Marty Marchitto always felt an attachment to Center Stage Theatre.It was on that stage in his youth with the guidance and friendship of Center Stage founders Gary and Francesca Scarpa that his love for the theater blossomed. And while, as years passed, educational and employment opportunities would take him far from his beloved Connecticut, his heart remained with the place, and the people, who helped cultivate his creative spirit. That\u2019s why Marchitto \u2014 upon his return to the Nutmeg State last year \u2014 could not refuse the Scarpas\u2019 request to return to the Grove Street stage and take charge of a production. He eagerly welcomed this chance, in front of friends and family, and in front of the Scarpas who had been such an important part of his professional growth, to show off his skills.Marchitto was truly home.\u201cBeing here is so special,\u201d said Marchitto, an East Haven resident. \u201cI developed as a professional theater artist here, with Gary and Fran, but what has always stuck with me is what else they taught me \u2014 about being a good community member, a good citizen, having a good heart.\u201cYes, I got this theater training, but thanks to them I became more than just someone doing theater. In all places I have worked, I always carried that foundation. Coming here was like coming home.\u201dAnd Marchitto\u2019s return was perfect timing for the Scarpas, who were looking to retire after 42 years of devoting their lives to local theater \u2014 14 years operating the nonprofit Center Stage \u2014 and needed an heir with whom they felt comfortable.\u201cMartin is an extremely gifted director, with decades of experience on the professional, community, and educational level,\u201d said Gary Scarpa. \u201cHe\u2019s doing a great job, and his production is really going to impress our patrons.\u201dMarchitto began his role as Center Stage artistic and executive director on Jan. 1, and the Scarpas plan to assist him in making a smooth transition for the rest of the current season until completely retiring on July 1.\u201cMarty can design, produce, direct,\u201d said Francesca. \u201cWe couldn\u2019t believe he wanted this [position]. We share a common philosophy on what community theater is and what educational theater is to the community, not only for the actors and crew but also for the audience and the community at large.\u201cIt\u2019s always about the community for us. Theater is what we do. It is our vehicle to promote a better community and help young people and older people to be able to have sense of a smaller community within the bigger community. The life stories we explore together help us to be better people,\u201d added Francesca.And Center Stage is now Marchitto\u2019s baby to mold in his image while paying homage to the couple that made community theater a reality for area residents.\u201cFirst and foremost, my job is to continue the legacy of these two amazing people, who founded this beautiful place,\u201d said Marchitto. \u201cI need to move Center Stage forward in a way, keeping the original vision while finding ways to generate more excitement and interest for the community.\u201dGary Scarpa said the couple is proud of what they have accomplished in Shelton and are enthusiastic about Marchitto\u2019s future plans. \u201cThis will also be the go-to place for performing arts,\u201d said Marchitto, \u201cbut I see us expanding programs into other areas of performing arts to reach a broader community. Theater is important to me, but we can use other avenues to build the audience. If they come for one thing, maybe stay for another type of program.\u201dMarchitto has spent the last three decades working as a freelance theater artist, teaching, directing and designing throughout the country. Marchitto holds a B.A. from Albertus Magnus College, an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a certificate in drama from the Yale School of Drama.Marchitto also has extensive teaching experience in theater including programs for middle school, high school and college students, such as the Trumbull Youth Association, where he has been involved since 1988 as either director, designer or both. He has taught at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, Iowa Western Community College in Iowa and, more recently, he has served as an adjunct professor at Manhattan College, where he also serves as the college\u2019s \u201cPlayers\u201d director.Marchitto has recently been teaching acting and technical theater at the newly opened Center Stage Education Center, under the direction of Education Director Gina Scarpa. He looks forward to working in tandem with her to continue to bring quality theater education to Shelton and the surrounding communities.\u201cWe feel Marty is a wonderful match for our theater,\u201d said Center Stage Board Chair Susan Coyle. \u201cBesides being a very talented director, who is skilled in all areas of live theater, he is aligned with our mission and purpose. We were grateful that he was available and that he said yes when our board of directors unanimously voted to offer him the position of the new artistic\/executive director of the theater.\u201dAnd Marchitto said that the Scarpas\u2019 influence on him has been profound."Gary and Fran have been an inspiration to me ever since I first met them back in 1984,\u201d said Marchitto. \u201cI was quickly impressed by not only their knowledge of theater, their dedication to teaching, but most of all their beautiful and caring hearts. I consider them to to be the two most influential people in my life, and I am honored to be the person who is entrusted to continue their legacy."Center Stage is located at the Richard O. Belden Cultural Center l at 54 Grove Street. For more information about the audition or Center Stage, visit centerstageshelton.org or call 203-225-6079.