Every year, Connecticut’s timeless landscape lends itself to multiple movie sets and television shows. Whether it’s a big-time production or a smaller, more independent project, the Connecticut area has always played host to actors and actresses looking to express their craft.
“The Dangerfields Class of ’64” was written by Connecticut native Doug Lumpkin and directed by Reno Venturi. The film is a virtual blast from the past, highlighting the musically comedic misadventures of four teenage boys trying their best to navigate through the rough waters of high school in the early 1960s.
Two Cheshire-based actors, Robert “Bob” Canelli and Cheshire High School junior Ted Murolo, star in the film, among many other locals. Canelli plays the high school principal, Mr. Tortell, while Murolo portrays one of the four teenage boys, Billy.
“I play the nerdier one of the group (of four),” Murolo mentioned. “Which is not totally my personality, but I was able to find some commonalities, which made it easier to get into character.”
The story is based on Lumpkin’s real life experiences as a kid in the 1960s, with each of the four boys representing either Lumpkin himself, or one of his close highschool friends. In the film, the group decides that they want to start a band in order to gain respect around town and, more importantly, to “get girls.” They decide to call themselves “The Dangerfields” after Rodney Dangerfield and his classic comedic routine where he proclaimed, “I don’t get no respect.”
For Murolo, this was his very first time acting in a movie, although he was in the Cheshire High School Drama Club production of “Mamma Mia” last year, and is an active musician.
“It was a really great experience,” he recalls. “Acting and music are things that I want to pursue further, so this was really fun for me.”
Murolo, who considers himself a musician first, had a big part in performing the score for the film. “Every single keyboard track you hear in the movie is me playing,” he explained.
Canelli, a more seasoned actor than Murolo, was provided the opportunity to develop much of his character on his own, given his experience and the trust he shares with director Venturi.
“He (Venturi) gave me a lot of freedom when it came to how I wanted to portray my character,” said Canelli. “He let me add a lot, which is nice when you can have that kind of creative relationship with someone.”
The film was shot over 28 days, mainly in the New Haven area, during the summer months. For Murolo, it was the first time he had ever dedicated that much time to something.
“Rehearsals and filming took up all of my time,” he remembers. “We filmed for six days a week, sometimes 12-hour days. My poor dad had to drive me to all of the filmings, I bet he’s happy now that it’s over.”
Over the five weeks of filming, the cast became incredibly close, especially Canelli and the four boys.
“We had to spend so much time together, on and off set, that we became one big family,” explained Canelli. “These boys, including Ted, became like my kids on set. Everyone always looks out for each other.”
Lumpkin, who is an Army veteran, has also decided that all of the proceeds for the film will go to the Wounded Warrior Project. While the film is set to premiere at multiple theaters across the state in the spring, no official screening date has been announced.
For more information, visit “The Dangerfields Class of ’64” Facebook page.