Musicals, edgy dramas and the Gay Bride of Frankenstein
Theater doings in 2009
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
This year in theater, Actorsingers and the Palace Theatre both produced The Producers.
Sarah and Laura Silverman returned to the Palace stage in Manchester for a second year to do a fundraising show in support of New Thalian Players. Their mother, Beth Ann O’Hara, is known as the driving force behind the community company.
Manchester West High’s Theatre Knights were invited to perform at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a top high school drama program chosen through American High School Theatre Festival. With lots of fundraising hustling and help from their families, the Knights headed to Fringe in August to perform American Women, by J.G. Barefield.
It was a year that mixed the traditional and the new with successes and setbacks.
Phoenix Academy moved out of a Nashua Front Street industrial space – or were locked out. StageCoach Productions moved in.
While professional companies in New Hampshire often audition or recruit from New York, the New Hampshire Professional Theatre Association held professional auditions and interviews for off-stage gigs mainly for summer stock in February of 2009 for Granite Staters and those in New Hampshire colleges. Pro auditions will be held at Plymouth University again this year.
In new work news, Milford Area Players staged Hot Buttons, a robot musical by David Agans of Amherst and Winfield Clark of New Boston. The play had been about 20 years in the making. Page to Stage in Concord closed its inaugural season of free monthly events meant to allow playwrights to gather feedback on work with Crosscut, a one-woman presentation by Rebecca Rule, in March. The presentation was one of many projects that came out of material Rule gathered when she was commissioned to preserve local stories in Berlin. Londonderry’s Don Tongue read Void at P2S in January, and it was chosen for the Playwrights’ Platform 37th Annual Festival of New Plays in Boston in June.
Billy Butler and Dane Leeman’s Gay Bride of Frankenstein was invited to the New York Musical Theatre Festival. It was workshopped in Portsmouth in 2008, and was one of about 30 new musicals showcased at NYMT this fall. Butler and Leeman have worked extensively in New Hampshire theater. Nashua playwright Lowell Williams revised his history piece about Keene civil rights martyr Jonathan Daniels, Six Nights in the Black Belt, which had premiered with Yellow Taxi Productions in 2007. The Negro Ensemble Company in New York City held a reading of the new Six Nights, co-sponsored by Freedom Foundation based in Selma, Alabama in New York this summer. A full production scheduled for February in New York has been canceled.
Yellow Taxi Productions commissioned a stage adaptation of The Pact, by popular New Hampshire novelist Jodi Picuolt, and premiered it in April in Nashua. Jeannette Angel wrote the adaptation, which utilized the courtroom scenes to frame the tale of a teen’s death in a small New Hampshire town. YTP staged it again in the summer at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.
Suzanne Delle resigned as YTP artistic director this year and was teaching at Northeastern University in the fall.
Delle said goodbye to the professional company she founded in 2002 with Burn This, a favorite of hers by Lanford Wilson which Delle first encountered in 1987. She lent a hand again when YTP reconvened to participate in a reading of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Theaters across the U.S. held readings of the epilogue in October.
Other companies produced “edgy” work this year. The community company Ghostlight Theater Co. of New England, which has taken up residence at Chester College of New England, brought local bands in to provide the soundtrack and perform during their run of subUrbia. Through a friend, Ghostlight got hold of Eric Bogosian’s updated script. (There was also a 1996 film version by Richard Linklater.) Theatre KAPOW staged Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive. Music and Drama Company staged Judy’s Scary Little Christmas, one of the authors of which is James Webber of Manchester.