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Stage Notes Connecticut Theater News & Reviews

TheaterWorks Expanding Space; 'Measure For Measure' At Long Wharf

Hartford's TheaterWorks is expanding with new rehearsal space.

Hartford's TheaterWorks will be getting a renovated and re-imagined rehearsal space that also will be used for new programming.

It will be called "The Studio" and will be a modern and expanded area on the top floor of the building it owns at 233 Pearl St. The Studio will also be mirrored, allowing it to be a rehearsal space for dance as well.

The $120,000 project was supported in part by a Hartford jobs grant in addition to special funds raised. It is the largest dollar investment and upgrade of the four-story historic building in many years, says Rob Ruggiero, the theater's producing artistic director. The theater is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The project was designed by The SLAM Collaborative in Glastonbury.

The Studio will be available to arts tenants in the building and other arts organizations, such as Hartford's Bated Breath Theatre Company and Hartford Performs.

Ruggiero is also planning to use the space to develop new work. Under the tentative name "The Workshop," it will present "a new works development program focusing on cultivating emerging artists," says Taneisha Duggan, the theater's new producing associate.

'Dracula' To Westport

Halloween may be over but the spirit lives on. Westport Country Playhouse will present a Script in Hand play reading of "Dracula," Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. Anne Keefe, Playhouse associate artist and curator of the play-reading series, directs the Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel.

Mark Shanahan (Westport Country Playhouse's "Around the World in 80 Days," "Tryst," "Sedition," "David Copperfield") plays Count Dracula and Boyd Gaines (four-time Tony Award winner for "Gypsy," "She Loves Me," "The Heidi Chronicles," "Contact") has the role of Dr. Van Helsing.

Also featured are Ryan Garbayo (WCP's "Suddenly Last Summer") as Renfield; Jack Gilpin (WCP's "Hay Fever," "A Cheever Evening") as Dr. Seward; Kristen Hahn (Broadway's "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder") as Lucy Seward; and Matthew Amendt (Westport Country Playhouse's "Tartuffe"), Bethany Jillard (Stratford Festival of Canada); and Aaron Krohn (title role in Westport Country Playhouse's "The Liar""). $20. Information: westportplayhouse.org.

Casting Fiasco

The gang's still here.

The cast of Fiasco Theater's production of Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure" at New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre is the same that impressed audiences and critics earlier this year at off-Broadway's New Victory Theatre.

Featured will be Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Paul L. Coffey, Andy Grotelueschen, Ben Steinfeld and Emily Young. The show, which plays Nov. 25 to Dec. 20, also features live music. Brody and Ben Steinfeld directs the production.

Fiasco Theater was formed by a group of Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA graduates in 2007. The company garnered attention and critical acclaim for its 2009 production of "Cymbeline," which eventually played at off-Broadway's Theater for a New Audience.

Fiasco also produced a much lauded and re-imagined production of "Into the Woods" with the actors performing all of the music live. Information: longwharf.org or 203-787-4282.

Cast For 'Peerless'

Yale School of Drama grad Teresa Avia Lim, who was in the world premiere of "Water by the Spoonful" at Hartford Stage and "4000 Miles" at New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre, is featured in the world premiere of "peerless" by Jiehae Park, which plays at Yale Repertory Theatre Nov. 27 to Dec. 19.

Directed by Margot Bordelon, the cast also includes JC Taylor, Christopher Livingston, Caroline Neff (Broadway's "Airline Highway") and Tiffany Villarin.

The comedy centers on twin ambitious sisters who hatch a sinister plan to get into a coveted college. Development and production support are provided by Yale's Binger Center for New Theatre. Tickets are $20 to $98. Information: yalerep.org and 203-432-1234.

'Strange' Cast

Darryl Williams stars as the narrator in the musical "Passing Strange" at West Hartford's Playhouse on Park, running Dec. 2 to 20.

Williams sang for Pope John Paul II, in Bologna, Italy, for his 40th Anniversary of "The Wiz" in Central Park and "Jesus Christ Superstar" at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre. Also featured are Eric Williams, whose credits include national and Japan tour of "Dreamgirls," and "The Civil War" for Theaterworks/USA, and Famecia Ward (Hong Kong Disneyland Festival of "The Lion King," the upcoming films "Curse of War" and "NorthEnd Story."

The theater has had a run of successful musicals for its funky space: "Hair," "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," Cabaret."

The show is directed by Sean Harris and choreographed by Darlene Zoller. The 2008 show won multiple Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical and a Tony Award to composer and show's star Stew for best book of a musical. Information: 860-523-5900, Ext. 10 and playhouseonpark.org.

Short Takes

>>That sassy, strict, and straight-talking nun is back and she's in the holiday spirit. "Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold" returns for another run at New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre. The show, by Maripat Donovan with Jane Morris and Marc Silvia ("Late Nite Catechism"), plays on the theater's Stage II Dec. 8 to 20. Nonie Newton Riley stars and the interactive production features local choirs. Tickets are $35. Information: longwharf.org.

>>Maurice Clark, an actor, from Manchester, won the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival's best supporting actor award at this year's event. Clark, a native of Hartford, was recognized for his a role in a premiere play about legendary American rhythm and blues 1980s singing group The Force MD's, responsible for the blending of hip-hop, r&b and doo-wop. The play, performed twice at Bregamos Theater in New Haven, and written and produced by Connecticut playwright and director Sharece Sellem, made its national debut at the festival, which attracted about 300 participating actors from across the United States and three countries.

>>HartBeat is hosting a meet-the-artists event on Sunday, Nov. 8, at 4 p.m. at Hartford's Black-eyed Sally's restaurant following a 2 p.m. performance of its new play, "Jimmy & Lorraine," now playing through Nov. 22 at its Carriage House Theatre on 360 Farmington Ave., Hartford. Tickets are $50 for performance and supper; $30 supper only.

>>Herstory Theater, in partnership with The Mark Twain House & Museum, presents the holiday classic "It's A Wonderful Life," performed in the style of old-time radio theater on Dec. 5 at 2 and 5 p.m. The play is written by Joe Landry and directed by Virginia Wolf. Tickets are $10. Information: 860-247-0998 or MarkTwainHouse.org

>>There's another arts fundraiser at the governor's mansion, this time celebrating the 40th anniversary of Hartford's Real Art Ways. The event will be held Nov. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets are limited at $100. Reservations: abaker@realartways.org or 860-232-1006, Ext.106.

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