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Andy’s announces intention to return to live theater

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/13/2021 1:47:06 PM

Andy’s Summer Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Jared Mezzocchi knew how important the Wilton summer theater company was to the kids who call it home between June and August.

He just had to find a different way to foster that creative energy in 2020. So Andy’s created the Digital Renaissance Project last summer and it included more than 300 programs in a variety of multi-media disciplines.

“We saw an incredible evolution in the kids last summer,” Mezzocchi said. And the goal is to build off that creativity.

But as the world begins to open up and the theater community looks to get back to what they do best, the plan for 2021 has at least a little bit more of a normal feel. Instead of multiple shows staged at various points throughout the summer, Andy’s is making its return to live theater with just one show and it will be unlike anything they’ve ever embarked on before.

Instead of having the audience gather in the barn for a staged show, they will be outside in a drive-in style – but the performers will be inside. Using a host of different technologies, the audience will be able to see what is happening on the Andy’s stage in real-time, projected outside – at a safe distance from the actors and actresses and behind-the-scenes personnel.

“It was about looking at how we have to be careful, but creatively,” Mezzocchi said. “So we’re going to be exploring the space very differently. It will be a reimagining of the building and the space.”

And what is the title of Andy’s lone summer performance you might ask? Well, that’s to be determined.

The entire summer is billed as Andy’s Summer Playhouse 2021: WE ARE… and what that means will happen within the walls of Andy’s between July 12 and Aug. 20.

“Unexpected things happen when the kids lead,” Mezzocchi said.

The main goal is to listen, Mezzocchi said. Listen to what the kids want to have their summer look like, while recognizing and incorporating all they’ve gone through over the last 14 months.

“We know what the focus will be and what the questions will be,” Mezzocchi said. “And we’ll be looking to find the answers together. If we’re really going to start anew, we as an artist team want to arrive ready to listen. We can shape something together that feels organic and authentic.”

Rehearsals, which will be held in-person, outdoors, will be weekdays during the weeks of July 12, 19 and 26 with opening night set for Wednesday, Aug. 4. Performances will be over the course of three weeks, more than the typical one or two weekends in years past. The first two weeks will feature shows Wednesday through Saturday, with performances the final week Wednesday through Friday with the final one on Aug. 20. There will also be a streaming option as well.

There will also be one-week workshops in addition to the main stage performance, where participants will work toward creating a one-act vaudeville variety show that will be performed before the show during its three-week run. It will be mostly done in solo and duo collaborations.

“It’s for a kid that wants to look at another kind of performance,” Mezzocchi said. Those performances will also be live, but held outside.

Andy’s will hold two interest meetings over Zoom on Wednesday, May 19, from 6 to 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 23, from 11 a.m. to noon. To sign up for the meetings and learn more about the summer, visit www.andyssummerplayhouse.org. Enrollment opens May 19.

In-person orientations at Andy’s, 582 Isaac Frye Highway, Wilton, are scheduled for Sunday, June 13 and Sunday, June 27, with times to be determined.

A $100 registration fee gives each child, 8 to 18 years old, full access to all of the summer programming, and there will be no tuition fee this summer. Mezzocchi said depending on the interest, a scaled-down version of the Digital Renaissance Project will be offered.

With the current success of Mezzocchi’s original multi-media play “Someone Else’s House” through Geffen Playhouse, he wants to provide that same kind of experience into the post-pandemic creative process. And letting the kids share in the collaboration simply makes sense.

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