In the Wings
T he Newsletter of The Concord Players
December 2019                      Amanda Casale, Editor 
LITTLE WOMEN WEEK IN CONCORD, DECEMBER 15-22: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT AND THE CONCORD PLAYERS
The Concord Players owe their existence to their most renowned and legendary citizen, Louisa May Alcott. She, with her sisters founded the Concord Dramatic Union in 1857.  The Alcotts performed their plays, most of them original, in the parlor of their home at the Wayside (the home Orchard House was designed after) and in the homes of friends in the Town. Their standards were high, an ethos that has been maintained throughout the organization's growth, inspired no doubt by their early example, and the literary traditions of the Town and its founders. The Players have paid tribute to their founder since 1932, staging a performance of her beloved novel  Little Women every ten years, also known to membership as their "Passion Play."

The moniker is used tongue in cheek, but passion, really, is what inspired Louisa and her sisters throughout their lives.  Louisa's passion for writing infused her sisters' imaginations, which in turn, animated their stories.  Like her character Jo, Louisa preferred to play the "lurid" parts in her plays, "the villains, ghosts, bandits and disdainful queens," as she described them.  The polite society she depicted in  Little Women and other stories had a wide readership and thus became a means to an end for her: to give her unshackled imagination free rein in creating characters of blazing purpose and stories of bold adventures. 

Louisa's sister Anna, had her own passionate longings.  She was stage-struck from an early age and had secret yearnings "to shine before the world as a great actress or Prima Donna."  In 1857, Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, who ran a school in Concord, had enjoyed the Alcott girls' improvisations and persuaded Louis May and her sister Anna to form the Concord Dramatic Union.  In 1885, the Union became The Concord Dramatic Club, and later, in 1919, The Concord Players. 



Under Sanborn, and later George Bartlett, the village doctor's son and other prominent citizens in the Town, the Dramatic Union flourished.  Plays and skits were performed at the High School, The Town Hall, the Armory and the Unitarian Church vestry.  Louisa and her sisters all the while continued to maintain their household and support local charities. During and after the Civil War, the troupe performed often for the benefit of the Soldiers Aid Society.  Louisa said that she couldn't afford do give money to charities, but could act to help raise money.  She was in much demand and sometimes performed in  Mrs. Jarley's Waxworks  up to nine times in a given week.

Louisa's theater company thrived for many years, waning only briefly into a dormant stage in the late 19th  century.  But, in the early years of the 20th  century the organization as it is now began to take shape.  Playwright, author and editor Samuel Merwin moved to Concord from New York City  in 1916, inspiring renewed vigor in the company.  He capitalized not only on the group's illustrious founder's legacy, but on his literary and publishing contacts from New York.  He brought star power to leading roles, and invested his formidable talents into breaking new ground in community theater. Under his mentorship, the Players took shows on the road for the very first time - even to Broadway - winning awards in the process.  



The quality of the group's productions and the intellectual standard held by its leader attracted like-minded people to assemble with each other in creative pursuits. Opinion leaders and local luminaries were drawn not only to the Players' cultural cache, but to the collaborative spirit and creativity that characterized its members. Soon, the Players were not only a theater company, but a social network, forging strong bonds of community and fellowship. 

Fast forward 100 years and the Players produce three productions annually, involving actors, technicians, artisans and members of the community in a shared purpose.  Every production is indeed a bold adventure, inspired by a feast of collective imagination and of course, unbounded passion. 

Through her character Jo in  Little Women , Louisa wrote, "I want to do something splendid... something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I'm dead.  I don't know what, but I mean the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday."

Thank you Louisa, you surely did.

--Linda McConchie and Tracy Wall
LITTLE WOMEN DRAMA WORKSHOP
SCENES FROM LITTLE WOMEN
A READING OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL  
As part of Concord's annual holiday celebration, on Sunday, December 1st at 3:00pm Concord Players member Johnny Kinsman will perform a dramatic reading of the beloved holiday classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, with illustrative slides, at 51 Walden Street in Concord Center.
 
Victorians rejoiced when Dickens' novella was published in 1843, hailing it as "a new gospel," and adopting Scrooge's happy new greeting for the holiday: Merry Christmas! Readings and performances of A Christmas Carol quickly became a beloved holiday tradition in Victorian England, and the story of Scrooge's redemption has remained a classic for every generation since.
 
Kinsman, who grew up in Concord, is an actor, director, producer, writer and storyteller who cut his teeth in theatre at Act/Tunes, now Concord Youth Theatre. His professional career was launched with a BFA in Theater from Syracuse University where he received the prestigious Edward G. Greer Award for Excellence in Classical Acting. He is currently Associate Artistic Director for Anthem Theater in Boston where his work includes both Dromios in A Comedy of Errors; Fezziwig in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol; Coach "Friar" Lawrence in Romeo vs. Juliet (which he also penned); Flynn in The Merry Way; and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night of the Living Dead.
 
Kinsman admits to being sentimental and has loved Dickens' story since he was a child. "I feel like my soul is refreshed every time I read it," he says. "It's a feeling I want to share with everyone I meet."

The Concord Players are pleased to present this free event to the town in a celebration of good will during the holiday season.
 
God bless us, Everyone! 
SAVE THE DATE 
BAREFOOT IN THE PARK CAST!
Announcing the cast of Barefoot in the Park ! After several very busy days and nights, the Casting Committee (comprised of Lisa Astbury (director), Alison Walters-Short (stage manager), Corinne Kinsman, and Linda McConchie) were successful in narrowing the very full and talented field of auditioners to identify the best actors for our winter comedy. We are proud to have the following as the cast for our next play,  Barefoot in the Park , which opens February 7, 2020:

Michael Jay Paul Bratter
Danielle Wehner Corie Bratter
Paul Murphy Harry Pepper
(Telephone Man)
Mark Rolli Delivery Man
Barbara Douglass Ethel Banks
John Alzapiedi Victor Velasco

Join us in February for one of Neil Simon's most memorable plays about two newlyweds in Manhattan as they hash out their young love and the machinations that follow!
SPOTLIGHT ON MICHAEL JAY
The Concord Players' upcoming production of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park has been cast with an ensemble of actors who have the comedic chops required to tell this sidesplittingly funny story:

Corie and Paul are just married. She is an adventurous free-spirit who goes for the gusto in life and seizes every moment. Paul is a straight laced attorney, practical, cautious with his nose to the grindstone. Enter Corie's timid, conventional mother, and Victor, Paul and Corie's eccentric, womanizing upstairs neighbor. With a mix like that, what could possible go wrong in a tiny 5th floor Manhattan walk-up? 

Newcomer to the Concord Players, Michael Jay has landed the role of Paul Bratter, and if his performance at tryouts is any indication, he was born to play this role. 



"Michael's career started in his hometown of Needham, Massachusetts, where he performed in Needham High School productions like The Odd Couple, Chicago, and Les Miserables. After graduating high school, he studied at NYU Tisch's Experimental Theater Wing before returning to the Greater Boston Area to continue his journey. Recent credits include Jack ( The Importance of Being Earnest) at the Footlight Club and Harold Hill ( The Music Man) at the Savoyard Light Opera Company. He is also to appear in the Yorick Ensemble's inaugural production of The Pirates of Penzance

T o Michael, the role of Paul Bratter holds a lot of appeal because of the honesty of his character. His role shifts from one of passive frustration to active anger, and the way his feelings towards Corie evolve over the course of the play offers a lot of richness. Having played Felix Unger in the past, Michael is excited to explore the similarities and differences of the characters and how they handle issues of love, anxiety, and control. Michael couldn't be more excited to be doing this show at the Concord Players, and with such a talented cast and crew, he knows that this show will be a must-see."
THE PRINCESSES ARE BACK!
Photo Credits: Kai Chao
Instagram: @kaichaoboston
 
After last year's great success, your favorite fairy tale princesses and special guests are returning to the Concord Players on Saturday, December 7th, for two events: a musical fairy tale meet-and-greet in the afternoon, and an adults-only "Pixie Dust After Dark" cabaret at night.  Local talents include Concord Players members Amanda Casale (Spamalot) and Meghan Rose (Funny Girl), as well as Lauren Cantos Smith, Samantha Casale, Audrey Clark, Jessica DePalo, Cara Guappone, Adina Lundquist, Jose Merlo, Kara Nelson, Barbara Pierre, Eric Rehm, Tristyn Sepersky, Carole Shannon, Daniel Sullivan, and Ryan Trapani-Goldberg. 
 
The meet-and-greet at 2pm invites children (in age or at heart) to interact up close and personal with twelve fairy tale princesses as each performs their trademark musical number.  There will be exclusive time put aside for photos with all of the princesses, as well as royally inspired gifts, food, drinks, and a surplus of musical and magical spirit.  Your every dream will come true, for nowhere else can you meet THIS MANY princesses in one place!
 
Who says fairy tales are just for kids? At 8pm, our twelve performers are joined by several special guests to present a cabaret of villainous and more mature musical numbers, featuring a series of solos, duets, mash-ups, and medleys of your favorite royal numbers.  Join us for beer, wine, food, laughs, and some magical nostalgia for a truly enchanted evening.
 
Tickets can be reserved on the Concord Players website, and purchased at the door for $15 per event (cash or check only).  A wonderful time is sure to be had by all the fairest guests in the land!
CONCORD PLAYERS MEMBER NEWS
Membership Payments Now Available Online: We are inaugurating an online system of membership payments this year! If you have received your membership renewal and haven't mailed it in yet, you can now do it online (no service fee)! Go to the Concord Players website, select Membership from the menu, and click on the indicated link. That will take you directly to the online page. (If you're not a member, now's the time to join! You can use the same link!) If you have any questions, please email membership@concordplayers.org. 
 
Tuck Everlasting:  Madi Shaer, who was in The Secret Garden with Concord Players this past spring, will be playing Winnie Foster in Tuck Everlasting at The Umbrella Stage Co. in Concord from December 6th through December 22nd.
 
UPCOMING EVENTS AT 51 WALDEN
December 8, 2019 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.:  The Concord Orchestra Family Concert, featuring Pinocchio's Adventures in Funland by Gandolfi, narrated by Joyce Kulhawik. The Longmeadow HIgh School Treble Chorus will join the Orchestra in performing Patterson's Little Red Riding Hood. Tickets $20/$10 for children and students. Call (978)369-4967 or buy tix on-line.

December 13 and 14, 2019 at 8 p.m.:  The Concord Band Holiday Pops. These concerts feature music and visions of the season. Table seating and light refreshments, an appearance by Santa, and a holiday gift raffle make this a festive evening. Tickets $30/$15 for children under 12. Call (978)897-9969 or buy tix on-line

December 21 and 22, 2019 at 2 p.m.: Opera51 performs Hansel and Gretel by Englebert Humperdick, an opera based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. The performance will be costumed and semi-staged, with chorus and orchestra conducted by Alan Yost. Lead singers are JoAnna Pope (Hansel), Robin Farnsley (Gretel), Lindsay Burroughs (Mother), James Liu (Father), Alyssa Mae Dogget (Sandman/Dew Fairy and Margaret Beaty (Witch). Tickets are $20 adults/$10 children. Purchase on-line. Call (978)369-7911 for more information.

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