Terrence Mann shares industry wisdom and vision for Nutmeg Summer Series


“Movies make you famous, television will make you rich; but theatre will make you good,” said Mann during his Q and A with University of Connecticut students, staff and faculty, as well as Connecticut Repertory Theatre patrons and community members. (Courtesy/Connecticut Repertory Theatre)

Terrence Mann, the new artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Season, spoke to students, faculty, CRT staff and community members Saturday afternoon in the Studio Theatre.

Mann spoke about his career and experiences as an actor and his plans for the summer theatre season at the University of Connecticut. An accomplished actor, Mann is best known for his original Broadway roles of Javert in “Les Miserables,” Rum Tum Tugger in “Cats,” Saul of “Rags” and Beast in “Beauty and the Beast.”

Many in attendance listened as Mann told the story of his own early career experience right after college, graduating from North Carolina School for the Arts.

“It took me eight years. Some are quicker than others,” Mann said, which elicited laughs from those in attendance.

Mann fielded questions about his career from undergraduate and graduate acting students. He was asked about acting for the stage versus film or television and his livelihood as an actor just starting out.

Mann detailed his career, which didn’t seem typical by any stretch of the imagination. At one point he cited he was “happy as a clam” before being on Broadway, making $177 every two weeks, waiting tables and doing small jobs in the theatre industry such as being a production assistant for a ballet company and performing Shakespeare.

“You just never know when the next connection to the next job is going to come. You have to say yes to everything. Classmates or otherwise that you meet in college may just hire you- they did for me,” Mann said, who credits the director of “The Lost Colony,” Joe Layton, as being just that kind of connection. Layton would cross paths with Mann again, still early in his career, where he would become a part of the chorus for “Barnum.”

Mann would candidly cross paths with Lawrence Olivier and Joan Plowright, as a result of those connections as well.

Mann also talked about his goals for steering the artistic ship of the Nutmeg Summer Series. “I want to maintain an excellence. We use so many students and this program is in part opportunities to prepare for professional theatre by giving those cast a taste of professionalism.”

“I was pleased to hear him speak about not politicizing theatre, but doing theatre for its own sake Christine Thompson said, a patron of Connecticut Repertory Theatre.

Thompson was referring to when Mann was asked about the first production of the Summer Season, “1776,” presenting to those in attendance a part of his vision and how it isn’t just him, but the collaboration of everyone involved in the season.

“It’s important to know how our founders struggled with their intentions for the country. The writing is so great. We aren’t trying to do anything but put something on the stage to speak for itself and the relevance to today,” Mann said.

“It’s exciting to see what direction Terrence Mann is taking the Nutmeg Summer Series. He has always been an inspiring artist who has not only performed with CRT but also directed some of the shows over the summer. Cardinal passed the light on to Mann and I am ready to see what new things he brings,” Pearl Matteson, a fourth semester acting major, said.

Matthew Gilbert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.

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