A Tribute to Hackmatack Playhouse in Maine, Which is Closing After 50 Years of Live Theatre
The local theatre community is grieving today.
After 50 years of delighting audiences with live theatre during the summer months, the Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick, Maine, has announced that this summer will be their final season before closing their doors.
The barn theater recently posted this press release detailing the rich history of the venue and how much it's meant to people. But for this writer, the recent announcement hits close to home, having worked there a few summers ago as a marketing intern and actor in Mamma Mia!. She wants to use this platform tell you of her own personal experience at this place, and just how special it is.
The property itself, being a farm, is so peaceful and calming. After arriving and parking, you can gaze across the field at bison grazing in the distance. At sunset, the sky fills with the loveliest colors as patrons approach the barn's doors in hopes of being transported to another world for a couple of hours. Once nighttime arrives, you can look up and admire a panoramic view of countless stars and constellations that will leave you awestruck.
Performing in a barn theater was an experience like none other. We often rehearsed in a smaller barn adjacent to the main space, which dates back to the 1600s. It definitely got a bit toasty in there, but that didn't dampen people's spirits as we reviewed the songs and scenes that would eventually be performed on stage.
If you were there during the day, you might also see kids at summer camp getting ready to rehearse a play of their own, or Kikio, the Guptill's dog, either wandering around or at executive producer Michael Guptill's heels.
Here's a look inside the main 200+ seat barn space...
...and off to the side were the dressing rooms, which were unusual in the best way. In addition to the usual furniture expected in such a space, collections of props from past shows — kitchen supplies, rotary phones, typewriters — sat on shelves. A large stuffed cow hung from the ceiling; massive signs advertising the Apollo, Coney Island, vintage advertisements, and the Cat in the Hat were on the walls. It was a quirky space, but that's what made it great.
Since the space is firstly a barn, sometimes the occasional critter gets in, too. Have you ever been on stage trying to keep it together as a bat is flying above everyone? This writer has, and would be lying if she said both the performers and audience didn't get a kick out of it.
And of course, the concessions stand was always open at intermission for guests to enjoy a delicious slice of pie or cheesecake.
The charm and character of the Playhouse, in addition to the kindness of its staff and volunteers, make it a place that truly holds a special place in our hearts. Whether you're an employee or patron, one thing's for sure: the memories of this place will stay with you for years to come.
Want to see a show at Hackmatack Playhouse before its final curtain call? Click here for ticket info for Smoke on the Mountain, running July 29-August 20.
Thank you, Hackmatack, for everything.