'Theater is essential': The Belmont says goodbye to retiring director, actor
Early into his law career, Jack Hartman found little time for the performing arts.
Growing up on the stage, Hartman naturally gravitated toward the confidence-building magic of dance, acting and song. After graduating from law school, however, he traded time on the stage for the courtroom.
"I stopped actual formal theatrical work after law school for a long time. I relied on being a trial attorney and getting satisfaction from that," he said. "But then I had discovered The Belmont Theatre, which is a really strong community theater, and it happened to be where I was practicing law and I could end up doing both."
From his principal role as Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 2003, Hartman found home on the stage again.
While working at York-based CGA Law Firm, Hartman for 20 years has remained an integral pillar in The Belmont Theatre community.
His various acting and directing credits throughout the years will culminate in Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," opening on Friday. It will be Hartman's last play with The Belmont Theatre before moving to Long Island, New York, to support his wife's career, and he is both directing and starring in the production.
"I'm a bit of a ham. I like performing. I have, I'm told, the right voice for it and some talent to do it — and it also builds your self-confidence, all of which helped me as I developed my trial techniques as a civil trial attorney for about 48 years," Hartman said.
"All My Sons" at The Belmont Theatre will run Friday through Sunday, then from March 30 to April 2. All Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees start at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $30 for adults, $28 for seniors 62+, and $18 for youth 18 and under. They can be purchased by visiting www.thebelmont.org or calling 717-854-5715.
"Community theater is essential to the arts scene in a community, and the Belmont has a strong belief in producing different types of shows across the board," Hartman said. "And I have from the beginning been part of a push to bring intense dramas that are both entertaining but also thought provoking."
This is Hartman's sixth time directing, having also directed "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"; "Frankenstein"; "Steel Magnolias" and "The Elephant Man."
Despite feeling drawn toward dark and dramatic stories, Hartman's favorite play he worked on was the comedy "Moon Over Buffalo," written by York native Ken Ludwig.
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Rehearsals for "All My Sons" started in February. While Hartman said he's sad this is the last show he will be part of at The Belmont, he's also looking forward to seeing the community come together and experience it together.
"This particular play calls into question social responsibility, personal relationships and integrity," he added. "And The Belmont does that at a level of what the patrons who come, call 'Broadway-quality performances.' And that's exciting for me to be part of that. And I think the theater will continue to thrive because it does that well."