By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
NORTHBOROUGH – Producer, director and actor Josh Telepman secured a unique venue to present a Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The stage is prominently placed at a fairly new outdoor Northborough landmark.
Telepman is directing “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, produced by the independent theater company Yorick Ensemble. Free performances are scheduled for Thursday to Saturday, Sept. 2 to 4, at 7 p.m., at the downtown Northborough Town Common.
“When I first saw the Town Common, I immediately felt that I wanted to do a play there,” he recounted. “It’s a beautiful space with a big, circular walkway that I immediately thought looked like a stage. I love outdoor theater, so I’d been looking for a way to make this happen locally.”
Catching the theater bug
An 8-year-old Telepman made his stage debut in the musical “Honk” at Boylston’s Calliope Productions.
While attending Algonquin Regional High School, he kept active in school shows as well as other theatrical endeavors.
During his junior year, Telepman co-founded Black Box Productions. The Northborough-based community theater was specifically geared for high school and college students. He directed their presentations of the musical comedies “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in 2012 and “Company” in 2013.
“By the nature of us all going off to college around the same time, that company lasted for only those two shows,” he noted.
A 2013 Algonquin graduate, Telepman received a BFA in Theatre and Performance from Emerson College in 2017.
Founding Yorick Ensemble
Telepman founded Yorick Ensemble in 2019.
“We don’t run on a traditional season model,” he said of the company. “We have the freedom to put up a show when it feels right.”
He directed Yorick’s first show, “The Pirates of Penzance” at The Rockwell in Somerville in January of last year.
Then the pandemic hit, halting live theater productions. Yorick began producing shows virtually.
“We did a bunch of play readings under the banner of Quarantine Theater,” Telepman said. “That started because I got lonely reading plays by myself.”
Yorick also produced the larger-scale, virtual “35mm: a Musical Exhibition.” Video auditions were accepted from nearly 400 performers nationwide.
“35mm” earned two Distinguished Achievement Special Honors from the Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres.
When pandemic restrictions were lifted, Telepman prepared for Yorick to produce “Our Town.” While the play is set in the early-1900s, he feels that its theme is still timely now.
“I revisited ‘Our Town’ during the shutdown and it really resonated with me,” he noted. “It’s about what we miss in our everyday life and finding beauty in the mundane.”
Working double duty
Telepman is also portraying the stage manager character in “Our Town.” He previously worked double duty as director and actor with “The Pirates of Penzance.”
Assistant directing “Our Town” is Michael Jay, who is also portraying a role in the play.
“Having another set of eyes is always helpful to me as a director,” Telepman explained. “That’s especially so when I’m also in the cast.”
Performing alongside them are John Alzapeidi, Vanessa Bennett, Mike Buck, Patrick Conaway, Francine Davis, Kevin Jay, Curtis Keene, Becca Mayersohn, Maggie Montville, Lorna Nogueira, Sonya Richards, Jacey Rutledge, Jason Rutledge, Steve Straight and Jack Tzianabos.
Yorick’s gift to the community
The performances are free of charge. No tickets or reservations are required.
“We’re hoping if people like the show, maybe they’ll make a donation – but we’re not expecting anything,” Telepman said. “After what we’ve collectively been through, I’m thinking of this show as a gift to our community. I’m so desperate to create something and a lot of people are desperate to see live theater.”
Attendees are asked to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets.