Suffield Observations

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Who will make the magic now?

Andy Sauer

When my wife asked me if I’d signed up my daughter for the Red Door Theatre, my adrenaline surged. I completely forgot.

There was a time when the only way to guarantee a spot at the ultra-popular theater camp, Kit and Kaboodle, was to mail the application specifically at the West Suffield Post Office on a set day in April. The admissions process eventually migrated to an online format, which only made things more competitive.

My odds were not good. But when I hit the camp’s web page, the news was so much worse.

The Red Door Theatre, which took kids on a theatrical journey from auditions to curtain calls in six short days and ceaselessly preached the merits of dedicated teamwork with the mantra “The magic doesn’t just happen, WE make it happen,” was no more.

Apparently, the theatre had to move from its longtime location and the search for a new home was fruitless. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help.

For 30 years, the Feeding Hills, Mass., camp, led by former Suffieldian Lyle Pearsons, had perfected the 100-meter-dash version of a theatrical production. In five days, a group of kids, mostly strangers, would be assigned parts, memorize their lines and places, and come together in the tightest of teams to put on four performances in one weekend. On the following Monday, a whole new group of kids would show up and the process would start over.

The camp drew heavily from Suffield and even a quick scan of past programs reveal a who’s-who of high school theater.

Since 2007, I have been taking my kids, who range in age from 13 to 24, to the Kit and Kaboodle camp. To imagine a Suffield summer without the Red Door Theatre is simply unbelievable.

The worst part is during my last theater camp summer in 2019, I was starting to express signs of fatigue. You can only do the same things – from lining up every morning and afternoon to working the snack bar in exchange for tickets — year after year without losing some of the passion.

Now, I miss those hot, humid, mosquito-filled nights waiting for my child to finish getting out of costume after a performance.

There are so few losses outside family and friends that have so unexpectedly hit me this hard. The Red Door Theater was a bona fide cornerstone. It tied kids, communities and even generations together to make an otherwise quiet summer a lot more fun.

And, now that there’s no one to make the magic happen, I miss it even more.

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