[Home Page] [This Week] [Classifieds] [Legals] [Obituaries] [Newsstands] [Subscriptions] [Advertising] [Deadlines] [About Us] [FAQ] [Archives] [Community Links] [Contact Us]

Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, November 15, 2007

Knox approves $2 million budget

By Tyler Schuling

KNOX - The town board unanimously adopted Knox's 2008 budget last week, which calls for a tax-rate increase of about 4 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Knox residents currently pay about $1.69 per $1,000 of assessed value; in 2008, residents will pay about $1.73 per $1,000.

The $1.95 million budget is about $73,000 higher than the current year's, and $484,534 is to be raised from taxes.

The highway department's budget, which was about $475,000 this year, will increase by about $18,000.

In 2008, hospital and medical insurance will increase about 12-percent.

Supervisor Michael Hammond, who drafted the budget, said rising fuel and energy costs had the biggest effect on the spending plan.

All town officials will get a 3-percent raise in 2008. The town, which added about $7,000 for its assessors, is considering adding an assistant assessor. Knox appoints its assessor, who serves a seven-year term. Hammond said that, if the town appointed an assistant assessor, he or she would be asked to take the same classes as the assessor with the state's Office of Real Property Services and to do the same paperwork and field measurements.

Knox, which has no library of its own, pays the Altamont and Berne libraries for services. In 2008, the town will pay both libraries an additional $500 - $1,300 to Berne and $5,500 to Altamont.

Hammond said the only large-ticket item anticipated in 2008 is a new pickup truck for the town's highway department.

Knox officials will earn the following salaries in 2008:

- Supervisor, $15,870;
- Town justices, $9,654;
- Council member, $3,641.50;
- Town Clerk, $11,978; and
- Highway superintendent, $50,661.

Going Out for an anniversary performance
Hilltowns Players still a ‘strong-headed, creative, opinionated lot’ after 25 years as family

By Tyler Schuling

BERNE — After 25 years, the Hilltowns Players is still going strong.

This weekend, with nearly 50 cast members — over 30 the them children — the com-munity theater group will celebrate its silver anniversary by reprising its 1983 production of the East meets West tale, The King and I.

On Tuesday, the actors were rehearsing in the Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School auditorium, getting into their costumes for the first time.

Penny Shaw, who will direct the shows this weekend, was relaxed and optimistic. Before the rehearsal got underway, she was jumping up and down with a handful of actors. Then she lay down on her stomach at the front of the stage and peered through her camera and beckoned Mitchell Haverly, who was busy organizing, to smile for the camera.

Shaw called the Hilltowns Players "a dedicated group of unique individuals."

In theater, there are challenges, not complications, Shaw insisted, because about anything that comes up in theater can be improvised.

"If something doesn’t work, you go with something else. And I love using the ideas of the cast members," said Shaw. "Once they get into their parts...their creative juices kick in."

Formed in the spring of 1982, the Hilltowns Players’ first production was Li’l Abner.

This weekend, Haverly, the Hilltowns Players’ president and one of its founders, will once again conduct the orchestra, and Maureen Abbott, who choreographed the 1983 production, will also reprise her role.

As well as performing musicals in the fall, the theater group performs dinner shows and, in past years, has taken its shows on the road in the Capital Region.

Haverly says the answer to why the group has lasted is simple: People.

Haverly, the retired chairman of BKW’s music depart-ment, said the company continues to exist because of a core of very dedicated people working selflessly. The Hilltowns Players formed, Haverly said, to provide students and adults opportunities to perform quality community-based musical theater, and to provide residents of the Hilltowns the opportunity to attend the productions.

Shaw, who played the female lead in the company’s first production 25 years ago, fondly recalls the Hilltowns Players production of Annie Get Your Gun, which had a standing-room-only crowd.

"That was amazing and so rewarding," said Shaw, who has been with the Players from the beginning.

Haverly fondly remembers conducting his wife, Barbara, as she played Nettie Fowler in Carousel; working with his son, Andrew, in the 2000 production of My Fair Lady; and playing the part of the butcher, Lazar Wolf, in the 1995 production of Fiddler On The Roof.

Since the Hilltowns Players first began, Haverly has been involved in several capacities.

"I’ve always felt very much at home working in front of an orchestra and working in front of the stage," said Haverly on Tuesday. While he always wishes the group had another rehearsal under its belt, Haverly said, he is more relaxed compared to past years because now the group is established.

Meet Anna and the King

Before the Hilltowns Players’ dress rehearsal on Tuesday, Elizabeth Mosall, cast in the lead as the idealistic teacher, and Rich Bartley, who will play the king of Siam, were looking forward to this weekend’s performances and reflecting on the weeks leading up to the show.

The King and I marks the first time either has been cast in a lead role.

Mosall, originally from Guilderland, called herself "an outsider coming in." The King and I is Mosall’s first production with The Hilltowns Players. Mosall, a recent Miss Altamont Fair, has a theater degree from the State University at Potsdam, and returned home to Guilderland to earn money for graduate school.

Her role as Anna onstage mirrors her real-life aspiration to one day teach.

Bartley, who lives and works at Camp Pinnacle, a Christian camp and retreat center in New Scotland, stands 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and towers over much of the cast. He commanded the stage on Tuesday.

Before rehearsal, he joked about his qualifications for the part and the way in which he was cast, saying his only qualification is his height and that those who cast him did so haphazardly by throwing a dart at a dartboard.

Last week, his head was shaved by members of the cast and crew. Bartley called the experience "a gas."

While serving in the Army Reserves, Bartley said, he was in a number of scenarios and played different roles.

In The King and I, Bartley’s king has "only" 67 children and is confused when Anna tells him that a woman has written a book.

"You teach in palace. You stay in palace," he says quickly and matter-of-factly to Anna at the beginning of the show.

Bartley first worked with the Hilltowns Players about 10 years ago, he said, and, after a hiatus, became more involved about three years ago.

Mosall said that she audi-tioned because she wanted to get back in touch with the Capital Region theater circuit. Just weeks after auditioning, she was cast as Anna and was ecstatic because she’d never been cast in the "lead lead" role.

She had previously played comedic roles, she said, never the love interest or "the pretty girl."

Mosall appeared in Albany Park Playhouse’s 2006 production of Beauty and the Beast.

"That was really, really awesome for me because it gave me the spectrum on professional theater and what it’s like to make money when you do theater," she said.

While attending college in Potsdam, she was a teacher’s assistant in acting classes. She also played a supporting role and was the assistant director of Tom Stoppard’s Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Though she hasn’t acted with the Hilltowns Players before and its members are comprised primarily of Hilltowns residents, Mosall said, "It’s funny what small world, small places will do to you because people I’ve worked with in the past know some of the people who are up here.

"It’s definitely opening my eyes to a whole new world of theater," said Mosall. "The people here are awesome," she said, adding that they are "totally invested in family and the tradition of theater. And I really admire that because you can’t find that in a lot of places."

While a lot of theater groups cast the same actors again and again, she said, the Hilltowns Players is willing to take on new people in the community.

Bartley and Mosall are embracing the experience with the many children who make up The King and I’s cast.

"I try to relate to the kids as much as possible. I want to make this experience fun for them," Mosall said.

"The kids have picked up what they’re supposed to do, when they’re supposed to do it," said Bartley. "They generally behave really well...and they’ve been a lot of fun. You can tell they’re enjoying it. They’re enthusiastic about their stuff. They’re enthusiastic about their costumes. A lot of them are seeing them on tonight for the first time. When you’ve got enough people to help with the kids, it’s not unmanageable at all."

Staying together

In the spring of 1982, Mitchell Haverly, then a music teacher at BKW, placed an ad in The Altamont Enterprise, inviting interested members of the community to assemble. Anne Whipple, John Foster, Patricia Favreau, Arlene Lendrum, along with Haverly and his wife, Barbara, were among those at the Hilltowns Players’ first meeting.

Its charter members also included Joyce Abele and Tim and Jill Norray.

BKW had been performing major musical productions since the 1970s, said Haverly, who taught at the school from 1970 to 2002. Haverly said he felt there should be an oppor-tunity available to students after they graduate.

Both of the Haverlys’ sons, Andrew and David, have also been involved in the Players productions.

Whether it’s a full-scale musical or a dinner-theater production, Barbara Haverly said, "It’s a lot of work. It’s a time commitment."

"People want to be here. That’s why they’re here," said Barbara Haverly.

Those involved come from diverse situations, she said, and get together for one com-mon goal — to put on a great show. At the group’s rehearsal on Tuesday, Barbara Haverly recalled playing Nettie Fowler in Carousel. While singing one of the show’s memorable songs, she caused her husband, con-ducting in front of the stage, to cry.

Shaw said that, although the Hilltowns Players’ mem-bers come from all walks of life and are a "strong-headed, creative, opinionated lot," and occasionally get on each others’ nerves, the group operates as a family.

"That is how we see our-selves — not just a group of people working together for a short while in order to put a show together," she said.

Shaw said many in the cast are new and that Jennifer Cardinal, who will play the part of Tuptim, is expecting the group’s "newest player."

"So we’re pretty excited," Shaw said of the impending birth.

Three generations of the Osterhout family have acted throughout the Hilltowns Players’ history.

"Family stays together day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, no matter what, on stage and off," Shaw said. "That’s how the Hilltowns Players have managed to last as long as it has, and will, without a doubt, continue for years to come."

"You just stick together and you work through things," Shaw said, "and the community’s always been very supportive."


The Hilltowns Players will perform
The King and I at the Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School auditorium on Route 443 this weekend. Friday and Saturday night performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and a Sunday matinée is scheduled for 3 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults with a $2 discount for seniors and students ages 12 to 18, and $6 for children under 12.

[Return to Home Page]