Images from throughout the Friendly Society's history:
This year’s annual meeting will feature The First Parish Friendly Society, the second oldest operating community theater in the country. The program will combine a slide lecture by Pam Fox with performances of selected songs from original Friendly Society musicals of the 1950s and 60s.
The Friendly was founded in 1885 to help raise money for a new church building and “to encourage friendly relations among members of the First Parish of Weston, and to promote the growth and prosperity of said Parish.” At regular monthly meetings, members enjoyed comic dramas, suppers, “fancy dress parties,” literary evenings, games, musicales, mock trials, lectures, travelogues, and debates on topics such as “Shall Women Vote?” Beginning in 1902, theatricals were held at the private theater at Haleiwa, the estate of Horace S. Sears, a founder and first president of the Friendly.
The Friendly has changed with the times over its 131-year history. Within a few years of founding, non-church members were invited to join in the fun, and the organization was no longer part of First Parish. About 1915, the Friendly shifted away from educational programs to the more popular dramatics and dances. Between 1937 and 1971 the Friendly produced ten original musical comedies written entirely by members, sometimes chosen from three or four original submissions. In recent years the society, now called the Weston Friendly Society of the Performing Arts, has produced two or three major musicals a year. Throughout its history, proceeds from entertainments have been donated to charity.