June 16, 2013

A barn-turned-theater in Berwick thrives

Since 1972, the quaint Hackmatack Playhouse has thrived in an idyllic setting in Berwick, complete with a herd of bison out back. complete with a herd of bison out back.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Michael Guptill, below, took over the Hackmatack Playhouse from its founder – his father, S. Carlton Guptill.

Photos by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick.

Additional Photos Below


WHERE: 538 School St. (Route 9), Berwick

WHEN: Season opens Friday with "The Hound of the Baskervilles"; "The Sound of Music," July 10-27; "Les Miserables," July 31-Aug. 17; "Driving Miss Daisy," Aug. 21-30.

TIMES: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday

TICKETS: $10 to $25

INFO: 698-1807 or hackmatack.org

His son, Conor, tends to the bison herd. Guptill added them to the mix a few years ago as a way to provide healthy, lean meat locally.

The family missed having animals on the farm, and bison are a relatively easy animal to care for. They don't need be turned in at night or in the winter; they just need fields for grazing.

The herd numbers almost two dozen. When the bison roam in the pasture nearest the theater, they make for great diversion at intermission.

Guptill's wife, Gayle, bakes 10 blueberry pies a day when blueberries are in season, and sells them at intermission. Regulars will tell you that you've got to get your pie early, because when it's gone, it's gone.

Also popular at intermission are Gayle's high-end artisan chocolates, which she makes and sells under the name Azul Chocolates.

Working at the theater makes for a fun summertime experience, said Jerard-James Craven of Dover, N.H., who serves as the theater's technical director. He is also directing "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and will sing and act in "The Sound of Music."

He's been with the theater five summers.

"I just love the atmosphere here," said Craven, a University of New Hampshire graduate. "There is a calming energy. In many theaters, you're not going to have a nurturing environment, but this is a calm, rural area, and that comes across in the theater and what we do here."

Said actor Nick Iannotti, back for his third summer: "It's a wonderful place to come back to every year."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:


Twitter: pphbkeyes


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Additional Photos

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Bison graze in the field behind the century-old barn in Berwick that in 1972 became the Hackmatack Playhouse.


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