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Children return to stage in Walpole

By Elizabeth Connolly
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

Audiences of Walpole Childrens Theater’s (WCT) performance of "Wizard’s Crystal" were in for a real treat last weekend: the return of live theater. 

Aspiring actors, devoted volunteers and the community alike have been eagerly anticipating this return for nearly two years, and were rewarded with an enjoyable and lively performance.

The seventy-five minute production, written by Paul E. Otteson and directed by Mia Straccia and Anna Hebner, whisked the audience off to a sixteenth-century medieval village. This is where they met rival wizard siblings Parafin and Balderdash, each in search of something magical that they hoped would change their lives. Throw in a memorable royal family, a kooky witch, a hilarious fool and a couple of lovable wizard sidekicks, and you’ve got a recipe for entertaining family fun.

Established in 1969 with a group led by Emerson College student Robert Cheeseborough, Walpole Children’s Theater is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization. Many of the show’s actors and production staff, like stage manager Nikki McNamara, co-producer Jackie Gately and light board operator Jess McNamara, have been with the group since they were children. 

When asked what brings her back every year, Nikki said: “What keeps me coming back more than anything is the great friendships I have built through this group. When I started WCT, my friends and I always admired how close the crew were and now, over a decade later, we are the crew that are lucky enough to work with all the amazing kids that join our cast! I think I speak for all of us when I say the family atmosphere has always been what keeps us all inspired and coming back to put on shows for the community.”

Jackie agrees. “As a crew member it means a lot to me to provide kids with a safe space to learn, make mistakes, be themselves, and have fun—all the stuff that I felt was given to me growing up.” 

“The friends I made here are my best friends today," Jess summed up. "I’m so lucky to still get to make memories with them.”

There are three remaining shows of Wizard’s Crystal at Footlighters Playhouse on Scout Road in East Walpole: Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 5, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for children and seniors, and can be purchased online at,, or by calling (508-921-0542).

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