What Makes a Great Vacation?

Everybody has their own idea of a great vacation, I guess. For my daughter Sarah and me, this year at least, it had to include a lot of theater. She’s an actress and I’m an aspiring playwright.

But we also wanted to include kayaking and tennis and fresh air and splendid scenery, and we didn’t want to include toll booths, subways or taxicabs.

So we headed up to New Hampshire, where kids can see great theater in their flip-flops and jelly shoes. And I do mean great theater. The actors, directors, choreographers, musical directors, costumers, everybody, they’re the same folks who work on productions on Broadway, off-Broadway, and all the great regional theaters around the country.

I guess I was most impressed by the choreography. These companies have to perform on comparatively small stages, but in the productions we saw, far from scaling back the dancing, the choreographers seemed to take the small stage as a challenge, and also they seemed to want to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that every member of the company could do some serious hoofing.

I saw 18 to 20 dancers high-kicking on a 20-foot stage, gracefully and effortlessly — don’t tell OSHA. And they have to sing and act perfectly, too, and they do. I fell in love with every leading lady and was literally dazzled by the singing and dancing talent of every member of the company.

It’s hard to believe that while they’re performing a play for two weeks, they’re also rehearsing the next one.

The first two nights we stayed at the Rosewood Country Inn in Bradford with Dick & Lesley Marquis. If you’re looking for tranquility, serenity and beauty, this is where you’ll find it. People get married there every weekend; that’s how beautiful it is. We enjoyed it as a great place to veg out between interviews, rehearsals and performances.

Then we went to Purity Springs in East Madison, a wonderful resort where many families have been going for thirty or forty years. It’s been owned and run by the Hoyt family for six generations, and since they also run a summer camp and a ski area, they know a lot about having fun.

They have swimming and kayaking and volleyball and tennis and stuff like that on site, and they’re located in the Mt. Washington Valley which has every recreational opportunity anyone could ever want from hiking up Mt. Chocorua to fishing the Swift River to riding the alpine slide at Mt. Attitash.

They take a canoe trip on the Saco River every Thursday and hold a lobster bake on Purity Island. They usually send a van to the theater, but the week I was there it was a non-family presentation of Cabaret, which I loved, but I could see why they didn’t send the van.

Friday morning, when I told the waitress at the dining hall that I was checking out early, she packed me a box lunch with a sandwich and cookies and grapes. How cool is that?