Stage Notes Connecticut Theater News & Reviews

Playhouse on Park, CT Rep Announce 2016-17 Seasons

Stage Notes: Upcoming Playhouse on Park and CT Rep shows include 'Little Shop of Horrors,' 'Unnecessary Farce,

Playhouse on Park has revealed its 2016-17 season. It includes two musicals, two comedies, a literary adventure and a classic drama by Connecticut's most revered playwright.

The West Hartford-based company will start its eighth season with the Alan Menken/Howard Ashman musical "Little Shop of Horrors," Sept. 14 through Oct. 16. It's followed by Paul Slade Smith's door-slamming comedy "Unnecessary Farce" Nov. 2-20, the musical show-within-a-show "[title of show]" Jan. 11-29, Eugene O'Neill's tragic romance "A Moon for the Misbegotten" Feb. 15 through March 5, Arlene Hutton's "Last Train to Nibroc" (a regional theater hit set on a cross-country train in 1940 and evoking the spirits of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathanael West) April 26 through May 14, and a revival of the playhouse's 2010 production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)," using the recent "(Revised)" version of the script. The company's also hosting the annual show by stop/time dance theater, which this year is titled "Rockin' the Forest." Season subscription deals are available starting June 15. Details at 860-523-5900, playhouseonpark.org.

Cardinal Flies Off to Michigan

As had been widely rumored, Vincent J. Cardinal will be leaving Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the end of July after six years as its artistic director. He's also stepping down as head of the UConn Department of Dramatic Arts. Cardinal's heading midwest, to become the chair of musical theatre and professor of music at the University of Michigan's School of Music Theater and Dance. Cardinal's directing the first two shows of CT Rep's Nutmeg Summer Series, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (through June 12) and "Peter and the Starcatcher" (July 23 through July 2). During Cardinal's tenure, UConn enhanced its puppetry and arts administration programs, helped lay the groundwork for a soon-to-be-built new production facility, and lured major theater stars to appear in CT Rep productions.

UConn and CT Rep intimate that Cardinal's successor has been chosen, but an announcement can't be made until contracts are signed and so forth.

CT Rep's Season: Shakespeare, Feydeau, Odets, Ruhl and more

Connecticut Rep may be losing its artistic director (see Vincent Cardinal item elsewhere on this page) but it isn't out wandering lost on the heath. It's got King Lear to do that. CT Rep has announced its 2016-17 season:

Oct. 6-16: William Shakespeare's "King Lear" happening hard upon the display of a real copy of Shakespeare's First Folio in September at UConn's Benton Museum.

Dec. 1-11: "An Absolute Turkey," Nicki Frei and Peter Hal's adaptation of Georges Feydeau's marital farce "Le Dindon."

Feb. 23 through March 5: "Waiting for Lefty," Clifford Odet's impassioned montage of union strike meetings, class issues and social reform in Depression-era America.

April 20-30: "Shrek the Musical," David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori's stage version of the DreamWorks film, which was in turn based on a William Steig children's book.

There are also two shows in CT Rep's Studio Series: "Nuevo California" by Bernardo Solano and Allan Havis, a fantasy political drama written in 1998 and set in 2028 set around the demolition of a wall between Mexico and the U.S., plays Oct. 27-Nov. 6 — just before the presidential election! Sarah Ruhl's intoxicating "Eurydice," an abstract modernization of the ancient myth, runs March 23 through April 2. Details at 860-486-2113, CRTBoxOffice@uconn.edu.

O'Hare Heads to New York

Jeanie O'Hare, who has headed the playwriting program at the Yale School of Drama for the past four years, is leaving to become the director of New Work Development at New York's Public Theater. O'Hare encouraged collaborations among the playwrights and students in the other theater disciplines at the school, efforts which resulted in some wondrous shows at the Carlotta Festival, Yale Cabaret and elsewhere. O'Hare also got praise for her practical approach to playwriting as a profession. O'Hare herself is best known as a literary manager and dramaturg in her native England. She's credited with suggesting Tim Minchin as the composer for the musical "Matilda."

Howard's in Hand

The next "Script in Hand Playreading" event, June 27 at Westport Country Playhouse is "The Late Christopher Bean." This comedy-with-drama about a Boston family deciding to sell (or forge!) paintings by their deceased artist friend, was first staged in 1932. It was adapted by modern melodrama specialist Sidney "They Knew What They Wanted" Howard from a French play by René Fauchois. For decades "Bean" was a summer-stock theater staple — done, in fact, at WCP in 1960. It also happens to be about the value of art, which dovetails nicely with Westport's recent productions of "Art" and "Red." The real news about these "Script in Hand" deals is who's in 'em: This one features Michael McCormick, Kristen Hahn, Mary Bacon, Deirdre Madigan, Clea Alsip, John Skelley, Jeff Biehl, Ross Bickell and David Staller. All have been seen at Westport previously; Skelley was in "Art." Bacon just starred in "The Call" at TheaterWorks. The series is directed by Anne Keefe, who's getting a lifetime achievement award from the Connecticut Critics Circle during their shindig Monday, June 13, at Hartford Stage.

Tony Time

Enjoy the Tony Awards June 12. Among the many celebrity presenters at the ceremony, broadcast 8 p.m. on CBS, are Carole King (whose musical "Beautiful" is coming to The Bushnell on tour next season), Steve Martin (who'll have a new play at the Long Wharf this fall), Barbra Streisand (subject of "Buyer and Cellar," being performed at Westport Country Playhouse this month) and many others. The host is James Corden, whose Tony-winning turn in "One Man, Two Guvnors" is getting encore "National Theatre Live" screenings at cinemas throughout Connecticut in June and July.

Among the Tony watching parties around the state is one at the Chestnut Street Playhouse, 24 Chestnut St., Norwich, catered by the Old Tymes Restaurant and featuring "trivia, raffles, a silent auction and a prediction pool." Details at chestnutstreetplayhouse.org.

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