logoIn the Wings
The Newsletter of The Concord Players, February 2018
Greg Luzitano as Paul Sycamore, Kelsey Bevins as Alice Sycamore and Ruth Hollinger 
as Essie Carmichael in You Can't Take It With You, opening February 9.

Kathy Lague has oft' been overheard saying something like "you can accomplish anything with a spread sheet."  Those with less ordered minds might find this a dubious proposition, but time and time again, she's proved herself right. Kathy is treasurer of the Concord Players and her fastidious attention to the organization's checkbook has kept the Players on budget, on time and to the penny.  It's not surprising, we expect those "numbers types" to use spread sheets and balance the bottom line.
What is surprising is how successfully Kathy employs her approach in her artistic endeavors. When casting her latest directorial project, the Concord Players' production of You Can't Take it With You, she relied on an organized system of spread sheets, delineating actors and characters into neat rows and columns, making adjustments after each reading. Guess what happened. She cast the show with actors who have slipped into their roles as easily as a skater's blade glides across the ice.
She doesn't make her living at theatre, but it was her first love. "My father was in a community theatre group," she explains. "I would occasionally tag along to rehearsals and work days. My elementary schools always put on pageants and I enjoyed doing those, so between the two things, I was hooked.  I sang in the church choir, did the high school musicals and got my degree in vocal performance. I realized I would probably not make it professionally, so I got a 'real' job, and turned to community theatre for my artistic outlet."
One could argue that she might well have had a go at a professional singing career. Anyone who has heard her sing knows that her vocals are transformative. As Abigail Adams in 1776, her lyrical missives to husband John filled the house with choral strains that were as enchanting as any elixir, and as Heidi in Follies--well, just look at what director Donnie Baillargeonhad to say: "she came out and sang with such a clear, clarion, enunciated sound. It brought me to tears." Wow.
From left: Joyce Kulhawik, Honorary Chair of Access 51 Capital Campaign; Dan Schrager, Co-Chair of Access 51 Capital Campaign; Cory Atkins, Massachusetts State Representative, and Chris Whelan, Concord Town Manager.
They came with bells and whistles. And a drum. Happy revelers all who gathered to launch the public phase of Access 51, a capital campaign to raise funds for improvements to 51 Walden. Honorary Chair Joyce Kulhawik, State Representative Cory Atkins and Concord Town Manager Chris Whelan were among the luminaries who spoke in support of the effort. Access 51 co-chairs Dan Schrager and Dorrie Bean were on hand to mark the early success of the campaign that has already raised $175,000 toward its $500,000 goal. Kulhawik and Schrager made special acknowledgement of Dorrie Bean whose devotion to the building and the performing arts that take place within it dates back to the early 1970s when she and a group of advocates saved it from the wrecking ball. Kulhawik spoke passionately about the importance of the art in our lives, saying that the arts connect us with "our deepest selves." 
Thanks to Peter Siebert, who organized the event, the crowd was able to express their enthusiasm for the project with those bells and whistles, plus a drum and placards, all designed to "drum up" support for the project and bring added festivity to the celebration. Mother Nature cooperated with a warm, sunny day, an auspicious beginning to a campaign that will make 51 Walden more accessible and comfortable for performers and audiences alike.
You can donate to the effort by visiting www.51walden.org or sending a check to Access 51, 51 Walden Street, Concord, MA 01742.

The Annual Meeting of The Concord Players will be held on Sunday, March 18, 7 p.m., at 51 Walden. We will announce our 2018-19 season. 

But back to her role as director. Being an actor informs her approach to pulling a show together. "Coming to directing from acting (and still going back and forth between the two) really helped me because I understood how actors think and what they need to help them give a good performance," she says. "I also learned what not to do as a director, because I knew what drove actors crazy! When giving direction, I can (hopefully) express how I would do the scene. When taking direction, I can try to see the whole picture as the director does and understand how my character fits into the whole production."
Seeing the big picture is a talent she's made good use of in directing this show. You Can't Take it With You is a show about relationships and the choices we make in life, and whether or not we all need to conform to the same norm.  These weighty messages are all delivered--believe it or not --in a comedic context with a story that takes place in the home of a quirky, unconventional family. It would be easy to let the characters fall into caricature, to let the laughs come from the comic extremes the script presents, but Kathy has been thoughtful and deliberative in how to present the story.
She explains that "actors love doing quirky roles-the challenge is to focus the energy and get them to go in the right direction.  The quirky can tend to get separated from the rest of the action..." Like all good directors she focuses the actors' energy. "... you need to keep them in the story; not as a comedic break. Quirky characters are real people, too, and can't become caricatures and distract from the main." 
Kathy performed the role of Penny Sycamore in a production of You Can't Take it With You, and had fun with it. She says that she found more meaning to the story than she remembered when reading it this time, from a director's eye. 
We can expect that kind of insight from a woman who successfully combines the precision of a CPA with the unrestrained creativity of a multi-talented artist.  
"Kathy has been indispensable to the Concord Players during her term on the board," says President Tracy Wall.  She brings good common sense to problem solving, and creative insights to programming.  It's a fabulous mix and her contributions are invaluable." Hmm.  How do you think she does that?  With a spreadsheet?
--Linda McConchie
opens on February 9 and runs through February 24. Tickets are available at concordplayers.org 

Players member Tom Ruggles has made the national news!
February 2 at 7:30 p.m.Violinist Sarah Whitneyjoined by guitarist David Leisnerpresent Beyond the Notes, "an interactive concert experience that gives the audience a chance to get to know and learn about the performers beyond what can be read in their bios." Tickets are $25 advance/$15 students/$30 at the door, available on-line