A Memory About the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre

Naugatuck Patch Theatre Reviewer Nancy Sasso Janis shares some memories about the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, affectionately known at the Shakespeare Theatre.

Dedicated to the memory of my father, Austin N. Sasso

It was the norm when I was in high school in Stratford to attend at least one Shakespeare play every year at the American Shakespeare Theatre and no one misses this theater more than me.
– From Nancy Sasso Janis’ review of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS at Hartford Stage

Early Sunday morning, I was heartbroken to read that the beloved Shakespeare Theatre was gone forever. A treasure has been lost…

The theater that I loved had opened in my hometown before I was born. Some of the most famous stars, like Katherine Hepburn, had graced its stage before I was old enough to attend a Shakespeare play. However, I have strong memories of taking field trip after field trip with my middle school and high school English classes to experience high quality productions at our hometown theater after studying the texts in class. I wish I could remember the titles of all of the works of the Bard that we enjoyed; I do remember that when our classes got off the school buses after our brief commute from across town, we got in line with students that had traveled great distances from all around the region.

I am certain that I got to see the renowned performance of Morris Carnovsky in the title role of King Lear. I distinctly remember the teacher who chaperoned our trip to the performance noting how she could tell which teens in the audience had read the play before attending the production. Those students that had studied the tragedy before the show sat forward in their seats at the most dramatic point in the tragedy, the gouging out of Gloucester’s eyes. I know for sure that I saw a play with Christopher Plummer, remembering him from one of the first films I ever saw in a movie theatre, The Sound of Music. Read More…

Goodspeed Debuting 14th Festival of New Musicals

What better way to dispel the frigid cold and darkness of the winter months than a visit to The Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals in East Haddam. For the 14th year, Goodspeed is offering up a splendid weekend of theatrical treasures for your edification and entertainment, from Friday, January 18 to Sunday, January 20. Without the need for skis, sleds or skates, you can travel swiftly and smoothly, without fear of spills, to see the latest in musical magic.

Students from the Hartt School of Music and the Boston Conservatory of Music will present a trio of staged readings beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. with “The Peculiar Tale of the Prince of Bohemia and the Society of Desperate Victorians,” with book and lyrics by Becca Anderson and Dan Marshall and music by Julian Blackmore. What is a Prince to do when he discovers his father, the King of Bohemia, has died and he does not want to ascend the throne? With the help of his chaperone Colonel Geraldine, he plots his escape. Will joining a secret society called the Suicide Club be the solution he seeks or will it plunge him deeper into a morass of macabre yet humorous problems?

The Gelston House, next door, will host a Cabaret with the music of Douglas Waterbury-Tieman at 10 p.m. following the first reading.

Be sure you take your vitamins for the all day Saturday schedule, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Gelston House and La Vita Restaurant across the street with a series of seminars on topics theatrical until 1 p.m. After a lunch break, at 3 p.m. at The Goodspeed, attend a symposium “The Art of Adaptation: Truth to Fiction” led by Goodspeed Artistic Associate Anika Chapin and a panel of writers discussing the process and pitfalls of adapting a true story into musical theatre fiction. Read More…