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Youth Theatre Unlimited

Algebra 2

Alan Levy
Producer, Director, Stage Manager (1983-85)




About the Theatre

Youth Theatre Unlimited provided professional theatre training from 1973 to 1985 in Hartford CT. In its dozen years in operation, it underwent a name change and frequent relocations of its headquarters. At first, theatre training was limited to area teachers and their students. Theatre artists were sent into schools to instruct teachers in the use of drama as a teaching method and to expose children to performance skills. In the early 80s, YTU began a teen-aged performance company that toured schools throughout the Greater Hartford area. Alan Levy worked on six YTU productions from 1983-1985




This section describes the productions Alan Levy worked on at the theatre.

  • Rebel Without A Cause (Producer, Director)
  • Sorry, Wrong Number (Producer)
  • The Radio Station (Producer)
  • Romeo and Juliet (Producer)
  • Untitled Summer Tour (Producer)
  • David and Lisa (Stage Manager)


Marsha Hogan and Lisa Petruzzi in Romeo and Juliet, March 1984


History of the Theatre

The Institute for the Study and Development of Youth Theatre (ISDYT) was founded as a non-profit arts organization in 1973.Teachers at an early ISDYT theatre workshop

ISDYT conducted ongoing research programs in the classroom application of creative play, dramatics and movement. This research was funded by the American Alliance for Arts Education, a division of the Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and local foundations.

In the first few years, ISDYT was exclusively a teacher-training organization, a consulting agency and a provider of arts-in-education services. ISDYT taught teachers how to use theatre activities in their classrooms, as well as offering in-school performances by individual artists.One successful teacher workshop was known as the "School is Theatre" program.

ISDYT LogoIn 1979, ISDYT moved to its second home at 331 Wethersfield Avenue in Hartford CT, across the street from Bulkeley High School. By this time, the organization was being headed by Director Phyllis Robinson and Assistant Director Alida Jay (one of the founders of Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown CT. An Open House was held in the new space on September 19, 1979, featuring a performance by mime/circus artist David Tabatsky who was a regular member of the teaching faculty of ISDYT. At about this time, ISDYT began offering acting classes for area youths after school and during the summers. Soon thereafter, students were given the opportunity to put their training into practice in the presentation of live theatre productions. Click here for a program from a production entitled "Magic Minstrels, Myths and Masks." (unknown date)

YTU poster/flyer, circa 1983


In 1980 the name of the company was officially changed to Youth Theatre Unlimited. Alida Jay left YTU to move to Norway. The administration was reorganized with Phyllis Robinson taking on more of a fundraising role as the Development Director. Constance Washburn ran the day to day operations as the Managing Director.

In 1982, YTU moved their offices to "The Old Place", on Kinsey Street in Downtown Hartford. The Old Place was the original home of The Hartford Stage, which moved into a new theatre at 50 Church St. in 1977. The Old Place became YTU's home base for offices and productions until it was torn down in 1984. The theatre sat approximately 225 people around a thrust stage that had been carved out of a drug store basement.

Clay Stevenson was hired as Artistic Director in 1982. His first YTU production was the Classic Greek tragedy, Antigone. The show toured area schools, in addition to its limited run at The Old Place.

Anigone artwork

Click on the following links to view newspaper articles about the Antigone production:

Click on the production photo below to view the full-size image:



Some of the cast included Denise Collins in the title role, Billy Yousman as Creon, Thomas Desrocher as Haemon, Wayne Pretlow as Teiresius, the blind prophet, and Wendy Bobbit as Ismene.



David and Lisa artworkThe next YTU production was David and Lisa, which ran at The Old Place from April 2 - May , 1983. The play followed the struggles two teenagers being treated at a psychiatric treatment center. Arthur Kulpanowski performed the lead role of David Clemens, while Heather Hornyak and Hilary Weinig shared the role of Lisa. Other notable performances included Billy Meegan as Dr, Swinford and Deborah Reynolds as David's mother. The cast also featured a large ensemble cast of teens. The play toured to area schools following its run at The Old Place.

Click here to view the program from David and Lisa.

The photo below is Hilary during a rehearsal of the play.


Hilary Weinig

In 1983 Clay Stevenson began The Performers Workshop as the adult training and performance component of YTU. They produced Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sydney Brustein's Window in January at The Old Place. Plans for a second production never materialized. 1983 also saw the departure of longtime Director Phyllis Robinson, who moved to Hawaii, and Constance Washburn. Alan Levy took over as Executive Director and The Old Place was demolished in the Fall of 1983. (The last play performed in the space was the first show of the newly formed Company One.)

Another offshoot of YTU was inaugurated in the Fall of 1983. Choreographer Stephen Semien began "The Hartford Contemporary Dance Theatre," to provide training and performance opportunity to young dancers in the region. Their premiere was held at the Horace Bushnell Churck on December 17, 1983. Click here to view a copy of the program.

Click here to go to web page for YTU' Romeo and JulietDecember 20, 1983 was declared "Youth Theatre Unlimited Day" by Hartford Mayor Thirman Milner. A reception was held at Bulkeley High School in Hartford, and featured performances from HCDT, The Performers Workshop, and numerous classes.

It was also announced at that time that YTU would be undertaking its largest production to date: a March 1984 production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Click on the following link to view an entire web page devoted to that production:


Camp YTU was held during the summer of 1984. Classes in all aspects of the theatre arts were held in the studios of the Mark Twain Masquers on the campus of the Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford. Click here to view the promotional flyer for Camp YTU.

The final production presented by Youth Theatre Unlimited was Rebel Without a Cause. Click on a link to view an entire web page devoted to that production. The show was toured to approximately 12 area schools. Two evening performances were also held.

In its last days, attempts were made to merge YTU with Peace Train to try and save both organizations from their financial woes. When this effort failed, YTU officially suspended its operations on March 13, 1985.








Press Clippings and other documents