This month, new non-profit Shoreline Theatrical Arts (STA) breathes life into its very first production, two live concert performances of Broadway’s Carousel June 25 and June 26 at Guilford High School.
With an innate understanding of the beauty and touching message of this classic American musical, and a passion for supporting STA’s mission, STA Artistic Director, pianist, and composer Chad Hardin has hand-picked a mix of professional performers and young shoreline talent to fill Carousel’s orchestra, vocal leads, and chorus. Chad is the show’s musical director.
The Guilford resident is delighted to be working with STA Managing Director Mary Beeman and show director Lenore Shapiro to craft an amazing debut for STA. Chad and Shapiro teamed up in Guilford in 2009 on the GHS production of Cinderella. The two also mounted a musical co-written by Chad in 2004, Two Cities, which was staged at the Stamford Center for the Arts.
“Her understanding of theater is very similar to mine; it’s a kind of quality and love we feel for these productions,” says Chad. “We want it to be a kind of loving experience for the audience, and the performers, too.”
Chad moved to town in 1997. He and Beeman became friends through their involvement in the local arts. Chad says the birth of STA came about in an organic way that seems to be contributing greatly to this new non-profit’s speedy and dynamic growth.
“The way this started is that I’d heard there was a regional grant that had become available last summer, from Connecticut Office for the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts,” says Chad. “There was a $5,000 grant for the shoreline region, so I applied. I proposed in the grant that we do this regional production of Carousel, pairing professional artists with up-and-coming young artists...and I got the grant!”
Chad took the news to Beeman and Shoreline Arts Alliance (SAA) Executive Director Eric Dillner, as well as a few other art supporters from the community. In late January, the group came up with the idea of forming STA. When Beeman suggested STA become a non-profit, “we said, ‘This feels right, let’s do this,’” says Chad, adding, “I would not have pictured me being in this place, as artistic director of a non-profit, a year ago. I would have said, ‘You’re crazy!’ But it’s almost as if God has been moving it along.”
As a 501c3 non-profit, STA’s mission is showcasing regional talent by presenting quality performing arts productions along the Connecticut shoreline. Proceeds from STA Carousel performances will be contributed to the SAA Young Artists Scholarship fund.
STA’s rapid organic growth continued as Chad began reaching out to regional professionals and talented young performers (including several past SAA scholarship winners) to join Carousel’s pit orchestra, perform as leads, or fill the chorus.
“The interest from people we’ve contacted has been almost universally enthusiastic. They really want to have performance opportunities like this,” he says.
Chad has gathered Connecticut and New York area professionals as well as regional young talent.
“A lot of the professionals have played for theaters like Goodspeed or with New Haven Symphony Orchestra or Hartford. We also tried to incorporate a lot of former [SAA] winners among our young performers, so the caliber of talent in the pit is really amazing,” says Chad. “And vocally, I just had my first music rehearsal with the leads in New York last Friday and they surpassed my expectations.”
Check out Chad rehearsing with leads Michael Gracco (Billy Bigelow) and Raquel Nobile (Julie Jordan) at www.facebook.com/shorelinetheatricalarts.
STA’s concert performances of Carousel may not be a full-scale Broadway production of the famed Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, but STA’s creatively pared-down performance, together with high-caliber music and singing, promise a theater experience audiences won’t soon forget, says Chad.
“We have some condensed dialogue, so it’s going to tell the story, and we’re going to have some blocking and stage movement and lights and costumes, so the people will be experiencing the story just as they would in the full production.”
On a personal note, Chad adds, “I think this was probably one of the most beautiful shows ever written, not just musically, but spiritually, with the message it gets across about relationships and the nature of love.”
Tickets for STA’s Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel: A Concert are available at http://shorelinetheatricalarts.weebly.com or by calling 866-967-8167. Shows are Saturday, June 25 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 26 at 2 p.m. at the Guilford High School Auditorium, 605 New England Road. Tickets are $40 (premium seats), $20 for adults, and $15 for seniors/students. Proceeds benefit SAA Young Artists Scholarships.