Actors to Turn Fitchburg into ‘St. Louis’
FITCHBURG -- Meet the New Players Theatre Guild in St. Louis (well, actually, Fitchburg) this weekend with its opening of a musical for all ages.
“Meet Me in St. Louis” offers a portrait of a turn-of-the-century American family as they anticipate the opening of the 1904 World’s Fair. New Players Theatre Guild will performing the play at 15 Rollstone St., this weekend.
“It’s a great family show,” said John Leslie, director of the show. “It’s about being kind to your neighbors.”
The musical will be shown Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. There will also be shows Friday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 9, at the same times. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $18 for students.
The production includes 19 musical numbers, with familiar songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Many songs from the original movie are included in the musical, along with some new ones.
“Meet Me in St. Louis” is based on the classic romantic musical-comedy of 1944 that features Judy Garland. It follows a middle-class family of a mother, father, four daughters and one son, as well as numerous romantic suitors, friends and neighbors.
This isn’t Leslie’s first time with the community-theater group. He was in the cast of the NPTG production of “Oliver,” a few years ago and did a production of the one-man show, “Liberace,” as a fundraiser.
Leslie has directed at Calliope Productions in Boylston, the Worcester County Light Opera and at a few different organizations in California before returning to start his own theater company in West Boylston called JEMS Theatre.
He was the music director for a performance of the musical before and suggested it to NPTG.
“It has a little bit of a Christmas theme, and it’s very family-oriented and perfect for this time of the year,” said Leslie.
The cast consists of people from all over Central Massachusetts, including Worcester, West Boylston, Sterling, Leominster and Fitchburg.
Portraying the Garland character of Esther Smith is Fitchburg resident Mary Mahoney, a junior at Oakmont Regional High School, who is participating in NPTG for the first time.
“Judy Garland is someone I’ve always been very fascinated with,” Mahoney said. “I’m trying to emulate her a little bit but put my own twist on it. It’s been a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed doing this role.”
Leslie was the director for Mahoney’s first musical at 8 years old. She played an orphan girl in Calliope Productions’ “Annie,” in Boylston.
Joining Mahoney is her childhood friend and another of Leslie’s students, Kaci Kneeland of Sterling, who is playing Rose Smith.
“It’s been great being able to see them all mature and move into other roles,” Leslie said.
The musical focuses on the character of Esther and her romance with the boy next door, John Truett, portrayed by Julien Belliveau. Unlike the movie, the musical focuses on the other characters, with more musical numbers for Esther’s sister, Rose, along with more focus on the parents.
“All the characters have a little more development and more focus,” Leslie said. “In the movie, most of the music was geared toward Judy Garland. We have a lot of music from the movie but a lot more for other characters, as well.”
He added it is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
“It’s basically a love-of-life type of story,” he said. “There are a couple of love stories, but it’s really about loving life. It’s that kind of feel-good type of musical.”
For more information and to buy tickets, visit nptg.org .
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Holiday Open House
Enjoy a festive atmosphere at Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Road, Harvard, this Saturday for its Fruitlands Museum Holiday Open House. The free event includes special holiday deals in the museum store, craft fair with local artisans, live music, refreshments and a special celebration of conservator Susan Jackson. It runs from noon to 5 p.m.
Get excited for the season with a parade featuring Santa Claus and friends at Yankee Candle Village, 45 Yankee Candle Way, South Deerfield. The parade will start at 9:55 a.m., and feature puppies, carolers, elves, Franklin County Technical School Drumline, fire engines and more. After the parade, enjoy an ice-sculpture demonstration at 10:15, free wagon rides until 1:30 p.m., and free roaming railroad rides until 3 p.m. There will also be photos with Santa and live music.
Heywood Hospital, 242 Green St., in Gardner, will hold its Evergreen Fair this Friday and Saturday. There will be evergreens, holiday plants, wreaths and crafts, along with a bake sale, special raffles, a craft table, gift shop specials and a theme-basket raffle. It The fair runs Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Proceeds benefit Heywood Healthcare’s Weekend Backpack Food Program.