DRACUT – When Thornton Wilder was looking for a backdrop to his three-act play “Our Town,” he easily could have chosen Dracut, Massachusetts, instead of the fictional Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire.
Actors Incorporated, a local troupe with background in live theater, will perform the Wilder classic at Harmony Hall in Dracut later this month. Most of the 22-member cast is from Dracut, according to director and founder Corrine Hickey of Tewksbury.
ACTORS, which stands for A Community Theater Organization Reaching for the Stars, began in 2005 with a dinner-theater production of “Sandbag Stage Left” by Lowell playwright Jack Neary. That was soon followed by “Godspell,” “The Odd Couple (Female Version),” “Nunsense,” “L’il Abner,” a live radio production of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Twelve Angry Men,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and “Christmas Belles.”
Hickey is excited about “Our Town,” as well as the partnership that has been formed with many local nonprofit organizations. According to assistant producer Sharon Piendak, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Dracut Rotary Club, the Merrimack Valley Rotary Club, the Dracut Historical Society, Friends of the M.G. Parker Library and Sunny Sky and Rainbows, an early-education program in Dracut.
“It’s called reverse sponsoring,” Piendak explained. “We have found nonprofit organizations that are willing to help us by making tickets available to the public. You can buy your tickets from them. They have put up flyers and have advertised with us and a portion of each ticket they sell goes right back into their organization.”
Tickets are $25 each and include a “Meet the Cast” coffee and dessert social after the performance. For more information call 978-984-3151.
The Valley Dispatch interrupted a recent rehearsal to speak with Hickey and Piendak and find out more about the production, as well as the troupe.
Q: Who comprises ACTORS Inc., and how do you find these people?
CH: “We advertise in various publications and when people come in for an audition we’ll give them a script or they’ll tell us what part they’re interested in if they’re familiar with the play. Perhaps they’ll read against someone else. If it’s a musical then obviously there will be vocal auditions as well.”
Q: What’s the hardest part about telling someone that they didn’t quite make the cut?
CH: “You have to make them understand that they’re still good enough but maybe they’re just not right for this particular part. You have to encourage them to keep trying.”
SP: “We had one girl who wanted to know why she didn’t get a certain part in this play. The character is weak and frail and dies in childbirth. We told her, ‘You are so hale and hearty that there is no way anybody would believe that you’re the character.'”
Q: What’s the hardest part of putting on a quality production?
CH & SP: “The budget.”
CH: “You need to raise enough money to pay for the sound, the lights, the staging, the props, the costumes. The list goes on and on.”
SP: “You save where you can, for instance. We’ve had costume and sewing workshops at my house in the past. That’s not out of the question.”
Q: What made you choose “Our Town?”
CH: “It just fits so well. We’re performing here at historic Harmony Hall, which is connected to the Historical Society. It’s just a classic fit.”
Q: Are these frustrated actors or do some of them really have chops?
CH: “Some do and some don’t. I pride myself on being a great acting coach. I see a lot more inside an actor than they see in themselves and I know how to pull it out of them.”
SP: “Corrine has been known to go to your house during the week and help you get the feel for characters and help you identify with what you are being asked to do. She’s committed to the art.”
Q: What advice would you give to somebody, old or young, who is interested in acting?
CH: “Learn how to audition. People don’t know how to audition. Auditioning doesn’t mean just acting for a role. Have a good presence. Have an up-to-date resume and a good photo. First impressions are so important. And be willing to try new things. You may not always get the part you hoped for but you may get something else that works even better. Just be professional.”