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Actorsingers Keeps Great Musical Theater in the Nashua Area

By Pamela Sosnowski

If you're looking to catch a popular stage musical such as Into the Woods, Spamalot, or Young Frankenstein, you don't necessarily have to travel into Boston and spend a lot of money to enjoy a quality production. Actorsingers, Nashua's oldest community theater production company, has been bringing stage musicals to the local community for 60 years?and is still going strong.

Actorsingers' roots were formed in 1955 by Jim Wood, an organist and choirmaster at Nashua's Church of the Good Shepherd. That year he produced Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado in the church parish hall. The show was so successful that he also produced The Bohemian Girl later that year. Wood continued to produce popular shows for the next few years, taking on additional staff and forming a small production company. In 1961 the company formally named itself Actorsingers and become an incorporated non-profit community theater organization.

As the casts and audiences grew, Actorsingers moved their productions from the church to the Keefe Auditorium at Elm Street Junior High School in 1965. The following year, they acquired a full orchestra to accompany their shows.

"Before the mid-1970's, Actorsingers were nomadic; storing props, sets, costumes in barns, garages, attics and rehearsed anywhere that they could find space in the Nashua area," explains the Actorsingers Board of Directors. "Demand for a facility where rehearsals could take place and sets and costumes made and stored led the group to buy our present home at 219 Lake Street in Nashua. Additionally, groups from all around contact Actorsingers to access costumes, props, and sets. We share our wealth with others, happy to support theatre at large."

Actorsingers now produces two musicals each year? one in the spring and one in the fall ? shown at Keefe Auditorium. Smaller shows can be seen at various local venues when the schedule allows. Additionally, the Actorsingers Jr. kids division presents a show in March, made up of a cast from children ages 8 to 14. The Actorsingers Jr. teen show hits the stage in July and is comprised of actors ages 13 to 19.

The Actorsingers Jr. division of the company started in 1959, but split its shows into separate children and teen halves in 2003 to allow teens to take on more mature subject matter and give the younger children a chance to shine in the spotlight. There are many benefits for kids who participate in theater, says the Board.

"We find that kids who've grown up doing Actorsingers Jr. shows develop stage confidence, a strong self-assurance working with and talking to adults, working knowledge of both performances skills and technical know-how, and lifelong friendships," they explain. "The Actorsingers philosophy is to instill a love of theater in the young by having the children, along with their families, participate in almost every aspect of the production from building and painting the sets, learning some of the technical opportunities in lighting and sound, to publicity and ticket sales."

To make its productions accessible to all, Actorsingers keeps its ticket and membership prices affordable, with individual membership costing only $10 annually. "We never wanted money to be a reason to stop someone from joining," says the Board. "Since its inception, our membership has been varied; we have medical professional, lawyers, bankers, business executives, teachers, police officers, artists, stay-at-home parents, students, and more all working together to create excellent theatre. Actorsingers was started by doctors, lawyers, bankers, housewives, secretaries and the like as a creative outlet, and that creative outlet is still available to the public 60 years later."

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