Town Players of New Canaan, a nonprofit, all-volunteer community theater, is raising awareness of mental health with its moving production of Ordinary People, a searing drama that opened Friday, Feb. 17, at the Powerhouse Theatre in New Canaan’s Waveny Park and runs on weekends through Sunday, March 5. Its opening night performance received a glowing review from Broadway World.
Based on the Oscar-winning movie directed by Robert Redford and starring Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton, Ordinary People tells an emotional and heartwarming story of an ordinary family struggling to heal from an unexpected tragedy.
“Given the unfortunate rise in emotional distress and mental illness due to the pandemic, we want to contribute to the important conversation about mental health,” Deborah Burke, director of Ordinary People and president of Town Players of New Canaan, said. “Through the unique experience of live theater, we hope our performance of Ordinary People reduces the stigma of talking about mental health and increases awareness of the mental health resources in our community.”
Multiple organizations within the surrounding area are supporting Town Players in this effort. Of special note, the cast and crew of Ordinary People thank Dr. Michael Groat, the chief clinical officer at Silver Hill Hospital, a nationally recognized psychiatric hospital in New Canaan, for serving as their advisor and helping them portray their characters with empathy and authenticity. Groat is also leading talkbacks immediately following each Sunday matinee, providing an opportunity for the audience to join a discussion about the performance with him, Burke and the cast.
“Mental health is a critical issue in our community, especially since COVID-19 subjected nearly all of us to periods of isolation due to quarantine. For many people, isolation can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression. We are therefore immensely grateful to Town Players for helping us raise awareness of the many nearby resources for mental health support,” Bethany Zaro, director of New Canaan Human Services, said.
Ordinary People runs on weekends through Sunday, March 5, at the Powerhouse Theatre in New Canaan’s Waveny Park. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Several special events are planned to help the audience interpret the mental health themes within this play:
- A free performance for teens will be held Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m. It will include a post-show audience talkback (discussion) with the director and cast, led by Dr. Andrew Gerber, president and medical director of Silver Hill Hospital. Adults are welcome to attend (with a regular ticket purchase) if they’re accompanying or invited by a teen. Reserve March 4 teen seats and purchase accompanying adult tickets online.
- Immediately following each Sunday 2 p.m. matinee (Feb. 26 and March 5), Dr. Michael Groat, chief clinical officer for Silver Hill Hospital will lead an audience talkback.
- Town Players is hosting a benefit dinner and performance on Saturday, Feb. 25, to support the New Canaan Urgent Assessment Program. Visit the TPNC website for tickets and information.
All donations made to Town Players of New Canaan during the run of Ordinary People are tax deductible and will be contributed to the New Canaan Urgent Assessment Program.
Town Players of New Canaan (TPNC) is a nonprofit, all-volunteer community live theater founded in 1946 and located at the Powerhouse Theatre in Waveny Park. Town Players produces five main stage productions per year in addition to offering staged readings, new works, special events and theater arts classes. It provides a home for live theater to enrich its community, creates an opportunity for artistic expression, and serves and is accessible to all.