25 Years of This Great Guy

How the 17th Century foiled plan of Guy Fawkes on the English Parliament become a staple on the shores of Misquamicut

When your stay in Misquamicut is winding down, it is time to plan your return, and as you book your stay for next summer, there is a charming local event October 1 that would be a perfect time to squeeze in an autumn visit, too.

The Guy Fawkes musical and bonfire night all began with this local guy: Caswell Cooke. Today Cooke is a town councilor, a champion of the beach, founder of the Misquamicut Business Association, and really, a local celebrity. Born and raised here, he truly never ceases thinking about how to elevate, celebrate, and share our corner of the shore. So it is no surprise that in 1995, after returning from an internship in England with a member of Parliament, he found the spark of this bonfire idea that would become what is now officially a 25-year event the locals look so forward to.

“I was at The Prout School, right after the school had become coed,” he said. “So my friends Ryan Zemanek, Chris DiPaola, Matt Hopkins, and I, well we were really close, as part of the small group of guys there.” Caswell brought the history of Guy Fawkes home and coincidentally attended a Fawkes party at Trow Cottrels home with his good friends and thought what a great way the story could bring more guests to the beach in the off season. So a script was written and a tradition was born.

In the beginning they performed at The Andrea for a dozen people, but each year the friends put a new creative spin on it, added musical numbers and staging and costumes and it grew and grew to nearly 500 last year.

The event is raucous, very musical and a smidge bawdy. “The story is presented in such a funny way,” says DiPaola, who is a local celebrity himself as the owner of WBLQ radio. “It parodies movies and music and current events–and it changes every single year.” DiPaola is usually cast as the king and brings a great improvisation of Rodney Dangerfield to the character.

Archbishop robes are bestowed annually on Zemanek, who as a Thespian and writer himself, is often part of the annual reimagining and humor of the production. “We keep it fresh, and so the audiences grew. It is a family experience. Twenty-five years have gone by in a blink. It’s most extraordinary to see these fine young men and women who started as torchbearers and are now part of the larger cast. We are bringing the show now to the next generation.”

Some hilarious themes from the years have been The Beach Boys or The 2016 Election and even once Guy was played as a misunderstood criminal with a tone of William Shatner.

“If you want to laugh your face off and learn a little something of history at the same time, this is a perfect evening for you,” says DiPaola.

*Even though GF Day is officially in November, Misquamicut’s production is in October to take advantage of the perfect weather. There is no admission fee for this event. • Due to the nature of the show’s humor, the recommended minimum age is 13. • The event will take place rain or shine, either outdoors or inside the Windjammer’s ballroom. • Refreshments will be available from the Windjammer. • Please bring a folding chair. • Check the website, guyfawkesusa.com for updates.

 

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