/2009 Red carpet?
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1/15/2009 Money, powqer and family
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9/11/2008 Second Life to the rescue
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8/28/2008 Tennessee Williams at Weirs
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8/7/2008 Wicked experience
7/31/2008 Merry tales
7/24/2008 Review: the great outdoors
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7/10/2008 Musical monsters
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6/19/2008 Summer stock
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3/13/2008 Murder and rhinos
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2/28/2008 The art of theater criticism
2/21/2008 Breaking the cycle
2/14/2008 Curtain Calls
2/7/2008 NH Theatre awards sixth year
1/31/2008 Elvis fans and ghost stories
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1/10/2008 Fate of Annicchiarico
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8/2/2007 That deaf, dumb and blind kid
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5/24/2007 Putting the camp in camp
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4/12/2007 Confluence
4/5/2007 First look
3/29/2007 Reluctant star
3/15/2007 In a town far away
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3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
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12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
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11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
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10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
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08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
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07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
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07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
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02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An†actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
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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
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
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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
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Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
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Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palaceís Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad itís over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
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Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesnít 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 Taxiís driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Playersí Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
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Playing with manís 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
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The†Five best shows of 2005
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The Warmth Of The Cold
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Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to Ďnight Mother