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 – Mainstage productions, produced in-house; Presenting Acts, such as comedians, musicians, and films; And Education programming, including IMPACT Touring Children’s Theatre and the StageSetters Youth Program.
The 2022 Fall Season at NCCA is sure to be an exciting one. Kicking it off on Sunday, September 4th at 7:30pm is the Labor Day Comedy Show, with Greg Boggis hosting fantastic, Boston-Based comedians Paul Nardizzi and Emily Ruskowski.
The 2022 Crafted Concert Series is up next, running for three Saturdays: September 24th, October 1st, and October 8th. Join us for this very special series, featuring 3 different bands on three different weekends! We’ll be raising the roof in the theatre, but outside there will be food trucks and crafted beverage tastings on the grounds. Shows start at 7:30pm while tastings and food will be available starting at 4pm.
September 24th brings Wooden Horse, a six piece powerhouse musical show and is the east coast’s premier dual tribute to the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and America! This group of accomplished musicians was founded in 2012 and has performed to standing ovations from very enthusiastic crowds at Foxwoods Fox Theatre, the Loos Center for the Arts, Danbury City Centre, the North Country Center for the Arts, and numerous other venues and concert series.’
The Chris Fitz Band graces the theater on October 1st. Chris Fitz broke into the Boston music scene back in 1994 after a 5 year stint in the San Francisco area. Chris honed his blues guitar chops by floating around all the blues clubs in the Bay Area and finding inspiration in the local and national blues artists who frequented them. He would then spend countless hours holed up in his apartment, guitar in hand and record player by his side, tirelessly teaching himself to sound like the great players he loved to watch live. Over twenty years and thousands of gigs later, the Chris Fitz Band, with Chris as band leader / singer / songwriter / guitar player, Mike Aiello on Drums and “Fretless Dave Kendarian” on bass remains one of the premier “original” blues and roots acts in all of New England.
Last but not least – The Adam Ezra Band closes out the Crafted Concert Series on October 8th. Working outside the confines of the traditional music industry, Adam Ezra and his bandmates – Corinna Smith (fiddle), Alex Martin (drums), Poche Ponce (bass) – built a community of fans through sheer grit and determination, regularly performing hundreds of shows a year for the past two decades without any major label or mainstream radio support. Fusing folk intimacy and rock energy with soul power and pop charm, the band first emerged from Boston in the early 2000s and quickly garnered widespread acclaim for their bold, insightful songwriting and interactive, euphoric performances. From hole in the wall bars and house concerts to sold-out headline shows and dates with the likes of Little Big Town, The Wallflowers, Gavin DeGraw, Train, and The Wailers, Ezra and his bandmates treated every single gig like their last, attracting a die-hard following that believed not just in the music, but in their commitment to activism and social change, as well.
October brings the Columbus Day Weekend Comedy Show on Sunday, October 9th at 7:30pm. Comedy Host Greg Boggis is back at Jean’s with another set of fantastic Boston Based comedians (Frank Santorelli & Chris Zito) for your Columbus Day Weekend pleasure!
Ghost Light Haunted Attraction, running October 21st-30th, is a brand new Halloween event, designed as a haunted house walk-through, but with the magic of immersive theatre. Each 40 – 45 minute tour accommodates 12 guests and has a scheduled start time. Please arrive early, as once the tour starts they cannot allow guests to join in late.
In addition to evening haunts, which includes all the scares and thrills, they also offer Sunday afternoon haunts, called “Daytime Light Fright.” The usual tour has been adjusted to accommodate those who do not like jump scares. While the environment is still spooky and creepy, the show has been adjusted so that the audience can enjoy the theatre magic and special effects, without having to worry about something jumping out from around the corner. While the environment can still be a little spooky for some children, this is a great option for most families and individuals who want to have a spooky experience without the scares.
Sneak peeks for Winter Programming include the StageSetters Youth Show, running November 11th-13th, A White Mountains Christmas, running December 3rd & 4th, and the Annual Warren Miller Extreme Ski Film on Friday, December 30th.
Has all this excitement got you feeling hungry? NCCA has paired with numerous local dining establishments to offer “Dinner & a Show” deals. Read more here!
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 fall at the North Country Center for the Arts.