The first time Center Stage Theatre Artistic Director Gary Scarpa met Shelton resident Carl Musante was at an audition for the theater’s production of “Twelve Angry Men” in 2011.
“Carl auditioned for the play,” Scarpa said, “but I didn’t cast him because he had no real stage experience and didn’t audition well.”
Musante didn’t give up, though, and was cast in small roles in future Center Stage productions of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol.”
“I started to see that Carl had something going on,” Scarpa said. “It was clear that he was a creative thinker and could really deliver lines once he got comfortable.
“He was working his way up the ladder, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before he played a larger role,” Scarpa said.
Role made famous by Spencer Tracey
As Center Stage readies “Inherit the Wind,” opening on Friday, March 28, Musante suddenly finds himself at the very top of the ladder, playing Henry Drummond, a role made famous by Spencer Tracey in the classic 1960 film version.
In the play, two powerhouse lawyers face off in a small-town with the eyes of an entire nation upon them when a high school teacher is arrested for teaching Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution in his Tennessee classroom.
When the issue goes to trial, the two attorneys must passionately confront questions of faith and science in a heated courtroom.
Spencer Tracey received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his role in the 1960 movie version.
Challenge: ‘Old friends and now adversaries’
Musante explains that he is excited about playing such an important role in the epic play, based on the infamous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial.
“On a personal level, the challenge of the part is the complex relationship that Henry Drummond and Matt Brady have as old friends and now adversaries, and the views and convictions that they must now defend between right and wrong, and truth and freedom,” he said.
“I hope I can deliver a worthy performance on stage and do this part justice,” Musante said.
Scarpa described Musante as “a very talented guy who has developed into a skilled actor. I think his family and friends are going to be in for a wonderful surprise when they see his performance.”
Performances through April 13
See “Inherit the Wind” from March 28 to April 13, on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., and Thursday, April 10 show at 7 p.m.
Purchase tickets at centerstageshelton.com or 203-225-6079.
The nonprofit Center Stage is in the former Lafayette School at 54 Grove St., Shelton.