Phoenix Presents Reader's Theatre Weekend

Trio of stage readings at Naugatuck's community theatre to run Friday through Sunday.

In its continuing effort to try new things in a new business, on Rubber Avenue will be hosting a Reader's Theatre Weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, February 17-19. 

Three completely different plays will be performed in a reader's theatre format over the span of those three days.

"Our three goals for this weekend were to introduce new material to audiences, bring new actors and directors to our theatre and to gauge interest in these plays," said one of Phoenix's three co-founders, Ed Bassett. 

Kicking things off on Friday evening is a murder mystery comedy called "If The Shoe Fits." Directing this reading will be Val Vitalo, who has appeared on Phoenix's stage in several productions but has yet to direct there. In this reading, which will be a straight forward reading with very little movement by the actors and no props, the play will be read by Shelley Lloyd, Chris Evans and two of the Phoenix's founder, Bassett and Sharon Wilcox. 

"Since it is such a physical comedy play, this will be a challenge to do as a reader's theatre. I would love to direct it as a regular show at some point," Vitalo said. "I simply want to give the audience an evening of laughter and of wanting more. Laughter is healing and good for the soul!" 

The third founder of Phoenix Stage Company, Naugatuck's own Agnes Dann is directing the second performance on Saturday night, a stage reading of very clever and well known A.R. Gurney play, "Love Letters", which follows a couple, Andy and Melissa, from grammar school to the later years of their lives, via correspondence. 

Reading that play Saturday night will be another well known Naugatuck-ian, Kevin Del Gobbo, alongside Marilyn Olsen, a stalwart local community theatre actress making her Phoenix debut. 

"I chose Marilyn and Kevin because I felt they both would give me what I was looking for in the characters," Dann said. "There is a little bit of Andy in Kevin and Melissa in Marilyn. Knowing both as well as I do, I really felt they would be great together and the rehearsals have proven that to be the case." 

Closing out the Reader's Theatre Weekend with a Sunday matinee is the play "Kimberly Akimbo" being directed by another actress making her Phoenix debut, Meredith Roll. 

Set in the wilds of suburban New Jersey, "Kimberly Akimbo" is a dramedy (half-comedy, half-drama) about a teenager with a rare medical condition that causes her body to age a lot faster than it should. Performing the roles in this staged reading will be the husband/wife team of Rebecca Russo and John Ozerhoski (a.k.a. Johnny O of WZBG-FM Litchfield radio program, "Backstage", which highlights community theatre in the region), Gina Flemming, Alec Vargas, and Paula Roll, Meredith's mother.

"The board at Phoenix picked the shows and offered me the opportunity to direct this one," Meredith Roll said. "I was unfamiliar with it, but after reading it through just once, I knew I had something special in my hands." 

Evening performances begin at 8 p.m. with the Sunday matinee starting at 2 p.m. The Phoenix Stage Company is offering discounted tickets for multiple shows. The price per performance is $15 a ticket. However, if you plan to see two shows, the total cost is $25 and just $30 for all three. For more information, contact the theatre at (203) 632-8546.


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