Press Release By Jack Sheedy
LITCHFIELD – More than 100 people attended a magical evening on the spacious grounds at the home of Adrian and Maggie Selby July 20 to enjoy performances by the Warner Stage Company and the Nutmeg Ballet. “Ballet & Broadway in the Garden” was a lavish fund-raising event that raised about $13,000 for the Warner and the Nutmeg.
Lynn Gelormino, executive director of the Warner, said, “Maggie and Adrian have been incredibly generous not only to the arts in northwest Connecticut, but to the northwest area in general. It’s wonderful to be here with the Nutmeg Ballet and present ourselves as neighbors and collaborators, and we’re very thankful for the opportunity.”
Before introducing her Warner Stage Company performers, who presented music from the February production of “Once,” Gelormino told the gathering that the 87-year-old, 1,700-seat Art Deco theater and the 300-seat black box Nancy Marine Studio Theater bring 100,000 people to the area annually. “We are the largest performing arts center in northwest Connecticut,” she said.
Cast members then mesmerized the crowd with four musical numbers from “Once,” under the baton of musical director Dan Ringuette. Nutmeg students followed with four dance numbers, choreographed by Kirk Peterson, Eleanor D’Antuono, Brian Reeder and Victoria Mazzarelli.
Mazzarelli, artistic director of the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, reminded attendees that the Nutmeg reopened the Warner in 1983 with a production of “Coppélia.” She said, “We cleaned, as teenagers, the dirty, moldy Warner Theatre, and we were excited with our buckets and little vacuum cleaners, and we got out there and we did it. We put on that production, and it was really special for us to perform on that beautiful space. It’s such a gem.”
Tim Melady, Nutmeg’s principal ballet master and national audition tour co-director, told the attendees, “We have students from all over the United States coming to train here for the summer intensive workshops, and you will see 26 of them tonight. I see board members from both the Warner and the Nutmeg coming together and talking together tonight, and it’s a great collaboration that we can have going forward. That’s who we are. We’re artists and dancers, and they’re singers and performers. What a great night.”
Nancy R. Wadhams, of Goshen, a member of the Warner board of directors, said the arts are important because “Arts feed the soul. They keep our spirits up and to keep us thinking about other people and other ideas, I think it’s really important.”
Attending the event was Dr. Frank Vanoni, a retired physician from Torrington. “When Sharon Dante started [the Nutmeg] many years ago, I was excited,” he said. “I knew some of the people on the board. I had three daughters, and all of them came down and took dance lessons.” He said he watched the small dance school blossom into an internationally renowned training ground. “In a few years, it was like a miracle. Suddenly, we had a full-fledged ballet school and company. Every year, Christmas wasn’t Christmas without ‘The Nutcracker.’ It’s come such a long way.”
Maggie Selby, co-host with her husband Adrian, said they held a similar event two years ago, at which Nutmeg students performed. “This year we added the Warner Stage Company as part of the program. Last year we did a benefit here for the Oliver Wolcott Library [in Litchfiel].”
Adrian Selby said, “The Warner and the Nutmeg are really important to Torrington and in fact to Litchfield County, as are KidsPlay Museum and Five Points Gallery. Supporting the arts is a really important thing to do for everybody.”