George Lachance working the audio mix board at Landmark Community Theater
At a time when many young people struggle to find connection, stability, and self-confidence, Thomaston’s Landmark Community Theater offers kids opportunities to interact with their peers, explore their creativity and achieve common goals. For years, the theater has offered local students’ instruction in voice, acting, dance, and stagecraft while honing skills in communication and collaboration that are essential to success in any endeavor. In addition, the theater also strives to preserve and protect the Thomaston Opera House as a historic landmark and community space.
After nearly two years of pandemic closures, live theater has returned. With a grant from Connecticut Community Foundation, this year Landmark has launched a revamped and improved youth education program. Rebranded as the Reboot! Performing Arts Education Program for Children & Teens, the program offers classes, a summer program, a preteen show, and a teen show. As part of the reboot, Landmark is also working to ensure that its offerings bring awareness to celebrate the diversity of people and cultures in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills. This year, Landmark engaged approximately 20 students in the teen production, 30 students in the preteen production, and 50 students in other classes.
George Lachance reflects the impact of Reboot! on its participants. The 16-year-old enjoys working behind the scenes and discovered his passion through the program. “Landmark has provided me with skills that have opened doors to job opportunities doing similar technical work at churches and local events.” After high school, George hopes to major in technical theater and sound design at WestConn. Having completed the program, George now volunteers as the Landmark Community Theater’s light and sound coordinator.
Ella Cross’ connection to the theater is different but equally meaningful. Ella joined the program after watching her older sister participate in Landmark’s programs. “I enjoy singing and dancing, but what I really like is to volunteer,” Ella says with a beaming smile. Ella expresses that she has grown not only artistically but also emotionally, “I get very nervous before the show but once I’m on stage all of that fades away.” She has also been able to find a passion beyond the stage, “I love acting but what I have found here is a passion for the visual arts, and I hope to continue to learn more about set designing.”
The teen program at Landmark Community Theater production of Les Miserable.
As Gary Kingsbury, chairman of Landmark’s board of directors, explains, “Community theater offers kids and teens the opportunity to be part of a community, but more importantly we are very good at building self-esteem and high levels of confidence which then spill over to their school setting and life in general.” Landmark produced two shows as part of this year’s Reboot! program: Frozen for younger participants, and Les Miserables for the teens. Gary explains, “These shows would not have been possible without the support of the Foundation, but more importantly, the funds provided the kids with a high-level production which in turn rewarded them with an unparallel experience.”
Connecticut Community Foundation’s arts and culture grantmaking focuses on nourishing community arts efforts and increasing access to quality creative arts programs, with a focus on addressing existing disparities. To support this work through a gift to the Foundation’s Arts and Culture Fund, please click here. Look here for more examples of our recent arts and culture grants.