Hackmatack Playhouse in Maine Closes Its Doors After 50 Years of Live Theatre
The local theatre community is grieving this week.
After 50 years of delighting audiences with live summer stock theatre, the Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick, Maine, has closed its doors after their final production, Smoke on the Mountain, concluded this weekend.
Those working at the barn theater posted this press release detailing the rich history of the venue and how much it's meant to people. But for this writer, the recent announcement hits close to home, having worked there a few summers ago as an intern and actor in Mamma Mia!.
The property itself, being a farm, was so peaceful and calming. Upon arriving, you could gaze across the field at bison grazing in the distance. At sunset, the sky filled with the loveliest colors as patrons approached the theater's doors. Once nighttime arrived, you could look up and admire an expansive view of stars and constellations that would leave you awestruck.
Performing in a barn theater was an experience like none other. We often rehearsed in a smaller building adjacent to the main space, which dates back to the 1600s. It definitely got a bit toasty in there, but that didn't dampen people's spirits as we prepared to take the stage.
If you were on the property during the day, you might have seen kids at summer camp getting ready to rehearse a play of their own, or Kikio, the Guptill's dog, either wandering around or at executive producer Michael Guptill's heels.
Here's a look inside the main 200+ seat barn space...
...and off to the side were the dressing rooms, which were unusual in the best way. In addition to the usual furniture expected in such a space, collections of props from past shows — kitchen supplies, rotary phones, typewriters — sat on shelves. A large stuffed cow hung from the ceiling; massive signs advertising the Apollo, Coney Island, vintage advertisements, and the Cat in the Hat were on the walls. It was a quirky space, but that's what made it great.
And of course, the concessions stand was always open at intermission for theatergoers to enjoy a slice of pie or cheesecake.
The charm and character of the Playhouse, in addition to the kindness of its staff and volunteers, made it a place that truly holds a special place in our hearts. Whether you were an employee or patron, one thing's for sure: the memories of this place will stay with you for years to come.
As for what's to come for the Playhouse, the future remains uncertain at the time of this writing. Hackmatack Farm is still open, and Bluegrass Porch Jams have been taking place on some Sundays. You can click here to learn more.