Tell us about Marblehead Little Theatre and how it got started. In the Fall of 1954, Mrs. Henry (Terry) Hale became the chair of the Marblehead Woman’s Club drama committee. Eight women of the drama committee performed the one act play ‘The Charm Racquet’ for the Woman’s Club on the occasion of their annual meeting in May of 1955 at the Old North Church Parish Hall. It soon became evident that a much larger group was needed and so, husbands, sons, daughters, and friends were invited to an organizational meeting in September 1955. Terry Hale continued to lead the new group as its first president through its formative first three years. The newly formed Little Theatre group presented its first production, the three-act play, Moss Hart’s ‘Light Up the Sky’ at the Woman’s Club Guest Night. The show opened on January 18, 1956, at the Marblehead Junior High School Auditorium. And so Marblehead Little Theater (MLT) was born and now over six decades later has proven to be one of the oldest community theatre groups in New England, as well as one of the few to have continually produced shows each year.
Who are the people involved with MLT behind the scenes? Andrew Barnett is MLT’s Technical Director and the doer of all things related to keeping the building running and in good shape. Andy has been involved with MLT for over 20 years as a producer, designer, builder and board member. He designed and built his first set at the Marblehead Middle (Village) School in 1992 for “Fiddler on the Roof”. Andy has built scenery for Marblehead Middle and High School, Salem High School, Rebel Shakespeare Company, Stage 284, Endicott College, Gordon College, Opera Boston, Gloucester Stage, Roxbury Center for the Arts, MassJam, Perkins School for the Blind, Boston Center for the Arts, Mssng Lnks, The Summer Revels, Riversing and The Christmas Revels. His work is a tribute to the many dedicated artists who believe in making live theater great.
At present, we have a 14 member Board of Directors. This includes President Julie Menard, Vice President Trudi Olivetti, Danuta Shasha – Treasurer, Alma Mahon – Secretary & Education Director, Bruce Whear – Volunteer Coordinator, Stanis Ames – Marketing Coordinator, Steve Black – Season Planning, Ted Merritt – Box Office Coordinator, Betty Lautner – Membership Coordinator, Dayle Persons, Anne Lucas, David Foye, Christina Easthope, and Erin Pelikhov. Our Executive Producer Emily Black has helped steer productions for the past several years. In addition to the Board and staff, we have a community of friends of MLT who fill vital roles in the realms of Production, Lighting, Sound Design, Music Direction, Choreography, Set Design/Construction/Painting, Stage Management, House Management, and beyond.
What are some of the programs you provide for children, teens & young adults?MLT offers a variety of youth theater programming throughout the year. We run school vacation workshops in February and April, and run four (4) sessions of Musical Theater workshops in the summer. We also run Improv workshops for children and teens, as well as Shakespearen Acting workshops. Finally, each Fall and Spring we run full Children’s Musical Theater productions, which include a full rehearsal schedule and a weekend of performances. Info can be found at https://www.mltlive.com/childrens-theatre/.
What show is coming up on the schedule with Marblehead Little Theatre? The Great Gatsby, An American Musical is coming up at MLT this month and runs from June 23 through July 2! Based on the beloved American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this new musical by Fred Anthony Marco and Frank Schiro is sure to delight audiences as they’re transported to “the Eggs” of Long Island during the Jazz age. Purchase tickets at https://www.mltlive.com/2023/03/the-great-gatsby-an-american-musical/
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Marblehead Little Theatre
12 School Street, Marblehead
Photo: Marblehead Current Board President Virginia Buckingham speaks to the team at a recent retreat. She held a brick as she talked about building on foundations in the community. COURTESY PHOTO
Tell us about the Marblehead Current and how it got started. The idea for launching the Current was borne out of the financial decision by Gannett Co., the media giant which owns the Marblehead Reporter, to strip our beloved local paper of almost all its local content and staff, turning it into a shell of itself. Former Marblehead Reporter journalists and editors got together and decided they wanted to fill that void. Other community leaders got involved and the Current was launched online in June of 2022, right before the town elections. We’re coming up on our first anniversary!
Who are the people involved with The Marblehead Current? We have folks with deep experience in journalism and in covering Marblehead specifically. Kris Olson was the editor of the Marblehead Reporter for 14 years and serves as the Contributing Editor. Will Dowd, our Community Editor, started his journalism career at the Reporter and was the Editor of the Cambridge Chronicle. He’s a fixture at important Marblehead events. Leigh Blander, the Associate Editor and Senior Reporter, has significant experience in TV, radio, and print. Joe McConnell, on the sports beat, has been covering local sports for 25 years and has won many awards. We have numerous contributors and volunteers, too, many well-known to Marbleheaders. Our other founders and co-chairs are Ed Bell who retired as New England bureau chief of the Associated Press after a 50-year career in print and broadcast journalism and Jessica Barnett, who is on the faculty in the Communications Department at Salem State University. My background is primarily in state government, where I had a keen appreciation of the importance of the media in shining a spotlight on issues while working by the sides of two governors. I also was Deputy Editorial Page Editor of the Boston Herald and I couldn’t be happier to be back in the mix of a newspaper’s mission. There are so many more folks involved, I can’t name them all. The energy and enthusiasm has been off the charts. What brings us together is that we believe local news is such a critical part of what makes a community.
Why was a non-profit business model chosen for the paper? In the past several years more than 2500 newspapers have closed in the United States. Their closure was driven by a for-profit model that is no longer sustainable. We want the Current to be around for the long haul. We believe the local control, with no profit incentive, will allow us to focus on delivering great journalism or as Ed Bell likes to say, to be “the best damn news source we can.”
What sets you apart from other newspapers in Marblehead? We are the only print newsroom located in Marblehead. We think the quality of the journalism speaks for itself. We were so proud to bring the Town Meeting Guide to voters and to partner with the League of Women Voters and MHTV to make sure people were fully informed. Now we are presenting a Guide to the Election (www.marbleheadcurrent.org/election2023) with the same partners. In addition, we don’t have a parent news company driving our decisions. All our decisions are made with the principle that we are performing a public service, not trying to turn a profit. And because we’re non-profit, all our financial resources are invested right back into the newsroom and our mission of delivering trusted news.
As the Marblehead Current’s President, what would you like to achieve with the paper over the next year? The whole team – the newsroom journalists and editors, the board and all our volunteers just met for our first retreat to talk about just that! We have so many exciting plans to expand our news and event coverage, and share it everywhere our readers are – in print, online and on social media. We just launched an out-of-town subscription service so we can broaden our reach and make sure Marbleheaders, or simply those who love our town, wherever they are, can stay close to what’s happening in the community. We’re so happy to be the presenting media sponsor of the Festival of Arts and in the coming year we want to broaden our role as a convener of events focused on news-related programming and issues of town interest. To do all that though, we have to significantly increase our donor base. Our funding comes from individuals through donations, as well as from advertising. Nonprofit newsrooms like ours are picking up steam all over the nation, allowing communities access to free, independent news from experienced journalists. But the model doesn’t work without your support.
Since it’s our first birthday, we are launching a fundraising campaign this month to celebrate the anniversary of our first story. We’re so grateful to our generous advertisers and donors who made our first, landmark year possible.
Now is the time to fund Year Twowith a tax-deductible donation to the Current. For a limited time our Board of Directors will match any first-time donation of $20 or more with an additional $10, up to $2000 total. Visit marbleheadcurrent.org/donate to pledge your support.
We like to say two newspapers (The Messenger and The Reporter) covered Marblehead for the last 150 years and now we want to provide the best local journalism has to offer for the next 150! We can only do that with your help
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President, Virginia Buckingham
Tell us about Marblehead Gardens. I purchased the Marblehead Garden Center in November 2021 from my father, Mark O’Connor, after he decided to retire. He had owned the Marblehead Garden Center since 1986. I decided to update the name to Marblehead Gardens to reflect that we are under new ownership. At Marblehead Gardens we provide a wide range of plant material. Annuals, perennials, trees/shrubs, house plants, tropicals, and vegetables and herbs. We also have our florist Franny McKeever who makes up beautiful arrangements and Mary Landry who oversees our gift shop.
What are some of the changes you have made since purchasing the business? General Manager Zach Phelan-Waters and I have made some new changes to the business. One of the main areas that we’re focusing on is organization. We really want people to come in and find what they’re looking for easily and have an enjoyable shopping experience. Another focus is expanding our selection of Native Plants, so we’ve added a dedicated area just for those types of plants. Native Plants are important for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The native nuts, seeds, and fruits produced by these plants offer essential foods for all forms of wildlife. We have also put a renewed focus on our plant request system. If we don’t have a specific plant in stock that you’re looking for, we will do our best to try to find and order it. We’ve streamlined our system to have a Special Request Book where we take down information and then respond back to the customer if we’re able to order the plant and when it should arrive by.
What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why? My favorite spot in Marblehead is the Hawthorn Pond Conservation area. I grew up down the street on Hawthorn Road and always used to walk my Golden Retriever, Ben, down there. It’s very peaceful and has some great trails to walk along.
What is something people may be surprised to learn about you? Something that people would be surprised to learn about me is that I am part of a candlepin bowling league in Peabody.
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Owner: Ryan O’Connor
164 West Shore Drive, Marblehead
Tell us about Goodness Gracious and why you started it. Goodness Gracious is as much a company as it is a spirit. Its mission is to provide human grade, nutritionally superior, whole food diets for pets in a way that improves our connection to the planet and each other. To do that, it uses mindfully sourced ingredients; green-energy on a path to net zero; less plastic, zero Styrofoam and more compostable materials; a vibrant culture of inclusion that celebrates diversity; and a charitable give-back to community animal causes amounting to half its profits.
Goodness Gracious was a right turn for me. In 2007, I was running a small software company. I adopted my first dog, Grace, and then my second, Lula. Like most new Moms I became committed to the health of my girls. I discovered the ugly truth of what passes for pet food and the unconscionable corporate choices to put profit over safety. A powerful example of this truth occurred that year when melamine was found in pet foods – sickening and killing thousands. This was followed by problems with jerky treats that put dogs into kidney failure; and later by workers at a large pet food plant becoming sick from toxic exposure to mold and fumigants. Overwhelmed with distrust of commercial pet food, I started preparing my dogs’ food at home. Along the way, I learned that 3 – 5 million homeless dogs were euthanized annually in the U.S. because people fail them. When I turned 40 in 2009, I started asking myself, “who are you helping?” I was building shareholder value and providing leadership at the software company, but those answers were not enough. I envisioned a planet with thriving companion animals, homes for the homeless ones, and respect for all beings, so I built a company committed to that purpose. Goodness Gracious became my passion and purpose, a warm blanket for my spirit and thousands of animals, and the right turn that was 100% right.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? I’ve had a few amazing mentors who have taught me about the power of connection, courage, and commitment. I cannot single out any one piece of advice as the all-time best. Instead, I’ll say that recognizing that one’s teachers are everywhere, and that everything is a lesson, is incredibly powerful. For example, loss teaches us to live presently. Fear shows us our courage and inner strength. From the uncontrollable we learn to be disciplined. Setbacks and disappointment teach us endurance and fulfillment.
What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why? I love many spots in Marblehead. My favorites are those I can enjoy with my family. My kids are canine. I have outlived three of them. Odds are, I will outlive three more. Grief teaches us about time. There is no greater gift than time with those you love. So, we seek out quiet, peaceful places. For us, these are the trails in Marblehead’s conservation lands. It’s here that the world melts away. We stop to sniff the flowers, explore the critter holes, listen to birds and streams, and be filled with the presence of each other.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? I love to coach. I enjoy helping people make good dietary choices for their pets that have a positive impact on their pets’ healthspan and lifespan. Studies show that dogs are living shorter lives. Nearly 60% of them are fat and chronic disease is on the rise. Dogs are five times more likely than humans to get cancer according to leading integrative veterinary oncologists. Problems in the pet food industry are largely to blame. Connecting with people on these truths and how to make better choices is powerful for them and enriching for me.
What’s next for Goodness Gracious? I’m thrilled to be one of eight women hosting an event at the Jacobi Community Center on June 10 that shines a light on these issues and shares practical advice for building a better pet food bowl. We’re also covering canine first aid and CPR, and good training practices for mental enrichment. Net proceeds from the event benefit local animal rescue groups. For me, this event brings many of my passions together for one amazing purpose: more time with the companion animals at the center of our hearts. You can read more and register for this event at http://goodnessgracioustreats.com/pages/events
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