The Hippo


May 27, 2020








20th Anniversary Festival Capitol Center for the Arts

Where: 44 S. Main St., Concord
Contact: 225-1111,
Admission: Admission to all eight 
performances is $260
Truck Friday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m., $50
Martina McBride Saturday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m., $59.50-$89.50
Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea Sunday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m., $25-$35
Concord Chats: 44 S. Main St. 
Thursday, Oct. 1, at 6 p.m., free, advance tickets required
Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki Trio and David Surette & Susie Burke Thursday, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m., $15
Seth Glier Friday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m., $15-$20
II Trovatore (Met Live in HD) Saturday, Oct. 3, at 12:55 p.m.
A Salute to Glenn Miller Sunday, Oct. 4, at 4 p.m., $20-$45
Online auction
There’s also a two-week online silent auction occurring during that period; 52 items are up for grabs at They include things like guitars autographed by Martina McBride and Alan Doyle; signed posters of past performers (Hal Holbrook, Ailey II dancers, the cast of Fiddler on the Roof); a private meeting with Gov. Maggie Hassan; framed original CCA marquee letters, and tickets for Opera New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, ski resorts, hotel stays, etc.

Two-week Party
Festival commemorates 20 years of the Cap Center

By Kelly Sennott

 In the years after the Capitol Center for the Arts’ 1989 closure, there were no visitors; building leak rivers ran through the basement, and instead of artists, pigeons made their home here. To today’s audiences, it would have been unrecognizable.

“It was really on its last legs,” said Owen DeFrancesco, CCA marketing manager.
Then, in 1995, the Concord community infused new life in the center, which was originally built in 1927. Two hundred fifty volunteers contributed 3,000 hours to paint and restore the Egyptian-motif artwork. They raised $4.2 million and renamed the 1,300-seat theater The Chubb after the largest benefactor, Chubb Life.
Since then, things have only gotten better; in 2003, the CCA saw another restorative upgrade, and today it’s home to not only the Chubb Theatre but also The Spotlight Cafe for more intimate performances, with tables, chairs and drinks, and The Salon, in the attached Victorian house, for even smaller presentations.
In the opinion of CCA staff, the transformation the nonprofit has made is remarkable and cause for celebration— they’re throwing a 20th Anniversary Festival, which consists of two weeks of performances that commemorate all the CCA has to offer. The shows range from tech-savvy (like Truck, which transforms a 17-foot box truck into a stage performance Sept. 25) to country (Martina McBride performs Sept. 26) to conversational (Concord Chats, which includes a 40-minute documentary about the Kimball Jenkins house). 
“When we began talking about the 20th anniversary, I wanted to celebrate all we’re doing. We couldn’t have just one big gala night, because that’s not who we are. The idea was to create a festival umbrella, where we could celebrate … the diversity of our programs,” said Nicolette Clarke, CCA executive director, via phone.
The center has seen everyone and everything. Slam poets and National Theatre screenings. Musical concerts and art presentations. Community events. Every year it grows, Clarke said; currently there are 267 regular volunteers and 17 regular employees who work in marketing, programming, finance, production and front-of-house. The center saw 155 shows, 66 of which were “mainstage” productions, last year. On top of that, there were 80 community events.
“The goal has always been to provide a space for Concord residents, and for people from Concord and beyond to come together and celebrate live theater and live performance in general,” DeFrancesco said.
While the CCA draws in big names like Dave Chappelle and Martina McBride, DeFrancesco argues this isn’t its only role — in his opinion, the CCA was also the start of downtown Concord becoming more lively. He pointed to Red River Theatres and the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen gallery, which opened afterward down the street. 
“There’s a feeling among various groups we’re starting to get an arts hub downtown,” DeFrancesco said.
Clarke agreed.
“We really feel we are a major contributor to activity [in Concord]. There’s a ripple effect economically. We know restaurants are filled when we have shows. When we have a dance competition for a weekend, we have people staying in hotels and shopping downtown. We do see ourselves as a strong force in the region,” Clarke said. 
The plan is to keep growing; Clarke hopes to see the day when the facility will be able to hold multiple performances in multiple CCA venues per night, and to eventually house a full-time restaurant.  

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