The Little Sweep

categories: Cocktail Hour

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This past weekend I was in my first theater production.  As a member of the chorus in Benjamin Britten’s opera “The Little Sweep.”   Elysia played Sophie, and Juliet was in the chorus, too.  A very stressful way to spend time together!  And fun!  Don’t let me forget to say that!  Three more shows this coming weekend, if you’re in the vicinity, paired with A.A. Milne’s short comedy, “The Man in the Bowler Hat.”  The talent in this little community is dazzling.  I don’t know where to start.  But Jane Parker, the musical director, taught us the difficult music with great good humor and dedication (Britten and his dissonance, cantilevered waltzes, rockslides of emotion, and snowdrifts, too).  And Dale Hill, the director of both productions, is a kind of wizard.  He lets you know what you’re doing wrong by means of fulsome praise–hard to explain–and moreso, comes up with the perfect touch to correct every glitch as it glitches, drop of the hat: “Dale!  Disaster!  What to do?”  “Well, why don’t we…”   Both directors have had long careers in music, in theater, and yet here they are, a blessing, our little town.  And the actors!  They are also doctors and ornithologists and college professors, college students, retired thises and thatses.  Donna Campion, who played Mrs. Baggott in “Sweep,” has been a race-car driver and professional actress and singer, including a long stint with the New York Light Opera Company.  Yes, a race-car driver.  Her husband, who played Cruel Black Bob, is an anesthesiologist. But I can’t give everyone’s bio here.  Suffice it to say that Mellisa Clawson’s students would never recognize her in flapper dress and blond wig!  As for me, I was lucky to remember the lyrics to the chorus numbers, and to get out the phrase “thickets of rushes and tussocks of reeds” at breakneck speed and high timbre without spitting, at least most of the time.   And the kids.  Wow, the kids.  And a lot of parent-child combinations.  Ellie Sloane Barton and Sarah Sloane, for one.   I’ll have to write an essay about community theater at some point, but for now I’ll let the photos say their thousand words.  And thanks to one and all!

Jane Parker


Dan Woodward, sullen apprentice sweep and tenor













Green room hi-jinks











Sophie playing the sweep, Sarah Sloan as Rowan, Elysia playing Sophie


Dale Hill, behind the scenes as always






















Dr. Campion, for once not about to put you to sleep!


Sawyer, Elysia, and Donna Campion

  1. monica wood writes: