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.