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,
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
Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling
Co-Founders - Music Theatre of Connecticut
What was your inspiration to create your own
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
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
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
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
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.
VIDEO - Luxury Experience interview with the MTC Co-Founders
- Kevin Connors and Jim Schilling - https://youtu.be/7hC2AvhsW40
Elizabeth Ward Land (Norma Desmond)
of Upcoming Events and Productions for 2023 - 2024
Theatre of CT Gala
15- October 1, 2023
3 - 19, 2023
Legend of Georgia McBride
16 - March 3, 2024
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."
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 (Henry Saunders) Michael Fasano (Mas)
Lend Me A Tenor
information on the Music Theatre of Connecticut or to purchase tickets, please
visit the website: www.MusicTheatreofCT.com, email them at:
, 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.
Theatre of Connecticut
(Enter the Bright Beginnings parking lot and look for MTC's orange awning)
Instagram: www.Instagram.com/musictheatrect/ @musictheatrect
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Theatre of Connecticut on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MusicTheatreCT
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© May 2023.
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