Mar 26, 2009

ODDFELLOWS PLAYHOUSE NAMES NEW CHILDREN’S CIRCUS DIRECTOR

Oddfellows Playhouse proudly announces that Skyler Sullivan is the new director of the Children’s Circus of Middletown. Sullivan is an extraordinary circus artist as well as an actor, singer, dancer, and mime. He has been a teaching artist with Circus Minimus in New York since 2001 and has an ongoing role as a juggling chicken on the well-known public television show, “Sesame Street.” He also appears as Arthur on “The Electric Company,” a Sesame Workshop on public television. Sullivan taught clowning, juggling, trapeze, tight wire, and acrobatics at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts. He takes over from Jake Weinstein, who led the Children’s Circus for the past 2 summers and has moved to Tennessee to pursue circus activities there.

Skyler Sullivan received his BFA in acting and musical theatre from Emerson College and brings a wealth of skills to the Children’s Circus. He has extensive training in mime, wire walking, stilting, juggling, partner acrobatics, clowning, stage combat, and Commedia dell’Arte. He is an accomplished dancer and plays the guitar, piano, and harmonica. He has performed with the American Mime Theatre in New York, the San Francisco Mime Troupe in California, and at the New York City Clown Fest as well as serving as the ring master for Circus Minimus. He appears frequently on stage and television and in films. Sullivan is sure to make the 2009 Children’s Circus one to remember.

The Children’s Circus of Middletown, part of the Middletown Commission on the Arts’ Kids’ Arts activities, was begun in 1988 by former Oddfellows’ artistic director Dic Wheeler. Each summer, 175 young people, ages 8 to 14, learn stilting, juggling, clowning, acrobatics, dance, unicycling, visual art, and other fantastic circus skills in this 5-week, half-day program. A challenging full-day Advanced Circus Program for veteran circus participants, ages 12-15, helps them take their skills to the next level. The circus concludes with a spectacular outdoor performance that has become a summer tradition in this area. With music by a live circus band and an audience of over 1,000, nearly 200 youngsters dazzle the crowd with circus acts and a level of skill that belie the youthfulness of the performers.

This year’s circus runs from June 29-July 31, with the gala circus show on July 31. Registration for Middletown youngsters began March 1; registration for out-of-town young people opens April 1. For more information, call Oddfellows Playhouse at (860) 347-6143.

Mar 10, 2009

ODDFELLOWS PLAYHOUSE PRESENTS INHERIT THE WIND

Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Repertory Company presents a mainstage production of Inherit the Wind, directed by Jeffery Allen and performed by a talented cast of 20 teens from throughout central Connecticut, from March 26-April 4. This fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial employs the debate between teaching evolution vs. creationism in the public schools as the background for a drama intended to criticize the anti-Communist hysteria and the threats to America’s intellectual freedom in the 1950s.

John T. Scopes’s conviction for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to a high school science class caused a media sensation in 1925. Evolutionism was contrary to Tennessee state law, which prohibited the teaching of anything but creationism. Inherit the Wind, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, opened on Broadway in 1955 and incorporated the trial’s historical events and larger-than-life figures of William Jennings Bryant and Clarence Darrow in this fictionalized critique of the McCarthy era.

As relevant today as when it was first performed, Inherit the Wind warns against repeating the wrongs of the past and raises questions with grace, humanity, and power about how we still use faith and science as both shield and sword.Major support for Oddfellows’ 2008-2009 season comes from the State Department of Education, CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, Middlesex United Way, Middletown Commission on the Arts, The Stare Fund, and The J. Walton Bissell Foundation.

A “can-can” preview of Inherit the Wind will be performed on March 26 at 7 pm. All tickets are “pay-what-you-can,” and audience members are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for the Amazing Grace food pantry. Additional performances are on March 27 and 28 April 3 and 4 at 7:30 pm. All performances are at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street, in Middletown, CT. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. For more information or reservations, please call (860) 347-6143.