As the house lights dim and the velvet curtain begins to rise, the stage at the Sacred Heart University Community Theatre is set for a full lineup of varying artists to greet local audiences. Upcoming events at the entertainment hub vary from dog shows to live orchestras to comedians and more.
According to CT Insider, the theater originally opened in 1920 as a vaudeville house, later being repurposed as a cinema, declining and finally closing its doors in 2011. The building was given new life in 2021, just over a century after first opening its doors, by a partnership between SHU and Kleban properties to fully renovate and restore the property.
Since then, Sacred Heart has been fostering the arts in the historic 400 seat venue with the talents of guest stars the likes of Megan Hilty and Liz Callaway, who are both actresses and singers. The performance space is also regularly home to SHU’s “Thought Leader Series” and several learning enrichment programs for kids and teens.
The SHU Community Theatre’s website details that the restoration was completed with respect to the historic architecture of the building, with design elements emphasizing the classic “bones,” while modernizing the space with state-of-the-art sound and technical equipment.
One upcoming program, “Movie Maker Workshop: A Summer Film Program,” welcomes high school students into the world of film making through a three-week intensive camp course, culminating in a screening of students’ own films.
Students in the program will work hand in hand with SHU Community Theatre staff; they are a professional team of artists, musicians, and technical experts who have worked behind the scenes on Broadway, in regional theaters, and on national music tours.
According to the Today Show, a Fairfield native, Julie Benko, will be on the stage Friday, May 19 at 8 p.m. in a solo concert. Benko quickly rose to Broadway stardom this year after making her debut as an understudy in “Funny Girl,” with critical and audience acclaim landing the actress a position as the permanent alternate for the role.
Senior Abby Palmer said, “As a theater fan, I’ve loved Julie for months. She just seems so genuine and down to earth. I never even knew she was from Fairfield. It’s so exciting to have her performing at our theater.”
David Cross of “Arrested Development” will also be bringing his “Worst Daddy in the World” Tour to the Community Theatre on Saturday, June 10 at 8 p.m. with $2 of each ticket benefiting the Innocence Project for criminal justice reform.
In a different spirit, the theater will also host expert criminologist Scott Bonn, Ph.D. as he discusses “The Psychology of Serial Killers and Why They Captivate Us” on Saturday, May 13 at 8 p.m.
“I listen to true crime podcasts all the time and never really thought about why I find it interesting. I’m interested in going, but I honestly had no idea the Community Theater hosted events like that,” said junior Jordan Pita.
The full list of scheduled performances and tickets are available for purchase online at SHUcommunitytheatre.org.