Players’ actors direct ‘Our Town’

  • MoCo High School theatre students (from left to right) Kobe Hachey, Samuel Induni and Mia Hennum in rehearsal for their upcoming performance of “Our Town.” Photo by Colleen Manzi

  • “Our Town” tech rehearsal on Wednesday Sam Induni, who is playing the part of Mr. Webb, Kobe Hachey on the ladder to the left, and Mia Hennum who is playing the part of Emily Webb, on the ladder to the right. Photo by Colleen Manzi

  • The entire cast with Bridget Beirne (left center) during an early reading of the play. Photo by Colleen Manzi

  • Bridget Beirne (back to the camera) speaking with MoCo students Georgia Gempler (center) who is playing the part of Mrs. Gibbs, and Kobe Hachey (left) who is playing the part of George Gibbs. Photo by Colleen Manzi

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/3/2019 10:51:45 AM

Peterborough Players’ actors Bridget Beirne and Tom Frey are getting immersed in the “Our Town” experience as co-directors of MoCo Arts’ first production of its new straight play program for high schoolers.

“It’s been really fabulous to see what they dig into and what the latch onto,” Frey said Wednesday. “It’s an incredibly gifted and outgoing group.”

Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” is being presented by the teens this weekend.

Beirne and Frey said they are enjoying directing the play that is widely believed to be mostly based on the people and places Wilder knew when he would visit Peterborough as a MacDowell Colony resident.

“When you read ‘Our Town’ or see ‘Our Town’ not only do they mention Peterborough by name it is just soaking in Peterborough-isms,” Beirne said.

The Keene-based multi-arts educational organization is best-known for its dance classes and musical theatre productions, but wanted to start offering straight-up drama productions for 9th to 12th graders in the region when they called on Beirne and Frey.

Partners in life, and often on the stage, Beirne and Frey changed their home base from Queens to Peterborough two years ago, secure in the knowledge that modern technology makes it possible for them to continue to audition and work in New York while also living near friends and family in the small town they love.

The couple, though, didn’t know there would be work opportunities for them in the Monadnock Region beyond the Peterborough Players, where over the past decade they have become expected summer season stars.

“It really doesn’t matter where you are as long as you can get to New York City for the call back,” Frey said their agent told them. “We didn’t know there would be opportunities up here. We both feel incredibly lucky to be working with MoCo and the Peterborough Players.”

With a limited rehearsal process, the directing duo split duties for a divide and conquer approach to the rehearsal process, which works for them.

“We work together in almost every aspect of our lives both in the theatre and outside of the theatre,” Beirne said.

Working with the young actors has been a pleasure and a privilege, the couple said, who are returning to MoCo this Spring to direct the straight play “You Can’t Take it With You.”

“What we wanted to do is give the experience of being in a professional working process,” Frey said. “This is what the expectations are. Here’s how this goes.”

The Pulitzer Prize winning play has deep themes, but also incredibly humorous moments both of which the teens have been adept at portraying, Frey said.

“We’re doing the whole play, which is a challenge,” Frey said. “They are wrestling with it. They are getting to know it. Falling in love with it for the first time, which I think is a privilege to be a part of.”

Beirne said, “Going back and working with actors who are the age we were when we first got involved in the theatre, I think has renewed our artistic drives.”

MoCo Arts is presenting “Our Town” in The Founder’s Theatre at MoCo Arts Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m.

Tickets are $14 for general admission, and can be purchased at MoCo Arts, 40 Roxbury Street in Keene, or by calling (603) 357-2100.

To learn more about this performance, or about MoCo Arts award-winning theatre program, visit www.moco.org.

Meghan Pierce is the digital editor at the Ledger-Transcript. You can reach her at mpierce@ledgertranscript.com.


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