Hilltowns Players general background

The Hilltowns Players was founded in 1982 by former Berne-Knox-Westerlo music department chair (and current HTP president!) Mitch Haverly. It was chartered to promote the Performing Arts for the education, entertainment, and benefit of the Hilltowns area (i.e. the Towns of Berne, Knox, Westerlo, Rensselaerville, Wright, and surrounding communities) and to provide opportunities to the youth of these communities for the development of interest, talents, and skills in the Performing Arts.

Since that time, the group has provided not only entertaining shows and plays, but also opportunities for people of all ages to become part of the community theater experience.

Through the John D. Foster Memorial Drama award, Hilltowns Players annually provides two scholarships to the BKW senior boy and senior girl who have shown the most dedication to drama and the performing arts. They have also organized fund drives to purchase a piano, stage lighting, a light board, and dimmer packs for the high school stage. Hilltowns Players frequently assists with BKW productions, teaching students the arts of set design and construction, costuming, make-up, sound, and lighting.

The Hilltowns Players, Inc. is a nonprofit organization under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.


Hilltowns Players productions

Hilltowns Players's first production was Li'l Abner, the hilarious musical based on Al Capp's comic strip about the town of Dogpatch, USA. It starred Tim Norray as Li'l Abner, and Penny Shaw as Daisy Mae. This production took place on the BKW high school stage, and Hilltowns Players has produced a show there nearly every autumn since then—usually alternating musicals with non-musical comedies and dramas. In 2001, the group presented a 20th Season Extravaganza, with songs and vignettes from previous productions, featuring as many of the original performers as possible. Most recently, in November 2005 Hilltowns Players was proud to present Beulah-by-the-Sea, an original production with the script, lyrics, and music by Penny Shaw. Mitch Haverly served as Musical Director. (Some people just keep on giving!) The show was dedicated to family members and friends touched by cancer, in honor of their lives and their brave fight. Half of the profits from the show were given to local families facing cancer.

photos from previous full-stage productions:
2002 Arsenic and Old Lace
2003 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
2004 Father of the Bride

In what would become one of their most successful moves, Hilltowns Players soon took to the road, playing one-act and single-set shows, usually comedies, in local restaurants, churches, and community halls. Combined with dinner or dessert, these popular shows extend the group's geographic range. They are also a lot of fun! The venues are typically smaller, sometimes bringing the actors nearly into the audience. Differences in configuration also occasionally require unexpected last-minute changes in the set. While it can be demanding, the cast and crew enjoy the challenge and camaraderie of setting up and rehearsing in a different space for each performance—and are often able to present more performances than is possible with the autumn show. Hilltowns Players's first dinner theater, Mr. Flannery's Ocean, starred Amanda Ronconi, who is now a professional actress.

photos from previous dinner/dessert theater productions:
2000 Act of Murder
2001 Who Dunit?
2002 Occupation: Murder!
2003 Jury Room
2004 An Evening of Romantic Comedy

In the spring of 2000, Hilltowns Players held a talent show in order to raise money for the Lighting Fund. This event proved popular, and has been held nearly annually since then. The following year, it split into two productions—a Student Talent Show in the fall, and the Talent Showcase in the spring. Both shows have been well-attended by the community, and Hilltowns Players is proud to be able to continue to offer them free of charge (although donations are gratefully accepted).

photos from the talent shows:

Hilltowns Players has participated over the years in various other community events, including the Berne Memorial Day Parade (2004 photos) and the recently organized Berne Heritage Days. The group also holds sporadic social activities for its members, such as holiday parties and a summer picnic (2003 photos).

Hilltowns Players 2005-2006 Board of Directors
President: Mitch Haverly Board Members:
Vice President: Jo-Ann Mox Russ Chauvot
Treasurer: Maryellen Hamilton Willard Osterhout
Recording Secretary: Jennifer Draisey Penny Shaw
Corresponding Secretary: Joyce Abele Tom Walls

New members welcome!

Hilltowns Players
PO Box 208
Berne,NY 12023
Hilltowns Players web site


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last update: 4/14/06