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Nashua Theatre Guild: Award-Winning Theater Keeping Crowds Coming for Over 50 Years

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Comedies, dramas and overall cutting-edge theater productions are the mainstay of award-winning nonprofit Nashua Theatre Guild (NTG). Fifty community members gathered in the barn of the Chandler Memorial Library in Nashua in 1961 and NTG was formed. President and Production Director Len Deming tells us, "As such, it is one of the oldest continuously operated community theater groups in the State of New Hampshire."

The performing group has come a long way since their first 1962 production of the comedy Strange Bedfellows. With a mission to bring "professional-level, quality theater to Southern New Hampshire," Deming says that "NTG does not have a fixed venue and has always been on the lookout for acceptable places to stage its productions." Plays have been presented in various places, including school stages, but in recent years the Janice B. Streeter Theater (formerly known as Court Street Theater) next to the public library is used most often.

Producing two shows a year, also presents "Shakespeare in the Park" every year in Greeley Park in Nashua. Twelfth Night was a well-received recent Shakespeare production directed by Deming and Robert Haas. They also perform at the annual Holiday Stroll, where all can delight in watching a NTG family performance. The upcoming spring play is Sputnik: A Love Story by local playwright Lowell Williams. This is the very first time this play has been staged. Deming says, "Mr. Williams has won a number of awards at acting festivals for his plays, and I have yet to see one of his plays and not enjoy it."

NTG is a true community theater, as volunteer time is spent at other organizations, especially those that benefit children. Time is spent helping at Bridges and Nashua Children's Home to entrust kids with a love of the arts by teaching enrichment through theater. Further work is done with local high school students and Literacy Night at Elementary Schools.

The Guild is funded through membership; ticket, concession and raffle sales; grants from the Ella Anderson Trust and the Nashua Parks & Recreation Department; and personal donations. In a mutual relationship, NTG has been around for over 50 years thanks to area support of their performances.

Although newbies are welcome to bring their acting chops to an audition, the level of quality NTG is searching for usually means more seasoned professionals will get the part, but not always. If you love theater, you could also help with set and costume design, makeup, advertising or many more much-needed jobs. "We look for people who share our passion and commitment to quality live theater, and who find that being part of such a production 'floats their boat'", Deming exclaims! "Everyone has different talents and we strive to maximize those talents in a way that contributes to delivering performances that keep bringing audiences back for more."

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