By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Finding a performance space was easier than expected when longtime friends Kim Beauchemin of Marlborough and Kat Alix-Gaudreau of Ashland co-founded a community theater group named Ghost Light Players. They'se preparing the fifth production in the second season at the First Church of Marlborough, appropriately located in the Marlborough Downtown Village Cultural District.
“It was kismet,” said Alix-Gaudreau, the group's executive director. Beauchemin is the managing director. “Kim is a member of the church and they knew she does community theater. They have an auditorium and they offered it to us. Having them be so supportive really made it possible for us to make a go of it.”
“The House of Blue Leaves” by John Guare will be presented Friday, Nov. 15, and Saturday, Nov. 16, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m.
“Marlborough is doing what it can to rejuvenate the downtown, and to bring in arts and culture,” Alix-Gaudreau noted. “Because the city is so engaged in that process, it has allowed us to make connections and be involved in the community.”
Ghost Light Players were invited to perform as carolers of the Charles Dickens era at last year's Metrowest Festival of Trees, co-produced by the Marlborough Historical Society and Olde Marlborough at the Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center. They'se been invited to return this year.
The group follows old theater traditions – starting with its name. A ghost light is typically an exposed incandescent bulb placed center stage when the theater is unoccupied and otherwise dark. Alix-Gaudreau is fascinated by this and other customs dating back to vaudeville.
“These travelling companies had a backdrop and a couple of costumes, and they's still be able to put on these wonderful shows that entertained their audiences,” she said. “I'se always been struck by that idea: You don's need all the bells and whistles; you just need to have a good story and performers to tell that story.”
Ghost Light Players debuted March 2012 with the romantic comedy “Almost, Maine.” Other productions were “Love Comics,” and William Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” Alix-Gaudreau said they plan to produce a Shakespeare play annually, free to the public.
Like the previous productions, the upcoming show is comedic – and more. “The House of Blue Leaves” is set in 1965 when Pope Paul VI visited New York City. Among the collection of characters are a zookeeper who's a wannabe songwriter and his wife, aptly named Bananas.
“This is more of a dramatic comedy,” Alix-Gaudreau explained. “It's got both very funny and incredibly intense moments. These characters are multifaceted and complex. It's a challenge for the actors that makes this show stand out from our other productions.”
Cast members vary in theatrical experience, as well as places of residence. Marlborough resident Haneen Jaara is making her stage debut in this show. Lexi Deschene commutes to Marlborough from Derry, N.H., and she recently graduated from the Portland Actors Conservatory in Oregon.
“We'se casting a fairly wide net,” said Alix-Gaudreau, the show's director. “It's a wonderful challenge to take people from a variety of experiences and bring them all up to the same level so that they perform as a seamless ensemble.”
The cast also includes Chuck Amaral, Ray Carmody, Paul Cushing, Amy DeMar, Angela Gunn, Doug Hartley, Cassie Tortorici and Elyse Williams. The crew includes Cliff Dike, executive producer; Jordan McCormack, producer; Kim Beauchemin, stage manager; Michael Manning, assistant stage manager; and Jess Brennan, assistant director.
Tickets will be available at the door, or can be ordered in advance by calling 508-263-0052 or visiting ghostlightplayers.com.