By FRANK RIZZO
1:15 PM EDT, March 14, 2014
A world premiere of a provocative play by Matthew Lopez, William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and a revival of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate’’ are among the highlights of Hartford Stage’s 2014-2015 season.
The 51st season will open with the previously announced “Ether Dome,” staged by former artistic director Michael Wilson. A co-production with Hartford Stage, La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego and Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, the sprawling play by Elizabeth Egloff is a psychological thriller is based on the true story of the discovery of ether as an anesthetic in 1846 by Hartford’s Dr. Horace Wells. The show runs Sept. 11 to Oct. 5.
The play by Farmington native Egloff (“The Swan,” which Hartford TheaterWorks produced in ‘90s), had its world premiere three years ago at Houston’s Alley Theatre. The play, commissioned by Hartford Stage, has been further developed at the theater’s “Brand:NEW” play reading series of new works and this month at a workshop in New York.
The production also coincides with Hartford’s Envisionfest. “Our intention,” says managing director Michael Stotts, “is that the play will spark a conversation in our community about medical innovations that influence our lives every day.”
The second show of the season will be “Hamlet,’ staged by the theater’s artistic director and Shakespeare specialist Darko Tresnjak (and marks the director’s 25th work by the Bard).
No casting is yet announced. It will be the first time the theater produced the play since Richard Thomas starred in the work in the ‘80s. The show will run Oct. 16 to Nov. 9.
Following the 15th edition of the theater’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas,” directed by associate artistic director Maxwell Williams, the season will continue in January with Noel Coward’s “Private Lives,” also directed by Tresnjak.
Tresnjak, who will direct half of the season’s six shows, will cast the show a bit younger than usual, with the characters in their 30s. The show will run Jan. 8 to Feb. 1
Next up will be the world premiere of “Reverberation,” a new play by Matthew Lopez, author of “The Whipping Man” (which was presented at the theater in 2011) and “Somewhere” (which is the next show —- and a world premiere —- slated for Hartford Stage).
“Reverberation” is contemporary drama with a Hitchcockian feel, “a suspenseful tale of two strangers —- a shell-shocked man, too scared to leave his own apartment, and the mysterious woman who moves into the upstairs flat and draws him out of his shell —- who build a friendship born of their mutual loneliness and fear of the outside world.”
“It is Matthew's most haunting and imaginative play,” says Tresnjak. “It is also rather frank —- about love and sexuality; gay, straight, and in between —- in our time. At the end of the day, inspiration and faith in our audience won the day. And a competitive streak kicked in: I wanted Hartford Stage to get the credit for premiering this beautiful work.”
Williams will direct the work which will run Feb. 19 to March 15.
That will be followed by the East Coast premiere of the solo show, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” adapted and directed by Hershey Felder (“George Gershwin Alone,” “Monsieur Chopin”), based on the book “The Children of Willesden Lane: A Memoir of Music, Love and Survival.”
Performed by the piano virtuoso Mona Golabek, this is solo show about her mother's flight from the Nazi-ruled Vienna, her journey on the Kindertransport, and her life as a young musician in London during the Blitzkrieg.
The play, which is described as “inspiring and life-affirming,” just completed a run at Berkeley Repertory Theater in Calif. The show plays March 26 to April 26.
The season will end with a show, directed by Tresnjak, that combines his love of Shakespeare and musical comedy (Tresnjak staged “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” at the theater. It is now running on Broadway. At Hartford Stage he staged “Macbeth,” “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest.”). “Kiss Me Kate" will run from May 14 to June 7.
A new musical by the creators of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,”--“The Campaign of the Century,”-- is still in development and will not be ready for the theater’s 2014-15 season. Another musical that has been under consideration with director Harold Prince attached, the chamber musical “The Band’s Visit,” also remains in development.
Subscriptions are now on sale. Single tickets go on sale in July. Information: 860-527-5151 and www.hartfordstage.org.
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