My Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories
By John R. Greenwood
|Jean Tafler as Margaret Hamilton enjoying a resounding standing ovation
This is not meant to be a theater review of John Ahlin's mono-drama My Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories. Its purpose is to emphasize the joy you can find when you venture off the edge of your comfort zone. Attending a play is not foreign to me, but it's not something I levitate to naturally. When it comes to buying tickets to a public performance, I'm much more apt to purchase tickets to a musician or author's event. A friend of mine who masterfully played the part of Lennie in Hubbard Hall's 2014 production Of Mice and Men highly recommended I purchase tickets to this latest one-woman play. When it comes to witnessing outstanding theater performances at Hubbard Hall, my record stands at two for two in the win column. In both cases, I am indebted to Chris Barlow of Sandgate VT.
I would like to commend Hubbard Hall on their handling of this beautiful play in times of Covid. They took every precaution possible to ensure the safety and comfort level of everyone involved. By prioritizing safety over numbers, my wife and I were able to experience a Tony Award-worthy performance by an extraordinarily talented Jean Tafler. My wife has been a fan of The Wizard of Oz ever since it first aired on color television. She has been a fan of Margaret Hamilton's just as long. Due to that long-standing fandom, she was quick to table a little covid-phobia and accept my invitation to attend the sixth and last showing of the play at Hubbard Hall. Fortunately, I acted quickly enough to secure tickets to that final matinee.
We were treated to an exceptional afternoon of theater in its finest attire. Jean Tafler gave a Broadway performance on Main Street with grace, humor, and professionalism. My wife and I are a hometown-average couple who enjoy life's simplest pleasures. It might be sipping coffee in our backyard or peeling a couple Slim Jims on a country ride. Let's say we are happiest when surrounded by things that calm us and keep us grounded to the earth. Although we were both looking forward to an entertaining play, we were awestruck at the acting ability and engagement we got from this talented actress.
I want to express how important it is to approach life with open eyes and mind. Thinking about what I would have missed had I been a rusty old curmudgeon and placed an afternoon of NFL above a Sunday Matinee at the theater makes me cringe. More importantly, both of us would have been shortchanged in the game of life. These little unearthed treasures are crucial to our mental health. For me, they keep me peering around corners, not in fear but in anticipation of the next great discovery. I've been blessed with plenty of what's good in the world, and I've never taken one speck of it for granted. It has taken a lifetime to hone the ability to appreciate whatever it is and place it on the "Life is Good" bookcase. The same bookcase I refer back to in times of doubt or despair.
Day after day, I witness people of my hair color whimpering and whining about the government, gas prices, or rain in the forecast. I'm guilty on occasion but what I don't do is park my pickup there. It only takes the turn of a page to find an opposing vantage point. One where you can witness the sun highlighting the leaves on that giant maple in your yard or the rain quenching your thirsty lawn. These are the times I'm reminded that life is precious and if you can't change something, why dwell on it. Stir that lemonade and move on.
Such was the case as I sat next to my wife of 47 years and soaked in an actor living out her passion full throttle. What a gift it was to see a room full of like-minded people fully engaged in watching Jean transform herself into Margaret Hamilton. She thoroughly convinced everyone in the room that we were face to face with Margaret herself. She made me want to hug every witch I knew and buy them a new broom.
I didn't write this to be dramatic about a play and its star; I did it to express my love of curiosity and what it has placed at my door. I remember being petrified of department store Santas as a child. I loved the old guy, but when offered the opportunity to sit on his lap and look him in the eye, I became overwhelmed with fear. I now have a four-year-old grandson who sported his little Santa outfit all summer. That's when Santa sits on your lap and melts your heart. Talk about Santa handing out gifts!
Unfortunately, you missed the opportunity to see this play locally. I don't know where it will travel to next, but I do know there will always be another play, concert, presentation, class, course, hike, Zoom, fundraiser somewhere tomorrow, next week, or next month. Don't think; act. Don't walk; run. Don't press pause; press play. Whatever you do, don't hesitate.
Take Thanksgiving seriously this year. It's a good time to forget why you don't like the person next door today and remember why you liked them five years ago.
Thank you once again, Hubbard Hall—for everything…