Just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theaters around the world, the West Hartford Community Theater was planning an evening of original one-act plays.
Like everything else, this has been postponed. On September 17 and 18, these plays — all written by Connecticut playwrights — will finally take center stage at the Elmwood Community Center.
“We had it all planned out for April 2020,” said Terry Szymanski, co-chairman of the group who also leads one of the plays. “We had chosen the actors and we were starting rehearsals. And then, all of a sudden, we couldn’t do it anymore.
Outside of a night of improv and a few trivia nights, the upcoming show is the first stage production the band has put on since their November 2019 rendition of the musical “Mamma Mia!”.
It’s fair to say that after such a long time away from the stage, the cast and crew are eager to get back on stage.
“We asked all the directors if they wanted to come back,” said Corey Mason, the show’s producer. “They were excited. They finally wanted to put on this show. Everyone is really excited to finally have this opportunity. I did some readings via Zoom, but I didn’t do anything live, and I don’t think most of us did. There’s a lot of excitement. It’s wonderful to be part of the first opportunity for many people to come back into this life that we all love so much.
Patrice Fitzgerald, who directs a play called ‘Mirror, Mirror’, said it was a strange experience to be at the starting gate of directing a play only to then have it all taken away. But she sees this as an opportunity for the show to be even better than it could have been a year ago.
“We had just started. We did a full read. We talked about costumes, but we hadn’t started,” Fitzgerald said. “And then there is this long hiatus. For me, as a director, it allowed the play to soak up and soften and for me to get to know it better. We are on the right track. We are creating a community again because we haven’t had the chance to do it with this group.
David Gorman, who stars in ‘Genie in a Bud Light’ and directs ‘How May I Help You?’, said the biggest challenge was getting back to the material after being away from it for so long.
“We’re just starving to be in the theater again,” Gorman said. “It’s a unique experience. In some cases, we cannot remember what we rehearsed a year and a half ago. It’s a very strange thing to rehearse and take a year off and then rehearse again.
Mason said the night’s six one-act plays all had the same quirky, fun tone, and she’s glad it turned out that way.
“I’m really glad we made the decision to keep these games light and fun,” Mason said. “It will be a great evening to come back to this moment of loss of self. They’re quirky and they’re fun and lots of laughs will happen. I can’t wait to hear that sound again.
And that audience reaction, as much as anything else, is what these artists need most.
“Not only will we be thrilled to be back on stage with each other, but we’ll be thrilled to be with an audience,” Fitzgerald said. “You feel them. You feel the response and the laughter or the breath or whatever. That’s a big part of the reward and compensation we get for putting on shows like this. »
While nothing is set in stone yet, Szymanski said they are having discussions about producing their fall musical in 2022, which would make it three years since the last one. They just need to know where, as their usual location of Hall High School may not be accessible to them.
“This will be the second year in a row that we have not held our flagship event. We are in the process of starting discussions about what musical to do,” Szymanski said. “One of the things we’re working on is location. We have been at Hall High for several years. We don’t know where it’s going to be. We really need to find a big venue for a musical, but that won’t stop us from planning.