Green-Wood Cemetery brings The Spoon River Anthology back to life

Like its characters, “The Spoon River Project” is coming back from beyond the grave – returning to Green-Wood Cemetery this June with playwright/director Tom Andolora’s stage adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters’ 1915 masterpiece, “The Spoon River Anthology.”

The successful first production amidst Green-Wood’s sometimes century-old headstones in summer 2011 brought to life the after-life ruminations, regrets and confessions of dozens of the fictional small town’s former residents, including stone-cutter Richard Bone and poetess Minerva Jones.

Viewers new and old will become immersed in their stories, the heart of “our town, America,” and the essence of the original literary work.

“This adaptation is reintroducing people to the book because a lot of people don’t know the book, but because it’s in the cemetery, they go to see it, not sure what they’re going to see,” said Andolora. “They come away realizing they’ve actually seen a real piece of literature, not a ghost story.”

Setting the scene, Andolora says to “Imagine sitting in a Victorian cemetery on a beautiful summer’s night when the “residents” who live in the cemetery begin appearing in the distance, assemble in front of you, and one by one divulge the secrets their lives held. . . To be brought into the middle of a cemetery at night and have a piece of theater unfold in front of you? It’s kind of a magical experience that I don’t know where else you would get.”

Guests also get an opportunity to pause and reflect on their own lives.

“We never think today is going to be our last day, but that’s going to happen to all of us one day,” said Andolora. “All of those people in Green-Wood – over 500,000 of them – all had stories, children, occupations ,desires, regrets, wants, needs, hopes, dreams – everything that we all have – and this just takes some of those stories and shows us that we have to live for today.”

The period drama was adapted by Andolora, a Brooklyn College professor who originally worked on the monologues as an acting exercise with students. It will feature over a dozen actors and musicians in period costumes, performing by torchlight, with musical staging by Broadway veteran Jeffry Denman. Songs will include “Shall We Gather at the River,” “Softly and Tenderly,” and “In The Gloaming.”

Performances run from June 13-15, 20-23, and 27-30 and are supported by the Green-Wood Historic Fund.

Guests at “The Spoon River Project” will travel by trolley into the 478 acres, to a section populated by oak trees and graves from the Civil War era.

Early Bird tickets (purchased before June 1) are $20 for Historic Fund members and $25 for the general public. Tickets at the door are $30, or $25 for students/members. Midnight showings are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and include a tour of the Green-Wood Catacombs. Participants must be 15 years or older.

For more information or to make reservations, visit or call 718-768-7300.

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