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The Peterborough Players have opened the theater for a winter season. Courtesy photo.




Mass Appeal

Where: Peterborough Players Theater, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough
When: Feb. 1 through Feb. 11; check website for times
Admission; $39
Contact: peterboroughplayers.org, 924-7585




Inaugural winter season
Peterborough Players present Mass Appeal this week

02/02/17
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 The Peterborough Players theater has been winterized since the ’90s, and this season, the company is finally making use of it with its inaugural winter productions. The first, The Santaland Diaries, went up in December; the next, Mass Appeal, runs Feb. 1 through Feb. 11.

“This is something we’ve been kicking around and trying to figure out how to do for a while,” said Keith Stevens, the show’s director. “When we asked people around [here] about what ... the Players could do besides the summer season, they all said they wanted something in the winter, because in February there’s not a lot to do.”
Company members had some reservations, but the success of the Arts on Screen program (which presents shows from the Metropolitan Opera, National Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet on the big screen) hinted it could work; most audience members, they learned, were locals, not summer residents.
“There are day-trippers who come to Peterborough in the summer, but it’s not like people rent a cabin for a week, or at least not nearly as much as in the more touristy regions,” Stevens said.
Many of the Players’ recent developments have also increased the efficiency and ease with which the company can produce shows, from the on-campus housing for out-of-area cast and crew members to the newly constructed storage facility, enabling the Players to save and reuse pieces from past shows. 
“It’s not the sort of thing you can market test. You have to do it or not. We thought about it and decided that now we’re in a position to be able to pull it off,” Stevens said. 
The Santaland Diaries exceeded expectations in ticket sales, and since then the company has been working on building sets for Mass Appeal and the final show of the winter season, Steel Magnolias, which runs Feb. 15 through Feb. 26. Summer plays happen with 25 or more cast and crew members. Right now, there are six. As such, design had to be strategic; the plays chosen required small casts and unit sets. 
Mass Appeal by Bill. C. Davis is a two-character play that ran on Broadway from 1981 to 1982. It focuses on the relationship between Father Tim Farley (played by Artistic Director Gus Kaikkonen), an established priest in an affluent suburban parish, and an idealistic young seminarian, Mark Dolan (played by Adam Sowers), who challenges the elder’s humorous sermons and some long-held traditions of the Church. 
Stevens said he likes the story because it’s universal.
“In Mass Appeal, you have an established person in their field and a young, fiery person who wants to be in that field,” Stevens said. “This could be any business, any relationship, and that’s what I find interesting and fascinating about it.”
Kaikkonen said he thinks the story is surprising and relevant.
“I think it’s a really good play. It’s a surprising play. I don’t think anybody has a clue where the play is going when they start watching,” Kaikkonen said via phone. “I do think people will find echoes of our current situation in the country in this play. … It’s amazing how suddenly a piece of art means something else against the background of current events.” 





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