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Antrim

Stage  revival

ANTRIM PLAYERS

  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • Antrim Players Chris Cordon of Antrim and Bryan Hebert II of Antrim, stand over Heather McCormick of Greenfield in a rehearsal of “How Does a Thing Like That Get Started.” McCormick’s character, Ephram, acts out the dramatic death of his uncle by an albatross — or possibly a seagull.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.
  • After more than five years away from the stage, the Antrim Players come together again for the 95th anniversary of the group.

The Antrim Players have been around for just short of a century, supporting other local theater groups and holding their annual Declaration of Independence reading each July in Antrim.

But when was the last time they staged a production? At least five years, recalls Bill Nichols, the group’s director. The Antrim Players have never lacked for local actors wanting to grace the stage, he said, but have been missing the other component — people to put together costumes and posters and advertising. All the things that make a production work.

This year, however, Nichols said just before a recent rehearsal of the Antrim Players fall one-acts, the Players decided it had simply been too long. The Players needed to get back on the stage. So they forged ahead, and with many of their actors filling those behind the scenes roles, the Player’s 95th year in operation will see the members doing what the Players have always been meant to do: put on a play and make the audience laugh.

“We tried a few years ago to get it back together, and we had a whole bunch of people who wanted to be involved, but it was all on stage,” said Nichols. “We had the interest, the interest just wasn’t in all the areas it needed to be. But we were constantly being asked when the Antrim Players were going to come back, so we decided to push through and just do it. We thought, ‘People will step up.’”

And they did. Kim Proctor of Antrim stepped up to do costuming, and her husband, Dean Proctor, has been assisting her with the reservations. Actor Bryan Hebert II of Antrim, volunteered to do the posters and advertising. And Nichols and his wife, Sheila, volunteered the stage in their barn for rehearsals on nights when the Antrim Town Hall stage wasn’t available. Just like that, the Antrim Players were back in action.

Heather McCormick of Greenfield, who plays Ephram in “How Does a Thing Like That Get Started” and Mr. Smith in “A Mad Breakfast,” said that when she moved to the Monadnock area from Florida in 2003, the Antrim players were the first group she did any theater with. When she heard the group was reuniting for a production, she got in line to sign up. And she wasn’t the only one. Other long-time members came out of the woodwork to join the Players once again.

“The first play I was in was “The Music Man,” recalls Jean Winslow of Greenfield. She indicates to her director, Bill Nichols, and one of her cast mate, Dean Proctor. “Bill and Dean were very young then. It’s fun to see how they’ve grown up.”

The Players will be putting on two back-to-back comedic one-acts this weekend and next, at the Antrim Town Hall. “How Does a Thing Like That Get Started,” by Samuel French and “A Mad Breakfast,” by I.M. Gray.

“I think ‘How Does a Thing Like That Get Started,’ is a perfect show to get started with, because it’s about a small town. We’ve all experienced the type of thing that happens in this show,” said Chris Condon of Antrim.

“It’s relatable,” agreed Hebert, who plays JC in “How Does a Thing Like That Get Started” and Mr. Jones in “A Mad Breakfast.” “It fits. There are a lot of characters you can look at and say, ‘I know who that is.’ There are a lot of caricatures of a small town, which is why I think it’s perfect for the Antrim Players.”

The show is about a slew of small town characters, ranging from old biddies to a group of knuckle-headed rednecks and one interfering narrator whose attempt at a practical joke goes haywire, when a small harmless rumor gets blown all out of proportion.

“A Mad Breakfast” continues the theme of a small lie told by some practical jokers getting a little out of hand, when characters Mr. Jones and Miss Brown, tell each of the quirky guests at their boarding house that Mr. Long, a rich visitor, has a special interested in their individual, and increasingly bizarre hobbies. Meanwhile, the pair tells Mr. Long that the boarding house is an insane asylum, and each of the boarding house residents is mad.

“Everyone is sort of eccentric in it, and that makes it a fun play to act in,” said Sheila Nichols, “because you can be flamboyant or on the edge, and it give you the chance to take risks with your acting.”

Condon laughed, adding that even though none of the characters are actually insane, they can look that way from the outsider’s view. “It’s fun to play a character, that while you’re not insane, you could certainly be perceived that way,” he said.

The Antrim Players will present “How Does a Thing Like That Get Started” and “A Mad Breakfast” on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., and on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. All performances are at Antrim Town Hall. Tickets are $8, or $6 for 12-year-olds or younger or 65-year-olds or older. For reservations, call 588-3403.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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