Q&A with Nathan Harris, Co-Founder of Valley Student Theatre, and Partner at Lando & Anastasi


Nathan Harris

Q. Tell me about Valley Student Theatre - mission, location, website, etc.

A: Valley Student Theatre is a 501(c)(3) non-profit musical theatre program based in Granby, Connecticut, for kids aged seven to seventeen. VST is an annual, theatre day camp during the month of July, committed to providing instruction in acting, vocal performance, choreography, and basic stagecraft culminating in several days of full theatrical, contemporary musical productions for the enjoyment and entertainment of the entire community. Recent performances included Seussical the Musical, Shrek, and Beauty and the Beast.

You can see pictures from these past performances at our website, www.valleystudenttheatre.org, along with the audition and performance schedule for the 2020 production.

Q. Why did you start it?

A: My older daughters (now ten and seven) joined a similar for-profit musical-theatre program in a nearby town and fell in love with the theatre. My wife, Erin Harris, and I were impressed by the quality of the productions and our neighbors, Elizabeth and David Bouley, had had a similar, positive experience with their sons being involved. When the owner decided to wind down, Erin Dugan and Jenna Sheridan, approached all of us (at the time, Erin and Jenna were co-directors at the for-profit program) and asked if we would be interested in forming a non-profit with a similar vision and intention as this for-profit theatre program. We jumped at the chance to work with them to continue and build on the tradition of the musical theatre program. The Board of Directors for VST includes me, Erin, Elizabeth and David Bouley, and as artistic director, Erin Dugan.

Q. What opportunities are there to get involved? - volunteer/donations?

A: Well, if you’re between the ages of seven and seventeen, you can audition in the spring! Otherwise, we rely on volunteers to help with everything: set building, helping with costumes and makeup, and selling concessions during intermissions at the performances.

We hold several fundraising events throughout the year, including a Zumba event in East Granby on January 18. You can sign up on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/valleystudenttheatre. After the Zumba class, Erin and Jenna will announce the title of this year’s production. Last month, we held a classic bake sale outside a grocery store in town; the kids performed songs from last year’s show, which upped the donations a bit I think.

And as a non-profit, we are always looking for donations to help with production rights, the performance venue, costumes, set design, and more. There are so many different aspects that go into putting together a quality theatre performance and we appreciate the many ways the community has supported our efforts so far. Last year, over a dozen local businesses donated their goods or services to our fundraising raffles. As a registered 501(c)(3), all monetary and in-kind donations may be tax deductible.

If you are interested in volunteering, donating, or auditioning, please visit our website or contact valleystudenttheatre@gmail.com.

Q. Do you have an annual event?

A: Aside from the performances at the end of July, we are planning to have a big fundraiser with live music and raffles before the production ramps up. We will post details on the website and our Facebook page as they are finalized.

Q. What do you do outside of Valley Student Theatre in your professional life?

A: I practice intellectual property law at Lando & Anastasi, a full-service, boutique, intellectual property law firm in the Boston area. My practice is focused on protecting and leveraging brand names and inventions for small and large companies. For fun, I play several instruments as a member in a few local, indie rock bands. My family has a small but growing homestead of chickens and a large vegetable garden, and my wife has a natural yarn dyeing business. We also have a small maple sugar operation on our property in the spring and this year we will tap about 30 trees, which should yield about 5 gallons of syrup. At any given time we have a million creative pursuits going on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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