Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good Company Theatre Brings Daughters of the Appalachians to New Heights

by Linda Goodman
November and December have been incredibly busy months for me, but I just had to close out 2013 with my final thoughts on Good Company Theater’s (Granby, CT) production of my play Daughters of the Appalachians.
            Three theaters performed the show in 2013. The Lamplighters Theatre in La Mesa,CA and The Village Players in Somers, CT did staged readings of the show, both playing to full houses and standing ovations. I was unable to attend either of these shows, but enjoyed reading the press releases and reviews, and hearing about the overwhelming audience reactions.
            Good Company Theatre, however, did a full production of the show and ran it for six nights (November 1-10). I was able to attend all of them. My good friends Nikki Currie-Huggard and Resa Ferreira co-directed the show. Both of them are talented and accomplished writers, storytellers, actors, and directors, so I knew the show was in good hands. They are the very definition of artistic integrity. Artist and storyteller Steve Ferreira painted an amazing mountain back-drop for the show. Rik Huggard provided excellent sound, in spite of a few obstacles that popped up along the way.
            Laura Mazza-Dixon wrote an enticing press release that drew people to the show in droves. All of the shows drew full houses except for the first show, which was six seats shy of being full. All six received standing ovations. The Appalachian music (sometimes rousing, sometimes haunting) chosen for the show was arranged and played by Laura on the guitar and Julie Senter on the fiddle.
            Nikki and Resa did a remarkable job casting the show:
            Nannie Brown played the pivotal role of 94 year old matriarch Marthie Potter to perfection, weaving a complex tapestry of  honor, stubbornness, superstition, and loyalty into a collage of family sorrows, fears, and triumphs. Nannie was so real as Marthie that I felt as though I was in the presence of my great aunt, on whom the character is based.
            Sixteen year old Jessica Manion played Jessie, a young girl who strikes a deal with a conjur man, only to learn that she needs to be more careful with her wishes. I loved the innocence and purity that Jessica brought to the role. She made Jessie (who, in the wrong hands, can seem conniving) sympathetic and the audience cared for her.
            Tamara Torres McGovern was amazing as Harlene. I wrote this story about a woman and her dog and have performed it, and seen others perform it, many times. So how did Tamara manage for make me cry for six nights in a row, even though I knew how the story ended?  Through sheer talent – her acting skills are THAT good!
            Peggy Shaw was a hoot as Boojie, a woman who meets a star-crossed lover who changes her life. I love the way she injected this role with joy and freedom, to the delight of her captive audience. By the way, Boojie’s use of the term “shot my wad” does not refer to a sexual act; it figuratively refers to a wad of chewing tobacco and is synonymous with “blew my top.”
            Resa Ferriera, as always, OWNED the stage as the vengeful Nellveda Hawkins. Portraying Nellveda as both blatantly evil and eerily hypnotic, Resa sent chills down my spine. The audience was electrified.
            Kimberly McCord, on stage as an actor for the first time, introduced the audience to Sarah Jane with the expertise of one with far more experience, making the character real by portraying both the doubts that her mother imposed upon her and the confidence her father planted in her heart. Kimberly went deeper into the character with each performance. Her evolution was remarkable.
            I cried when the show’s run ended on November 10. I did not want to leave my ladies. Indeed, they felt real to me, and I still miss them. But I do have souvenirs of the show I will keep always. I even have a poem written by Boojie (Peggy Shaw) herself:
Linda’s Play
Subtitle: Nikki and Resa Made Us Do It
They said it would be easy to get up on the stages
And tell a little story that lasted for eight pages.
Well, it wasn’t easy, I must say,
Until we realized one day
That this was such a lovely play.
We could do it for ages and ages.
Well, there are five verses after that….
Happy New Year to one and all!

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