Branford's Legacy Theatre Gets ARPA Boost

Kapp Singer | February 15th, 2024

Branford's Legacy Theatre Gets ARPA Boost

Branford  |  Drama  |  Theater  |  Arts, Culture & Community

Beauty and the Beast being performed at Legacy Theatre in Branford last year. Photo courtesy Legacy Theatre.

Heading into the 2024 season, Legacy Theatre has received a welcome boost.

The Branford-based theater was awarded $53,500 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the towns of Branford and Guilford. 

“This money has given us a lot of confidence,” said Anne Runolfsson, development manager at Legacy Theatre.

Because the theater serves both communities, both the Branford Community Foundation and The Guilford Foundation allocated ARPA dollars towards the theater—$35,000 and $18,500, respectively. 

Runolfsson explained that the theater, which opened in April 2021, is still feeling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But with this new injection of funds, things are beginning to look up.

“We have a lot of money yet to raise in the season, but the towns demonstrating their confidence in us gives the whole staff a confidence that permeates into other areas of the local community,” Runolfsson said.

“We were pretty hard hit [by Covid-19], and thankfully both of the towns recognized that this was no fault of our own,” she added. “[They] were very generous to give us money from the ARPA funding to help us with that lost revenue.”

On Wednesday night, the theater inaugurated their 2024 season with a special one-night production of Love Letters, starring James Roday Rodriguez and Keeley Baisden Knudsen.

The performance was sold out, which Runolfsson said “speaks volumes about where people are psychologically with the pandemic being a part of their decision-making process.” She said that, as the 2023 season wound to a close, things were already beginning to feel back-to-normal. Now, heading into 2024, she says that spirit is only growing.

“It’s going to be a very exciting year,” said Runolfsson. “It already is!”

The theater’s mainstage productions include a stage adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve (May 30 – June 16), The Great American Mousical (July 11– 28), Love Affair (Aug. 8–25), and The Bridges of Madison County (Sept. 12–29).

Runolfsson is especially excited for The Great American Mousical, which is being directed by the English actor, singer, and author Julie Andrews. The play is based on a book that Andrews wrote with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton.

“That is huge news for us, and, I think, for the area,” Runolfsson said. The show premiered at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester in 2012 and is returning to Connecticut. 

In addition to the mainstage, Legacy Theatre is also hosting a Sunday Broadway Concert Series, the first event of which is Sunday, Feb. 18 featuring Tony Award-nominee L Morgan Lee. They also have a seven show Family Series, which begins Mar. 30 with Mario the Maker Magician.

The theater is also hosting an independent film festival on Sept. 25 – 27. Submissions are open now through July 8. 

“We are lucky that we are in towns that recognize the importance of the arts,” Runolfsson said.

“There are a lot of people in the area who are stepping up and recognize how important this is.”