Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 1, 2012

Tolkien story gets new life in TheatreWorks' debut show

The Andover Townsman

---- — A cast of fourth through eighth-graders is preparing to stage a musical production of “The Hobbit” at the Memorial Building, which also serves as the Doherty Middle School auditorium.

Performing Nov. 9 through 11, “The Hobbit” will be the debut production from Andover Youth Services’ new TheatreWorks.

“We’re honored to add this program to the robust Andover youth arts scene. There are always more kids that want to play make pretend, and a child’s imagination and creativity are important,” artistic director Robin V. Allison said.

Andover youth involved in the production include William Hamilton starring as Bilbo Baggins (the hobbit), Maddy Wagner as Gandalf the wizard, and Ryan Doyle as the evil Gollum.

The musical will be performed Nov. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., and again on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.

Allison has been involved in Andover arts for years, directing and teaching with Summer Theatre Ensemble / Children’s School for the Arts, leading church children’s choirs, and performing. A stage actress who has been involved with national tours and performed in countless productions, she enjoys sharing her love of musical theater, but also knows what it’s like to be a professional actor, according to a release.

“In our ‘American Idol’ culture, it’s easy to grow up dreaming of being a star. But that’s just the media marketing part of it, and if that’s your main focus, you’re missing the best part. I love helping kids learn to act – to make pretend and believe it, to find new parts of themselves,” she said. “To see a shy kid muster the courage to stand up proudly and say his line or sing her song is a joy to behold. It’s infectious!”

Music director Eric Lindahl said, “One key way (pun intended) we hope to help our actors sing their best is by arranging the songs to fit their voices. It’s a lot more work to re-score everything, but Robin and I both know too well if a song is out of your range, you can’t give it your best. These young actors are trusting us to support them, so it’s worth the work.”

The two directors have been artistic partners since they married 25 years ago. They also direct the Blue Window Arts Group which produces the Christmas show, “Not Your Typical Silent Night” at The Rogers Center for the Arts at Merrimack College, originally presented at Andover’s Old Town Hall before it grew to be too large for that venue.

Technical Designer Tom Blanford of Andover first worked with Allison and Lindahl on their holiday show when he was in high school, and since graduating from Notre Dame is back working in Boston. He is doing sound and lighting design and set construction for “The Hobbit.”

Producing partners are Kathy Abisso, Chris Christoforo and Nancy Vogler of Andover.

Tickets are $10 and on sale at Learning Express at 32 Park St., and Andover Youth Services at 37 Pearson St.

POPULATING MIDDLE EARTH Cast from Andover Isaac Brickman Ashley Cocchiaro Gianna Coppola Ryan Doyle Brigitte Gorham Oliver Gorham Alyson Hall William Hamilton Gracie Karl Autumn King Toni Kobelski Cole MacKinnon Lucy Schirmer Haywood Schwartz Max Tweedale Maddy Wagner Also including Bill Fahey, AYS director Abby Moline of North Reading Peyton Petisce of Methuen