Scarpas taking leave from Shelton's Center Stage

After 42 years of devoting their lives to local theater in Shelton, Gary and Francesca Scarpa have announced that they are retiring as directors of Center Stage Theatre. The Scarpas founded the non-profit theater in 2005, and they have led the way to its success ever since.

Replacing the Scarpas will be East Haven resident Martin Scott Marchitto, who appeared in Scarpa productions when he was a high school and college student, and who has recently been a guest director at Center Stage.

“It’s exciting to have one of our own come back to us as our successor,” said Francesca Scarpa. “It was a great choice by our board of directors, and Gary and I couldn’t be happier about the decision.”

Marchitto has spent the last 30 years working as a freelance theater artist, teaching, directing and designing throughout Connecticut and the United States. Marchitto holds a BA from Albertus Magnus College, an MFA 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 theatre including programs for middle school, high school and college age students including 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’s “Players” 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 theatre education to Shelton and the surrounding communities.

“We love Marty’s vast realm of experience,” said Gary Scarpa, “especially in educational theater, since working with kids is a key part of what we do at Center Stage.”

“We feel Marty is a wonderful match for our theater,” said Center Stage Board Chair Susan Coyle. “Besides 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.”

Marchitto said that the Scarpas’ influence on him has been profound.

"Gary and Fran have been an inspiration to me ever since I first met them back in 1984,” said Marchitto. “I was quickly impressed by not only their knowledge of theatre, 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."

Marchitto will begin working at Center Stage on Jan. 1, and the Scarpas plan to assist him in making a smooth transition for the rest of the current season and then completely retire by July 1.

“We already have a great staff to assist Marty which includes Business Director Mary Charney, Education Director Gina Scarpa and Box Office Manager JoEllen Lisi, and our board of directors plans to hire a part-time development director to make the team complete,” said Francesca Scarpa.

And what will the Scarpas’ role be moving into the future?

“We may direct an occasional play at Center Stage, and we will serve in an advisory capacity as needed. But it’s time for us to slow down and enjoy the remainder of our lives with our family and friends,” said Gary Scarpa.

Center Stage patrons will have an opportunity to meet Marchitto Friday, Nov. 16, at 8 p.m. when the theater will host a free event. The evening will feature a talk back with Marchitto, the Scarpas, and another guest director at Center Stage, Scott Brill. For reservations, call 203-225-6079.