Center Stage Theatre to collect nearly $50,000 worth of donations

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Gary and Fran Scarpa said they get satisfaction from building lasting relationships with residents who appreciate quality community theatre. – Aaron Berkowitz photo

The Great Give keeps on giving

Center Stage Theatre founders Gary and Fran Scarpa attributed their organization’s success in The Great Give this year to they believe their “community spirit” which goes into all of their productions.

“All of us together can accomplish great things and everyone that participates or donates in the Great Give contributes to that goal,” said Fran Scarpa. “Our regulars here know when this fundraiser is happening each year and how important it is to us. Our philosophy has always been to let the organization stand on its own, here we are and this is what we do. Bring your kids and if you enjoy it then help support.”

The official numbers haven’t been released yet, but according to Gary Scarpa, Center Stage collected nearly $50,000 just in donations. Scarpa said the organization could earn extra prize money as the fundraising event also has some competitive aspects to it.

“Our customers really want us to continue doing what we’re doing and it shows each year when The Great Give comes around,” said Gary Scarpa. “People don’t always want to drive to New York or New Haven. We’re local and high quality and residents want us to keep going.”

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In 2014 Center Stage earned additional prize money for having the second most donors out of all the nonprofits and in 2015 they earned prize money for having the most money raised out of all the nonprofits.

With much success three years in a row, the Scarpas remain humble and said the money goes towards producing more of the work the community has enjoyed over the years.

“Our tagline is building community one performance at a time,” said Gary Scarpa. “As this business evolved, at first we were hesitant to even use the term ‘community theatre’ because it can have a negative connotation, even though there’s some great community theatre going on around the state. We eventually came up with the concept of building community a performance at a time by building confidence in kids and we help senior citizens to come see a show locally for a price they can afford.”

The Scarpas said Center Stage staff are really a tight knit family.

“We have a certain gift to make everything here a family experience. We’re here at every show and our patrons appreciate that we are on that friendly basis with them. When they feel comfortable they usually come back,” said Gary Scarpa.

“We’re community theatre at it’s best,” said Fran Scarpa. “We couldn’t do it without them, we really take all of the support we receive to heart.”

Center Stage is currently holding auditions for the theatre’s Youth CONNection summer production of In the Heights.The auditions will take place on Saturday, May 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. High school and college students up to age 23 are eligible to audition.

Candidates will be required to participate in a dance audition and should prepare to sing one minute of a song of their choice, preferably from musical theatre, using a Broadway soundtrack or an accompaniment track. Singing a song from the show is not only acceptable but encouraged, and singing acapella is discouraged. There will not be a reading audition until the callback audition.

For more information on upcoming productions or how to get involved at Center Stage Theatre call (203) 225-6079 or email [email protected]

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