By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough/Shrewsbury – Anita Hagspiel is a board member and assistant treasurer of the Friends of the Northborough Senior Center – and she recently added another responsibility. She’s the fundraiser chair for the upcoming performance of Mary Lou Quinlan in “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story,” a one-woman play based on the New York Times bestselling book, to be presented Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m., at the Flanagan Theater in Southgate at Shrewsbury, 30 Julio Dr.
While in Florida last winter, Hagspiel saw the play and was impressed with the production.
“I was wowed,” she said. “This play, about a mother-daughter relationship, takes you through memory lane with beautiful visual effects. It gives you goose bumps. You laugh, you cry – and her acting is just fabulous.”
Hagspiel immediately thought it would be a valuable and unique fundraiser with the Friends.
“My main purpose on the Friends board is fundraising,” she explained. “My first board meeting when I got back in May, I told them that I had this idea for a fundraiser and gave them the proposed budget. Unanimously, they were all thrilled with the idea. I wrote to Mary Lou within one week and she personally emailed me back.”
The play is based on Quinlan’s book “The God Box,” published in 2012. Publishers Weekly explained the book’s premise: “Quinlan’s mother was a woman of strong faith who wrote notes to God during the last 20 years of her life. Although her family was aware of these notes, when they discovered 10 containers of them after her death, they were astonished at the revelations, hopes, and memories contained therein. An inspirational speaker, Quinlan reminisces about her beloved mother and details the pleas, prayers, and thanks she presented to God on napkins, scraps of newspaper, coasters and business cards.”
The book was adapted to a stage play by Quinlan, and co-written with director Martha Wollner. Quinlan first presented the play as a workshop in 2011 in New York City. Last year, the show’s venues ranged from NYC’s Off-Broadway to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Along the way it has helped communities raise funds for charitable causes.
Theater critic Duncan Grindall reviewed the play for the online and print publication Broadway Baby: “This one-woman show is heartfelt, well-acted, engaging and supplemented with great production. Quinlan’s character is vulnerable and basely human; she’s warm and understandable. The love for her mother, which forms the basis of the story, can never be doubted as anything other than genuine.”
“Mary Lou is doing this pro bono as a fundraiser for the Northborough Senior Center,” Hagspiel noted. “She’s coming from NYC. All we’re paying for is her travel expenses and accommodations, and her production manager.”
Hagspiel and Muriel Swenor, the Friends president, met with Deanna Swan, the program director of Southgate at Shrewsbury, to discuss using its 200-seat Flanagan Theater.
“Deanna knew about ‘The God Box’ and was thrilled,” Hagspiel relayed. “They’re giving us the use of the theater for no cost. It’s the perfect venue for this show.”
Hagspiel is looking forward to seeing the show again.
“I could see ‘The God Box’ a number of times,” she said. “Bringing it here makes me feel like we’re giving this community something special. Seeing it makes you feel really good inside.”
A question-and-answer period, and an opportunity to meet Quinlan will follow the performance.
Tickets are $35 each and includes a copy of the book. Additional books will be available for purchase. To reserve tickets, call 508-393-5035 or visit the Northborough Senior Center at 119 Bearfoot Rd. Questions can be directed to Anita Hagspiel at 508-414-8943.