Andy’s Playhouse in Wilton hosts fund drive

WILTON – Andy’s Summer Playhouse has set a fundraising goal of $30,000 to expand its programs in the 2014 season and to make some renovations to the playhouse in Wilton Center.

The new season will be announced at a gala evening on Dec. 28 at the Monadnock Country Club in Peterborough. The evening will include a full dinner, a silent auction and dancing to the Temple Dance Band. Adult tickets are $35 available from andyswintergala2013.eventbrite.com.

The immediate goal is to raise $9,000. Donations will go toward a $3,000 match from the Cogwell Benevolent Trust, which the playhouse has received, to make improvements to the seating in the theater. Ideally, the new furniture would be moveable seats to make more creative use of the space and to add seats if required.

Andy’s also hopes to return to four shows a season and to revive its touring program, which had been discontinued in the poor economy. The $30,000 would allow the touring show to be free.

Andy’s has spent the past four years rebuilding its program and is now ready to return to a full schedule. According to a press release, the plan is to reach more students in more towns. The touring program allows the theater to reach more children since its cast is separate from the main theater productions.

Andy’s Playhouse began in Mason in 1971 by two teachers at Mascenic High School, Margaret Sawyer and William Williams. Their first production, staged at Town Hall, was “The Wizard of Oz,” followed by “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” With the support of resident author-illustrator Elizabeth Orton Jones, they named their new company “Andy’s Summer Playhouse” in honor of Mason author and illustrator, C.W. Anderson, who had recently died.

The theater outgrew the town hall in 1985 and moved to a historic building in Wilton Center. The 1860s building had housed, at various times, the Town Hall, Advance Grange, the Lions Club, and for a short while, Pine Hill Waldorf School. Following renovations, which continue, the building became a 125-seat theater.

Artistic directors

Dan Hurlin served as artistic director from 1979-94, and Bob Lawson from 1995-2007. D.J. Potter took over in 2010. Andy’s Playhouse has a professional staff and involves about 125 children, ages 8 to 18, each summer. Students come from all surrounding towns. Casts for each play are chosen by audition.

In 2010, the theater underwent major renovations, including removing paint from the hardwood floors in the entry and office, redoing the kitchen and improving the lighting and sound systems.

Current plans include expanding the apprenticeship program for those students who like to build sets, help with costumes and props, to provide backstage, as well as onstage opportunities. As for the building, fundraising coordinator Alexandra Urbanowski said, “It’s old and past due for an update.”

To donate

Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 601, Wilton, NH 03086.