A CHRISTMAS CAROL Comes to Newtown, CT

A CHRISTMAS CAROL Comes to Newtown, CTNewArts, a nonprofit organization based in Newtown, CT and Walnut Hill Community Church of Bethel, CT, are proud to present their second annual presentation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - a production created by a team that includes six Tony Award-winners. The production features more than 120 local performers and stage technicians of all ages.

NewArts (www.newarts.org) was founded by Newtown parent, Michael Baroody, M.D., in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy. NewArts, the theatrical division of The 12.14 Foundation, collaborates with a team of nearly 20 theatre professionals, including Broadway-level directors, choreographers, music directors, designers, producers, and technicians, to guide the children in this endeavor of commitment, creativity and community. To date, NewArts has presented ten large-scale musicals involving over 500 local youth and was recently featured in the documentary film, Midsummer in Newtown, which was selected for the prestigious Spotlight Section of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Walnut Hill Community Church (www.walnuthillcc.org/) is a nondenominational Christian church, with nearly 4,000 people calling it their church home. Walnut Hill is one church with many congregations, with campuses in Bethel, Derby, New Milford and Waterbury. Each campus location is committed to active involvement in the community, seeing the church family seeking God together, caring for one another, serving together and reaching out to their communities.

A Christmas Carol stars Broadway's Graeme Malcolm (Equus, Aida, Narrator of over 400 Audio Books) as Ebenezer Scrooge. It is directed and produced by Michael Unger, who directed this production at The McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ for 16 years before introducing it to the Newtown area. Dr. Michael Baroody is the Executive Producer and Walnut Hill Community Church is the venue for the production (156 Walnut Hill Rd, Bethel, CT 06801). Performances are scheduled for November 30, December 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 at 7PM, and December 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 2PM. Ticket prices range from $12 to $26. For more information please visit http://www.newarts.org.

The sets, costumes, and props for this production come from the award-winning McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ where it played for sixteen years. The script was adapted by David Thompson (Scottsboro Boys, Steel Pier, Prince of Broadway) and the production team includes six Tony Award-winners. A Christmas Carol has choreography by Rob Ashford (Frozen, Thoroughly Modern Millie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and music and lyrics by Michael Starobin (two time Tony Award-winning orchestrator). Sets are by the legendary Ming Cho Lee (The Glass Menagerie, K2, The Grand Tour), costumes are by Jess Goldstein (On the Town, Newsies, The Apple Tree), sound is by Brian Ronan (Cabaret, Beautiful, The Book of Mormon) and lighting design is by G. Benjamin Swope (Liberty Smith, and School of Rock with NewArts). Original lighting design at the McCarter was by Stephen Strawbridge.

Adapting the production for NewArts/Walnut Hill are Jennifer Paulson Lee (choreography), Brian Prather (sets and projection design), Patty Hibbert (costumes), and Betsy Chester (associate lighting design). Theresa S. Carroll is the Production Coordinator, Samantha Stambuck is the Stage Manager, and Ana Dratz is the Technical Director. There are countless local volunteer children and adults that help make this production happen. Many roles are double-cast to give more children the opportunity to shine on stage and off.

NEWARTS, the theatrical production entity of The 12.14 Foundation, is a non-profit organization formed by local parent Michael Baroody, M.D. following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 to encourage personal development through high-level performing arts programs. The Foundation provides experiences that produce a long-lasting, positive affect on the way children see themselves and the world around them. NewArts also provides character development through its ARC Program - "Aspire, Reach, Confidence" - an effective model for teaching children life skills developed in collaboration with members of the Yale School of Management and Inspire Corps. The program provides opportunities for participating children to cognitively understand their experiences during the rehearsal and performance process and then translate those skills to everyday life. NewArts has produced ten critically-acclaimed, large-scale musicals in the five years since the tragedy, involving hundreds of local participants.

"The participating children will be entertaining the community with a Broadway-quality performance, but more important, throughout the rehearsal process, they are learning how to overcome obstacles, work as a team and realize the best versions of themselves." Michael Baroody, MD, Founder of NewArts and the 12.14 Foundation

"NewArts has been so special for our son. The program helped him grow from a kid who almost couldn't muster the courage to even audition the first two years to playing keyboard in a rock band on stage! NewArts has helped him build confidence, resiliency and a sense of belonging that applies to all he does in life: cross-country, math, or anything else. The program has impacted and inspired our whole family. Our daughter has found a wonderful creative outlet backstage helping with costumes. As parents we are so inspired to be actively engaged in a program that is so meaningful to so many in the community. We love how NewArts fosters a caring environment where everyone encourages each other and helps each person overcome adversity and achieve their very best."
Jane and Rich Hunter - parents of NewArts performer, 11 year old Jimmy Hunter

"Newarts and Walnut Hill Community Church were each found on a passion to make a positive impact on community. By combining our efforts we are better able to serve our community. We are stronger when we work together."
Raiza Arnone, Member of Walnut Hill Community Church

There are numerous stories of how the program is impacting the Newtown area children. One powerful example follows:

Nicole Kolitsas, age 13, played Sophie in School of Rock, Puck in A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream, Ms. Salt in Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, Jojo in Seussical, Zazu in The Lion King, Jr., and will play Charlotte Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol. She recently blogged about her experience saying, "After the Newtown tragedy, I lived a life ruled by Fear. I didn't want to go to school; really I didn't want to go anywhere.... My mother had worked at Sandy Hook Elementary at the time and I didn't want her to go to work, afraid that it wasn't over... My fear tightened its grip when my mother and father were both diagnosed with cancer only months after the tragedy. I went to therapy session after therapy session, but I was too well acquainted with this cruel world that we lived in to go back to being myself.

I came out of Seussical [NewArts' first production in the Summer of 2013 as a new person, a person that grows every summer. I still get scared. Fear still whispers in my ear and grabs my hand. But I now have the skills to tell Fear that I'm okay, and that I can handle whatever comes my way. Because of NewArts, I can do anything. I can perform in front of thousands of people, I can solve my own problems, I can evaluate myself and find my strengths, and I can tell Fear goodbye."

For more information, donations and tickets, please visit www.newarts.org.

Michael Baroody, Founder and Executive Producer of the 12.14 Foundation and NewArts, is a plastic surgeon living in Newtown, CT, with his wife and two young daughters. "The Foundation's vision was born from a need to not only heal, but to enrich and strengthen the lives of those affected by the events of 12/14. We instill life skills through an innovative combination of character development and high-level performing arts projects. We continue to provide our children, our community and eventually people throughout the world with powerful tools upon which to build successful lives."

Michael Unger, NewArts Producing Artistic Director, has directed ten musicals for NewArts over the past five years. He is also the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education for Off Broadway's York Theatre Company in New York City where he recently directed Milk and Honey and You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. He first became acquainted with the resilient community of Newton, CT when he directed the concert, From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Sandy Hook. Other directing credits include A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre - 1998-2015), Two Point Oh (Off-Broadway - NY Times Critics Pick - 59 E 59th), The Happy Time, The Rink, My Sister in this House, Grease, Crimes of the Heart, Pippin and a dozen operas, one of which, Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, has just been released on DVD. World premieres include: Caligula, A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Retribution (Off-Broadway). www.ungerdirect.com

Graeme Malcolm, Ebenezer Scrooge Broadway: Equus; Translations; Aida; The King and I; M. Butterfly (1st National). Off Broadway: Ring Twice for Miranda (City Center; A Dangerous Personality (NYTW); Oroonoko (TFNA); Macbeth (NYSF); The Learning Curve (Beckett); Hapgood (LCT); Aristocrats & Prin (MTC). Regional: The Mousetrap (McCarter) Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (McCarter - six years), Shadowlands (Denver Theatre Centre; Time Stands Still (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre); Absurd Person Singular (Barrington Stage); Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations (Arena); Safe in Hell and Pentecost (Yale Rep); Translations and Betrayal (McCarter); Under Milk Wood ( Hartford );Travesties ( Long Wharf ); Y2K (ATL). TV/Film: "The Good Wife," "Girl Most Likely," "The Blacklist", " Boardwalk Empire", "Law & Order: CI", "Law & Order", "Whoopi", "Mr. Halpern & Mr. Johnson", "The Extra Man", "National Treasure", "Everything's Jake", "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead", "The Eden Myth". Narrator of over 400 Audio Books.

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson


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