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Harwood Union theater director Peter Boynton produces and directs a production of West Side Story as his final show at Harwood Union School. This will be Boynton's thirteenth and final spring musical after first teaming up with band director Chris Rivers and choral director Diane Phillips for their first collaboration on a production of Guys and Dolls in 1997.
This year's production is West Side Story, which runs Thursday, April 9, through Saturday, April 11, with evening shows at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 1:30 p.m. The Saturday matinee will include the traditional pre-show meet the orchestra presentation led by conductor Chris Rivers. Audience members will get an opportunity to see and hear each instrument in the orchestra and get an explanation of its musical role. The children in the matinee audience are also invited to meet the cast and come up on the stage after the show.
After second-homing in The Valley for many years, Boynton took a sabbatical from his professional theater and television career in New York City and moved here full time to raise his daughter, Noni, in 1995. While holding down a local full-time job to pay the bills, Boynton became involved with the Harwood theater program as well as serving a stint on the Harwood school board as Waitsfield's representative.
He also was instrumental in starting the dance program at Harwood a number of years ago and has been the faculty dance instructor for the past year and a half. In a belt-tightening move the program was eliminated from next year's budget -- not an uncommon scenario nationally as the visual and performing arts are often deemed less important than traditional academics.
Boynton has kept his theater skills honed by playing lead roles in musical productions at Lost Nation Theater in Montpelier and eventually renovating and opening The Skinner Barn as a site for educational, social and cultural events. He brings in New York and local theater professionals each summer to teach young theater artists at his ongoing summer theater camps as well as presenting cabaret and theater productions each July and August.
His daughter, Noni Boynton, graduates from Harwood Union this year and will head off to art school allowing him the opportunity to pursue professional acting roles again during the school year. He and his wife, Regina Darmoni, plan to commute between their home in Waitsfield and New York City.