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New-Works Theater Company Debuts In Stamford

From left, playwright Derek Murphy, New Play Forum Artistic Director Laura Stuart, Broadway performer Guy Fortt, New Play Forum Youth and Neighborhoods Director Patricia Rattray and Mike Moran, executive director of the Stamford Center for the Arts. Photo Credit: Provided
Frank Mastrone of Stamford Photo Credit: Provided

The New Play Forum is a new-works theater company launching at the Stamford Center for the Arts in downtown Stamford.

It kicks off with a "friend- and fun-raiser" on Monday, April 30, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Center’s UpStage lobby theater at the Palace Theatre, 61 Atlantic St.

The Celebration for the launch of the New Play Forum will feature entertainment by Broadway performers, including Guy Fortt and Frank Mastrone, and others, as well as food and wine from local providers.

Tickets are $25 at www.newplayforum.org or $35 at the door.

Believed to be the only theater company in Lower Fairfield County to focus on developing new plays and musicals, the New Play Forum promises to build a thriving local cultural community while bringing new productions to life.

Led by Greenwich's Laura Stuart as artistic director, the New Play Forum will open an inaugural season this fall that will include two readings and three "lab," or barebones, productions. Planned lab productions include the musical Samson, the comedic Irish drama Inside Danny’s Box, and the comedy Sketchy.

At each performance, audiences will meet the creative teams and provide feedback, while also enjoying receptions with wine and food from local restaurants.

“There is a special magic in experiencing performances as they progress from the reading to lab to full production,” said Stuart, who believes that lower Fairfield County – filled with theater lovers – has lacked a place that focuses on new works. “It is especially challenging to move new works beyond the reading level, where they often get stuck, so our labs will provide a pivotal point in the development process,” she said.

The New Play Forum is backed by the Stamford Center for the Arts, which is providing performance space and some coordinated marketing support. Interested in attracting and serving residents across the Greater Stamford area, the New Play Forum is also working on a youth and neighborhoods initiative, to be directed by Patricia Rattray, a longtime Stamford resident with graduate theater training from NYU.

As a musical theater writer herself, Stuart has been a composer member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop and a member of the Dramatists Guild, and she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College.

The New Play Forum’s creative team also includes stage director Andrea Andresakis, whose dozens of directing and choreography credits include Off-Broadway, national tours and international productions. Its first season features playwright Derek Murphy, whose plays have been performed in his native Ireland, including Belfast’s famed Baby Grand Opera House and the "Electric Picnic” Festival in Ireland, and in the U.S., including multiple works in Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival.

Donations can be made and founding subscriptions secured at www.newplayforum.org .

The New Play Forum is proud to feature Broadway talent Guy Fortt and Frank Mastrone, both Stamford residents, at tonight's celebration. Fortt performed in The Color Purple on Broadway, and Mastrone’s extensive Broadway credits include Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Saturday Night Fever, Jekyll & Hyde, and Big. Other local talent to make appearances include Dennis Collins, who has performed or recorded with James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and others, and Denise Michelle Johnson, a multi-faceted performer, whose career highlights have included singing her original song at Katherine Jackson’s Festival Honoring Michael Jackson and co-writing and recording a dance song that was featured on Saturday Night Live.​

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