Stage Notes Connecticut Theater News & Reviews

Broadway Cast Changes, Lin Manuel Miranda Releases Puerto Rican Benefit Single

Les Waters, who has directed numerous shows in New Haven over the years, is leaving his position as artistic director of the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky at the end of the 2017-18 season, to "pursue personal projects."

The plays Waters directed at Yale Rep were all scripted by Sarah Ruhl: "Eurydice," "Dear Elizabeth" and an adaptation of Chekhov's "Three Sisters." Waters directed two plays by Charles Mee, "Big Love" and was at the Long Wharf Theatre in "Big Love."

In his native England, he was involved with the landmark original production of Caryl Churchill's "Cloud 9," a play that Hartford Stage did last year.

The Actors Theatre of Louisville is the home of the Humana Festival. I've attended Humana several times, and have seen a few astounding Les Waters productions there, particularly Charles Mee's "The Glory of the World" and Will Eno's "Gnit." I interviewed Waters for the online theater criticism project Engine 31 a year after he first got the Actors Theatre gig, and he told me "The job is a bear — a regular year-round theater that also has this month-long new play festival at the end of the season. It's a lot of work. But I enjoy the people."

'Meteor Shower'

There's been a cast change in the upcoming Broadway production of Steve Martin's "Meteor Shower." Jeremy Shamos, and not the previously announced Alan Tudyk, will play Norm, the role played by Patrick Breen when New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre had the premiere production of "Meteor Shower" last season.

That Long Wharf rendition, co-produced with San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, was directed by Gordon Edelstein. The Broadway one is helmed by Broadway comedy vet Jerry Zaks and will begin previews Nov. 1.

Interestingly, "Meteor Shower" had a cast change just before it opened in New Haven as well. Shamos did a couple of shows at Hartford Stage in 2000-01: "Baptiste" and "The Comedy of Errors."

Tour Casting News

Carrie Compere, the New York actress whose last appearance at The Bushnell was in the national tour of "Shrek the Musical" — as the voice of the dragon — returns this month in "The Color Purple," playing Sofia. Carla R. Stewart will be Shug Avery and Adrianna Hicks will star as Celie in the musical, based on John Doyle's recent Broadway revival. All three women were understudies in that Broadway production, for the roles they're playing now. The tour begins Oct. 17 in Maryland and will be at The Bushnell Dec. 5 to 10.

There are a couple of other tours that have just hit the road and will be at The Bushnell later this theater season: "Love Never Dies (May 29 through June 3, 2018) stars Gardar Thor Cortes, Meghan Picerno, Karen Mason (of Goodspeed Musicals' "Chasing Rainbows" and "Snapshots"), Sean Thompson, Richard Koons, Katrina Kemp and Newtown native Stephen Petrovich.

"On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan" (June 19 to 24) stars Christie Prades and Mauricio Martinez as Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

Where Are They Now?

Hershey Felder, whose "Our Great Tchaikovsky" was at Hartford Stage in August and is currently playing in London, will host a concert of songs by Jewish-American composers, "Hershey Felder's (Jewish) Sing-Along," Oct. 16 at New York City's Temple Emanu-El.

Jireh Breon Holder, who graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 2016 (his Carlotta Festival show was "Some Bodies Travel"), has a play off Broadway now through Nov. 19.

"Too Heavy for Your Pocket" is part of the Underground season at the Roundabout Theater Company's Black Box Theatre. It's directed by another Yale alum, Margot Bordelon.

New Haven-raised TV and movie star Lauren Ambrose will play Eliza Doolittle in a Broadway revival of "My Fair Lady," directed by former Hartford Stage Associate Artistic Director Bartlett Sher (whose Broadway revival of "The King and I" was at The Bushnell in May).

Director Jenn Thompson ("Oklahoma!" and "Bye Bye Birdie" at Goodspeed, "The Call" at TheaterWorks, decades of stuff at the Ivoryton Playhouse in her youth) staged an "industry reading" of the new musical "Goin' Hollywood" in New York this month. It's the latest show from the guys who wrote "Road to Qatar."

Lin Manuel Miranda Update

The Wesleyan grad who gave us "Hamilton" and "In the Heights" released a benefit single for Puerto Rican hurricane relief Oct. 6. "Almost Like Praying" features guest appearances by Rita Moreno, John Leguizamo and Ana Villafane of Broadway's "On Your Feet." The song is based on "Maria" from "West Side Story. Miranda contributed the Spanish lyrics to the 2009 "West Side Story" Broadway revival. Details at atlantic.lnk.to/AlmostLikePraying.

The "Hamilton" cast album and its spinoff "The Hamilton Mixtape" earned an American Scene Award from SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists unions). The award is given to works that "most intelligently and progressively employ the talents of people of color, people with disabilities, women, seniors, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender, and other misrepresented or under-represented groups resulting in the realistic portrayal of the American Scene."

Remember that "Rockabye Baby!" album of "lullaby renditions of songs from 'Hamilton'" that was released this past spring? Well, it has rated a sequel with seven more songs from the show —including the most obviously lullaby-able one, "Dear Theodosia," and the least likely, "Aaron Burr, Sir." It was released on Oct. 6.

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