GUILFORD >> The Broad Brook Grange is bright with stage lights again as the Guilford Center Stage prepares for its second season of plays. In keeping with the mission of emphasizing plays with local connections, producer Don McLean and assistant producer Laura Lawson Tucker enlisted Guilford playwright Michael Nethercott to premiere a pair of one-act plays. "Nocturne Titanica" is a unique take on the sinking of the Titanic. "The Lace Jury" is based on the first American all-women jury of the 20th century. Interestingly, the historic events on which the plays are based happened within 6 months of each other in 1911 and 1912.
Nethercott is a fiction writer and playwright, the author of two mystery novels, "The Séance Society" and "The Haunting Ballad" published by St. Martin's Press. His writings have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year. Additionally, he's won several literary awards including the Vermont Playwrights Award, the Nor'easter Play Writing Contest, and the Clauder Competition for Best Vermont Play.
However, he is known locally for his many years of creating the magic and mystery for Bonnyvale Environmental Center's Forest of Mystery, building his own props and making his own costumes. He will bring that magic to next week's stage also.
Nethercott already had the one-act play "Nocturne Titanica" in his repertoire, having written it over twenty years ago but never had an opportunity to bring it to life. He made a few revisions to prepare it for this production. Everyone already knows Titanic's story, but this is Nethercott's re-imagined version story as a myth, presented in poetic verse with interesting musical effects and snippets of dance. It is not a literal depiction, but instead, he makes use of abstract imagery, with a jester as a narrator, a dancer representing the iceberg, sort of a "dreamscape" presentation; but it is all based on facts. Actors portraying first, second, third class passengers and the crew members present a whole cross-section of humanity.
The cast of "Nocturne Titanica" are: the Captain and ship's personnel: Marvin Shedd, Richard Epstein, Richard Wizansky, Todd Mandell, Anders Burrows, and Michael Nethercott; 1st Class passengers Maryann Kelley Parrot, William Stearns, and Joshua Cunningham; 2nd Class passengers Cris Parker-Jennings, Bob Tucker, and Carolyn Taylor-Olson; in 3rd Class Joel Kaemmerlen. Jenny Holan, Julie Holland, and Emily Matthew-Muller. The Ice Spirit is played by dancer Cyndal Ellis.
Nethercott said, "I think it is going to play well – it seems very strong with a great group of actors."
He wrote a second one-act play, "The Lace Jury," especially for the Guilford production, getting inspiration from a Google search for an event about women, a beautiful photo caught his attention. Nethercott had always loved "12 Angry Men" and felt a play about women could be just as loved. Also based on the facts of a real event, "The Lace Jury" brings to the stage the tribulations of the women on the jury being asked to do some real decision making in an era when that was not the norm, having received the right to vote only months earlier. An all-woman jury was chosen by prosecutors for an obscenity trial, thinking they would be less tolerant of such a crime, perfect fodder for this drama laced with humor.
The production includes twenty actors from throughout the area. The cast for "The Lace Jury" includes Jenny Holan, Julie Holland, Bryn Austin, Carolyn Taylor-Olson, Sara Vitale, and Beverly Miller.
Susan Shedd is stage manager and a musician, and lights and sound are designed by Maria Pugnetti.
There will be three performances. Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4 at show time is 7:30 p.m, and a matinee on Sunday, June 5 at 2 p.m. at 3940 Broad Brook Grange on Guilford Center Road. lease note that the theater is up a flight of stairs. Not recommended for small children.
Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended. General admission is $10, with a small service fee for Brown Paper Tickets, through which advance tickets and credit card purchases are being sold. Order online at http://bpt.me/2533572, or call toll-free 1-800-838-3006. As available, remaining tickets will be on sale at the door.
Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.