When Clay Singer was a musical theater major at Carnegie Mellon University, regional theaters often visited campus. Seeing “Westport, Connecticut” on the 2013 Staples graduate’s resume, they’d mention the Playhouse. That’s when Singer realized the major impact his hometown has had on the theatrical world.
In 2008, freshman Peter Molesworth saw nearly every Staples Players production of “Romeo and Juliet.” Noah Witke and Brittany Uomoleale — the 2 leads — awed him.
Now Singer and Molesworth have their own chances to star.
In “Romeo and Juliet.”
At the Westport Country Playhouse.
Singer plays Peter, and Molesworth is Balthasar, in the Playhouse’s first-ever production of William Shakespeare’s classic. It opens October 31, and runs through November 19.
Singer — who has been busy doing new works and studio shows in New York since graduating last spring from Carnegie Mellon — always dreamed of acting on the Westport Country Playhouse stage. When he heard they were casting “Romeo and Juliet” he sent in his head shot, freshened up his monologues, and auditioned for artistic director Mark Lamos.
Three days later, Singer was in rehearsals.
“Mark knows everything about Shakespeare,” the young actor says. “And our dramaturg, Milla Riggio, is amazing too. We break down every scene, talking about literary structure and rhetorical devices. I’m so lucky to be experiencing all that.”
Singer calls this production “a wonderful transition from theater education to my career. I feel like I’m back in a classroom, but in a professional setting.”
Of course, he’s also back in his home town.
After his first rehearsal, Singer “almost laughed” as he drove down the Post Road. It reminded him of all those years driving home from Players events or voice lessons.
He lives in New York now. But his Playhouse role brings him back to Westport.
And his mother is happy to make him dinner.
Molesworth feels equally happy to be back in town. He appeared in several Players shows, then spent senior year at Walnut Hill in Massachusetts.
After graduating in 2011, he attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He studied in Florence, then started a theater company called Cue for Passion Collaborative. They concentrate on Shakespeare.
In 2008, Moleworth had served as a Joanne Woodward Apprentice at the Westport Country Playhouse. He did tech work, helped on the run crew, manned the concession stand and took acting classes.
He continued working concessions and in the box office for the next 3 years, and loved it.
Like Singer, he auditioned for Lamos. Now Molesworth feels he’s come full circle.
“This is the place where I first invested in my career in a substantial way,” he says. “Having one of my first professional acting jobs at the Playhouse is wonderful.”
He’s come full circle in another way too. As a Staples junior, Molesworth assistant directed “The Children’s Hour.” Singer — a freshman — was in the cast.
Of course, Molesworth will never forget those “Romeo and Juliet” productions he saw when he was in 9th grade. One of the most compelling scenes was when Balthasar tells Romeo that Juliet is dead. Now it’s his role.
“I remember so clearly seeing that at Staples,” he says. “That alone makes it serendipitous for me. This is a classical play. It’s re-entered my life, with potent meaning.”
(For tickets and more information, click here or call 203-227-4177.)