Southern’s Crescent Players perform despite shrinking budget

Photo taken of the Crescent Player’s rehearsal of “Godspell” last fall. Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas 

Special to the Southern News 

The group of young actors and theater students were the sole nominees from Connecticut at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.  Their production of “Godspell” had been one of the four selected from the New England Region.  In the end, the theater brought home a special nomination in costume design and student Teddy Hall, came second in an acting competition out of 256 actors.

The Crescent Players, a student run theater club, had done exceptionally well at the festival.  Among the awards and recognition, the Crescent Players have dealt with budget cuts that weigh heavy on the club.

“Southern really made a mark at the festival and we were getting a lot of recognition from the region,” said Olivia Cintron, senior and president of the Crescent Players.  “So it is kind of hard that we don’t get that funding from the university.”

Funding for the club has decreased over several years; just a decade ago the Crescent Players had $40,000 towards funding. Last year, the funding was at $20,000 and now currently lies at a low $8,000 for 2014.

The Crescent Players have had to adapt to the new budget.  Their production of “Godspell” which earned them recognition at the theater festival, cost $9,000, well above the 2014 budget.

“We originally where going to do “Hairspray” which is a huge production; big cast, big set, but then after the budget cut we decided not to do “Hairspray” and picked “Godspell.”  “Godspell” is a show where you can really do anything with it, costumes could be simple and the set was very simple,” said Josh LaCursi, sophomore and communications disorders major, and treasurer for the Crescent Players.  “It doesn’t need to be a huge money spender, but behind the scenes it was difficult raising money for the show, especially going to the festival [Kennedy Center festival].”

To raise money for the production members of the Crescent Players were active in fundraisers and school events.

From bake sales before a production and during intermissions to a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in cooperation with WSIN, the students took the time to financially support their works. The Crescent Players went through the effort to man the stands themselves, taking time out of their schedules.

“It is also a struggle since most of us are not only just involved in Crescent Players, but other clubs and in the meantime there is school, work and a lot of us are in the show and on the crew,” said Brianna Bauch, sophomore, special education and theater major, events coordinator and producers representative. “So we have virtually no time.”

Financially, the funding is an important aspect to theater productions.  To obtain the rights to a production alone can cost up to $3,000.  As with their production of “Godspell,” the production alone can rival the budget. For example, the production of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” two years ago cost $23,000.

“We have to really think hard about what shows we can do now-rights vary on the popularity of the show,” said Cintron.  “It’s like a double edged sword, you want to pick a show that is popular to bring people in to come see the show and that you’ll get recognized for.  But you can’t pick a show that is too popular because we don’t have the funding for it.”

In the midst of the financial cuts the Crescent Players continue to produce their acts for 2015, recently releasing their production of “Our Country’s Good.”

“I think that no matter what happens,” said Cintron, “you have a group of kids who are really passionate about what they do and no matter what happens with the budget a show will go on.”

This article was written as a group project for a journalism class. Contributors include Dylan Haviland, Natalie Barletta, Jené Thomas, Allaysia Varnado, and Amy Kulikowski. 

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