Nestled along the banks of the Pemigewasset River lies one of northern New England’s premier performing arts centers. The North Country Center for the Arts dates back to the mid-1980s when local business leaders and community members came together to explore the possibility of creating a community performing arts center in the Millfront Marketplace in Lincoln. In 1986, the North County Center for the Arts (NCCA) was officially born.
In the summer of 1986, the NCCA produced its first event under a tent at the Mill at Loon Mountain. The two-month-long Children’s Theatre Festival was a huge success and the NCCA hired Van McLeod, the first Producing Director. The following summer, the NCCA transformed the former paper mill in Lincoln into the Papermill Theatre. During its first season, the NCCA performed Carnival, Harvey, Deathtrap, and Cabaret.
After over 80 professional productions, the NCCA performed its final summer season at the Papermill Theatre in 2009. The old paper mill building was demolished that fall, making way for the new facility that is now known as Jean’s Playhouse. Jean’s Playhouse was officially opened in July 2012 and included performances of The Wedding Singer, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and A Grand Night for Singing. The new playhouse is named after long-time NCCA supporter and local leader, Jean Hallager, and is celebrating its 10th anniversary of opening in 2022!
Unlike the Papermill Theatre, Jean’s Playhouse allows for year-round productions and has three different branches of operation – Our Mainstage productions, produced in-house; Our Presenting Acts, such as comedians, musicians, and films; And our Education programming, including IMPACT Touring Children’s Theatre and the StageSetters Youth Program.
The past several years with the COVID-19 pandemic have certainly changed the performing arts community and the NCCA. In 2021, the NCCA was able to host three small shows and an outdoor concert, and the schedule worked well. The NCCA recently announced that they will be following the same schedule but with slightly larger shows.
The summer 2022 season will kick off in July with the weekend-long outdoor concert – The Sound of Music. The concert was held in 2021 and it was such a hit that NCCA is bringing it back for round two in 2022! The first show of the season, Cabaret, is only fitting. First performed by NCCA in 1986, the NCCA will be performing Cabaret yet again. Cabaret is your classical musical that focuses on the hedonistic nightlife at a seedy club in pre-WWII Berlin. If you’ve never been to a musical, Cabaret is a great one to see.
Next up is Mamma Mia! Written by British playwright, Catherine Johnson, Mamma Mia! Is based on the songs of ABBA. If you liked the movies, then you don’t want to miss the musical! The summer season ends with Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. The play is a parody of a murder mystery and is performed by a cast of four with each actor playing multiple roles. It’s sure to bring some laughs!
The fall season is still in the works but an announcement will be made in the coming months. Typically, the fall season includes several bands, and this year there is even a brand new Halloween event. Stay tuned for special anniversary events throughout the year as well!
The best and most affordable way to see the 2022 shows is through purchasing a summer season subscription. The First Call Subscription gives you one ticket to each of the four summer productions for the most affordable price. It gives you access to the best seats as well! If you can’t commit to the whole season, you can purchase the First Call Pairs, which is two tickets to any one of the main stage summer shows. All other tickets will go on sale in February. With limited capacity due to the ongoing pandemic, it’s important to purchase your tickets ahead of time as shows do sell out.
It’s rare for small mountain communities to have an award-winning performing arts center that attracts performers from all over the country and world. If you can’t make one of the shows this summer, you can support the NCCA through their Annual Fund or by volunteering as an usher.
The famous Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde, once said, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”
Discover the magic of the theatre this summer at the North Country Center for the Arts.