Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater and Connecticut Heritage Productions are joining creative forces this holiday season with a co-production of A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel. The play will perform at Oddfellows Playhouse from December 6-15. A Civil War Christmas received its world premiere at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven in 2008. The play is by Paula Vogel, with music by Daryl Waters.
“One of Paula Vogel’s original sources of inspiration for writing this play was to create a truly, unique American Christmas production. So many of our standard holiday cultural pieces are imported from other countries – A Christmas Carol, the Nutcracker and so forth,” said Peter Loffredo, artistic director of Connecticut Heritage Productions.
The play, directed by Loffedo, will feature a multigenerational cast of actors from the community. The play is set in Washington, D.C., and along the Potomac during a Christmastime near the end of the Civil War. Vogel weaves together notable historical facts and figures with fictional characters and events to explore the celebration of Christmas and the state of our nation during wartime.
Oddfellows and CHP have joined forces on various projects in the past including Higher Ground: an original play dramatizing the long struggle of African-Americans for freedom and equality, and the Connecticut Valley Student Playwrighting Competition. They approach this production with the goal of bringing together various perspectives and members of the community to explore the theme of life in wartime and an examination of our celebration of the Christmas holiday.
“Oddfellows and CHP thought this was a great production to approach with a multigenerational cast because of the age range of characters in the play. There is a lot to learn as an actor when you are portraying a character your own age, rather than someone 20 or 30 years older. Equally as important is the different point of views that a cast with different life experiences brings to a production. It is important that we teach our young people different points of view on the world and on our history as a nation,” said Oddfellows’ Executive Director Matt Pugliese
Auditions will be open to all members of the community and will held be at Oddfellows on September 18 & 19 from 7-9pm. Actors of all ages are encouraged to audition. Teens will be auditioning for both A Civil War Christmas and William Shakespeare's Land of the Dead, and will be cast in one of the shows. Actors should prepare a short traditional folk song to sing acapella, such as a christmas carol. Actors will be asked to do readings from the play for the audition. Rehearsals will take place two evenings per week, with some additional weekend rehearsals as necessary.
Connecticut Heritage Productions was founded in 1981 under the artistic direction of Peter Loffredo. Its initial project was the documentary film William Gillette: A Connecticut Yankee and the American Stage. The documentary, which features rare film footage, interviews, and re-enactments from the works of William Hooker Gillette, was six years in the making. It had its public debut at the Wadsworth Athenaeum on June 6, 1986, and its television debut on Connecticut Public Television on July 11, 1994. The film set the tone for CHP's early focus: the development of new plays by Connecticut playwrights by means of the staged readings of works in progress. During this period, Connecticut Heritage Productions also produced An Evening in the Theatre of William Gillette, which featured a revival of Gillette’s The Painful Predicament of Sherlock Holmes; Chasing Rainbows, a new musical; and a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie.
Since then, CHP has presented over 100 stage productions including Faith Healer, The Price, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and many more.
Connecticut Heritage Productions' mission is to inspire, nurture, and sustain an appreciation of the performing arts by entertaining, enlightening, and connecting our audiences to the ever-changing sensibilities of our times. Our work is a collaborative effort of artists, professional staff, board members, and the community.
Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown. For more than 35 years Oddfellows Playhouse has been more than just a performing arts program. It aims to make a positive difference in the lives of 1,500 young people each year 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.
Oddfellows programming is made possible through the generous support of the American Savings Foundation, the CDBG Scholarship Program, the CT Department of Economic and Community Development, the CT Department of Education, Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund, Elizabeth Carse Foundation, the Fund for Greater Hartford, the George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation, the Irving Kohn Foundation, the J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Liberty Bank Foundation, Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, Middlesex County Community Foundation, Middlesex United Way, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Middletown YSB, the National Endowment for the Arts, Northern Middlesex Cable Advisory Council, Pratt & Whitney—Middletown, Price Chopper Golub Foundation, the Stare Fund, Stop and Shop Foundation, Thomas J. Atkins Foundation, Triple Frog, LLC and WESU (88.1FM).