A "CONTEMPORARY TWIST" NEW PLAY AT WCSU
'The Green Bird', A contemporary twist on a commedia dell'arte play opens Feb. 26 at WCSU.
The Western Connecticut State University (WestConn/WCSU) Department of Theatre Arts spring production is "The Green Bird," an 18th-century commedia dell'arte play by Carlo Gozzi.
Opening Wednesday, Feb. 26, the production will run through Sunday, March 9.
According to WCSU Professor of Theatre Arts Sal Trapani, the show's director, "The Green Bird" is a piece that was developed after commedia dell'arte, a form of theatre characterized by masked "types" that began in Italy in the 16th century, had fallen out of favor.
"This was during the Counter-Reformation, when Italy returned to being religious." Trapani said. "Theatre, as we know, can challenge religious authority, and this public, popular theatre was somewhat bawdy and fun. Mind you, it is not lewd at all — but it pulls no punches and everything is fair game. It's a madcap fairy tale about the search for love and knowledge."
Expanding on the plot, Trapani said, '"The Green Bird' is the story of twins. The children of the king, they are tossed into a Venetian canal by their evil grandmother. They are rescued and given a home by a sausage maker and his wife. After some years, the greedy and penny-pinching sausage maker tosses the twins out, letting them fend for themselves. The journey of the twins is the journey we all take in our quest for love and knowledge. 'The Green Bird' reveals secrets we all want to know."
Western's production is full of dance and movement, special effects, contemporary music, moving scenic elements, video mapping technology and physical comedy.
"We have never done a show so radically different," Trapani said. "It is a collision of Renaissance commedia and modern technology and style."
The cast includes Mark Joy, of Winsted, as Brighella; Joey DeVellis, of Newtown, as Pantalone; Matt Grasso, of Bethel, as Tartaglia; Pat Loglisci, of Southbury, as Truffaldino; Nick Raines, of Brookfield, as Calmon; Tyler Caisse, of Wolcott, as Green Bird; Jared Starkey, of Columbia, as Renzo; Alexis Willoughby, of New Milford, and Theresa Curran, of Shelton, as Smeraldina; Audrey Twitchell, of Milford, and Brianna Bagley, of Stafford Springs, as Barbarina; Colleen Gunning, of Southbury, and Carly Neil, of Westbrook, as Ninetta; Casey Perruzzi, of Stratford, and Corinne Marshall, of Prospect, as Queen Tartagliona; and Mel Capparelli, of Poughquag, N.Y., as Pompea. The rest of the ensemble includes Mick Gloss, of Stratford; Austin Charles, of Westbrook; Willie Marte, of Danbury; James O'Reilly, of Redding; Vanessa Knowlton, of Stafford Springs; and Angelica LiCari, of Bethel.
Joining the university's team of theatre arts professionals to stage "The Green Bird" will be award-winning interactive media and scenography designer Philip Baldwin. For the Western production, Baldwin will use the latest technology, including video mapping. This will provide a cutting-edge experience for both the students involved in the production and the audience at each performance.
Also on board to choreograph this production is Elizabeth Parkinson, who co-choreographed one of Western's most successful prior productions, "Chicago." Parkinson performed on Broadway in the Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel musical, "Movin' Out," for which she earned the 2003 Tony Award nomination and the highly coveted Astaire Award for best female dancer on Broadway. She is co-founder and co-director of the New Milford dance and theatre school, Fineline Theatre Arts.
"Emmy Award-winning Professor of Theatre Arts Liz Popiel's costumes, Valarie Henry's masks and Scott Calley's lighting will all contribute to the show," Trapani said.
Performances will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26 (gala following) and Thursday, Feb. 27 (high school night); at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28, March 1, 7 and 8. There will also be matinee shows at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, and Sunday, March 2 and 9. Performances will be in the Berkshire Theatre on the WCSU Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The public is invited. Tickets will be $20 for general admission and $10 for seniors and non-WCSU students with I.D. WCSU students with a valid I.D will be admitted free. To purchase tickets, go to www.wcsu.edu/tickets or call (203) 837-TIXX.
For tickets or more information, call the Box Office at (203) 837-TIXX or go to www.wcsu.edu/tickets.