‘A summer camp with a product’: Arena Civic Theatre putting on two productions this month

  • Arena Civic Theatre rehearses “Clue” at the Franklin County Fairgrounds’ Roundhouse in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Arena Civic Theatre rehearses “The Wizard of Oz” in the Franklin County Fairgrounds’ Roundhouse in Greenfield. Chloe Gilaman as Tin Man, Lydia Cadran as Dorothy, Christian Clark as Scarecrow and Jace Campbell as the Lion head down the yellow brick road. At the rear is Eli Forfa as the wizard. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Arena Civic Theatre rehearses “Clue” at the Franklin County Fairgrounds’ Roundhouse in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Arena Civic Theatre rehearses “The Wizard of Oz” at the Franklin County Fairgrounds’ Roundhouse in Greenfield. Munchkins guide Dorothy (Lydia Cadran) down the yellow brick road. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2021 3:55:11 PM

GREENFIELD — In the mood for a theatrical double feature?

Arena Civic Theatre is putting on two non-musical productions — “The Wizard of Oz” and “Clue” — as part of its summer youth program. The performances will run back to back in the Roundhouse at the Franklin County Fairgrounds this weekend, Friday through Sunday, and the weekend of Aug. 20.

“It’s more of like a summer camp with a product, so we’ve tried to teach the kids about stage direction and set building and all of the things that go into making a show work,” said Alana Martineau, Arena Civic Theatre’s board president who is also co-directing “The Wizard of Oz” alongside Erika Clark. “A lot of it is cardboard because we’re on a shoestring budget.”

“The Wizard of Oz,” with a cast of children ages 6 to 11, will begin at 6 p.m. on the Fridays and Saturdays it runs and 1 p.m. on the Sundays. “Clue,” made up of those ages 12 to 18, will start at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are available only at the door, 30 minutes before curtain. There are 65 to 70 seats available in the Roundhouse.

These particular plays were selected because the rights to “The Wizard of Oz” are free (because it is public domain) and “Clue” has no specific lead roles. Each play will have an intermission.

Sue Dresser, producer of both Arena Civic Theatre productions, said “The Wizard of Oz” is an abridged youth version of the classic tale and “Clue,” based on the popular board game, is similar to the 1985 dark comedy mystery film starring Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn and Christopher Lloyd.

“It’s very much like the movie,” Dresser said. “It’s actually taken from the movie and rewritten for stage from the screenplay of the movie.”

She explained the youth summer program started with The Country Players, another theater company, and was adopted by Arena Civic Theatre about five years ago.

Rehearsals on Mondays were accompanied by the organized chaos that is called technical week, the one prior to opening night. Martineau and Clark worked hard to keep their young thespians’ attention and run lines.

“It’s a little bit like herding cats sometimes,” Martineau said, “but they’re having fun, and it’s free. It’s like free summer camp.”

Lydia Wright, who is co-directing “Clue” alongside Jayse Matrishon, said rehearsals have been held three times a week. She said summer theater is a bit of a challenge because families often go away on vacation.

“But that’s also the good thing about summer theater because they still have the freedom of having a summer while … also performing in a show,” she added.

Wright said her actors and actresses — a lot of whom are new this summer — have been doing well. Some have taken on their biggest roles yet. She said she loves the play’s humor and subtleties. Everyone had to audition for the part they wanted, though no one is rejected from an Arena Civic Theatre production.

Wright is a Keene State College sophomore studying theater and decided to give directing a shot after performing with Arena Civic Theatre — founded in 1970 by Ann Christern — for three years.

“I love it,” she said. “Ever since joining, (Arena Civic Theatre) has been the highlight of my summers.”

Tickets for “The Wizard of Oz” are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. “Clue” tickets are $15 for general admission and $13 for students and seniors.

Dresser and Martineau mentioned Arena Civic Theatre is also producing “The Belle of Amherst,” a one-woman show about poet Emily Dickinson, at the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in the fall.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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