CT Theater News

Bushnell Welcomes “The Bodyguard” to its Musical Doors

Who can forget the dangerous sparks that ignited the screen when Whitney Houston’s superstar portrayal of singer Rachel Marron collided with Kevin Costner’s former Secret Service Agent Frank Farmer who is hired as her bodyguard.  Rachel is being stalked by a crazed fan and Frank is in place to stand by her and protect her, even if it means sacrificing his own life. He is still reeling from his failure to save the President from a killer and reluctantly accepts this assignment.
This monumental 1992 film has now transferred its musical magic and magnificence to the stage as “The Bodyguard The Musical,” written by Alexander Dinelaris, flies head first to Hartford.  It will land  at the Bushnell Center for the Arts, offering it from Tuesday, February 20 to Sunday, February 25.
When Frank Farmer (Judson Mills) originally appears at Rachel’s mansion, the famous singer (Deborah Cox) resents his intrusion into her life.  Unaware that she has received a growing number of death threats, she believes she is safe with her sister Nicki (Jasmin Richardson) as her writing partner and her ten year old son Fletcher (Douglas Baldeo, alternating with Kevin B. Jones III) by her side.
Reluctantly Rachel acknowledges her need for protection, allowing Frank to equip her home with security.  As he asserts his control over the situation, the pair clash as Rachel tries to dominate.  Her sister Nicki, out of jealousy, wants to usurp Frank’s attentions and soon a romantic
triangle emerges to complicate the already tenuous situation.  Meanwhile Frank has become a father figure for young Fletcher.
As the suspense builds, the air is filled with a glorious parade of stunning songs and dazzling dances, complete with sequined costumes, like “Queen of the Night,” “Greatest Love of All,” Saving All My Love for You,” “I Will Always Love You,” “All the Man I Need,” “I’m Every Woman,” “One Moment in Time” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
The stalker is dangerously close, as Rachel performs while on tour and at the Oscars, and he is always a threat to her and to those close to her. Thea Sharrock directs this romantic thriller that showcases Whitney Houston’s great hits with fancy feathers and flair.
For tickets ($37.50 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford  at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Enter the world of excitement and intrigue in a superstar singer’s life as risk and romance both come knocking at her door.


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.

Tony Kushner To Speak On Copyrights, Collaboration At Yale Rep

Mark your calendars, theater fans.

Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner will speak at Yale Repertory Theatre March 9 at 4 p.m. on the subject of “Copyright and Collaboration in the Theater.”

The event is in association with the exhibit “The Art of Collaboration: running at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library through April 15. Kushner will be “in conversation: with Da-hne Brooks.

Kushner, 61, is the writer of 1993’s two-part “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.” He co-authored with Eric Roth the screenplay for the 2005 film “Munich, ” and he wrote the screenplay for the 2012 film “Lincoln.”Both films received Oscar nominations for best adapted screenplay. He also received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013.

A new production of “Angels in America” starring Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield will play an 18-week engagement on Broadway. Previews begin Feb. 23 with an official opening on March 25.

Lin-Manuel Miranda To Receive O’Neill Center’s Monte Cristo Award

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the Broadway sensation “Hamilton,” will receive the 18th Monte Cristo Award from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in a ceremony April 30 at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

An alumnus of the O’Neill, Miranda’s first professional production was at the O’Neill’s National Music Theater Conference with “In The Heights” in 2005.

The O’Neill annually presents the award to “a prominent theater artist whose work has had an extraordinary impact on American theater, in memory of its namesake.”

The event supports the Center’s commitment to developing new works and new artists for the stage.

O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway said, “Lin-Manuel’s pioneering spirit continues to transform the American theater landscape since he first launched and developed his ‘In The Heights’ at the O’Neill in 2005, and through every endeavor he undertakes. Not since Eugene O’Neill has there been someone who so firmly plants American theater in the cultural landscape of this nation, and worldwide. We are delighted to recognize him with our 2018 Monte Cristo Award.”

“The O’Neill is a place I will always hold near to my heart,” shares Miranda, 38. “It’s a great honor to receive this award and to continue to work with the O’Neill to raise money for scholarships so that more and more artists can benefit from the teachers and mentors and the space they create.”

This past May, The Miranda Family Fund announced their commitment to provide scholarships for artists of color to attend the O’Neill’s National Theater Institute. NTI’s credit-earning theater intensives – taught by industry professionals and master teachers – train actors, singers, directors, dancers, designers, playwrights, and composers to produce, write, direct, and act in their own work, as well as create their own path in the industry.

NTI is a pipeline to the profession – and with this partnership, The Miranda Family Fund and NTI will further the inclusion of artists of color across all disciplines of theater.

Tickets for the Monte Cristo Award are available at www.theoneill.org/montecristoaward. Tickets start at $350. Information: 860-443-5378 ext. 288, or email events@theoneill.org.

Goodspeed Replaces Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway With The Drowsy Chaperone

Goodspeed Musicals has replaced its previously announced production of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway with The Drowsy Chaperone as part of its 2018 season. Performances are scheduled for September 21–November 25.

In a statement, Michael Gennaro, executive director of the Connecticut organization, said, “After careful consideration and conversations with community members, trustees, staff and artists, we have decided to cancel our production of Bullets Over Broadway. In light of the current dialogue on sexual harassment and misconduct, the author of Bullets Over Broadway, Woody Allen, has come under increasing scrutiny. Ongoing reports in the media have made this situation even more difficult and complicated, and this led us to reconsider the appropriateness of producing the show.”

The three-show season at Goodspeed will also feature The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue (April 13–June 21) and Lionel Bart’s Oliver! (June 29–September 8).

The Drowsy Chaperone features a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. The musical follows a diehard theatre fan, who plays his favorite cast album and watches all the characters come to life in his apartment.

Season ticket holders will receive tickets for their complete subscription package, including The Drowsy Chaperone, in the coming weeks. All single tickets purchased for Bullets Over Broadway will be honored for the same date/time for The Drowsy Chaperone. Ticket buyers may contact the box office if they wish to exchange tickets or request a refund. Visit Goodspeed.org.


Yale Repertory Theatre Presents the World Premiere of FIELD GUIDE

YALE REPERTORY THEATRE (James Bundy, Artistic Director; Victoria Nolan, Managing Director) presents the world premiere of FIELD GUIDE created by Rude Mechs, inspired by the novel The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, January 26–February 17, at Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel Street). Opening Night is Thursday, February 1.

Strap on your snow shoes and join Rude Mechs on a surreal hike through one of the greatest—and longest!—novels ever written: The Brothers Karamazov. A physical meditation on Dostoevsky’s masterpiece, FIELD GUIDE enlists stand-up comedy, a dancing monk, and some old-school magic to explore faith, meaning, and morality.

FIELD GUIDE features text by Hannah Kenah, direction by Shawn Sides, scenic design by Eric Dyer, costumes by Sarah Woodham, lighting by Brian H Scott, original music by Graham Reynolds, sound design by Robert S. Fisher, dramaturgy by Amy Boratko, technical direction by Steph Wasser, fight direction by Rick Sordelet, and stage management by Bianca Hooi.

The performing company is Mari Akita (Alyosha), Lowell Bartholomee (Fyodor), Robert S. Fisher (Smerdyakov), Thomas Graves (Ivan), Hannah Kenah (Grushenka, Katya, Grigory), and Lana Lesley (Dmitri).

Tickets for FIELD GUIDE range from $12–99 and are available online at yalerep.org, by phone at (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office (1120 Chapel Street). Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

Goodspeed Opera House Announces 2018 Season
Spring brings The Will Rogers Follies A Life in Revue with Broadway and Goodspeed veteran David Lutken in the title role. The Will Rogers Follies will run from April 13 – June 21, 2018.

Enjoy summer at The Goodspeed with the classic musical Lionel Bart’s Oliver!. Charles Dickens’ beloved orphan makes his Goodspeed debut in the hope-filled musical set in the dark shadows of Victorian London. Bounced from workhouse to forced labor, Oliver Twist escapes to the streets where he meets Fagin, the Artful Dodger and a band of child pickpockets. Oliver! will run from June 29 – September 9, 2018.

Swingin’ tunes herald in the zany comedy Bullets Over Broadway The Musical next fall. Bullets over Broadway will run from September 21– November 25, 2018. Read more…

Westport Country Playhouse announces its 2018 season
Flyin’ West, playing May 29 – June 16,
A Flea in Her Ear, playing July 10 – 28.
The Understudy, playing August 14 – September 1.
Man of La Mancha, playing September 25 – October 13.
Thousand Pines, playing October 30 – November 17.
Read more…

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