In the fall of 2003, several community members spent their Saturday mornings at the Appalachian Bean Café, discussing their dreams of starting a community theatre company in North Adams. We wanted to create a theatre company where people could come and work with us regardless of whether or not they had prior theatre experience. We also wanted to make theatre accessible to everyone in the community through low ticket prices and variety in the types of shows we produced. What came of those many discussions, was Mill City’s first production, “Cheap Laughs, Free Eats” in April of 2004. The evening of three short comedies and free snacks was certainly a group effort. Cast and production members were told to keep any receipts for purchases they made for the production in the hopes that they would be paid back, but no promises were made. What happened in those few weeks leading up to opening night was amazing. Community members gave donations of money, goods and food. Members of the press contacted us about writing articles and printing pictures in their papers- anything they could do to promote our production. Everyone’s efforts paid off. After a two week run of “Cheap Laughs, Free Eats”, we estimated 150 people saw the show. We now knew this dream could become a reality.
The next year saw many more productions, each one bringing in more members of the community. In June of 2004, we collaborated with the Drury Drama Team for a production of “Living with Lady MacBeth”, which was taken on the road and performed at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska. In October of 2004, Mill City produced “Two Evenings and an Afternoon with David Ives”, three one act plays by playwright David Ives. In December of 2004, Mill City performed readings of classical holiday stories in an event called “Fireside Yuletide”. “Fireside Yuletide” was also performed for students at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams as part of their holiday assembly.
In 2005, Mill City Productions took a huge step in the level of our productions by producing our first musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. Again, the community response was wonderful and all of our shows were well attended. We loved watching the children in the audience respond to our performances and decided our next production would be a show we could take on the road to local schools. In June of 2005, Mill City performed “Rumpelstiltskin Revisited” to students at Greylock Elementary School in North Adams, Clarksburg Elementary School in Clarksburg and families at Child Care of the Berkshires.
The musical bug had bitten us, and in November of 2005, Mill City produced “Honk!” a musical adaptation of the story of the Ugly Duckling. The cast featured over 30 local school children and had a response like we had never seen before. We were growing in leaps and bounds.
In keeping with our mission of bringing a variety of different types of theatre to the community, Mill City next produced three absurdist one act plays in the spring of 2006. “Hell, Hitmen and Hospitality” included the plays, “No Exit”, “The Dumb Waiter” and “The Bald Soprano”. Shortly after that, Mill City started to work on its first cabaret entitled, “Pure Imagination”, which was performed at the Masonic Temple in North Adams and was catered by Boston Sea Foods of North Adams.
In the fall of 2006 we produced “Sorry, Wrong Number” and “The Hitchhiker”, stage versions of the classic radio plays of the 1940s. These suspenseful one act thrillers featured a variety of local performers and spooked the many community members who came to see us. This show was performed at the Main Street Stage in North Adams.
In 2007, Mill City produced its first full length drama, Baby With the Bathwater, by Christoper Durang. Again performed the Main Street Stage, we were excited to take this "plunge" into producing a full length drama. Baby With the Bathwater opened in March of 2007.
Following the success of Baby With the Bathwater, Mill City decided to take on its most ambitious project to date...Pippin, a musical by Stephen Schwartz. With elaborate sets, costumes, and complex staging, Mill City rose to the challenge and Pippin opened in June of 2007 to overwhelming community support.
Because of all we have learned through our our past productions and the experiences we have gained, we are now able to work on a "season-by-season" basis instead of "play-by-play" and we are thrilled to be announcing our 2007-2008 season very soon. Check back often for this exciting announcement!
As Mill City continues to grow, we hope to be able to provide positive theatrical experiences to our audiences and members alike.
September 16, 2007