Six months ago, NBYT was chosen by the editors of Connecticut Magazine as Connecticut’s Best Children’s Theater. This wasn’t a popularity contest, and it wasn’t a recognition that NBYT is the biggest, oldest, or most financially stable children’s theater in the state—we’re none of those things. But we were chosen as the best. We believe that we received that recognition because we work hard, because we do our best, and because we try to expand what it means to be a children’s theater.
Sure, we do Annie and The Lion King and all the children’s classics, but we’ve also done three Shakespeare plays, American classics by Arthur Miller and Thornton Wilder, an adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper set in Mark Twain’s attic in Connecticut, musicals that have run on Broadway for years or for just days, and original plays by local theater artists. Our next season will again be a combination of known and loved classics, scripts that will challenge us, favorite books adapted for the stage, an original production, and a Broadway musical for young actors.
Our first production of the season will stretch the limits and the minds of the Teen Company. Based on the 1998 attack and death of Matthew Shepard, The Laramie Project was written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project—and, if we can get a financial sponsorship to cover costs, a member of that company may come to work with our cast. Auditions will be held in August, and the cast will be kept small. Because of the subject matter, the ages for this production will be 16 to 20 (parents of younger teens may speak to the director if their children would like to be involved). The production will open on October 12—the twentieth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death.
Our second production, our holiday show in December, will be an original musical adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit written by our own musical director, Angela Klimaytis. Angela directed and produced this show at Mooreland Hills School last December, and she is licensing it to NBYT for a bigger, more developed production that will include children and teens ages 6 to 16.
In the spring, NBYT will perform Charlotte’s Web. This will be a production of the dramatic version of E.B. White’s classic children’s book about sacrifices made for new and cherished friends. Ages for this production will be 6 to 12.
The Teen Company’s spring production will be William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Our past productions of Shakespeare have been a twentieth-century (1967 to be exact) Romeo and Juliet, an eighteenth-century pre-Revolutionary War Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a futuristic post-nuclear Macbeth. In our Tempest, it will be a nineteenth-century Connecticut whaling ship that will be wrecked on a remote Atlantic island inhabited by a sorcerer, his daughter, and mystical spirits and creatures. Performances will be outdoors on the grounds of the New Britain Museum of American Art, with an additional performance potentially at Mystic Seaport.
Finally, our summer musical in 2019 will be Disney’s Mary Poppins Jr. If schedules work out, we may have one of the Broadway company members come to teach us some of the choreography and to talk about his experience performing in the show on Broadway.
There it is! Another ambitious season is planned—and we hope that you’ll join us for one or more productions!