Oldcastle prepares to enter new phase in the downtown
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | March 19,2013
BENNINGTON — After a single show staged in December, the Oldcastle Theatre Company is about to kick off its first real season at its new Main Street home Friday with the opening performance of “Around the World in 80 Days.”
Eric Peterson, producing artistic director and the director of “Around the World,” said it’s an exciting time for the theater company because of the show, the new season and other events that Oldcastle is planning to take advantage of their home in the heart of the downtown which include concerts and children’s theater.
“Our goal is that, in addition to our productions each year, we will present up to 50 other events. ... I think people will be excited. It will mean that this building will be very busy and it will mean that many, many nights this year, something in the neighborhood of 160 to 175 nights this year, there will be something going on in this building for the public,” he said.
Oldcastle was formerly located at the Bennington Center for the Arts on Route 9 but moved to a Main Street site, once used by the Knights of Columbus, last year. The company staged a new play, “Northern Boulevard,” in December because Peterson said he didn’t want a whole calendar year to pass without an Oldcastle production, but the theater “went dark” for the last few months so the building could be converted to its new use.
By Friday, workers should be finished with the lobby, Peterson said. After “Around the World,” the theater will stay dormant for a few more weeks to finish making changes that will make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and then productions will run through the year.
Upcoming productions include “Other People’s Money,” plays about Sherlock Holmes and painter Grandma Moses and a summer return for “Northern Boulevard” with new songs.
Peterson said he was pleased with the work done on the building.
“It’s much more open. It’s new carpeting, it’s a new paint job, it’s new plastered walls. We think it looks sensational,” he said.
Of course, an impressive theater is only a showcase for the performances. Peterson said audience members were in for a treat with “Around the World,” which runs through April 7.
“It’s a wonderful, funny, adventurous show. We’ve had a great deal of fun with it and learning about Jules Verne’s original,” he said.
Peterson said one of the things that will make the show a fun experience is that it takes advantage of being a theatrical production by offering things that audiences can’t get from television or movies. There are five actors in the show and they play almost 40 different characters.
“The changes in characters are so rapid that (the actors) have to do it with a hat or a coat or a beard that’s suddenly put on and, boom, they’re a different person. I think that’s always fun for actors and always fun for audiences. ... If in television or film, an actor plays lots of roles it becomes all about make-up and on stage it has to happen very, very rapidly so it has to be done with the actor’s talent,” he said.
The characters are also larger-than-life, which Peterson said is fun for actors to play, and the play is an adventure with humor.
More information about Oldcastle’s schedule is available on the website where tickets can also be purchased at www.oldcastletheatre.org.