Kidz Konnection is a non-profit, youth-based theater company located along the shoreline of Connecticut, in the quaint town of Clinton that provides classes in improvisation, musical theater, dance, multi-media, scriptwriting, acting and production. Since 2006, Kidz Konnection has produced over 80 major theater productions to sell-out crowds, and more than 40 intimate productions attracting up to 300 audience members each. In addition, Kidz Konnection offers weekly classes designed to develop the young actor in public speaking, character development and esteem-building. Kidz Konnection proudly performs with a variety of community organizations including offering an educational Shakespeare series in the summer and an historic walk through the local cemetery learning about the colorful characters of the area in October in collaboration with the Clinton Historical Society as part of its outreach to the community. Kidz Konnection maintains it’s intent to encourage youth to pick up the classics through the performance of such work and as audience members to it’s work.
Kidz Konnection Classes and Rehearsals take place in the Kidz Konnection Academy Building, 61 E. Main Street, which can be found next to the First Church of Christ Congregational Church. To contact Kidz Konnection call Laura Attanasio at 860-227-2363 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Kidz Konnection is a youth theater company dedicated to educating youth in the performing arts for the purpose of cultivating self-empowerment and leadership skills that will develop strong community-serving leaders of the future.
Laura Attanasio, founder of Kidz Konnection received the Woman of Excellence Award by the Clinton Chamber of Commerce and Shoreline Chambers in October 2016.
Women of Excellence
- Driven work ethic
- Strong sense of self: leading with empowerment and inspiration
- Leadership: role model for others
- Commitment to community through volunteering
- “I’ve had the pleasure of being able to observe how much all the kids grow and benefit from participating in her classes and productions. She sets a high standard, but also gives them the confidence they need to accomplish things they might never have thought possible.”
- “She has put her heart and soul in to her company for the past 10 years”
- “Kidz Konnection has helped teach kids acting, put on amazing plays, and empower other young girls like me”
- “She wants every kid to pursue the dream they want”
- “She makes every kid feel like the star!”
Kidz Konnection Celebrates a Decade of Bringing Youth Theater to the Shoreline
Laura Attanasio never imagined that when her kids asked her to start a theater group 10 years ago it would grow to a year-round group drawing hundreds of children from the shoreline and beyond. Kidz Konnection is a non-profit children’s theater group based in Clinton that offers classes and several productions throughout the year.
“The first year, I took a small group of kids and did what I knew I could do—one play,” says Attanasio. “I reached the realization that there was a demand for youth theater and people wanted it. We grew, then doing two plays, then adding a musical and more.”
Attanasio studied drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and then co-founded Interact Theater Company in Minnesota where she and and her husband lived.
In 1995, her husband’s job led the couple to move to Connecticut where they had two children. By the time her children were 7 and 9, they were asking to get involved with theater. When they couldn’t find a program, the children turned to their mother’s experience.
“They asked me to start a theater group and I thought, ‘Sure. Why not?’” Attanasio says. “At first, we were so small that I couldn’t even initially do the play—it was my two kids and another boy—and he asked if we could still do it if he found more kids.”
For the first production in 2006, there ended up being eight students. That group of 6- to 10-year-olds put on a full-length performance of Treasure Island with a blow-up palm tree to set the scene.
Before beginning, Attanasio wasn’t sure where she would hold her classes and rehearsals. She was working for The Dance Hutch at the time and the owner offered for the group to use that space and Attanasio credits her for “really helping me get my feet on the ground.”
At the conclusion of Treasure Island, the kids asked if they could do another play the next summer. As word of Kidz Konnection spread, the numbers grew to 24 in the second year and then 40 in the third year.
“The third year was pivotal,” says Attanasio. “My mouth was agape when I drove into the parking lot and had 40 kids in line waiting to audition for Alice in Wonderland.”
At that point, she recognized the need for her own space, settling on the basement in the Chip’s Pub Plaza on Route One in the center of Clinton. As the number of students grew, so did Kidz Konnection’s offerings. Now there are productions each season, as well as classes on everything from acting to musical theater, script-writing to production, and more.
“Now we’re a well-run machine—we reserve audition slots and make sure it’s a more efficient experience,” Attanasio says. “I run the business like a family, so when you’re here, you really feel that family environment. People know Kidz Konnection is a safe place to bring their children.”
Attanasio has seen many families return to Kidz Konnection year after year. The group draws people from far beyond the shoreline area with students from as far as Waterford, Ledyard, West Haven, and Hamden.
In the CTNow 2016 Best of Hartford Readers’ Poll, Kidz Konnection was named the No. 2 Best Community Theater program. While Attanasio is honored with the recognition, what’s even more important to her is helping her students to realize their potential through theater.
“It’s not about raising actors as much as raising leaders. It’s important that kids are learning how to build resources and how to collaborate because that’s what drives a successful society,” says Attanasio. “The kids may not even realize while they’re doing it, but every time they engage with another part of our community, they’re learning that.”
While Attanasio has a long résumé in theater, she also stresses that at Kidz Konnection, each student is treated as an individual and everyone is given a chance to shine. She notes that the leads in each play are never the same and every child has the potential to be a lead.
With Kidz Konnection’s success, Attanasio has also stressed the importance of reaching out to the community and being involved. Coming into its 10th year, Attanasio knew it was time to give back. Looking ahead, Attanasio has goals of growing even more and getting more involved in the communities throughout the shoreline.
Kiara Lopez, a member of Kidz Konnection for the past seven years, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but is now five years in remission. Throughout 2015, Kidz Konnection committed to donate five percent of its profits to the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance, presenting the organization with a $1,000 donation.
“We wanted to give back to that organization because they really helped her through that medical trauma,” says Attanasio, who noted Make-a-Wish is the 2016 charity. “Now we’ll do this every year with the kids choosing a charity that gives back to youth. So many families and organizations have carried me so now it’s time for me to help carry others. My kids see that and will experience that and take that with them through their lives.”
Lopez has been able to find solace and an outlet at Kidz Konnection.
“Kidz Konnection is my home when I’m not at home,” says Lopez, who played Robin Hood in a 2015 production. “Whenever I’m having a bad day, I go to Kidz Konnection and all my problems are left outside the door.”
That is the environment that Attanasio has been striving for throughout her career. She wants students to feel safe in exploring their creativity at the studio, as well as have a voice in the decision-making process for each production.
“It’s a magical thing,” says Attanasio. “Kids need to discover themselves to innovate later in life and be inspired. It’s a happy place. A mother of a student from North Haven said, ‘You saved my son’s life. He didn’t feel like he fit into any groups in his school.’ Now he comes to Kidz Konnection and does everything.”
Because students return to Kidz Konnection year after year, after 10 years, some of the children have now aged into teenagers and young adults. The Shoreline Actors Collective was added to Kidz Konnection for actors aged 12 and up. She has not only gotten to know the students, but their families as well.
“We have had so many families who have come through my system and I’ve seen them grow and go off to college with some majoring in theater,” says Attanasio. “I have a firm belief in process of community effort. There is nothing more invigorating than walking into the studio and it’s jam-packed with adults building and painting and meeting one another. There’s something really powerful about people coming together.”
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Laura Attanasio has over 20 years of experience teaching theatre to young people in non-profit agencies that include the YMCA and public schools in Minnesota, New York, and Connecticut.
After graduating from New York University’s, Tisch School of the Arts, Laura moved to Minnesota where she began employing her passion for theater as a means to fundamentally alter negative pre-conceptions of individuals not accepted into the mainstream of society.
Co-Founder of Interact Theater Company, Minneapolis, MN, Laura developed successful strategies integrating adults with developmental disabilities into professional, critically-acclaimed performance opportunities.
Laura then applied similar strategies when working with young people and created programming that was disseminated throughout Minnesota to cultivate self-empowerment and leadership skills among at-risk and vulnerable youth. Laura’s custom curriculum incorporates literature, history, and world affairs into stimulating movement-based theater designed to encourage our youth to prosper in school.
Laura moved to Connecticut in 1995, co-directing the Valley Regional High School musicals, located in Essex, Connecticut, for 3 years. She also spent time in New York and regionally in Connecticut honing her skills as both an actor and director.
She has directed over 25 productions and performed both Off-Broadway and at New York’s Annual Fringe Festival. These efforts have helped to further enhance Laura’s skills and technical approach to working with young people on interpersonal skills, character development, and mutual respect for all people. Laura’s career has been devoted to providing the arts as a tool to develop confident, community-serving leaders of the future.
In September, 2009, Laura accepted the position of Drama Teacher at the Worthington Hooker Middle School located on Whitney St. in New Haven, CT. She is delighted to be working with youth grades 3 – 8 during the school day, doing what she loves, inspiring youth to become aspiring leaders of tomorrow.
Laura received “Person of the Week” in the Harbor News, April 2009. Serving the towns of Clinton, Westbrook, and Old Saybrook with additional news coverage from Madison, Guilford and Branford, Laura was selected as a person of interest by the communities represented.
Teaching Drama, Leadership, and So Much More Posted by Shore Publishing on Apr 30 2009, 11:50 AM Filed under: Clinton, KidzKonnection, Laura Attanasio By Fay Abrahamsson, Harbor News Senior Staff Writer:
She’s a business owner, director, playwright, and former off-Broadway actress who is hoping to empower young people to become poised and confident through theater.
“I use drama as a tool to teach leadership skills,” says Laura Attanasio of Clinton.
Laura is the founder of nonprofit organization KidzKonnection, which provides programs and classes in youth theater, performance, journalism, and more.
Her goal in Clinton is the same goal she’s had wherever she lived—that through her work in theater, she can focus on community outreach programs, children, and people of all ages with special needs.
“It is our civic duty as leaders today to create the leaders of tomorrow,” she says.
When Laura and her husband lived in Minneapolis, she co-founded the Interact Theatre Company, a group that was formed to provide a place for people with disabilities to act and sing.
After moving to Connecticut in 1995, Laura worked for both the Hartford and Westbrook YMCA camps and was the artistic director at Valley Regional High School, putting her degree in theater from New York University to work.
Today, through her company, she is using drama to help kids become more self-assured, confident, and community-minded. She believes that qualities such as effective leadership skills, confidence in public speaking, good communication, and strong interpersonal skills can be achieved through multi-media such as the stage.
Kidz Konnection has an array of programs and activities for kids of all ages throughout the year.