Bret Lagasse, at age 39, acknowledges that he doesn’t have a lot of friends who go to the theatre. “ I put a higher priority on experiencing the arts than my group of friends. I wish more people my age would open their minds a bit and expand the ways they use their time—like going to Long Wharf! Maybe they’ll like it, maybe not, maybe they’ll laugh or cry—just having a different experience is worth it.”
Bret was bitten by the acting bug as a senior at Daniel Hand High School in Madison. “At my first audition I sang ‘Under the Sea’ from The Little Mermaid. I had never sung before, never been on stage, but I loved it.” That audition landed him the role of Kenickie in the musical, Grease, and he was hooked. Bret continued to act and sing throughout his college years at Skidmore, appreciating the “camaraderie of the group, the creative process of going from nothing to a finished product, and just being on stage—that feeling on opening night when the paint is still wet, you’ve just had final notes, and it’s something.” He loved it so much that when he returned to Madison to join the family business, he went back to his high school to direct plays for the theatre department.
In 1999, when Bret was in his early 20’s, he went with family friends to his first Long Wharf play—The Importance of Being Earnest, and within a year or two became a subscriber. “Having a subscription ensured that I made time to go to the theatre, and I felt that I was doing what I could at that time to help the theatre.” And he has made time for the theatre ever since.
For several years, he was a little too busy to come to the theatre as often as he’d like—he and his brothers, Matt and Tim, purchased the TAYLOR RENTAL/PARTY PLUS business from their parents, Gene and Patricia, which now includes full service rental shops in Orange, Branford, and Monroe. He and his wife, Karis, have a one year old daughter, Grace, and still live in Madison.
Bret has brought his love of the theatre together with his work by donating rentals for the theatre’s many opening night parties and other events. This kind of in-kind sponsorship represents a substantial gift to Long Wharf, and Bret and his team go out of their way to be helpful and generous. “I always wanted to be in a position to do more to give to charity, and the arts. It’s great to be able to help with something that I do every day, that I’m good at.”
He’s good at a lot of things….when he’s done at the shop for the day, and done helping Long Wharf, and done having dinner with his family, he heads off to rehearsal at Madison Lyric Stage, where he’s currently playing Malcolm in an October production of Macbeth.
Anyway you look at him, Bret Lagasse is a star….and did we say he’s only 39??
— Eileen Wiseman