Published DateLACONIA — January was a very busy month for the staff and board of The Winnipesaukee Playhouse.
In between packing up nine years worth of theatre productions from their Weirs Beach venue, they also hosted a 2013 Season Announcement Party and Fundraiser and attended the annual NH Theatre Awards where the 2012 theatre season was honored to receive three awards, one for Best Supporting Actress in a Professional Play (Tonya Free for her side-splitting role in last summer's Epic Proportions) and two for the Winni Players Community production of To Kill a Mockingbird (Best Sound Design for Charles Fray and Best Lighting Design for Neil Pankhurst).
On January 20, over 80 theatre supporters and fans gathered at O Steaks and Seafood for the Season Announcement Party and Fundraiser. Organized by Trustee Richard Olson and volunteer Maren Boothby, and thanks to the generous support of Magic Food Restaurant Group, the event raised over $9,000 for the Playhouse's Capital Campaign which is ongoing while the new theatre in Meredith is under construction.
Twenty-eight local businesses contributed to that effort by supplying goods and gift certificate which were won through a unique balloon raffle.
Through a competitive game of charades, Playhouse staff revealed the titles of this summer's professional season productions. Marketing Director, Lesley Pankhurst, says, "we are so excited about this summer's season which we feels has just the right blend of everything we have become known for: highly theatrical productions coupled with top-notch acting and technical elements. Traditionally we have chosen the plays in the late Fall and then announced them at our annual party in January. This year we chose them way back in the Spring and have been biting our tongues not to spill the beans so that the announcement would be a big surprise! With such great productions, it's been quite a challenge to keep our mouths shut."
The season kicks off on June 19 through 29 with Michael Frayn's theatrical farce, Noises Off. Called "the funniest farce ever written" by the New York Post, the play follows the on-and off-stage antics of an acting troupe as they stumble from bumbling dress rehearsal to disastrous closing night. Of course, everything that can go wrong does, as actors desperately try to hang on to their lines, their performances and the furniture (not to mention some slippery, scaly props!).
The second play of the season, from July 3 to 13, will be Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure by Steven Dietz. Winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play, this version of the Holmes saga finds the world's greatest detective as he has seemingly reached the end of his remarkable career. Then a case presents itself that is too tempting to ignore. Dietz presents Holmes at the height of his powers—surrounded by all the elements that fans of his exploits have come to expect: danger, intrigue, wit, humor and surprise.
The third production, playing July 17–27, will be Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park. Simon's longest-running Broadway hit is a light-hearted romance between a straight-laced lawyer and an impetuous free spirit that begins where most romantic comedies end – with the marriage!
The fourth production will be The 39 Steps, a theatrical adaptation of Hitchcock's thriller. Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have The 39 Steps, a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre. It plays from July 31 to August 10.
The final production of the mainstage theatre season will be the Playhouse's first professionally-produced musical. "Try to Remember" when The Fantasticks was not entrancing theatergoers around the world. A New York institution which opened in 1960 and is playing there still, it is a fable of "a boy, a girl, two fathers and a wall" and it will perform from August 14–24.
Not content to rest there, the Playhouse will make their inaugural season in Meredith the biggest ever by extending the season for one week more with a world premiere production. Executive Director Bryan Halperin's original work, The Unicycle of Life, will round out the season over Labor Day weekend. The dramatic comedy, set backstage at a family-run circus, looks at life through the colorful lens of the Big Top.
Summer season subscriptions are now available, providing theatregoers with great savings when they purchase tickets to the first five productions (plus a further savings on The Unicycle of Life). For more information about the summer season or the Playhouse's very popular summer camp program, visit www.winniplayhouse.org or call 366-7377.
Winnipesaukee Playhouse winners from the NH Theatre Awards were Charles Fray, Tonya Free and Neil Pankhurst. (Courtesy photo)