WCT’s new 2013 / 2014 season opens September 20 – and it promises to be one of our best seasons yet. It’s truly the best entertainment value in Westport at $80 for a five-play subscription (single tickets are only $20, $18 for the Thursday performance and $2 discounts for senior citizens).
With much fanfare:
The Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon
Directed by Lester Colodny
September 20 – October 5, 2013
“Full of humor and intelligence. Fine fun.”- New York Post
“Creates an atmosphere of casual cataclysm, an everyday urban purgatory of copelessness from which laughter seems to be released like vapor from the city’s manholes.”- Time
Mel Edison is an executive who gets laid off from his high-end Manhattan firm. His wife Edna takes a job to tide them over, then she too is sacked. Air pollution is killing his plants, the walls of his apartment are paper-thin, he’s robbed, his psychiatrist dies… and when things can’t seem to get worse, Mel has a nervous breakdown – and it’s the best thing that ever happened to him. Starring Jeff Pliskin, Deborah Burke, Frederic Tisch, Ruth Anne Baumgartner, Jacquie Carlsen, and Maureen Cummings.
We are so pleased to have longtime WCT director Lester Colodny at the helm of this play near and dear to his heart – it is a subject matter he knows very, very well. Lester’s Westport Community Theatre credits span decades, including last year’s season opener “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” – but he is known nationwide as an Emmy-Award-winning writer, producer and director from the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was a co-creator of “The Munsters” and worked on television classics such as “Get Smart,” “My Favorite Martian” and “Beetle Bailey.” In the early 70s, he co-wrote a Broadway play, “Fun City” with Joan Rivers. Later, he went into work in advertising for famed casino chain owner Steve Wynn, winning several CLIOs for his work for the company. To finish out his career, he worked in the eighties for a well-known billionaire New York real estate tycoon. Lester spent his early career working with some of the biggest names in show business, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Brooks, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers, Florence Henderson, Cary Grant and many more. He was writer, producer and director of “The Baja Marimba Band” for which he won his Emmy. He was a writer on “The Today Show” with original host Dave Garroway, when the show was live and mistakes on the set were broadcast nationally. It was Lester who was ordered to get three barrels of monkeys to be opened live on television at the bequest of Garroway. The results were an instant classic and make up the first chapter of his autobiography, “A Funny Thing Happened,” released summer of 2010.
Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge
by Christopher Durang
Directed by Tom Rushen
November 29 – December 15, 2013
If you think you just don’t want to sit through one more production of A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker… mark your calendars for this comedic masterpiece that has become a holiday season staple of theatres across the country. In this sendup of A Christmas Carol, Gladys Cratchit is an angry, stressed-out woman who is sick of Tiny Time, hates her twenty other children, and wants to get drunk and jump off Lnodn Bridge. She meets up with the sassy Ghost of Christmas Past and Ebenezer Scrooge and the plot morphs into parodies of Oliver Twist, The Gift of the Magi and It’s a Wonderful Life. And to make matters worse, Scrooge and Mrs. Bob seem to be kindred souls falling in love. With a dénouement that is two parts Touched by an Angel and one part The Queen of Mean, Scrooge’s tale of redemption and gentle grace is placed squarely on its head.
“A rollicking parody… Splendid.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Fiendishly funny…never disappoints. Wild it most certainly is, without apologies. Send-ups are often immersed in venom, but this one wears an ear-to-ear smile.” — Observer-Reporters
Director Tom Rushen is well known to WCT audiences for past productions including Sabrina and The Importance of Being Earnest, staged readings – and the friendly face you saw in the Box Office during the 2012 / 2013 season. He has directed several plays for Eastbound Theatre in Milford including The Comet of St. Loomis, Lobby Hero, Brooklyn Boy and The Complete History of America (abridged), and is the producer of annual summer one-act play festival jointly produced with Westport Community Theatre. Tom has also directed a number of short plays in the area for SquareWrights (Skeleton Boy, Unintelligent Design, Intervention) and Temple Players (Soldiers of the Lord, An Answer to Their Prayers) as well as productions at other area theatres.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Directed by Richard Mancini
February 7 – 23, 2014
A secret to no one, Arthur Miller’s classic tale of the witchcraft purge in old Salem is both a gripping historical play and a timely parable of contemporary society – the McCarthy hearings. This powerful combination makes The Crucible extremely timely in 2013 – even if you feel you know it well, it’s time to pay it another visit… The story focuses upon a farmer, his wife, and a young servant-girl who maliciously accuses the wife of witchcraft. The farmer brings the girl to court to admit the lie – and it is here that the monstrous course of biogtry and deceit has terrifying consequences. Featuring popular Fairfield County actors Mark Frattaroli and Lucy Babbit.
“Powerful drama…” — New York Times
Director Richard Mancini returns to the WCT stage where his numerous credits include last December’s hit “Old Time Radio Christmas” ETC staged reading, The Woman in Black, The Women, Orson’s Shadow and Broadway Bound among others. Both actor and director, Richard has directed numerous productions at theatres throughout Fairfield County.
Souvenir by Stephen Temperley
Director Ruth Anne Baumgartner
April 11 – 27, 2014
Wealthy eccentric Florence Foster Jenkins suffered under the delusion that she was a great coloratura soprano – when she was, in fact, incapable of producing two consecutive notes in tune. Nevertheless, she gave recitals in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton hotel, and mobs of fans packed her recitals, stuffing handkerchiefs in their mouths to stifle their laughter. The climax of Florence Foster Jenkins’ career was a single concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944…. Actress Priscilla Squires (last seen at WCT in the memorable Master Class) returns to WCT as the irrepresible Jenkins.
“There aren’t many theatrical experiences as good as ‘Souvenir’” — Boston Globe
“…an unexpectedly gentle and affecting comedy.” – New York Times
Ruth Anne Baumgartner (Director) directed WCT productions of Mr Pim Passes By in April of 2013, The Seafarer in December of 2011, and a staged reading of The Seafarer for WCT’s ETC program two years earlier; she directed the Connecticut première of Conor McPherson’s The Weir in 2001 with Town Players of Newtown. For WCT she has also directed productions of Ice Glen, The Glass Menagerie, Spinning Into Butter, and Measure for Measure, as well as several other staged readings. As a director she specializes in 16th-century, other classic, and contemporary drama. She has worked with Town Players of Newtown (most recently the critically acclaimed production of A Picasso, The Retreat from Moscow, The Turn of the Screw, She Stoops to Conquer, Murderers, and The Merry Wives of Windsor); Putney Players (A Perfect Ganesh, “The Fifteen-Minute Hamlet”); Eastbound Theatre (Brilliant Traces); the Rainbow Theatre in Stamford (Equity, The Duck Variations); and, with Rob Pawlikowski, Newtown High School (The Madwoman of Chaillot). She occasionally acts, and will be seen in WCT’s season opener The Prisoner of Second Avenue; prior to that, she appeared in WCT’s Angel Street. She has appeared locally with Town Players (Newtown) and Putney Players (Stratford), portraying three mothers (one a tuba player), two aunts, a Polish cook, a very high priestess, and a lusty widow, and in staged readings for Square One at the Stratford Library. Films include the studio release Of Arms and Altars, student film A Work of Art, and independent film Doing Agatha, in which she plays a middle-aged actress playing a British matron. She is currently serving on the WCT Board of Directors as Editor of The Prompter and President; she is also on the Board of Directors of Town Players of Newtown. A member of the English departments of Fairfield and Central Connecticut State universities, she is also editor of Vanguard (the quarterly newsletter of the Connecticut Conference, American Association of University Professors). For eighteen years she was artistic director of Bare Bones Theater at the Pequot Library, and continues to be active with the library’s annual book sale. Her undergraduate degree, in English literature, is from Dickinson; her graduate degree, also in English literature, from the University of Rochester. At Dickinson she performed and worked backstage with Mermaid Players, under the late David R. Brubaker and Marj Brubaker; she also had two seasons as a local jobber with the summer stock theater Allenberry Playhouse, on the Straw Hat circuit.
Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Mat Young
June 6 – 22, 2013
We close next season with Arcadia, one of the must-see plays produced in the 1990s – many feel it defines the era of playwrighting. Arcadia moves back and forth between 1809 and the present at the elegant estate owned by the Coverly family. In 1809, thirteen year-old Lady Thomasina and her tutor delve into intellectual and romantic issues. Present day scenes depict the Coverly descendants and scholars who are researching a possible scandal at the estate in 1809 involving Lord Byron. This brilliant play explores the nature of truth and time, the difference between classical and romantic temperaments, and the disruptive influence of sex on our lives.
“Pure entertainment for the heart, mind, soul… it is a work shot through with fun, passion and yes, genius.” — The New York Post
“‘Arcadia,’ the play generally regarded as Stoppard’s masterpiece… sparkles – time is magically, heartbreakingly suspended…” – National Post
Director Mat Young is the Artistic Director and founder of Dessert 1st Productions, as well as a director and actor. Mat is also the Host of The Process Podcast, which can be downloaded on iTunes under the same name. Most recently he gave a memorable performance as James Reston in WCT’s 2012 / 2013 season closer Frost / Nixon; he was also seen as Gaston in Piccaso at Lapin Agile (Eastbound Theatre). Last summer Mat appeared as Malvolio in Dessert 1st Production of Twelfth Night (co-produced by WCT as a special summer production). As a director, Mat is most proud of his work with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Jeffery Hatcher (Wilton Playshop), Hamlet (WHS), Romeo and Juliet (WSSP), Taming of the Shrew (WHS) Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Eastbound), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (WSSP), Picasso at Lapin Agile (BHS), Into the Woods (WHS), Guy and Dolls (WHS), Drood (WHS & WSSP), The Complete Works William Shakespeare (Abridged) (WCT). As a writer, Mat has penned Mary Potter and the Race to Nowhere, Musical the Musical, True Twilight Diaries and Suddenly There Came a Tapping. As an actor, some of his favorite roles include: Matt The Complete Works William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Dessert 1st), Aaronow in Glengarry Glen Ross (NHTC) Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Pound Ridge), Sir Toby in Twelfth Night (GSC), Bottom in A Midsummer Nights Dream (NHTC), Matt Friedman in Talley’s Folly (RWU), Aldo in The Italian American Reconciliation (RWU), Jeff in Lobby Hero (Eastbound), Henry 6th in Henry VI Part Three (Marymount Theatre), and Swifty in Words Words Words (Wilton Playshop), where he met his wife. A graduate of The New Actor’s Workshop, he studied under the minds of George Morrison the schools founder, and former theatre department head at Suny Purchase, and film and theater director Mike Nichols. In addition, Mat studied Volia Spolin’s Improvisation for the Theatre with her son Paul Sills, co-founder of The Second City comedy troupe, and creator and original director of the Broadway show Storytheater. Mat had founded three different comedy improvisation troupes; Rhode Island’s Who is Winston Churchill?!, Manhattan’s Hypothetical Playground and Connecticut’s Space Pockets. He has also performed in the films Bullet in the Brain by David Von Acken and A Chubby Kid, which he wrote and was the first project of Dessert 1st Productions.