Super Senior: Bill Blachly

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT
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EAST CALAIS, Vt. (WCAX) - Just up the hill on Blachly Road in East Calais, Bill Blachly beckons his 30 Scottish Highland cattle and 30 sheep. He’s been working the land and tending to the animals for over a half-century.

“I’m not sure love is the right word. I do it because it’s here, and so am I,” Blachly said. “Let’s face it, these animals are here because we’re going to eat ‘em. If you fall in love with somebody, you’re probably not going to eat ‘em!”

They’re also nature’s lawnmower, keeping the fields from turning into brush on his 300 acres of land. You would think that the 98-year-old would be busy enough raising cattle and sheep, but he’s got another activity, just around the corner.

“We have one theatre here and another one over there,” Blachly said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Why more than one?

Bill Blachly: Because you can do twice as much stuff.

The Unadilla Theatre’s first stage is in a converted sheep barn. “We usually have close to 100 people involved,” Blachly said.

The so-called “stage in the Styx” just finished performing the opera, “The Elixir of Love.” “I suggested to the cast, ‘Well, maybe we should perform it here.’ Well, they said, ‘That’s a ridiculous idea, nobody’s going to come out here.’ But, I said, ‘Let’s give it a try,’” Blachly said. That was 1983. Since then, thousands of people have enjoyed coming to this unique theatre in the summer. “The reason it’s called Unadilla Theatre, because before we insulated it, every single rafter had stencils on it, ‘Unadilla, Unadilla, Unadilla,’ all the way down.

Blachly does everything from selling the tickets to directing. He’s also acted in some of the productions. In 1996 he made it onto the silver screen in Tunbridge filmmaker John O’Brien’s “Man with a Plan.” He played the role of a long-time congressman running against loveable farmer Fred Tuttle in the Vermont-based satire.

Reporter Joe Carroll: If I remember right, you’re in a suit and tie, right?

Bill Blachly: Oh yes, very proper.

Like farming, his desire to bring performance to Central Vermont is explained with little theatrics. “I never thought of it as a passion, but we do it,” Blachly said. There were four productions this summer. The other theatre was built strictly for performances. “The actors like it, because they’re very close to the audience.”

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage.” For Blachly, it’s his little piece of Vermont.