theatre KAPOW, Bank of NH Stage’s new resident company, starts 15th season with Mr. Wolf

  • Carey Cahoon, Amanda Lattanzi, Nicholas Meunier and Courtney St. Gelais in theatre KAPOW’s Mr. Wolf by Rajiv Joseph. Matthew P. Lomanno / Courtesy

For the Monitor
Published: 9/13/2022 5:07:13 PM

Fifteen years ago, Carey and Matt Cahoon sat with fellow Saint Anselm alumni Brian and Rachel Kennedy in their living room, trying to devise a name for their new theater company, which was producing Miss Julie by August Strindberg.

At the time, they worked at the Palace Theatre, which as a venue mostly produced Broadway-style musicals. What they wanted to do was intimate, contemporary theater. Theater that was a little more in-your-face. “It’s like, KAPOW!” Brian Kennedy said, and the rest agreed; that was exactly the feeling they wanted to create. The name stuck.

The Kennedys have since moved to the Midwest, but the Cahoons continued building the company, and this fall, theatre KAPOW enters its 15th season as the newly-named resident theater company of Concord’s Bank of New Hampshire Stage.

It’s a big move. Previously, most of theatre KAPOW’s productions were at the Derry Opera House or Stockbridge Theatre. While its home base remains in Manchester, where its rehearsal studio resides, the performance space in Concord fits well with the couple’s recent move to New Hampton for Matt Cahoon’s new position as director of theater at the New Hampton School.

“To do our shows at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage – this really high-tech, beautiful new space – is such a great opportunity. We’re thrilled to be there,” Matt Cahoon said. “To have the support of their marketing arm and the staff is also really important to us.”

Capital Center for the Arts Executive Director Sal Prizio prompted the idea of theatre KAPOW having a more permanent home in Concord after seeing its rendition of Clare Barron’s Dance Nation on the Bank of New Hampshire stage last winter.

“I’m relatively new to the position of executive director, and when I got here, one of my charges was to expand as many partnerships and relationships within the community as possible,” Prizio said. “I think the work theatre KAPOW does is very important. It raises questions for the community to think about. I went to one of their shows and I thought, this is great work being done by local professional actors, and we need to be more involved in this.”

Theatre KAPOW is using its 15th anniversary as a time to reflect, with the theme “Recent, Remote, Remember” touching on all its productions for the 2022-2023 season – including its first, Mr. Wolf by Rajiv Joseph, which is directed by Matt Cahoon and features actors Carey Cahoon, Peter Josephson, Amanda Lattanzi, Nicholas Meunier and Courtney St. Gelais. It takes the Bank of New Hampshire Stage Friday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 25, and the Charlestown Working Theater in Massachusetts Friday, Sept. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 1.

“We hope the audience members who have been really loyal to us in Derry will take the opportunity to come up and see us in Concord,” Matt Cahoon said. “Between the two venues, we’re trying to give people options of where they can see theatre KAPOW.”

One of the hallmarks of theatre KAPOW is it produces work that asks questions, and Mr. Wolf is no exception, following a 15-year-old girl, Theresa, who is miraculously returned to her parents after being abducted as a toddler. The production rapidly bounces from place to place, so instead of big set changes, transitions of time and space will be conveyed through props, costumes, and the stage’s video wall.

The last couple of years, theatre KAPOW did a great deal of live-streamed theater, so performing in Concord also provides a great opportunity to use the lessons from the pandemic in live productions.

“That’s one of the things that really excited us about the Bank of New Hampshire Stage. There’s this huge 15-by-32-foot video wall that lets us play with projection in a big way,” Matt Cahoon said. “There’s a learning curve in terms of the upscale, but it’s something we’ve been playing with very extensively in the last couple of years.”

Also new this year is an intimacy director, Kyrie Ellison-Keller, who works with actors to establish and maintain boundaries in rehearsals and performance spaces. Matt Cahoon says intimacy direction is a big field outside New Hampshire but he doesn’t think it’s caught on in the Granite State just yet.

“There isn’t a lot of what most people think of as ‘intimacy’ in Mr. Wolf, but there are tremendous moments of emotional intimacy that Kyrie really helped us navigate. That’s been a huge focus for us this year,” Matt Cahoon said.

Lattanzi, who plays Theresa, says she loves the challenges presented by Mr. Wolf, but that sometimes its sensitive topics can be draining. Having Ellison-Keller go over safety practices and boundaries both made her feel comfortable and acted as a way to break the ice between her and her cast mates.

“It’s common in theater for shows to have sensitive topics, and art is a great way to address those topics,” Lattanzi said. “It’s hard for me personally to go home and not think about the show and its characters. I think that’s the nature of being an actor, but this is definitely helpful in regards to dealing with the heavy emotions that come with this character.”

Theatre KAPOW’s Mr. Wolf by Rajiv Joseph takes the Bank of New Hampshire Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord, on Friday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 25, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $28 for adults, $23 for students. For more information, visit  tkapow.com or ccanh.com.




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