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NBYT Names New Artistic Director

Entering its tenth year of producing quality performances and educational theater programs for children and teens in Connecticut, NBYT is proud to announce that longtime artistic staff member Nicki LaPorte will become the company’s Artistic Director.

As past and current students know, LaPorte is a dynamic director, teaching artist, performer, and costume designer who has brought her experience and love of the performing arts to NBYT since 2011. In recent months, she had already begun taking a larger role in planning and scheduling educational programs and upcoming productions. LaPorte is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a double major in Educational Theater and U.S. History. She previously worked with New Britain Public Schools in special education. She has also taught theater programs through Hartford Performs, East Hartford Public Schools, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Performing Arts Programs, Oddfellows Playhouse, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Gateway Project in Massachusetts. During the past three summers, she traveled to The Freedom Theater in the West Bank of Palestine to work with children living in the Jenin refugee camp. She has recently joined the Day of Tears Touring Company, and can also be seen at the Mark Twain House as a Living History Tour Guide (housemaid Katy Leary). She has been a company member with Elmwood Productions as a puppeteer since early 2016. LaPorte has also performed locally at New Britain’s Hole in the Wall Theater, and she is a comic con regular and avid costumer who has joined the world of 18th century reenacting and historical costume construction.

The promotion of LaPorte to the Artistic Director position is the first change in leadership at NBYT in five years. Executive Director Darren Farrington, who co-founded the theater in 2010, became both Executive and Artistic Director in 2014. “Dividing my responsibilities by hiring an Artistic Director is a positive move for NBYT and for me,” says Farrington. “I’m glad to be able to focus on management and production, to work with the Board of Directors on stepping up marketing and fundraising, and to transfer artistic leadership to Nicki’s capable hands.”

Chairperson of the NBYT Board, Kati Mercier, adds, “The Board of Directors was unanimous in our vote to promote Nicki to the position of Artistic Director. NBYT has always had a goal of providing high-quality programs that bring out the best in our area’s youth, and Nicki has exemplified the characteristics of being a supportive, encouraging, and creative teacher allowing the NBYT actors to gain confidence and have fun doing it. As Artistic Director, we expect that she will continue to grow NBYT’s program and educational opportunities.”

LaPorte’s appointment comes just as a busy spring and summer season begins for NBYT. In May, a cast of over thirty children will perform Charlotte’s Web. Based on E.B. White’s classic story of friendship between a radiant pig and the spider who proves to be both a true friend and a good writer, the play will be staged in the book’s original setting—New England in the early 1950s—and a chorus of storytellers will bring to life the famous barn cellar and the country fair that changes Wilbur’s life.

Charlotte’s Web will be performed at Holmes Elementary School at 2150 Stanley Street in New Britain. Performances are Friday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, May 4, at 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, May 5 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets may be reserved by calling New Britain Youth Theater at 860-515-8115 or may be purchased online at http://www.nbyt.org.

June will bring NBYT’s Teen Company performance of The Tempest. Shakespeare’s last play is a maritime romance of shipwrecks, sorcery, and spirits. Set at sea and on a remote island, the NBYT production will be inspired by the Connecticut whaling industry of the nineteenth century. Free public performances will be on the grounds of the New Britain Museum of American Art on June 20, 21, 22 and 23.

The theater’s summer musical theater production will be Disney’s Mary Poppins Jr. Rehearsals will be held over a four-week half-day program on Mondays through Fridays from July 1 through 26 (except July 4). Program hours are 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Although the full program is limited to ages 7 to 16, a limited number of special needs participants and children ages 5 and 6 will join the program during the final week to be part of the cast. All children who register will be cast in the show, and performances will be held on July 26, 27 and 28. Rehearsals and performances will be held at Plainville High School.

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