Updated March 23, 2015 Originally posted January 23, 2015
It’s hard not to get too effusive about Mole Hill Theatre. It offers a great line-up of local, regional, and occasionally national acts with a very reasonable cover charge, making for a funky – and family friendly – venue. There is plenty of room for dancing in this large space, good acoustics, and a variety of musical acts to fit all tastes.
Mole Hill is actually a converted tool and die shop in East Alstead. Giant, colorfully-painted (and occasionally working) machines are part of the décor, as well as artwork and a variety of seating options. The lighting, wood stoves, and wood paneling all make the space warm and welcoming. Even more welcoming is the hosting provided by Dennis Molesky and Jackie Kensen.
The evolution from factory to music venue / theater began in the spring of 2003. Dennis and Jackie were hosting a karaoke party at the shop, but the mood got tense as the party devolved into a singing debate about the merits of the Iraq war. “A fight was averted, the karaoke started back up and the party was back on,” said Dennis. “My friend Peter Hendrick commented, 'This is great theatre’. And in that moment we decided to build one. Intuitively we knew that with a focus on the arts we could create an establishment where neighbors of differing political persuasions could come together and celebrate the best of what this region has to offer.”
The first steps Dennis, Jackie and Peter embarked on were building a stage, clearing out obsolete equipment, and painting the space to host live theater productions. And while Mole Hill is primarily a music venue, theater productions continue to this day. The resident company is the self-titled Mole Hill Players, and there are visiting companies such as the Rude Mechanical Theatre Company. The Theatre also hosts benefits for individuals and organizations such as the Fall Mountain Food Shelf and the Monadnock Conservancy as part of its mission to helping the community and others.
The Theatre hosts musicians most weekends from a wide variety of musical genres. Many of the concerts begin with a potluck dinner before the show. There aren’t a lot of options for dining out here,” explained Dennis. “So we think about the band and the crowd they attract. Older people like to make an evening of it and tend to prefer to start early. The younger crowd likes to start late so we don’t have a dinner when we have a band that appeals to them. Sometimes the band will request the potluck so they have dinner taken care of.” All drinks are BYO, and so children are welcome to join in the fun. “We are not a bar,” says Dennis. “Live music is important and we want it to be affordable.” To that end, the cover charge is typically around $10 with children admitted at half-price. Music for the people, indeed!
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Monadnotes promotes live music opportunities in the southwestern New Hampshire area. We list musicians, venues, community ensembles, and events in Keene, Milford, Peterborough, Henniker and surrounding towns, as well as in the greater Connecticut River Valley and Pioneer Valley regions. Monadnotes has the most complete calendar listing of events and continues to expand. Contact us to be listed on our website.