The greater Naugatuck Valley community theatre family is bidding a fond, yet temporary, farewell to two of their own this week.
Naugatuck resident Jason Gallagher and Paul Revaz of Torrington, both active participants on the various theatre stages in this region, will be leaving for higher purposes in the coming days. For Revaz, it will be to pursue a higher education in the theatre arts. For Gallagher, it will be to help protect the United States from foreign enemies.
Gallagher, a Naugatuck native, will soon be leaving to serve his country for the United States Naval Reserve. For security purposes, Gallagher was unable to state where his training will be or where he will be deployed. But he did confirm that he will be an officer working in the small boat detachment and working overseas. The length of his service is also undetermined but expected to last approximately one year.
Gallagher got involved in community theatre only three years ago, at the behest of childhood friend Ian Diedrich. Diedrich, who went to grammar and middle schools with Jason, convinced Gallagher to work behind the scenes as part of the running crew for the Thomaston Opera House production of "The Wedding Singer" in 2009 and Gallagher has been hooked ever since.
After working backstage for several more productions at the Opera House, Gallagher found his way to the front of the stage, appearing with Revaz in the Arts Center production of Glengarry Glen Ross. Gallagher was also a cast member in the Opera House production of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum" and the Warner Theatre's recent production of "Rent."
This past weekend, Diedrich and his wife, Emily, hosted a farewell party for Gallagher. There, many members of the community theatre family came to wish him well and a safe return home.
"It was a really nice opportunity for everyone to get together," Gallagher said. "It was pretty awesome. It hasn't really sunk in yet that I'm going. Between schools and things, you get used to being away from folks. It doesn't really hit me until I get back."
Revaz, meanwhile, is leaving soon for the University of Memphis to pursue a Masters Degree in Fine Arts in directing. Revaz, who recently appeared in the 's staged reading of "Twelve Angry Men", has spent the better part of the last two decades learning the various aspects of theatre, both off stage and on. Now, he's decided to focus that learning and get the highest degree available in fine arts directing.
"In this business, you learn a lot by watching," Revaz said. "But you miss a lot without the formal education. I've spent the last couple of years deciding what I wanted to do in theatre. It was time to pick a more specific direction."
Over the course of twenty years working in community theatre, Revaz has been on stage and worked behind the scenes in countless productions. He has worked as the Technical Director for the Thomaston Opera House and the Volunteer Coordinator for the Warner Theatre in Torrington. Lately, he has been working in Cape Cod at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival. Williams, and fellow playwright Eugene O'Neill spent a lot of time on the cape in their 20's.
"They left a pretty good footprint in that town," Revaz said.
Now Revaz is off to Memphis for the three-year degree program, choosing that school's outstanding theatre department over, say, learning the ropes in New York City.
"I wanted to broaden my horizons, but not in the city," he said, stressing the formal education factor. "I didn't want to wait too much longer. I'll be 45 once I'm done. I'm excited about going to school. Getting the degree will be the dessert. But the school itself is the meal and I'm really excited about the meal."