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Trapani to direct ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ spinoff: WCSU to present Bruce Norris drama ‘Clybourne Park’

Image of a scene from "Clybourne Park"
(l-r): Kezia Waters, Sasha Brown, Kristen Muller, John J. Mudgett and Joseph Calabrese in a scene from “Clybourne Park”

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University will present the award-winning drama, “Clybourne Park,” in the MainStage Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury.

The Department of Theatre Arts production, directed by Professor of Theatre Arts Sal Trapani, will be at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23; Saturday, Feb. 24, Friday, March 2; and Saturday, March 3; with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday, Feb. 24; Sunday, Feb. 25; Saturday, March 3, and Sunday, March 4, 2018.

“Clybourne Park,” written by Bruce Norris, is a spin-off from Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” It portrays fictional events set before and after the Hansberry play, and is loosely based on historical events that took place in Chicago. It premiered in February 2010 at Playwrights Horizons in New York and opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in April 2012. In 2011, it won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2012, it won the Theatre World Award and a Tony Award for Best Play.

The first act opens in 1959 filled with tension as grieving parents Bev and Russ are planning to sell their house in the white middle-class neighborhood of Clybourne Park to a black family, the Youngers, who are protagonists of “A Raisin in the Sun.” In act two, with the same actors playing different roles, it is 2009 and Clybourne Park has become predominantly black, but a white couple wants to help gentrify the community. True colors are shown again as the characters fight, turn on themselves and each other.

Trapani, a composer, director and writer whose work has been seen at many New York, regional and international venues, will direct the play to highlight issues from 1959 — and before — that are still present today.

“I am honored to be directing this important play with so many talented and committed student actors,” Trapani said. “The play uses the groundbreaking ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ as its inspiration. It is a searing and wicked comedy/drama that has a powerful and intense message about the racism and prejudice in each of us. It is an important play for our campus community. I hope we can inspire students to come out and participate in this exciting event.”

The cast features Sasha Brown, of Middletown, in the roles of Francine/Lena; Jillian Caillouette, of Meriden, as Bev/Kathy; Joey Calbrese, of Harwinton, as Russ/Dan; John Mudgett, of Danbury, as Karl/Steve; Kristen Muller, of Norwalk, as Betsey/Lindsey; Thomas Ovitt, of New Milford, as Jim/Tom; Brandon Richardi, of Hanson, Massachusetts, as Kenneth; Sydney Varick, of Waterbury, as Francine/Lena and Kezia Waters, of Waterbury, as Albert/Kevin.

Understudies for the cast are Saige Bryan, of Norwalk, as Francine/Lena; Sam Everett, of Kent, as Russ/Dan; Kenneth Galm, of West Hartford, as Kenneth; Henry Gough, of Ridgefield, as Karl/Steve; Stefan Izydorczak, of Unionville, as Jim/Tom; Jamie Leo, of Southbury, as Betsey/Lindsey; Kelsey Lepesko, of Stratford, as Bev/Kathy and Ramsay Patrick, of Sandy Hook, as Albert/Kevin.

The crew includes Trapani, Pam McDaniel as producer, Noah Todd as assistant director, Frank Herbert as production manager, Hayley Moretti as stage manager, Tom Swetz as technical director, Philip Baldwin as set designer, Sharon Sobel as costume designer, Scott Cally as lighting designer and Cali Holt as sound designer.

Tickets are available online or in person with cash only at the Visual and Performing Arts Center box office from Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.