After spending a day playing in the water at your lakefront property, or antiquing in the Lakes Regions of Maine, a relaxed evening enjoying a live, professional show at a quaint theatre will provide the perfect ending.
One of those quintessential theatres is Hackmatack Playhouse. Hackmatack Playhouse is a unique, rustic barn theatre located on the Guptill family homestead at 538 School Street in Berwick. S. Carleton Guptill founded Hackmatack in 1972 in the former cow barn because he envisioned a summer stock theatre that would showcase the talents of professionals and local actors.
The barn is filled with years and years of family history. The family has farmed the land since the 1600s when the first Guptills came to New England. After a barn burned during a lighting storm in 1934, Lewis Guptill searched for a replacement. He found one that was just right, located across the street. Rather than take it down and rebuild, he decided to move the barn in one piece to its present location. Using an old white horse hitched to a turnstile, the move took three days. "Each time the horse made a circle, the barn moved one half inch. Progress was slow," according to the Hackmatack Web site.
The Woodshed, an out building on the property, was built in the 1600s. Today it is used for rehearsal space and prop storage. A former lumber mill on the property is home to the theatre's shop operations and its costume collection.
Jason Claffery recently reported in The Foster Daily Democrat that Everything Paranormal of New England has determined the Guptill property is haunted by a singing woman and a very angry Native American. According to the article, Michael Guptill, current owner of Hackmatack Playhouse, "wasn't surprised by the findings. He said the playhouse property, which has been in his family since the early 1600s, was the site of the ‘Salmon Falls Massacre.' A group of Native Americans burned down a home, killing several of his ancestors."
Sit inside the 218-seat theatre and you might notice a faint dusty smell of days gone by. Antique farming tools and exposed beams add to the charm and acoustics.
The 38th season opens June 24 with Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella," which will run through July 10. Next is Ken Ludwig's "Leading Ladies" from July 14-24. "Carousel" runs from July 28 to August 14. Late in the summer will be "Hello, Dolly!" from August 18-28. The season closer is "Cox and Box" and "Bon Apetite," light opera for Labor Day weekend.
Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. with Thursday matinees at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are affordable and include student, senior and group discounts.
The Guptills encourage theatre-goers to bring a picnic lunch or supper to enjoy before the show. Homemade desserts, such as strawberry shortcake and blueberry pie, are available during intermission. Attend a show in this old-fashioned summer theatre and you'll feel like you are part of the family.
As you enjoy this piece of Americana, you might also consider looking at lakefront property in the area. The shows at Hackmatack Playhouse could easily become a traditional part of your summer experience in the Sanford Lakes Region.
It's summer stock season in Maine, a traditional time when professional directors, actors and designers leave the sultry city and head to remote areas to perform with local talent. The heyday of summer stock may have been in the 1940s though 1960s, but the charm of enjoying a show in a small, intimate theatre continues today.