Crystal Theatre began under the auspices of the Norwalk Parks & Recreation Department in 1987 by founders Cheryl and Alexandrea Kemeny, David Jackins and Mariner Pezza. The founders pooled their experience as professional performers, teachers and artists to create a space open to all students who wished to participate, without special audition requirements. Thirty-five years and 35,000 students later, Crystal Theatre remains Norwalk’s “hidden gem” as it expands its offerings into community theatre with its newly formed subsidiary, Crystal Community Theatre.
Many Crystal alumni have achieved professional music careers. They include Tony-award nominee Robin de Jesús (Camp, Rent, In The Heights, La Cage aux Folles, Wicked, The Boys in the Band, Tick Tick Boom), super musician Kyle Brenn (West Side Story, Sweeney Todd), the Labbadia Sisters (recording artists and songwriters), Brittany Uomoleale (Baron, Steppenwolf Theatre, Glow), Brennyn Lark (Les Miserables, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Kyle Wrentz (The Lion King), Remy Zaken (Spring Awakening), Alexander Quiroga (Wicked), Dave Vogel (Chicago), and Tony-award-winning producer, Ben Simpson (Fun Home, The Band’s Visit, Hello, Dolly!).
Crystal Theater has produced more than 54 world premieres of original works by its staff and students. The diverse subject matter ranges from historical dramas (Revolution Norwalk, 1777, Living the American Dream and Whistleville) to serious social issues (Without Passion or Prejudice, Coming Of Age and Pulaski Park Rules) to light-hearted comedies (Twelve Dancing Princesses, Goose Alley Gang) to holiday favorites (Save Santa’s Workshop, The Red Shoes) as well as student-written shows such as Kyle Brenn’s The Pirate Chamber and Silent Knight. Hungarian Nights received its world premiere in 2010 and toured Hungary in 2017 and 2019 including 3 performances at A.R.T. Theaters in NYC and exchange tour performances at the Duna Palota in Budapest and the Kultkikötő Outdoor Theater in Balatonfoldvar. Cheryl Kemeny’s musical, Mother Jones and the Children’s Crusade, was a Next Link selection at the New York Musical Festival in 2014 and performed to sold-out houses and wide acclaim. Through its subsidiary, Crystal Theatre Publishing, these musicals have been made available to other theater groups. Crystal shows have been performed everywhere from Harare, Zimbabwe to Hong Kong to Calgary, Canada.
In addition to the Cheryl and Alexandrea Kemeny - the singing “Kemeny Sisters”, Crystal’s founders include, David L. Jackins and resident artist Mariner Pezza, who serves as a writer and technical director. Laszlo Balazs serves as Associate Artistic Director and Jack Singewald serves as associate technical director. The current teaching staff also includes director/choreographer Sally Szabo-Lombardo, directors Margaret Jackins and Ginny Ruggeiri, choreographer Char Fromentin of Dance Dimensions, voice instructors Felicia Varvaras, Matthew Surapine, and Daniel Hague, stage combat instructor James Ring-Howell, and acting teachers Hunter Brady and Eliza Kingsbury.