Opening Night for Author Mark Duffield

Special to Times

On Saturday night, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. at the small Footlights Theater in Falmouth, Maine, the curtain was raised before a packed house for the first time on any stage, an adapted radio play of Mark Duffield’s classical Beacon Hill Christmas story, “The Last Shepard and Tales of the Tenth Ornament: A Wee Yarn of Wonder at Christmastime.”

“I wrote the book 15 years ago. It was self-published and has been out of print for a long time.  I never had the money to reprint it. So, I am always amazed when from time to time people find this little tale of mine and want to bring it to another level. And always grateful for those who find my words worth passing along,” said Mark.

To help celebrate this event, Laura and Bob Cousineau of Upstairs Downstairs Home generously chartered a bus to transport 35 Beacon Hillers and guests to this once-in-a-lifetime performance. In addition, Jennifer Gallagher of Cobblestones graciously pitched in to supply food and sustenance for all. Finally, Boston’s beloved balladeer, John Everett Martin, led everybody in joyous song with the many carols of the season! It was a wonderful Christmas journey to Maine reminiscent of any holiday movie you may have enjoyed over the years.

Mark’s book, along with the raising of thousands of dollars for childhood cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital, came at the suggestion of actor Richard Thomas of ‘The Waltons’ TV show fame. Mark has remained friends with Richard over the years and has attended many of his stage plays – most recently, when Richard played Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ here in Boston.  Richard was kind enough to offer a printed message of congratulations that was read by Producer/Director Michael Tobin in his introductory remarks.

Here it is: “Good evening, everybody.  What a wonderful thing, to have the beautiful story of the Last Shepard on the stage!

“I want to congratulate Mark and Sharon on all they’ve done over the years to keep this story alive.  It has proven itself over and over to be an inspiring addition to our Holiday literature. As Mark and Sharon know, the theater is precious to me.  Its communal nature and intimacy make it the perfect storytelling place; and I’m especially proud of my association with ‘The Last Shepard’ and its creators.

“So, sit back and enjoy the delight and inspiration of our newest Christmas Classic.  And let us all congratulate and applaud producer/director Michael Tobin celebrating 11 years of live year-round theatre and dedicating his professional life to bringing the best stage productions seen anywhere.  Congrats, Michael! 

“And now, under Michael Tobin’s direction, for the first time on any stage let us watch and enjoy ‘The Last Shepard and Tales of the Tenth Ornament’ as it comes to life on the boards!  Congratulations to all and to all a Merry Christmas!”

There was a second performance of ‘The Last Shepard’ on Monday Dec. 11, before another packed house.

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