Arts Alert: Peterborough Players' Winter Season

The historic theatre debuts its first non-summer shows

courtesy of the peterborough players
The historic Peterborough Players theatre on Hadley Road

Here in New Hampshire, we're used to great theatre in the summer. But once temperatures and leaves start to fall, many of our best professional venues close their doors for a long winter's nap.

This year, the Peterborough Players decided to buck that trend.

In its 83-year history, this venerable Monadnock theatre has brought hundreds of shows to life, and they've all had one thing in common: staging between June and September. After years of requests to expand their season, though, the Players decided this year to move into the uncharted territory of the snowy months. The theatre will present three shows in its inaugural winter season, and lovers of the arts should mark their calendars for each of them.

The first play of the season is David Sedaris' "The Santaland Diaries." Based on the humorist's real experiences playing Santa's helper in a department store Christmas village, the side-splitting comedy follows the misadventures of Crumpet the Elf through grumpy old St. Nicks and parents and kids alike who've been a bit more naughty than nice. Oh, and be warned — this romp is for "mature elves only."

Players veteran Kraig Swartz steps into Crumpet's jingle-toed shoes for the one-man production. It opened Wednesday night, and you can catch it at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings through December 17.

After a holiday intermission, the season continues in February with two more plays.

"Mass Appeal," a Tony-nominated comedy-drama by Bill C. Davis, centers on the dynamic between two Catholic clergymen at a wealthy suburban parish. Father Farley (portrayed by the Players' artistic director, Gus Kaikkonen) likes to entertain his flock, while young seminarian Mark wants to challenge and get people fired up about their faith. The production runs Wednesday to Saturday nights from February 1-11.

Stage and film classic "Steel Magnolias" rounds out the inaugural season. Catch the tale of six resilient Southern belles — with a cast including NH Theatre Award winners Lisa Bostnar and Kathy Manfre — in select evening and matinee performances February 15-26.

It may be the chilly off-season for most of the state's theatre scene, but, at this legendary venue, things are just heating up.

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