A Civil War story of love and tragedy

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan in the production of "Amelia" at the Hatbox Theatre. —Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan in the production of "Amelia" at the Hatbox Theatre. —Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan in the production of “Amelia” at the Hatbox Theatre. Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan in the production of "Amelia" at the Hatbox Theatre. —Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan (and others) in the production of “Amelia” at the Hatbox Theatre. Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan in the production of "Amelia" at the Hatbox Theatre. —Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan in the production of "Amelia" at the Hatbox Theatre. —Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan in the production of "Amelia" at the Hatbox Theatre. —Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan in the production of "Amelia" at the Hatbox Theatre. —Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

  • Sheree Owens plays Amelia and Wayne Asbury is Ethan (and many other characters) in the production of “Amelia,” directed by Bryan Halperin at Concord’s Hatbox Theatre. Courtesy of Hatbox Theatre

Monitor staff
Published: 4/17/2019 4:58:01 PM

Since he first read the script for Amelia, Bryan Halperin has been waiting for the right time to direct it.

It’s a tragic love story set in the Civil War about a woman named Amelia who is in search of the love of her life, Ethan, who has gone off to battle on the brink of a war.

Before she met Ethan, Amelia was resolved to the fact that she may never find love. She was older than most of the woman who were already married in her Pennsylvania dairy farm town, but then Ethan comes to town.

“He sees her for who she is and loves her,” Halperin said.

They instantly connect and everything is going great – that is until the war breaks out.

For a while, Ethan writes to Amelia, but when the letters stop, she must know what happened to him and whether he’s still alive. What ensues is a long journey toward Gettysburg where Amelia comes across all kinds of people – both good and bad.

“The play is filled with highs and lows,” Halperin said.

What makes this production unique is that it includes just two cast members. Sheree Owens plays Amelia, while Wayne Asbury is Ethan – and everyone else in the play that Amelia encounters on her trip across the battlefields of America. In all, Asbury portrays upwards of 20 characters.

“It’s amazing how he seamlessly transitions from one person to the next,” Halperin said.

And he does it all without changing costume.

“Every character is unique. They move different, they talk different,” Halperin said. “And we had to figure out how to do it and have it make sense.”

Halperin said dialogue, along with lighting, sound and projections are used to establish the changes, and is all thanks to the writing of the playwright, Alex Webb.

As Amelia sets off on her quest to find Ethan, one overarching question follows her: Will she find him?

Rumors bring her south and her interactions will both warm the heart and tear it apart. But she must find out what happened to her husband, no matter the danger it presents and the outcome she will have to live with.

Halperin said it’s a story that quickly pulls you in. When he first heard of the play in 2011, he was intrigued. Webb had written it for him and his wife to perform, and Halperin had to read it for himself. So he emailed Webb for a copy and sat down to read a few pages. But after Amelia’s opening monologue, he read the whole thing in one sitting.

“There was just something about the characters that sucked me in,” he said.

He had worked with Owens before and thought she would make a great Amelia. Once she said yes, the question then turned to who would play Ethan. Owens suggested Asbury and the three got together in Halperin’s living room for a reading. None of them needed any more convincing after that.

But it all came down to timing and the right venue for the production. Hatbox Theatre seemed like a logical choice because it’s the kind of play where you want the audience to be up close and personal with the duo on stage.

Thursday’s opener will be the New Hampshire premiere of Amelia, the first of four productions at Hatbox. Shows will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2.

It is the first production for Good JoB Productions, started by Halperin and his wife, Johanna.

Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for students/seniors/members and $12 for senior members.

For more information, visit hatboxnh.com.




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