Publisher's Note — What about theater?

By Jody Reese

With summer in full swing, it’s time get outside — to attend a game at the new ball stadium, to jump in one of the city’s pools or to dine out on the deck at Fratello’s.

But what about theater?

Other communities stage plays and musicals for the whole family to take advantage of the summertime urge to get out.

Down in Nashua, for example, the Nashua Theatre Guild will stage four free performances of Shakespeare’s Henry IV at Greeley Park; They’re on July 23-24 and 30-31 at 2 p.m.

And Manchester? This summer, the city is taking a big step in this direction in a few weeks with an outdoor production of Grease in Veterans Park downtown.

The musical will be staged by the New Thalian Players troupe for three performances: Friday-Sunday, July 15-17.  It’s free to all, though donations are accepted. No tickets or reservations needed — just go at dusk and enjoy.

This isn’t to take away from other theatre in the Queen City. On the West Side, the Majestic Theatre runs a good number of shows during the warm months, and they’re worth checking out.

And yes, Manchester has had a schedule of summer entertainment events in Veterans Park for years. Intown Manchester and other supporters have done a good job keeping this program going.

But the New Thalian production of a full-fledged musical, rather than a solo act, brings Manchester one step closer to having the critical mass needed to attract new summertime visitors to the city.

If done right, a robust downtown summertime arts festival can turn into a magnet for families who prefer other options besides a ballgame.

One example of what’s possible is Portsmouth’s  Prescott Park Arts Festival,  celebrating its 31st year this season.

Here at the paper, we just received a thick folder of materials about this year’s events, which range from children’s shows to outdoor productions of the musicals Into the Woods and The Wiz.

It’s pretty impressive. The schedule is packed with events five nights a week for 10 weeks straight. With as many as three different performances a day, there’s something for everyone.

If Manchester is to make the most of its potential as a Destination City, shouldn’t we be able to say the same?

But you can’t grow an arts festival without an audience. With that in mind, it’s important to see what kind of response Grease gets.

If you believe Manchester is ready for summertime arts festival on a larger scale, then your assignment is clear. Attend Grease and show your support.

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH