Home » Backstage Interview – Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling of Music Theatre of Connecticut

Backstage Interview – Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling of Music Theatre of Connecticut

Kevin Connors, Jim Schilling - photo by Alex Mongillo
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Luxury Experience takes you backstage for an interview with Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling, Co-Founders of the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk. The Music Theatre of Connecticut came onto Luxury Experience’s radar in 2019, and since then we have experienced 15 excellent Equity productions including Sunset Boulevard, I Hate Hamlet, The Mountaintop, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, TRU, Sylvia, Lend Me A Tenor, and so many more. While we only "discovered" the theatre a few years ago, Kevin and Jim founded the theatre in 1987. Their story is richly compelling, so sit back, relax, and enter the exciting world of the theatre.


Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling
Co-Founders – Music Theatre of Connecticut


What was your inspiration to create your own theatre?
We met when we were working actors doing a musical, Juke Box Saturday Night, and went out on tour with the show. When the director asked us what they wanted to do next, we replied we would eventually like to run a theatre company later in life. That later in life came much earlier when we went to see a space in Fairfield, Connecticut. We wanted our theatre to be a musical version of ABT with professional and student synergy. We formed a board and got non-profit status. After being in the Fairfield space for 1 year, we found a larger space in Westport, a 45-seat theatre-in-the-round. We spent 15 years after that looking for a larger space that would meet our parking needs, zoning requirements, and proximity to our theatre in Westport so that we would not lose our patrons.

We found our Norwalk space in 2013, when it housed a kitchen warehouse. We went through the zoning process, and in February 2014 we started construction on the 108-seat theatre-in-the-round and opened for our first production on Labor Day in 2014.

During the pandemic, you were one of three equity theatres in the country to remain open, and for that, we are especially grateful, as the enjoyment of theatre is the crucial interaction between the actors and the audience, that cannot be matched by virtual productions.

For those not familiar with the term "equity", would you briefly explain what is an equity theatre?

Equity refers to the Actors Equity union formed in the 1930s. We are one of 15 equity companies in Connecticut.

As an Equity theatre we need to follow strict standards re: venue and production contracts. Equity actors are paid and receive benefits. Small professional theatre contracts have a rule book which is very detailed. We are not allowed to use non-equity actors in lead roles.

MTC always presents engaging productions, and while the name is the Music Theatre of Connecticut, not all the productions are musicals. For the exciting upcoming 2023-2024 MTC productions, there is Jersey Boys (September 15-October 1), Clybourne Park (November 3-19), The Legend of Georgia McBride (February 16-March 3), and Ghost the Musical (April 12-28).

Celebrating your upcoming 37th season, how do you go about selecting plays for each season?

We start looking in January for the season which opens in September. We need to make selections by mid-January and must apply for production rights. It is a favorite part and the most aggravating part of the job. We need to think about how audiences will respond to a play like Clybourne Park, which is a Pulitzer and Tony Award play. We also have Talk Backs after some plays as the subject matter is so important. We choose a balance of known and unknown plays. For example, obtaining the production rights for Jersey Boys (which will run from September 15 – October 1, 2023) was hard to get.

In addition to the MTC’s seasonal productions, you also have a Summer Cabaret, offering something for everyone. When will MTC’s Hot Summer Nights take place?

The end of June through the first week in August. Please check the website (www.musictheatreofct.com) for more information on the 6 productions.

In addition to MTC’s Main Stage Productions, you also have a School of Performing Arts. Can you tell us about the school?

The School of Performing Arts and Main Stage work together so students can learn from professional actors. For musical theatre it is hard to get into a college, and kids that do get into a college are usually trained. High School juniors work with Jim who teaches acting classes, and work with me for musical theatre. We help them prepare to get an audition at a college, and then coach them through the audition process from start to finish.

Casting? How do you go about casting for plays? As a director, what makes an actor stand out in an audition?

There is always that essence that sets an actor apart, chemistry is important, and also it comes down to if you can work together.

In addition to Main Stage Productions, and the School of Performing Arts, you also make theatre a part of the local community with your Community Outreach. Would you tell us about it?

Theatre for All provides training, the ability to see a show, and to remove obstacles. The Norwalk Housing Authority busses kids for 8 weeks to the theatre with a production at the end. It is a life changing experience with the kids learning life skills, socialization, literacy, and so much more.

The STAR of Norwalk program is for adults with special needs. Jim teaches a musical theatre group which meets 2 times per week, and they learn new music.

Kevin, while Jim still acts, you have channeled your energy towards directing plays. Why the change from acting to directing?

I did some directing in college as well as acting. I went on the road tour with Carousel in 1980, which is where Jim and I met. I learned two major things on that tour; I see things in a different way as a whole vision whereas acting uses different eyes. I found that I liked the rehearsal process better than the production process. When we started our theatre company, I had some angst that I was never going to act again, but I still write and compose music as well as play piano and clarinet.

Thank you, Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling, for not only taking time to speak with Luxury Experience, but also for enriching the lives of theatre lovers and the theatre community.


VIDEOLuxury Experience interview with the MTC Co-Founders – Kevin Connors and Jim Schillinghttps://youtu.be/7hC2AvhsW40

Elizabeth Ward Land - Sunset Blvd. - Music Theatre of CT - photo by Alex Mongillo
Elizabeth Ward Land (Norma Desmond)
Sunset Blvd.

A Sampling of Upcoming Events and Productions for 2023 – 2024

Music Theatre of CT Gala
June 10, 2023
Jersey Boys
September 15- October 1, 2023
Clybourne Park
November 3 – 19, 2023
The Legend of Georgia McBride
February 16 – March 3, 2024
Ghost The Musical
April 12 -28, 2024

About MTC

"Music Theatre of Connecticut is the premier provider of musical theatre performance and training. Founded in 1987, we produce an annual series of Equity productions featuring New York professionals (MTC MainStage), numerous annual student productions, and a conservatory-style School of Performing Arts with curriculum-based training for students ages four through high school, including the nationally recognized College-Bound in the Performing Arts program for performance career-focused high school students."

"The Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC) was founded in 1987 by Kevin Connors (Artistic Director and Co-Founder) and Jim Schilling (Co-Founder), where MTC’s focus is musical theatre performance and training."

Jim Schilling, Michael Fasano - Lend Me A  Tenor - Music Theatre of CT - photo by Alex Mongillo
Jim Schilling (Henry Saunders) Michael Fasano (Mas)
Lend Me A Tenor

For more information on the Music Theatre of Connecticut or to purchase tickets, please visit the website: www.MusicTheatreofCT.com, email them at: admin@musictheatreofct.com, or call the box office at 1-203-454-3883. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am until 3:30 pm and 2 hours before every performance.

Music Theatre of Connecticut - Norwalk, CT

Music Theatre of Connecticut
509 Westport Avenue
(Enter the Bright Beginnings parking lot and look for MTC’s orange awning)
Norwalk, Connecticut 06851
United States
Box Office: +1-203-454-3883
Fax: +1-203-557-0496
Website: www.MusicTheatreofCT.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MusicTheatreCT/?ref=br_tf
Instagram: www.Instagram.com/musictheatrect/ @musictheatrect
Twitter: @musictheatrect

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