Casinos aren’t the only place where seven is a lucky number. Shelton residents Justin Zenchuk, Fiona Bryson, Katie Sedlock, Eddie Leavy and Bobby Henry have also found that seven is a lucky number in theatre. With the opening of Legally Blonde on July 27 at , the group of talented performers will be performing in their seventh consecutive Youth CONNection summer musical.
Now in its 29th year, the Youth CONNection is a community theatre group for high school and college students. The Youth CONNection Players are part of Center Stage Theatre, both founded by local directors Gary and Francesca Scarpa. The group is committed to providing quality and affordable musical theatre to residents of Shelton and surrounding communities.
Zenchuk, a senior at Southern Connecticut State University, describes his experience with the Youth CONNection and Center Stage as going “beyond a rewarding experience. You would think that you would come to a point where you think you know everything, but seven years later I am still learning as each rehearsal goes by,” he said.
All of the group, except for Zenchuk, have been under the Scarpas’ tutelage since they were third graders and attended the annual summer theatre camp run by the Scarpas.
“It’s rewarding to be sure,” says director Gary Scarpa, “to have young adult performers stay with us summer after summer, but, in the case of four of these people, they have been with us since they were very small children, for thirteen and fourteen years now. The result is they are highly competent performers!”
Bryson, a senior at Boston University, who, besides appearing as the militant lesbian Enid Hoopes, has also partnered with Gary Scarpa as co-musical director, is excited about Legally Blonde.
“My friends and I have been in love with this show since we saw it together when it first came out. It’s amazing to finally be onstage with the people I love, performing the show that’s so dear to us!” she said.
Sedlock, a senior at SCSU, adds, “I started with the Youth CONNection at the early age of seven and have been hooked ever since. Legally Blonde has been an amazing journey with the people I love. The Scarpas keep live theatre thriving in Shelton and I am so thankful for that!”
Theatre Camp Director and Legally Blonde choreographer Mia Scarpa remembers that, when Sedlock was a little girl, she was always the first camper to arrive each morning.
“I don’t know if any child has ever loved theatre camp more than Katie when she was a small child,” says Scarpa.
Henry, now a licensed cosmetologist, adds, “Being in the Youth CONNection allows me to participate in an experience where I can explore my creativity and indulge in my passion for performing! It brings together young people who all share the same love for theatre.”
Will the group reunite a year from now for an eighth summer? “These kids just may,” said Scarpa. “They are family, and they have been the most loyal and dedicated group in the thirty-six years that my wife and I have been creating theatre in Shelton. One thing is for sure -- having them bring their large talent to our Youth CONNection productions for the last seven years has been our good fortune!”
Leavy, a recent grad of American University in Washington D.C., is the most likely not to return. Upon the conclusion of Legally Blonde, he is off to California where he has taken a job in public relations for a West Coast non-profit.
“It's really sad to think I may never be in a Youth Connection show again. It's almost like the end of a 15 year long relationship. The Youth Connection has given me countless memories and shown me how to be a better person on and off stage. Most of all, I will miss the community that the Youth Connection and the Scarpa family has given me. My closest friendships are a product of my Youth Connection summers. I never felt like I fit in anywhere until I did my first year of theater camp 15 years ago, and from then on I felt completely at home with the community that the Scarpas provided for me. However, I know that no matter where I go I will always have a home with the Youth CONNection."
Legally Blonde will play at at 8:00 p.m. on July 27th, 28th, August 3rd, and August 4th and also at 2:00 p.m. on August 4th. Tickets for production are $ 20 for adults and $ 10 for students and can be obtained by calling 203-225-6079 or online by visiting www.centerstageshelton.com.