Sep 092014

Essex Community Players is proud to present

 The Spitfire Grill

 A lively musical about redemption and second chances. It’s the story of a small town beset by hard times and the three women who bring hope and vitality back to their community.

October 2 – 5 & 9 – 12
Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays: 7:30 PM
Sundays: 2 PM


Jul 102014

Essex Community Players is pleased to announce the cast of our upcoming production of the musical “The Spitfire Grill”

spitfire leavesHannah Ferguson: Ione Minot
Percy Talbot: Amber Couture
Shelby Thorpe: Nan Murat
Caleb Thorpe: Keith Willis
Sheriff Joe Sutter: Ron Caldwell
Effy Krayneck: Kayla Tornello
The Visitor: David Dilego

Producer: Richard Hibbert
Director: Josh McDonald
Music Director: Connie Cooney McDonald

“The Spitfire Grill” will be presented at Essex Memorial Hall
October 2-12, 2014

May 172014

Though “Our Town” is done theater goes on.  Get ready for auditions for “The Spitfire Grill”!

Audition Times June 1 & 2, starting at 6:30pm; callbacks June 4 at 6:30 pm
Audition Place Memorial Hall, Essex
Show Dates October 2-5 and 9-12
Directors Josh and Connie McDonald
Producer Dick Hibbert


The Spitfire Grill is based on the award-winning film by Lee David Zlotoff, and depicts the journey of a young woman just released from prison who decides on a small town in rural Wisconsin for her fresh start. Her arrival sets the town on a journey toward its own tenuous reawakening. The score is uniquely seasoned with folk and bluegrass flavors.

A perusal script is available at Essex Free Library in Essex, and at Brownell Library in Essex Junction.

Questions about auditions? Conflict with the audition times? Email

Notes About Auditions

  • Attend either day
  • Please bring your calendar with you to note schedule conflicts!
  • Please, please, please be on time.
  • No appointment necessary
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you can move / dance in
  • No need to bring prepared material–the singing and dancing pieces will be taught; we will be using readings from the script.

Character Descriptions

Percy Talbott Early 20s. A bit rough edged, with strength and sadness. Mezzo range to D.
Hannah Ferguson About 70. A tough-skinned and flinty old bird with a short, no-nonsense manner bordering on the bitter. Mezzo/alto chest range.
Shelby Thorpe Mid-30s. A plain, mousy creature with a shy almost ethereal nature. Shimmering folk soprano to D.
Caleb Thorpe Early 40s. Out-of-work foreman of the stone quarry. Frustrated working man clinging to the past. Solid folk/rock tenor with an edge (top G).
Sheriff Joe Sutter Mid-late 20s. Small town policeman with a restless nature. Strong folk tenor to A.
Effy Krayneck 50s. Postmistress and busybody, a woman with narrow eyes and a sour tongue. Mezzo/alto chest range.
The Visitor Mid-40s. A mysterious figure who never speaks or sings. An actor with powerful eyes and a very strong sense of his body.


We hope to see you at auditions!

May 172014

This weekend is the final to see our production of “Our Town”.  As someone who worked behind the scenes and is in the production I can say, without hesitation, that it has been a wonderful experience to be in “Our Town”.  The cast and the crew have created one of those “once in a while something comes along that is truly special” productions.  Last night the audience was rising to their feet in applause before the lights were down.  Sunday’s “we are done” is going to need some hankies to wipe away the tears.

The show is (today) Saturday night at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00.  There are just a few tickets left, so if you want to see it, now is a good time to get tickets!

Here are a few pictures from a rehearsal.  Enjoy!

The Stage Manager


Doc Gibbs, the Stage Manager, and George




Doc Gibbs and his wife Julia


Doc Gibbs and his wife Julia


Rebecca and her brother George


Mr. Webb, wife Myrtle, and George



Apr 062014

Well, Our Town has passed the halfway point in rehearsals, and the play is starting to lift itself off of the printed page and come alive. It is very exciting to see. The challenge with great plays is to be able to do them justice – to rise to the level the playwright set. The entire cast has shown a wonderful sense of commitment, and I think that Mr. Thornton Wilder would approve of our efforts.

Then again, I may be a tad biased.

Nevertheless, it is a joy to watch these rehearsals unfold. In many ways, community theater is out there on the front lines of the theater world – with no lavish budgets to cushion the experience, and with personnel both onstage and behind the scenes toiling at regular jobs at the same time their energies are tapped by the show’s ever-growing demands upon their time, it is a testament to these people’s dedication to creating these alternate worlds that productions get mounted at all – month after month and year after year. It’s a lot easier when one is well compensated for his or her contributions, and props or set pieces or costumes seem magically to appear, as in the world of the professional theater. Not so in our corner of the universe, in which a monumental effort is required to assemble all of the pieces that make a show. The effort is all the more impressive for this reason.

Our Town is an undertaking of significant proportions; the efforts of literally dozens of people have coalesced into a small army of volunteers, all pursuing the same goal: To put on the best production we can. This effort is repeated many times a year, and not just at the Essex Community Players – it extends across all of Vermont and the rest of the country – and beyond.

In today’s whirlwind of economic woes, an increasingly balkanized culture and uncertainty about the future, the fact that community theater is still so popular, and still attracts so many hardworking individuals from every walk of life who want no more than the satisfaction of knowing they contributed to the creation of something positive, it is a most life-affirming experience indeed to be a part of it.

Yes, I think Thornton Wilder would be pleased – not only of the final product we will proudly present to our audience, but of the entire undertaking. After all, Our Town is about appreciating the value of individual moments in our lives, and there have been so many such moments forged already in the mounting of this production that we can surely say we have paid homage to the spirit of this great play in the best way possible: In our humble way, we are living out its creed.

– Adam Cunningham, Director

 Posted by at 8:54 PM
Mar 162014

IMG_9677My heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped to make “The Cemetery Club” a remarkable success, to the audiences, who accepted these characters into their hearts, laughed with them, cried with them and told their friends what a wonderful show it is.

To Dick Hibbert who agreed to direct the show sight unseen, then put together a wonderful cast and brought the characters to life, to the cast for their many, many hours perfecting the emotional roller coaster of their roles, to Carol our stage manager who kept everything together, and to the crew, to many to name, who brought us a set, lighting, sound, costumes, props, refreshments, tickets, raffles and more, I thank you all.


Art Kilmer – Producer

Feb 212014

The Cemetery Club – Final Week!

Essex Community Players is presenting Ivan Menchell’s “The Cemetery Club” March 6-9 at Essex Memorial Hall.  Performances run Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 with Sunday matinees at 2:00.  Tickets $14 – $16.  Get them now – tickets are rapidly selling out!

A gentle and touching comedy that reflects on human relationships, the passage of time, and how we deal with the inevitable changes that life – and death – present to us. Playwright Ivan Menchell brings us characters who are very human; and through their interactions with one another, we are invited to consider our own humanity and to laugh at ourselves even as we laugh at the story being played out before us.  We trust that you will come to love them as we have.

Order tickets!

Low Res Final Small Poster

Directed by Dick Hibbert

Robin Owens as Ida

Betsy Jaffe as Lucille

Ramona Godfrey as Doris

Josh Palace as Sam

Nancy Hale as Mildred

Additional Information photos and a clip from the show


Feb 182014

Here is the cast list for Our Town as it stands as of 02/16/2014. We’re still looking for three teenage boys (about 17) and three boys who look 11-12. If you know of anyone who fits the descriptions and wants to get involved, please let us know.

And now, without further ado . . .

Stage Manager J. Louis Reid
Mr. Webb Robert Ready
Mrs. Webb Lori Jean
Dr. Gibbs Frank Kehoe
Mrs. Gibbs Liz Heun
Emily Webb Claire Demarais
Wally Webb Samuel Armstrong
George Gibbs Gabriel Grant
Rebecca Gibbs Nathalie Stapleton
Howie Newsome John Murray
Sam Craig Drew Briggs
Mrs. Soames Louise Mueller
Joe Stoddard Ted Posner
Simon Stimson David Tilley
Professor Willard Ethan Alsruhe
Woman in the Balcony Louise Richmond
Man in the Auditorium John Maurger
Woman in the Box Mary Scripps
Constable Warren Bob Carmody
Joe Crowell, Jr. Isaak Olsen
Si Crowell TBD
Basbeball Players TBD
Farmer McCarty John Mauger
Townsperson Sharon Panitch
Dec 232013

Please join ECP this May (May 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 and 18) as we commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Town of Essex (one of many Vermont towns chartered on the same day in 1763) with one of America’s greatest plays, a play about life in a small New England village:  Our Town, by Thornton Wilder.

We selected Our Town this year not just because the timing was right or the place was fitting, but because, in this era of uncertainty and constant change, it’s important that we renew our appreciation for the things that give our lives meaning.  Those things haven’t changed in a hundred years or a thousand, and they probably won’t be any different a hundred years from now – or a thousand.

Our Town is an entertaining look into the extraordinary lives of ordinary people – as well as a timely and welcome reminder that each of our lives, no matter how it unfolds, is a wonder to be savored and shared.

You are invited to the celebration!

Auditions will be in early February.  The mythical town of Grover’s Corners is looking for new citizens, so check the ECP Web site for audition updates.  If you want to join a production crew, let us know – we can always use more hands on deck.  And, if you just want to see the finished product, mark one of our performance dates on your calendar now.

So come be part of what many consider to be America’s finest play.

Get character descriptions, roles, and Sides used at auditions.  See you at the auditions!

Adam Cunningham

Our Town director