By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
SHREWSBURY – A new community theater group has opened in Shrewsbury.
Square One Players is debuting with the two-act comedy “Over the River and Through the Woods” by Joe DiPietro. The story humorously chronicles an adult grandson considering a cross-country move while his four grandparents strive – and scheme – to keep him residing near them.
Directing the production is Edward Lindem. He relates to the play’s characters and scenarios.
“I grew up in a family that’s very similar to the one portrayed in the show,” Lindem said. “The family shows love through food, gathering together and watching out for each other – even when it’s a little overbearing.”
Over a year in the making
This production was originally scheduled to be presented in March 2020 by Shrewsbury’s now-closed Regatta Players. About two weeks before opening night, pandemic restrictions postponed the production indefinitely and ultimately closed Regatta.
Three former Regatta board members – Tara Alano, Joanne Smith and Tara Wykes – banded together and formed Square One Players. They missed their usual schedules filled with behind-the-scenes tasks at rehearsals and performances.
“It was very surreal,” Alano said of the many months without live theater. “It was so different going from the hustle and bustle of putting on a show to nothing all of a sudden.”
When the state reopened, the newly-formed Square One Players announced performance dates for “Over the River.”
“This show is ready to go – we’ve got the cast, the set and costumes,” Smith noted. “To start with the groundwork already in place makes our job very easy.”
They also found it easy to name the new theater group.
“We’re starting from square one,” Smith explained. “We hope people will have so much fun with us that they’ll want to come back for more. Hopefully, next year we’ll do another play in the spring and then a musical in the summer.”
Returning to the theater
Back when “Over the River” was postponed in 2020, it was uncertain how soon live theater could return. To stay prepared, Lindem periodically directed the cast in rehearsals via Zoom. Now, he and the performers are picking up where they left off with in-person rehearsals.
“Everyone is very excited to come back to rehearsals and share this story with an audience,” Lindem relayed. “It’s a very heartfelt comedy. There are definitely parts of the story that pull at the heartstrings. There are some sad parts, but all with a glimmer of hope and love.”
Featured in the cast are Dan Biggins, Jim Catapano, James Lamoureux, Christina Pierro, Stephanie Sarkisian and April Swanson.
“The cast for this show – without exaggeration – is the best that I’ve ever worked with,” Lindem said.
Debut production details
Square One Players scheduled five performances of “Over the River and Through the Woods” at the Flanagan Theatre in Southgate at Shrewsbury, 30 Julio Dr. Opening night is Saturday, July 31, at 7:30 p.m. Other evening shows are Friday and Saturday, Aug. 6 and 7, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees are Aug. 1 and 8 at 2 p.m.