Nov 042015

HamletMurder, betrayal, grief, political intrigue, revenge. Sounds like any number of series currently on TV. In fact these are the powerful elements of William Shakespeare’s tragic piece Hamlet, being staged by the Salem Theatre, Nov. 5-21 – the final performance in the black box theatre at 90 Lafayette Street before the company moves to a shiny new space in February.

Directed by Caroline Watson-Felt, Salem Theatre describes Hamlet as  “one of Shakespeare’s most beautiful, thoughtful, and sad tragedies. It is the story of a young man who discovers and loses himself all at the same time. We are our own worst enemies when we cannot reconcile loss, love, anger, and the dark corners of our own mind.”

Hamlet as a play is also interesting in that the obsession that will darken Hamlet’s life when we meet him actually takes place before the play even starts. His father the King of Denmark has passed away, his mother has rather quickly remarried to his father’s brother, and as you can well guess “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

This plot line is furthered along by the appearance of a ghost claiming to be the father, further claiming that his brother did indeed kill him. A ghost? Perfect for post-Halloween Salem MA audiences.

Speaking of audiences, this will be the last production mounted for audiences at the 90 Lafayette Street locale.  Salem Theatre will be setting up stage at a new space in Shetland Park in 2016.

Hamlet STBut for now performances will take place on Nov. 5-7, 12-14, and 19-21 at 7:30pm, with additional shows at 3pm on Nov 8 and 15.

Student Night performance of Hamlet will be Sunday, Nov. 15 at 3pm, with all student tickets reduced down to $5 with student ID.

LGBT Night will be Tuesday Nov. 20 at 7:30pm. Get $5 off the price of tickets for that performance by using the discount code LGBTHAMLET.

Tickets are otherwise $12-25 online and $15-30 at the door. Purchase online through

To be or not to be… obsessed with revenge — if you were in Hamlet’s shoes, would you make the same choices?

(Hamlet Artwork /Photo courtesy of Dan DeRosato)

Sep 182015

Switching personalities holds evil sway over the current production for Salem Theatre; an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Thing at the Doorstep” will be running now through Oct. 4th, thus ushering in the Halloween season for Salem.

Daniel Upton has shot his best friend, Edward Pickman Derby, six times through the head, yet claims that he is not a murderer. In this tale of dread adapted from the story by H.P. Lovecraft, the eldritch tendrils of cosmic horror creep closer to our civilized world than ever imagined. Is Edward Derby’s wife more than she appears? What secrets is he keeping from his best friend?

Mystery. Suspense. Compelling relationships explored. Something not of this world.

The short story, written by Lovecraft in August 1933 and first published in January 1937 has been re-designed for the stage by Isaiah Plovnik who is also directing.

But few people realize at first the numerous connections to Salem that filter through all of Lovecraft’s work, and especially this one.

According to the siteThing on Doorstep Gothic Horror Stories, “Lovecraft first visited Salem in April, 1923 and came back often. It’s believed that he modeled the fictional town of Arkham on Salem, and was no doubt struck by the staid, colonial architecture, as well as the particularly colorful family names.”

Consider the names of characters in “The Thing at the Doorstep”… Upton, Pickman and Derby are old Salem names.

Also, Richard Upton Pickman is the title character of “Pickman’s Model.”

Plus, it is the Nathaniel Derby Pickman Foundation which underwrites the Antarctic expedition in “At the Mountains of Madness.”

Let’s also point out the Crowninshield House in “The Thing on the Doorstep” was modeled on the real Crowninshield-Bentley House in Salem, MA.

The production will crawl across the stage at 90 Lafayette Street.

September 17 – October 4
Thursdays*, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
*No Performance Thursday, September 24

For ticket info, call 978-790-8546 or

May 102015

While “war” is far from the light and entertaining topics/events we deal with in this blog, it is the common backdrop in two upcoming presentations in Salem, each using the written word as the form of expression.

As a play—

War and the written word are intertwined to create a musical tale of love, loss and the strength of family. Letters from War, written, directed and designed by Salem native Nate Bertone will be staged at Salem Theatre’s black box theatre, May 14-23.

Letters from War tells the story of Mae, a Mississippian grandmother in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, who must move into a nursing home when her adult daughter, Lily, can no longer care for her. Mae’s granddaughter, Madison, uncovers a mysterious box of letters while cleaning out the home. As Mae reads these letters, she recalls her lost love in fragmented, clouded memories. With the help of Lily, Madison, and a young stranger, Mae must fight the effects of age and Alzheimer’s to uncover the truth of her past before time runs out.

Bertone, a storyteller by nature, works as a professional Scenic Designer in the industry, and writes beginning in a visually oriented nature. Letters from War was written in response to the affects of Alzheimer’s Disease on his grandmother and his family, utilizing images, memories, and stories from the past and present.

For more info, including which performances will include a talkback with the playwright and actors, write to or call 978-790-8546. The black box theatre is located at 90 Lafayette Street, Salem.

As a book–

Hell Before BreakfastWar and the written word are used to highlight America’s earliest war correspondents. Historian and author Robert Patton (grandson of the legendary World War II General, George S. Patton) visits The House of the Seven Gables on May 20th to give a lecture on his new book, Hell Before Breakfast.

According to a profile by the New York State Writers Institute (State University of New York), Hell Before Breakfast: America’s First War Correspondents Making History and Headlines, from the Battlefields of the Civil War to the Far Reaches of the Ottoman Empire (the full title), is “an in-depth history of American war journalism between 1860 and 1910. Taking its title from a quote about reporters by General William Tecumseh Sherman, Hell Before Breakfast spans the globe, from the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War to conflicts in Europe and Asia, to celebrate America’s forgotten war correspondents and highlight the impact of their reportage on contemporary journalism and global politics as well as on literature and the arts.”

This is a part of the 7 Lectures at the 7 Gables series.

It begins at 6 pm. Admission is free of charge to Gables members and $15 for non-members.

To reserve seating, send an email to, or call 978-744-0991 ext. 104. The House of Seven Gables is located at 115 Derby Street, Salem.