History of the Milton Players
81 Years in the Making
Early in 1933, three young Milton men – John Powers, Roland Strong and Chandler Garland – with an intense interest in dramatic arts, set about contacting various residents with the idea of creating a theatre group within the town.
Of inestimable value to them was the advice and assistance of Mr. Ronald Bridges, a teacher at Milton High School. Enthusiasm grew among others in the town who were interested in all phases of drama.
There were 16 people present at the first meeting on October 6, 1933 at Mr. Bridges home. The purpose of the group was discussed and it was decided to study all areas of drama production with the view of having a well-rounded organization. Mr. Bridges was unanimously elected “Director of the Association,” and he, in turn, appointed Chandler Garlandas secretary and Roland Strong as treasurer. Meeting dates were set up and the new organization was on its way! Thus, The Milton Players were first established as a “study group.”
Among several early problems to be solved was the need of funds for play books and materials for the model stage. It was voted to charge $2.00 per year for membership. Another sorry plight was in not having, at the start, many beautiful, young actresses. The solution for this was to appoint two ladies whose duty was to seek out young, pulchritudious females with the ability and desire to act (blondes preferred!).
By the group’s eighth meeting in January, 1934, the lure of the greasepaint and the “call of the boards” had become irresistable. It was then unanimously voted to accept an offer to perform three one-act plays to be presented in the Milton Woman’s Clubhouse for the benefit of the club’s scholarship fund. Mrs. Howard Draper was instrumental in bringing this action about, and she continued to contribute an inordinate amount over the years to the growth of The Milton Players.
If only those original three young men could only have had a crystal ball! They would have seen that from 1933 to 2014 there would be over 745 performances of some 211 plays (of which 19 were revivals) and 18 musicals, including such diverse productions from “Our Town,” “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Teahouse of the August Moon,” “The Odd Couple” (both versions), “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum,”“Chicago” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Music Man,”“The Secret Garden” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” along with many other groundbreaking productions of which the Players are rightfully proud, as well as many drama competitions, flea markets, craft fairs and parades experienced. The Players also portrayed “Founders of the Town” in a performance in front of the Town Hall at Milton’s 325th Anniversary Celebration in 1987 and they even presented one production, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” – in the round!
The group’s founders would also be proud of the philanthropic accomplishments of The Milton Players. Scholarships for Milton High School students, as well as equipment donations to the Milton Hospital and books gifted to the Milton Public Library and various other donations to other non-profit organizations in town offer evidence as to the Players’ support of the community.
There have been a few changes over the past 81 years. Incorporation occurred in 1982, ticket prices have inflated from the original 50¢ to $20.00 and there are more than enough beautiful actresses – it’s the many pulchritudious young males that are currently sought!
In 2013, the Milton Players probably made their biggest change – moving from their long-time home, the Milton Woman’s Club, to their new theatre, the Brayton School Auditorium at the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, Massachusetts. While sad to be leaving the location with so many wonderful memories, the Milton Players look forward to presenting even more exciting productions in their new theatre.
But whether it be 1933, ’63, ’83 or 2014, The Milton Players have always shared the same interest – love of the theatre, devotion to the community and a deep affection for other people. And the Players are very proud to continue to provide “Great Live Theatre Close to Home!”
– Marguerite Chapman, Peggy Murphy and Stephen Hamilton
(Written for the Milton Players Celebration 50, June 4, 1983, and updated June 20, 2013.)
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Milton Cultural Council,
|The Milton Players
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