Taking the Stage
TownSquare Players — McHenry County’s oldest troupe — brings memorable musicals and dramas to the Woodstock Opera House stage.
For 43 years, Town Square Players (TSP) has brought quality stage productions to McHenry County, not only affording local residents the opportunity to attend live theater, but also satisfying local thespians’ passion to participate in the performing arts.
TSP was founded in 1968 by Gloria and Bob Carr, Karen Wells and a handful of others. They had meager resources, but a strong determination to bring quality, yet reasonably priced entertainment to the opera house, while allowing local thespians to fulfill their desire for the stage. The ﬁrst show was Eskel Crawford’s and Bud Tomkin’s hilarious comedy “No, No, A Million Times No!” Since then, TSP has, with few exceptions, staged two or three musical and dramatic offerings annually.
Early productions included “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Mame,” “Harvey” and “The Pajama Game.”
TSP established the Phoenix Workshop in 2004 so fledgling directors and playwrights could experience a stage production. This workshop remains a formative training ground for the theater group and is a golden opportunity for original manuscript writers to see their work on stage.
True Community Theater
TSP is true “community” theater — McHenry County’s community theater. “We are always on the lookout for new talent in all areas of the production phase,” according to Paul Lockwood, TSP president. “This includes not only actors, actresses, singers and dancers, but also producers, artistic directors, technical coordinators, stage managers, set designers and painters, sound and light engineers, choreographers and property managers.
“If you have the desire to get involved in something fun and fulfilling, to meet new people, learn something new, hone a particular craft, or share your talents with us, TSP is your group,” he added. “There are many, many ways you can be a part and help out if you have a weekend, or even just a few evenings here and there.”
The current two-show season for TSP is comprised of “The Pirates of Penzance,” to be staged the first three weekends in November, and the original “The Odd Couple,” scheduled to hit the boards in March 2012 — both shows promise to be crowd-pleasers.
The historic Woodstock Opera House — the city’s crown jewel — is the ideal venue for TSP’s efforts. Patrons enter beneath a recently restored portico into a lobby rife with memorabilia of the building’s early days. A cabinet features programs and other memorabilia from early productions, and the walls are adorned with framed newspaper clippings and posters of shows dating back to the 19th century. A community room displays the artwork of local area artists and craftsmen. And the theater itself is the essence of Victorian charm — a small, intimate stage addressing comfortable main floor seating, and a horseshoe balcony reminiscent of the neighborhood opera houses of Europe.