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The Prompter
June, 1998

Spring Production Deathtrap Complete

Ira Levin’s thriller ‘’Deathtrap’’ ran for two consecutive weekends in April, starting April 17. If you missed it, l have a quote for you. ‘’This is the messiest play I have ever been in,’’ states Wayne Gehman, who played the role of Clifford Anderson.
Wayne had to be covered with real mud (not that cheap fake kind) for his return from the grave. He stood over a tub of good, Bense garden mud and he and Millie Gawlicki put it all over him - head to toe. We have pictures for the scrapbook.
But it wasn’t just mud. There was blood galore too, Michael Wilkes, playing Sidney Bruhl, invented a bleeding garotte for the scene where he ‘kills’ Clifford Anderson. This garotte not only bled, it literally spurted blood all over everything. There was blood on the chair and blood on the wails and blood on all the costumes. Carol Bense got to take everything home and wash out the blood and mud every day. What are directors for?
And the terrific stage crew, Diane Ducret, Carol Light, and Millie got to clean up all that mud during intermission. Of course Wayne tracked it all over the stage and right out to the kitchen and back.
It was pretty scary too. Susan Pohl, who played Myra Bruhl, learned that she can do a really blood- curdling scream, and that she can play someone many years her senior. And , she got to die on stage, the dream of every actress.
In fact, the only people in the cast who didn’t die were Helga Ten Dorp, played with pizazz and Dutch accent by Willie Mork, and Porter Milgrim, to whom Corky Mork gave just the right amount of stuffiness. This mother-son arrangement had some tense moments at the end when Porter said some not-so-nice things to Helga, and in fact it was not clear at the end whether either one of them were going to stay alive.
John Gillette and Corky Mork, with Pat Eischen filling in for John on the final Saturday, did a great job making thunder, lightning, power failures, fires, etc, happen on stage. In rehearsal we got used to Wayne shouting ‘’KA-BOOM’’ when there was supposed to be thunder, so when we got the real thing from our sound effects, it was a treat. Robin Vella and Beth Krainchich worked on make-up and to see them cleaning Wayne up between the ants was a wonder. Wayne arrived in the kitchen covered with mud and in 15 minutes, he was all cleaned up and ready to go back on as he opens Act 2. Robin was busy drying his hair, while Beth was doing his make-up and Millie was helping him change. We have pictures of this too.
Louise Gehman, house manager, kept all the ushers working hard and made sure there was plenty of food and drink at intermission, it’s hard to get up and leave the play just at a critical moment to go pour soft drinks and set out cookies, but every night that is just what Louise and her crew would do.
All the actors and the crew did a fine job and many, many people gave lots of accolades for the production. Once again we learned that it takes the time and talents of everyone involved to make a production work well. Every individual is important to the task, and without each person’s contribution, the whole production will suffer. We can all be proud of the many compliments we received from members of our audience.To get more to the nitty-gritty, the audience was as follows:
April 17    62
April 18    55
April 24    105
April 19    91
We sure would like to see larger audiences, but we have to say that all the audiences were very responsive to the show. Their laughter ,applause (and screams) really encouraged the actors to give more, and bring their performances up just that much. If you have ever been on stage and felt the audience start to respond to what you are doing, you know how much that helps you to give that audience a performance even you didn’t know you were capable of. One play goer became so involved in the plot, that after a particularly revealing moment when everyone in the audience was quiet, she, without realizing she was saying it, exclaimed ‘’Well!’’ as she became aware of some of the intricacies of the plot. Everyone laughed with pleasure as they were all thinking the same thing, though they hadn’t said it. It was a wonderful moment for the actors to realize that the audience members were so involved in the play that they were able to forget themselves, for a moment at least. Because expenses were low, we did make about $2100 on the show which will help to pay the oil, water and electricity bills. Huge thanks to everyone who helped with the show and to everyone who came to see it.

FOOTNOTE TO “DEATHTRAP”

After DEATHTRAP had been cast and rehearsals were well under way, Carol received a letter from the publisher, Dramatists Play Service, rescinding our permission to do the play, giving as a reason for doing so, the fact that The Barnstormers in Tamworth was planning to present the same play this summer and that our production might conflict with theirs.  Carol contacted The Barnstormers to see if this would be a problem for them. Clapham Murray, their artistic director, wrote a nice letter to D.P.S. assuring them that our production in April would not cut into their attendance in August, and saying some nice things about The Village Players.  We got the go-ahead from the publishers and “now you know the rest of the story”.
Historically, The Barnstormers has had a tie-in with theater in Wolfeboro.  In its early days, before it had a theater of its own the troupe “barnstormed” to venues in neighboring towns, one of which was the Masonic Temple in Wolfeboro. In 1952 Francis Cleveland, its founder,  helped to start a community theater group in Wolfeboro, The Drama Workshop, which eventually became The Village Players in 1978.

Last year the Barnstormers began a one-million dollar fundraising campaign to upgrade the oldest summer theater in N.H. and to make it into a year-round facility for various community functions. The Barnstormers will present its production of DEATHTRAP August 18 - 22. Join fellow Village Players in attending ‘’Deathtrap’’ on Saturday, August 22, 1998. We’ll have a great time and we expect to learn a lot from watching another group’s production of a show we have done. Tickets are $18 per person and if we get enough people to go, we can get a group rate which will knock off a dollar or two from the price.
If you would like to go, please call Carol Bense at 569-1396 before June 25, 1998. Leave a message if she isn’t home and she will call you back. Also, several people are planning to have dinner at the Tamworth Inn before the show, so please indicate if you would like reservations for dinner as well.
Incidentally. Clapham Murray attended one of our performances of DEATHTRAP, seemed to enjoy himself, and expressed an interest in borrowing some of our props for his show!

THANK YOU, GUYS

A big thank you to John Gillette who has been working to put into motion getting our new sprinkler system hooked up to the town water supply.  Due to some complications this is still not completed.  Thanks, too, to the guys who volunteered to direct traffic around the construction site:  Dean Richardson,  Dan Charlton and especially Rick Manke and Jimmy Eischen who put in extra hours when the job took longer than expected.  Dean has also worked countless hours cleaning up the area under the stage.  Hooray!

ENCORE THEATER

Jan Croteau’s children’s theater group, Encore, presented Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET June 5, 6, 7 at our theater to enthusiastic capacity crowds. Corky helped them with the set and Village Players is made available to them rehearsal space as well as the use of some of our props, equipment and costumes.  Good job, guys!

”THE ODD COUPLE” IS CAST !

For an amazing change of pace, director Carol Light and assistant director Jane O’Meara had a difficult job selecting the six men and two women to perform in this summer’s production of “The Odd Couple”--because for once there were more men than there were roles!
As anyone who has directed a Village Player’s show knows, the best and WORST position to be in after auditions is to have TOO MANY people from whom to choose. With thanks to those talented men who auditioned and were not selected for this show, the final decisions were made this past week, and the cast for this summer’s show is as follows:
As Felix Unger, Bob Copplestone makes his return to the stage after a two-year hiatus. His last appearance was as the sinister undertaker in the 1996 production of  “Oliver.” Before that, Bob hadn’t been seen in a major role in a Village Player’s show since 1994’s “Lend Me A Tenor.” Michael Wilkes, last seen as the murderous Sidney Bruhl in this spring’s “Deathtrap,” returns to the stage as the ever-sloppy and irresponsible Oscar Madison. In the challenging and very funny roles of Oscar’s poker playing buddies are some familiar faces who have been away a while, as well as a new and refreshing face. Bob Pralle played a small role in “My Fair Lady,” but made his last big Village Player’s appearance as Big Julie in 1995’s “Guys and Dolls.” He will tackle the role of Speed. Nathan Strong, last seen as Zoltan Karpathy in 1997’s “My Fair Lady,” takes on the sentimental role of Murray the Cop. Ed Dunkel, last seen in “My Fair Lady” as Colonel Pickering, is playing the role of Vinnie. And newcomer Jake Christianson from Ossipee makes his Village Player’s debut [and acting debut] as Roy.
There are also two women’s roles in this show, those of the Pigeon sisters, Cecily and Gwendolyn. They provide some much-needed feminine allure in this testosterone-laden play when they come to Oscar’s apartment for an ill-fated dinner. Playing the sisters will be Patty Eischen as Gwendolyn and Susan Pohl as Cecily.
Arguably Neil Simon’s most successful and well-known play, “The Odd Couple” provides at least a chuckle per minute, and a belly-laugh at least every five. Set in New York in the 1960s [and the Players’  performance will be set true to the 60s rather than up dated], it is the story of divorced sportswriter Oscar Madison, contented in the quagmire of his 8-room apartment until his best friend, the soon to be divorced Felix Unger appears on his doorstep, suicidal and in need of lodging. The mayhem that ensues has endeared this comedy to theater patrons for more than 30 years.
The performances are slated for two weekends, Fridays and Saturdays, July 31, August 1, and August 7 & 8. Willie Mork is producing, and still needs people to take on a variety of production roles, from set building to props and makeup. If you can help out, please contact her at 569-2687.  Anyone with any other questions about the production may contact Carol Light at 569-4814.

Building Renovations

This summer will be a busy time for our theater. As well as keeping up normal maintenance, we will be performing some exciting major upgrades.First, we will be adding air conditioning to our new heating system. The ductwork is already in place, as well as the cooling coils, so it will be a matter of plumbing and wiring in the three outdoor compressors. Thanks again to Don Hughes for overseeing the project.
Our BIG project this summer is installing the raked floor. Preliminary drawings are complete, and work should start mid June. For now, we will continue to use the folding banks of wooden seats (kept in repair by Dean Richardson), but we will be adding our upholstered theater seats as time allows. If you can help, contact Corky at 569-5726.

VP Members on the Road

James Frasier, who played Noble Hart in last December’s No, No, a Million Times No was recently accepted into Up With People, the international traveling show. He will be starting his six month tour next winter after a month of training and rehearsal in Colorado.
Megan Brady will be working with the Barnstormers this summer in Tamworth. She landed an apprenticeship to work back stage and help with all phases of production.


Your Board of Directors

Contact us:

In addition to the phone numbers above, you may call the theater at 569-9656, mail us at PO Box 770, Wolfeboro, NH 03894, or e-mail us at villageplayers@usa.net. Our web site is at vp.home.ml.org