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New play looks at Mayo, music and Rochester

In the Air on the Edge of Nowhere
The Rochester Symphony presents "In the Air on the Edge of Nowhere" on Wednesday evening at the Plummer House. From left, are Nick Mezacapa, Rich Peterson and Rochester Symphony Orchestra Conductor Jere Lantz.

The debut of a new readers theater play about the connections between Rochester, Mayo Clinic and the arts, was presented Wednesday at the Plummer House.

"In the Air on the Edge of Nowhere," written by Carolyn Stickney Beck, was produced for an invited audience by the Rochester Symphony Orchestra. Beck, a Rochester native, returned to the city after living in Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere for several years, and found herself fascinated with the community’s history.

"I never thought I’d come back to Rochester," she said. Once she did, though, Beck saw her hometown with different eyes. "I got captivated by the connections between Mayo and Rochester," she said. "The more research I did, I realized Mayo Clinic couldn’t have happened anyplace else."

The play featured Nick Mezacapa as Dr. Charles Mayo, and Rich Peterson as Dr. Will Mayo. They narrated the story of the development of their medical practice, the growth of Rochester, and the important role of music and arts in both.

The play was directed by Mark Neville, who also played Dr. William Worrall Mayo. The vignettes were bracketed by musical selections played by violinist Kristina Lantz.


The story touches on some well-known episodes, including the tornado that led to the founding of Saint Marys Hospital. There is also mention, though, of the dedication of the Plummer Building carillon in 1928, and other arts-related developments.

"In tough times," Dr. Charlie says, "music and the arts kept us going."

All of the words in the play come from the historical record. Beck said she spent countless hours going through archives doing her research. All told, she has spent four years on the project.

Through it all, Beck said, she has gained a new appreciation for Rochester and the clinic.

"I don’t know if we really have any idea how remarkable it all is," she said.

Jere Lantz, CEO and artistic director of the orchestra, said he is making plans to present "In the Air on the Edge of Nowhere" to more groups and organizations.

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