st2Fans of Lost Cowboy know that I (your friendly blog curator Jim) is a huge theater fan.  I love all kinds of live theater and have seen hundreds of productions over the years – some great, some interesting and yes, some really bad.  However, I like it all and still get a thrill every time the lights go down and the production begins.

I particularly like the abundance of theater that pops up in the summer.  All over the country small regional theater groups mount productions for the summer.  As a life-long-long summer visitor – and new year round resident of Carroll County, NH I am lucky to be close to The Barnstormers in Tamworth, NH.

The Barnstormers bill themselves as the “America’s oldest professional summer theater” and I have seen many productions there over the years.  The Barnstormers produce eight shows every season over eight weeks – truly amazing – especially considering the high quality of every show. 

This season I was thrilled to have been able to see five of the eight plays and enjoyed each one – from the season opening “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” to William Inge’s “Bus Stop” to the old standby “Gold in the Hills” – each Barnstormers production was well produced with great talent.

Tamworth is a small town and maybe the last place you would expect quality theater.  However, The Barnstormers pull it off every year and I am lucky to be in the audience.  In fact, this season’s production of David Mamet’s “A Life in the Theater” was as well acted as any play I have ever seen in Boston, London, New York or anywhere.

st1Meanwhile, last week while visiting Wellfleet, MA on vacation, I was lucky to partake in one of our great traditions while visiting there – a night of theater at W.H.A.T. – Wellfleet Harbor Actors’ Theater.

W.H.A.T. is simply great, they are an exciting theater company that pushes the envelope to stage new and edgy works.

About W.H.A.T.: “The Mission of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater in Wellfleet, Massachusetts is to present professional quality theater to its audiences; to provide an alternative theater experience not found elsewhere in the region; to advance and preserve the art of the theater for the education and appreciation of the public.”

Every summer on our visit to Wellfleet, my friends and I make sure we take in whatever is being staged at W.H.A.T.’s harbor side theater.  We have seen some very interesting plays over the years – from the bizarre to the strange, but always thought-provoking and well produced.  We generally go in blindly, getting tickets for whatever they are mounting and it has become a true highlight of our vacations.

This year we were treated to the world premiere staging of The Ding Dongs or What is the Penalty in Portugal?.  The play was written by – and starring – the incredibly talented Brenda Withers and we enjoyed it immensely.

The main point of this post is to express the importance of supporting the small, mostly nonprofit theater and arts groups in your area.  Supporting the arts is great way to keep a community vibrant and you never know, you may stumble upon something great.