Stage Notes Connecticut Theater News & Reviews

Shubert Announces 2017-18 Season Of Crowd-Pleasers

The Shubert in New Haven has nabbed the first national tours of "Bright Star" and "Amazing Grace." The theater's just-announced 2017-18 season also will feature return Connecticut visits for "The Book of Mormon" (for the second time at the Shubert and the fourth time in Connecticut), "The Sound of Music" (which played Waterbury this year), "Beautiful" (which was at The Bushnell in January), "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical" (which has been at The Bushnell thrice) and the umpteenth Connecticut booking of "Chicago."

All very welcome, reliable crowd-pleasers. There have been recent seasons at the Shubert where nearly all of the "Broadway series" shows ran for just a weekend each, but "The Book of Mormon," "Sound of Music" and "Beautiful" have all been booked for a hefty five or six nights.

"The Book of Mormon" set house records when it played the Shubert in 2015, selling out every seat in the theater for its eight-performance run. It will play Sept. 26 through Oct. 1.

"The Sound of Music" is a sentimental booking for the Shubert, which hosted the pre-Broadway tryout of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in 1959. The hills will be alive Nov. 8-12.

"Amazing Grace," the musical tale of the slave-owner-turned-abolitionist who wrote the immortal hymn after which the show is named, plays Jan. 19-21. The booking is actually a pre-tour engagement, similar to what the Shubert arranged with "Jersey Boys" and "Matilda" before those tours started. "Amazing Grace" was developed, in part, by Goodspeed Musicals.

"Beautiful — The Carole King Musical" (March 6-11) is directed by Marc Bruni, who was in New Haven last year directing "Other People's Money" at the Long Wharf Theatre.

"Bright Star," the Southern-set romantic musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, is at the Shubert April 26-29. Martin's latest play, "Meteor Shower," was at Long Wharf last year.

"Chicago" (June 1-3, 2018) has been on tour almost continuously since its still-running Broadway revival opened in 1996. Those who have played the role of Billy Flynn on the Shubert stage in previous tours include Tom Wopat and Tom Hewitt.

Season subscription deals and other details are at 203-562-5666 or shubert.org.

Moving The Mountain

Yale Rep's sparky 2016 production of Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days," starring Dianne Wiest and Jarlath Conroy, is at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn, N.Y., from April 23 through May 28. Yale Rep Artistic Director James Bundy directed the show. Beckett's play, of course, requires its lead actress to be buried up to her waist, and further "in an expanse of scorched grass rising center to low mound." Details at tfana.org.

Ohmigod, SNL!

The hysterical "Saturday Night Live" sketch on April 16 about a middle school rendition of "Legally Blonde — The Musical" was set in Kansas but hit home with hundreds of kids and parents in Connecticut. That "Legally Blonde Jr." script has had dozens of middle school and high school productions in the state, and the more adult version of the show has been done professionally at Seven Angels, Connecticut Repertory Theatre and elsewhere. None of those, to my knowledge, used stage-flying apparatus, as the SNL one did (for that "wow factor.") As school-musical mockery goes, SNL's disaster-prone bit ranks right up there with the episode of "Bob's Burgers" where musical versions of both "Working Girl" and "Die Hard" are staged at Wagstaff Middle School. "Work hard or die trying, girrrrl …"

Sher To Screen

Bart Sher, the former Hartford Stage associate artistic director who is now one of the biggest directors on Broadway, will make his film-directing debut with an adaptation of his current New York hit, the

J.T. Rogers drama "Oslo." The Broadway production of "Oslo," and the off Broadway production before it, have starred Jefferson Mays, whose long list of Connecticut appearances include "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" at Hartford Stage, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" at Long Wharf and "Dear Elizabeth" at Yale Rep.

The Berkshires Beckon

Ready to plan your summer theater getaway? Some familiar names and faces in shows coming to the Berkshires this summer.

At Williamstown Theatre Festival: "The Roommate" by Jen Silverman ("The Moors" at Yale Rep), directed by Yale School of Drama grad Mike Donahue; "The Clean House" by Sarah Ruhl ("Scenes from Court Life" and many others at Yale Rep), directed by Rebecca Taichman ("Indecent" at Yale Rep); "A Legendary Romance" by Geoff Morrow and Timothy Prager, directed by Lonny Price ("Lady Day" at Long Wharf); "The Model American" by Jason Kim (a 2016 Goodspeed Writers Colony resident), directed by Danny Sharron; "Where Storms Are Born" by Harrison David Rivers, directed by Liesl Tommy ("Eclipsed" at Yale Rep); the premiere of "Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow" by Halley Feiffer, directed by Trip Cullman (a grad of both Yale College and Yale School of Drama); and "Actually" by Yale College grad Anna Ziegler, directed by recent Yale School of Drama grad Lileana Blain-Cruz.

Donahue, Cullman and Blain-Cruz were, in my rabid opinion, three of the greatest directors to have worked at the Yale Cabaret.

At Barrington Stage Company: The musical "Ragtime" (from the team that has now brought you "Anastasia"); "Company"; Alan Ayckbourn's "Taking Steps"; "Gaslight"; Jeffrey Sweet's "Kunstler"; a new adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier's "The Birds"; Stephen Karam's "Speech & Debate"; and Melissa James Gibson's "This." If you liked Mark H. Dold in "Cloud 9" at Hartford Stage, he's a longstanding member of this company. So is playwright Mark St. Germain, several of whose plays (including "Relativity") have been at TheaterWorks.

At Berkshire Theatre Group: "Million Dollar Quartet"; John Hadden's "Travels With a Masked Man"; "Children of a Lesser God," directed by Kenny Leon; "The Music Man"; Edward Albee's "At Home at the Zoo" (featuring a one-act that premiered at Hartford Stage); "Arsenic and Old Lace"; and the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players' "I've Got a Little Twist."

At Shakespeare & Co.: "4000 Miles by Amy Herzog ("Mary Jane" at others at Yale Rep); "Cymbeline," directed by Tina Packer ("A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Elm Shakespeare Company last summer); Lynn Nottage's "Intimate Apparel" (a play seen in recent years at CT Rep and Westport Playhouse); "The Tempest," directed by Allyn Burrows (who has acted and directed numerous times at Elm Shakespeare); Dennis Krausnick's adaptation of "The Wharton Comedies" (yes, the same Edith Wharton whose "Age of Innocence" will be staged at Hartford Stage this year); and Yasmina Reza's "The God of Carnage."

Copyright © 2017, CT Now
58°