Families Share The Stage in FPAC'S HUMBUG!
When the curtain rises on Franklin Performing Arts Company's Humbug!, a contemporary musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, several local families will share the stage. The FPAC original features 11 sets of parents and their children as part of a large ensemble cast of some 125 professional artists, community performers and students of the arts.
"Live theater creates a space where we can come together and have a collective experience," says Mireille Eastman, who performs in the production along with her husband, Charley Eastman, and all three of their children. "We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be involved in Humbug! as a family. Sharing our passion for live theater with our children has brought us all closer together."
Charley and Mireille starred opposite one another in FPAC's 2014 production of Mark Twain's The Diaries of Adam and Eve. They are cast as husband and wife in Humbug!, playing Fanny May and Freddy Mack. Among the couple's theater training, Charley earned a BFA in Acting from the University of Connecticut at Storrs while Mireille received a BA in Theater from Hunter College, with additional training at William Esper Studio and the Actors Movement Studio. Charley's FPAC credits also include Annie (Rooster), The Tempest (Prospero), The Dumb Waiter (Gus) and The Zoo Story (Jerry). Mireille has performed on stage in New York and in various film and video productions.
Daughter Ameline, age 8, is in Humbug's Children's Ensemble, while son Emmett, age 9, and daughter Phoebe, age 11, are in the Youth Ensemble. The kids have taken dance, voice and musical theater classes at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA), and Ameline and Emmett participate in FSPA's new AfterSchool program.
"Emmett, who tends to be our toughest critic, turned to us after rehearsal one day and said, 'Daddy, I really like being in the show. It's a lot of fun.' That is high praise from a nine-year-old boy! And Ameline already wants to know when she can audition for the next show."
Youth development in the arts is a special focus of FPAC, founded in 1991 by Executive Director Raye Lynn Mercer. Productions provide ongoing opportunities for families to connect through the arts, with multiple generations sharing rehearsals and time on stage together.
"FPAC provides a safe intergenerational space, where we can all work hard and play hard, reaching a finite goal," Mireille notes. "The experience allows us to interact as peers under the careful direction of Raye Lynn Mercer and volunteer our time and energy for something creative and beneficial for the community."
The Eastmans are involved in a number of community initiatives in addition to FPAC, including Meals on Wheels, the Franklin Arts Association, and the Franklin Federated Church, where Charley is Pastor.
"All of these touchstones will be part of our life in Franklin and our children's childhood," says Mireille.
Other families performing in Humbug! this season include Kristen, Tony and Griffin Wilkins of Walpole, as well as the following Franklin residents: Janene and Madison Asgeirsson; Charlotte and Michelle Berry; Ed, Jocelyn and Wendy Jones; Greg, Madison and Sydney Leach and Michele Webster; Holly and Tatiana McAlpine; Debra, Matthew and Shane Packard; Chuck and Mackenzie Peters; Guy, Hannah and Madison Rezendes, with grandfather Steve Crowley; and Jaiden, Lindsey, Melissa and Peter Wyner.
A family favorite since debuting as part of FPAC's 2008-09 season, Humbug! is conceived, written and directed by Franklin's Nick Paone, who also stars as Scrooge. The musical features Dickens' familiar characters and story, but re-imagines the classic tale in contemporary America for a modern audience with updated references to current events and pop culture. The storyline is supported by musical hits of many genres with live accompaniment by a 10-piece band of professional musicians.
Humbug! will be performed on Saturday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, December 18, at 2 p.m. at the Franklin High School Auditorium, 218 Oak Street. Raye Lynn Mercer co-directs the production, with musical direction by Hallie Wetzell and choreography by Kellie Stamp, Mercer and Paone. Tickets are $30-$34 and may be purchased at www.fpaconline.com, or at 508-528-3370. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door. Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation and Waters Corporation are FPAC 2016 Holiday Sponsors. Northern Trust is a Performance Sponsor.