In the Wings

The Newsletter of The Concord Players
October 2014                           Robert Runck, Editor

When Mary Fitzpatrick was invited to interview as a director for the Concord Players' season, she read all the plays that were being considered and found her match with Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker. "Because I'd seen Hello Dolly I thought I knew The Matchmaker but I had no idea how wonderful it was on its own--before it became a musical," she says. "I have been trying to direct Our Town for years and I haven't had the opportunity. When I read The Matchmaker I realized I liked it even better. It has all the elements I love in a play--great writing, well-developed characters, and it made me laugh out loud. Plus it gave me a chance to work with The Concord Players. They have a wonderful, well-deserved reputation and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity." A professionally trained actor who studied in New York and London, Mary came to directing when she couldn't decide which part to try out for in a production of Steel Magnolias at Arlington Friends of the Drama. "I thought by directing I could work on all the characters; since then I've directed a show whenever I fell in love with the characters." Has she fallen in love with the Horace Vandergelder and Dolly Levi? Oh yes, and all of their lively cohorts. The play is a farce. Doors and furniture become characters in their own right, physical comedy is fast and complex, and absurd situations have to be believable. Fitzpatrick is undaunted. "As in every play, the story has to be told with truth and strong emotions. The difference in a comedy--and a farce in particular--is the element of timing. The intensity of each emotion has to be very clear and the action has to move quickly. It's a team sport!" Whatever the challenges, Fitzpatrick is a seasoned pro who can meet them. Her years of experience and formidable artistic talent ensure that The Matchmaker will be a success. "I'm having a great time," she says. "It's a wonderful group of hard-working, talented people who have fun and work incredibly hard to create a good show--and this is a big show: four sets, 15 actors, musicians, and major set changes. I'm going to be spoiled after this experience."


Robert Runck directs Ken Ludwig's Postmortem for the Nashua Theatre Guild, running Oct. 9-12. Treasurer Kathy Lague will be playing Myra in Deathtrap for the TCan Players. The show plays Nov. 7-9 and 14-16 at The Center for Arts in Natick. For info, go to tcan players VP of Productions Paula McNabb will be stage managing Fit to Kill at Acme Theater in Maynard Nov. 21-Dec. 13. A thriller about strategy, betrayal, and deception, the show is directed by Nancy Curran Willis, who will be at the helm for the Players' spring musical, Kiss Me Kate. Craig Howard will be extending his Hallowe'en to the end of November, when he will appear as Edna Turnblad in the Needham Community Theatre's production of the musical Hairspray! Performances run Nov. 21-30, and tickets can be ordered at needham theatre



In addition to being our Vice President of Productions, Paula McNabb is also Vice President, Senior Compliance/Risk Manager at Citizens Bank. Because of all the hours Paula donates to The Concord Players, Citizens Bank Charitable Foundation has just sent us $250. We are grateful for all the time and talents that Paula shares with us and everyone around her!


Tickets for the 2014-15 season will go  on sale on October 1. The best way to purchase tickets is to go to the Players web page to select seats. There is a discount for groups of 10 or more. Email to tickets for information.


Actors animate their characters, but let's face it, costumes maketh the show. Especially in a show like Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, scheduled to open Nov. 7. Set in late 19th-century Yonkers, New York, the show's costumes are striking in their silhouettes, varied in texture and rich in color and hue. A moving work of art if you will, created by Tracy Wall, who researches and constructs her costumes with a keen eye and a deft hand. "I start with the silhouette of the time period to inform the general shape," she says. 

In this show, that means an S shape for the women, effected by extravagant bustles which are offset by smaller hats, perched, feathered and beribboned. After that, myriad elements come into play. "The director and I sit down to talk about her vision (along with the set designer) which can mean color, economic level, realism and accuracy," Tracy explains. She considers personalities, too. "Are they young, old, fashionable, rich, poor, funny, commanding, sentimental"? In a comedy like this one, a costumer often adds witty elements to accentuate a character's disposition. From the 17th to 19th centuries, a variety of sartorial gimmicks were employed to create the impression of an hourglass figure for women. Hoops, corsets, crinolines and bustles were chief among them. "We're using modern reproduction 'bustle hoops' for Matchmaker," Tracy explains. "We're trying to go for the biggest bustles-they were at their largest from 1885 to 1888." So what happens when a woman's posterior is so prominently endowed? Sitting lessons for one thing. Tracy could be seen at a recent rehearsal tutoring the ladies on the art of gracefully positioning their abundant costume rumps into a chair. "Lift, tilt, pause and down." Happily for the ladies, reproduction bustles are constructed of modern materials and securely fastened. Not always so for ladies of lesser means in the 19th century. Some inventive women of that era used burlap or various cast-off fibers to create the fashionable look of their wealthier counterparts. Problem was those make-shift rears often shifted or even slipped right out from under petticoats. One creative lady in Chester, England, unwittingly provided lunch for a hungry donkey who couldn't resist the sack of grain she had so cleverly employed in the interest of haute couture! 


Last fall we painted our old upright piano and it graced the green for a month advertising Les Mis while being played by many.  When it came time to remove it, the Chamber of Commerce offered to take it for the Visitor Center. So we rolled it over there one crisp, fall day.  It lived in the Center for the winter, and come spring it was wheeled out to be enjoyed throughout the summer by the many visitors to Concord. This fall, the Chamber decided it was time to say, "farewell," so they put an ad on Craigslist. It has now found a happy home in Dorchester, Mass. It's great to see the piano being used and well-loved.


After the Fenn school's Homecoming game with Groton on September 27, the Ward Hall stage was dedicated to and renamed for long-time arts teacher and drama director Kirsten Gould, also a long-time member and director for the Players.

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