The performances add up fast when the show gets done three times a day, three days a week. We’re already up to 24 performances with Cato & Dolly and we’re going strong. Each of our three Dollies (played by Margaret Clark, Marge Dunn, and Becca Lewis) got to have a day of performances over the opening weekend. Now they’ll switch off every week or so, depending on schedules. Stephen Sampson will play Cato until Felton Sparks gets back from LA in August.
I’ve loved getting to watch the show multiple times, with very different audiences. We had a group from History Camp Boston come for one performance, and they got all the inside history jokes and allusions. Today we had a descendant of John and Dolly Hancock come see the show, and he is very knowledgeable about his family history, and we actually made a few changes based on his feedback.
This is a show that seems to have strong appeal to a broad cross-section of audiences. We’ve noticed that kids definitely get the piece, and sometimes they huddle a little closer to mom or dad during the sad scenes or we’re talking about Cato being enslaved as a child. And they laugh at fun parts, too, of course. (We’ve made a few grown men and women cry, too.) The piece is only 24 minutes long, but it covers a lot of ground emotionally and historically.
Right now, most of the audiences are tourists, so people have to make their next stop along the freedom trail–so we don’t tend to have large group discussions after the show, but instead catch up one-on-one with people who have been moved by the play or who have questions.
It’s been an extremely rewarding experience so far, and the show will continue to grow and deepen over the course of the run.
(Come check it out–11am, 12:30pm, 2pm, every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, through September 29, at the Old State House.)
Photos by Nile Scott Studios