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Hudson Valley Press

October 10th, 2012

St. George’s church presents ‘Ancestral Voices’

NEWBURGH - St. George’s Episcopal Church will present  “Ancestral Voices” by AR Gurney on Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. in the Church at 105 Grand Street, Newburgh, NY, as a benefit for its historic cemetery.

A review in “Newsday” stated, “…with ‘Ancestral Voices’, the result is a wistful, colorful companion piece to ‘Love Letters’.” In May 2011, Gurney’s “Love Letters”  inaugurated the readers’ theatre productions to benefit St. George’s Cemetery.

Margaret and Peter Sipple, who  portrayed the protagonists  in “Love Letters”, will each have the opportunity to play two  separate  characters in the upcoming show. Margaret will be Madeleine and Fanny and Peter will be both Ed and Roger.

The Sipples will be joined  by a cast with a broad background in theatre. Barbara Shelley is Jane, their daughter,  and Glen Macken plays  their son-in-law, Harvey. If it is the grandparents whose relationship drives the action and shapes the lives of the  other family members, then it is their grandson, Eddie, who is the central character and narrator. Daniel Hess portrays Eddie from ages eight to twelve in the main body of the story, while Dustin Trowbridge is Eddie as an adult in his mid-thirties in the coda in a scene set in a magnificent cemetery.

For the most part, the play is set in Buffalo, NY in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A world at war is the backdrop for a family that is not quite at peace and where the rules of  society can cause quiet  battles to be waged in everyday life.

“Ancestral   Voices”  is poignant, sad, realistic, witty, heartwarming, and ultimately uplifting. St. George’s   Cemetery, at 145 Washington Street, in Newburgh is in need of uplifting in areas where there are toppled tombstones and grave markers marred by the ugliness of graffiti, and in sections where the fences require repair or replacing altogether. Trees need to be trimmed, roadways need to be restored and photographic documentation of each tombstone needs to be done, along with computerized records and accurate mapping.

There are many needs, and yet much has already been done through the  church and greater community working together. The cemetery is indeed a beautiful  place  where ministry of remembrance is being practiced, lives are commemorated, and life is celebrated.

Coming days before All Hallows’ Eve, “Ancestral Voices”, subtitled  “A Family Story”, is a theatrical treat. It has been written that  this play leaves “exceedingly pleasant memories” in its wake.

Introductory musical selections by the Voices of Hope Children’s Choir will immediately precede the play, making the afternoon even sweeter, as well as reinforcing the intergenerational storyline of the play.

The Voices of Hope, under the program direction of Lana Williams-Scott, the  musical direction of Dovetta Beamon, and accompanied on piano by Sue Zahn, are a choir of children from kindergarten through sixth grade who sing culturally diverse music. The Voices of Hope set the time and place of the play and set the tone of hope for the goal of maintaining, improving, restoring and preserving the cemetery, which was founded in 1838 and remains an active burial ground where plots are still being purchased.

Tickets for the benefit performance may be obtained at the door or by calling the church at 845-561-5355. The website is A festive reception will follow “Ancestral Voices”.

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