Westborough Players’ Club celebrates 75th season
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – It would be an understatement to say the Westborough Players’ Club (WPC) has a longstanding history. Currently in its 75th season, the community theater group is preparing its 153rd production: the musical “Working.” The show will be presented at the Willows at Westborough two weekends: Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays, Aug. 19 and 26 at 2 p.m.
Serving as the show’s director and board president, Brian Higgins said he’s honored to be involved with the club’s landmark 75th season.
“We’re one of the oldest community theaters in Massachusetts,” he noted.
Longtime members have countless memories spanning generations. Diane Barrette, the club’s vice president, joined WPC in 1962.
“Some of my best childhood memories are from either being onstage or watching my parents and their friends perform,” she said. “Many people in Westborough have a family history with the club. My daughter has been involved with the club since she was about 8 years old.”
Her daughter, Kate, received a scholarship this year from WPC. Since the early 1990s, the club has awarded four $1,000 scholarships to high school graduates planning to study the performing arts.
As the club’s “turning point,” Barrette cited the 2009 production of “Sweeney Todd,” a blood-curdling story set to music.
“‘Sweeney Todd’ was cutting edge for Westborough, but it was a huge success,” she said. “We proved to ourselves we could stretch and do something different.”
The club has also given significant consideration to children when selecting productions. Starting with “Emperor’s New Clothes” in 1974, an annual children’s show was performed by adults for young audiences. A few years later, youngsters started participating onstage and the children’s theater “went through a metamorphous,” Barrette said.
“Kids would play the roles of flowers, bushes and trees,” she said, “and it kept evolving until it was children’s theater performed by children.”
All-children casts were presented annually from the mid-1980s through last fall with the production of “How to Eat Like a Child.”
Higgins said he is inspired when he sees children drawn to theater.
“It’s fantastic when kids get involved in theater because they find a home, a real comfort zone,” he said.
WPC recently announced its 2013 season, which includes the musical comedy “Annie,” to be staged in the winter. As they had done years ago, the show will be cast with performers of all ages.
Barrette is hopeful families will see it as an opportunity for spending time together.
“We’re hoping with a big, family-oriented musical, parents will want to do it with their kids,” she said. “Maybe they’d be more open to performing with the club because their child is participating.”
The 2013 season will also include “Arsenic and Old Lace” in the spring, and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” as next summer’s musical.
This summer’s musical, “Working,” is based on the book of interviews by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel. Higgins has plenty of experience with this production. He acted in “Working” while a student at Gibbons Middle School, then directed it there as an adult.
“This is a show about how every single person in this world contributes,” Higgins said. “It’s a musical comedy with distinct elements of drama. It examines individual people through actual interviews.”
The interviews are delivered by a cast of eight performers, each portraying multiple characters. Serving as music director is Josh Martin.
“‘Working’ is the type of piece that stays with you,” Higgins added. “It makes you think about what you do and everyone you know. It makes you appreciate everything.”
Tickets will be available at the door.
Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=25322