PLYMOUTH — The Educational Theatre Collaborative (ETC) production of the original musical Marking the Moment, which honored the 250th anniversary of the Town of Plymouth, was named the 2013 overall winner of the Moss Hart Memorial Award by the New England Theatre Conference at a ceremony October 26
ETC is in its 20th year of producing intergenerational theatre experiences with cast from across the region. It is a partnership of the Plymouth State University College of Graduate Studies, Plymouth Elementary School and Friends of the Arts.
Marking the Moment, written by Professor Trish Lindberg, artistic director of ETC, and PSU Professor Emeritus of History Manuel Marquez-Sterling, captures illustrative vignettes from Plymouth's 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.
The NETC award presenter called Marking the Moment, "an epic original work. ... The simple logistics of moving more than 100 people on and off stage was challenge enough, but the fluid blocking of story and the development of all the individual characters was near genius. The mind-boggling costumes, makeup, lighting, music and special effects left the audience truly in awe and the reviewer with the sense of what an incredible undertaking and collaboration this was. Truly the spirit of community, truly the spirit of theatre, and truly worthy of the Moss Hart Award."
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. 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 production 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 included 120 people ages 8 to 77 from 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 as well as community members and children from area schools and students from Plymouth State helped to mark moments in Plymouth history.