Valley theater group ready for debut


By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Clara Pizzolorusso, of Watertown, left, and Sara Gilchrist, of Middlebury, rehearse a scene for the Naugatuck Valley Performing Arts’ production of ‘Legally Blonde Jr.’ on Nov. 1 at Naugatuck High School. –ANDREAS YILMA

NAUGATUCK — A new youth theater program is paving the way for middle and high school students to gain exposure to the performing arts.

Bob Rosa, Julie Swindon and Jill Bodnar in September created Naugatuck Valley Performing Arts through the Naugatuck Parks and Recreation Department.

Emily Diedrich, director of production for the theater group, said there’s a need for a local youth theater group after a few programs, including Naugatuck Teen Theater, Blessed Sacrament Children’s Theater in Waterbury and Curtain Call Kids in Middlebury, were temporarily or permanently discontinued over the past couple of years.

Diedrich said organizers of the program are looking to establish an all-around curriculum for performing arts. She added the group may also expand for younger children, some classes and potential programs for adults.

“It really comes out of the need for there to be an emphasis on performing arts, or the arts world in general, for high school-aged kids,” Diedrich said.

The program is open for youth across the state entering seventh grade up to 18 years old. There are 20 children enrolled now, three from the borough. There is no limit enrollment. There is a $130 fee for each student per production put on by the group.

Rosa said the program is designed to teach youth about all aspects of theater.

“We’re looking to help kids who are interested in theater, whether it be the front end or back end of it,” Rosa said.

Diedrich said the group is open to all youth, regardless of their talent level.

“We’ll find a space for you regardless,” she said. “You’re going to be on stage.”

Naugatuck Valley Performing Arts is preparing for its first production: “Legally Blonde Jr.” The group will perform three showings of the musical — Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. at Naugatuck High School, 543 Rubber Ave. Tickets are $15 for the general population, $12 for seniors and $10 for students. People can purchase tickets at the door or online at

Grace Sevelowitz, a freshman at Southington High School, said the production musical is coming together well.

“Everyone in the show is very talented and I think we’re getting very far where I think it’s going to be great,” said Sevelowitz during rehearsal Nov. 1 at Naugatuck High.

Sevelowitz said many of the cast members in NVPA formerly performed with Blessed Sacrament Children’s Theater. Sevelowitz wasn’t able to perform after the COVID-19 pandemic hit and also took some time off to focus on school work.

“I’m glad we’re trying to make everything a little normal again with theater and I’m glad it’s getting better,” Sevelowitz said.

For information on Naugatuck Valley Preforming Arts, visit the group’s Facebook page. For information on how to donate to the program, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 203-720-7043.