For 34 years, the Westport train depot has been the home to plays, musicals and more that have continued to grow.
Now in its 35th season, the Depot Theatre will offer four main plays, three On Track midweek events, the Depot Theatre Apprentice Program and gallery receptions and showings.
“We view this as a celebration of the 35th anniversary of our community theater,” Managing Director Angel Wuellner said. “We want it to be fun for the audience and we want to show all of the aspects to the theater this year.”
Wuellner said that the biggest key to the success of the theater has been the support it has received from the Westport community.
“We are lucky to have the support of the people that we see year round as well as the people who come during the summer,” she said. “What we are putting on the stage is for this community and something that we hope they are going to enjoy. The people are trusting us to bring something new to them and that it will be something that they are going to like.”
Wuellner said that the theater will be hosting two musicals that will be making their premiere at the Depot this summer, starting with “Route 66,” which opens to audiences Friday, June 28 and runs through Sunday, July 14.
“All of the people who liked ‘Careless Love’ or the ‘Hank Williams’ shows when they were here will like this play,” Wuellner said. “It features some familiar faces to the Depot stage, and all of the actors play the instruments on stage and the theme speaks to the small town and why it is so special and unique.”
The other premiere musical will be “Funked Up Fairy Tales,” which opens Friday, Aug. 9, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 25.
“It is sort of ‘Shrek’ on stage,” Wuellner said. “It has those jokes that the kids will laugh at and the adults will laugh at, but for different reasons. It is a kid-friendly show, but it is not just for kids.”
“Fairy Tales” was written by Kirsten Childs, who Wuellner said is a key off-Broadway player.
“A lot of people were excited when they heard we were able to get a show from her here,” she said.
Between the two musicals, the theater will host “Boeing, Boeing,” the Tony Award-winning show for Best Revival of a Play in 2008, starting Friday, July 19 and running through Sunday, Aug. 4.
“It is a farce that is so funny and smart,” Wuellner said. “It’s about sexy stewardesses. It is probably not for the under 13 crowd. Christopher Jones is directing, and I think that it will be something where everyone will have a good time.”
The final main stage production of the season will be “Lombardi,” which will open Friday, Aug. 30 and run through Sunday, Sept. 15.
“It is a drama about coach Vince Lombardi that takes a look at the person behind the persona,” Wuellner said. “He was a man who was more than just all of the catch phrases and memorable quotes.”
Promotions around each show include the opening night receptions with the actors following the first show, post-show talkbacks following the first Thursday night production of each show with the exception of “Route 66” and name your price showings the first Monday of each show’s run. Wuellner added that the theater will also try to have tours of the set during its construction.
“We are looking to see if we can set these tours up leading up to each show,” she said.
The On Track single night performance series will take place Tuesdays, with events set for July 9 and 23 along with Aug. 20. The Apprentice Program will hold Shakespeare in the Park performances of “Hamlet” Aug. 2-3 at Ballard Park in Westport, while the Radio Mystery Theatre will perform at the Depot Aug. 23-24.
The annual Depot Theatre Gala will be held on Saturday, Aug. 10.
“It will be during the opening weekend of ‘Funked Up Fairy Tales,’ so we will have a fairy tale theme for the gala,” Wuellner said. “That is our main event during the season.”
Depot Gallery shows will include local artists, the return of the Sap Bucket Project and the Second Annual Depot Juried Art Exhibition. Gallery receptions will be held July 12, Aug. 21 and Sept. 20.
For more information on the 35th season of the Depot Theatre or for tickets, call the box office at 962-4449 or visit the website depottheatre.org.