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Stage Notes Connecticut Theater News & Reviews

Casting Complete For 'Rear Window' At Hartford Stage

Theater columnist and Broadway gadfly Michael Riedel comes to Hartford's Mark Twain House to reveal some power

Newspaper columnist Michael Riedel is the fly in Broadway's ointment, the wrench in its commercial machinery and the wag that tails the dogs.

A new book by the New York Post theater writer —"Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway" (Simon & Schuster) — is a serious but very lively account of the powers that made and continue to make Broadway what it is today. Riedel focuses on the rise of the Shubert brothers at the beginning of the 20th century, their subsequent foundation and its continuing hold on the Great White Way. The book is in stores starting Tuesday, Oct. 6.

I'll interview Riedel on stage at Hartford's Mark Twain House & Museum on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Information and reservations: marktwainhouse.org. Is there a question you want me to ask the theater gadfly? Send to frizzo@courant.com.

'Rear Window' Cast

Yes, Kevin Bacon is starring but who else will be on stage?

Casting is complete for the sold-out world premiere of the stage adaptation of "Rear Window" at Hartford Stage.

Joining Bacon will be McKinley Belcher III (HBO's "Show Me a Hero;" Hartford Stage's "Twelfth Night"), Melinda Page Hamilton (TV's "Devious Maids," the indie film "Sleeping Dogs Lie"), John Bedford Lloyd (Broadway's "The Rainmaker," "Tartuffe"), Robert Stanton (Obie Award for "All in the Timing," Broadway's "The Coast of Utopia") and nine ensemble members: Dan Bender, Erik Bloomquist, Ashley Croce, Roy Donnelly, Barbara Gallow, Jon Garrity, Caitlin Harrity, William Squier and Quinn Warren.

Adapted for the stage by Keith Reddin from the Cornell Woolrich short story (and not the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film), the show runs Oct. 22 to Nov. 15.

Sensory Friendly Show

Hartford Stage will host a sensory-friendly performance of its annual holiday classic "A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas" on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m.

Tickets for this special performance are 50 percent off regular ticket prices, starting at $18.50, and are now on sale.

Hartford Stage was the first theatre in Connecticut to offer this type of performance for the community last year. Sensory-friendly performances offer a theater experience that is welcoming to all families of children with autism or other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities.

United Technologies sponsors the event with additional support by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving Grant and an anonymous donor. Advising Hartford Stage for the event is Theatre Development Fund's Autism Theatre Initiative (tdf.org/autism).

'Genius' Grants

Wesleyan grad and composer-lyricist and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda was among 24 artists, writers, poets and academics who received a MacArthur "genius" grant this past week. The 35-year-old Miranda, who is currently the composer and star of the Broadway hip-hop hit "Hamilton," also received a Tony Award for "In the Heights," which he began working on at Wesleyan. He is a 2002 grad.

Recipients receive a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant for their cutting-edge work that is transforming their fields.

Also receiving the prestigious honor is stage, opera and dance set designer Mimi Lien, 39 ("Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812," "An Octoroon"). Lien, who lives in New York, received her BA from Yale in 1997. She is also an artistic associate with Pig Iron Theatre Company and The Civilians, and co-founder of the performance space JACK. She also created the atmospheric set for Long Wharf Theatre's production of "Macbeth 1969."

Also receiving the grant is puppeteer Basil Twist, 46, whose work was seen at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven and in Paula Vogul's "The Long Christmas Ride Home," presented at Long Wharf theatre. Twist also collaborated with the Pilobolus Dance Theatre in its piece, "Darkness and Light."

The fourth theater or performance artist receiving the grant is tap dancer and choreographer Michelle Durance.

New Theater Development

The Bingham Camp Theatre Retreat, a resident program aimed at developing new works over a 10-day period, kicks off its inaugural season at 490 East Haddam Road (Route 82) in Salem. Devanand Janki (choreographer and director of off-Broadway's "Zanna Don't!") is artistic director of the new theater organization that places "an emphasis on non-traditional casting, multi-ethnic participants and bold theatricality." Yan Li is music director.

On Sunday, Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m. the group will present a staged reading of a new musical, "Call It Courage," with book, music and lyrics by Adam Overett ("My Life is a Musical," which had its world premiere in 2014 at Bay Street Theatre). The work is a musical adaptation of the children's novel written by Connecticut native Armstrong Sperry, and set in the Pacific Islands.

Bingham Camp Theatre Retreat is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Information: binghamcamptheatreretreat.org.

Short Takes

>>Michael Wilson, former artistic director of Hartford Stage, is directing an off-Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "Incident at Vichy'' for the Signature Theatre Company. Previews begin Oct. 27 and run through Dec. 6. His other off-Broadway production, "Desire," which is the stage adaptation of Tennessee Williams stories, ends its run at 59 @ 59 Theatre on Oct. 10.

>>Remember "I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti," which premiered at TheaterWorks several seasons back? Jacques Lamarre's adaptation of Giulia Melucci's memoir is continuing to play at theaters across the country. Next up is a run at Florida Rep in Fort Meyers, Fla. Starting this week and continuing through Nov. 1, the show is directed by Michael Marotta and starring Michelle Damato. Later in the month it will play the Half Moon Theatre at (fittingly for a show that involves cooking on stage) the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. That show is directed by Michael Schiralli and stars Denise Summerford.

>>The Hartt School's annual gala will take place Oct. 24, at 6 p.m., at the Hartford Marriott Downtown and will include performances by dance and theater division students and the presentation of its first annual Community Partner Award to Hartford Stage. Information: hartford.edu/harttgala or contact Marina Luri at 860-469-0291.

>>Capital Classics Theatre Company, in partnership with The Mark Twain House & Museum, presents an original radio-style adaptation of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" Oct. 29 and 30. Previous Halloween presentation partnerships included "Macabre Macbeth," Edgar Allen Poe's stories and Bram Stoker's "Dracula." Information: 860- 280-3130 or MarkTwainHouse.org or CapitalClassics.org.

>>The Washington, Conn.-based dance-theater company Momix, now in its 35th year, will present "Opus CactUS" at Torrington's Warner Theatre Jan. 9 and 10 2016. Information: 860-489-7180 or visit warnertheatre.org.

>>Actress Rosario Dawson (Broadway's "Rent") will be the featured speaker for "Illuminating the Path" program — which will highlight Hispanic Heritage Month activities presented by UConn's Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center — on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.

>>The Little Theatre of Manchester will host "Fairy Tale Costume Ball" Oct. 17, benefiting the theater's programs. Information: cheneyhall.org/gala.

>>Pantochino Productions Inc., a nonprofit professional theater company for family audiences will launch its new season with a new musical pop rock comedy, "Dractastic!," Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m, at the Center for the Arts in Milford. The show, created by Bert Bernardi and Justin Rugg, will have a run that continues through Nov. 1. Information: pantochino.com.

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