logo In the Wings
The Newsletter of The Concord Players
December 2018                       Amanda Casale, Editor 
It was Dickens who gave us "Merry Christmas."
Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol was an immediate, sweeping success when he wrote it in 1843. Within weeks of its publication it became the subject of dramatizations all over England and soon, even appeared as an opera. His story of the curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge whose frozen heart is warmed to humanity by the visits of three ghosts prompted new traditions of gift gifting; exchanges of colorful Christmas paper greetings; and the sharing of bountiful feasts - not to mention a national proliferation of philanthropy.
It also launched almost all of the traditions we honor today at Christmas, beginning with the happy greeting, "Merry Christmas." 
In early and mid-nineteenth century England and America, Christmas passed with hardly a notice. Straight-laced Puritans on both continents had long-ago put an end to the "debauchery" of winter celebrations that had evolved from pagan feasts. By the 17th century, the dancing, drinking and merry-making of Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice were outlawed as sinful, reducing December the 25th to a minor, barely recognized holiday. 
But around 1830, some nostalgic folks in England began to resurrect bits of the holiday, mostly in the form of early Christmas carols. At the same time, Prince Albert brought the joyous German tradition of lighting trees during the solstice to the royal residences. 
Enter Charles Dickens, an avid philanthropist, and already a literary giant in 1843, with his story about family, friendship and goodwill. Englanders were thirsty for the novella's happy narrative and adopted its philosophy into their hearts. Historians believe that "the lively, nostalgic scene at Mister Fezziwig's Ball (in Scrooge's innocent youth) and the two concluding Christmas feasts, full of roasted turkeys and plum pudding, are what resurrected the Medieval vision of a celebratory Christmas, holy not for its piety or solemnity, but for its lively gathering of family, charitable generosity, and tidings of goodwill towards our fellow men."* Amen to that.  
And what about that "Merry Christmas"? The phrase can be traced to occasional uses in letter writing and in secular songs as early at the 17th century, but in Victorian England most greetings for any holiday, were preceded by "Happy," a word whose Norse origin means luck. "Merry," on the other hand denotes joy, mirth and celebration. Perhaps that's why Dickens chose it for his newly redeemed Scrooge, who, at the end of the story wishes everyone he encounters a Merry, Merry Christmas.   
So come and be merry with the Concord Players as Johnny Kinsman honors a worldwide tradition for the holiday with a reading of Dickens' beloved story. 

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!" -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol 
 - Linda McConchie 
A Christmas Carol
Dramatic Reading with Johnny Kinsman
December 2, 2018 | 4pm
51 Walden Street, Concord MA
An extravagant celebration of performing arts will take place at 51 Walden on January 12, 2019 to raise money for the building's Access 51 capital campaign. We have raised $380,000 of our $500,000 goal to make the building more accessible for everyone and are hoping this event will help put us over the top. You are invited to enjoy an evening of music, dance, farce and fun in the style of old Vaudeville, which was in its heyday when 51 Walden began using the building for performances in 1919.
The evening's roster includes a spoof on opera, a hip hop dance performance, silly Shakespeare, PDQ Bach, performances of Broadway tunes, and classics from the American songbook.  The acts will be staged by our 51 Walden family: the Players, Band, Orchestra, Opera 51, the Boston Mobile Dance Studio and many more.  As a special bonus, students from Concord Carlisle High School will be there to add a performance of their own to the evening's entertainment.  And in case that's not enough, a silent auction and raffle will help enliven the occasion.
The Access 51 committee has wasted no time in making needed changes to the building.  With funds already raised the access improvements ordered by the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board-bringing the wheelchair ramp and accessible bathroom up to code, installing a bi-level water fountain, and purchasing a portable lift for use on both stages in the hall-have been completed. Also, the Green Room bathrooms in the back of the building have been updated and connected to the Town sewer on Walden Street.
Tickets for the Hurly-Burly Extravaganza and Refined Vaudeville are $25 ($50 for preferred seating) and must be purchased in advance. Call (978)369-7911 to reserve or purchase on-line. 
The 51 Walden Hurly-Burly Extravaganza
and Refined Vaudeville
January 12, 2019 | 7pm
51 Walden Street, Concord, MA
Produced by Tracy Wall and Linda McConchie
Directed by Brian Kelly
The princesses are throwing a holiday ball - and YOU'RE invited!  The Broadway Princess Holiday Party is inspired by the Broadway Princess Party series at NYC's 54 Below, hosted by Laura Osnes (from Broadway's Cinderella) and Benjamin Rauhala (Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof).  Over 18 million fans rave about Osnes' series on YouTube, and Concord Players is excited to bring 18 Boston performers to 51 Walden for a holiday version of this enchanted evening.  The last princess party by these particular royals brought in rave reviews in Boston, calling the show "beautiful" and "enchanting".  
This event is not your typical cabaret; the set list is well-developed, featuring a series of solos, duets, mash-ups, and medleys of your favorite royal numbers -- plus some holiday flair!  Local talents include Concord Players members Amanda Casale (Spamalot), Benjamin Oehlkers (The Secret Garden), Daniel Monopoli, David Rodrigues, and Monica Wright (all The Hunchback of Notre Dame), as well as Lauren Cantos Smith, Samantha Casale, Jessica DePalo, Cara Guappone, Brian Kenerson, David Lucey, Adina Lundquist, Kara Nelson, Agatha Oehlkers, Eric Rehm, Carole Shannon, David Wright, and Todd Yard.
Children (in age or at heart) are welcome to sit on the floor up close and personal with the performers, while there will also be general admission seating. 
So get your ballgown out of the closet, dust off that tiara, and join TWENTY of your royal favorites (and some special guests) on Saturday, December 22nd from 2pm to 5pm.  There will be exclusive time put aside for photos with all twenty princesses, as well as princess- (and prince!-) inspired gifts, food, cocoa, egg nog, punch, and a surplus of magical Broadway and holiday spirit.  Your every dream will come true, for nowhere else can you meet THIS MANY princesses in one place!  Tickets can be reserved on the Concord Players website, and purchased at the door for $15 (cash or check only).  A wonderful time is sure to be had by all the fairest guests in the land!
The cast for the Concord Players' winter production of The Country House, by Donald Margulies, has been announced. Deanna Swan will play Anna, Danielle Whener will play Susie,
Marc Pelletier will play Michael, John Alzapiedi will play Walter, Eric Linebarger will play Elliot, and Grace Sumner will play Nell.   
The Country House provides a piercing look at a family of performers coming to terms with the roles they play in each other's lives. It takes place at the family's Summer home during the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Both witty and compelling, everyone is forced to improvise when the weekend takes an unexpected turn, inciting a series of simmering jealousies, romantic outbursts and soul-searching.
Performances are February 8-23 and tickets are now available on the Concord Players website
Laura loved to sing. She was very active in local community theater, playing countless leading ladies with booming alto voices, and was especially fond of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Some of her favorite roles included Katisha in The Mikado, which she performed on our stage for 51 Walden, The Duchess of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers, and the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe. As her voice weakened with age and declining health, she found a new home with the Concord Players with the Costume Divas. She joined the Loyal Sewing League for The Scarlet Pimpernel in 2010 and was personal backstage dresser to our Percy, Ethan Butler, as he changed from one disguise to the next.

The Loyal Sewing League, L to R:  Tracy Wall, Pat Kane, Laura Gouillart, Susie Appel Schmidt, and Carol Antos.  Kathy Booth is behind the lens.
Over the next eight years she worked in small or larger ways on most shows. She was a Green Room staple with her wicker sewing basket full of sewing notions. We loved hearing stories of her time spent in France with her husband and his family and all the lovely fabric and sewing goodies she was introduced to there. She was gracious and elegant to the end, trundling in with her walker in her requisite fuchsia sweater. She will be greatly missed. A beautiful memorial service was held across the street at TriCon. It was filled with loving, happy memories, many friends and family and beautiful music. She would have approved.   
Annie: Concord Player Paul Murphy will be playing Warbucks in the Weston Friendly Society's production of Annie.  There are six performances, December 1-8.  Tickets can be purchased on-line.  And, yes, Paul is shaving his head.    
December 1 at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.: Concord Orchestra Holiday Family Concert. Joyce Kulhawik narrates The Composer is Dead, by Nathaniel Stookey. Also on the program is Rounds for String Orchestra by David Diamon and Chabrier's Marche Joyeuse. Tickets $20, $10 for children and students. Call (978)369-4967 or buy on-line.  
December 7 and 8 at 8:00 p.m.: Concord Band Holiday Pops. The concert features music and visions of the season. Table seating and light refreshments, an appearance by Santa, and a holiday gift raffle. Tickets $25/$15 children under 12. Call (978)897-9969 or buy  on-line.  
December 15 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., December 16 at 2:00 p.m.:  Hansel and Gretel, an opera by Englebert Humperdinck based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. This performance will be fully staged, with chorus and orchestra conducted by Alan Yost. Lead singers are Robin Farnsley (Gretel), Kathryn Tolley (Hansel), James Liu (Father), Lindsay Burroughs (Mother), Margretta Beaty (Witch), Emily Adams (Sandman), and Laura Proctor (Dew Fairy). This is a special event to benefit  the operation of 51 Walden. Tickets are $20 adults/$10 children. Call (978)369-7911 or buy on-line.