Today, we catch up with Caitlin Witty, who first appeared in GMW in 2015 as a Wilton High School student who starred as Queen Guinevere in Camelot, received that year’s FAPA Award, and was honored by the prestigious Young Arts Foundation. We also followed her to the Tony Awards (she got tickets as a graduation present) and reported on her work with Wilton Children’s Theater and Wire Mill Theater, as well as several benefit performances for Wilton organizations like Wilton Playshop. We even laughed as her family went viral for a hilarious COVID quarantine-era shot-for-shot video they made ‘performing’ The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.”
Most recently, Caitlin came home to Wilton in June to take part in the first Wilton Pride Festival — a cause personally important to her. That’s when we knew we had to catch up and ask her, “Where are you now?”
Performing has been in her blood pretty much since day one, so it’s not surprising we found her in New York City, pursuing her dream of becoming an actor and performer.
Caitlin Witty believes she’s right where she’s supposed to be, and gratefully taking life — and her professional journey — as it comes …
But the Wilton-born actor and performer — who immersed herself in the character of ‘Dorothy Gale’ from The Wizard of Oz at age three to the point where her mother thought she might need therapy — appears to be on a very exciting trajectory that may one day take her over the rainbow.
“I feel very lucky to love something so much,” she said of her craft, “and to have been supported enough and privileged enough, and to have had access to the education.”
She’s quick to acknowledge the waves of support she’s felt and had from her family, friends, and the Wilton community at large. But it’s very apparent that from her earliest years, Witty, who’s now living in Manhattan, was destined to find her way onto stages and screens to share her art.
The first Broadway show she remembers was already a personal favorite at age five or six, and she was beyond thrilled to find herself in a front-row seat at the Winter Garden Theater for a performance of Mamma Mia!
“I learned all the songs,” she said, having marked up the wall at home previous to the show from repetitively sliding down against it in the guise of the main character, ‘Donna Sheridan’ — another favorite influence following Judy Garland’s ‘Dorothy’.
When she got to the show, Witty began belting out the songs during the performance as the cast was singing. They quickly became aware of this little girl who knew all the numbers and didn’t hesitate to join in.
Afterward, when her family went to the stage door to get autographs, cast members recognized her and invited them inside to let Witty go out and sing on the stage at the Winter Garden Theater — her first but certainly not last — Broadway performance.
“It’s never really been like a question,” she said of her goals in theater and acting. “There was never a conversation. It just kind of was my life.”
From the start Witty’s family — including parents Kim and Jason, who also grew up in Wilton — was very supportive, getting her involved with classes and lessons, beginning with the Crystal Theater in Norwalk, as well as summer programs that included the Random Farms Kids Theater out of Elmsford, N.Y.
“When I was in middle school I did my first touring production with them,” she said, going to other schools throughout the region in a show about bullying entitled, The New Kid. Witty not only performed but would take part in question-and-answer sessions with students about the topic — an experience that would inspire her interest in teaching and sharing with young people.
Mary Jo Duffy of Wilton, with whom she works teaching classes and occasionally directing shows at her Wiremill Academy in Georgetown, said Witty’s kind nature and attitude augment her skills at sharing her gifts and enthusiasm with students.
“I can’t say enough about this kid,” Duffy said. “She’s the real deal.”
She highlighted Witty’s sensitivity in encouraging young people.
“Caitlin’s wonderfully understanding and kind and supportive of kids … and she knows her stuff. She knows her craft … acting and singing and theater in general,” Duffy said. “She’s amazing in every way.”
Through these experiences, Witty has discovered a supplemental personal passion — namely making theatrical art accessible and welcoming to everyone; a place, in her words, “where people feel safest to feel, heal and connect.”
Witty had a successful run with Wilton High School‘s theater program, graduating in 2015 and enjoying performance highlights that included Les Miserables and Camelot.
By the time she arrived at WHS, however, she was already working with an agent and experiencing the thrill of taking part in some exciting commercial productions. Among these was a featured performance in the viral music video done for V-Day called “Break the Chain,” choreographed by Debbie Allen.
“That’s still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been part of,” said Witty, who has come to appreciate the significance of that project more as time has passed.
Likewise, she has a strong appreciation for her studies at Webster University in St. Louis, which led to one of her most remarkable experiences: she was asked to sing two Stephen Sondheim songs at a tribute concert with the legendary composer in attendance.
“I got to sing ‘Take Me to the World’ and ‘Move On,'” she said, with Sondheim coming backstage after the show, hugging the performers and shedding tears of emotion in seeing his work performed by these young singers.
“I got to hug him and cry with him … He was clearly such a passionate person, and passionate about what he did,” Witty remembered.
While her parents were not performers, her grandmother, Dandy Barrett, past president of the Wilton Playshop and a former nightclub singer, is someone Witty has been able to bond with regarding her craft.
“For me, it’s absolutely amazing and really quite gratifying,” Barrett said of her granddaughter’s pursuits. “She’s incredibly talented. Not only is she a singer, but she has an instinctive acting ability.”
Barrett takes credit for recommending that Witty get proper training to preserve a healthy voice, after first hearing her sing around age nine.
“I was absolutely stunned by the tone and the intonation, at a young age like that,” Barrett said.
More importantly, however, she greatly admires the person her granddaughter is.
“She’s an absolute sweetheart,” she said. “Everybody loves her, and she’s the hardest worker you will find. She works really hard at it.”
“I’m just proud of all of those things, that she is as balanced as she is, that she is as nice as she is, that she’s a terribly hard worker, and she’s living her dream,” Barrett said. “I’m just tickled to see it.”
Late last year Witty achieved a potentially important step in her New York journey — passing an audition and getting hired at the legendary Ellen’s Stardust Diner near Times Square, where, in between serving tables, she belts out tunes for the patrons. The spot is a landmark, known for the high level of its talent, a number of whom ultimately find their way to Broadway.
“It’s just changed my life,” said Witty, who is thrilled to be in the city full-time and to have a job that honors her pursuit of auditions with flexibility and a supportive team.
“It gives me consistency in this lifestyle where there is no consistency,” she said.
With the magic of Oz still in her blood, one of Witty’s pivotal dreams continues to be taking on the role of ‘Elphaba’ in the legendary Stephen Schwartz musical Wicked, now in its 20th year at the Gershwin Theatre.
But in the meantime, she’s keeping her feet on the ground and making the most of her time in New York.
“I’m making an effort to travel a bit less (and) focusing on being present and continuing to build a community of people who are kind and inspire me and I can collaborate with,” she said.
“I’m very passionate about new work — new work that tells a story that matters and is moving,” she said.
Duffy and others can only applaud Witty’s outlook on her professional and creative journey.
“She’s in it for the long haul,” Duffy said. “She’s a true artist.”
To learn when she’ll be performing at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, readers are invited to contact Witty directly through Instagram.