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Weston Teacher Brings Sondheim to Town

Ask Weston High School teacher Damian Long about acting and he can tell you a thing or two. "My mom was, still is, an actress," he said, sitting in his classroom at the end of the school day. "She took us to a lot of plays. ... She did work with the Boston Post Road Stage Company and she did a lot of commercials."

Long inherited the thespian gene and began honing his acting chops in New York after graduating from college. For seven years he hit stages all over the city and beyond, touring with the National Shakespeare Company and taking on characters such as the clever fool Feste in “Twelfth Night” and the magician Prospero in “The Tempest.”

"I miss it sometimes, but I like teaching too," he said. He's been at Weston for five years now, teaching English and passing on theatrical skills to his students by directing plays for the Weston High School Company.

His newest project, the Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents musical “Anyone Can Whistle,” opens April 1. The original appeared in 1964 and starred Angela Lansbury, but it flopped, Long said. "It's kind of a cult show now," he added. As Sondhiem's reputation spread around the world, people began revisiting songs from the production.

"It's not one of those really mainstream shows," he said. "It has a very interesting, sort of whimsical tone to it. It's a little absurd ... yet with this kind of cynical edge to it. ... It's got its thought-provoking side to it as well."

The plot involves a sanatorium, a miracle, disgruntled townspeople and cookies -- with plenty of ironic and wispy songs to tie it all together.

Long saw a staged reading of the play in New York in 2010 and thought that it would be right for his students. "We try to pick something that fits the group of kids we have," he said. "If we have kids with certain abilities, we do different shows [to match those abilities].”

The students will perform three times -- Friday, April 1, at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 2, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 3, at 3 p.m. For more information on the show, contact Damian Long at damianlong@westonk12-ct.org .

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