My scheduled talk at the Agawam Historical Association will be moved to Thursday, March 16th at 7 p.m. due to today's blizzard.
Saturday, March 18, 2017 - I'll be speaking about Comedy and Tragedy on the Mountain at Blue Umbrella Books, 2 Main Street, Westfield, Mass., free and open to the public, 3 p.m.
The time: 1895 to 1965
Setting: A wooden, barn-like summer playhouse…in an amusement park…on the top of a mountain…in a New England factory town
It was as unlikely a place as you will find for stage plays, but as much a part of the community as the stores and businesses and the red brick maze of factories and canals down below the mountain in the so-called “Flats” by the Connecticut River. The place was Holyoke, Massachusetts. For some seventy years live theatre created magic on the mountain above the city.
Though a small theater may seem like a world unto itself, it is not; not entirely. It reflects its era and its location, that larger world outside its wooden walls; therefore this story is as much about Holyoke, the tri-city area of Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield, and the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, because this was the audience for the little playhouse on Mt. Tom. If you are familiar with these towns, then you will find much in this book to jog your memories, for this is your story.
Comedy and Tragedy on the Mountain covers seventy years of live theatre on Mt. Tom, from vaudeville, operetta, WPA-sponsored shows in the Great Depression, and its heyday from 1941 to 1962 with a resident repertory company called The Valley Players. In the early 1960s, two new incarnations: The Casino-in-the-Park, and finally, the Mt. Tom Playhouse with touring packaged shows featuring well-known stars from television and movies. Many stars of stage and screen, and many newcomers who would one day become stars, performed over several decades on Mt. Tom. Through interviews, newspaper reviews, and many photographs, you will relive their performances, and go backstage for personal experiences that were both comic and tragic, and enjoy again the excitement of opening night.
Speaking of opening nights, I'd like to extend best wishes to the two theatre companies that will be performing my play Sketching the Soul this month. The first is the Hummingbird Theatre Company of Rochester, New York. They open this Thursday:
Sat. March 18th - 7:30pm
Sun. March 19th - 2:00pm
Thur. March 23rd - 7:30pm
Fri. March 24th - 7:30pm
Sat. March 25th - 7:30pm
The past and present, celebrity and spiritually come to a head one frenetic weekend when her younger sister Sarah arrives unexpectedly. Chelsea must explain her sister, and the lifestyle she kept a secret, to Mike, an attorney struggling with his own ethical priorities, and to Maureen Nash an aggressive journalist who arrives with a photographer for an interview (during which Chelsea, with a rather un-Amish-like attitude, pummels the photographer into surrendering the film he has shot of Sarah!) Sarah and Mike together help Chelsea to accept and acknowledge the power of her Amish heritage and to move toward a future she had not expected.
JAMES KENYON as Mike Grimaldi
LECI GRAY as Chelsea Logan
OLIVIA SIMMS as Nancy
RILEY PLEASANTS as Sarah Richter
RACHEL BROOME as Maureen Nash
MAC MITCHELL as Arthur Coakley
Production Staff & Crew
Director: Dr. Elissa Sartwell
Stage Manager: Frannie Maas
Scenic Design: Hannah Kenyon
Technical Director/Lighting Design: Michael Tobin
Costume & Hair/Makeup Design: Alice Bryant
Sound Design: Brittany Lyday
Props Master: Laina Faul
Dresser/Run Crew: Grace Reeves
Admission $10; Seniors/Students $5; Complimentary admission for Belhaven students, faculty, staff and their immediate families. Doors open 30 minutes prior to each performance. We hope that you will join us at the theatre! To reserve tickets for any Belhaven Theatre production, please call 601-965-7026 or email your request to email@example.com. Tickets may be purchased with cash or check.