This is the next step for Shrewsbury’s Square One Players


SHREWBURY – Let’s go for the Square One Players.

The Shrewsbury Community Theater Group will stage their second production, Paul Elliott’s comedy ‘Exit Laughing’, from March 19-27 at the Flanagan Theater in Southgate in Shrewsbury.

In fact, “This will be our very first show that is entirely ours – from show selection, to director, to auditions and then to performances,” said Joanne Smith, co-founder, co-owner and co-operator of Square One Players with Tara Alano. and Tara Wykes.

“It’s a comedy that definitely has a bit of a bit of madness to it. But what we love is its heart. And I think we’ve all learned over the last couple of years that you can’t just sit back and let life go by.” Smith said. “You have to go out and live it, because there may not be a tomorrow to enjoy it. A very timely message.”

Square One Players emerged after the closure of Regatta Players, which had been performing at the Flanagan Theater since 2010 and were a necessary theater outing in town, in 2020.

The Regatta Players had planned a production of Joe DiPietro’s loud but touching comedy “Over the River and Through the Woods” which would have started on March 20, 2020, but was canceled due to the sudden outbreak of the Coronavirus.

Smith, Alano and Wykes had all been involved with the Regatta Players, mostly behind the scenes, and had also served on its board of directors. They were part of the team that would put on “Over the River and Through the Woods”.

Spring production planned

The director, Ed Lindem, and the cast still wanted to mount the production if an opportunity arose in the future, even though Lindem later moved to Minnesota.

Smith, Alano, and Wykes not only agreed to move forward with “Over the River and Through the Woods,” but they also formed the Square One Players with the idea of ​​taking up the torch by hosting regular shows.

“Over the River and Through the Woods” was played last year from July 31 to August 31. 8 at the Flanagan Theater. Lindem had remained involved as a director.

“It went really well. Not a sellout, but close,” Smith said.

Production had been scheduled for a time when the pandemic appeared to be easing considerably last summer, but the rise of the delta variant of COVID-19 at the time of the run may have impacted attendance.

Still, “audiences loved it,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, the Square One Players had already planned their next show — a Spring 2022 production of “Exit Laughing.”

“Now that this recent wave (COVID Omicron variant) has started to decline, more people may be willing to come out,” Smith said. “We are demanding vaccinations and masks. By August we hope that will be behind us, but for now it’s wait and see.”

There’s a square three already scheduled – the musical “Nunsense” from August 5-14 at the Flanagan Theater. (The auditions will take place at 6:30 p.m. on May 22 and 23).

Southgate community offers space

Jeremy Woloski, a well-known director, actor and educator, directs both “Exit Laughing” and “Nunsense”.

Smith said she has known him since he ran the Regatta Players. “I asked him and he said yes he would.”

Southgate in Shrewsbury is a community of older people who have generously donated their theater space to Regatta Players and have now done the same for Square One Players.

Square One Players is limited to two shows a year at Southgate because the community uses the theater space for its own activities, but it’s an arrangement that works very well, Smith said.

“Two shows a year is what works best for us. Right now, that’s more than enough,” Smith said. “We are very lucky to be at Southgate. We appreciate everything they do for us.”

The star cast of “Exit Laughing”

In “Exit Laughing”, Connie, Leona and Millie, three Southern women who have played bridge together for over 30 years, reunite for their first weekly card game since the death of Mary, the fourth member of their group.

Millie “borrows” Mary’s ashes and brings the urn to the gathering. But it turns out that Mary had been thinking about her friends before she died and had made some arrangements to ensure their first reunion without her would be memorable, including hiring Bobby, a stripper.

“It’s a gift from their friend (Mary),” Smith said. (But Bobby doesn’t do a “full” strip in production, Smith added).

The cast includes Foley Herrmann as Connie, Rose Gage as Leona, Ali Rei as Millie, Anh Dao as Rachel (Connie’s daughter), and Collin Touchette as Bobby.

Herrmann, Gage and Rei as three friends worked very well together during rehearsals, Smith noted. They had not met before being chosen.

“They became very united in a very short time. Lots of rehearsals, we didn’t do anything but laugh, so that’s great,” Smith said.

“The show has three women who are tight-knit, we’re three women here,” Smith said of Alano, Wykes and herself.

The three co-founders said from the start, “We can do it. We’re like-minded. Very collaborative. We work well together.”

Varied skills

The three each have their own skills to bring to the theater company.

Smith was Production Manager at Regatta Players for several years and worked in areas such as tickets, programs, social media and as a liaison. Wykes is stage manager and Alano worked with costumes and props.

“It’s an equal partnership between the three of us,” Smith said.

They didn’t give themselves titles.

On the Square One Players website, they advertise themselves as “Tara, Joanne and Tara – three women who cherish theatre!”

Smith, who lives in Shrewsbury, said her mother was a community theater manager.

“I didn’t go to school for this,” she said in a previous interview. But Smith, her husband, and her son all became involved in acting in one way or another.

Always learn something new

With “Exit Laughing”, Smith, Alano and Wykes chose the play, the director and set up auditions. “We’re in the thick of it now,” Smith said.

And since this is only step two or box two, all three are still learning.

“We learn something new every day,” Smith said. “It’s a lot of work, but we really enjoy it. We try to find shows that the three of us love and think they’ll work on stage and for that area that the audience will love.”

Smith added: “It’s about trying to get all the connections we need. Who can be a stage manager, who can be our director. Getting the word out to the community is also a challenge – ‘We’re here . Come see us. As much as Facebook as we are, a lot of people aren’t on Facebook and that’s not necessarily how they get their news.”

When planning shows, Square One Players must also consider what will physically work well at the Flanagan Theater, Smith said.

“You can’t have 30 people on stage, so there are certain limitations.”

“Nunsense” in August will have a cast of five women. The musical has a longstanding appeal in these regions with writer Dan Goggins’ premise that an order called the Little Sisters of Hoboken. The convent holds a benefit at Mount St. Helen’s School so they can raise enough money to bury the last of the four sisters who perished from botulism after tasting the vichyssoise prepared by Sister Julia, Child of God.

“It’s another fun,” Smith said of the show.

“The set is easy, it’s not a huge cast and it’s very popular. It will suit what we need very well.”

With “Exit laughing” and “Nunsense” set for 2022, “we’re good for a year. Now we have to work on 23,” Smith said.

Smith, Alana and Wykes are currently reading scripts for shows that could eventually become Square One Players’ spring production in 2023. Or square four of the theater company’s journey.

‘Come out laughing’

When: 7:30 p.m. on March 19; 2 p.m. March 20; 7:30 p.m. March 26; 2 p.m. on March 27

Where: Flanagan Theatre, Southgate to Shrewsbury, 30 Julio Drive, Shrewsbury

How much: $20; $17 students and seniors. Contact squareoneplayers.com; 508-669-7750; info@squareoneplayers.com

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