“Gaffney’s Take” on SpongeBob and Humbling Awards

Gaffney’s Take

So, in the course of doing my job as a sportswriter, there are certain things I expect to do.

Knowing statistics for the particular sport I’m talking about or the history of a team or league I cover.

Not so much the exploits of one SpongeBob Square pants.

Yep. I said SpongeBob SquarePants.

In this case it was SpongeBob the Musical but none the less, I had to look up information on that famous squid.

Why you ask?

Because the Torrington Theater department was putting on this musical, which I subsequently found out started in Chicago years ago and was an award-winning play. Multiple Tony awards.

Okay SpongeBob, much respect.

If you have followed things with me, you know I love THS theater. Amazing, student run productions that seemed like pro’s pulled them off.

Like how Maia Wood wrote a play when she was home with Covid restrictions during her sophomore year. A play called “Sawyer Logan is doing just fine”, which was really a story about how not fine Sawyer was, just like so many of the kids during that tough time.

When I had Maia on “Gaffney’s Corner” earlier this year, I asked her about the process and in 2023 style, she told me “I wrote the play on my phone.”

Well, of course you did Maia.

While I was unable to catch that play due to having Covid myself, I was able to take in both the rehearsal of SpongeBob and opening night.

I try and see rehearsal, or practice (like with any team I cover) before the season begins so I can see how things develop along the way.

One thing about theater is the inherent way one can escape during the show and this production was no different.

These kids are so talented.

The morning of opening night, I had three of the actors on a special edition of “Gaffney’s Corner”. James Butler (Mr. Krabs), Patrick Hinnerly (SpongeBob) and Reed Freidler (Sheldon J. Plankton) came in to talk theater.

It became one of my favorite (so hard to pick, so many great kids) of the year as each student lit up the room as they talked about the process and what they loved about theater in general.

I had spoken with Butler earlier this year before he starred in “The Crucible”, a demanding role for any actor.

In this show, Butler went in big time. In rehearsal, I didn’t recognize him with his red hair, red boxing gloves (his parents had given to him as props once they knew he was going into the arts) and a spot-on impression of one Mr. Krabs.

As the interview progressed, I decided to have a little fun and allow Butler to go into character, which he did so seamlessly.

At the end of the show, Mr. Krabs gave viewers the information they needed if they wanted to attend the show.

It was hard not to crack up.

Such talent.

And Minnerly (a junior) and Friedler (a sophomore) will be back in 23/24.

Can’t wait.

Good luck Mr. Butler, we know you are on to great things.

-Earlier this spring, I was notified by my friend, Wayne Splettstoeszer that he had nominated myself and Torrington Public Schools Superintendent Sue Lubomski for an Advocacy award.

The Connecticut Arts Administrators Association was honoring folks from around the state for their contributions and support of Arts program, which includes band, something Splettstoeszer knows a thing or two about.

Now up for his second Grammy nomination for his amazing work over nearly three decades, Coach Wayne (he trains the biggest team at THS), has had a legendary career at the school.

The breakfast was terrific at the Farmington Country Club as one by one, schools that participated had their leaders bring up their honorees to receive the award.

Now me, I’m used to giving out awards, not receiving them so it was a bit surreal and very humbling to have Coach Wayne speak of my support of everything Torrington.

His music [program was featured in back-to-back Litchfield County Sports magazines, and I could have made it three or more with all the great young people who have come from the program and moved on to even greater heights after high school.

My friend Wayne did have some fun with having me stand while he spoke of my contributions to the arts.

Of the 29 honorees, none had spoken after being introduced so, I decided not to ask for the microphone to throw some praise back on Mr. S.

He knew this was killing me and we all had a good laugh afterwards.

Wayne had done something that doesn’t happen very often, if ever.

He had left me speechless.

Thank you, good sir, I truly appreciate the honor you bestowed on me.

Enjoy that quiet because you know I’ll make up for it when I can!

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