Reception will honor Scarpa

Gary Scarpa
Gary Scarpa

Gary Scarpa may have retired from his career in Shelton education but he certainly won’t be leaving behind Shelton theater.

After 34 years at Shelton High School, Scarpa retired at the end of this school year, to devote himself to Center Stage Theater, the non-profit community theater he started in 2005 with his wife, Francesca.

Friends and alumni of the Shelton High Drama Club and Youth Connection are invited to attend a Saturday, July 28 reception, honoring Scarpa’s work, at Center Stage, 54 Grove St. It starts at 5 p.m., and attendees are then encouraged to attend the 8 p.m. production of Legally Blonde at Shelton High School.

Scarpa began working at the high school in 1974 and decided in his second year to become the drama club advisor with help from his then-fiancee, Francesca. The first production, The Music Man was a bit ambitious for a first-time directors. His future wife warned it would be a big project.

“I’ve always been the adventurous, crazy one,” he said.

The play took the stage in May 1976 and Gary and Francesca were married in June. They even toasted at their wedding with pewter glasses that had “The Music Man” etched on the side.

“That goes to show that theater has been inextricably woven into the fabric of my life, starting with my wedding,” Scarpa said.

He took a break from education for a few years when his children were young but later returned. He has been a guidance counselor at the high school for 16 years.

“I loved working with the students in that capacity, I miss that interaction,” he said.

While he gave up his role as drama club advisor some time ago, he stayed on as director of the Shelton High School Drama Club’s spring musical. He is considering keeping his role as spring musical director.

Right now, Scarpa is focusing on the community theater, seeking additional grant money and continuing to put on well-loved productions.

“Theater is such a great passion for me and the more time and attention I can spend here, the better,” Scarpa said.

His former colleague at the high school, Kathy Riddle, agreed.

“Despite that I will miss him terribly I am so happy that he will get to dedicate all his efforts to his true passion, theater,” Riddle said. “We, Shelton and the surrounding communities, will certainly benefit from Gary bringing the stage to life.”

To RSVP to the July 28 reception, call Kathy (Gildea) Riddle at 203-225-6079 or e-mail