ELLENVILLE – "There's this amazing process," says Kathy McCafferty, one of the cast of the next show at the Shadowland, Miracle on South Division Street. "It takes about a week to take effect, but by then the city tension, the armor, goes away and you relax. That's something I associate with coming up here."
Jodie Lynne McClintock and Susan Slotoroff both agree. Their visits to Ellenville to perform at the Shadowland have not only introduced them to the scenic beauty of the area, but also to quieter, more peaceful patterns of life.
"Yeah, you relax," says McCafferty. "You realize you can let go!"
We caught up with the three actresses on their second day in rehearsal and they were still getting their breath back a little. All were happy to be back in a small town in the Catskills that was becoming part of their lives, and they were impressed with the changes they have seen taking hold on Main Street.
McClintock laughs as she recalls looking across the street and saying to herself, "Where's Gaby's?"
"We were looking around for it because it had become our home away from home last time," McCafferty chimes in, "Gaby's was such a welcoming place for us. I thought of it as 'the anchor of the block' the last time I was here."
Noting the spread of restaurants now, McClintock plans to explore them all. She also recalled great times at Aroma Thyme Bistro, just down the block.
"Oh, yes, we love it there, too," she says.
All seasoned professionals, the trio were also impressed with the changes at the Shadowland itself.
"The new stage," says McClintock, "it's heaven to work on. It's very wide, expansive, but it's also very intimate."
McCafferty is equally enthusiastic.
"It's the best theatre to work in," she says. "Now there are new dressing rooms; they really did a lot of work here."
Jodie McClintock explains that, "You don't have to push your performance out here. You can actually hear the audience response here like nowhere else I've worked. Especially at emotional moments, or funny ones."
The three shift to admiration for that welcoming sense they have always received from the community.
"There's an intimacy here," says Kathy McCafferty. "The same families are here; they're involved with the theatre. They have cookouts. I remember two little girls who were around the first time I came. The last time I was here, they'd grown up and one of them was assistant stage manager!"
The sense of being able to slip right in and be part of the extended Shadowland family, which reaches out into Ellenville and surrounding towns, is part of the charm for these actresses. Everyone recalled parties at the Briggs' home, and even the sadness when Debbie Briggs' dog, Bentley, passed away.
"That small community sense is important in many ways," McClintock adds. "I was here for the 9/11 commemoration in 2010, and that was so moving. I knew people who died on 9/11, but in the city the events in memory of that day are all so huge. It's a different feeling here, and it was wonderful to see the way people here rallied that day."
Susan Slotoroff calls this her "happy place."
"That's what I tell people when I'm coming up here," she explains. "I simply say, 'Okay, I'm going to my happy place in the country.'"
The actresses also enjoy working with Brendan Burke, longtime artistic director at the Shadowland.
"Brendan lets you take risks and in roles I wasn't sure I could do," Slotoroff says. "He challenges you. You're going to get to grow, to add skills."
Another aspect of the family approach at the theatre is explained by Jodie McClintock.
"I love the company concept, as in a repertory company," she adds. "So the way Brendan brings back the same people is a bit like that. So we know each other, we've worked together before and we can just hit if off like that. That helps when the rehearsal time is so short."
Susan Slotoroff loves the hiking in the area, and both she and McCafferty are keen on running and biking, too. McCafferty adds, "I met my husband here, at the theatre. We got engaged at Sam's Point."
Sam's Point, Minnewaska, and Mohonk are all places they are eager to see again. McClintock has friends in the local Ukrainian community, too.
"I've been to their resort on 209, CYM, it's amazing. And I went to a wedding at this tiny chapel. So tiny that we all sat outside," she observes. "The Ukrainians all come to see the show at the theatre."
Slotoroff adds another favorite aspect for her in the Ellenville experience.
"July 4th is special here. This will be my third July 4 in a row in Ellenville," she notes. "I love the parade, the fireworks; it's a very different event up here for me."
Will they go from annual visitors to something more frequent?
McCafferty says, "We have definitely been looking around," McCafferty says. "It would be great to have a place to come to here."
Jodie McClintock also likes the idea. She notes that the magic of a small town, with its community and its relaxed pace of life, has its appeal for city dwellers... especially for those who work as hard as actors do.