Homegrown talent a big hit in Conway as 250th kicks off

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    Local actors perform in Michael Haley's play "Betty Baker's Buttermilk Biscuit Barn" Friday, June 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

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    Linda Tardif and Troy David Mercier act in "Best in Class" at Conway's 250th Anniversary Celebration theater event "Six By Six By Six" Friday, June 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

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    Chris Devine performs at Conway's 250th Anniversary Celebration theater event "Six By Six By Six" Friday, June 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

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    Troy David Mercier performs at Conway's 250th Anniversary Celebration theater event "Six By Six By Six" Friday, June 9, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/11/2017 8:25:30 PM

CONWAY — Roars of laughter filled the Sportsman’s Club’s pavilion Friday night during Michael Haley’s comedic short plays “Six By Six By Six” performed as part of the town’s 250th Anniversary Celebration.

“It’s great. Conway comes together to show the world Conway. It’s as if we planted and grew talent. It’s one of our main crops here,” Haley said before introducing the plays to a packed house of more than 100 people.

Admission was free, sponsored by the town’s 250th Anniversary Committee. A second and third showing of the plays were scheduled for Saturday.

The hour and a half event’s mood was jovial, with neighbors enjoying the company of neighbors over barbecue and refreshments, interspaced by musical entertainment highlighting local performers.

“It’s a way to bring together people from all different walks of life,” said 250th Anniversary Committee Chairwoman Heidi Flanders. “We have farmers here, we have musicians, we have artists and local businessmen. It’s a great mix for the community.”

The six plays in order were “Mrs. Sorken” by Christopher Durang; “Best in Class,” by A.M. Shea; “I’m Herbert” by Robert Anderson; “Best Daddy” by Shel Silverstein; “On Break at L.L. Bean” by Donetta Lavinia Grays; and “Betty Baker’s Buttermilk Biscuit Barn” or “B-5” by Haley, a hilarious microcosm of the town featuring a cast of many first-time actors from Conway.

“It’s wonderful; it’s really wonderful. They’re all good,” said resident Pat Kocot, wiping away tears of laughter during intermission.

“It’s fun to see so many people from the community involved,” said Mary Irwin, another resident.

Beneath the comedy, a sense of community and rich tone of human emotion could be felt.

One notable performance that struck a deep chord was “On Break at L.L. Bean,” a story of two black men on lunch break, one old and the other young, who relate their experiences with racism. The play was performed by Tang Sauce and Olusanya Bey, directed by Hannah Simms of Hartford, Conn.

Friday’s event was put on in association with Silverthorne Theater, which brought in actors and helped with promotion. Haley noted help from about 100 volunteers, including many “from the Sportsman’s Club, the guys who built (the stage).”

“There’s been so much time put into it — an enormous effort by so many people,” said stage manager Carl Erikson.

Musicians listed in the program include Emma Ayres; Rosie Caine and Triene Cheile; Justus Conant; TJ Conroy; Chris Devine; Mike and Ellen Metzner; Katryna Nields; Pat and Tex LaMountain; Janet Ryan; Joanie Schwartz; and The Sugarloaf String Band of Western Massachusetts.

Next week, starting Thursday, June 15, the town’s full schedule of festivities will kick off with a show at the Grammar School and a Lester Stevens Art Exhibit at the Field Memorial Library. Over the weekend, activities including a parade and fireworks will be held in the town’s center.




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