Frank Rizzo: My Top Connecticut Musicals Of The Past 40 Years

Show Boat at the Goodspeed Opera House (Photo: Diane Sobolewski)

As with the plays I wrote about last month, I’ve often been asked to reveal my favorite musical among the thousands of shows I’ve seen over 40-plus years of theater-going in Connecticut. (Add another decade when I was a theater-obsessed boy catching musicals in New York.)

The answer was always easy: A Chorus Line, only recently supplanted — or supplemented, as I prefer to say — by Hamilton. But when it comes to specifically Connecticut-produced musicals, it gets trickier to come up with a singular sensation. Or even 10 of them.

Pop! at Yale Repertory Theatre

Yes, I missed a few of the great ones at Goodspeed Opera House: Man of La Mancha, Shenandoah and Annie, which happened just before my time here. (Despite Annie’s Broadway success, it was in rough shape here, though came nowhere close to my favorite Connecticut disaster show of all time: Mark Twain: The Musical, a Limburger of a show if there ever was one.)

February House at Long Wharf Theater

I’m also excluding touring musicals at presenting houses such as Hartford’s Bushnell or New Haven’s Shubert, though the Shubert was the theater for all Broadway-bound shows during the Golden Age of Musicals. Again, before my time.

I am also not including shows done at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester because these are workshops, oops, I mean “developmental productions,” which exclude critics. Also nixed are shows at the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford because these shows are staged readings — though musical aficionados would give their aisle seat to have been at the first look-see of In the Heights, Avenue Q or Nine there.

Jefferson Mays in Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder at Hartford Stage

The following is my top 10 Connecticut musicals in the order I saw them.

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