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Big Drama at FTC

Photographs: Jayne Atkinson by Kristin Burke/Peter Baker Studios; B.B. King, K.D. Lang and Tom Tom Club by Mike Thut

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Theater is the art of transformation — turns out, it’s savvy business, too.

Incendiary music, martinis, late-night strolls — sounds like something we would all be enjoying if the economic gray cloud over our heads would move along. But don’t give up the idea just yet. A silver lining has been spotted in downtown Fairfield, where you can have just such a night out. It’s local (save on gas and train fare), inexpensive (less than half the cost of a Broadway ticket), and philanthropic (this not-for-profit venue gives back to the community).  Neighbors, meet the Fairfield Theatre Company (FTC).

Low, squat and looking a whole lot more like a psychedelic widget factory than a first-rate performing arts center, FTC sits on a corner facing a Metro-North station. Inside, there’s no orchestra pit or fly system; you have to turn sideways to get through the backstage area; and the 200-seat space is so small that when celebrated jazz guitarist Al DiMeola performed there the first time, he strummed a few lazy chords, looked around and remarked, “My bathroom is bigger than this theater.” Even at midday, the room is pitch dark; the stage floor is painted a dull black to suck up errant bits of light. Yet, remarkably, theatricality pulses throughout the space —perhaps that’s because growing the business, itself, has been a series of dramatic transformations.