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Join NBYT for Teen Wednesdays in July

June 19, 2017

Teen Company logo (new)

On Wednesdays in July, NBYT invites teens (ages 13-19) to be part of four discussions/planning meetings/social gatherings that will help to guide planning for the 2017-18 NBYT season of production and classes and beyond. The gatherings will also become the basis for a new Teen Advisory Board that will be formed in the fall. Two teens will also be chosen to join the theater’s Board of Directors as full members.

Between 6 and 8 PM each week at the NBYT Studio Space at the Berlin YMCA, we’ll have a planned discussion, some theater games and activities, and pizza and drinks for a suggested contribution of $5. Teens are also welcome to bring their own drinks and snacks. Come any week or all four.

July 5: Choosing a Season

Popular versus obscure. New versus classic. Musical versus play. Find out how a theater’s season of productions is chosen. What factors are most important? And when can a theater take risks in choosing something not so well known—or completely unknown? Give your suggestions for future seasons too, and find out at the end of the night what shows NBYT will produce in its 2017-18 season.

July 12: Planning the Short Play Festival

In the fall, NBYT will produce its first annual (we hope!) Short Play Festival. The goal is that some of our own kid and teen participants will submit scripts, direct, stage manage, and help to produce a series of short plays. All interested directors and playwrights should attend. We’ll talk about how directors work and what they should consider, what stage managers do, and how writers should be involved in the process. Young playwrights are encouraged to bring some of their work to share. (The deadline for submitting scripts and signing up to direct is July 31.)

July 19: Budgeting for a Production

Like it or not, how much money a theater has is a big factor in what shows it can do and what programs it can offer. Join in a role-playing game to help balance a hypothetical theater’s budget (and we promise—that’s more fun than it sounds), learn how a theater can increase its revenue, and give some fundraising ideas of your own.

July 26: Actor Training and Education

Even the most experienced actors continue to work on their craft through classes, workshops, and coaching. Help us to plan what classes and workshops to offer for our older participants by telling us what skills you’re most interested in developing. Also find out what classes NBYT is offering in the fall, and help to shape the curriculums of those classes. (Winter and spring classes will be planned around your suggestions.) Tell us your favorite games and activities from any theater rehearsals or classes, and we’ll play a few of those too.

To participate, email darren@nbyt.org, call 860-515-8115, or just show up ready to share your ideas, maybe a learn a few things, and have fun.

NBYT Staff Profile: Nicki LaPorte

June 19, 2017

This is the second in NBYT’s series of staff profiles. Nicki LaPorte is co-director of—and a performer in—Romeo and Juliet, which plays this coming weekend.

Nicki LaPorte BWNicki is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a double major in Educational Theater and U.S. History. During the day she works with New Britain Public Schools in special education, and in the afternoon and evenings Nicki brings a love of the performing arts to children and teens in acting classes and shows. Nicki has been with NBYT since January 2011, where she has taught, directed, performed, stage managed, and designed and built costumes. She has also taught theater programs through East Hartford Public Schools, Hartford Performs, Performing Arts Programs, and the Gateway Project in Huntingdon, Massachusetts. During the summer of 2016, Nicki traveled to The Freedom Theater in the West Bank of Palestine to work with children living in the Jenin refugee camp. Nicki has been a company member with Elmwood Productions as a puppeteer since early 2016, has performed at New Britain’s Hole in the Wall Theater in The Impracticality of Modern-day Mastodons (mastodon puppeteer) and Rocky Horror Show (Transylvanian ensemble), has performed at The Ridgefield Playhouse and Fairfield Theater Company in Dr. Phineas’ Magical Emporium (Queen and Princess), and performed in several main stage and student directed shows during her time at CCSU.

Five Questions for Nicki

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Nicki speaking with actors in Romeo and Juliet, in which she performs as well as directs. Photo credit: Paula Murphy Meehan

How did you first get involved in theater?

I first got involved in theater in preschool. I was a loud and creative child so my parents had me audition for a preschool that focused on the arts. As I got older I did plays through community organizations in the summer and winter as well as in school. I haven’t stopped since.

What’s the best thing about working at NBYT?

The best part of working at NBYT is meeting and inspiring all the young actors. I burst with excitement watching them grow and learn and enjoy what we are doing in classes, after school, and in productions.

Do you have a favorite puppet?

My favorite puppet is any mastodon type: so, Snuffleupagus. He was so big and I loved watching him on TV as a kid. Then, as an adult at Hole in the Wall Theater I was so excited to be cast as the better half (the back half) of the giant mastodon in the world premier of The Impracticality of Modern-Day Mastodons. That production got me other paying puppetry gigs, so that was really great.

If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be?

I would be vegan pumpkin soft serve from Divine Treasures, for a few reasons. One, its orange, my favorite color. Two, it’s vegan like me. And three it’s only available in limited quantities. (It’s fun to be in high demand!) And I guess I would be soft serve because even though I pretend to be tough, I’m really soft and sensitive.

What advice do you have for kids interested in theater?

My advice for kids interested in theater is to find a great community-based theater and try it out. Take classes or join a production. If you don’t get a good part in your first production, don’t worry—it took me years until I realized my full potential and started to get major roles. But above all: have fun because theater is play!

It’s Not Just a Five Hundred-Year-Old Classic

June 12, 2017

Since the end of Teaser posterFebruary, the cast of Romeo and Juliet has been rehearsing for an opening that will happen in less than two weeks. We’ve read and studied the script, looked up unfamiliar words and phrases, blocked scenes, memorized lines, worked with props, tried on costumes, danced, fought (in character, of course), and we’ve laughed a lot.

Along the way, we’ve also talked and learned about Shakespeare, about customs of his time, and about the 1967 setting—including the Vietnam War, peace protests, draft card burning, the Summer of Love, culture, clothes, and music—of our version of the play.

We’ve also worked hard to make the story and the emotional highs and lows of the play real for ourselves and for our audience. Romeo and Juliet isn’t just a five hundred-year-old classic that we perform only because it’s endured. It’s a story that—despite the young marrying age of its title characters—could happen today. It’s a story of anger, hatred, drug use, and choosing suicide as a seemingly only way out of a troubled life. Romeo is depressed (as is his mother); Juliet feels trapped in her home; Mercutio may be (or may not be) struggling with his sexuality; Tybalt follows his anger and arrogance to his own death. These aren’t struggles that happened only half a millennium ago. These are challenges that teens and adults faced one hundred years ago, ten years ago, one year ago, and to this day. From Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway to 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, suicide continues to be a frequently explored theme in popular culture.

The production team and cast hope that we’re doing well by this important topic. We also ask our audience to remember that these struggles are present for some people every day, and we hope that love, respect, and understanding will allow some suffering with these struggles to know that they are not alone, not a burden, and not without other choices. To further support this cause with your time or dollars, please visit the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide and The Trevor Project.SocietyTrevor Project

NBYT to Stage “Summer of Love” Shakespeare at NBMAA

June 9, 2017

Teaser posterFlower power, doves and hawks, draft card burning, high society and counter-culture, and the Summer of Love will be the background for an upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by New Britain Youth Theater (NBYT).

Actors ages 10 through 19 will perform the teen tragedy free to the public on the grounds of the nationally acclaimed New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) at 56 Lexington Street in New Britain. Performance dates at the museum will be Thursday and Friday, June 22 and June 23, at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, June 25 at 2:00 p.m. An additional performance will be held on Saturday, June 24, at 7:00 p.m. at the historic Berlin Congregational Church at 878 Worthington Ridge in Berlin.

Shakespeare’s most popularly read and performed tragedy tells the story of two star-crossed lovers, the age-old feud between their families, and the effect that their relationship has on friends and family alike. The NBYT production will be set in 1967 in recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the “Summer of Love,” and it will be inspired by the popular culture, counter-culture, and political and social turmoil of that time. Popular music that was recorded, released, or charted in 1967 will underscore the production.

The New Britain Museum of American Art has been a longtime supporter of NBYT; a 2015 production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on museum grounds drew one the theater’s largest audiences. The performance at Berlin Congregational Church will be the first NBYT production at that location.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing another production to the museum and to be exploring more ways of partnering with them,” states Darren Farrington, NBYT Executive and Artistic Director. “The performance in Berlin—which has always been a supportive community to NBYT—is exciting for us as well.”

Audiences at the NBMAA performances may bring blankets or lawn chairs to sit on, and are welcome to bring refreshments of their own. Concessions will also be sold at the museum performances. While attendance is free, NBYT will accept donations toward the cost of the performances.

For more information, please visit New Britain Youth Theater’s website at www.nbyt.org or call 860-515-8115. For more information and directions to the New Britain Museum of American Art, please visit www.nbmaa.org. For more information and directions to Berlin Congregation Church, please visit www.berlincongregationalchurch.org.

Be Part of “The Lion King JR” This Summer!

May 24, 2017

LK logoThere’s still time for children ages 5 through 14 to join the cast of The Lion King JR at New Britain Youth Theater this summer!

The African savannah comes to life with Simba, Nala, Rafiki, Mufasa, Scar, Timon, Pumbaa, and other favorites in Disney’s stage adaptation for young performers based on its own film and Broadway hit. Join as Simba journeys away from Pride Rock and back again in this inspiring, coming-of-age tale. In addition to the lead roles, an ensemble will create the animals and landscape of the African pridelands, deserts, and jungles!

Registration is open to children and teens, ages 7 to 14, from any town, and space is limited. (Upper age restrictions are required by Disney Theatricals.) Rehearsals will be held over a four-week half-day program on Mondays through Fridays from July 3 through July 28 (except July 4). Program hours are 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. All children who register will be cast in the show, but auditions will be scheduled in June to place actors in roles. Over the course of the program, the cast will rehearse the performance—including music and choreography—and will also help to make some of the props and costumes to be used in the show. Rehearsals and performances will be held at Holmes Elementary School at 2150 Stanley Street in New Britain (off Hartford Road (Route71) near West Farms Mall)). Performances will be held on July 28, 29 and 30.

The cost per child is $400 dollar, and participation includes a free show shirt and two tickets to any performance. Pre-registration and a deposit in the amount of $100 may be made through PayPal (using a PayPal account of any credit card) by clicking on the link below.Pay Now button

Although the full program is limited to ages 7 through 14, the theater offers an opportunity for a limited number of children ages 5 and 6 to join the program during the final week and be part of the cast. As with the full program, all children who register will perform in the show. Cost for this one-week program is $100.

For more more program details and registration forms to download and print, visit the Summer Musical page of the NBYT website or call 860-515-8115.

NBYT Staff Profile: Brooke Ferguson

May 17, 2017

NBYT is beginning a series of staff profiles, and our first featured staff member is Brooke Ferguson, who will be directing The Lion King Jr this summer.

Brooke Ferguson BWBrooke is a 2014 graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a BFA in Theater Performance. She began as a Teaching Assistant with NBYT in 2011, and she’s now a Teaching Artist and Director, having co-directed all of NBYT’s “Little Kids on Stage” productions and its summer productions since 2015. Brooke is also a Floor Director at The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts. She enjoys performing theater among the Connecticut community, and her favorite roles include Mme. Thénardier in Les Misérables, LeFou in Beauty and the Beast, and Gloria Hawkins in Boeing Boeing. Brooke can also be found improvising with her troupe, History of the Future, at Sea Tea Improv in Hartford.

Five Questions for Brooke

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Brooke leading and participating in warm-up and games with co-director Christina LoBello and a young cast. 

How did you first get involved with theater?
I saw my friends in a Christmas play when I was 9 and knew I had to be up on stage! I’ve been hooked ever since.

What’s your favorite thing about working at NBYT?
It’s really quite magical when everything comes together and everyone is proud of themselves after the first performance. Also, the ridiculous things kids say!!!

If you could have dinner with a character from any play, who would you choose and why?
Probably the Phantom. I’d love to pick his brain and understand his psyche. I might even be serenaded!

If you were a superhero, what superpowers would you have?
Intangibility (walking through walls). I would never be late!

What advice do you have for kids getting started in theater?
Everyone is new at some point, but you will be successful if you listen to your directors and do your best. And remember to have fun!

 

Broadway Master Class at NBYT!

May 9, 2017

UPDATE: We’ve lowered the participation age to 7 so everyone who’s participating in our summer musical can also take this “triple threat” workshop in dancing, singing, and acting with a Broadway touring performer!

Broadway_ConnectionOn SATURDAY, JUNE 3, NBYT will host a BROADWAY CONNECTION MASTER CLASS in “Triple Threat Technique” for ages 7 and up from 9 AM to 12 noon with a performer from the Broadway touring production of THE KING AND I who will come to NBYT.

Broadway Connection provides students the opportunity to work in a positive, familiar, and intimate environment with current Broadway performers. The Master Class includes a warm-up and technique work in acting, singing and dancing, and finishes with a Q & A session in which participants are encouraged to ask about education, auditions, working on Broadway, traveling with productions, and the excitement of performing every night!

The three-hour Master Class costs only $40 and will be limited to twenty-five students.  Parents may join for the Q&A and to take photos. To register, email darren@nbyt.org or call 860-515-8115. Payment should be made at the time of registration, and may be delivered, mailed, or made online.

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THE KING AND I is the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival of 2015 that the New York Times described as “breathtaking and exquisite.” One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, The King and I boasts a score that features such classics as “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.” Set in Bangkok in the 1860s, the musical tells the story of the unconventional relationship that develops between the King of Siam and a British schoolteacher whom the King brings to Siam to tutor his wives and children.

The Broadway touring company of The KING AND I is playing at The Bushnell on May 30 through June 4.