I finally had the opportunity to see a show at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Meredith this week. If you enjoy theater, you need to check this place out! Not only is their brand new state-of-the-art theater a sight to behold, but theirs is a great story of young creative types moving to NH and really making their mark.
Ten years ago, two young couples came to the Lakes Region to pursue their dream – starting a professional theater company. Bryan and Johanna Halperin and Neil and Leslie Pankhurst were looking on a map of New England and saw the lakes and Gunstock Mountain Resort here and thought they would scout out the area as a potential location for their theater. There was no professional theater company here but they thought that the tourism and second home markets would add to local theater aficionados and provide a solid audience base.
Turns out they were right. Over the last ten years they have built the theater audience to the point where they were turning people away from every show in their 84 seat theater in Weirs Beach. Over the past several years they have worked tirelessly to raise millions of dollars and build a beautiful new 200 seat theater in Meredith on the former site of the Annalee Doll Company. They have big plans to turn the lovely 11 acre wooded campus into a major performing arts center in future phases of development.
The Winnipesaukee Playhouse offers five professional theater productions during the summer, as well as an outstanding children’s theater camp program. During the off-season, the Playhouse runs a community and youth theater program, offers play-writing workshops, and provides theater camps during school vacations. The Playhouse has won numerous New Hampshire Theatre Awards in performance and technical categories in both professional and community divisions. In 2011, the Playhouse was named best theatre in the state by Yankee Magazine.
We were fortunate to be at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse for opening night of the world premiere of The Unicycle of Life, which was written and directed by Bryan Halperin, one of the four founders. It was really exciting to be there the first time this play was performed for the public and to witness Bryan enjoying the audience’s response to his work. We had a lot of good laughs (and I will admit to crying at the end). Great writing, great cast, great evening out. The Unicycle of Life is their last professional production this season and runs through this Sunday. You can buy tickets here.