Mahida’s Extra Key to Heaven to open Players season next week

  • Aliah Whitmore Courtesy Photo

Published: 6/12/2019 2:28:25 PM
Modified: 6/12/2019 2:28:15 PM

A chance encounter between a young American artist and an Iranian college student waiting for a ferry sets the scene for “Mahida’s Extra Key to Heaven,” by New Hampshire Playwright Russell Davis. Kicking off the Peterborough Players’s 86th year, the show opens on June 19 and runs through June 30.

Directed by Players’ Artistic Director Gus Kaikkonen, ​​​​“Mahida’s Extra Key to Heaven” gracefully plumbs the cultural collision between two very different families and brings into stark relief the disparity between our preconceived notions about those whose culture, race, or religion differs from our own. When Thomas offers Mahida shelter for the evening in his mother’s home, the simple offer triggers a chain of events that threatens to engulf them all.

“I think clearly this play is driven in part by a desire to refute that kind of literal minded, black and white, opportunist thinking,” says Davis, “and to articulate how complex and gentle an alternative might be.”

Aliah Whitmore, a third generation Peterborough Player, appears in the title role of Mahida. She follows a long history of family members who’ve delighted the audiences of the Peterborough Players, including her grandfather, beloved stage and film actor James Whitmore, and her father, James Whitmore, Jr. She graces the Players’ stage for the first time.

Players’ favorites Steven Michael Walters and Kathy Manfre return as Thomas and his mother Edna, respectively. Walters was most recently seen at the Players in “Born Yesterday,” and Peterborough resident Manfre appeared as Mrs. Tottendale in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Rounding out the cast is newcomer Adham Haddara, a New York-based actor at the Players for the first time, as Mahida’s brother Ramin.

Davis is a resident of West Chesterfield, having grown up in Europe and the Middle East, he came to the United States for college.

His plays have been produced around the country, and he’s been the recipient of the Pew Fellowship for the Arts, among other recognition.

Of the play, Kaikkonen says, “It’s definitely about America … there’s peril in the play. There’s danger in the play, and the peril and the danger comes out from the meeting of these two cultures – Iran and America – but it comes out in ways that are subtle and inevitable.”

Showtimes are Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. In addition, there is a 2 p.m. matinee on Tuesday, June 25.

To purchase tickets and for more information, visit, or call the Box Office at (603) 924-7585.

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