Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis, who recently played the title role of the musical Sweeney Todd Off-Broadway, heads to Branford, Connecticut, on September 17 to help raise funds to renovate the Puppet House Theatre, longtime home to a unique collection of near-life-size Sicilian puppets, located in nearby Stony Creek.
Lewis’ playlist is still being finalized, but he is expected to include songs from throughout his career. The 6 PM concert will be held at the Owenego Beach & Tennis Club, 40 Linden Avenue, Branford.
A former cinema and parachute factory, the crumbling, 1903 vintage theatre has been closed since 2009 owing to a shortage of funds for needed renovations and opposition from its neighbors who had gotten used to minimal traffic and car parking on nearby residential streets. It holds landmark status from the state of Connecticut. Starting in the 1960s, the theatre became home to a collection of 80-lb, five-feet-tall Sicilian puppets that had been created by Italian puppet master Sebastiano Zappala and used in Italy’s Opera dei Pupi. In addition to shows involving the puppets, the theatre was used for variety of local performances until its closing.
The Legacy Theatre purchased the playhouse in 2013 and is hosting the fundraising event. The current whereabouts of the puppets could not be ascertained.
Lewis, who earned his Tony nomination as Porgy in the 2012 Broadway revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, also made history as The Phantom of the Opera’s first African-American Phantom on Broadway in 2014. His Broadway credits include Sondheim on Sondheim, The Little Mermaid, Les Misérables, Chicago, Amour, The Wild Party, Side Show, Miss Saigon, and The Who’s Tommy. He appeared as Javert in the London production of Les Misérables and in Les Misérables: The 25th…