Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Belle of Amherst - StageWest

This program for “The Belle of Amherst”, produced at StageWest January through February of 1983, contains a recipe for Emily Dickinson’s black cake. A nice touch, for the poet soars to moments of ecstasy when she describes for us her black cake and her gingerbread, with as much intensity as she does her delicate poems.

StageWest was still producing shows from a theater on the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield at the time this play was presented. Later that year, StageWest would move across the river to Springfield.

Tana Hicken played Emily Dickinson in this one woman show, and in a talk with the audience after one performance, she mused how a difficult aspect of giving one-person shows is that there is no one else on stage to feed you a line when you forget. Theater is so inter-active between players, it’s tough on stage to be as solitary as Emily Dickinson was.

Directed by Donald Hicken, the William Luce play was of course made famous by Julie Harris. Donald Hicken continues to direct, and Tana continues to act, in the Baltimore area. StageWest is now defunct.

Quite a few of the businesses advertising in the program, like StageWest, are also no longer around. Can so much have changed in 26 years?

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