WRVP Sponsors ‘Return of Crazy Chase’

Arts / Jul. 24, 2011 2:32pm EDT

By Martha Slater

The White River Valley Players will sponsor “The Return of Crazy Chase,” a one-man mini-musical comedy starring Allen Church as one of Vermont’s least-known and most fascinating individualists, Friday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Pierce Hall on Main Street in Rochester. There will be a homemade pie sale at intermission. 

Church wrote the show after first hearing about the real Crazy Chase in 2004 at a nursing home in Craftsbury, when he was entertaining the residents with Irish fiddle tunes.

In this performance, Church brings back the legendary fiddler and Vermont character Alfred “Crazy” Chase, a cigar-smoking guy who played the fiddle while wearing a dress, and a time of neighborhood cake parties and seasonal barn dances.

“It’s a show that honors northeast fiddling, and the independent spirit of both Crazy and the state where he was born and brought joy to so many,” Church said. “I conducted dozens of interviews as I gathered stories about Crazy and they inspired ‘scenes’ in the show. There are several fiddle tunes from our rich New England tradition and some original songs. This music reflects our French Canadian heritage and our ties to Scotland, Ireland, and England. It’s celebratory, toe-tapping, and infectious.”

Church also noted that, “Part of Vermont’s identity is an inclination toward tolerance. I think this tendency toward inclusion has much to do with our rural nature, climate, and celebration of individuality. Start asking around and you’ll find that characters were found in every village.”

Now in his mid-50s, Church graduated from Trinity College with a BA in music and became a music educator. 

“I started with the disabled and mislabeled and then moved on to elementary music education where I stayed for 18 years,” he said. “It was challenging and great fun.”  

He established the Different Drummer String School, a guitar/fiddle/violin school, in 1998, and also performs solo, with bands, and on the stage. He has performed and recorded with Natterjack and The Earthman Band, and currently plays in an Irish duo and an Americana roots band.  

After seeing Church’s show last year, well-known Vermont author and historian Howard Frank Mosher called it “brilliant and hilarious. At a time when ‘the village was the world’ for most Vermonters, Alfred ‘Crazy’ Chase made his life into a work of art. Cross-dresser, musical savant, entertainer, and piano tuner extraordinaire, Chase was literally one in a million. With great insight, humor, and empathy, Mr. Church catches perfectly the wonderful talent, strangeness, and humanity of one of Vermont’s last self styled characters. ‘The Return of Crazy Chase’ abounds with music, laughter, anecdotes, and history. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Tickets for the show will be sold at the door.





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