Newington Children's Theatre Company performing Beauty and the Beast this weekend

Published on Thursday, 23 June 2022 10:45
Written by Tanajah Fryer


NEWINGTON – The Newington Children's Theatre Company is celebrating its 59th anniversary with a Beauty and the Beast performance at John Wallace Middle School this weekend.

Camryn Caetano, who is playing Belle in the performance, is very excited.

“It's super exciting, but there is a lot of pressure to be perfect, as I think everyone is expecting it,” Caetano said. “With that, I am so happy and excited to be in this role.”

She has enjoyed the time she has spent rehearsing for the play and finds making friends and rehearsing with her castmates a lot of fun.

“I love making new friends,” Caetano said, “and also being able to play someone outside of yourself.  I enjoy performing for people, and seeing people smile, especially my family.”

Caetano sees acting in her future and hopes to continue as she grows older.

“I tried a lot of different things like soccer, dancing, etc. I tried acting and love it. It fits me very well,” she said. 

Newington Children's Theatre Company President Chris DeFrancesco is also looking forward to the performances this weekend.

“Guests can expect a group of young performers of various ages and experience levels sharing what they've worked on together since early April, learning the script and the basic elements of live theatre,” he said. “It truly is remarkable what Claire [Van Cott, artistic director] is able to teach them in what really is a pretty short period of time for a production that's this involved. Claire's work to keep NCTC relevant was incomparable, between the grants she relentlessly pursued and the creative ways she found within the limitations of social distancing to keep our families engaged while still drawing in new ones.”

DeFrancesco was voted in as board president in June 2020 and joined the board of directors in July 2018. As a parent, he has been active in the company since 2016 when he ran the sound for shows. His daughter was also a member of the company, with her first production the “Wizard of Oz” in 2014. 

“As a parent, I know first-hand how NCTC has helped shape my daughter's growth and development,” he said. “Therefore as a member of the board what I enjoy most is being part of an organization that can have that kind of impact on children, their families and really our community. And as the sound technician for the school-year musicals, I enjoy seeing the show progress and the sense of satisfaction the kids share when they take their bows and celebrate their success together.”

DeFrancesco also takes pride in being a part of Connecticut’s longest children’s theatre program.

“It means the organization has been around for six decades, longer than any children's theatre program in Connecticut, a reflection of a community that values performing arts,” he said.

Van Cott finds that Disney-inspired performances are familiar and appeal to a wide age range. In order to execute her vision, she comes up with a concept, does research and creates a plan to accomplish it. 

Auditions were in late March and rehearsals took place twice a week. They have been practicing for the performance since early April.

Van Cott said Beauty and the Beast is one of her all-time favorite Disney movies. The movie has plenty of characters in it and gives many cast members the opportunity to have speaking roles. The show was originally supposed to be for May of 2020 but had to be postponed because of covid-19.

There will be performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“The camaraderie that develops in the cast is one of the most rewarding experiences,” Van Cott said. “Kids come from all over the greater Hartford area to participate.”

Posted in New Britain Herald, Newington on Thursday, 23 June 2022 10:45. Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2022 10:48.