The world premiere of Charles Henry’s Final Curtain, an old-fashioned vaudeville musical, is a celebration of the creative spirit of a Vermont native whose own creativity took him all over the state with his performing family, leaving a legacy of entertainment and painted theater curtains in at least 16 towns.
It is fitting that Henry’s final performance is taking place at MSA, both because it is the home of the largest collection of Henry curtains in the state, but also because the building was (and is) an Odd Fellows lodge, just the sort of place where The Henry Family Traveling Theatrical Company performed during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A number of the MSA’s collection will be used as backdrops in the show.
No amateur production, Final Curtain is the brainchild of actor/writer/Broadway performer/three-time-Tony-nominated Cass Morgan, one of the creators of the Tony-nominated Pump Boys and Dinettes, and who happens to live a mile from Main Street Arts.
She and Broadway colleague Sarah Knapp wrote the lyrics for the show, while another colleague, Steve Alper, wrote the music.
“When I first learned about Charles Henry, it just jumped out at me,” Morgan explained about her interest in the subject. “A Vermonter who was a vaudevillian, who wrote his own plays, who painted his own scenery, who put on shows with his family, who traveled around. I just thought, ‘Wait, that’s a play. That screams out at me. Give me a pen.’ I had to write it down. Boom.”
Morgan is collaborating with MSA artistic director David Stern as director of the production, with musical directors Ken Olsson and Amy Cann and production assistant and choreographer Annesa Hartman.
Cast members include Ron Bos-Lun of Westminster as Henry, Libby McCawley of Putney as his wife Mattie, and Gavy Kessler, Andrew Flaherty, Connie Bryan, Heather Martell and Sally Regentine as his children. Also, a chicken and a goat.
As stage manager Woodrow Woodknot, Falko Schilling of Saxtons River, familiar from the Saxtons River Playhouse and the Weston stage, offers a musical tribute to the Odd Fellows. His daughter Willa is played by Heidi Lauricella, who also doubles as stage manager. Masaki Schuette is costumer.
The show’s musical numbers run the gamut from Henry’s wistful “Daylight and Darkness,” in which he reflects on his career and impending retirement, to the exuberant “I Married the Piano Man,” Florence’s announcement of her wedding to Jim, to Mattie’s endearing “Home to Vergennes,” as she urges her husband to make a new life off the stage. A silly song (with accompanying antics) about puppies, members of Miss Fiona’s Academy of Dance and a group of tumblers add to the vaudevillian mix.
Additional performances are Saturdays, Nov. 10 and Nov. 19, and Friday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. with matinees at 2 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 11 and 18.
Tickets are $17 in advance, $10 for children (15 and under) or $20 and $13 at the door and can be purchased at www.MainStreetArts.org or by calling (802) 869-2960.
Further information is available on the website.