While the North Country is one of the best places in the world to live, with great people, geography, natural wonders, and excellent businesses, life can be tough for most of us. The daily grind of work, family, school, and other responsibilities can weigh on us, and when we have a chance to experience something that takes us away, even for a moment, we should celebrate that.
One of those magical experiences happen about twice a year, right here in the North Country, with the Upstage Players. The Upstage Players is a community nonprofit theater group drawing talent and pleasing audiences in the North Country for over 30 years. Their mission is to create exceptional theater in the community setting, and North Country Local was recently able to speak with an Upstage Player, Courtney Vashaw, about their most recent production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Courtney Vashaw, North Country resident and current Upstage Player, gave us a brief history of the group, as best she could. “The group is decades old, and was really out of Lisbon for a number of years. Within the past 4 or 5 years, Littleton has become its home. Andrew Lidestri has taken over the artistic direction of it, really leading to a renaissance of the group. The group has really done some phenomenal things in terms of cultivating a following and being really top-caliber community theater. The goal is to make it as close to professional theater as possible while being as close to community theater and accessible as possible.”
Courtney’s first performance with the group was in January of 2016. Being a former Colonel Town Player, for years and years, she heard great things about what the Upstage Players was doing and wanted to try it out. The Drowsy Chaperone is her fourth performance with the group.
“One of the things about live theater is that it’s so different than seeing something on TV or film,” Courtney says. “There are so many variables at any given time. It’s fantastic to see people you know, like your dentist, or teacher, or student of yours doing something really remarkable, remembering all these lines and songs and performing it live on stage at a really high caliber. What we seek to do is make it accessible, so it’s affordable and it’s theater that people can relate to on some level.”
Courtney continues, “Not every show is something everyone knows really well. “The Drowsy Chaperone” was on Broadway but it doesn’t have a huge following so it’s great to get our hands on this wonderful play and introduce the North Country to something they’ve probably never seen before. The play is really special to Andrew for that reason. It’s one of those plays that has something for everyone.”
What’s wonderful about the performances from the Upstage Players is that they not only concentrate on the content of the play, from the lines to the songs to the choreography, but they really put everything they can into the sets, and they even have a professional-caliber pit orchestra to accompany the show.
Courtney gives us a description of the Upstage Players' current show, “‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ is a play within a play. You have an older gentleman, played by Dennis McKay, and he loves musical theater, and uses it as an escape for when he’s feeling blue. He narrates this play with a musical set in 1928 with these phenomenal actors, with all of these musical theater foibles like marriages, reunions, and everyone ends up with a ‘Happily Ever After.’”
And who doesn’t like a “Happily Ever After”?
The Upstage Players will be sharing “The Drowsy Chaperone” with the North Country this upcoming weekend, April 14th and 15th Friday and Saturday at 8 PM at the Littleton Opera House, and on Easter Sunday, April 16th at 2 PM. Please be sure to follow their Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/upstageplayersnh and find them online at www.upstageplayersnh.com!
Tickets are $16 dollars at the door or $14 in advance at Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce or through Catamount Arts ( https://tickets.catamountarts.org/public/shows/the%20drowsy%20chaperone/info ).