SUNY students and ladies of the local community collaborate on historical documentary

Pictured from left: Susan Mackay, Kathleen Saunter, Marcia Merrins, Mary Croxton, Nicki Schoenl, Judy Lutz Woods.

Black velvet and lace, silks and shawls, bonnets and brooches are just a few of the original 19th century fashions that twelve local ladies paraded for the camera. As part of an historical documentary, “Among the Hemlocks, Fantastic Stories from Fredonia, NY,” the ladies were crucial for a scene recreating the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The documentary is in the final month of production, but the women’s temperance scene involved almost a year of planning, with dozens of locals helping out.

Rick Davis, Fredonia Opera House executive director, Marcia Merrins and Mary Croxton secured ladies from the Lilydale history group and the League of Women Voters. Mary Croxton was also instrumental in finding Nancy Adams, who has a massive collection of original period clothing. Nancy loaned out several costumes and bonnets for the women’s temperance scene, and the costumes created much excitement and gasps of admiration for all on the film set.

SUNY theatre freshman, Molly Falkenstein held her own amongst the grand ladies. Local artists, Marcia Merrins, Susan Mackay and Nancy Nixon-Ensign were stunning, while Nicki Schoenl, Kathleen Santer, Joanne Mansfield, Hope Harvey, and Judy Lutz Woods glowed under period lanterns. SUNY faculty, Drs. Jessica Gugino and Laurie Ceraci were exquisite marching alongside the superb Alex Holbrook. Alex is recognizable from Twelfth Night as part of the Shakespeare on the Lake summer series. Her young daughter, Sam, has also helped in the documentary as in the summer she supplied the voice over for Lydia Bradish who saw General Lafayette visit Fredonia in the 1800’s.

SUNY students from the Communication, business, theatre and VANM departments spent the whole day working on set, ensuring the filming went smoothly and even finished ahead of schedule.

With the support of Nancy Nixon-Ensign, the completed documentary will be previewed at The Octagon Gallery, Westfield on December 6 at 6pm. The Fredonia Barker Library and Opera House are arranging screenings while the SUNY College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Brown Bag Lunch will host a screening on March 6, 2019 at noon in the Williams Center.

Supported by SUNY Provost Dr. Terry Brown, “Among the Hemlocks, Fantastic Stories from Fredonia, NY” is also supported by the New York State of Opportunity, Council of the Arts. These grant programs are funded by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program with support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature.