It is a daunting task to not only form a new theatre company but also get its first show off the ground onto the stage. The brand new Connecticut Arts Players are producing Avenue Q as their inaugural show. Over the next couple of months, OnStage Blog will be documenting their journey from auditions to opening night.
Part 1: The Planning
The Fairfield County of CT is not sparse when it comes to community theatre. Almost every town from New Haven to Stamford has some variation of a community theatre. But there is always room for more, which is exactly why Dr. William Trebing has founded the Connecticut Arts Players.
According to their website, this company was formed for “the sole purpose of enhancing Theater Arts awareness and enjoyment within varying communities in multiple states. Our mission is to provide a magnificent local theater experience, while at the same time giving back a portion of our ticket proceeds to local artistic and educational programs. All talented actors, singers, directors, and stage personnel are welcome to join us on a non-equity basis.”
For their first production, they will be performing the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q. Dr. Trebing will serve as production. Directing the piece is Alea Vorillas with Tom Cuffari music directing and choreography by Bret Fox.
I had a chance to chat with Dr. Trebing about his vision for the theatre company and why he made such the bold choice to start its journey with Avenue Q.
Why are you starting a new theatre company?
I've been involved in performing arts onstage for 50 years, and this has always been an exciting idea for me. Being involved in all aspects of a great musical production simultaneously seems like an invigorating prospect for me and I'm pretty thrilled about it! I figured I'm not getting any younger, and starting my own Theater Company was the only way I was going to have complete control of not only what show to produce, but how it should look onstage.
What is your connection when it comes to theatre and this area?
Before my re-entrance into community theater in Curtain Call's Jesus Christ Superstar in April of 2015, my last show was West Side Story on Long Island where I played Chino for a large production company in 1985. During my 30 year respite from performing I married the love of my life, Julia; had two kids and took care of my patients in my natural healing practice in Greenwich CT. During that time I produced two music albums under the stage name Billy Trebs, and performed here and there, but hardly anyone knew I could even sing except my wife and kids during this time. My wife then after an outing with our young daughter at Sterling Farms noticed the Jesus Christ Superstar advertising at the Kweskin Theater, and she returned home insisting that I audition. The rest is history. I said I was only going to do one show……….but we all know how that goes. Lou Ursone and the Curtain Call family in Stamford welcomed me with open arms and instantly became a huge part of my families life. Soon afterwards I met Ralph Pastore and the gang at the Wilton Playshop who as well, welcomed me as instant family. Between the both of these great organizations I have been involved in Mary Poppins, Scrooge The Musical, Tommy, Chicago, HTSIB, and West Side Story for a second time, as well as my second time in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Have you ever undertaken such a project before?
I have started and sold over 15 companies in my lifetime, so yes. Beginning and maintaining a Theater Company requires the same organizational and management skills.
How will your group be unique compared to all the other groups in the area?
We are all involved in a brotherhood/sisterhood of thespians. I believe we all strive for creative outlet and excellence henceforth. Each Theater, new and old, goes about their creative process in different ways to reach the same end…….An EXCELLENT show! We will be no different in this aim. I have created a "give-back" policy with our company, which essentially translates to picking a beneficiary for each show who will receive a donation as a 1/3 profit share. The other 2/3 will be paid back into the Theater non-profit to expand into the next performance. The beneficiary could be anything from another Theater company "in-need," to a contribution for a college student involved in the arts, to a contribution for a community service non-profit in a local town.
Why Avenue Q?
For this maiden voyage, I've chosen a lyrical and replete with magnificent harmonies favorite of mine, Avenue Q. I've been in love with this show ever since we took our son to see it for his birthday in 2004. We were beside ourselves with laughter, falling in love with the characters and the songs. The show is common to many other areas of northern Connecticut and New York, but it's been missed in lower Fairfield County. Thusly, I saw the opportunity for bringing a show to this area that is not only popular, but in demand.
Given that this is the first production, how much planning has already taken place?
Oh now, I am a planner. In fact I am most likely already driving my production team crazy with my advance plans, and for this first show I have many of them since they've been on my mind, waiting for the right moment for at least two years. We are essentially, all set to go !
Audition dates are set for February 17 and 19th in Stamford at The Stamford Academy for Music and Arts on 198 Lawn Ave. Call backs will follow on Feb 21 2019. The show will run at The Wilton Playshop, Friday night May 24th and close on Saturday night June 15 for a total of 14 performances. For more info email, firstname.lastname@example.org