TheaterWorks Casts 'Raging Skillet'; CT Natives in 'Oklahoma!'

Hey! The 2016-17 season's not over yet! TheaterWorks, which has had an astounding season that included two of the most popular productions in its 30-year history ("Relativity" and "Next to Normal") has just announced the cast for its season-ending world premiere cooking show, "Raging Skillet." It runs July 20 through Aug. 27. The play, by local playwright Jacques Lamarre, is based on the memoir-cum-cookbook "The Raging Skillet: The True Life Story of Chef Rossi."

Rossi, the self-described "Jewish lesbian punk-rock caterer," will be played by Dana Smith-Croll, the Yale School of Drama alumna who appeared in "Othello" at the Yale Rep back in 1986 and more recently has appeared in a slew of new plays in New York, in classical dramas around the country and on TV's "Broad City."

Rossi's mother will be played by Marilyn Sokol, the septuagenarian Off-Broadway veteran whose Connecticut credits include acting at the old Lucille Lortel White Barn in Norwalk. George E. Salazar, who was with the second national tour of "Spring Awakening" when it played New Haven and New London in 2011, completes the cast as DJ Skillit.

The show is directed by John Simpkins, the former artistic director of the Sharon Playhouse who now runs the Music Theatre program at Penn State University. You'll be able to buy signed copies of Rossi's book in the lobby. Details at 860-527-7838, theaterworkshartford.org.

From CT To OK

Two of the "Oklahoma!" residents at Goodspeed (where the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic will run July 14 through Sept. 23) originally hail from Connecticut and are now based in New York, but will be back in our fair state not long after the surrey with the fringe on top has rolled away.

Matt Faucher, who was born in Bristol, raised in New Hartford, employed as an apple picker in Connecticut orchards and educated at the Hartt School, has landed his dream role of Jud Fry in "Oklahoma!" "I've sung 'Lonely Room' for years," Faucher says. "Normally, I wouldn't be cast in this role — he's usually played as a hulking monster. But [director] Jenn Thompson wanted to go in a different direction."

Faucher was in the national tour of the musical "Beautiful" when it played The Bushnell in January. "When [the "Beautiful" producers] heard I was willing to quit to do 'Oklahoma,' they arranged for me to take a leave of absence," he says. He'll return to the "Beautiful" tour before it plays Connecticut again, at the Shubert in New Haven in March.

Olivia Hoffman, who is in the "Oklahoma!" ensemble and is understudy for Aunt Eller and Ado Annie, grew up in Avon and attended the Loomis-Chaffee School in Windsor. Having performed a lot of Shakespeare, Hoffman says that a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "was not really in my trajectory. But I went to the Goodspeed all the the time when I was young." She had auditioned for "Bye Bye Birdie" at the Goodspeed last year and was remembered by the casting director, which led to "Oklahoma!"

Hoffman returns to Connecticut just a few months from now. She just learned that she's been cast in the kicky, girls-soccer-team play "The Wolves," which will open the 2017-18 TheaterWorks season. She took part in a reading of the play at the theater and says "I'm obsessed with it. I played a lot of soccer as a child."

"Oklahoma!" details are at 860-873-8668 and goodspeed.org.

Pre-Show Announcement Of The Week

"I have just a few brief announcements before we get underway. The use of flash photography and the recording of this performance by any means, audio or video, is strictly prohibited. If you have a cellphone, please take a moment now to turn it off, and if you don't have a cellphone — who let you out of hospice?

"For your convenience, toilets are located in the bathroom. Also, please take a moment now to locate the exit nearest your seat. Should the theater experience a sudden loss of pressure, oxygen masks will drop automatically. Simply place the mask over your nose and mouth and continue to breathe normally. If you are at the theater with a small child, please place your own mask on first and let the little snotrag fend for himself."

— Hanna Cheek, in the opening moments of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" at Playhouse on Park.

The Five Shows At Seven Angels

The 2017-18 season at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury opens simply, with the one-man ponderance on modern relationships "The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?" by Robert Dubac, Sept. 21 through Oct. 15. Then it rocks with "Million Dollar Quartet" Oct. 26 through Nov. 19. Hartford's own vaudeville legend Sophie Tucker is the subject of the musical tribute "Red Hot Mama: The Sophie Tucker Story" (Feb. 15 through March 11), written by and starring Sharon McNight, with musical arrangements by Stan Freeman. "Red Hot Mama" is scored with real Tucker hits such as "Some of These Days" and "After You've Gone."

April 5-29 brings the new comedy "Second Chance" by Mike Vogel, set in an assisted-living center. The season ends with the long-gestating musical "The Wanderer," based on the life and career of pop star Dion DiMucci, scripted by Charles Messina. Messina's family comedy "A Room of My Own" was at Seven Angels last season, and he has several music-themed scripts on his resume, including the international hit "Mercury: The Afterlife and Times of a Rock God." Details at 203-757-4676, sevenangelstheatre.org.

A Modern Minion General

There's a lot of bad '80s pop music in the movie "Despicable Me 3." But one of the grandest musical numbers in the film is from the late '70s — 1879, that is. Groo's marauding minions find themselves in a TV studio, having crashed an episode of an "America's Got Talent"-type variety show, and break into a rousing rendition of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" from Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" — in that inimitable minion language of theirs, of course. This ranks right up there with "I Am the Very Model of a Cartoon Individual" from the "Animaniacs" cartoon series, "The Very Model of a Modern Network TV Show" from Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," and "Right Hand Man" from "Hamilton."

Everybody sing: "Pito pato milo mila taka tiki poulet ..."

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