Winter Flowers at the Upcoming Theater Festival

(c) Sharon Wilcox

Lea Dmytryck and Jane Coughlin in Winter Flowers (c) Sharon Wilcox

The New England Regional Theater Festival on 2/28/2015 will feature two days of quality entertainment at the Warner Theatre’s Nancy Marine Studio right in the heart of downtown Torrington, Connecticut. For 15 dollars per DAY, the ticket holder can enjoy the best of the best of theatrical productions by companies from Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut. Each participating company from each state won the right to attend this regional festival by winning in their respective state’s festival competition.

There are two theater companies representing Connecticut in this regional festival, Thomaston’s Backyard Theater Ensemble and Torrington’s the Warner Stage Company. The Backyard Theater Ensemble’s production is Laundry and Bourbon, a one act play directed by Donato D’Albis. Nutmeg Chatter has written extensively about the Backyard Theater Ensemble beginning with their prior productions (HERE and HERE ), their preparation for the festival (HERE and HERE ) and about the director Donato D’Albis (HERE).  Read the links and find out more!

sharon wilcox

Director Sharon Wilcox (cast photo from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) photo by Luke Haughwout


The Warner Theatre Stage Company’s entry is entitled Winter Flowers. Directed by Sharon Wilcox, Winter Flowers is a powerful piece that features outstanding performances by Lea Dmytryck and Jane Coughlin who portray two sisters in the “winter of their lives”. Dmytryck won “BEST ACTRESS”  for her performance in the CCTA Festival last year, an award she won over 30  years ago which happened to be the last time the festival had been held in the state. Sharon Wilcox is proud of her cast, Dmytryck and Coughlin. “They are just wonderful; they LIVE it!” Wilcox adds that she knew the extraordinary talent of these actors when she cast them in the roles., “I knew what they could do on stage, I knew that they were fearless and they would take the characters where they needed to go.

Written by Lily Rusek, Winter Flowers is a relatively new work that the Warner Theater produced two years ago for an International Playwright Festival. The team at the Warner fell in love with the play and Wilcox asked for and received permission from the playwright  to perform it at the Connecticut festival. “The story arcs just wonderfully and character development is there throughout it and we felt it was important for that the piece needed to seen by more people,” Wilcox says.

Though the festival could certainly be viewed simply as an opportunity to enjoy four quality productions each day, the Festival is so much more. There is a competition element to the festival, making it an “Iron Chef” for the theatrical world. Wilcox explains that each company gets “a 10 minute set up time, 60 minutes to perform their work and 10 minutes to break down (the set)”. The Warner Theatre’s website explains the rules this way: “The New England Regional Theatre Festival will be following the AACTFest 2015 Rules & Guidelines therefore once a performing group has completed their setup time, the house must be closed during each performance.  Once a performance begins, no one will be allowed admittance to the theater for the duration of the performance.  If you leave the theater during a performance, you will not be allowed back in.  Once the performance is completed the house will again be opened for strike and adjudication. ” 

Saturday session #1 starts at 1:00 p.m with “Rabbit Hole” performed by the Hovey Players from Massachusetts and then “Spring Awakening” performed by the Lexington Players from Massachusetts.
Saturday session #2 features Connecticut’s entries. It begins at 6pm with “Winter Flowers” performed by the Warner Stage Company followed by “Laundry and Bourbon” performed by the Backyard Theatre Ensemble.

Why you should go:

1) This is quality theater-the theatergoer will enjoy the best of the best for each participating state’s theater companies will perform the award winning pieces that got them to this festival.

2) The theatergoer will experience the fact that this is still a competition during this festival. A winner WILL be named and will then go to Michigan for the National competition. Those theatergoers from Connecticut have the opportunity to support the Connecticut entries Saturday 6-8pm (approximately-but must be in the door BEFORE 6pm)

3) This competition is the theater equivalent to Iron Chef. There is a limited time and there are specific rules. This creates even more excitement for the work that will be performed on stage.

4) As a theatergoer one can’t beat the price at 15 dollars for four shows for each day.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online HERE.

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