Published DatePLYMOUTH — Plymouth, N.H. is an interesting town with an intriguing history.
Did you know that baseball legend Babe Ruth visited the Draper and Maynard Building on Main Street when it was a sporting goods factory? Or that the Underground Railroad had a stop in Plymouth at the home of Nathaniel Rogers, now the site of the Silver Center for the Arts? How about a story of a woman and infant traveling alone on horseback several days from Hollis to Plymouth, hiding in a cave one night with the sounds of an Indian encampment just above her? Or that former president Franklin Pierce sat at the bedside of Nathaniel Hawthorne as the great writer lay dying in Plymouth?
The Educational Theatre Collaborative, ETC, will premiere an original musical depicting these stories and many more in celebration of Plymouth's 250th anniversary at the Silver Center for the Arts on the Plymouth State University campus January 23-27.
Marking the Moment, written by PSU Professor Emeritus of History Manuel Marquez-Sterling and Professor Trish Lindberg, artistic director of the Educational Theatre Collaborative (ETC), captures illustrative vignettes from Plymouth history in song and dance to retell stories and historical episodes collected by the writers. The idea is rooted in history in 1913, community members staged tableaux around town to mark the town's 150th anniversary, according to Lindberg.
Lindberg says human interest was a significant element in selecting the characters and stories to portray. "I was looking for the stories...the everyday people, as well as famous figures and founding families," she says. "I'd like people to feel more connected to Plymouth after seeing this show. All of us are making history every day."
Marquez-Sterling used his skill as a dramatic writer to shape the history as a drama. He calls the project "a daunting and awesome task." The production illustrates that local history is the foundation for national history. None of the world's greatest dramatists, Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Corneille or any others can surpass the drama that history offers, " he says. For him, historical fiction is a necessary side of "factual history," helping to explain what so frequently the facts by themselves cannot.
Will Ogmundson of Sutton wrote the music. Ogmundson says he tried to have the music for this show match the time period it represents. "Babe Ruth's song is ragtime, the 1950's song harkens back to Jerry Lee Lewis, and the 1930's era piece is a Charleston, to give a few examples, so the style is constantly shifting," the composer says.
The cast includes 120 people ages 8 to 77 from some 20 towns. Everyone from a local doctor, a lawyer, a contractor, the university president, provost, dean and director of athletics, the founder of the Common Man family of restaurants, members of Pemigewasset Chorale Society and the local library Young Ladies Library Association as well as community members and children from area schools and students from Plymouth State will help to mark moments in Plymouth history.
Performances are January 23-26 at 7 p.m.; January 26 and 27 at 2 p.m. in the Hanaway Theatre in the PSU Silver Center.
Tickets are $25-20 for adults; $22-17 for seniors and $20-15 for youth. A group rate of $14 per ticket for 15 or more tickets purchased at the same time with a single payment is also available.
In January, the Silver Center Box Office is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and one hour before performances. The Box Office is closed on Monday, January 21. Box Office telephone numbers are (603) 535-2787 and (800) 779-3869. Tickets are also available online at www.plymouth.edu/silver-center/buy-tickets. Advance tickets are recommended as many performances sell out.
The Educational Theatre Collaborative at Plymouth State University, a three-time Moss Hart Award winner for excellence in children's and community theatre, is an inspiring and innovative arts education program. It is a joint venture of the College of Graduate Studies, Plymouth Elementary School and Friends of the Arts, in its 19th year of producing intergenerational theatre experiences, which include community members, elementary, high school and university students and PSU faculty and staff from across the region.