Hartford Stage doesn't have the only cool new Scrooge this season. Goodspeed Musicals has gotten Lenny Wolpe to star in "A Connecticut Christmas Carol" at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester Nov. 17 through Dec. 24.
Connecticut theatergoers know Wolpe as the captain in "Show Boat" at the Goodspeed in 2011, from numerous shows and readings at Westport Playhouse over the years, and from national tours of "Wicked" and "Little Shop of Horrors" that played The Bushnell.
Also in the "Connecticut Christmas Carol" cast: Matt Gibson as Bob Cratchit, Michael Thomas Holmes (Goodspeed's "Amour") as The Ghosts and Robert Berson as Tiny Tim. The ensemble features Samantha Bruce, who just starred as Laurey in Goodspeed's "Oklahoma!"; Patrick Graver (Goodspeed's "Thoroughly Modern Millie"); Jeff Sears (Goodspeed's "City of Angels"); Lee Harrington ("I Love You, You're Perfect… Now Change" at the Sharon Playhouse); Mark DiConzo; Celeste Rose; and Daisy Wright.
The show is written by LJ Fecho and the Goodspeed's longtime resident music director Michael Flaherty, and directed by Hunter Foster (Goodspeed's "The Circus in Winter"). O'Flaherty will not be the music director for his own show; that gig goes to Dan Pardo. Details at 860-873-8668 and goodspeed.org.
Chosen For 'The Chosen'
The Long Wharf Theatre has revealed the cast of "The Chosen," which runs Nov. 22 through Dec. 17 in New Haven.
Ben Edelman and Max Wolkowitz (Reuven Malter) star as the boyhood chums Danny Saunders and Malter. Steven Skybell (from "The Caucasian Chalk Circle" at Yale Rep and "Broken Glass" at Westport Playhouse) plays Danny's dad David Malter and George Guidall is Reb Saunders. Eugene Lee (from "Saturday Night Live" and numerous Long Wharf shows, including "Endgame") is designing the set.
"The Chosen" has been adapted from the Chaim Potok novel by Aaron Posner and Potok himself. You'll recall that West Hartford's Playhouse on Park did its own production of this show just last season. The Long Wharf production will be directed by Gordon Edelstein, who directed Posner's adaptation of Potok's "My Name is Asher Lev" in 2012.
His "School of Rock" is at The Bushnell Oct. 24 to 29, in a theater season that will also bring tours of his "Phantom of the Opera" (Nov. 15-26 at the Palace in Waterbury) and that show's sequel "Love Never Dies" (May 29 through June 3 at The Bushnell). He's publishing his autobiography early next year. "Jesus Christ Superstar" will be broadcast live on NBC for Easter. He's got three shows currently running on Broadway (down from four earlier this year.)
So what's Andrew Lloyd Webber not doing this year? Voting in the British House of Lords. He resigned his Conservative peerage last week after 20 years of membership (and a not very impressive voting record), citing a busy schedule and "the knowledge that what is expected from a member today is very different from what it was when I joined the house in 1997."
The way British peerages work, Lloyd Webber apparently gets to keep his title (The Right Honourable The Lord Lloyd-Webber) despite no longer voting in the House of Lords.
Taylor Mac was awarded a MacArthur "Genius Grant" on Oct. 11. He's a fabulous artist that Connecticut knows well. Mac performed his extravagant one-person show "The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac" for the Yale Repertory Theatre's No Boundaries series in 2009. The multi-threat artist premiered one sizzling section of his epic "24-Decade History of Popular Music" performance (the 1990s bit) at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in 2013. The festival had Mac back this past summer for a freewheeling onstage conversation with Egyptian political comedian Bassem Youssef. That talk, in its entirety, can be found online in both video and audio formats.
I wrote in my "New Haven Theater Jerk" blog in 2013: "I'm really not sure which is cooler: seeing a highly rehearsed, technically resplendent, ravishingly well-prepared piece such as 'The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac,' which was performed at the University Theater in 2010, or seeing a Taylor Mac show in its very earliest stages. Taylor Mac, it turns out, can do it all."
Pre-Show Announcement Of The Week
"Leave your cellphones on! We don't want you to be disconnected!" said Ian Alderman when introducing A Broken Umbrella Theatre's show "Exchange," which he directed, on Oct. 14 at the Goffe Street Armory in New Haven.
The show is a family-friendly revue-style riff on telephones, inspired by the invention of the first telephone switchboard in New Haven in 1878. Personally, I could have used more tone and clarity — "Exchange" lacks the authoritative historical scope of A Broken Umbrella's best work ("The Library Project," "Play With Matches") — but there are many fetching images. Strangely for a show about verbal communication, a lot of "Exchange" is silent.
"Exchange" is being performed as part of the multiweekend visual arts extravaganza City Wide Open Studios. The final shows are Oct. 28 and 29 at the Erector Square art-studio complex at 315 Peck St., New Haven. This will be the third location for the mobile production, which is performed by a cast of "linemen" in and around a couple of trucks. (Talk about your mobile phones!) Details at abrokenumbrella.org.
If you want to see "Anastasia" again on Broadway, there's a new way. The show, which had its premiere at Hartford Stage in 2016 with the same main cast members, is offering same-day rush tickets for $42 apiece. The tix are available at the box office of the Broadhurst Theatre starting at 10 a.m. (On days when there are both matinee and evening performances, tickets to either one are on sale at 10 a.m.). It's a first-come, first-served sort of thing. "Anastasia" already has a separate online digital lottery for tickets, also priced at $42 and found at anastasiabroadwaylottery.com.
For the week of Oct. 9 to 15, "Anastasia" grossed $934,649.30, down $26,449.70 from the week before but still achieving over 94 percent capacity in the 1143-seat Broadhurst Theatre (according to figures released by the Broadway League). The musical's outlasted several of the other Broadway shows that opened last season, and is holding its own against the rest.