Keith Greenfield is known by many in the area as the “Music Man” because of his involvement in music and theatre and his creation of Open Fields, http://www.open-fields.org/ a community theatre group geared toward children.
The motto of the group --which Greenfield co-founded with fellow Dover resident Wendy Bornstein – is “Where young talent grows."
“There was another theatre group in town geared toward adults first and children second,” said Greenfield. “There was a void for a program that was geared toward kids…Open Fields really helps shape who they become and teaches them about giving back to the community; it shapes who they become.”
“It started with a group of 10 families originally at a roundtable at Keith’s house,” said Bornstein. “Back then, about 11 years ago, there wasn’t that much theatre in town…He’s like the Music Man, he’s touched so many lives.”
Open Fields is for anyone with an open mind and an open heart, said Greenfield, noting that the goal of the program is to make all children feel safe, welcome, confident, and where they can build another support system as part of the Open Fields family.
“We take on kids of all levels of talent in a town where it’s a very competitive community,” said Greenfield. “I try to bring them along at their own pace, and let them know that they’re critical to the production…Once somebody’s in, they very often grow with the production.”
Jessica Kiami, 17, is one of those students.
Kiami, now a senior at Dover-Sherborn Regional High School, started with Open Fields in second grade after seeing the group’s very first production, The Wizard of Oz.
In January, when the group revived the musical as celebration of its 10 year anniversary, Kiami played the lead role of Dorothy Gale.
“My first show was ‘Musicals Are Magic I’ [in 2002] and ever since then I’ve been involved with it, and it’s been amazing,” said Kiami. “You develop this second family when you go there, you feel like you’re in a safe place. Everyone is kind to one another, there is no jealousy and no attitude; it’s so nice to be with such good people. We respect each other and we encourage each other to be the best we can.”
Greenfield is sure to carry that message onto the stage where everyone is given a chance to shine, and he adapts the scripts if need be.
“I’m willing to compromise a bit on the output, on what’s on the stage to give every kid an opportunity,” said Greenfield, adding he likes to create family opportunities as well if possible.
Special adaptations in this year’s production included the Tin Man (Paul Morrison) who played the trumpet (this was his first acting role, prior to this year he was in the orchestra pit) and also sang to one of the forest trees played by his daughter; and the Lion (Greg White) being manicured by three of his four children who were in the show.
He also added a “Jitterbug” dance number that featured 15 dancing children.
“We try to create different unique moments where we can let the children shine,” he said.
Greenfield noted that this year’s production, over two weekends in January, featured two different casts.
“I chose to have two casts because there was no way I could have done it with one, I would have had to make 30 or 40 cuts,” he said.
And that does not fit the mission of Open Fields.
Greenfield also run a summer camp and classes with star performers. For more information, visit www.open-fields.org.