Gillette Castle again offers 'All the Comforts of Home'

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Wed., Jun. 15, 2011
Rayah Martin and Don Shirer in a previous production of the East Haddam Stage Company's 'All the Comforts of Home,' File photos by Kevin Hotary.
Rayah Martin and Don Shirer in a previous production of the East Haddam Stage Company's 'All the Comforts of Home,' File photos by Kevin Hotary.

For the third summer in a row, the grounds of Gillette Castle by the small stone house will be converted to the parlor of a 19th century London family, as the East Haddam Stage Company once again presents “All the Comforts of Home,” a Victorian drawing-room comedy penned by none other than William Gillette himself.

The Gillette Castle production is a scaled-back version of the original, which was written in 1890 with four acts and a cast of 16 characters and a few animals. The EHSC version is a 30-minute adaptation developed for smaller venues by the group’s founder, Kandie Carle, and features a cast of four - and no animals. 

Kenneth Lundquist, Jr., of Southbury, is returning for his third season to play Mr. Alfred Hastings. George Lombardo, from Wethersfield, is featured in the dual roles of Mr. Pettibone and Mr. Bender, and Meghan Magner, from Beacon Falls, is taking on the roles of Miss Emily Pettibone, Miss Fifi Oritanski and Miss Evangeline Bender.  The fourth, dual role of Mrs. Rosabelle Pettibone and Mrs. Josephine Bender will be shared by Carle, Betty Olson of Glastonbury and Becky Beth Benedict of East Windsor.

“All the Comforts of Home” is sponsored by the Friends of Gillette Castle and the Connecticut Humanities Council, and is free to castle visitors. Last year’s run of 26 shows attracted about 1,000 people, said Carle. This year’s run has been extended to 32 shows, and Carle said that she expects up to 1,500 people to attend.    

“It’s another benefit of visiting Gillette Castle,” she said. New this year will be bleacher seating at the venue, although patrons are still encouraged to bring a blanket to spread out on the ground and a picnic lunch to enjoy as they watch the show.

“We’re really excited that Kandie is willing to do this kind of program,” said Melissa Ziobron, president of the Friends of Gillette Castle.

William Gillette is most well-known as the actor who defined the persona of Sherlock Holmes, the detective popularized in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

“It’s William Gillette who created what we know of as the stereotype of Sherlock Holmes,” said Carle, who is also producing “Sherlock Holmes: From Page Stage,” which will run at the East Haddam Historical Society for six shows, from July 29 to Aug. 7. The play recounts Gillette’s adaptation of Holmes for the stage. 

However, even before he took on the role of Holmes, Gillette was already a well-known actor and playwright. As Gillette was also known for his sense of humor, “All the Comforts of Home” is filled with comedic innuendo, love triangles and mistaken intentions that can still be appreciated by a modern audience.  

“All the Comforts of Home” will show at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, from June 18 through Aug. 7. 

The East Haddam Stage Company (www.ehsco.org) is dedicated to producing the works of Connecticut writers using local talent and minimal sets. Carle also wants the group’s summer productions to be a learning experience, so she is looking for interns, aged 16 and over, “to pick our brains,” she said, and learn how a stage company like EHSC operates.


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