DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

August 29, 2013

Theater proponents eye Londonderry for program

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — Those who love the theater are hoping to bring a professional program to town.

Theater professionals Joel Mercier and Walter Pinault came before town councilors last week to pitch an idea of making Londonderry a home base for upscale productions and events.

Mercier, a 2002 Pinkerton Academy graduate, has worked in professional theater for many years and told councilors Londonderry would be a great location.

Both men have worked in the business on a high level, in New York City and beyond, and said the state was due for some great shows closer to home.

“We think New Hampshire is missing something,” Mercier said.

Putting a professional program in place in Londonderry could guarantee shows that are more professional, union-based.

“It would have a New York stamp of approval of professionalism,” Mercier said.

Mercier is no stranger to this area. In addition to graduating from Pinkerton, he went on to produce shows, musicals, and write productions that have been performed here at home and in other professional venues.

Right now, he is working on developing the New Hampshire Theatre Factory, a multi-stage program that would bring year-round professional companies to the state.

Mercier said the Granite State only has two commercial year-round companies, but other New England states boast more programs offering union-based, professional events.

He said it’s time New Hampshire follows suit.

The program would offer not only professionally produced shows, but also educational pieces to teach students the ins and outs of theater production, along with helping those newcomers create their owns shows to develop.

“We’ve been building this for about two years,” Mercier said. “We want to open it, create it, and start it and found Londonderry as a potential home.”

Where potential shows would be held is another step that will have to be looked at, Mercier said.

He told officials he hoped they would support a theater-based organization in town.

“Is this something that you would help us find a home for?” Mercier asked.

A potential venue would need to be able to support 250 to 300 audience members, plus include utilities and enough space to hold shows, workshops and rehearsals.

Councilors told Mercier he should contact school officials to see what district space might suit his needs, if the theater plan moves forward.

For information on Mercier’s NH Theatre Factory, visit nhtheatrefactory.org.