This is a printer-friendly version of an article from

05/06/2020 08:30 AM

Sandy Mascia’s Passion for Theater Leads to Founding of Spotlight Stage Company

Sandy Mascia is a co-founder and the director of sales and community engagement for Spotlight Stage Company. Photo courtesy of Sandy Mascia

For more than a decade, Sandy Mascia has volunteered her time in different capacities in town, from theater to Girl Scouts to dance as her daughter, Juliana, explored her interests. Through her work, Sandy has found a passion for theater, formed many relationships in town along the way, and strengthened the bond with her daughter, who has been in more than 40 musicals.

“She inspires me, inspires me each and every day, and I’m in awe of what she’s capable of,” says Sandy. “She’s a high honors student who gets to play sports and gets involved in the arts. She loves theater, but she wants to be an attorney and use theater as her outlet, her hobby. She found her passion on stage and I found mine off the stage.”

Sandy has also seen her daughter’s hard work exhibited through Girl Scouts in a troop that Sandy formed when Juliana was little. Juliana and three other members are now in the midst of earning their Girl Scout Gold Award, which is a lifetime achievement award.

As Sandy has a spinal cord injury, doctors had told her and her husband, Steve, that it may not be possible to have a baby; they consider Juliana their “miracle.” Ever since Juliana was born, Sandy has focused her efforts on being a mom and helping wherever Juliana found interests.

“Steve grinds it out each and every day working hard so I had the opportunity to raise our child and volunteer,” says Sandy. “I’ve been able to keep in touch with our community and being there for her. Without him, that would’ve been impossible.”

Every step of the way, Sandy has gotten involved in different groups, most recently becoming a co-founder of Spotlight Stage Company. She has been asked to sit on boards and help with fundraising. Her daughter attended St. Rita’s in Hamden through 8th grade and Sandy became one of the producers of that school’s shows.

After St. Rita’s, Juliana moved on to North Haven High School (NHHS), where they performed Phantom of the Opera just before COVID canceled many surrounding shows, including St. Rita’s Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Spotlight Stage Company’s Annie Jr.

“My heart breaks for the kids, especially the 8th-graders as last week would’ve been their last opening night,” says Sandy, who has enjoyed becoming involved at NHHS. “When she started at the high school, I jumped right in with both feet and I’ve been working with awesome people who I now call my friends and they’ve come to help me at Spotlight.”

Sandy met Christopher Zullo of Higganum when they both served on a board of a theater company together. Last year, they decided to step back from that board and after several conversations, they decided to start their own theater company—Spotlight Stage Company—as they saw a need for community theater in North Haven.

Zullo handles the stage side of the company, while Sandy works behind the scenes as the company’s director of sales and community engagement. They began a dialog with First Selectman Mike Freda and began to explore space options in town after realizing the costs for using the school’s facilities were too high.

“Mr. Freda said we really need this in town and has been very supportive of us,” says Sandy. “Finding a permanent home is our long-term goal, but to start, I reached out to a friend on the board at the High Lane Club, where they have a beautiful stage and a big ballroom. I asked if we could rent the space in the off-season, their board discussed it, and they have embraced us. They love the fact we’re bringing community theater to young and old.”

In addition to thanking Freda and the High Lane Club, Sandy notes that there are many in the community that have embraced the new group, including Sports Plus, Nicole Mele Photography, the North Haven Fair Association, and Performing Arts Studio BE.

“I’m a big supporter of our small businesses and through this, I’ve met so many wonderful people,” says Sandy. “I love our community—any time you ask for anything or support, people step up immediately and help.”

Sandy has worked with Studio BE in the past as her daughter there. The pair have had several chances to collaborate, including working with a group that staged a re-telling of The Nutcracker this past winter.

One of Sandy’s proudest moments so far is when Jill Nesi of Madison asked Spotlight Stage Company to produce her play, Stand Up and Speak Out Against Bullying. Spotlight Stage Company was able to perform it at North Haven Middle School in February.

“Mr. Freda came to the show and called me later that day to say he was just blown away. It humbled me to be involving in taking such an important topic and put it into a show to make the kids and adults aware of the effects bullying has on people.”

Sandy is hoping that she and those involved in Spotlight Stage Company are able to come back together soon as theater is her family’s “live and breathe thing.” When she is not working with theater, Sandy enjoys helping those in need in the community, something she was inspired to do by her late uncle, who passed away at 104 earlier this year. She recently signed up to volunteer with the Agency on Aging and has been shopping for the elderly in town.

“My uncle instilled a love of humanity in me and every day, I try to go out and help others,” says Sandy. “It’s funny because our name is Spotlight Stage Company, but I do not like the spotlight. I do what I do from the bottom of my heart and my passion.”

For information, visit the Spotlight Stage Company on Facebook.