Dec 17, 2007


Many local businesses and individuals have helped Oddfellows Playhouse brighten the holidays for over 40 families of its Neighborhood Troupes living in Maplewood Terrace and the North End of Middletown and Chatham Court in Portland. Oddfellows is especially grateful to Kohl’s Department Store in Rocky Hill, Ken’s Cards and Collectibles of Berlin, Gorilla Graphics and A New World Laser Tag in Middletown for their generous contributions of goods and services. The Wesleyan University Knitters made scarves and mittens. Jerry’s Pizza, Tri-Town Market and the Family Dollar in Portland, Dunkin’ Donuts, Berlin Batting Cages, Farmington Mini Golf and Ice Cream, Public Market, Broad Street Books, Laser Quest in Newington, Target Superstores in New Britain, and K-Mart of Cromwell also made contributions to help Oddfellows fill the families’ holiday baskets, which were distributed at holiday parties in each of the neighborhoods.

Oddfellows’ Neighborhood Troupes program provides free, after-school activities for students, ages 5-18, from subsidized housing areas. Students come to the Playhouse once a week for theater classes, visual arts, snacks, and field trips. The goal of the Troupes program is to use theater to help these young people grow up to be more successful adults and support their work in school. Troupes are about learning life skills: interacting with peers and adults in a positive way, building trust and creating safe spaces, forming individual and community identities. Each Troupe also presents a performance every year, whether it is a mainstage production by older Troupes members or Share Day performances by younger ones. Troupes are facilitated by an artist/leader and 2 teaching assistants, usually Wesleyan University students. This year there are seven Troupes consisting of about 75 youngsters. Holiday Gift Giving is an annual event, an opportunity for Troupes leaders and assistants to talk to the families of Troupe members and share the spirit of the season.

The Neighborhood Troupes program has received support for the 2007-2008 season from the Middlesex United Way, Middletown Youth Services Bureau, Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council, Middletown Commission on the Arts, Elizabeth Carse Foundation, and The Thomas J. Atkins Memorial Fund. Oddfellows Playhouse thanks all of these generous organizations for making a difference in the lives of these children.

For more information about Oddfellows’ Neighborhood Troupes program, call (860) 347-6143.

Dec 11, 2007


Oddfellows Playhouse is registering now for winter performing arts classes, and there are still a few spaces available in Complete Actor classes for ages 6-14 and in a new class of circus skills for 9-11 year olds. Winter classes begin the week of January 7 and run for 8 weeks, ending with a Share Day on March 1.

“The Complete Actor” is the entry class at the first three age levels in Oddfellows’ program and presents a curriculum of age-appropriate basic acting, voice, and movement training at each level. This assures that every young performer at Oddfellows is being trained in the same set of fundamental skills. Complete Actor One is for ages 6-8; Complete Actor Two for ages 9-11; and Complete Actor Three for ages 12-14. Complete Actor classes meet one day per week and are prerequisite to taking more advanced classes or being in a play.

“The Actor’s Circus” is a new class for 9-11 year old, teaching stilting, juggling, clowning, and miming. Students will get to try all of the skills and use them to create skits to perform for their families on Share Day.

Tuition for these classes ranges from $110 to $120 for 8 sessions. Oddfellows’ generous financial aid policy offers assistance with tuition to all who qualify.

Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown. More than just a performing arts program, Oddfellows 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. So whether you’re 6 or 20, there’s an open door for you at the Playhouse. For more information or to reserve a spot in a winter class, call (860) 347-6143.

Dec 5, 2007


Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Repertory Company presents John Steinbeck’s timeless epic, The Grapes of Wrath, on December 6-15. Directed by Matt Pugliese, a cast of 20 talented teens from throughout central Connecticut recreate this landmark of American literature in a stage adaptation by Frank Galati, with original music by Michael Smith and Joe Ricker.

One of the most widely read American novels, The Grapes of Wrath has been hailed as a powerful statement against social injustice and condemned as socialist propaganda. It tells the story of the Joad family, forced off their farm by the drought in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, and their journey from the Dust Bowl, together with thousands of other migrants, to find the American Dream in California. When they arrive, they discover the dream was an illusion, and they are forced to deal with inequity, violence, and hardship. The play is true to the 1939 novel and ends with a young woman’s quiet act of humanity. This play is recommended for mature audiences only.

A “can-can” preview of The Grapes of Wrath will be performed on December 6 at 7 pm. All tickets are “pay-what-you-can,” and audience members are asked to bring a canned or nonperishable food item for the Amazing Grace food pantry. Additional performances are on December 7 & 8 and 14 & 15 at 7:30 pm. All performances are at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, in Middletown, CT. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. For more information or reservations, please call (860) 347-6143.

Major support for Oddfellows’ 2007-2008 season comes from the State Department of Education, CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, Middlesex United Way, Middletown Commission on the Arts, The Stare Fund, The J. Walton Bissell Foundation, and the Middletown Foundation for the Arts.

Dec 4, 2007


Oddfellows Playhouse will explore the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., in a free class for young people, ages 9-11, beginning in November. Taught by Dayna Snell, this class will prepare a presentation of King’s ongoing impact on our culture and perform it at Middletown’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 21.

Dayna Snell is a member of the performing ensemble, Nzinga’s Daughters, and also directs the Youth and Mass Choir at Redeemer’s A.M.E. Zion Church. Nzinga’s Daughters is a group of six women who are well-respected professional musicians. They accompany their primarily a cappella sound with traditional drum and hand percussion and celebrate the history of African-Americans in a wide range of music. “Martin Luther King: A Celebration in Song and Prose” will use songs, poems, and speeches to send a message of hope and peace in modern Martin Luther King style.

Classes will meet Tuesdays from 6-7:30 pm in November and December and on Tuesdays and Thursdays in January. Classes are held at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, Middletown.

For more information or to sign up for “Martin Luther King: A Celebration in Song and Prose” or request a brochure of 2007-2008 classes, call (860) 347-6143.

Oct 29, 2007


Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Repertory Company opens its 07-08 season with performances of Chavez Ravine by the Chicano/Latino performance troupe, Culture Clash, on November 8-17. Directed by Enza Giannone, Chavez Ravine uses a comic, vaudevillian style to tell the powerful story of the Mexican-American neighborhood displaced by city politics and corporate greed in order to build Dodger Stadium. A cast of 20 talented teens from throughout central Connecticut portrays more than 50 fictional and nonfictional characters to create a play that “moves as swiftly as the Santa Ana winds.”

In the 1840s, City Councilman Julian Chavez purchased land near the center of the Pueblo of Los Angeles. In the early 20th century, Chavez Ravine first sheltered refugees of the 1910 Mexican Revolution and then became a multicultural home to Russian Jews and Italian and Chinese immigrants. By 1950, the Los Angeles City Council designated the area for a new public housing project, and the city forcefully evicted the residents of Chavez Ravine through the process of eminent domain and tore down their houses. The housing project was never built, and in 1959, Dodger Stadium rose on the site that had once been home to hundreds of families.

Chavez Ravine spans the years 1946-1981 but is primarily set in the 1950s. Against a background of urban expansion, political unrest, and anti-communist paranoia, this important play helps spread a message of resistance, community and solidarity.

A “can-can” preview of Chavez Ravine will be performed on November 8 at 7 pm. All tickets are “pay-what-you-can,” and audience members are asked to bring a canned or nonperishable food item for the Amazing Grace food pantry. Additional performances are on November 9 & 10 and 16 & 17 at 7:30 pm. All performances are at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, in Middletown, CT. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. For more information or reservations, please call (860) 347-6143.

Major support for Oddfellows’ 2007-2008 season comes from the State Department of Education, CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, Middlesex United Way, Middletown Commission on the Arts, The Stare Fund, The J. Walton Bissell Foundation, and the Middletown Foundation for the Arts.


Just in time for the start of its 33rd season, Oddfellows Playhouse has taken on a new look. The elaborate metal marquee on the front of the historic building is now accented with bright red, blue, green, purple, orange, and yellow panels. Middletown artist David Schulz created the colorful geometric motif and carefully integrated it with the original marquee, which was designed and fabricated in 1999 by volunteers at Pratt and Whitney—Middletown. The eye-catching new marquee can be seen from blocks away and will soon become a landmark for kids and audiences who attend Playhouse classes and productions.


Oddfellows Playhouse opens its 33rd season of performing arts classes for young people ages 2 to 20 on August 27th. The focus of this season is “Home”: what it is as a concept, a place, and a driving force in our lives. In addition to its varied line-up of exciting theater classes, Oddfellows plans some special productions of new contemporary plays.

At the heart of the fall season are two mainstage plays; a new play, Chavez Ravine, and a timeless classic, The Grapes of Wrath, which together bring the audience through a culturally and geographically complex search for home. The characters we meet this season are all searching for “home,” from the Joad family moving to a new home and the bleakness around them, to the many incarnations of the Chavez Ravine neighborhood, the current site of Dodger Stadium in LA. The simple word “home” evokes memory, longing, regret, joy, despair, anger and triumph and is a universal need for everyone. These productions will be presented by the Teen Repertory Company (ages 14-20) with auditions being held on September 5 and 6, pre-audition classes On August 27-30 and Sept. 4. Teenagers must take 2 of the 5 free pre-audition classes to be eligible to audition.

There are still places available in the introductory Complete Actor classes for ages 6-14. For students who have already taken the Complete Actor at their age levels, there are classes available in physical theater, advanced acting, and a Stage One mini-production, Peggy the Pint-Sized Pirate, to name a few. All performing arts classes are taught by professional artists and held at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, Middletown. Financial aid is available to help with tuition costs.

Please visit our website at to view classes by age level or to download our new program brochure. For more information, to sign up for a class or request a 2007-2008 brochure of classes and productions, call (860) 347-6143 or email

Jul 17, 2007


Oddfellows Playhouse and the Middletown Commission on the Arts present “Circus Reversus,” the spectacular final performance of the 19th annual Children’s Circus of Middletown. This one-time-only show will be presented on Friday, August 3 at 5 pm at Spencer Elementary School and feature over 200 young stilters, jugglers, clowns, unicyclists, dancers, and acrobats. Live music is performed by a 15-piece Circus Band, led by well-known local musician Dirck Westervelt.

“Circus Reversus,” under the direction of Jake Weinstein, turns the tables on what we expect to see. In acts taking a wacky approach to life, lions tame humans, mosquitoes sit around a campfire being tormented by people, giraffes give a dinner party, and protesters agitate for higher gas prices.

The Children’s Circus of Middletown is a 5-week half-day program of training in circus skills for young people ages 8 to 14. This is the seventh year of a challenging full-day Advanced Circus Program for 40 veteran circus participants, ages 12-15, to help them take their skills to the next level. The Children’s Circus is part of the City of Middletown’s Kids Arts 2007, with additional funding from the Middlesex United Way.

Bring a blanket or lawn chair and come and enjoy a gala spectacle that has become a summer tradition.Circus Reversus” begins at 5 pm. at Spencer Elementary School, located on 207 Westfield Street in Middletown. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Rain date for the performance is Saturday, August 4 at 12 noon.

For more information, call Oddfellows Playhouse at (860) 347-6143.

Jun 25, 2007


Thomas Barrows & Sons and B & S Auctioneers will hold a fundraising auction to benefit Oddfellows Playhouse on June 27th at 6:30 pm. Supporters of the Playhouse have donated many wonderful items including jewelry, furniture, silver, antiques and collectibles, and vintage clothing. Highlights include: two Tiffany & Co. emerald and sapphire rings, antique Mexican silver jewelry, a pair of Derby framed mirrors, clocks from the 1800’s, Meissen porcelain, Roseville art pottery, folk art, an antique mahogany sailor-made sewing box, and a trio of Robert Mumford pen and ink drawings.

The auction will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Cromwell, CT. The auction begins at 6:30, with a preview starting at 4 pm. If you are unable to stay for the auction, but can come to the preview, you can leave a bid in absentia.

All proceeds from this auction go to Oddfellows Playhouse and support its ongoing youth programs. Oddfellows was founded in 1975 as a community-based, multicultural theater program designed to include children from all backgrounds. Today it is Connecticut’s largest and most active year-round youth theater that annually serves about 2,000 young people, ages 2-20, with an innovative program designed for asset building.

The auction will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 573 Main Street (Rt. 99), Cromwell, CT 06416. For more information, call Oddfellows Playhouse (860) 347-6143.

Jun 19, 2007


The Children’s Circus of Middletown, run by Oddfellows Playhouse as part of the Middletown Commission on the Arts’ Kids Arts program, is, once again, looking for musicians to play in its circus band. The band is open to all adult and teenage musicians willing to make the commitment to rehearsals and the performance on Friday, August 3, at 5:00 pm. Band director is well-known local musician, Dirck Westervelt.

Percussion, horns, woodwinds, strings (electric or acoustic) are all needed. There will be an organizational meeting on Tuesday, June 26 from 6-9 pm at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, Middletown. Rehearsals will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 pm throughout the month of July. Although attendance at all rehearsals is not compulsory, band members are expected to have consistent attendance and must be available for the dress rehearsal on August 2 and the performance on August 3. Professional or highly experienced musicians are often able to “sit in” by coming to a few rehearsals before the show.

This is the 19th annual Children’s Circus, a 5-week program for Middletown youngsters ages 8 to 14. Over 200 young people learn such skills as juggling, stilt-walking, clowning, unicycling, acrobatics, and dance and present the results in a stupendous outdoor show, accompanied by live music by the circus band. The show annually attracts an audience of about 1,000.

To sign up for the circus band, please call Oddfellows Playhouse at (860) 347-6143.

May 24, 2007


Oddfellows Playhouse Traveling Circus, now in its fourth season, presents two special performances of its current show, Seven Suitcases, a Trunk and an Egg, on June 1 at 7 and 9 pm. The 7 pm show is a benefit to help Traveling Circus members attend the American Youth Circus Festival in Normal, IL in August 2007.

Seven Suitcases, a Trunk and an Egg is the story of 7 eccentric clown characters on a journey which starts with the birth of a clown and goes all the way to circus paradise. Along the way this motley and diverse crew finds romance, adventure, conflict, and, ultimately, joy. The 45-minute show, which is appropriate for all ages, features juggling, contortion, unicycling, acrobatics, stilt-dancing, and loads of side-splitting character comedy and slapstick.

Under the direction of Dic Wheeler, assisted by Amy Richmond-Prchal, the 6 members of this season’s Traveling Circus ensemble are all between the ages of 13 and 19 and are veterans of the Children’s Circus of Middletown. These young performers exhibit a professional level of circus skills that will astonish audience members unfamiliar with top-tier youth circus.

Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street in Middletown. Tickets for the 7 pm benefit show are $50 for Ringmaster seats, $25 for Sponsor seats, and $10 for general admission. Ringmasters and Sponsors will get reserved seats and a listing in the program. Tickets for the 9 pm “Roustabout” performance are all $5. For reservations or more information, call Oddfellows Playhouse at (860) 347-6143.

May 21, 2007


There are still a few places left in Oddfellows Playhouse Summer Shakespeare Academy, an intensive 4-week Shakespeare-in-Performance program for high school students. The program runs from July 2-28, 2007 and culminates in 3 mainstage double-bill performances of Othello and Much Ado About Nothing. Directed by Playhouse artistic director Jeffery Allen, the Summer Shakespeare Academy offers a challenging, fun experience for teenagers throughout central Connecticut.

Oddfellows Playhouse is Connecticut’s oldest and largest youth theater with a 32-year history of artistic excellence. The Summer Shakespeare Academy meets weekdays, 9 am to 3:30 pm, starting Monday, July 2 and combines rigorous actor training directly connected to the performance of full-length Shakespeare plays. The first week will focus on acting and movement, stage combat, text analysis, and understanding Shakespeare’s historical and cultural background. At the end of week one, students will be cast into parts for Othello and Much Ado About Nothing. Each participants will get a substantial role in one of the productions. Weeks 2 and 3 will be split: mornings will feature additional training and special rehearsals to support the production and afternoons will be dedicated to rehearsals. Week 4 will start with technical and dress rehearsals, followed by a 3-show run on July 26-28.

The Academy is open to anyone ages 14 to 18 who has completed 9th grade. Enrollment is by application and audition. Auditions are by appointment. To audition, students should prepare a short Shakespeare monologue from 12-20 lines. It must be memorized.

The Summer Shakespeare Academy will take place at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, Middletown. Enrollment is limited to 20.

For more information or to receive an application form and schedule an audition, call Oddfellows Playhouse at (860) 347-6143 or email

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