As a non-profit, the New Paradigm Theatre Company has typical concerns: standing out in a crowded space, raising funds, finding volunteers.
But the local organization — which brings Broadway, film and television professionals together with aspiring artists, to develop a new generation of creative leaders — partners with other non-profits too. They offer opportunities for those group to raise their own funds.
And act onstage, too.
NPT takes its “next generation” and educational missions seriously. A robust youth board of directors meets regularly, helps plan events, operates NPT’s social media, and learns how to run a non-profit.
Charlie Fisher is the youth board president. A Westport resident and sophomore at Hopkins School who serves on the Student Council, sings with the Harmonaires a cappella group and wrestles, his first NPT show was “Oliver!” in 2016.
Charlie loved working with a broad array of artists — diverse in accomplishments, talents and backgrounds, ranging from pre-teens to those in their 70s — and soon joined the youth board. He’s learned the inner workings of non-profits, how to collaborate with adults, and the importance of clear communication.
He’s also realized the importance of giving back. With “Bye Bye Birdie” in 2019, for example, NPT partnered with American Legion Post 12.
The New Paradigm Theater raised funds for the group — and some of the veterans appeared onstage during the show. (The tie-in: Elvis Presley was drafted into the Army in 1957.)
Also in 2019, NPT and the Norwalk Symphony co-produced “West Side Story.” They joined with Building One Community, a non-profit that educates, employs and empowers immigrants.
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” — directed by 1976 Staples High School Emmy-nominated actor Scott Bryce and his wife Jodi Stevens — featured actors with special needs or disabilities. Quasimodo (Patrick Tombs) was born with atrophied muscles and stiff limbs.
The partner for that show (staged, like many, at the Fairfield Theatre Company) was the CT Burns Care Foundation. Like Quasimodo, burn victims are often treated like outsiders.
In Charlie’s debut, “Oliver!” — which Bryce also directed — the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport was the show’s partner. The cast volunteered at their soup kitchen, and raised money to help feed the homeless. Many “in need” children were included in the show.
The next show is “Footloose.” The partner is Kids Helping Kids.
The New Paradigm Theatre produces more than musicals. Their “Completely Customizable Cabaret Concerts” are special performances that enhance non-profits’ fundraising galas. NPT artists also perform at corporate events and training sessions.
Charlie does not yet know if he’ll pursue a career in the arts. Hey, he’s only a high school sophomore.
But the experience he’s gaining as a youth president is invaluable, whether it’s Broadway, the boardroom — or both.