CT Theater News

Following Protest, Resignations, Yale Summer Cabaret Canceled

A challenge by some Yale School of Drama students following the selection of the new Yale Summer Cabaret team has resulted in the resignations of a third of the total number of board members and the cancellation of the 2018 season.

In December there were three graduate student teams who vied with their proposals to run, program and produce the summer cabaret season, which attracts about 3,000 theatergoers in the basement theater on the Yale campus.

But there were objections by one of the two teams that was not selected to the choice made by the advisory board.

The concern centered, according to one board member, “on significant issues with respect to equity diversity and inclusion.” Following the students’ objections, board president Arthur Nacht announced he would resign due to the stress, time limits and harshness of the criticism.

In January, James Bundy, dean of the Yale School of Drama, announced — following a review of the process — that the advisory board’s December decision would not be overturned.

But last month it was learned that the summer series for this year — its 44th season — would be canceled.

In a letter to patrons issued mid-March by Joan Channick who succeeded Nacht as board president, said, “the hiatus will allow for facilities upgrades, including the installation of a new air-conditioning system for the cabaret, and the completion of other delayed maintenance projects that are not possible during the academic year, when 217 Park Street –– which also houses a variety of administrative and faculty offices.”

Four other board members have also resigned from the 14-member advisory board since Nacht’s departure.. The board is made of members who are white, save for one member of Hispanic descent. Half of the board is made up of women.

When asked about the student challenge and resignations, Bundy declined to comment.

The Yale Summer Cabaret is separate from the Yale Cabaret which runs during the academic year and is concluding its 50th season.

Hartford Stage Announces 2018-19 Season

Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts today announced the line-up of classic, contemporary, thought-provoking and entertaining new work that will comprise the Tony Award-winning regional theatre’s 55th season, Tresnjak’s final season as Artistic Director.

The mission of Hartford Stage in the 2018-19 season is to enlighten, entertain and educate by creating works of the highest caliber that have a transformative impact on audiences, the community and the industry – theatre that is Positively Hartford Stage.

Featured plays include Shakespeare’s historic masterpiece Henry V and Dominique Morisseau’s powerful drama Detroit ’67. Compelling new plays Make Believe by Bess Wohl and The Engagement Party by Samuel Baum will make their world premieres at Hartford Stage. A sixth mainstage production will be announced shortly.

The Flamingo Kid – a new musical based upon the 1984 Garry Marshall coming-of-age film, with book and lyrics by Tony Award-winner Robert L. Freedman (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) and music by Tony Award-nominated Scott Frankel (Grey Gardens and War Paint) – will also make its world premiere at Hartford Stage. Tresnjak will direct.

Tresnjak said, “From humorous to heartbreaking, from personal to political, from gritty to glitzy, the only thing that these productions have in common is that they pulse with the energy that is purely and positively theatrical.”

“The 2018-19 season includes plays by some of today’s most exciting contemporary voices in Bess Wohl, Dominique Morisseau and Samuel Baum; a revival of one of Shakespeare’s most popular and inspiring history plays about a young man’s courageous rise to glory and royalty; and a big new musical from some of our favorite musical theatre artists, directed by Darko, the final production of his remarkable eight-year run in Hartford,” Stotts said.

The season opens with the world premiere of Make Believe (September 6 – 30, 2018) by Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Award-winning playwright Bess Wohl. Jackson Gay (Lucy Thurber’s Transfers, MCC Theater; These Paper Bullets!, Atlantic Theatre Company, The Geffen and Yale Repertory Theatre) will direct. Hartford Stage was awarded one of the first grants from the Toulmin Foundation to commission new theatrical works from women – including this uncanny, gently funny and touching play by Wohl, set in the 1980s, following four young siblings as their childhood is upended by the mysterious problems of the adults in their lives and tracking how moments from our childhood resonate with us forever. Wohl’s Small Mouth Sounds was hailed as a critic’s pick by The New York TimesNew York Magazine, and Time Out New York. Wohl’s other plays include American HeroBarcelona, and the original musical Pretty Filthy.

Hartford Stage Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Williamson will helm William Shakespeare’s epic history Henry V (October 11 – November 4, 2018). Shortly after he gains the throne, Henry must decide whether or not to embark on a war that could solidify his reign – or bring his country to its knees. In France, he grows up fast under the pressure to use all means necessary to win a war against tremendous odds. But even if he finds victory, how easy will it be to settle the peace? Williamson previously directed Cloud 9 and the world premiere of Sarah Gancher’s Seder at Hartford Stage.

Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak will direct the world premiere of Samuel Baum’s suspenseful contemporary drama The Engagement Party (January 10 – February 3, 2019). The play centers upon a young couple’s intimate gathering with family and friends to celebrate their engagement; a spilled glass of wine leads to a spiraling sequence of events and revelations that will irrevocably change their lives. Baum is the creator of the Fox television series Lie to Me and the co-writer of the 2017 Emmy-nominated HBO film The Wizard of Lies, starring Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer, about the downfall of Bernie Madoff.

American playwright Dominique Morisseau’s powerful Detroit ’67 (February 14 –March 10, 2019) unfolds during an explosive moment in U.S. history – the race riots that tore apart the city of Detroit. The story centers on Chelle and her brother Lank, who make ends meet by turning their basement into an after-hours party. When a mysterious woman makes her way into their lives, the siblings clash over much more than family business. The New York Post called this Edward M. Kennedy Prize winner “an endearing new play that will draw you in!” Detroit ’67 premiered at the Public Theater, in association with Classical Theatre of Harlem and the National Black Theatre in New York City, in 2013 and has received numerous productions throughout the country since. Jade King Carroll (August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Emily Mann’s Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, Hartford Stage) directs. Detroit ’67 is a co-production with The McCarter Theatre Center.

The 2018-19 season closes with the world premiere of the musical The Flamingo Kid (May 9 – June 2, 2019), based on the 1984 box-office hit film co-written and directed by the late Garry Marshall that helped make Matt Dillon a household name. The stage musical will be directed by Tresnjak (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Anastasia) and feature book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman (2014 Tony Award-Winner for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) and music by Scott Frankel (Grey Gardens, War Paint on Broadway). The Flamingo Kid will be Freedman’s first musical since A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder and Frankel’s next after War Paint, which earned him a Tony Award nomination and closed on Broadway last November.

In the summer of ’63, against the wishes of his father, Brooklyn teenager Jeffrey Willis leaves behind his blue-collar roots for an exciting job working the cabana at the colorful El Flamingo — a posh private club on Long Island. The music, the romance, and the beach are magical – until tensions grow between father and son when a slick club member takes Jeffrey under his wing.

Subscriptions for the six-play mainstage season are now on sale. Visit https://www.hartfordstage.org/show/subscribe, or call the Hartford Stage Box Office at 860-527-5151. Please note that all titles and artists are subject to change.

Tickets for A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas are currently on sale to subscribers only. The annual holiday production will return for its 21st season from November 23 to December 29, 2018.  It is not part of a subscription series.

Single ticket and group sales for all shows will go on sale to the general public in July. For information on group sale discounts, visit www.hartfordstage.org/group-sales or call (860) 520-7125.

Darko Tresnjak To Leave Hartford Stage; Many Projects Ahead

Darko Tresnjak will be stepping down as artistic director after eight years at the end of the 2018-’19 season.

The Tony Award-winning director, whose tenure is marked with award-winning Shakespearean productions, play premieres and two new musicals which then moved onto Broadway and then to tour, says the reason for his exit is to pursue other projects, especially in the area of opera in the U.S. and abroad.

Tresnjak will make his directing debut at the Metropolitan Opera in September with the season opener, Saint-Saens’ “Samson et Delila” — which has a chorus of 92 — and will star Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna. A string of other opera commitments are still to be announced for various companies in the U.S. and in Europe that will take place over the next two years. There is also a new musical project yet to be announced that he will direct in New York, and another for which he is writing the book and lyrics.


Connecticut Repertory Theatre Announces 2018 Nutmeg Summer Series Lineup

Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) Artistic Director Terrence Mann and Executive Producer Matthew J. Pugliese are pleased to announce the lineup for the 2018 Nutmeg Summer Series. The second season under the artistic leadership of three-time Tony Award nominee Mann will include “Disaster!”, “Sweeney Todd: A Musical Thriller In Concert” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”. The Nutmeg Summer Series will run June 7 through July 22. Subscription packages are on sale February 1 for the season. Single tickets will go on sale March 1, 2018, and are available at crt.uconn.edu or call (860) 486 2113.

The summer series begins with “Disaster!” as CRT welcomes the co-writing team of the show to Storrs. Jack Plotnick, who directed the Broadway incarnation, will direct and three-time Emmy Award nominee and SiriusXM Broadway host, Seth Rudetsky, will reprise the role he originated in the show on Broadway. It’s 1979 and New York’s hottest A-listers (plus a nun with a gambling addiction) are lining up for the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to hilarious mayhem as the ship succumbs to multiple disasters including earthquakes, tidal waves and infernos. This show features unforgettable songs of the ‘70s including “Hooked on a Feeling” and “I am Women” along with many others. Mary Ann Lamb will choreograph.

The second show follows the style of CRT’s successful presentation of “Les Misérables: A Musical Celebration” as we present “Sweeney Todd: A Musical Thriller In Concert”. Artistic Director Terrence Mann returns to the CRT stage in this Tony-Award-winning tale of love, murder and revenge set against the backdrop of 19th century London. Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, returns to London seeking vengeance against the lecherous Judge Turpin who framed him and ravaged his young wife. Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a failing pie shop downstairs fortune sharply shifts when Todd’s thirst for blood inspires a new ingredient for her meat pies that has the people of London lining up. Peter Flynn will direct.

The summer concludes with the iconic rock opera based on the last week of Jesus’ life, “Jesus Christ Superstar” set against the backdrop of an extraordinary and universally-known series of events but seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. This timeless score will get a fresh new vision from Artistic Director Terrence Mann and choreographer and Tony Award-nominee, Christopher d’Amboise (CRT’s Newsies). This electric musical will captivate audiences and have everyone asking what’s the buzz?

Full casting and creative teams will be announced at a later date.

All three musicals are performed in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut. ASL Interpreted Performances are available for the 2nd Saturday Matinee of each show. Call the Box Office to book these seats.

The popular Dine with Design series will take place on Tuesday evenings. Join members of the creative team for a candid look behind the scenes of the production process. The dinner event is $25 per person per show, but all three can be booked in advance with a subscription for only $69

Brand New Musicals Announced For Goodspeed’s 2018 Terris Theater Season

Goodspeed Musicals is thrilled to announce three enticing productions planned for The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn. in 2018. First will be the inspiring You Are Here by Drama Desk Award nominees Bartram and Hill. This soaring musical will run May 18 – June 10. Next up will be a new musical adaptation of the enduring love story, Cyrano. This exciting new take on the classic will be adapted by Erica Schmidt in collaboration with the indie band, The National. Cyrano will run August 3 – September 2. Finally, A Connecticut Christmas Carol, a musical adaptation of the Dickens holiday classic spiced with the flavor of the Nutmeg State, returns to the Terris Theatre November 30 – December 30, 2018.

YOU ARE HERE — July 20, 1969… a man walks on the moon… and Diana, a Chicago housewife, walks out of her comfortable suburban life. Suddenly alone in a fast-changing world, she finds a series of unexpected encounters can turn one small step into a giant, life-changing leap. This intimate, hilarious and heart-breaking tour-de-force musical will leave you cheering for the resilience of the human spirit. You Are Here features music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill. Bartram and Hill have collaborated extensively in the past, most notably on The Story of My Life, which was produced at the Terris Theatre in 2008 before making the trip to Broadway where it was nominated for four Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, and won a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Ensemble. Their hit musical, The Theory of Relativity, was a highlight of Goodspeed’s 2014 Festival of New Musicals and further developed at the Terris Theater in 2015. The pair are currently developing musical adaptations of Disney’s famous film, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Ray Bradbury’s cult classic, Something Wicked This Way Comes, for the stage. You Are Here will be directed by Sarna Lapine who directed the acclaimed 2017 Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George. Ms. Lapine served as Associate Director for the Broadway production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and as Assistant Director for Sondheim on Sondheim, South Pacific and The Light in The Piazza, among others.

CYRANO — The legendary romance about a proud and impassioned poet who ghostwrites love letters is rekindled in a timeless and unconventional new musical. Cyrano agrees to woo his true love, Roxanne, on behalf of another in this classic tale of unrequited love. New music by members of the Grammy Award-winning indie alternative band, The National, drives this story of mistaken identity, selfless courage and buried desire. Adapted by Erica Schmidt from Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, Cyrano will feature Music by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, and Lyrics by Matt Berninger of The National and Carin Besser.

Aaron Dessner is a New York based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer, best known as a member of the Grammy Award-winning indie alternative band, The National. Aaron produced Frightened Rabbit’s album, Painting Of A Panic Attack on Atlantic Records, Lisa Hannigan’s At Swim and worked as an associate producer on Mumford & Sons’ 2015 album Wilder Mind.

Bryce Dessner is a member of The National and co-founder of the Brassland label, alongside Alec Hanley Bemis and his twin brother, Aaron Dessner. Bryce contributed music to the major motion picture, The Revenant and is curator for the MusicNOW Festival held annually for over a decade in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He has collaborated on projects as a performer and composer with some of the most prominent names in modern music, including Sufjan Stevens, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Philip Glass, Erik Friedlander and Nico Muhly. Matt Berninger is the front man and lyricist for indie alternative bands, The National and EL VY. The National’s seventh album Sleep Well Beast has earned a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album. He is currently developing a television series with Carin Besser and Tom Berninger based on their award-winning film, Mistaken for Strangers.

Carin Besser co-produced and edited the film, Mistaken for Strangers. As a writer, Ms. Besser has been co-writing lyrics for indie rock band The National since their 2007 album Boxer.

Cyrano will be directed by Princess Grace Award recipient Erica Schmidt whose previous directing credits include Richard II with Robert Sean Leonard at The Old Globe, Turgenev’s A Month In The Country with Peter Dinklage and Taylor Schilling at Classic Stage Company, Dennis Kelly’s Taking Care of Baby at Manhattan Theatre Club and the Obie Award winning Invasion!. Ms. Schmidt wrote and directed All The Fine Boys which was presented this past spring at The New Group featuring Abigail Breslin and Isabelle Fuhrman.

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu recently approved Goodspeed Musicals for an Art Works grant for the further development of Cyrano.

The creative team behind A Connecticut Christmas Carol returns to further develop this holiday hit with hopes to move the production to The Goodspeed in the future as an annual tradition. Some of the most beloved storytellers in Connecticut history come alive for a yuletide gathering you won’t forget. Famed actor and local legend William Gillette leaves his castle on the Connecticut River to adapt Dickens’ holiday classic in the 1920s. Local heroes Mark Twain, P.T. Barnum and more make spirited appearances opposite Gillette’s Scrooge in a highly theatrical twist on a family favorite. Custom-made for Goodspeed with all original music, here’s a tuneful, heartfelt confection spiced with enough Nutmeg State flavor to sweeten your season. A Connecticut Christmas Carol features Book by L J Fecho, and Music and Lyrics by Michael O’Flaherty, Goodspeed’s Resident Music Director for over 25 years.

L J Fecho serves as Artistic Director of Genesius Theatre in Reading, Penn. Fecho has worked for Broadway Producer Alexander H. Cohen, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Goodspeed Musicals, Hudson Guild, Manhattan Theatre Club and Fulton Theatre. His play Just Another Illegitimate Child of John Lennon was presented at the Philadelphia Fringe. He wrote the book for Genesius – The Musical, which was presented at the 2006 Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals.

Michael O’Flaherty has been Goodspeed’s Resident Music Director for twenty-seven seasons. His Broadway credits include By Jeeves, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and A Streetcar Named Desire. His regional credits include Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Ford’s Theatre, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Kennedy Center, Pittsburgh Public Theatre and the Smithsonian Institution. Michael served as Musical Supervisor and Cabaret Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival for 11 years.

A Connecticut Christmas Carol will be directed by Hunter Foster, who co-wrote Goodspeed’s Circus in Winter at the Terris Theatre in 2014. Mr. Foster was nominated for an Outer Critic Award for Best New Off-Broadway musical for Summer of ’42, which had a developmental production at the Terris Theatre in 2000. Hunter won a Suzie Bass Award for Best World Premiere for Clyde and Bonnie. He has directed Million Dollar Quartet (Westchester Broadway, Ogunquit Playhouse, Casa Mañana, St. Louis Rep, Paper Mill Playhouse and Geva Theatre) and The Bridges of Madison County, Clue and The Buddy Holly Story, among many others, for Bucks County Playhouse.

For over 30 years, The Terris Theatre has been Goodspeed’s home for developing fresh, innovative and original new musicals. Many new and reimagined musicals have been developed in Chester, Conn., before moving on to Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours and other Regional Theaters. Because this is a developmental theatre, the show can change on a day-to-day basis. New scenes are added, songs are moved, costumes are changed, dialogue is tweaked―all based on audience response and feedback.

The new THREE SHOW package includes a season ticket for all three shows at the Terris Theatre – starting at $108. Advance season ticket packages will be available starting February 26 through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week. Single tickets go on public sale March 26, 2018.

Ivoryton Playhouse Announces 2018 Season

On March 21st, 2018 The Ivoryton Playhouse opens its doors for a new season – a year full of exciting, affordable professional theatre. Plays for romantics and plays for cynics; shows for families and shows by and about women; music from the movies and Broadway as well as timely new comedies and shocking stories of dark secrets – the Ivoryton Playhouse 2018 season has something for everyone and more than you ever expected.

The season opens on March 21st with the timeless musical THE FANTASTICKS (Music by Harvey Schmidt, Book and Lyrics by Tom Jones) and features Broadway baritone, David Pittsinger. A gem of the American theater, THE FANTASTICKS is the longest-running musical in the world featuring the classic hit Try to remember the kind of September….

The world premiere of a brand new comedy opens on April 25th. LOVE QUEST by Mary Maguire and Steven McGraw. LOVE QUEST explores the journeys of two women – one younger and one older – in the perilous world of online dating. Hilarious and poignant, you will find yourself rooting for them both as they play the games necessary today to find true love.

Summer opens early with a blast from the past and some hard drivin’ rock and roll. A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN (Written and Created by Randy Johnson) opens on May 30. From Broadway to Ivoryton, come share an evening with the Queen of Rock and Roll. Featuring such unforgettable songs as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Mercedes Benz,” “Cry Baby” and “Summertime,” A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN, is a musical journey celebrating Janis and her biggest musical influences—Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith.

July is family musical time and this year is no exception. Dust off your leather jackets, pull on your bobby-socks and take a trip to a simpler time as Danny and Sandy fall in love all over again in GREASE (Music and Book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey) which opens on July 5th. It’s the original high-school musical, featuring all the unforgettable songs from the hit movie including “You’re The One That I Want”, “Summer Nights”, “Hopelessly Devoted To You”, “Greased Lightnin” and many more.

A CHORUS LINE (Music by Marvin Hamlisch, Lyrics by Edward Kleban, Book by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante) takes us back to Broadway on August 8 – Sunday, September 2, 2018. The musical for everyone who’s ever had a dream and put it all on the line, A CHORUS LINE examines one day in the lives of seventeen dancers, all vying for a spot in the “chorus line” of a Broadway musical. Based on real Broadway dancers’ stories, A CHORUS LINE is funny, heartbreaking, and refreshingly honest. This singular sensation is the longest-running American Broadway musical ever.

ONCE (Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová), which opens on September 19th, is a truly original theatrical experience. Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards® including Best Musical, ONCE features an impressive ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage. The musical tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who’s about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. It’s an unforgettable story about going for your dreams and the power of music to connect us all.

The season closes with a shocking and brilliant new play by New Jersey native, Carole Lockwood. THE QUEENS OF THE GOLDEN MASK is set in Alabama in 1962, and is a stunning new play about a group of mothers and daughters that takes us from church picnics and summer camp to the secrets and hypocrisy that lie just beneath the surface. A world premiere, THE QUEENS OF THE GOLDEN MASK opens on Wednesday, October 31 – Sunday, November 18, 2018.

Don’t miss some of the most exciting, entertaining and affordable theatre on the shoreline! Subscriptions are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale February 20, 2018. Visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org or call (860) 767 7318 for the latest ticket information.

Members of the press are welcome. Please call ahead for tickets.

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