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In The Spotlight

After years of shuttling his son (and later his daughter) to the theatre, Charles McIntyre—Nat’s father—cast an eye on the stage. “I had to take him to practice and to the shows and needed to get there an hour before the show,” says Charles, “and I thought, ‘I might as well just do the show.’” After his first part in Ah, Wilderness (“I don’t even know if I had three lines,” he said), Charles landed many roles in the following years—he especially enjoyed playing the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz. In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Charles enjoyed watching his son command the spotlight as Ichabod Crane, while he played a smaller role.

But rather than just finding time in the spotlight, the theatre became a place where father and son could find common ground and where the typical baggage that comes with being a teenager was set aside.

“I never went through a period when I thought my dad wasn’t awesome,” says McIntyre, who also teaches acting with the Epic Theatre Ensemble, an educational theatre program in New York City. “And I think that [his participation in the theatre] was a big part of it. It kept us on the same page.”

“Betty Bobp knew that intergenerational theatre was the truest and purest form of theatre,” says Schuessler. “It holds a mirror up to nature. Betty knew the discipline of theatre and knew how it could transform lives. We invite children into the world of theatre with high expectations,” she says. “They never let us down.”

The theatre’s decades as a Harwich mainstay are not lost on those who are still blossoming on its worn stage. “It is interesting to learn the history of the theatre and see people who come back,” Blodgett says. “It is cool how long people have cycled through and have been doing the same thing as I am doing. It is a changing thing, but a constant thing.”

The theatre also brings a variety of programs—bullying prevention, poetry, the art of listening—to schools throughout the Cape. “Education is one of our cornerstones,” says Tamara Harper, director of education and community outreach for Harwich Junior Theatre. “What the kids get isn’t just about acting; it is about communication, cooperation, and articulation.”

This summer, some favorite performances make return appearances. In a nod to nostalgia, Cinderella, the first play ever put on by Harwich Junior Theatre, opens on June 24. An all-time audience favorite, Always Patsy Cline, returns for weekend performances this summer. “Believe it or not,” said Schuessler, “for just about every play an audience member will come up to me and say, ‘That is the best play you have ever done!’”

The recent acquisition of the Harwich Recreation Building gives the organization more space for performing, rehearsals, and a continuing education center. “We want to keep it going for future generations,” Schuessler says. “And we want to play to a full house. I hope we created a place where people feel welcome when they walk through the door.”

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer from Bolton whose children saw their first plays at Harwich Junior Theatre.

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