When the curtain opens in November for the Gray-New Gloucester High School Patriot Players, there will be a special note to this year’s musical. The production of “Honk,” based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling,” marks the 10th consecutive musical in the Player’s Broadway musical series.

It all began when faculty member Eric Walker agreed to return as director in the 2003-2004 school year. Walker, who has an extensive theater background, had never directed a musical. He was persuaded by a group of students and parents to direct “Fiddler of the Roof.” The show not only set attendance records, but also started a tradition of fantastic musicals that has included Oliver, Kiss Me Kate, Annie, Hello Dolly, Cinderella, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and The Sound of Music.

The Players will celebrate its 10th consecutive musical this year with some special festivities. A cable television show with video and photographs from the past nine productions will premiere on the Gray and New Gloucester access channels on Sept. 14, 15, 21 and 22. There are also plans for a “Honk” day at Pineland Farms since the musical is set in a barnyard. “Honk” cast members will also visit local elementary schools to give students a preview of the show. The festivities will culminate in the presentation of “Honk” in November. Past Patriot Players will be invited on stage after the Friday show to join the current actors.

The Gray-New Gloucester theater program has seen dramatic improvement as it has grown over the years. A full-sized stage was built at the high school five years ago, as part of the SAD 15 school district’s capital improvement program. There has also been the addition of an assistant director, music director and choreographer.

The Patriot Players have also had great success in the statewide one-act play competition winning five regional titles and placing second in the state tournament in 2008. The number of students involved in the fall musical, one-act, and spring play has also increased during the last nine years.

During the past 10 years, the Gray-New Gloucester High School Patriot Players have staged some of the best plays and musicals in show business. This year, events are planned to mark the troupe’s 10th anniversary.  

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