Blog Post # 23: Our History: Charles Rackliffe, General Manager - ACADEMY OF MUSIC
M. Frank Shaughnessy, former manager of the Academy of Music

On the left, M. Frank Shaughnessy, former manager of the Academy of Music

By Debra J’Anthony, Executive Director

Charles Rackliffe of Holyoke took over managing the Academy of Music on July 1, 1927 with a one-year profit sharing agreement of 50% of net earnings. He sites himself as general manager and employs an executive staff of ten:  Resident Manager Frank Shaughnessy, Assistant Manager Charles Ledoux, Advertising Manager James Aiken, Advertising Agent Edmund Lampron, Stage Manager Michael McMahon, Stage Carpenter Harry Brown, Electrician William McCreery, Property Man A. W. Briggs, Head Flyman J. Boudway, Cashier Mrs. Dinsmore, and Scenic Artist Howard Alcorn.

During the week of September 5th, the drama “Seventh Heaven” by John Golden was performed with a newly created stock company, Academy Players. The Northampton Players had accepted a contract with the Plaza Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida, and were now known as the Plaza Stock Company. The Academy Players hired stock performers Mike McMahon, Grace Kern, James Linehan, Grace O’Leary, and William McDougal. Their leading man, George Nolan from Dublin, Ireland had studied at Dublin University. He had performed in stock companies in Canada and New York before finding his way to the Suffolk Players in Holyoke. Mr. Nolan would have been familiar to Charles Rackliffe as owner of the Suffolk Theater. Academy Players leading lady was Helen Lewis of Ohio. Miss Lewis performed in stock companies throughout the country and came recommended to Mr. Rackliffe.

The program guide for the week of September 5th, a recent gift of local resident Joan Hicks, is peppered with area advertisers such as Northampton National Bank, Brookside Dairy, Boston Fruit Store, White Music Shop, Lasalle & Taft Ice Cream, A. McCallum & Co., The Plymouth Inn, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Wade Inn, Clark Coal Company, College Taxi, The New Northampton Hotel, and the White House Inn, among others.  Photographs and short biographies of the actors are formally  situated on the pages. A quarter page ad of the upcoming show, “New Brooms” with the tag line “Broadway’s Greatest Success” is placed on the back page.

After six months of operation, Resident Manager Frank Shaughnessy presented to the Academy’s trustees a net income of three thousand thirty four dollars and forty cents. The trustees, anticipating unexpected expenses, voted to hold the proceeds at that time.

The Academy of Music will present our first commissioned work, Nobody’s Girl, which features Frank Shaughnessy. Learn more.