Tuesday, February 28, 2012


February 29, 2012


(860) 347-6143

Oddfellows Playhouse Announces

Spring Programming

Middletown, Conn.- Oddfellows Playhouse is pleased to announce its spring classes and programs for students ages 3-11. The Spring Session begins March 26th and runs until May 19th. The eight week classes and productions offer instruction in basic and advanced acting, movement and storytelling. Students will develop their creativity while building life skills such as public speaking, teamwork, cooperation and self-discipline.

The Complete Actor 1 (Grades 1-3) and The Complete Actor 2 (Grades 4-5) teach and strengthen the actor’s toolbox of physical, emotional and vocal skills needed to perform. Students learn through exercises, improve and scenes to embody characters and communicate to an audience.

Students that have already participated in the Complete Actor course can move on to mini-productions. This spring the theme for Oddfellows’ mini-productions is Folktales from the Amazon. Students in Grades 1-3 can act in Animal Tales from the Amazon while students in Grades 4-5 will bring to life a Chilean tale, The Magic Lake.

In addition to its regular array of classes, Oddfellows recently added Saturday classes for three to four year-olds called Little Fellows which allows children to explore a new story each week through song, instruments and dance. Its First Act classes are designed to introduce pre-K and kindergarten children to the world of theater through creative play activities, art, movement and song.

Oddfellows Playhouse also produces top-quality original theater. The Junior Repertory (grades 6-8) will present Snow Angel by David Lindsey-Abaire on April 26-28 , while the Teen Repertory Company will offer Thorton Wilder’s Our Town from Mat 11 to May 19. The Connecticut School of Circus Arts offers a performance on youth circus on May 25th.

For more information, to register for classes or to purchase tickets to performances, call Oddfellows at (860) 347-6143 or log onto www.oddfellows.org.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oddfellows Welcomes New Circus Director

Oddfellows Playhouse is pleased to announce that Jason Leinwand (pictured) will lead the 24th Children’s Circus of Middletown.

Jason Leinwand joined the Children's Circus of Middletown in the summer of 1997. With a few breaks here and there, this upcoming year with be his 13th circus! From 1997-2001, and again from 2003-2006, Leinwand brought his skills as a studio artist to the Children’s Circus, where he served as the lead teaching artist on the Art Room. As a graduate of Wesleyan University and NYU with degrees in Studio Arts, Jason returned in 2009 as the Technical Director and Designer where he has remained until the present time.

Oddfellows is extremely excited to welcome Jason as the Director and he hopes to continue the tradition of leading the challenging, exciting and spectacular circus program that Middletown families have enjoyed for nearly 25 years.

The Children's Circus offers an exceptional program where the whole family, and the entire community, can get involved in the making of something uniquely inspiring. Leinwand is especially excited about the community focus of this arts program, “As the Technical Director I was fortunate to spend a lot of time building, paper macheing, painting, cutting watermelon and laughing with circus kids and their families during our bi-weekly tech sessions held in the evenings at the Remington Rand space.”

“In my opinion, this is the essence of what the circus is. It's a place where everyone is welcome to participate. The circus is a place where all of our individual skills are collaged together to create an unbelievable spectacle that everyone can be proud to be a part of. We become a community of artists and over time, one big circus family.”

The Children’s Circus of Middletown is a partnership between Oddfellows Playhouse, the City of Middletown and Middletown Commission of the Arts and is part of the Kids Arts program. The 5-week, half day program begins on July 2 and runs until the performance on August 3. During this time, students ages 8-14 are develop a variety of circus skills including juggling, unicycling, stilting, acrobatics, capoiera, balance and clowning. The program culminates in an outdoor circus performance in front of a crowd of nearly 1,500 people. Each year the circus explores a different theme, with recent circuses focusing on “In Your Dreams”, “Eat’s All Good” and last year’s “The Quest for the Golden Nose”.

What unique energy does Leinwand bring to this year’s Circus? “The Children's Circus is an exciting place year in and year out. I feel my main role as Director is to maintain a high energy level, a goofy demeanor, an open mind to the imaginations of others and an anything is possible attitude. I have had the great fortune of seeing many circus kids grow up and become amazing counselors, teaching artists and circus performers. As the Director, I look to be inspired by them. In essence, the collective circus experience of the staff far outweighs my own individual time with the circus and only together, as a community, can we fully unleash the full wackiness that is our cherished and beloved Children's Circus of Middletown!”

For more information on the program and how to register, visit www.oddfellows.org or www.arts2go.org. Registration forms are available at the City of Middletown Arts Office, Russell Library or Oddfellows Playhouse. Registration opens on March 1 to city residents. The program is $125 for Middletown residents and $250 for out of town students. Busing is available for Middletown students.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter Update

It has been a very busy year at the playhouse:
  • The Neighborhood Troupes program expanded beyond Bielefield, Farm Hill and Macdonough Schools to include Lawrence School and a North End troupe at the Green Street Arts Center. Over 130 at-risk elementary school students were active in the program – learning puppetry, acting, dance and improv.
  • The Traveling Circus presented a brand-new show titled “Adscensio” in October and January.
  • The Junior Repertory Company presented “Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story” to sold out houses in December.
  • The Teen Repertory tackled “Slaughterhouse Five” and held a community conversation with local veterans who served in Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I & II and Afghanistan about PTSD and coming home.
  • 34% of students received scholarship assistance provided by many generous supporters that allowed them to participate in programming.
These are just a few of the opportunities that you have helped to make possible this year. But the impact that these experiences and opportunities have had on the hundreds of students involved in programs this year are even greater.

Here is some of the growth our teaching artists observed this fall:

  • “Marsela” joined Junior Rep as a quiet soul and seemed to blossom as the weeks went on, becoming more willing to join in and take creative risks.
  • “Caitlyn” is proving to be very focused and has started to come out of her shell – she’s more eager to be a leader.
  • “Advika” really took charge in her group for the fairy tales. I was really proud of her!
  • I love “Jazer”! He is not only a wonderful actor but an INCREDIBLE kid. Told his mom after class, he is respectful and kind, as well as an active participant. These kids are very talented and uber enthusiastic.
  • “Sasha” was a leader in the group activities. She’s creative, kind and willing to try everything. She also made friends in the group and helped others to feel more comfortable.
Here at Oddfellows 7 months of exciting programming has sparked incredible growth in not just these students, but all of our students. As winter classes start their third week here, we look forward to making the next 5 months even better—however, we can’t do that without your help. By making a monetary donation to Oddfellows Playhouse , you will be ensuring children in need receive financial aid, kids of every age are given the opportunity to explore the world through performing arts, and that Oddfellows can continue to provide the tools to a richer, better life for all students. Please consider making an unrestricted donation to Oddfellows Playhouse today. We thank you for your generous, continued support.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Samantha, student, Stage 1 Mini Production

Samantha has been taking classes at Oddfellows for a year and How Anansi Got His Tales is her third mini production with us. Her favorite color is pink, her favorite singer is Taylor Swift and her favorite food is homemade mac & cheese. What is her favorite thing about class? “I like class because we get to play games. My favorite game is 'Statues in the Park' (and I like to act).”

Friday, February 3, 2012


Bekah, Teaching Assistant, Stage Manager

Bekah has been working with Oddfellows for two years now, her first show here being Galileo. Currently she is doing double duty, helping Jaime Guite with the production of How Anansi Got His Tales and stage managing the Teen Rep production of Our Town. What she likes best about Oddfellows? "Because I can be myself; there's no judgement."

She loves being a teaching assistant here and wants to continue working in theater in the future, maybe becoming a professional stage manager. "I love teaching kids and I'm also being taught at the same time. I love it because I know I am giving them skills you know they will use later."