Teen theater taking on mystery for spring production

Naugatuck Teen Theater members, from left, Sydney Lauer, Quintin Labrecque and Jessica Sember rehearse a scene from the theater’s upcoming production of ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ April 30 at St. Michael’s Church in Naugatuck. The play opens Saturday. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Teen Theater is preparing to for its spring production, which will mark the final show for several theater members.

The theater’s production of Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution” opens Saturday for two weekends of shows.

The show will be the last one for five actors who are graduating high school this year, including veteran actors Quintin Labrecque and Sydney Lauer, who have acted in eight previous shows at the theater, and Jessica Sember, who has acted in six previous shows.

“At one point in everyone’s life they have to let go of one chapter to move on to the next. For us that next chapter is college. Being able to look back at my high school years and knowing I had this as a second home is amazing,” said Sember, who plays Sir Wilfrid Robarts in the upcoming play.

Labrecque, who plays Inspector Hearne in the upcoming play, said the theater program helped bring him out of his shell.

“The first time you come here you are a completely different person,” Labrecque said. “I was a really shy person when I first came here.”

Lauer, who plays Romaine Heilger in the upcoming play, said she’s happy that other people are going to have the chance to experience the theater the way she did.

“To have this be my last show is sad in a way, but happy in a way because I know it is my time to move on and pass the torch to someone else who might need this family and this experience. I am so grateful that I had this last four years as my home and a way to make friends,” Lauer said.

While some actors are leaving, the theater continues to draw in new members.

If you go

The Naugatuck Teen Theater will present five performances of Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution” starting Saturday at St. Michael’s Parish Hall, 210 Church St.

Showtimes are May 11 and May 17 at 8 p.m., May 12 and May 19 at 2 p.m., and May 16 at 7 p.m. The May 16 show is for students and teen theater alumni. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $7 for students. Advanced tickets are $12.50 for adults. Tickets for the May 16 show are $10 for alumni and $5 for students. Advanced tickets are available at www.naugatuckteentheater.com.

Robert Hansen plays Mr. Mayhew in the upcoming production. It’s his first time performing with the Naugatuck Teen Theater.

Hansen said he was drawn to the theater after hearing stories about how friendly and welcoming the cast was during its production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last autumn.

“Everyone talks about that and that is what kind of brought me in. I felt very welcomed by the cast, the director and everyone working behind the scenes,” Hansen said.

“Witness for the Prosecution” follows the character of Leonard Vole as he is charged with the murder of an elderly acquaintance.

“Everybody is really getting into their roles. It is really coming together,” said Anna Conforti, who plays Janet McKenzie, during a rehearsal last week.

“Witness for the Prosecution” is a different from other productions, like classic plays and musicals, the teen theater has put on in the past.

“This is a more serious, straightforward show. It is a mystery, so the audience is involved. It is a courtroom scene, so we want the audience to feel like they are in that courtroom and watching what is happening,” Lauer said.

Hansen added, “It doesn’t feel like teen theater; it feels like professional theater.”