Dragonfly stages 'Midsummer Night's Dream'
From The Home News Tribune August 16, 2015
by Bill Nutt, Correspondent
Catherine LaMoreaux has had a long association with theater, including
working at the Forum Theatre Co. in Metuchen and teaching drama in
Central Jersey schools. But her dream was to start a theater company of her own.
Her daughter, Anna Paone, grew up with the same love of theater. Though she holds studied film at University of Michigan, she also had a dream of running a theater.
A year ago those two dreams came together when LaMoreaux and Paone co-founded Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center in Metuchen, where they both live.
Now the two women are working on a different “Dream.”
To kick off the Dragonfly’s second season, they are co-directing the Shakespearean comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The production will be staged three times on Aug. 21 and 22 at Metuchen Reformed Church.
Dragonfly will present two more full-length works this season, as well as a program of one-act plays by Anton Chekhov. It will also offer programs to libraries and other forums on topics ranging from graphic novels to public speaking.
Both LaMoreaux, who serves as executive director of Dragonfly, and Paone, the company’s artistic associate, say that running the company has brought them closer.
“Being able to listen to each has been nice,” said LaMoreaux. “We’ve found that we actually work together well.”
“I feel comfortable and honest with her,” agreed Paone. “If we have disagreements, it never becomes too personal.” With a chuckle, she added, “We‘ve been through 24 years of that.”
The name “Dragonfly” stands for LaMoreaux as a reminder of the importance of family. In 1999, a car accident killed her mother, Carole LaMoreaux; one of her sisters, Hilda LaMoreaux; and a nephew, Cristoffer Harris.
“When we would visit Cristoffer’s grave, there would be dragonflies all around it,” LaMoreaux said.
The name has another meaning, according to LaMoreaux. “A dragonfly’s wings are like a rainbow. We wanted our company to be multicultural, like a rainbow. We welcome performers of all backgrounds.”
Paone agreed. “Our goal is to cast color-blind, as much as possible,” she said.
Both mother and daughter bring a variety of experiences to Dragonfly. LaMoreaux formerly worked in arts administration for such institutions as the New York Philharmonic, the Joffrey Ballet, and Circle Repertory Co.
After she moved to Metuchen, she worked at the Forum Theatre Co., as a volunteer for three years and then as an office assistant for six years.
For 12 years, she taught theater and other subjects in public schools in South Brunswick, Marlboro, and New Brunswick. However, she still kept in mind the idea of starting a theater company.
Meanwhile, Paone’s experience in the theater began when she was 12 years old, when she cast in a production of “Our Town” in 2003 at Brook Arts Center in Bound Brook.
Paone attended the University of Michigan, where she majored in film studies. After graduation, she worked for a post-production company in New York. “It made me realize that I liked film, but I didn’t like the world of professional film,” she said.
Around four years ago, LaMoreaux’s father, Robert LaMoreaux, died and left her enough money that could be used as seed funds. “The timing was right. I was looking to get out of teaching,” LaMoreaux said.
They also raised money through the Indiegogo fundraising Web site.
The two women realized that working together would be ideal. “On my own, I didn’t have the time or the knowledge to run a company,” Paone said. “My mother brought all her experience.”
(LaMoreaux also has a younger daughter, Laura Paone, a senior at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she is a communication major with a minor in theater.)
Dragonfly debuted in August 2014 with “The Coarse Acting Show,” a British comedy about a group of amateur actors. The farce was staged at the Old Franklin Schoolhouse. “The first night was sold out,” Paone said.
In October the company presented Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” at the Forum Theatre.
Dragonfly’s third presentation was the two-person comedy-drama “Talley’s Folly” at the Metuchen Reformed Church.
That production was later taken on the road to the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan and the Jersey Shore Cultural Arts Center in Ocean Grove.
Rounding out Dragonfly’s season was a cabaret production, a staged reading, and acting classes for adults and teens.
A different mix
For their second season, LaMoreaux and Paone are
aiming for a similar mix of modern and classic theater.
The Dragonfly production “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
is an abbreviated version of Shakespeare text, but
LaMoreaux said it preserves the wit and the magic of the
In October, Dragonfly will offer the New Jersey premiere
of “Matt and Ben,” a comedy co-written by Mindy Kaling
(of TV’s “The Mindy Project”) and Brenda Withers (“The Office”).
“Matt and Ben” offers a comic fantasy about how Ben Affleck and Matt Damon came to write the movie “Good Will Hunting.” The twist is that the two characters are played by women.
In the spring, Dragonfly will stage “Arms and the Man,” George Bernard Shaw’s satirical look at love and war. Paone and LaMoreaux are also considering a musical for Valentine’s Day weekend.
The company will continue to offer acting classes, with an additional program for pre-teens only. Dragonfly is also offering touring programs to libraries and other venues on a variety of topics, as well as a workshop on public speaking,
Paone said that Dragonfly is committed to being an inclusive company that accepts performers of all experience levels.
“We’re keeping an eye out for special skills,” Paone said. “What is unique that a person brings to the table? We will find a place for (him or her).”
“We’re committed to racial diversity in our cast,” LaMoreaux said. To that end, the company has sought out actors of color in “Backstage” magazine and through community contacts. “We’ve found some incredible minority actors,” she said.
Dragonfly also has a special commitment to providing opportunities for actresses. LaMoreaux indicated that she initially wanted to stage “Romeo and Juliet” as the second-season opener, but Paone argued that it did not have enough strong parts for females.
“We hold auditions, and there are so many talented young women in their 20s,” LaMoreaux said. “We want to find roles that let them show what they can do.”
“We see ourselves as a theater for the community,” LaMoreaux said. “We welcome everyone.”
LaMoreaux and Paone hope that audiences will grow and support Dragonfly’s productions. Ultimately, they hope to have a permanent home for their company.
“These are daunting times for theater companies,” Paone said. “It is hard. We’re based in a small town close to a major city that has a lot of theater.”
“But we offer something special. All we can say is, come and see our shows,” Paone said. “We invite everyone to see your friends in our productions, and we invite everyone to audition.”
LaMoreaux said she hopes people take a different lesson from Dragonfly’s story. “If you have a dream, you need to pursue it, before you’re unable to do so,” she said.
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