By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – It was only supposed to be a temporary move – 10 years ago.
“I had gotten my master’s in theater and theater education at NYU,” said Danielle Henrici. “I was working as an actor and a stage manager, but I decided to leave Manhattan temporarily, move Upstate and save money.”
In 2010, Henrici founded the Glimmer Globe Theatre, now a program of the Fenimore Art and The Farmers’ museums. “I taught some acting classes, then got the job at the Smithy, and they welcomed those theater components.”
She met her husband Michael Henrici in 2012, and that was when things really began to come together, she said. “There are gaps in my skill set as far as lighting design and building sets, but Michael does all those things,” she said. “And we could combine our powers.”
The two now serve as the co-artistic directors of the company, which produces two plays every summer at The Fenimore’s Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater alongside Otsego Lake, as well as the annual “A Christmas Carol” at The Farmers’, plus the Next! Playwriting Competition and reading series.
“Live performance as an art form has an incredible power to open minds and hearts,” she said. “It’s a shared experience, it’s moving, it’s exciting, it‘s inspiring, it’s a whole new way of looking at the world.”
Henrici was the director of education at the museums in 2014-18, bringing the company with her and expanding the live offerings of the museum, creating the Templeton Players to perform era-appropriate skits throughout the tour. “It followed me like a little duckling,” she said.
The first performance under the museums’ umbrella was Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” starring the couple as the murderous Scottish king and his diabolical wife.
“He has this line about storms and raging winds and just as he said it, a bolt of heat lightning crackled across the sky!” she said. “We’re able to use nature as a backdrop, as a character, the way Shakespeare did.”
Both Danielle and Michael have backgrounds in Shakespeare, and the company does one of the Bard’s plays every season. “It feels right to do Shakespeare outside,” she said. “It’s more like the groundlings, it’s a very earthy, very real feeling, like what it was like to see a show in Shakespeare’s time.”
This year, they will perform “The Tempest” and Eugene O’Neill’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten.”
“We like doing theater from the last 150 years,” she said. “It’s about making the classics accessible. No one else was doing Shakespeare, and it fits so beautifully with the museums’ celebration of art and culture.”
They added “A Christmas Carol” in 2013, with Michael starring as Scrooge since 2015, (succeeding Oneonta’s Gary Koutnik, who just retired as vice chairman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives.)
“I thought Cooperstown embodied the spirit of the story, not to mention that the village harkens back to the 19th century!” she said.
And although their summer season focus is on classics, the Next! Playwriting series is about discovering work that has not yet found an audience.
“I always loved going to Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan to hear work from up-and-coming playwrights, but there was no opportunities like that here” she said. “We saw a gap we could fill. Theater is about putting something out there and getting a reaction, and so many playwrights don’t get to hear that process on the stage and how an audience responds.”
Playwrights must live within 100 miles of Cooperstown, and every year, three are selected to be read as a staged reading in March. “The first year, we had eight submissions,” she said. “This year, we had more than 30.”