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‘Ubu’ a reimagined, immersive musical at WCSU

image from 'Ubu'
Joseph Calabrese as Ubu and Jillian Callioutte as Ma Ubu

DANBURY, CONN. – The Western Connecticut State University Department of Theatre Arts will present “Ubu – An Absurdist Immersive Gran Guignol Musical” in eight performances from Feb. 26 through March 4, 2019,  in the Studio Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury.

Evening performances will be at 8 p.m. on Feb. 26, 27 and 28, and on March 1, 2 and 4. Matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. on March 2 and 3. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (203) 837-8732. Student and senior tickets are available at the box office with a valid ID.

French playwright Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi” was a topic of great discussion when it opened — and closed — on the same date in 1896. As explained in a 2015 Paris Review article by Dan Piepenbring, “‘Ubu Roi’ [was] a play so contentious that its premiere, in December 1896, was also its closing night. It lives in the annals of drama because it offended almost everyone who saw it. In this, it prefigured modernism, surrealism, Dadaism, and the theater of the absurd.”

The WCSU production, reimagined with original music, lyrics and text, is the handiwork of WCSU Professor of Theatre Arts Sal Trapani, who will also direct. The production contains explicit language throughout the show, and may be considered unsuitable for young children.

Trapani said, “We follow the adventures of Ubu and his wife whose gluttony, greed and lust for power drives them to take over the world. Ultimately, the play is about ourselves and our own obsessions, fascinations and delusions.”

Trapani added, “As an immersive and interactive event, it invites the audience in subtle and not so subtle ways to look at themselves through the lens of Ubu. It also demonstrates in an upbeat and entertaining way how easily we can be seduced by magnetic and charming personalities. It’s a timely and unique event not to be missed.”

The cast includes student actors Joseph Calabrese, of Harwinton, as Ubu; Jillian Caillouette, of Meriden, as Ma Ubu; Kelsey Lepesko, of Stratford, as Rosemonde/Bear; Kenneth Galm, of West Hartford, as Boggerlas; Cynthia Rivera, of Bridgeport, as Salt; Carter Smith, of Ledyard, as Batty; and Zachary Federici, of Rocky Hill, as Manure.

The ensemble, playing a cast of thousands, includes Serena Kelly, of Auburn, Massachusetts; Jamie Leo, of Southbury; Cole Urso and Dina DiMarco, of Wethersfield; Camry Young, of West Haven; Amber Levine and Olivia Kirby, of New Milford; Larry Weatherspoon, of Norwalk; George Pinnock, of Queens, New York; Jovani Perez, of Carmel, New York; and Henry Gough, of Ridgefield.

WCSU theatre department faculty involved with the production are Producer Pam McDaniel, Director Sal Trapani, Music Director Howard Kilik, Choreographer Jen Turey, Production Manager and Technical Director Tom Swetz, Scenic Designer Philip Baldwin, Lighting Designer Scott Cally and Costume Designer Robin L. McGee.

Student production roles include: Katie Giradot, of New Milford, Production Stage Manager; Alicia Napolitano, of Woodbury, doing puppets; Dante Cyr, of Waterbury, Dramaturge; and Zane Bendici, of Shelton, Assistant Director.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486. Get tickets at or by calling (203) 837-8732.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.