Mole Hill Theatre
What: Mole Hill Theatre
Where: 789 Gilsum Mine Road, East Alstead, NH
When: Fridays & Saturdays
Why it’s neat-o: The Mole Hill Theatre is both a performance space for music and theater, and a fully functioning tool and die shop. The combination of art (performing and visual; you’ll see some super cool paintings and collages as you wander around) and working, practical, industrial-strength machinery makes this space the most unique and comfortable that I’ve been to; I think it’s the complete lack of pretention and attitude of both the space and its hosts, Dennis and Jackie, that make me miss the Mole Hill when I haven’t been there in a while. Plus, it’s just a fun place to hang out, and affordable too. It can also be rented for weddings (we went to a wedding here one July, and it was gorgeous, personal, and really fun), birthdays, and holiday parties.
It’s BYOB, so no inflated prices for beer (or whatever liquid refreshment you’re into), and often there is a potluck dinner, where guests bring whatever they feel like whipping up. They even have a full, spacious kitchen with a sink and refrigerator that guests can use for potlucks & private events for some last-minute prep work and clean-up. It’s kind of like a house concert where someone else hosts.
I haven’t been to a play at the Mole Hill, but have seen plenty of bands there, the styles of which range from quieter folk/Americana to fully electrified rock bands, and everywhere in between.
As a sometimes-performer in a couple of bands, my eyes light up when an opportunity to play here comes up. Dennis and Jackie have moved things around over the years, and made upgrades such as adding restrooms (there used to be just one when they started out – now the performers even have their own designated restroom!), and expanding the open area on the stage (very nice when performing with our 6-piece band). Performers can set up the stage exactly as we want it, and can use the house PA system or bring our own. There is a Green Room for performers to leave their things, practice up beforehand, and just lounge around comfortably in peace & quiet; this room has so many cool details that I spot something new every time I’m in there.
There are two distinct levels for audience members, so people who’d rather focus on the performance, and/or dance, can be in one section, and people who would rather chat and wander can be in the upper section, while still having a good view of the stage. All around the perimeter of the lower level are string lights, giving everything a warm, cozy glow that everyone looks pretty awesome in.
The grounds that surround it are idyllic New England countryside, particularly in the bloom of summer. Cows graze in an open field across from the venue, and everywhere you look is green. When it gets hot inside on a jumpin’ night there, people wander outside for some fresh air and fantastic stargazing.
I tried to capture some of the magic of this place in pictures at various times over the years; here is a mini-tour (click on an image to view it full size; hit your browser’s Back button to return to this page):
I’d encourage any national acts passing through the area to set up a show at Mole Hill; it will be an evening you will not forget. If you do, tell Dennis that Neat-o.com sent you, and I’d be happy to help publicize your event locally in any way I can.
For more information, visit the Mole Hill Theatre’s facebook page, or call (603) 352-2585.