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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

NBYT 20130023 (cropped)

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 or call 860-515-8115. Payment should be made at the time of registration, and may be delivered, mailed, or made online.

Registration button

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.

Help a Child’s Family Have “Hakuna Matata” This Summer!

May 1, 2017

Simba Timon Pumbaa“Hakuna matata! It means no worries!”

To be honest, we don’t know if we’ve used the phrase correctly in the title of this post. But we do know that many families struggle to pay participation fees for their children who want to be on stage with NBYT. And we want to help with full or partial financial assistance.

Did you know that businesses, clubs, and organizations—or even individuals—can sponsor a child’s participation in NBYT programs? The cost for full participation in our summer musical production of The Lion King is $400, but a donation of any amount can be made to help pay participation costs for this program or other productions throughout the coming season.

NBYT works with hundreds of children and teens each year, and many of them attend free after-school programs in New Britain public schools or come from low to moderate-income families in towns throughout our area. Some of those children would like to participate in the summer musical—and would greatly benefit from participation—but their families cannot afford the participation fee. Although NBYT aims to make its programs affordable, the cost is still out of reach for some families.

If you personally know a child who would like to participate in The Lion King,  any business, organization, or other donor is welcome to pay for that specific child’s participation. All children who enroll will be cast in the show, and roles are determined based on pre-program auditions to be scheduled in June.

In the past seven years, NBYT has become one of the leading children’s theaters in Connecticut. As reasons for returning to NBYT, parents cite the quality staff and programs, the low cost of participation, and the gains in confidence that their children achieve. And NBYT never turns a child away for inability to pay.

To sponsor a child’s participation in NBYT’s summer musical or other programs, please send a donation to New Britain Youth Theater, P.O. Box 306, New Britain, CT 06050-0306. Donations may also be made online through PayPal (even if you don’t have a PayPal account). We would also be happy to personally pick up a check and thank you on behalf of NBYT. New Britain Youth Theater is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. To contact us with any questions, please call 860-515-8115.

PayPal donation

The History Behind Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper”

April 28, 2017

PP posterThe next play that NBYT will perform—on May 5, 6 and 7—is based upon several real-life facts. The Prince and the Pauper is Mark Twain’s novel about a Tudor prince and a look-alike peasant who change clothes and lives in Sixteenth Century England.

Some of our younger audience members and others new to the story may not realize that while the story is fictional, the young prince most certainly is not. The prince of the title is Edward, son of Henry VIII, who becomes King Edward VI of England. Because Henry’s death occurs in The Prince and the Pauper, the story can be pinpointed to the year 1547. Edward’s sisters are Mary and Elizabeth, who would both also be queens of England. Edward’s cousin, Lady Jane Grey, also appears in the story and later becomes queen herself for a short time—through some complicated history we won’t go into here.

Our history lesson doesn’t stop here though. This production of The Prince and the Pauper, from a script by R. Rex Stephenson, actually takes place in the attic of Mark Twain’s home in the Twentieth Century! Many of us know of Twain’s home in Hartford, but Twain also had a home in Redding, Connecticut, where he lived the final years of his life from 1908 to 1910. Twain named that home Stormfield.

At Stormfield, Twain was frequently visited by a group of neighborhood girls who came to be known as the Angel Fish Club (or the Aquarium Club). Twain encouraged the girls in their artistic pursuits, and he would meet with them and tell stories, attend theater performances, and discuss cultural events. Most of the meetings took place at Stormfield. It was this group of “Angel Fish” who became the basis for this play—in which Twain narrates and the girls and some additional friends (and other adults in the home) act out the story of The Prince and the Pauper.

The visiting author to Twain’s home, Albert Bigelow Paine, was also a real person. Paine was a friend and a writer whom Twain hired to take dictation as Twain recalled the events of his life. The dictated notes would later become, posthumously published, The Autobiography of Mark Twain.

The Prince and the Pauper will be performed at Holmes Elementary School, a community space located at 2150 Stanley Street in New Britain. Performances are Friday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, May 7 at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $13 for adults and $11 for children, students, and seniors. Tickets may be reserved by calling New Britain Youth Theater at 860-515-8115 or may be purchased online at through Universe tickets.

Calling Aspiring Writers and Directors! NBYT’s Short Play Festival Is Coming!

April 25, 2017

SPF 2017It’s usually not until later in the spring that NBYT announces its productions for the following season—but we’ve got an announcement that we everyone to know about early!

In the fall of 2017, NBYT will hold its first annual (we hope) SHORT PLAY FESTIVAL!

We’ve produced a collection of short plays before (Comic Shorts, April 2013) but this time we’re inviting aspiring playwrights of any age to submit scripts, and we’re inviting aspiring directors age 12 to 18 to direct. Teens are also welcome to be involved as designers, stage managers, or producers. Don’t have any experience as a director or in any of these other roles? Not to worry! Each production will have an NBYT staff member working on it for guidance; in some cases, a staff member may even be directing the production. Auditions for actors will be held in the fall.

DIRECTORS: To submit yourself as a potential director, contact by July 31, 2017. You may submit a specific short play (under 20 pages) which you’d like to direct, or you may choose to be assigned to a play.

DESIGNERS, STAGE MANAGERS, and PRODUCERS: To submit yourself for one of these roles, also contact by July 31, 2017. You may let us know if there’s a specific play you’d like to work on, or you may be assigned to a play.

PLAYWRIGHTS: Submit your scripts to or by hand to Executive and Artistic Director Darren Farrington by July 31, 2017.

To be considered for production, all play submissions must follow these guidelines:

  1. Plays may be written by one or more people, but all contributing writers’ names must be credited.
  2. No person may submit more than three scripts for consideration.
  3. Plays may be original works or adaptations. Adaptations must be based on works in the public domain or permission of the author of the underlying work must be obtained and proven.
  4. Plays must be no more than twenty (20) pages and must be typed in 12-point size of a standard font with one-inch margins on all sides of each page. A character list must be included at the beginning of the play, along with any notes on possible double casting and the setting. Pages must be numbered. There is no minimum length for submissions.
  5. Plays must be suitable for either all ages or middle school age and up.
  6. Plays submitted by email must be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF formats.
  7. Plays must be able to be produced with minimal design elements and no required special effects.
  8. Playwrights must agree to license plays for production by New Britain Youth Theater for up to four (4) performances. No compensation will be paid to playwrights.
  9. If a play cannot be considered for any reason, NBYT will notify writers as soon as possible. If a problem is easily fixable and the play otherwise has merit, writers may be asked for revisions.
  10. Early submissions (before July 31) are permitted and encouraged.

Questions may be directed to NBYT Executive and Artistic Director Darren Farrington at


In Rehearsal with “The Prince and the Pauper”

April 21, 2017

We’ve gotten a few rehearsal photos from Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, and they look great! There are so many costume pieces, props, and set dressing pieces in the play, that they cast has been working with them for a few weeks already!

The Mark Twain classic with a theatrical twist is NBYT’s next production on stage. In the play, when a group of neighborhood girls and boys visit Twain at home, he narrates and passes out parts, and the children act out his story of the Tudor prince and a look-alike peasant who change clothes and lives in sixteenth century England. Happening alongside this action, Twain meets with a writer who he had selected to take dictation as Twain recalls the events of his life for his autobiography.

The Prince and the Pauper stars twenty-three children ages 8 through 15 from throughout Connecticut, and it is appropriate for audiences of all ages. Local actor Johnny Peifer, known for his work at New Britain’s Hole in the Wall Theater, stars as Mark Twain. The performance is directed by Rae Johnson, and a crew of three teenagers provide assistance backstage.

The Prince and the Pauper will be performed at Holmes Elementary School, a community space located at 2150 Stanley Street in New Britain. Performances are Friday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, May 7 at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $13 for adults and $11 for children, students, and seniors. Tickets may be reserved by calling New Britain Youth Theater at 860-515-8115 or may be purchased online at through Universe tickets.

“Off the Air”

April 12, 2017

Last night—April 11, 2017—NBYT’s Homeschool Repertory Players performed their latest production—set on April 11, 1939. The show combined actual radio scripts from the 1930s and 40s with an original story about a not-so-ordinary day at a radio station (which doesn’t survive the transition to television), and the young actors in the NBYT program all contributed to that original story and the creation of their individual characters.

Photos below are from the final dress rehearsal of the program, with one photo from NBYT’s homeschool class in music.

NBYT’s homeschool enrichment program in theater is held for two ten-week sessions each year beginning in September and January. For the past year, homeschool classes in music and improv have also been offered. More information on the programs is available at the company’s website at, by emailing, or by calling 860-515-8115.