Tracing roots back through time to 1905, Company Theatre "recaptures the iconic ocean front theme park experience in their long-awaited world premiere of Paragon Park the Musical, an original grand-scale musical drama," playing from July 27 through August 19 at The Company Theatre Centre for the Arts, 30 Accord Park Drive, Norwell.
A collaboration with vast aspirations, Paragon Park the Musical is locally co-written by Company Theatre co-founder and artistic director Zoe Bradford of Hingham, and actor/director Michael Hammond of Holbrook, with lyrics and music by composer Adam Brooks of Brookline. Their collective story fuses history, romance and a fondness for the beachside amusement park that captivated millions of patrons for nearly 80 years.
“I’ve always held a special place for Paragon Park,” says Hammond, who spent many summers working up the courage to ride the famed roller coaster. “When we embarked on our research for the musical, we found so many people with the same memories, feelings and fondness for the park that we do.” Completing his thought, Brooks quips “The songs reflect all of this nostalgia and history.” Paragon Park the Musical features 18 original numbers, all composed in the style of great musical theatre, utilizing a 20-piece live orchestra to capture the passion and excitement. “Imagery of carefree childhoods, endless summers and a longing for simpler times are universal,” says Bradford. “Our audiences will not experience Hull’s carousel quite the same way again; images of the show, its characters, and the legacy George Dodge left behind will be etched in their memories.”
On the road to develop this original work, the collaborators conducted hundreds of interviews, viewed countless historical photos, and took road trips to historical locations to provide the true-to-life background. This inspiration evolved into the fictional storyline highlighted with historical figures and events that convey Paragon Park the Musical’s unique story.
Opening in 1905 on Hull’s Nantasket Beach; Paragon Park fulfilled a dream of whaling mogul George A. Dodge. His fantastic vision attracted famous figures like Judy Garland, and the Kennedy family. Even Walt Disney, who visited an exact replica of the park, was so inspired by its cross-culture themes that it became his model for Epcot Center. In its heyday, Paragon Park became a premier tourist destination that, some would say, was on par with the World’s Fair. Upon closing in 1984, many of the park’s classic rides, including the “Giant Coaster”, the park’s famed wooden roller coaster, were auctioned off.
Paragon Park the Musical opens with the number “One Last Ride”, recollecting the auction of Paragon’s last remaining attraction - its treasured carousel. At the height of the auction frenzy, the audience travels back in time to the park’s heyday where a fictional romance seals history with love against the backdrop of this unique and ever changing park. Tilly, a young proper Bostonian, and Rinaldo, an Italian immigrant gondolier, meet when Tilly’s purse is stolen and police mistakenly charge Rinaldo with the crime. Though seemingly ill-fated, a forbidden romance is born. Fascinating historical figures are woven through the plot, recapturing their authentic involvement with the park, including Mayor “Honey” Fitzgerald, Mayor of Boston from 1910 to 1913, Cardinal Cushing, Floretta Vining the self proclaimed mayor of Hull, and Rose Stone who, with her family, resurrected the park after it burnt down.
Tickets range from $34 to $36 and are available by calling 781-871-2787, emailing the box office at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.companytheatre.com . For every ticket sold, $1 will be donated to Friends of the Carousel, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the treasured Paragon Park carousel.