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New director (and appeal for funds) for musical theater

“Theater breeds joy.” Michael Baldwin, director of the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society

FALLS VILLAGE — The new director of the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society (HMTS), Michael Baldwin, was introduced to the Region One Board of Education during the April 5 board meeting.

Outgoing HMTS mainstay Lori Belter said that she, Michael Berkeley and Pamela Chassin were delighted to “pass the torch” to Baldwin, a graduate of Housatonic Valley Regional High School and current director of education and associate artistic director at the Sharon Playhouse.

Jill Cannon (HVRHS Class of 2014) and senior Charlotte Clulow spoke about the value of their experience working with HMTS.

Cannon described her teenage self as “introverted” and credited her theater work for providing “opportunity and space to develop confidence.” (Cannon said she ended up getting a theater degree and is pursuing acting as a profession.)

Clulow said she considers the theater program “the most meaningful experience” of her time at HVRHS.

Baldwin, cheerfully acknowledging that he was leading up to an appeal for additional funding, said there are multiple benefits to theater programs: improved academic performance; appeal to eighth-grade students deciding between HVRHS and other options; increased engagement in school; developing social skills (or “exercising their empathy muscles,” as Baldwin put it); and the fun factor.

“Theater breeds joy,” Baldwin said.

Belter said she would like to see the Region One contribution to HMTS increased over the next three to five years.

There was some discussion among the board members about funding. The board was reluctant to change the proposed budget for 2021-22, especially with the public hearing on the budget proposal coming up later that week (see above).

Region One Business Manager Sam Herrick said he would meet with Baldwin and see if there is some money that could be reallocated to HMTS in the short term.

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