By Marisa Taché
Starting at the end of June, members of Sacred Heart University’s Repertory Theatre Company will start rehearsals for the second annual Summer Theatre Program.
Over the course of five weeks, the Summer Theatre Program will include 12 performances of “Barnum,” three performances of “Godspell,” the Emerging Artist Series, and New Musical Workshops.
“I was very fortunate to be a part of the inaugural summer season last summer,” said sophomore Justin Weigel, who will be playing Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum in “Barnum” and singing “We Beseech Thee” in “Godspell.” “I am thrilled to be back and to continue working with our Program Director, Jerry Goehring, and Assistant Director, Leo Carusone.”
With a book by Mark Bramble, lyrics by Michael Stewart, and music by Cy Coleman, “Barnum” is a musical based off of the life of P.T. Barnum. He embraced the unique qualities of all humans and began circus-like shows which included jugglers, flying trapeze artists, and people of society who were considered outcasts and freaks. He was also elected the Mayor of Bridgeport.
“Barnum” will be directed by Adjunct Instructor of Performing Arts, Kevin Connors; who also directed Sacred Heart’s production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
The second production that the Summer Theatre Program will be performing is “Godspell.”
Based on religious parables from the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, “Godspell” is a musical that follows Jesus and his disciples as they teach individuals in the community how to be kind to one another.
The musical score in “Godspell” was written by composer Stephen Schwartz, who also composed music for shows like “Wicked” and “Pippin.”
“I went to Catholic school my entire life, so I think ‘Godspell’ will be a lot of fun to act out and perform parables in a new and contemporary way,” said sophomore Tori Vacca, who will be playing Mrs. Stratton in “Barnum” and singing “By My Side” in “Godspell.” “To sing the story of ‘Godspell’ to people who don’t have religious backgrounds or practice any religion will be awesome.”
“Godspell” will be directed by Adjunct Instructor of Performing Arts, Jim Schilling.
“I am looking forward to working with Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling, who co founded the Music Theatre of Connecticut, and are both two new directors that we brought in to direct ‘Godspell’ and ‘Barnum’ this summer,” said Weigel.
Aside from the two main productions that the Summer Theatre Program will be putting on, the five week summer session will also include acting workshops, as well as a New Works project.
The Theatre Arts Program hosts a New Works event, the National Playwright Competition, which gives aspiring playwrights in high school the opportunity to present their stories to the world.
This summer, the members of the Summer Theatre Program will be working with the winner who will be flying in from Arkansas to present her play to the company.
“You see an individual who writes a story and our Repertory Company helps them bring it to life,” said Carusone. “They read it, the student rewrites it, and they help each other develop art. This is only our second year running Summer Theatre, but this is why we have become the 18th Theatre Program in the country, because we are always finding new ways to improve our Theatre Program.”
Those who are a part of this year’s Summer Theatre Program look forward to spending five weeks being not only immersed in theatre, but also building close relationships with one another.
“I am really excited for everyone to get super close and bond over two amazing shows that we are going to be putting on this summer,” said sophomore Courtney O’Shea, who will be playing Jenny Lind in “Barnum” and singing “Day by Day” in “Godspell.”
“Barnum” opens on Thursday, July 5 at 8 p.m. in the Little Theatre. Additional performances will be held July 6-8, July 12-15, and July 19-22. Thursday, Friday and Saturday showings begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m.
“Godspell” opens on Friday, July 27 at 8 p.m. in the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts. Additional performances will be held July 28 at 8 p.m. and July 29 at 3 p.m.