Hippo Manchester
October 27, 2005


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Madco welcomes Boston actor-director

Pro goes from Dukes of Hazzard to Hot L Baltimore

By Michelle Saturley   msaturley@hippopress.com

When Boston-based actor and director Frank Annese was setting up his schedule for the fall earlier this year, he decided he wanted to direct a play in New Hampshire.

“I’ve vacationed in New Hampshire for years, and it seemed like a good place to work with theater in a community,” Annese said.

Annese settled back in Boston after spending many years in what he calls “the Hollywood machine.” In the mid-’80s the actor had a recurring role on Days of Our Lives, and landed numerous guest spots on dozens of popular TV dramas and sitcoms, including The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, L.A. Law and MacGyver.

“I soon found that artistry took a back seat to making money, and instead of working on being a better actor, it became all about hitting your mark and looking at the camera a certain way,” he said.

Upon his return to Boston, he reopened the famed Wilbur Theater and served as its artistic director until 1996. He’s also led acting and directing workshops all over New England.

When Annese starting searching theater Web sites for an opening in New Hampshire, he came across the site for Music and Drama Company (Madco). The troupe was searching for a director for the autumn production of Lanford Wilson’s Hot L Baltimore, a comedy-drama set in an old hotel.

“I like Lanford Wilson, I have great affection for the show, so it seemed like a good fit,” Annese said.

When he first reached out to Madco for the directing position, they seemed a little skeptical, according to Annese.

“The board and everyone were very friendly to me, but they also had this attitude of ‘Why us?’” Annese said. “I think they were curious why a Boston actor and director would want to come up to Derry.”

Annese said his reasons for the commute were simple.

“Boston theater is a closed community,” he said. “Even though there’s a lot going on, it’s not a place where you can do something different. I wanted to be able to have more freedom.”

The show centers around a motley group of social outcasts who live in a run-down hotel on the wrong side of the tracks in Baltimore. The hotel is going to be torn down soon, and the residents are banding together. The old hotel represents a transitional point in the lives of the characters and in the society around them.

“The show was written in the ’70s, when there were great social changes,” Annese said. “This show captures those changes, and the fear and freedom that came with them.”

Madco will present Hot L Baltimore at the Adams Memorial Opera House in Derry, Nov. 3-5. For tickets (which cost $15) and show times, visit Madco.org or send e-mail to madco@madco.org.