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‘Hobbit’ set for outdoor shows in Charlemont

Submitted photo
Mohawk eighth-grader Mary Monhon practices a stunt on an aerial fabric.
Monohon plays the dwarf Kili in the outdoor production of "The Hobbit."

Submitted photo Mohawk eighth-grader Mary Monhon practices a stunt on an aerial fabric. Monohon plays the dwarf Kili in the outdoor production of "The Hobbit."

CHARLEMONT — Those who missed Mohawk’s innovative production of “The Hobbit” this spring will be able to see a new, outdoor performance of the show this week — Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. — on the grounds of the Academy at Charlemont.

Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s former drama coordinator Jonathan Diamond and Mohawk music director Scott Halligan are co-producing this show, which features a cast of students from Mohawk, the Academy at Charlemont, and other students who participated in this year’s Hilltown Youth Theatre Summer Workshop at the Academy.

Diamond and Halligan, who have trained at the award-winning Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield, are using Double Edge’s format of moving the audience outdoors, from scene to scene, following the actors around the fields and stage settings.

Also, all performances will be outdoors — rain or shine.

“Working outside in the summer is fantastic,” said Halligan, a former music director at Double Edge. “Not only does it look and feel like Middle Earth, (but) we have the luxury of summer vacation. During school, it can be hard to rehearse. Time is shorter, so the stakes are higher, and we contend with the fatigue of the end of the school day. But here, we’re all fresh and energized every day, and have an abundance of time.”

Diamond says they have added some new scenes and characters to this performance of the Hobbit. Some of the new material includes an evil sorceress, the Necromancer (played by Mohawk senior Sophie Stayos) and the shape-shifter Bjorn, a character who is half man, half bear, played by Academy eighth-grader Calvin Hill.

Also, the cast will be singing its way through some of the scenes. “Musically, we have a lot of Mohawk’s best talent in the show,” says Halligan. “But we benefit from the larger cast, too.”

Several students who performed in Mohawk’s spring show will be featured in this performance, but playing different roles this time around.

Diamond, who produced several innovative school plays at the Heath Elementary School, started the Hilltown Youth theater workshop about four summers ago, when former Academy at Charlemont head of school Todd Sumner asked him to create a summer program, in honor of the school’s 30th anniversary celebration.

Diamond said he wanted to create “a culture of connection,” where student performers from all over the region could collaborate on theater productions “at a high level.”

He said he was inspired by his son’s experiences in baseball, which, along with the school schedule, had additional events that focus on helping players refine and develop their skills.

“I wanted to create that same kind of atmosphere with summer theater, where the kids come together to create community support for one another’s growth and development.”

Suggested donation for the performances are $5 per student and $10 per adult.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbronc@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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