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CRT wins critical acclaim
for Boys Next Door
July 19, 1999

The cast of Connecticut Repertory Theatre's production of The Boys Next Door has received the 1999 Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Ensemble Cast.

The nine-member cast, made up of one Equity actor, two graduate students and six undergraduate acting students from UConn, was selected for the award from among 89 professional productions evaluated in 1998-1999 by the Critics Circle. The show was directed by Jerry Stephen Krasser, an associate professor of dramatic arts.

"We perform under the Equity U/RTA contract, which is designed to allow us to mix professional actors with our best students," says Gary English, who heads the dramatic arts department and is serving as interim dean of the School of Fine Arts. "The exciting combination of guest artists with younger artists-in-training never fails to produce potent work. This award, received in competition with the state's flagship theaters, signals CRT's increasing emergence as a valued member of the Connecticut theater community. Also, as many of those theaters use completely professional casts, this award is an affirmation of the quality of our actor training program. We are truly delighted at the honor," he says.

The cast included: Equity actor Todd Anthony-Jackson, graduate students in acting David Barrus and Stan W. Bayley; acting majors Joe Beaudin, Beth Carusillo and Bobby Moynihan, who graduated in May; and acting majors Stephen Graybill, Robert Gil and Heather Britton-Schrager.

The Boys Next Door is about four mentally-challenged adults living in a group home. As preparation, CRT's cast did a significant amount of first-hand research on group homes. Krasser notes, "David Duval of the Bolton Group Home, and social workers John Driscoll, Ted Nelson and Denis Caron generously shared their time and insights with us. Undoubtedly, our work was immeasurably enriched by our interaction with them."

The 18 members of the Connecticut Critics Circle represent more than 30 newspapers, magazines, radio stations and other media outlets throughout the state. The Critics Circle Awards were instituted in 1991, and this year's winners were selected from eligible Connecticut theaters during the 12-month period from June 1, 1998.

Theatres eligible for the 1999 Critics Circle Awards include Downtown Cabaret, Goodspeed Opera House, Hartford Stage Company, Ivoryton Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, Seven Angels Theatre, Shakespeare on the Sound, Stamford Theatre Works, TheatreWorks (Hartford), Westport Country Playhouse and Yale Repertory Theatre, as well as the Bushnell, Oakdale, the Shubert and the Stamford Arts Theatre.

Sherry Fisher