Grafton plays Concord in John Stimpson’s ‘Orchard House’
In “Orchard House,” local director John Stimpson’s reimagining of “Little Women,” “General Hospital” actress Julie Marie Berman plays Jo, “Catch Me If You Can” actress Kaitlin Doubleday plays Meg, “Temple Grandin” actress Melissa Farman is Beth, and the town of Grafton plays Concord. Stimpson, who wrapped production on his new drama just over a week ago, explained that he produced “Orchard House” in Grafton even though Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House home is in Concord, because the historic building is now a museum and the Grafton shoot was far less complicated.
Stimpson’s “Orchard House,” which he made with Boston-based Moody Independent, modernizes Alcott’s classic tale by following the March sisters as they try to prevent their parents from selling their home, which has been in the family for generations. Though the characters’ names remain the same, the sisters are a bit older (all in their 20s) and their father is a war correspondent in Afghanistan instead of a Union Army colonel.
“Orchard House” takes place from Halloween to Christmas, which means that trick-or-treaters were spotted at the Grafton Country Store, and the Grafton Common was decked in Christmas lights for uncomfortable winter scenes. “It was 90 degrees and hot and we were in overcoats and sweating,” Stimpson told us, of shooting in July and August. Coproducer Andrea Ajemian, of Worcester, who worked with Stimpson on Lifetime’s “Sexting in Suburbia,” says extra air conditioners were brought into the home to keep the cast and crew cool.
A white pillared house in Grafton substituted for the brown Orchard House. Ajemian says they were looking for a New England home, not a replica. A big, fancy wood-paneled house off Elm Park in Worcester was used for the residence of neighbors Laurie ( Justin Bruening of “Ringer”) and his grandfather ( John Shea of “Gossip Girl”). Charlie Hofheimer (“Mad Men”) plays Meg’s love interest, John Brooke.
The feel-good Christmas movie is waiting for a distributor, but producers hope the film will be out by — you guessed it — Christmas.