The year may only be less than two weeks old but already, 2012 is shaping up to host an outstanding twelve months of theatre, both community and professional, in the greater Naugatuck Valley region.
Believe it or not, there are no fewer than 14 different community theatre groups within a half-hour's drive of Naugatuck. There are also a handful of teen theatre companies, including Naugatuck's own Teen Theatre. Then there are another half dozen or so professional theatres either hosting their own productions or touring companies.
That's a lot of theatre.
Over the next three months alone, local theatre patrons will be able to take in some classic old Broadway shows like "Guys & Dolls" (at Center Stage in Shelton in January) or "Blithe Spirit" at the Connecticut Cabaret in Berlin, as well as recent Broadway successes like "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" opening this weekend at the Repertory Theatre in New Britain, or "Titanic" at the Warner Theatre in Torrington.
And that's just the community theatre, or non-professional, productions. In the coming months, theatre-goers will be able to dance in the aisles at Waterbury's Palace Theatre when "Mamma Mia!" returns later this month. The hit musical based on the movie "Shrek" comes to the Palace the following month.
Just down the road at Seven Angels Theatre, an Equity Theatre in the heart of the Naugatuck Valley, "Over the Tavern" returns this weekend, making up for some performances that had to be canceled by weather thanks to the freak Halloween snowstorm that crippled the state.
In addition to those professional houses, productions are underway at Hartford Stage (the hilarious "Boeing, Boeing" until Feb. 12) and TheatreWorks ("The Sty of the Blind Pig" opening January 20) in Hartford. In New Haven, a world premiere of "MacBeth 1969" begins on Jan. 18 at the Long Wharf Theatre. And looking ahead way past the winter, the state's jewel on the Connecticut River, the Goodspeed Opera House , will be packing them in when they produce the classics "Mame", "Carousel" and "Something's Afoot" this summer and fall.
Meanwhile, the community theatre circuit in this part of the state will be so busy, before you know it, spring training will sneak up on everyone. Besides the two musical smentioned above, two plays are opening locally this month. The Hole In The Wall Theatre in New Britain kicks off the calendar year with "Life X 3" opening Jan. 20. Additionally, "Writer's Cramp (Or How Will Shakespeare Got Into Show Business)" opens Jan. 21 at the Phoenix Stage Company, Naugatuck's own community theatre.
For the younger members of all things thespians, Naugatuck Teen Theatre is holding auditions for their upcoming show, "Seussical the Musical" on Sunday, Jan. 22 and Thursday, Jan. 26, at St. Michael's Parish Upper Hall at 7 p.m. That production is scheduled to go up in early May.
All of these community theatre productions use volunteers to put their shows on the stage. Community theatres give everyday people the chance not only to show their talents on stage, but also help out in so many other ways off the stage and behind the scenes.
"Without the volunteers, there is no community theatre," said co-founder and board member Ed Bassett. "True community theatre is 100 percent volunteer. And for every person on the stage in a given production, there are four more volunteers behind the scenes. Volunteers are the backbone of the community theatre world."
So if you're looking to escape the winter doldrums, take in a show. Or better yet, get involved in a community theatre. They are so many to choose from and assistance is always, always appreciated.