Guilford Center Stage opens its third season at Broad Brook Grange, not with a play, but with a square dance, on Saturday, April 8, at 7 pm. The event is a benefit for the Grange’s resident theater company, and features Bob Livingston, caller, with the Falltown String Band. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under, and maximum for a family is $25. The dance and all performances are up a flight of stairs.
Square dances were a tradition at grange halls throughout the region, and were important social occasions throughout much of the past century at Broad Brook Grange, with its stage for the band and large dance floor.
In addition to continuing a long Grange tradition, and serving as a fundraiser, the dance is presented by Guilford Center Stage to showcase the Falltown String Band, from nearby Bernardston, Mass. Two of the band’s members are Marvin and Sue Shedd, who have acted in — or stage managed — all three Center Stage productions to date. A usual line-up includes mandolin, guitar, stand-up bass, flute, fiddle and keyboard.
The band was formed in 1987 and has played throughout the tri-state area, and in Connecticut. In addition to square dances, they perform in schools, historical societies, nursing homes, and at funerals, weddings, fairs and festivals. They currently play a monthly gig at The Rendezvous in Turners Falls, Cameron’s Winery in Northfield, and frequently at the United Church in Bernardston.
Their repertoire includes John Fogerty, old pop standards such as My Blue Heaven, bluegrass and country tunes, and pieces by Irish harpist Turlogh O’Carolan.
Caller Bob Livingston, from Middletown, Conn. was honored in 2010 with a Local Legend Award by the Square Dance Foundation of New England. He has been promoting square dancing, both traditional and modern western, for 48 consecutive years. He has called dances in Toronto, and throughout four New England states. He was caller when the Falltown String Band was formed in 1987, and frequently appears with the band. He has called the distinctively New England genre, Eastern Squares, French Canadian Quadrilles, the Virginia Reel, and dances called to American fiddle tunes. He has taught beginners, including middle school students. Livingston is particularly known for using singing calls.
The 2017 Guilford Center Stage season, which continues upstairs at Broad Brook Grange, features the premiere of a full-length play, Our Enemy’s Cup, by Guilford playwright Michael Nethercott, on May 5-7. The fall production is the first performance of the one act plays by Jean Stewart McLean. Also this season there will be a summer theater camp for 5-8th graders.
For information about the season, visit online brownpapertickets.com and search for Guilford Center Stage. Broad Brook Grange is at 3940 Guilford Center Road, 4 miles west of the Country Store.