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Magazine Sep 15, 2009 - 6:58 AM


Crystal Theatre presents “Ben Franklin Live!” at Ben Franklin

By Crystal Theatre





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Ben Franklin impersonator Christopher Lowell in front of Procope, the real Franklin’s favorite cafe in Paris. (Contributed photo)
Benjamin Franklin is coming to the former Ben Franklin School, Bayview and Hillside Avenues, South Norwalk, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 17. “Ben Franklin Live!” with actor/director Christopher Lowell is a benefit for the non-profit Crystal Theatre’s education programs. The 90-minute performance, which includes a lively interactive session with the audience, will be followed by a reception to meet Lowell. Tickets are $15.00 and reservations can be made by calling 203-847-4850. Directions to the theater are available on the web site at www.crystaltheatre.org.

Cheryl Kemeny, a Crystal Theatre founder, says, “America loves Ben Franklin, and Christopher Lowell’s appearances as this extraordinary man have delighted audiences of all ages from coast to coast. Chris’s energy, witty style and extensive knowledge make Ben’s role in our history come alive. His wonderful performance gives audiences an intimate look at what made our most revered Founding Father tick. Audiences hear reflections and anecdotes from Ben’s remarkably diverse life that surprise and delight. Chris reveals many sides of Ben’s personality as he takes the audience through the important stages of Ben’s life.”

“Benjamin Franklin lived a rags-to-riches life marked by business success and leadership, extraordinary scientific achievement, selfless service to his community, and crucial leadership in the establishment of our Republic,” says Lowell. “This man, born the 15th of 17 children to a poor, Boston candle maker, and having had but two years of formal education, became the first American ambassador abroad. He also was the only Founding Father to sign all four key documents of our fledgling nation: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce with France, the peace treaty with England that ended the Revolutionary War, and the Constitution. During his 84-year life, Franklin became our best-known American, whose simple dress and manner belied a keen intelligence, a charming wit, and enormous stamina, all of which he put at the service of his country.”

Lowell has been a teacher and actor for more than 40 years. After graduating from Dickinson College (PA) with a double major in theater and French, he earned his M.A. in 18th century French literature at Colgate University (NY). His double career as both a teacher of French and an actor/director has taken him, like the character he plays, to both Philadelphia and France. Lowell taught and acted in Philadelphia for six years, and in France, he taught in Brittany, the region where Ben Franklin first touched French soil in December 1776. For 28 years, Lowell taught both French and drama at the Fountain Valley School (CO). During those years he divided his leisure time among trips to France, directing plays and acting in more than 25 major productions. Prior to his retirement, taught theater at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs for six years.

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Scene from “Revolution Norwalk: 1777.” Lowell will conduct a Master Class for the cast of this Crystal Theatre musical, which will be performed in November. (Contributed photo)
Crystal Theatre Inc. is an independent, not-for-profit performing arts school founded by Cheryl and Alexandrea Kemeny, David Jackins and Mariner Pezza in 1987 under the auspices of the Norwalk Recreation & Parks Department. Dedicated to the development of children as creative artists, Crystal’s mission is to train students in the techniques of musical theater, produce and promote original works and provide performance opportunities for those who might otherwise not have a chance to sing, dance and act on stage. Each year the organization teaches an average of 700 students aged 6 to 21 and has entertained more than 100,000 audience members by producing 15-20 shows annually. Crystal Theatre also has an adult company and presents productions by the Crystal Opera Consortium.


“Ben Franklin Live!” includes the following important stages of Ben Franklin’s life:

• his youth and apprenticeship

• his business career as printer and writer

• his scientific interests and inventions

• his important contributions to the public good of Philadelphia

• his evolution from loyal Briton to ardent American Patriot

• his contributions to the writing of the Declaration of Independence

• his work in France as our nation’s first ambassador

• his role in the Constitutional Convention of 1787



Christopher Lowell in Norwalk

During his visit to Norwalk, Lowell will conduct a Master Class on 18th century acting style and deportment for the talented high school students who will star in Crystal Theatre’s production of “Revolution Norwalk: 1777.”

Intrigue and romance mix with the requirements of everyday life and the hardships of war in this popular Crystal Theatre musical that explores the American Revolution through the eyes of Norwalk young people.

Performances of “Revolution” will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 21, and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 22. Tickets are $12.00 adults; $10.00 seniors; $7.00 children aged 16 and younger. Reservations can be made by calling 203-847-4850. Directions are available on the web site at www.crystaltheatre.org.

“Revolution” and “The Burning of Norwalk: 1779” were written by Cheryl Kemeny and Mariner Pezza, who say, “Because little documented information is available, the main characters in both of these swash-buckling historical musicals are fictionalized, using the names of well-known Norwalk families of the period.”




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