Shelton Youth CONNection to perform 30th anniversary production

Tickets are now available for this summer’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” by the Shelton-based Youth CONNection Players theater group, which is marking its 30th anniversary.

The play, winner of five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards, will be performed from July 26 to Aug. 3 at Shelton High School.

The Youth CONNection Players was started in 1983 by Gary and Francesca Scarpa, founders of Center Stage Theatre in Shelton. The Scarpas have long been involved in Shelton High drama productions.

Musical offers plenty of antics

“The Drowsy Chaperone” has been described as “a ridiculously entertaining and insanely hilarious musical.” In the play, to chase his blues away, a modern day musical theater addict known simply as “Man in Chair” drops the needle on his favorite LP, the 1928 musical comedy “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

When the record begins to play, the musical magically bursts to life in his apartment, telling the tale of a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to give up show business to get married, her producer who sets out to sabotage the wedding, her chaperone, the debonair groom, her Latin lover and a pair of bumbling gangsters.

The antics that ensue will have audience members laughing the entire time, according to publicity material.

How to purchase tickets

Performances of “The Drowsy Chaperone” will be at the Shelton High auditorium at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 26; Saturday, July 27; Friday, Aug. 2; and Saturday, Aug. 3; plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Aug. 3. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students.

For tickets and information, call the box office at 203-225-6079 or go to

The play will be directed by Gary Scarpa and choreographed by daughter Mia Scarpa.

How Youth CONNection Players started

The Youth CONNection Players was founded as a community theater group for high school and college students. In 1983, after directing the Shelton High School Drama Club for almost a decade, Gary and Francesca Scarpa decided to start the youth troupe.

With the help of former Shelton Mayor Eugene Hope, the Scarpas were granted permission to use the then-vacant Huntington School, where they mounted the Youth CONNection’s first production, “West Side Story,” which played to nine sell-out audiences.

Many productions through the years

In the summer of 1984, the Youth CONNection performed its second production, “Bye, Bye Birdie,” at Shelton High School’s Percy Kingsley Auditorium, where it has resided ever since.

Each summer, the group has performed a musical. Through the years this has included such productions as “Annie,” “Man of La Mancha,” “The Sound of Music,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Hello Dolly,” “The Music Man,” “The King and I,” “Oklahoma!,” “Brigadoon,” “South Pacific,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Godspell, “ “Anything Goes,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Children of Eden” and “Les Miserables.”

Benefit shows to boost charities

Members of the Youth CONNection have given benefit performances for civic organizations and worthy causes throughout the state, including for Juvenile Diabetes, the American Cancer Society, Hospice, Ronald McDonald House, and AIDS Project New Haven.

The Scarpas have been recognized for service to the community, having received the Silver Seal Award from the Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Millennium Award from the city of Shelton. Recently, the Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley recognized the Scarpas with the Raymond P. Lavietes Service to Youth Award.

In 2005, Gary and Francesca Scarpa founded Center Stage Theatre, a nonprofit organization that aims to bring high-quality theater to the Valley at affordable prices. Since then, the Youth CONNection production has become the kick-off to the Center Stage season.