Dear Peterborough Players Family,
Tom Frey sat across from me in the studio in midtown Manhattan, spring of 2019. It was the end of my audition for 2 Pianos, 4 Hands. I’d just performed scenes from the script, played a Chopin waltz, and tackled the first few pages of the Bach concerto.
It became what felt like a sacred space as Tom spoke: “So— why do you want to do this play?” Not a question I’m used to hearing at an audition, a frank query about the material itself. But apparently, I was itching to answer it.
I still don’t remember everything I said … Something about wanting to be a part of stories that I truly care about. Something about being able to lend to the show while also to learn from it. I shared that I suspected the show might even be beyond my abilities — something I was not planning to admit in front of people whose task it was to cast an able actor for the part.
But it was when I spoke of what I saw at the heart of the story that there seemed to be a held breath shared among us: this show was about being really good at something, but possibly “not good enough.” As an artist living and working in New York, that’s a feeling I’ve known well. For a moment in time, it felt like we in the room all pondered our own relationship with that human emotion: self-doubt. But what it sparked was a conversation about how we challenge ourselves as artists, and how a play about stepping into that is triumphant.
I was fortunate to begin to work with Tom. Together with my colleague Jefferson McDonald, the three of us have now collaborated on three productions of 2 Pianos 4 Hands pre-pandemic at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, this past summer at Peterborough Players, and most recently at the Mayfield Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta. Tom has welcomed me into this adventure of a lifetime.
And it is no small deal to me that - by way of his vision and direction - one of my dreams has come to pass: to play the Emcee in Cabaret. For years I’ve wanted to explore that role, and I shared that with Tom. A few months later, he invited me to do it at the Players as the show that would welcome audiences back to performances beneath the rafters of the barn.
When I arrived in early June, I started to understand how rare a gem the Peterborough Players really is. The staff, volunteers, and interns welcomed me as if I were an old friend and part of the family. That kind of nurturing is something that can too often be missing from the Business of Theatre. This was a home, a place for me to delve into my artistry, where I was trusted and celebrated. I felt safe to go big and sink my soul into that story.
I remember our sitzprobe for Cabaret (the day when the cast first gets to sing live with the orchestra), when love itself seemed to pour out from the walls of Rehearsal Hall. Several of us were literally crying at the quality of the incredible musicianship embodied by the superb musicians that the Players brought together. That day solidified the fact that we were all a part of something special, here at this intimate theater tucked away in rural New Hampshire.
You don’t really know what to expect on an acting contract until you’re physically present at the theater. A theater may be prestigious, but that does not guarantee a positive experience. It boils down to the people and the energy. It’s hard to articulate this precisely, but there is a glow about Peterborough, never lacking a friendly face or kind words to remind us of what a gift it is to be a performer. Here at the Players, joy is both a focus and a reward.
I won’t ever forget how warm and loyal you, the audience, were — so many of you have been seeing shows at the Players for years, even decades. You clearly, dearly care about the work happening in the barn. Thank you. And the Second Company is second to none; I really cannot emphasize enough how the vitality and hard work of these young artists uplifts and sustains the work that is produced by the Players. It’s refreshing!
Every day as I drove to and from the theatre through the rising and falling hills – the scenery dappled in sunlight or shadowed beneath a regal moon – I felt my battery recharge amidst the land, its people, and this company.
It is with honor and humility that I ask you to consider making a gift to the Peterborough Players’ at this especially important time. The Players has made a profound impact on my life and my artistic journey, as I know it has on so many others’. A place with such heart is an unmistakable treasure. Let’s keep this tradition going strong for the next 90 years and beyond.
With love and respect,
Member of the Acting Company
PS - Here’s to the telling of more stories in the barn, more laughter and tears, more of the magic that brings us all together in the dark and the light of theatre.