It was a beautiful Cape Ann day, unremarkable from any other that we are used to here. My bestie Tomi Sousa & I decided to drive the 127 loop around Cape Ann to take in the sights, breathe the salt air, as we are inclined to do from time to time on a lovely day. Tomi mentioned something like "oh they filmed a scene from The Clamdigger's Daughter over there." It was one of those random moments that was so off the cuff that it was hardly noticeable.
Worlds are turned on such moments.
We passed the Lanesville Fish Shack. "They filmed it over there too," she said. "Filmed what?" "The Clamdiggah's Daughtah," she said, Gloucester girl that she is. I asked her to tell me more about it.
In 1974, a young woman in her 20's named Roberta Findlay came up to Cape Ann from the Bronx, NY, to film a soft core porn against the romantic backdrop of Cape Ann. A straight up melodrama - rich boy with dead mother and overbearing father falls irrepressibly in love and lust with poor girl with dead mother and overbearing father. Rich boy is already betrothed to a slutty debutante with a foot fetish who claims to be a virgin, whilst the poor Clamdigger's Daughter struggles between her love for the son of the sea captain and how like a clam out of water she would feel in the classist and elite world he belongs to. Star-crossed lovers, destined for tragedy.
How could I resist? I immediately called my best friend and 30 year writing partner Peter Jones and told him we had to start writing this as an operetta. I researched online to find out all I could about this cult film. Because this was such a small film there was very little information out there. But I finally tracked down Roberta Findlay herself, now the owner and president of Sear Studios in Manhattan, one of the hottest music recording studios in the world, having recorded the likes of Paul McCartney, David Bowie... even the Muppets! She agreed to meet with me, and by the end of a three hour conversation about the history of the film and Gloucester in the 70's, she handed it to me, all rights, carte blanche, whatever I wanted to do with it. She was perplexed as to why anyone would want anything to do with, as she put it, "that piece of schlock I made in '74."
There was no script in existence, and no surviving print of the film, save for a choppily hacked up print which I found pirated online for cheap.
Peter and I transcribed the script right from the film, and cobbled together this campy operetta using the actual dialogue and situations to develop the music and lyrics. We decided to take a little poetic license, and set the story in a tiny fictitious depression era Gloucester movie theatre, The Bait Box Cinema (and sometimes theatre). When the old clunker of the movie projector breaks down for the umpteenth time, Stella Wagon, the manager of the Bait Box (Tomi Sousa), to save the day (and prevent the audience from walking out), announces much to the chagrin of her staff that they will perform the story... live.
Casting was a bit of a challenge, so we double cast a few of the roles. Somehow it all worked out, and the cherry on top is that Peter offered to come up from NY to music direct and play the shows for the run.
I am humbled to work alongside these amazing talents and heartfelt artists. The word amateur, though used in common vernacular to mean "unprofessional" or "unpolished" actually has a much different root. An amateur is simply one who does what they do for love. That is who we are. That is the gift of this company, first, last and always.
We think that is pretty cool. Thank you for receiving the gift, and for supporting this hard-working little theatre that could.
Henry∞Cameron Allen (Chief, Cook & Bottle Washer) has a lifelong career as a theatre artist: folklorist, performer, director, writer, designer, producer, global Life Skills ambassador and arts educator. A master's graduate of the National Theatre Conservatory and the founding director of the Folklore Theatre Company, Henry strives to bring sensitivity and expertise to his mentorship of people at all life’s stages, youth through senior. Read his full bio on the Our Story page.
Michael Lee Benjamin (Jason/ Virgil) is a graduate of Salem State University '15 with a degree in Music. He is from Peabody, MA and has a joy for singing, playing guitar, being a good father and making himself and the people around him laugh. This is his first theater production since high school and he is pleased to join The FTC in The Clamdigger's Daughter.
Caroline Connolly (Emily/Hilda) has been a core member of the Company, having portrayed characters such as Luce George in Dogtown Common: Never Try, Never Win, Mrs. Andrews in Gloucester Boy, Mrs. Puddington in Murder on Rocky Neck, The Opera, Deborah in Judith Sargent Murray's The Medium, or Virtue Triumphant, and Mamma Scolafazza in Greasy Pole, The Musical. She is thrilled to be returning to portray multiple roles, in this latest Henry-Cameron Allen Production.
Alec Daniels (Intern) has come to Gloucester from Denver, Colorado where he is currently a senior at The Denver Waldorf School. This is his first time to the Northeastern United States, and he has been busy at The FTC, creating video promos, helping with tech, learning about filmmaking and the industry, and helping with the upcoming Hammond Castle Haunted tour, Ghosts of Hammond Castle: Echoes From The Deep. Alec generously donated our new 150" projection screen, as well as a projector ceiling mount and a Cards Against Humanity game deck. He says he'll be back.
Shannon 'Soks' Gemma (Sally/General Whore) has been working with Henry Allen since 2009 and has come a long way since needing to use peanut butter as hair gel. Originally from Rhode Island, Shannon has done many shows with The Folklore Theatre Company, and has a degree in Fine Art.
Steve Gemma (Lighting Director) is delighted to be returning to the Folklore Theatre Company (FTC). Recently his credits include The LobstahCrackah Ballet: Revenge of The Gull King, Greasy Pole, The Musical, and Gloucester Boy, all with The FTC. He is currently a junior studying Church Ministries at Liberty University. During the day, he is a Development Manager with Sovos Compliance.
Ariane Grossi (Hank, Henry, Lily) This is Ariane’s 3rd production with The Folklore Theatre Company. Previous roles have included Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Mary Hubert in Nunsense, Donna in The Taffetas and Simon in Jesus Christ Superstar. She would like to thank Henry and Company for welcoming her into this amazing group. Peace!
Betsey Janus (Dramaturg) is serving as the resident Dramaturg. She has loved every moment bringing together this and other productions with the cast and production team. Betsey holds a BA in Art History from UMass Dartmouth. She would like to thank her family and Henry Allen for their patience and support throughout the entire process. “Break a leg to the entire cast!”
Peter Jones (Composer, Music Director) was born before the doctor could get there and raised on a jackalope ranch in the Big Horns of Wyo. Peter one day came upon an abandoned honky-tonk piano whilst walking the long four mile path to the little red school house. He's been certifiable ever since. This was back in the 20th century. After a few years in Denver writing and what not ('twas there he wot-not-ed a show with Gloucester's own Henry Allen and a friendship extraordinaire flourished!), Peter then hopped a train to the Big Apple and it's been uphill ever since. He currently helps out around the house of Stephen Sondheim in between writing masterpieces like "Clamdigger" on the train to and from NYC and his rural home in Pawling, NY. He as also been a collaborator on FTC favorites Greasy Pole, The Musical and Gloucester Boy.
Jim Kawski (Captain Hammond) is in his third production with The FTC, having previously made his stage and FTC debut playing the part of Colonel Mellfont in Judith Sargent Murray's The Medium, or Virtue Triumphant last season, and then as . Tuesday nights he and his Blues Band, Bare Bones, can be found at the Chop Shop in Seabrook NH. He resides in Magnolia.
Patrice Kelly (Prudence/Abigail) is a senior studying Vocal Performance at Salem State University. She has been studying voice professionally for over 11 years under 3 vocal coaches. She has been a part of The FTC since 2011 when she was seventeen. She helped start The UnAdulterated Cabaret and her first show with Henry was Song of the Sea. She was also in three productions of Greasy Pole, the Musical. She is honored to play two leading ladies in The Clamdigger’s Daughter.
Yuri Morozov (Accordion) was born in 1950 in Moscow, Russia, and started music school at age 7 to study accordion. He later learned guitar, and became fascinated with The Beatles, who were his biggest influence. At age 25, he studied English so he could understand their lyrics. He immigrated to America at age 40, and started playing Balalika gigs around Boston, then played bass guitar in a rock band in Beverly. He debuted with The Folklore Theatre Company in 2013, playing Grampy in In A Birdseye, and has since joined us for Greasy Pole, The Musical, The LobstaCrackah Ballet, and Gloucester Boy. He is excited to be back for The Clamdigger's Daughter, which he believes is destined for Broadway!
Adam Ricker (Technical Director) is a man of many talents with a devotion to community service. He has decided to step up as a volunteer in the company as an actor, and as an experienced electrician and engineer. He made his debut with The FTC as William in Judith Sargent Murray's The Medium, or Virtue Triumphant in 2016, and is excited to return to the stage in her second play, The Traveller Returned, planned for the FTC's 7th season.
Tomi Sousa (Stella/Clem) cannot believe this is her 3rd year in The Folklore Theatre Co! This is also the 12th production she has been in during that time. Favorite roles (so far) have been Sister Immacolata in Greasy Pole, The Musical, Sylvia in 34 Beds, GrAnnie Ick in GrAnnie! Miss Dorinda Scornwell in Judith Sargent Murray's The Medium, or Virtue Triumphant, Serpent Mother in First Break, Aunt Corona in Gloucester Boy, and as Shiloh the Shrimp Cocktail Fairy in The LobstahCrackah Ballet: Revenge of The Gull King. She is so happy & proud to be a core member of this amazing family. Much love!!
In the show we feature a video clip of Jennie "The Bazoom Girl" Lee, American exotic dancer, burlesque entertainer, pin-up model, and a minor role movie actress. Read more about her life and time by clicking her photo!