After its success last June, Henry Allen of The Cape Ann theater, also known as "The Annie," is once again staging the popular "Greasy Pole, The Musical!." The show, subtitled "The Curse of Mama Scolafazza," opens tonight and runs for four weeks through July 15.
"This show features a bigger cast, new scenes, some new songs, and all the excitement and charm of last year's production," said Allen.
More than 2,000 people took in the presentation at The Annie last year.
For visitors who may not know about the Greasy Pole, it is one of the signature events at the city's annual St. Peter's Fiesta, which opens its 2012 edition in St. Peter's Square next Wednesday. In the Greasy Pole competition, men from Gloucester's fishing families dress up in costume and walk a greased pole hanging over the harbor to the cheers from the beach crowd and boaters.
Now, the musical has gained a following, Allen said.
"Audience members said 'Please bring it back every year,'" said Allen.
So this year, a new scene and music has been added to the hour-long show.
The scene "Madam X, the Face of Fiesta" is the story as to why many Greasy Pole walkers dress in drag.
"As legend has it, one mother said no to her son walking, so his buddies came up with idea to dress hiim up with a veil over his face," Allen explained. "But the young man said 'they will know it's me,' so they all dressed up — just that once — but the legend has it that it became tradition."
One of the cast's leads, Timothy Bagley, wrote a rock ballad for the show. He plays Fillipo Scolafazza, and works through five generations of Scolafazza boys who never were allowed to walk the Greasy Pole.
Anita Ruchman is back as Mama, while City Councilor Sefatia Romeo Theken — who played Mama last year — will likely return for a few cameos, Allen said.
When Allen moved to town last year, he opened a theater which does a lot of outreach.
"I wanted to offer something to the community as a gesture of gratitude for calling me here and welcoming me here so warmly," he said. "I wanted to create a folkloric theater, using stories of the people and we have such a diverse history here. This is something unique that I can bring to Gloucester."
He recalled the day he got the vision.
"I was driving down Stacy Boulevard and wondered what the theater season might look like," he said, "and I saw the Greasy Pole out of the corner of my eye; from there, sprung up the idea for the musical."
"I saw Fiesta the previous year, and it struck me as an interesting dichotomy as this reverent historic festival combined with the secular Fiesta that includes the Greasy Pole," he said. "The more I interviewed people, it became clear there was a disconnect between the two."
Allen talked to residents who shared their views, with some believing Fiesta is all about the food and family and St. Peter, while others see Fiesta as an just jovial and fun and all about community.
In the end, he decided to do the unexpected and explore the families of those young men who didn't walk the Greasy Pole — those whose families said "no."
The show, based on real stories, is a collaborative effort from many residents.
For advance tickets, visit www.GreasyPoleTheMusical.com.
Gail McCarthy may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3445 or email@example.com.Thyursday
If you go
What: "Greasy Pole: The Musical"
Where: The Cape Ann, also known as The Annie, at One Washington St. in the Blackburn Building in Gloucester
When: Tonight through July 15. Thursdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m., Saturday and Sundays at 2 p.m.
How much: Suggested donation of $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors. Tickets can be reserved at the box office, 978-381-HERE (4373), or ordered at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.TheAnnie.org.