Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Now Registering for Winter Classes

Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater is pleased to announce that its Winter 2013 Session will begin the week of January 28.  Oddfellows’ programs use theater as a vehicle to build essential life skills, while exploring highly educational and artistic themes and plays.  There are a variety of performance options and technique based classes for students ages 3-18.

Classes for the Little Fellows (ages 3-4) include Around the World and Animal Adventures. Classes are offered on Saturday mornings.  Looking for something to do during the week with your little one?  Participatory classes include Parents & Tots and Arts Explosion on Thursday mornings at 10am. 

First Act (Grades K-1) offers Creative Drama courses themed around children’s books and adventures such as Fractured Fairytales and Jungle Safari Story Starters (Grades 2-3) encourage creative expression and promote confidence, self-esteem, and communication.  Once a week classes focus on skill building, while classes that meet twice a week short productions put those skills into action.  Classes include Peter and the Wolf and Create Your Own Story and a mini-production of Grimm FairytalesThe Kids Company (Grades 4-5) is the stage that students begin to focus more on skills and techniques.  These courses help develop the next set of vocal, physical and emotional skills.  Technique classes include Fundamentals of Acting, Create a Character and Fundamentals of Musical Theater. An original comedic mini-production is also on tap, called More Rubber Chickens.

The Junior Repertory Company (grades 6-8) offers a full production of Alice Threw the Looking Glass, a parody of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style by John Walch.  In this comedy, First-year college student Alice is in serious danger of failing her English course when she follows her composition paper into the trash -- and ends up in a hallucinatory world where the rules of grammar are turned upside-down. If she wants to pass, she'll need to deal with gunslinging run-on sentences, thugs hawking colloquialisms, fearsome Modifier Leeches, and more. 

The Teen Repertory Company (grades 9-12) will be holding auditions on Tuesday January 29 from 7-9pm.

There are also private lessons, stagecraft, directing and playwrighting classes available for middle and high school students.  A full list of program offerings and public performances can be found online at www.oddfellows.org.

Oddfellows programming is made possible through the generous support of the CDBG Scholarship Program, Citizens Bank, the CT Department of Economic and Community Development, the CT Department of Education, Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund, Elizabeth Carse Foundation, the Fund for Greater Hartford, the George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation, the Irving Kohn Foundation, the J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Liberty Bank Foundation, Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, Middlesex County Community Foundation, Middlesex United Way, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Middletown YSB, the National Endowment for the Arts, Pratt & Whitney, Price Chopper Golub Foundation, the Stare Fund, Stop and Shop Foundation, Thomas J. Atkins Foundation, Triple Frog, LLC and WESU (88.1FM).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Letter from our Executive Director

To our friends,

I planned today to write a letter to our supporters, our participants, our alumni – our community.  I had planned to tell them why in these challenging financial times, Oddfellows was an important and fragile resource for our community.  To write this now, after the tragedy of Sandy Hook, seems out of place, because our challenges as a society are clearly far greater than financial.

This weekend, I spent a lot of time working at Oddfellows Playhouse, not at home hugging my daughters as I would have liked to.  In the absence of my family, I thought about what the role of an arts organization, specifically what the role of our theater, Oddfellows Playhouse, has in our community in the wake of this terrible tragedy. What is Oddfellows’ proper role? What can the Oddfellows family do to help one person or many in lending an appropriate voice in the healing process?  As a community arts organization that focuses on the youth, do we need to decide whether we shall we speak on this at all? What are the limits of restraint? Shall we just continue on with our lives and program as is?

On Saturday morning, for several hours, families filled the rehearsal halls and theater at the Playhouse to celebrate the end of their fall classes.  The building was filled with joy, laughter and excitement as the students shared their work with their families, friends, and loved ones.  Elementary school students presented mini-productions of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Polar Express” to packed houses of the people who love them the most.  And maybe because of the events of the previous day, the messages of hope, love, faith and family seemed to be a little clearer.  Not a word was overheard from any parent or child about the events of the day before.

With every production and class, Oddfellows tries to bring us together, as audience and performer, as parent and child, as a community.  It may provide us with ideas and questions to consider, to share with others, it may give us hope and it may fill whatever void we feel.  Theater cannot undo tragedy, but it can inspire us to celebrate what is most precious, as I believe it did this weekend.

Thank you for being a part of the Oddfellows community.  I hope you all enjoy a great holiday season with your loved ones and look forward to working together to make 2013 the best it can be!



Warmly,
Matt Pugliese
Executive Director

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Uniquely American Holiday Production

Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater and Connecticut Heritage Productions are joining creative forces this holiday season with a co-production of Paula Vogel's A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration.  The play will be performed at Oddfellows Playhouse from December 6-15.  

“One of Paula Vogel’s original sources of inspiration for writing this play was to create a truly unique American Christmas production.  So many of our standard holiday cultural pieces are imported from other countries – A Christmas Carol, the Nutcracker, and so forth,” said Peter Loffredo, artistic director of Connecticut Heritage Productions.

The play, directed by Loffedo, will feature a multi-generational cast of actors from the community, including members of Oddfellows’ Teen Repertory Company.  The Connecticut Humanities Council is generously helping to fund this production because of its unique combination of historical significance, audience appeal, and educational storytelling.  

The play is set is Washington, D.C., on Christmas Eve 1864, during the Civil War.  President Lincoln has just been reelected and General Sherman is marching troops into battle.  Interweaving historical figures with fictional characters, A Civil War Christmas not only entertains but inspires the audience by portraying the real-life struggles that occurred and the human spirit that endured during one of the most difficult times in our history. Moving swiftly from scene to scene, it chronicles many aspects of the period, from something of the private life of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to the moving story of an African-American soldier whose wife has been cruelly kidnapped.  Christmas carols and folk songs are sung throughout by the ensemble, with additional period music performed by a group of instrumentalists. 

A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration, was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, with music by Daryl Waters. Vogel is the former chair of the playwrighting department of Yale University and a writer-in-residence. The show premiered at Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT, in 2008, after which it was transferred to Boston's Huntington Theatre Company in 2009.  it is scheduled to have its off-Broadway debut in New York City this month.

Oddfellows and CHP have joined forces on various projects in the past, including Higher Ground, an original play dramatizing the long struggle of African-Americans for freedom and equality, and the Connecticut Valley Student Playwriting Competition.  They approached this production with the goal of bringing together various perspectives and members of the community to explore the theme of life in wartime during the Christmas holiday.

“Our country has just concluded a very fiercely contended national election.  The differences were sharp and deep.  Spending time delving deeply into the American Civil War and the issues has provided the cast with not only a deeper understand of our nation’s history, but also another lens through which to view our current political climate. We are excited to bring this play to our community to further this discussion,” said Oddfellows’ Executive Director Matt Pugliese.

Director Peter Loffredo has incorporated historian/novelist Richard Slotkin and ethnomusicologist Ellen Lueck into the production process to help enlighten the cast about the play’s historical significance and provide community conversations on performance evenings with the audience. Slotkin will lead a talkback following the performance on Friday 12/7 about the actual history covered in the play, and Lueck will lead a conversation regarding the musical history of the folk songs and carols on Friday 12/14. 

The production runs December 6, 7, 8, 13,14, 15 at Oddfellows Playhouse.  All performances are at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Thursday December 6 and 13 is a Pay-What-You-Can Performance.  Please bring a non-perishable food item to donate to Amazing Grace Food Pantry.  Tickets are available online at ww.oddfellows.org or by calling860-347-6143.  The performance is made possible through special funding from the Connecticut Humanities Council, The Middletown Commission on the Arts, and Eli Cannon’s Tap Room.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Huck Finn On Stage This Weekend


Huck Finn This Weekend


 Oddfellows Playhouse’s Junior Repertory Company will present Huck Finn by Eric Coble, Adapted from the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Huck Finn flees the claws of "civilization" for the freedom of the mighty Mississippi, only to find himself running from mobs, getting shot at, stealing gold, digging escape tunnels and dressing as a woman. And perhaps his greatest adventure: unexpectedly finding his own moral compass in a world of corruption and hypocrisy.  This highly-theatrical adaptation presented by the Junior Repertory Company and directed by Lorra Webb, is the second of Coble’s work produced at the Playhouse, following 2006’s Gold in the Bones.  This classic tale of adventure is great for families and students of all ages.

The production runs Thursday thru Saturday, November 29, 30 and December 1  All performances begin at 7:00 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for Adults and $8 for Students/Seniors.  Anyone bringing a canned food item for Amazing Grace Food Pantry will receive a $2 discount on their ticket.  Tickets are available online atwww.oddfellows.org or by calling 860-347-6143.  


The production is made possible by major support from CT State Department of Education, Middlesex United Way, The Stare Fund, Pratt & Whitney, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room and Daphne Sebolt Culpeper Foundation.   Media support provided by Comcast and WESU 88.1FM. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holiday Offerings On Stage

With the holiday season approaching, there are multiple chance to take the family out to see some live theater here in Middletown. So you better start planning!

Huck Finn
by Mark Twain

Adapted by Eric Coble from the novel "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" 
November 29, 30 and December 1 - 7:00pm

Oddfellows Playhouse’s Junior Repertory Company will present Huck Finn by Eric Coble, Adapted from the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. 

Huck Finn flees the claws of "civilization" for the freedom of the mighty Mississippi, only to find himself running from mobs, getting shot at, stealing gold, digging escape tunnels and dressing as a woman. And perhaps his greatest adventure: unexpectedly finding his own moral compass in a world of corruption and hypocrisy.  This highly-theatrical adaptation presented by the Junior Repertory Company and directed by Lorra Webb, is the second of Coble’s work produced at the Playhouse, following 2006’s Gold in the Bones.  This classic tale of adventure is great for families and students of all ages.

The production runs Thursday thru Saturday, November 29, 30 and December 1  All performances begin at 7:00 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for Adults and $8 for Students/Seniors.  Anyone brining a canned food item for Amazing Grace Food Pantry will receive a $2 discount on their ticket.  Tickets are available online at www.oddfellows.org or by calling 860-347-6143. 
A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration
by Paula Vogel, Music by Daryl Waters
December 6,7,8, 14, 15 - 7:30pm

The play, directed by Peter Loffedo, will feature a multigenerational cast of actors from the community, including members of Oddfellows’ Teen Repertory Company and CT Heritage Productions.  The Connecticut Humanities Council and Middletown Commission on the Arts is generously helping to fund this production because of its unique combination of historical significance, audience appeal, and educational storytelling.  

The play is set is Washington, D.C., on Christmas Eve 1864, during the Civil War.  President Lincoln has just been reelected and General Sherman is marching troops into battle.  Interweaving historical figures with fictional characters, A Civil War Christmas not only entertains but inspires the audience by portraying the real-life struggles that occurred and the human spirit that endured during one of the most difficult times in our history. Moving swiftly from scene to scene, it chronicles many aspects of the period, from something of the private life of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to the moving story of an African-American soldier whose wife has been cruelly kidnapped.  Christmas carols and folk songs are sung throughout by the ensemble, with additional period music performed by a group of instrumentalists.

The production runs December 6, 7, 8, 14, 15 at Oddfellows Playhouse.  All performances are at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Thursday December 6 is a Pay-What-You-Can Performance.  Please bring a non-perishable food item to donate to Amazing Grace Food Pantry.  Tickets are available online at ww.oddfellows.org or by calling860-347-6143.  The performance is made possible through special funding from the Connecticut Humanities Council, The Middletown Commission on the Arts, and Eli Cannon’s Tap Room.





Monday, November 19, 2012

Welcoming New Leadership On Board

Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater recently held their annual meeting, welcoming aboard four new members to the Board of Directors. 

Patricia Labella, Spanish Language teacher at Mercy High School (Middletown), Steve Lovelace, President of Gener8or Communications/Moving Pictures, Inc, (Deep River), Leslie McKillip, Vice-President, Business Solutions at Liberty Bank (Madison) and Phil Ouellette, Owner, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room (Clinton) were elected to the governing body of the playhouse. 

“The ability to be able to innovate, I believe, has kept us in business for almost twenty years.  As the economy changes I think it is so important for kids to be allowed to create. These are not only fun opportunities for kids to have fun and grow, but it also prepares them for a job market that is ever more leaning toward innovation and creativity,” said new director Phil Ouellette. 

Elizabeth Bobrick (Middletown) Chair,  Glenn Taylor (Manchester) Vice-Chair and Quentin “Que” Phipps (Middletown) secretary was the slate of leadership elected by the board. 

There were also some departures to the group.  Directors Melissa Schilke and Jane McMillan departed the board after more than 10 years of service and leadership.  Chairman Michael Sciola and director Noel Garrett also stepped down after completing their terms of service. 

“Melissa, Jane, Mike and Noel have been great friends and supporters of Oddfellows.  They have been committed to the theater and our community, and have guided Oddfellows with great care through many challenges over the past few years.  We are excited and ready to continue that leadership into the future, “ said newly elected Chair Elizabeth Bobrick. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Teen Rep Begins Season


To Be or Not To Be...Eaten Alive by Zombies.  That is the question!

Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater will open William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead: A True and Accurate Account of the 1599 Zombie Plague by John Heimbuch on Friday November 9 at 7:30pm  The talented Teen Repertory Company under the direction of Hannah Simms, brings this frightful and enjoyable play to life for two weekends.  The play is appropriate for students 13 and older. 

The production runs November 9, 10, 15, 16, 17.  All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for Adults and $8 for Students/Seniors.  Anyone bringing a canned food item for Amazing Grace Food Pantry will receive a $2 discount on their ticket.  Tickets are available online or by calling 860-347-6143. 

This production is being produced by the generous support of Beverley and Tony Bellisio and Eli Cannon’s Tap Room. The production is made possible by major support from CT State Department of Education, Middlesex United Way, The Stare Fund, Pratt & Whitney, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, and Daphne Sebolt Culpeper Foundation.   Media support provided by Comcast and WESU 88.1FM.

About Oddfellows Playhouse:
Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown.   For more than 35 years Oddfellows Playhouse has been more than just a performing arts program.  It aims to make a positive difference in the lives of 1,500 young people each year 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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To Be or Not To Be...

...Eaten Alive by Zombies.  That is the question!

Looking for a different kind of horrific experience this fall?  Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater will open William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead: A True and Accurate Account of the 1599 Zombie Plague by John Heimbuch on November 9.  The talented Teen Repertory Company under the direction of Hannah Simms, brings this frightful and enjoyable play to life for two weekends.

This new play from last season’s NYC Fringe Festival takes place backstage on the opening night of Shakespeare’s Henry V.   Dealing with drama behind the scenes becomes more complicated for Shakespeare and company when an afflicted madman enters the Globe and attacks.  As the affliction spreads through London, the Globe is placed in quarantine and the survivors within must fight for their lives.  

“This play is fun.  That is what initially drew me to it.  But the genre of horror is a reflection of our society, and it says a great deal about where our fears are today that we have become recently fixated on zombies and the risk of some pandemic outbreak.  During the Elizabethan era, the term “afflicted” was used synonymously for madness, illness or even demonic possession.  This play is about the fear of others,” said Pugliese.

While the idea of Zombie Shakespeare might seem like camp, the play is actually very serious.  The script is filled with Shakespearean inside jokes, with intentional and unintentional quips and quotes from the Bard tossed around by the characters during the zombie melee.  The play is appropriate for students 13 and older. 

The production runs November 9, 10, 15, 16, 17.  All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for Adults and $8 for Students/Seniors.  Anyone bringing a canned food item for Amazing Grace Food Pantry will receive a $2 discount on their ticket.  Tickets are available online or by calling 860-347-6143. 

This production is being produced by the generous support of Beverley and Tony Bellisio and Eli Cannon’s Tap Room. The production is made possible by major support from CT State Department of Education, Middlesex United Way, The Stare Fund, Pratt & Whitney, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, and Daphne Sebolt Culpeper Foundation.   Media support provided by Comcast and WESU 88.1FM. 

About Oddfellows Playhouse:
Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown.   For more than 35 years Oddfellows Playhouse has been more than just a performing arts program.  It aims to make a positive difference in the lives of 1,500 young people each year 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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A message from our Zombies.



Hello out there, all of you undead friends,

Since our last update we have had 11 new individuals and families give to our Oddfellows Shakespeare Kickstarter!  Thank you to everyone who has given so far—however, it isn’t over yet!

We have 8 days left to our campaign and need EVERYONE’S help to spread the word, to encourage your friends to give (we love eating meeting new people) and for you to give.  Remember this is an all or nothing challenge!

Our production is 2 ½ weeks from opening night and we continue to want to give the kids the best experience possible.  What does that mean?  It means saturating their creativity with all the tools to help them perform, to give them confidence when the go on stage, and to help them in their lives.  Theater just isn’t about reciting lines on a stage—theater is about learning to understand the world through new eyes; igniting that spark to create; learning to work with a  group towards a final goal; and, most importantly, learning about yourself at an age when everything can seem confusing and mysterious.
video 
We have raised $1,530 so far and need to get to $3,500.

Check out this awesome video from two of our young actors:

Your donations go to directly support students just like them-- some on scholarship, some looking for a place to express themselves, to learn and grow, and for some, a place where they can be happy and feel comfortable.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Only Two Weeks Left!!



As some of you may or may not be aware, Oddfellows Playhouse is in the midst of its very first kickstarter campaign.  We only have two weeks left to raise money to help make this the highest quality production for the young actors.  Your support of William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead:  True and Accurate Account of the Zombie Plague of 1599 goes directly to help highschool students have access to a professionally produced show and spark their creativity for the rest of their lives.

Kickstarter is all or nothing.  If we cannot secure at least $3,500 by Tuesday, October 30 then we will not be able to get the funding.  WE NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP RAISING FUNDS!!
 
video
So far we have had 26 awesome backers help us to raise $1,175!!

Your donations would help us to support the cast of students (in grades 9-12) in the show.  Oddfellows provides scholarships to students49% of our students last year—and funding allows us to continue to give kids access to the arts.  

Check out this video of the cast rehearsing.  These are the very kids you will be helping!

Your donations also go to support all the individual artists and professionals who make this show possible!  Oddfellows uses local artists on all their productions and Land of the Dead.  This full-scale production, with dozens of zombies included!- will have professional  costumers, fight coordinators, directors, makeup artists, set designers, sound designers, and more!  We also couldn't make this happen without them OR YOU.

We had 12 days left and $2,325 left to raise.  


By making a contribution to this campaign, you are helping to make the difference in our community, with our artists, and our young actor’s lives.  You will help us to bring this show to audiences from around the state.   Click here to donate and check out our video.


And help us to spread the word on twitter (OddfellowsPlay, hashtag #SaveShakespeare) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/oddfellowsplayhouse)

You can also check out updates at our blog:  http://oddfellowspress.blogspot.com/