logo In the Wings
The Newsletter of The Concord Players
May 2019                              Amanda Casale, Editor 

Audiences were wowed by the voices, the beautiful music, and the production values.
There are two more weekends to go and seats are still available.
Head to the Concord Players website for more information and tickets.
"I want to give the audiences a wall of sound unlike anything they have heard!"
Brian Kelly has big plans for kicking off the Concord Players' 100th season. He'll be directing Funny Girl, a 1964 musical about the life of singer, comedian, Vaudeville star and movie actor Fanny Brice. It's the show that launched Barbra Streisand's career, catapulting her to stardom and introducing a new generation to Brice's comedic genius and the influence of Vaudeville on American musical comedy.
Born Fania Borach on October 29, 1891, Brice was the child of Jewish immigrants who settled on New York's Lower East Side. Her appetite for show business was whetted by her success in local talent shows in Brooklyn. Determined to have a career as an actress, she performed in Vaudeville and Burlesque, often taking roles that didn't suit her talents, but kept her in front of an audience. It took a few tries, but she found success in Florenz Ziegfield's Follies, carving out a space for herself with comedy as a counterpoint to his long-limbed, blonde, be-sequined beauties. Later, she revealed the depth of her talent as a chanteuse with a performance of My Man. Standing completely still in the middle of the stage with no affect and no accent, she passionately intoned the enduring lament of a woman's unrequited love, a lament that she herself was living. The song became her signature and audiences thereafter clamored to hear her sing it.
Loud, brassy, hard-working and tough, Brice ascended to stardom not through her songs, however, but through her comedy. Capitalizing on the popular trend for ethnic humor at the beginning of the 20th century, she developed skits in a Yiddish accent, doing "Jewish Jokes" and parodying stereotypes.
Later, in response to growing anti-Semitic sentiments she dropped her accent and rose to radio stardom by reprising a Vaudeville character of her own making, Baby Snooks. Her persona as Snooks soon blossomed into a full-hour radio show, providing Brice with fame and income for more than a decade.

Brice's producer son-in-law Ray Stark thought the tumultuous, rugged roads she traveled to achieve success was a story worth telling. He encountered some rugged terrain of his own being turned down by a series of lyricists, composers, choreographers and actors not interested in doing the show until he found success with composer Jule Styne and lyricist Bob Merrill. Success was guaranteed with the casting of young Barbra Streisand in the leading role of Fanny. Not-too-pretty, very Jewish, a little brash and extremely funny, Streisand embodied Brice's essence. She brought her instinct for comedy and her transcendent voice to the part, giving herself and the play a prominent place in in the canon of American musicals.
The plot of Funny Girl centers around Fanny's marriage to entrepreneur and gambler Nicky Arnstein. There's an almost tragic irony in Brice's marriage to Arnstein. He was an embezzler, an addicted gambler, a crook and a philanderer. Brice's own father lost the family business through gambling debts, leaving her mother alone to provide for her family. Brice met the same fate after Arnstein's second imprisonment for wire fraud and his profligate spending of her money.
Despite the despicable Arnstein, Funny Girl is a show of determined optimism and aspirational energy, just like Fanny Brice.
"Funny Girl is one of the great classic musicals of our time," says director Kelly. It is a biopic in its truest sense. In addition to being a wonderful show with iconic music, it takes us back to a time when the American musical theater was coming into being as the art form we know today."
He says this show is particularly relevant for Concord Players as the Players has its origins in the early 1900s and has quite literally grown up with the American theater. "We could not ask for a more historically appropriate piece to kick off the 100th season."
Kelly hopes for a big turnout at tryouts because this show is, as he sees it, all about the ensemble. "Most people know Funny Girl as being a lead vehicle show -- it's all about Fanny, but in particular the ensemble is going to truly bring this show to life," he tells us. "I think we often forget that people are made recognizable because of the people around them. Who we interact with in life helps to create and tell the story of who we become. I want to make sure that we create the entire story of Fanny's life not just a singular snapshot of the person she was."
The show is colored with the world of Vaudeville which was an era of ensembles, shtick and zany humor; actors riffing off each other, the comic, the straight man, the buffoon. Kelly plans to recreate the world that Fanny lived in as accurately as he can, and he'll need a strong ensemble to make that happen.
It's no surprise the Players will be mounting a major production rarely staged by regional or community theaters. In 2010, the group staged a production of The Scarlet Pimpernel, a play so technically complex and difficult, few professional theaters even try to put it on the boards. The combined genius of set designer Brian Harris and builder/engineer Allen Bantly resulted in some show-stopping moments of technical wizardry: a boat that miraculously appeared up out of the floor in a cloud of mist, for example. A cast of rock-stars combined with a crew who never slept made for one of the Players' most memorable and successful productions.
With Kelly at the helm and a virtuoso production team, the Players are undaunted despite the challenges that Funny Girl presents. One New York Times reviewer said this about a recent Paper Mill Playhouse production of the show: What makes it all the more impressive is that few actors, or theater companies outside of summer stock, dare to attempt Jule Styne's and Bob Merrill's grand spectacle that propelled Barbra Streisand's career nearly 40 years ago."
We're not scared. Oh, and did we mention the 22 piece orchestra? So come be part of Concord Players' history and try out for Funny Girl!
For more information, visit the Concord Players website. 
--Linda McConchie
Auditions for the first production of our 100th season are approaching!
Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merill, book by Isobel Lennart from an original story by Miss Lennart.  Directed by Brian Kelly (Spamalot, The Producers, Noises Off), music direction by Brendan Kenney, choreography by Katie Alexander, and produced by Susan Tucker.   
Auditions for Funny Girl will be held on Wednesday, May 8th and Thursday, May 9th, both at 7:00pm at 51 Walden.  Callbacks are scheduled for Sunday, May 12th, beginning at 6:00pm.  Auditions will be held by appointment only; the SignUpGenius form is available via our website.
Performance Dates:
November 8th, 9th, 10th (matinee)
November 15th, 16th, 17th (matinee)
November 22nd and 23rd
Check our website for further information. 
Peggy Pegram Elliot was a longtime Concord Players member who greeted her friends with a warm smile and a big hug whenever they walked into 51 Walden.  She's done almost every job there is to do in a theater, including props, set painting, producing, crew, and advertising. Peggy made it a point to recruit new people to the Players community and was always there when they were getting started to make them feel welcome.  She was long, leggy, and pretty with strawberry-blonde hair and an alluring Texas twang. She knew how to use her assets onstage as a dancer for the Lincoln Players and the Concord Players.

Off stage, she was a committed member of the Lincoln and Concord communities, volunteering on Town committees (in Lincoln where she lived and raised her four children) and for all good causes.  For many years she worked on the DeCordova Museum annual international festivals making giant paper mache figurines or cooking exotic foods to serve to hundreds of guests. When her children were almost grown, Peggy went back to school to obtain her Masters in Social Work, enabling her to even further employ her natural compassion, insight, and empathy to help others.   Peggy entertained often and elegantly in her architecturally-designed and stylishly-appointed home, welcoming old friends and new residents of Lincoln who quickly became friends.  Her house abounded with energy, love, and happy pets for many, many years.  Peggy was kind, generous, and good to her core.  We will miss her.  
--Linda McConchie 
Calling all Patriotic Players!
The Concord Players will be marching in Sudbury's Annual July 4th parade to kick off our 100th season.  We are looking for volunteers to march or ride in the parade, which begins at 1:00pm, with the line-up and judging for awards at 12 noon.
The theme of the parade this year is perfect for us:  "Dance and Sing, May Freedom Ring".  At least the weather should be warmer (and hopefully drier) than the Patriots Day parade in April!  Family and friends are invited to participate.  We also need banner carriers and flyer distributors - this is a real old-fashioned, patriotic fun time for everyone.

Please contact Andrea at ajroessler@gmail.com for more information and to volunteer.  We will confirm all the details to the volunteers closer to the date.
We will be opening up subscriptions earlier this year!  We are getting everything together to make subscriptions available for purchase in mid-May.  If you are already a subscriber, you will receive a packet in the mail with all the information you need to renew (renew by July 15 to ensure your same seats!).  If you're not a current subscriber, our website will be updated with all the information and a link to purchase subscriptions as soon as they are available. Keep checking in - you don't want to miss any of the productions of our centennial season, and subscribers get a great discount!
Sweeney ToddConcord Player Ben Delatizky will be directing Sweeney Todd at Burlington Players, which goes up May 3-18.  CP Members Boot Boutwell and Kate Beattie will be featured as Fogg and in the ensemble, respectively.  Other previous CP cast members include Tom Frates as Sweeney, Alicia Jeanne O'Dwyer as Johanna, Timmy Chase as Tobias, Robert Hallisey as Pirelli, Margaret Healey, Carol Krusemark, and Maria Sundquist in the ensemble.  Lighting design by Player Iain Bason, costumes by Shahn Knights.
CarmenConcord Players' Jay Newlon is choreographing Opera 51's fabulous production of George Bizet's Carmen, one of the most popular and most performed operas of all time, playing on the main stage June 7-9, 2019.
May 16, 17, and 18, Fri and Sat at 8 p.m. and Sun matinee at 2 p.m.:  The Concord Orchestra Pops with jazz vocalist Maureen McMullan performing Johnny Mercer songs arranged by Bernard Hoffer and a sing-along to Sound of Music.  Also on the program are Bizet's Carmen Suite No. 1, Theme from Harry Potter by John Williams, Suppe's Light Cavalry Overture. Table seating and refreshments for sale.  Click here for ticket information.