By MIKE CHAIKEN
Mark Mazzarella looked around and saw nothing like it in Connecticut.
There were youth theater groups in other states that brought in professionals to educate young performers with the goal of putting on a show, said Mazzarella. Yes, he said, there are community theaters in Connecticut that have a youth component those tend to stage well-known shows.
However, there are no youth theater groups in the Nutmeg state that have students perform new plays, said Mazzarella, who has Emmy and Tony awards attached to his resume. And there are no theaters where the young performers have the chance to develop – or even script – new works.
So, Mazzarella reached out to theatrical professionals he knows to sit on a governing board. He reached out to grants organizations to help fund programs. He hired instructors who are actively working in the performing arts. Then the St. Paul Catholic High School drama teacher established the nonprofit Revolutionary Youth Theatre.
“The goal is to nurture the young talent throughout the state,” said Mazzarella.
The theater program, which will be hosted at St. Paul, will be open to young performers ages 8 to 22. Although the program will call Bristol home this summer, Mazzarella said the theater group is open to any student in Connecticut interested in theater
There will be two prongs to the theater group, said Mazzarella. There will be an education component where students will learn about the theater. There also will be a performance component, he said. The younger students this year will stage the Disney musical, “Frozen.” The older students will stage “Pippin.”
The five week intensive program runs from June 17 to July 20 with performances scheduled for July 19 and 20.
Eventually, Mazzarella said the students will be performing and helping develop new works as part of group’s mission. The Belding Theater at The Bushnell in Hartford will host these performance.
Mazzarella has been overseeing student productions at St. Paul Catholic High School for years. But he said, “I just wanted to do more than what we do with theater at St. Paul.”
“I had a lot of students come to our school in the past (for the summer theater programs he offers)… who told me they wished that they could do one of my shows (that we produce at St. Paul),” said Mazzarella.
“I saw the need for a youth theatre that would champion young people with transformative theater education programs and main stage productions under the guidance of professional(s),” said Mazzarella.
“My vision is to ensure children have access to theater’s life-changing opportunities, regardless of economic, physical,,” said Mazzarella.
Mazzarella said the Revolutionary Youth Theatre, although ambitious, is artistically viable in the Nutmeg State. “There’s more than enough talent to do this (in Connecticut),” said Mazzarella.
“There has to be a place to nurture (that talent).”
“Some high schools don’t have musical theater programs and some can’t afford it,” said Mazzarella.
The goal for Revolutionary Youth Theatre’s first year is to have 50 students– 25 to 30 in the junior division and 25 for senior division, said Mazzarella.
Thanks to grant money secured by the theater group, Mazzarella said needs-based scholarships will be available for students.
For more information, visit revolutionaryyouththeatre.org. Registration is now underway.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.