West Hartford Community Theater – by Stuart Brown

In our continuing series on spotlighting community theaters in Connecticut, I recently spoke with Roxanne Drolet, a Board member of the West Hartford Community Theater – https://www.westhartfordtheater.org/. Their upcoming production of The Drowsy Chaperone begins on November 4, 2023.

Tell me about West Hartford Community Theater. Why was the company started?
• West Hartford Community Theater was started in 2007 by Bruce LaRoche and Maria Librio Judge, two West Hartford residents who were both alumni of Conard High School. They saw the need and the room for a true community theater in West Hartford, one that would open the stage to everyone, and give people in the community an outlet to sing and act and dance, work behind the scenes, and organize, as well as an outlet for Bruce’s talent on stage! Their first big show was “The Music Man,” which was a huge success.

How many shows are you planning to produce during the year?
• As of August, 2023, we are in the process of formulating our next season. We plan to stick with a musical, planned in the fall of 2024, along with 1 or 2 additional events. We are now very experienced, not only with a large musical, but also with our Short-Play Festival, Murder Mysteries, and Cabarets! So, stay tuned!

Your upcoming production is The Drowsy Chaperone. Can you talk about the show and why you chose this play?
• The Drowsy Chaperone is a “musical within a comedy”. It is a nutty, zany, fast-paced show, with humor at every turn, and a plot that turns on a dime. We chose it based on its popularity, and we feel like there’s something for everyone, the die-hard musical theater fans as well as their dates who will enjoy the way the narrator makes fun of musicals. It will be our first larger musical since the fall of 2019 when we produced Mamma Mia!, so we are really excited. The Drowsy Chaperone has a smaller cast, with almost every role as a lead or supporting lead, which is perfect for the smaller venue where it will be performed. We can’t wait for everyone to see this show!

What guides you to pick plays?
• Our guide to picking a show is multi-faceted. We think about our bottom line of course, always hoping to select something that will draw in a lot of folks. In addition, we have to consider our venue, including the size of the stage, whether we will be able to cast the show based on the cast requirements, whether it requires lots of dancing, females, males, children, whether the tech requirements are doable for us, etc.

Who is involved with the company?
• The board of WHCT has between 9-11 members at any given time. We strive to select board members with specific skills or expertise (e.g., marketing, IT, stagecraft), and board members with leadership and/or project management ability. We are actually looking for new board members right now, so if you are interested, please visit www.whtheater.org and click “contact us” and tell us about yourself! Other than the board, we have a number of local people who pretty regularly perform in, or get involved with, our shows. Many of them audition for lead roles, some love to be part of an ensemble, others volunteer to help build the set, work on the stage crew, or help at the front of house. In addition, we have found that, when we do certain shows, people come from far and wide, mostly in CT, to audition for a role they have always dreamed of playing.

Why should people come out to the show?
The Drowsy Chaperone is one of the funniest shows available. It never quits throwing out one-liners, double entendres, and zany physical stunts. The man playing Robert is brushing up on his roller-skating skills for his role! There is lots of slapstick humor, some a bit on the adult side and a lot of fun side plots. The narrator, Man in Chair holds it all together with periodic explanations of the zaniness and captivating charm. It’s the best of what a musical can be, beautiful music, gorgeous costumes, very funny dialogue and of course, comedic chaos!

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