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Stage Notes Connecticut Theater News & Reviews

TheaterWorks' 'Constellations' Cast; Yale Cabaret's Next Five Shows

The Stars Align

The cast of “Constellations,” TheaterWorks’ first show of 2018, features M. Scott McLean and Allison Pistorius. The set is by Jean Kim (Yale Rep’s “Cymbeline”), the lighting by Phillip Rosenberg and the sound design by Michael Miceli. The show also features an “original interactive score” composed and performed by Hartt School grad Billy Bivona.

McLean was in Tracy Brigden’s 2016 TheaterWorks production of the musical play “Midsummer.” Pistorius performed in “Constellations” at the Dallas Theater Center in 2016.

TheaterWorks Producing Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero directs this cosmic romance by Nick Payne, which premiered in London in 2012 and had a notable New York production starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson in 2015. Details at theaterworkshartford.org.

Yale Cabaret’s Next Five

Back from winter break, Yale Cabaret has figured out the first five shows of the second half of its 50th anniversary season. The Cab is literally an underground theater (it’s in a basement) that also serves food and drinks. It’s staffed by students at the Yale School of Drama and is a place for pet projects and experiments. Most of the shows get six performances (five public ones — Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday at both 8 and 11 p.m.) plus one for YSD folks only) and are usually around an hour. As a longtime Cabaretgoer — I saw my first show there in 1984, and have seen hundreds since — I can vouch for the high quality and utter unpredictability of the joint. Here’s what’s upcoming:

Jan. 11 to 13: “For Your Eyes Only,” a “live, interactive evening of pleasure” created by Alex Vermillion and performed by Vermillion (as “Ladie Lilith”) with Chelsea Siren.

Jan. 18 to 20: “Enter Your Sleep” a friendship dreamscape by New York playwright Christine Quintana, directed by Rachel Shuey.

Jan. 25 to 27: “The Light Is…,” conceived and choreographed by Jake Ryan Lozano, in which “a group of children stumble upon a fading nucleus of light.”

Feb. 15 to 17: The traditional February drag event, this year expanded into a “Weekend of Drag,” with “New Haven Drag” on Thursday, “YSD Alumni Drag” on Friday and “Yale School of Drag” on Saturday.

Feb. 22 to 24: “Mud,” a three-character drama about self-improvement written 35 years ago by the sainted avant-garde playwright María Irene Fornés (“Fefu and Her Friends”), directed by Patrick Madden.

Details at yalecabaret.org.

‘Come From Away’

“Come From Away” the Broadway hit about planes diverted from New York to Canada on 9/11, will be made into a movie. The musical had a significant early reading at the Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals in 2013 and will be the subject of a talk at this year’s festival on Jan. 13. Christopher Ashley, who helmed the Broadway production (and is known in Connecticut for several shows he did at the Goodspeed), will direct the movie version as well.

Where Are They Now?

Andre De Shields, so good as Hedley in “Seven Guitars” at Yale Rep just over a year ago, is starring in “Mankind,” Robert O’Hara’s drama about a world without women, through Jan. 28 at Playwrights Horizon in New York.

“Hamilton” isn’t the only show by a Connecticut-connected thespian to be making a splash in England this season. In coming weeks, London will greet fresh productions of Yale School of Drama grad (and now faculty member) Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “The Brothers Size”; Anna Deavere Smith’s “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” (seen in 1996 at the Long Wharf, which later hosted two other Deavere Smith appearances); and “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties” by Jen Silverman (who premiered “The Moors” at Yale Rep, had a reading recently at Long Wharf and got a staging of “That Poor Girl and How He Killed Her” at CT Rep in November).

Here’s what nearly everyone who directed a show at the Goodspeed during 2017 has been up to lately:

Jenn Thompson (“Oklahoma!”) just did Laura Gunderson’s “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Denis Jones (“Thoroughly Modern Millie”) is choreographing the intriguing revue “Hey Look Me Over,” billed as “a compendium of musical numbers and scenes from musicals that were succès d'estimes rather than major hits,” for City Center’s “Encores!” series in February.

Rob Ruggiero (“Rags”) is directing “Constellations” at TheaterWorks Jan. 18 through Feb. 18.

Tina Landau (“Deathless”) has a Broadway hit on her hands with “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.” Landau co-conceived and directed the cartoon-inspired musical.

Kristin Hanggi (“Darling Grenadine”) will adapt and direct the screen version of the beloved gay coming-of-age musical “bare: A Pop Opera.” Hanggi helmed the premiere of “bare” in Los Angeles back in 2000, as well as its off-Broadway run in 2004.

Hunter Foster (“A Connecticut Christmas Carol”) is directing “Million Dollar Quartet” at Cincinnati Playhouse this month. It’s his third production of the roots-rock musical in as many years. Foster played the role of Sam Phillips in the show’s Broadway production.

Lyrical Announcement

Madison Lyric Stage, an ambitious small theater company in New Haven County that mixes straight plays with musicals and chamber operas, has announced its 2018 season: John Pielmeier’s religious drama “Agnes of God,” April 20 to 28; a youth theater production of “Godspell,” featuring a cast aged between 14- and 30-years old, May 18-26; the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth relationship musical “Company,” July 18 to 29; and the Benjamin Britten opera “The Turn of the Screw,” Oct. 5 to 13. At least three of the shows will be directed by Madison Lyric Stage Artistic Director (and international opera star) Marc Deaton; no director has been listed yet for “Company.” Details at madisonlyricstage.org.

Another Hall of Famer

When noting Connecticut names who’d made the inaugural class of Audible’s new Narrator Hall of Fame a couple of weeks ago, I missed a big one: Cassandra Campbell, whose hundreds of audiobook narrations include everything from “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and “The Help” to works by Joyce Carol Oates, Jodi Picoult and John Grisham. Campbell is the daughter of Malcolm Johnson, the late great Hartford Courant theater critic. Congrats on the Audible honor.

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