Connor Mickiewicz is back!:
For someone who has traveled the country and lived in America’s most exciting metropolis, Connor Mickiewicz is sure proud to be a Sacramentan. "I’ve never felt a sense of community anywhere in the U.S. like I do in Sacramento," Mickiewicz says. "I always knew I wanted to come back."When I read this article, I felt a bit disturbed. Connor Mickiewicz is an honored member of the local theater community, and I wish him well, but I worry about the sheer number of theaters that have taken root in Sacramento over the last fifteen years. The acting pool has thinned out somewhat, as actors take advantage of the greater opportunities, but the economic hard times taking hold now will inevitably push some companies to the brink of extinction. I'd be happier if Connor had chosen an existing company within which to work.
..."Lots of my theater friends here moved out at the same time," Mickiewicz recalls. "Because Sacramento was such a great place to grow up in, we made an effort to stay connected. We had this little community in New York - the ties just seemed to stick."
...This hankering for his hometown made Mickiewicz return to Sacramento far sooner than he’d expected.
...This month marks the inaugural production of New Helvetia Theatre, Mickiewicz’s first foray into artistic direction.
...At the Crest Theatre on January 17, New Helvetia Theatre will present a staged reading of the rarely produced musical Celebration by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the duo behind The Fantastiks, one of the longest-running shows in theater
"The show was a natural choice because [the writers] strip everything down to the bare essentials," Mickiewicz says. "They believe in the power of imagination more
than spectacle. The audience isn’t bombarded by extra theatricality or falling chandeliers. They have to sit up and listen to the words."
This no-frills approach seems to be an emerging earmark of New Helvetia Theatre, which Mickiewicz hopes to turn into a professional nonprofit within the year.
..."When I came back to Sacramento, I wanted to fill a niche that I think is missing - that is, producing musicals that maybe flopped on Broadway or didn’t get
their due. Sacramento has the perfect demographics for taking risks in a
workshop setting and trying out more commercial productions."
..."I want to give this community an alternative type of theater," he says. "I don’t want to hit them over the head with a hammer, but I also don’t want them to just sit back and tune out. I want them to create something in their minds and believe in it."
Plus, despite their overlooked charms, there are often sound reasons why musicals fail on Broadway. Seems risky to spend much time on them!
Nevertheless, this underserved theatrical niche that Connor has identified does exist, and the community will be better served for his efforts.