Because the Suffield Players consider Mapleton Hall as much of a character in their plays as the cast, they decided for the 60th Diamond Anniversary to give her front steps and balustrades a makeover.
"They're in terrible shape," said Mary Fernandez, publicity director for the Players. "It's awful. Other projects have had to be done first on the old hall but now it's time. We love the old hall, it's ours and we take pride in 'Lady Mapleton.'"
With its ongoing "Sixty Dollar Stepgift" fundraiser tallying up, the group has already covered 20 percent of the cost to fix the steps. Anyone who makes a $60 contribution will be listed with honor in the Suffield Players Programs and Newsletters throughout the “Diamond Anniversary” season.
It will cost approximately $7,000 to demolish the steps and replace them with a more elegant entry. Martin and Sons of Suffield is undertaking the project and should be well underway by August 18.
The Players will christen the steps at the debut of their next production, "Regrets Only" on on October 11, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27. The contemporary comedy by Paul Rudnick features Becky Beth Benedict as the Director. This play will be the Players’ 141st Mainstage production. For more information about this play, or to obtain ticket reservations, visit www.suffieldplayers.org.
The Suffield Players are 60 years old and going strong. Starting out as a women's club that put on plays for fun, it evolved into a serious theater group with an interest in "the craft of making theater happen," according to Fernandez.
Although the group had rented the historic 1882 hall and made various improvements, it was when the group was able to purchase Mapleton Hall in 1999 that "everything popped." The Players had an official home of their own.
"She really is a character. There's a spirit to her," said Fernandez. "When you go into the hall, it's alive with creativity, warmth and excitement."
The established group has lately drawn many seasoned actors and directors with very extensive backgrounds in theater. Still, the community theater group has open auditions and welcomes new members for its productions.
"The rest of our season sparkles," said Fernandez.
The Holiday Benefit Challenge Production is “A Christmas Pudding” by David Birney in December; the winter production will be the classic Whodunit “Deathtrap” by Ira Levin, performing in February, followed by William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” in May. The “Page to Stage” Readings will be back at Kent Memorial Library throughout the year. These readings are free to the public as always.
The players will express gratitude to Suffield Players Historic Participants (“Diamonds From The Past”) who are in the audience each performance. These members will be recognized during the opening remarks before each Mainstage performance.
And during Suffield-On-The-Green September 8 and 9, the group will present Theatrical Vignettes and Music from Past Productions at its information booth.
"Our Gypsy Fortune Tellers predict some unusual theatrical surprises for the folks who attend!" said Fernandez.