Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays from Oddfellows

As the year comes to an end, and we all look back on what has happened, we here at Oddfellows can’t help but be reminded about all of you.

This year, you’ve been parents to the students you allow us to help learn and grow; audience members to watch our students perform on stage; volunteers at our box office and building circus sets; advocates in the community; and most importantly, donors to support Oddfellows and its programs.

Your donations make it possible for the staff and artists here at Oddfellows to change the lives of 1,282 youngsters across Connecticut.

Your donations provide scholarships so no child can ever be turned away because of financial need.

As you finish up your holiday shopping, thinking about what to give those closest to you, please consider giving a gift to Oddfellows Playhouse. By donating to Oddfellows, you will be giving the gift of theater, self-confidence, and a brighter future to all the children who come here.

From everyone here at the Playhouse, we thank you for all that you make possible.
Have a happy holiday and New Year!


The Staff, Artists and Board of Directors of Oddfellows Playhouse

Click the image to watch our new promo video!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santaland is Coming To Town!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feelin' Grinchy?

Then Oddfellows Playhouse has just the thing to spruce up your wilting holiday feelings.

Just days after record Black Friday sales, during a time of year that is hyper-focused on consumer spending as the barometer of global economic recovery, Oddfellows Playhouse brings to the stage author David Sedaris’ satirical, biting examination of our holiday shopping culture, Santaland Diaries. Adapted for the stage by playwright Joe Mantello, “Santaland Diaries” launched the career of writer and commentator David Sedaris. The play recounts Sedaris’ days as a Christmas elf at Macy’s department store in New York City.

The show is a fundraising event for Oddfellows Playhouse – a youth theater the provides programming and productions by and for young people. The many theater artists involved are donating their time and energy to put the show together to raise money to provide scholarships and cover operating costs. This is a show for mature elves only (13 & up!)

“Santaland Diaries is a natural fit for Oddfellows Playhouse. Over the last 38 years, the theater has had a history of doing contemporary, satirical shows that examine our society. That is exactly what Sedaris’ work is doing. We’re excited to work with Tony and the same talented group of artists to put this show together to benefit Oddfellows Playhouse,” said Pugliese. “We serve over 1,200 students a year and with over 40% percent of our students receiving financial aid, the support we get from stage events like this really helps us keep our doors open,” he said.

The production is directed by Tony Palmieri, who owns and operates Datura – A Modern Garden, a wedding and event floral studio. Palmieri played the role of Crumpet last December at the Playhouse. On directing this year instead of performing, Palmieri said, “When I first sat down with Oddfellows earlier this year to discuss working on the role, I had some reservations about reprising the role. I thought it would be more interesting as an artist and for the audience to see another actor’s interpretation.” This year in the role of Crumpet is actor Michael Lombardi of Hamden, CT.

“Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris
Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
Thursday December 15
Friday December 16

Saturday December 17

All performances at 7:30pm

Adults $25 Students & Seniors $15

Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (860) 347-6143 or online here.

Friday, October 14, 2011


109 students...
are becoming more confident and discovering hidden talents through our unique classes and programs taught by talented and dedicated teaching artists.

48 students...
are enjoying Oddfellows for the very first time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Classes

There are still openings in all classes including the popular Saturday classes for three to four year-olds called Little Fellows and First Act! classes for five to six year-olds. Other classes include Complete Actor 1 classes for students in grades one through three which teach the basics of acting through games, skits, stories and exercises. Complete Actor 2 classes are for 4th and 5th graders and develop the next set of vocal, physical and emotional skills for young actors.

Students who have already taken Complete Actors 1 or 2 may take part in Oddfellows’ popular Mini Productions: The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss and Twain Tales, an original production where students will bring Mark Twain’s beloved short stories to life. Our Technical Theater classes are also on the schedule.

The Teen Repertory Company and Junior Repertory Company schedules remain the same with auditions set for Sept. 12 and 13 for Slaughterhouse 5 and Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story. For more information, to register for classes to performances, call Oddfellows at (860) 347-6143 or log onto Oddfellows HomePage.

Oddfellows programming is made possible through the generous support of the Connecticut Department of Education, CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, The Stare Fund, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Middlesex United Way, Middlesex County Community Foundation, Pratt & Whitney-Middletown, the Irving Kohn Foundation and the Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund. Media support is provided by Comcast.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Children's Circus Rises Like Phoenix with a Golden Nose

The 2011 Oddfellows Children's Circus is in peril and at risk of closing, unless the young circus performers retrieve the "the golden nose." "The Quest for the Golden Nose" is based on the ancient Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. The Middletown Children's Circus has adapted the tale to show off their circus talents as they journey to retrieve the nose. In this tale the golden nose has given the circus years of magical success, but this year the gods have decided to test the performers to see if they are worthy to continue to keep the nose. The children have to make it through many challenges including windy boat rides, alligator filled swamps, bullfights, dragons and more.
Oddfellows Playhouse and the Middletown Commission on the Arts present the 23rd Children’s Circus of Middletown: The Quest for the Golden Nose. The one-time-only show will be presented on August 5 at 5 PM at Macdonough School, with a rain date of August 6 at 5 PM.

This Friday 8/5 at 5pm at Macdonough School (66 Spring St, Middletown) is the Children's Circus of Middletown. It really is an incredible event, and shows to highlight the spirit of Oddfellows Playhouse and the Middletown community. So much of what was lost in the February 2011 collapse of the building at 505 Main St. impacted this program.

Over 130 students have worked over the last 5 weeks to put together this incredibly large outdoor performance, which will be witnessed by an audience of over 1,000.

The Middletown community has helped in a variety of ways - people have helped sew and stitch costumes together, paint and build set pieces and puppets. Those who couldn't lend time and energy helped in other ways. On August 1st, Eli Cannon's Tap Room held a Craft Beer Tasting and BBQ, donating the proceeds to Oddfellows. Carrie Carella, General Manager of Eli Cannon's said, "We wanted to help our neighbors. The chaos of construction [Community Health Center next door] helped us realize how important support from the community is. We know the Children's Circus took a big hit when 505 Main St collapsed, destroying costumes and props. We can't sew or act, but we can do an event to help Oddfellows out in a financial way. We thought an event the week of the Circus made a lot of sense."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Farnsworth Invention

The Farnsworth Invention opens this week at Oddfellows.
Q and A with Guest Director, OBIE Award-winner, Marcy Arlin

Oddfellows Playhouse is delighted to introduce you to Marcy Arlin, Founder and Artistic Director of the OBIE Award-winning Immigrants’ Theatre in New York City. Marcy is a Fulbright Senior Specialist and a Member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.

"The opportunity to work with Marcy Arlin challenges the students in new ways,” said Matt Pugliese, Oddfellows Playhouse’s Managing Director, “Not only are they benefiting from Marcy's wealth of experience and artistry, but the personal challenge of meeting the expectations of an Obie award-winning artist from New York.”

“That little phrase changes a lot in the mind of a teenager. And being able to succeed and perform up to her expectations, changes what our student-performers think is possible in their lives,” he said.

Q: What was your first encounter with theater?

A: Oh, maybe when my parents took me to Stratford to see Shakespeare or when I saw Caucasian Chalk Circle at Lincoln Center, or the famed Storybook Theatre that toured the elementary schools out on Long Island when I was a kid.

Q: How did it change your life?

A: I saw a magic event though it was only costumes and light. I also went to Fiedel School of the Creative Arts as a teenager, apprenticed at a children’s theatre in Massachusetts, I did plays and musicals in high school so I truly get Oddfellows. Theater was a creative outlet, a refuge, a place to find other kooks like myself. I think it saved my life during adolescence.

Q: What do you think of Oddfellows?

A: I am completely impressed by the talent and quality of the kids. I arrived at Oddfellows during one of the worst winters in Connecticut’s history. We had to delay the start of rehearsals, because of the ice and snow. And then the terrible damage to the theatre roof. And then the collapse of the building holding the props and costumes. And Jeffery, who hired me, running around talking to the press and the community. I was awed by the generous response of the community and the beloved presence of Oddfellows in the Middletown community. That kind of devotion is rare.

Once the theatre damage had been repaired, the building became crowded with children of all ages taking art, poetry, theatre and circus classes. I met the skilled and warm staff running and teaching these programs. I am honored to be invited by Jeffery Allen, who I have known for many years, to direct a difficult and eccentric play. I am impressed by the high bar that is set for the kids…texts that are difficult, tricky staging, deep, intelligent and meaningful themes. Again, that is rare and should be encouraged and developed.

The last thing I want to mention is that above and beyond the actual work and staging of plays, the most important thing is the progress and development of each individual child. The actors in the Teen Rep are well known to staff who follow their progress, social and artistic, with care and insight.

I am having a great time working with the kids and I hope they feel the same.

Q: What's next for you?

A: (I’m working on) a bi-national, trilingual (ENGLISH/CZECH/VIETNAMESE) performance project about Vietnamese immigrants coming to the U.S. and the Czech Republic, (which is) based on interviews, working with the Firehouse Theatre of Richmond, Virginia and Divadlo Feste (Jester’s Theater) in Brno, Czech Republic. (I’m also) going to Los Angeles in June at the Asian American Theatre Conference to be on a panel on theater and social change and doing some science fiction writing.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ruhl's "The Clean House" to Benefit Oddfellows

With a New Name and a Newly Refurbished Theater, MST Bids Welcome to a Full House

CANTON, Conn., – The Market Street Theater will present “The Clean House” by Sarah Ruhl on May 6, 7, 13, 14 and 20 at 8 p.m. A special Mother's Day matinee will be performed at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 8. Proceeds from the matinee will benefit the Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown, which suffered severe snow- and ice-related damage earlier this year. All performances will be in the newly refurbished auditorium at the Canton Town Hall, 4 Market Street, in Collinsville.

“The Clean House” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. According to the New York Times, “The Clean House, a fresh, funny play by the talented Sarah Ruhl, breathes life into the phrase ‘romantic comedy’. It is not, by any means, a traditional boy-meets-girl story. In fact, disease, death and dirt are among the subjects it addresses. This comedy is romantic, deeply so, but also visionary, tinged with fantasy, extravagant in feeling, maybe a little nuts. [It] is imbued with a melancholy but somehow comforting philosophy: that the messes and disappointments of life are as much a part of its beauty as romantic love and chocolate ice cream, and a perfect punch line can be as sublime as the most wrenchingly lovely aria.”

The play will be directed by Market Street Theater's artistic director, Nine Dechamps, of Avon. The cast includes Angie Joachim (Canton); Tony Palmieri (Middletown); Terri D'Arcangelo (Cromwell); Joan Duquette-Aresco (Wallingford) and Kristin Flyntz (West Granby).

Tickets for "The Clean House" are $15 for general admission and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at the door or reserved in advance via email at marketstreettheater@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nothing Says Spring Like...


Funds raised will help replace destroyed costumes and props.

Middletown, Conn.- When Oddfellows Playhouse lost its entire props and costume inventory when its storage space at 505 Main Street in Middletown suffered a roof collapse in February, the community responded swiftly and generously. So generously, in fact, that Oddfellows is unable to keep and use everything.

The call for donations of clothes and household items began efforts to start replacing props and costumes. The surplus items are now being offered for sale at a tag sale set for Sat. Apr. 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Oddfellows Playhouse’s theater located at 128 Washington St., Middletown.

This is a rain or shine event and cash, checks and credit cards will be accepted.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Meet Monica Velour

Meet Monica Velour

Last Friday MEET MONICA VELOUR opened in movie theaters nationwide. Why does this warrant a post? Because writer and director Keith Bearden is an OP Alum! We had the chance to talk with Keith a little bit about his journey to get to this exciting place.

1. What was it like writing and directing your own feature film?

It depends on the day. Writing it felt lonely, waiting years for it to get made was frustrating, the first days of shooting were terrifying, working for months with Kim Cattrall to transform her into Monica Velour was really satisfying, finding my groove on set with my actors and crew was joyful, editing was tedious, having people laugh and be moved by the film at screenings is the best feeling in the world. I understand why directors don’t retire. That feeling is satisfying enough to spend an otherwise frustrating lifetime chasing.

2. How did your Oddfellows experience shape your career path?

I wouldn’t have a career path without Oddfellows! OP validated my interest in the arts. Working class kids in small towns aren’t supposed to dream of being actors or dancers or filmmakers. Oddfellows was and is full of kids and adults who are interested in and love the performing arts. I could see that my passions were not totally alien. Oddfellows encouraged my interests and let my creativity run wild. After film school, and years of writing, schmoozing and dreaming, what started at Oddfellows Playhouse has come to fruition.

3. What was the defining moment of your artistic life (thus far)?

I think when my short movie THE RAFTMAN’S RAZOR got added to the Museum of Modern Art’ s permanent film collection in 2007. A little movie I dreamed up and made with friends is now preserved for time immortal. I almost got a tattoo of the museum catalog number on my arm, but cooler heads prevailed.

4. Why do you feel the arts are an important experience for young people?

I think the best way to raise children is to present them with as many options as possible for what their life could be like as an adult. I feel like too many grown ups are unhappy because they are living someone else’s life—not a bad life, just not the one that’s right for them. Oddfellows fills such a gap left by school, and sports, and most homes—it’s a non-competitive place to learn about the arts, to be taken seriously and express yourself. Oddfellows is such a different experience for young people, I feel like it’s a huge help in filling in details of the map of the adult world before they have to venture out in it. It’s not that every OP kid becomes a working artist—though it exposes them to that option--but it starts them on their own journey of self-discovery that will aid them so much as the enter the often tricky and treacherous grown-up world. Knowing yourself is the first step in making the right decision, and I think everyone learns new things about themselves at Oddfellows.

5. What is the most challenging part of making a life in the arts?

A: Well, obviously the most challenging part is making a real living doing your art in a country whose government doesn’t support artists (living in Europe looks really good sometimes). The other challenge is more abstract, but more paramount—finding and refining your voice as an artist. What do you have to say, or show, or give, that is special and unique to you? How do you stay true to that in a way that other people will find moving or evocative? Can you work with other people, or in existing structures, and still let that special voice, that flavor, that worldview, shine through? Especially for a filmmaker, where there are so many people and elements to work with, it’s a day-to-day issue. Also, how do you succeed in the arts without becoming a person you don’t want to be? A megalomaniac or a phony or a tyrant? Most film directors are arrogant jerks, because it helps them get their way on screen. I have a hard time being that kind of person.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Forward with Spring Classes

Spring Forward with Spring Classes

Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater is now registering students for its spring theater programs. There is a full slate of Saturday morning class offerings for all ages, and exciting mini-productions during the week. Interested parents and children can visit Oddfellows Playhouse’s website to view the entire line up of classes. Registration is now available on line as well.

We are expanding our Saturday morning classes to include Little Fellows for students ages three and four. Also newly added is “First Act” for children ages five and six. These classes are a wonderful way to introduce your already imaginative and creative child to the world of theater through games, activities, art, movement and songs.

Due to popular demand “The Complete Actor” class for ages six through eight is being offered on Thursdays AND Saturday mornings. "The Complete Actor 2" for students ages nine to eleven will be offered on Wednesdays AND Saturday mornings. These classes features a curriculum of age-appropriate, basic acting, voice, and movement training for students who have recently caught the acting bug.

Spring Mini-Productions for students that have already completed study in "The Complete Actor" include "Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan" for students ages six to eight, and "Rootabaga Tales" by Carl Sandburg for students ages nine to eleven.

Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown. For 35 years Oddfellows Playhouse has been more than just a performing arts program. It aims to make a positive difference in the lives of young people by using the arts as tools to build self-confidence, communication skills, a sense of responsibility, and an appreciation for the richness and diversity of the world in which we live. For more information or to reserve a spot in a fall class, call (860) 347-6143 or go to www.oddfellows.org.

Oddfellows programming is made possible through the generous support of the CT Department of Education, the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, The Stare Fund, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Pratt & Whitney-Middletown, the Irving Kohn Foundation, Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund and our Media Sponsor Comcast Cable.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Oddfellows Playhouse has launched into the spring with the first production of the 2011 session.

The Junior Repertory actors perform the C.S. Lewis classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe sponsored by Price Chopper's Golub Foundation. The production runs Thursday March 10 through Saturday March 12. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. The approximate run time of the show is 80 minutes and is appropriate for children of all ages.

The production is made possible by major support from CT State Department of Education, CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, Middlesex United Way, The Stare Fund, Pratt & Whitney–Middletown, Middletown Commission on the Arts, City of Middletown CDBG Scholarship Program, Media Sponsor Comcast Cable and Radio Sponsor WESU 88.1FM

Tickets are available by calling Oddfellows at (860) 347-6143 or at tickets@oddfellows.org.
$15 Adults/$8 Students and Seniors

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Summer is Almost Here

Registration now open for Oddfellows' summer programs for students ages 4-20.

Summer Theater based on the World and Work of Eric Carle (Ages 4-7)
Working with professional teaching artists, children will be at the center of the action, writing, acting, painting and creating a new story inspired by the work of the beloved author and illustrator. Students may take one session or both, and get ready to have a very busy time!

Registration forms are available online.

Days: Monday-Friday, 9am-3:30 pm
Session 1: July 11-22 and
Session 2: August 1-12
Location: Oddfellows Playhouse
Tuition: $350 per session
Limit: 15 per age group

Children's Circus of Middletown
Registrations are now being accepted for Oddfellows Playhouse 's 23rd Annual Children's Circus of Middletown - presented by the Middletown Commission on the Arts, the City of Middletown, the Middlesex United Way and Media Sponsor Comcast Cable.

Students train in acrobatics, dance, juggling, unicycling, stilt walking, clowning, balance and visual arts and create a spectacular outdoor circus performance before an audience of over 1,000. Registration for the program is through the Middletown Commission on the Arts KIDS ARTS programs. Applications are available at Oddfellows Playhouse, the Middletown Park and Recreation & Arts Office, the Russell Library and online. Students that do not live in Middletown can participate in the program.

Ages: 8–14
Times: Monday thru Friday, July 5–August 6; 9–11:30 am or 12:30–3 pm
Performance: Friday, August 6, 5 pm (rain date: Saturday, August 7, 5 pm)
Location: Macdonough School
Tuition: $125—Middletown Residents; $250—Non-Middletown Residents

Summer Shakespeare Academy: Romeo and Juliet
An intensive, four week Shakespeare-in-performance program for high school students led by four highly skilled, professional theater artists. The Summer Shakespeare Academy focuses on rigorous theater training directly connected to the performance of one Shakespeare's plays. The program focuses on production, but uses the rehearsal and production processes as a teaching medium as well. Classes in text analysis, for example, will be specific to each student's character development, and classes in stage combat will lay a foundation for performance fight choreography. Interested students must fill out an application and schedule an audition with Jeffery Allen by calling 860-347-6143.

Rehersals: Mondays through Friday, 9am–3:30 pm
July 5-July 29 (Beginning Tuesday July 5)
Performances: July 28-30 at 7 pm
Tuition: $700 (Second child: $500)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One Man's Trash is Another Man's...Costume?

In an effort to start replacing the props and costumes that were lost in the recent roof collapse of the Oddfellows storage space at 505 Main Street in Middletown, Oddfellows will be collecting donated items and putting on a tag sale to raise money.

Donated items will be accepted at Oddfellows Playhouse at 128 Washington Street, Middletown on February 25, March 4 and March 11 from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sat., March 5 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“While all donations are appreciated, we simply can't keep everything,” said Jeffery Allen, Producing Artistic Director for Oddfellows. “Our designers, artists and technical director will select the pieces we will need,” he said.

All other items will be sold at a tag sale set for Sat., Apr. 16 at Oddfellows Playhouse. The proceeds from this tag sale will be used to offset the theater’s production costs.

“We lost 2,000 costumes including everything we need to costume 200 circus performers during our summer circus,” said Matt Pugliese. “At $100 a performer, just that alone is a $20,000 loss,” he said.

Financial donations may also be made to immediately help with the production costs of shows set to take the stage beginning with the Mar. 10 performance of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Financial donations can be made online or for more information regarding items for the tag sale contact Paul at (860) 347-6143 or paul@oddfellows.org.


As A Side Bar:
To help replenish the supplies that dress our actors and furnish our stages, Oddfellows is seeking unwanted items from your closets. All items are welcomed but these specific items are always in need:

MENS (all sizes)
• suits, jackets, slacks, khakis: all colors, but preferably black, gray, navy, and tan
• button down shirts, all colors, preferably white and light colors
• ties, all types and patterns
• dress shoes, all colors, preferably black
• top coats, preferably dark colors
• vests, tailored and knit in black, gray, and brown
• sweaters, pullover and cardigan, preferably black , gray, and brown
• vintage hats, any type, particularly felt fedoras, hombeurgs, bowlers, and newsboy types
• suspenders, and belts, any type

WOMENS ( all sizes)
• suits, jackets, slacks, khakis all colors, but preferably black, gray, navy, and tan
• blouses, all types, all colors, preferably non-patterned
• skirts, all types, all colors
• dresses, non-formal, day wear
• dress shoes, all types, all colors, preferably black
• topcoats, preferably dark colors
• vintage hats, all types, all colors
• dress gloves

• plastic or wooden hangers, suit and pant hangers
• large plastic storage bins

• old suitcases and travel accessories
• lamps and period looking items
• house wares
• old crates and boxes
• eyeglasses
• fake or prop food items
• any vintage items in general

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mayor's Ball donates $5,000 to Oddfellows

Two weeks ago, the Committee for the Mayor's Ball declared that Oddfellows Playhouse will be beneficiary of funds raised at the event. An average of $15,000 has been raised in past years.

In yesterday's building collapse, Oddfellows lost 36 years of costumes and props. According to Committee co-chair Sandra Russo-Driska, because response to the Mayor's Ball with Oddfellows Playhouse as beneficiary has been so popular, so early, the committee decided to make an early donation of $5,000 to Oddfellows.

"The words are so inadequate, but we thank everyone for Oddfellows," Producing Artistic Director of Oddfellows Jeffrey Allen said. "But not just for Oddfellows, but for the youth of Middletown. As the saying goes: the show must go on."

The sixth-annual Mayor’s Ball, Cirque de Joie, will take place at St. Clement’s Castle in Portland, on Saturday, March 26, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person and are available at the mayor’s office or the town clerk’s office in city hall at (860)344-3400.

Donations can also be made online to Oddfellows Playhouse.

Photo Credit: Ed McKeon, Middletown Eye