“The Devil & Daniel Webster,” a play by Stephen Vincent Benet, will be presented Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, and Friday and Saturday, Aug. 3-4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Denmark Arts Center to observe Denmark’s Bicentennial Year 2007.

It is a fanciful story of how the famous 19th century statesman, lawyer, and orator Daniel Webster parries with the Devil, a.k.a. Mr. Scratch, in an effort to save Jabez Stone. You see, Jabez was a farmer, honest, hard-working, and married to Mary Gosslin. Trouble was , like his name- they used to say – Jabez Stone had nothing but stones on his fields.

One day he broke his plow-share over, that’s right, a big stone. He lost his temper and yelled “Thunderation! I’d give my soul for…” Quick as only he can do, the Devil himself, calling himself Mr. Scratch, appeared and made a bargain – prosperity for the price of his soul. That’s how Jabez had that long run of good luck farming, became state senator, and enjoyed prosperity. As the play begins, 10 years have passed and Mr. Scratch comes to collect his due. Daniel Webster is fortuitously present at this occasion of Jabez’s wedding day and challenges Scratch to a “ghost” trial. Come and see how it all turned out at the Denmark Arts Center.

The choice of this play is inspired by the fact that Daniel Webster was a native of New Hampshire, and after Dartmouth College, was headmaster at the Fryeburg Academy in Maine before moving on to national fame as lawyer, orator, member of Congress, and Secretary of State.

This is the sixth annual event directed by Ralph Morse for the benefit of the Denmark Arts Center. “The Devil & Daniel Webster” cast features Dick Hook, Stan Struzynski, Tom Ferent, and Teresa Woodsome in lead roles. To highlight the historical significance of this 19th century style piece, the evening will begin with a “Soiree Musicale” presented by Lillian Lee Morse at the piano, with singers Janet Gill, Susie Mosca, Anna Mosca, and Clint Richards performing classical favorites and familiar shanties: “Then You’ll Remember Me” by Balfe; Belle Nuit (Night of Love) by Offenbach; A Capital Ship, Eight Bells, and Camptown Races.

Admission $12. For information and reservations call 452-2412, or 452-2057. Denmark Arts Center, 50 W. Main St., Denmark.

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