Valley Shakespeare Festival, a Shelton nonprofit professional theater company, recently moved into its first formal office space at The Conti Building, 415 Howe Avenue, in Shelton.
Dominick Cerritelli, the day-to-day operator and co-owner of The Conti Building, is in the process of rebranding the converted factory and populating it with a wide variety of tenants. When he heard that the local theater group was in search of new digs he immediately stepped up with an offer.
“What Valley Shakespeare Festival is doing is consistent with our intention to transform the building into Shelton’s destination for commerce and community,” said Cerritelli. “It’s a natural fit for artists and small business owners to gravitate to a venue designed for this purpose.”
Valley Shakespeare is a seven-year-old company created by Shelton-native Tom Simonetti, with the mission to entertain, inform, educate, impact and enrich the lives of the communities of the Lower Naugatuck Valley through the works of the Bard, his contemporaries, and other classic playwrights. It presents its productions at little or no cost so as to attract the most diverse audiences.
“We’re very excited to have an office space to perform our day to day operations, but even more so to have an indoor performance space, said Simonetti. “I was attracted to the performance space because of its versatility, for which our company has become known. Our touring program, VSF2U, travels to bars, libraries, senior centers, homeless shelters and schools throughout the Valley.”
Simonetti continued, “In March we are producing, for a two-week run, one of Shakespeare’s most challenging and timely works, The Merchant of Venice, and we are thrilled to be presenting the Equity production in this new venue.”
Kelly Nelsen, 415 Howe’s tenant relations manager, introduced Simonetti, Valley Shakespeare’s executive director, to Cerritelli . She explained the company’s need for both an office space and performance space:
“What VSF is doing is extremely important for the Valley and all of Connecticut, especially now with the recent loss of Stratford’s American Shakespeare Festival Theater. We need to continue to support companies like VSF that bring professional theater to our communities.”