Entertaining Generations: Winthrop Playmakers Open 75th Season

Thursday, February 21, 2013
By Cary Shuman

The Winthrop Playmakers have been front and center in the dramatic arts scene for 75 years. Judging by the enthusiasm of the current officers and members, the Playmakers intend to be providing shows and productions for many more years to come.

Pam Racicot, treasurer of the town’s theater group and a member of the Playmakers for 42 years, said Winthrop resident Ross Gilchrist founded the Playmakers in 1938.

After using different buildings in town for their home, the Playmakers moved in to their current building at 60 Hermon St. in 1973.

“Pat McGee was responsible for the Playmakers purchasing the current building that had previously been a Baptist church,” said Racicot. “Pat negotiated the whole deal and we were able to buy the property for $20,000.”

McGee has maintained her involvement in the Playmakers in many capacities but notably as a vocalist and actress in numerous productions.

Racicot has enjoyed her long association with the organization.

“Personally what I’ve gotten out of the Playmakers is the joy of being involved in live theater and being able to continue the shows in this economy,” said Racicot. “Other community theater groups have had to close their doors, but we’re hanging in there and going to keep going.”

Winthrop resident Grace Meidanis has been president of the Playmakers for one year and an active member since 2007. An artist who works in human resources for a technology company, Meidanis has assisted in the painting of scenery for the shows and in the designing of sets. She has also performed on stage.

Meidanis said while it has been more difficult in recent years for the Playmakers to attract large audiences to their shows for various factors including the economy and the changing interests of the community, the organization continues to enrich lives and bring enjoyment to many people.

“The Playmakers organization has been a staple and a constant presence in the community and enriched a lot of people and helped a lot of folks grow and attend college and perform in shows elsewhere,” said Meidanis. “Everyone in some way, shape, or form has been affected in a positive way – whether it’s changed them in their life or in their career as a performer.”

Meidanis said the organization prides itself on having a family atmosphere and being a collaborative group that puts on good quality theater for the community and gives people something fun to do.

“Not only has the quality been good, you can see the passion of the people who put the production together,” said Meidanis.

Meidanis said she has seen an influx of younger members in the group, noting that Max McGee, the grandson of Pat McGee, will be performing in a fundraising show at the theater on March 16.

“I’ve seen a full circle while I’ve been involved there and it’s nice to see,” said Meidanis. “People look forward to seeing our productions but with any non-profit, there is the challenge of keeping things going. We’re hoping with the observance of our 75th anniversary to let people know that we’re still here and we want to continue to be here.”

The Playmakers, who average about five plays a year, are currently staging “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” with performances continuing this weekend.

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