Andy’s announces 2018 summer season

  • Riley Dunham performs “Elevator Pitch” during Andy’s Summer Playhouse’s production of “Posted” last year. —Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 6:12PM

How do you tell the story of a man’s first moments in America, alone and overwhelmed, and stymied by the language barrier?

Simple. You take language out of the equation. 

Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton, a youth theater program, is starting off their 2018 summer season, centered around the theme of “Legacy” with “The Arrival,” and adaptation of the book of the same name by Shaun Tan. The book explores the immigrant experience solely through illustrations, with no text. When Andy’s was looking to adapt the novel to a stage production, they took a similar route.

Directed by Orange Grove Dance, backed with original composition by Dylan Glatthorn, “The Arrival” will be a silent production that infuses dance and movement instead of dialogue to tell the story of a man finding his way to a new world and learning to survive there. 

“Andy’s is always pushing the threshhold of what theater is,” said Artistic Director Jared Mezzocchi in an interview Monday. Andy’s has done similar things in the past, including a silent opera, he said, and telling a silent story is a great way to enhance the actor’s skills in body language and emoting without words.

“I know the staff at Andy’s is always talking about not just making good performers, but making good communicators. This performance is a way to help continue to develop these kids into healthy, communicative humans,” said Mezzocchi.

The piece was part of a workshop that explored the opening act of such a production last year, as is the next production of the summer, “Froggy,” which will be a teen-only show.

Written by Jennifer Haley, one of the writers of Netflix’s Mindhunter and directed by Matt Morrow, “Froggy” is a noir-style graphic play about a woman who goes in search of her missing  boyfriend after discovering that he’s the main character in a violent video game.

  Mezzocchi said the play fits into the legacy model by looking at the digital footprint that we leave, and deals with themes of multi-media, which will also be incorporated into the show’s set. This production is also a return for Andy’s to an all-teen show, which the theater used to have in the 1990s.

“The context of the play is a little more mature, and we didn’t want to have to compromise the text,” said Mezzocchi, who added that the play will have a shorter and more intense rehearsal period, so it’s an experiment for the company this year, to see if it’s a good fit for their model. 

Andy’s will also have a touring show this year, a tradition they started a few season’s ago. Writer and director Wyckham Avery will be returning to head the production of “My Hero,” where the performers explore what makes a hero through their characters, a group of travelers who share stories of heroes to pass the time on their pilgrimage to create change in the world.

“Legacy is a very masculine word, and Wyckham wants to look at how we can turn old myths on that paradigm so that the definition goes beyond a damsel in distress and valiant prince,” said Mezzocchi. 

Mezzocchi himself will be writing and directing the last production, “The Things We Keep,” a musical with music and lyrics by Duncan Pelletier. The musical is about a large family, spanning several generations, who have come together during the passing of the family patriarch, who is also suffering from Alzheimer’s. The play explores memory, aging, and family, and examines the processes a family must undergo while saying goodbye to a complex and complicated man.

“It’s exploring ideas like, ‘Who is this grandfather figure if he doesn’t have the same memories everyone else does?’” said Mezzocchi. 

The play also looks at the evolving attitudes between generations and considers legacy as a self-selection preservation process – what one generation decides to hand down to the next, and what they let die with them. 

Andy’s Summer Playhouse will be holding several orientations this winter and spring to allow children to get a sense of the program and try scenes from their upcoming shows, including Feb. 17 at Wilton-Lyndeborough High School from 1-3 p.m., March 18 fro 1-3 p.m. at the Nashua Public Library, April 21 from 1-3 p.m. at the Peterborough Town Library, and May 20 fro 1-3 p.m. at Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton. Parents will be able to enroll prior to, during and after each of these orientations. You can sign up for an orientation or enroll in our summer programs at www.andyssummerplayhouse.org.

Andy’s was been nominated for 14 categories by the New Hampshire Theatre Awards for their 2017 season, including nominations for best youth production for their stagings of “Melissa, So Far,” “The Amazing Adventures of Arianna Astronaut,” and “Posted”.

Actors nominated for either a best actor/actress or supporting actor/actress include Gretta Topping, Ella Blanchard, Mary Keller, Jess Putney, Shea Butler, Jacob Lydon, Dylan Phillips and SJ Barney. Brooke O’Harra has been nominated for her direction in “Melissa, So Far,” with also received noms for scenic design for Sanaya Forbes and lighting design for Sophie Talmadge Silleck.