Editorial: The show must go on

Theater Masks - Photo by scottchan

If you listen to chatter around town, it’s clear that people are aware of Southington’s long sports legacy. With our recent “Best Communities for Music Education” designation, the town is getting national attention for our powerhouse band and music programs. Even our engineers are getting much-deserved recognition for their recent robotics success.

But how about the theater arts?

Southington has a rich history of artists and actors. Visitors to our town will certainly take notice as the Southington Community Cultural Arts building nears completion, but it may surprise people to find out that Southington Community Theatre, a local nonprofit community theatre organization, is still battling poverty in the old Marion Firehouse. For decades, they’ve labored in their Southington home with a boiler system patched together with bubblegum and duct tape. They’ve rehearsed in bitter chills, draped in sweaters and sweatshirts to be sure that, when the curtains open, they are ready.

It’s obviously paying off. Theater is thriving in town. The middle school theater program is burgeoning. Elementary school programs continue to pop up with new productions. The high school productions and the community theater programs open up to crowded houses.

Recently, Southington High School was nominated for 10 Halo Awards by the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury. Southington thespian talents were judged against students from 55 other schools in the area. The local program stood shoulder-to-shoulder against public schools, private schools, and magnet schools from Avon and Hartford to Torrington and Westbrook. Last week, Southington High School came away with three winners.

Emily Sargent tied for the best performance for a supporting actress in a musical for her rendition of Penelope Pennywise in Southington High School’s production of “Urinetown.” Jessica Dos Santos, Marissa Mayo, and Madison Yurgaitis were awarded as best choreographers for their role in the play. Rachel Mouris earned recognition as the best performance by an actress in a comic role for her depiction of Delilah in the high school’s December presentation of “Father of the Bride.”

Now, doesn’t it seem crazy that the Southington Community Theatre has to labor through bitter cold? This town loves to rally around successful programs. We’ve invested in artificial turf fields for our sports teams. We pack our facilities each year for the “Music of the Knight” marching band competition. We’ve invited our robotic champions to wow us with demonstrations before spelling bees and town meetings. Now, it’s time to turn our attention to the dramatic arts.

Recently, Southington Community Theatre’s furnace coughed a few times, gasped its final breath, and went cold for good. Now, the organization is scrambling to find a replacement before winter returns. They launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds.

Over the years, they’ve treated us to spectacular productions on a shoestring budget. It’s likely that they’ve helped inspire the recent surge in the school programs that have allowed local students to step out into the spotlight.

If you are interested in continuing that tradition, check out the campaign at www.gofundme.com/SCTHallUpgrade. Donate or spread the word.

After all, the show must go on.

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