Carol Burnett’s trials alive in Center Stage production
Many of us have family secrets, and so did the great comedian Carol Burnett. Audiences watching the Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978) likely did not realize that the hilarious caricatures featured in the series’ family segments, were based on Burnett’s childhood memories.
Carol Burnett’s iconic humor hid darker truths, ones she wrote with great courage in her book One More Time. It became the basis for her Broadway production Hollywood Arms penned with her daughter, Carrie Hamilton. And Shelton’s Center Stage Theatre has undertaken this production which tells of Burnett’s comedic success despite her tragic upbringing.
“I thought it was important to have a woman’s perspective to direct this piece and immediately thought of Shelia Hickey Garvey whom I had worked with at Southern Connecticut State University,” said Martin Marchitto, Center Stage Theatre executive/artistic director.
Center Stage Theatre’s Hollywood Arms will open Friday, Oct. 4, and run Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 4 through 19, at 8 p.m. There will be Sunday matinees on Oct. 6, 13 and 20 at 2 p.m., and a performance on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m.
Marchitto said the production team worked collaboratively to select Hollywood Arms because the work celebrates “the courage and resilience of single woman who lovingly raise children despite difficult circumstances.”
“For those of us here at Center Stage that have worked on Hollywood Arms, the story of Carol Burnett’s life has been a revelation” said Sheila Garvey. “Knowing that one of America’s greatest comedians came from a background of great loss and sadness has been a humbling. Carol Burnett’s humor and spiritual fortitude in the face of personal loss and heartbreak has served as beacon of hope and inspiration for us all.”
All of the character’s made famous through the Carol Burnett Show can be found in Hollywood Arms, including Nanny (Deborah O’Connell), her hypochondriacal grandmother, Louise (Katie Durham), her starry-eyed and unrealistic mother, and Alice (Shelby Douglas) as her adored little sister.
The cast for the production also includes two children that are students in Center Stage’s Youth program, Ben Souza as Malcom and Murphy Riddle as the young Carol Burnett. Lauren Lichac plays the adult Carol who she seeks to establish her acting career in 1950s New York City. Lichac and Joyce Piscitelli who plays Dixie are Center Stage regulars as is Mike O’Mara who can be seen in this production playing Carol Burnett’s adored father Jody. Rounding out this terrific ensemble cast is Center Stage newcomer Jeff Bukowski as Louise’s suitor Bill and John Marcinowskis as the sympathetic police officer.
For tickets, call the box-office at 203-225-6079 or visit www.centerstageshelton.org.