Connecticut has welcomed some remarkable tours of the iconic 1990s New York starving-artist rock musical "Rent" over the years.
When the first national tour played The Bushnell in 1998, it starred Cary Shields, who stayed with the show for years, and later starred in "Taboo" on Broadway and "Greenwood" off-Broadway. A 2004 engagement at the Shubert featured future "American Idol" contestant and Broadway "Rock of Ages" star Constantine Maroulis — who coincidentally is back in New Haven this month co-starring in the new musical "The Most Beautiful Room in New York" at Long Wharf Theatre.
The 20th anniversary tour of "Rent," at the Shubert April 28 to 30, has Connecticut College graduate Skyler Volpe playing Mimi Marquez, the troubled teenaged exotic dancer who seduces the glum musician Roger with the songs "Light My Candle" and "Out Tonight." Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $39 to $235. 247 College St., New Haven. 203-562-5666, shubert.com.
'Mary Jane' At Yale Rep
When Amy Herzog was a playwriting student at the Yale School of Drama, her thesis project "The Wendy Play" (staged as part of the school's annual Carlotta Festival) involved a cast of dozens, including a whole class of high school students.
Herzog has gained great success in the decade since with much more economical works. "4000 Miles," about a young bicyclist who bonds with his radical grandmother, has become a small theater staple. "Belleville," which premiered at Yale Rep in 2011, updated an old theater genre, the suspense thriller, for contemporary 20-somethings.
The Yale Rep is premiering another Amy Herzog play as part of the theater's 50th anniversary season. "Mary Jane" is a five-character drama about a mother "striving for grace" while caring for her son, who has a chronic illness. Anne Kauffman, the noted New York director who helmed the Rep production of "Belleville," returns to direct "Mary Jane." Emily Donahoe and Kathleen Chalfant lead the five-person cast.
"Mary Jane" runs April 28 through May 20 at the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel St., New Haven. Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., with an 8 p.m. Monday performance on May 1 and a Wednesday matinee May 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $44 to $88, $20-$30 for students. 203-432-1234, yalerep.org.
'In The Heights'
When hallowed "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was attending Wesleyan University in the late '90s and early '00s, he was already working on his first groundbreaking hip-hop musical. "In the Heights" is set during a lively three-day period in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. The show later involved another Wesleyan grad, Thomas Kail, and playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes (the 2010 playwright in residence at Hartford Stage, which premiered her Pulitzer-winning "Water by the Spoonful"). The show was work shopped at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in 2005, opened off-Broadway in 2007, moved to Broadway in 2008 and won four Tony Awards, including best musical. The national tour of "In the Heights" played The Bushnell in 2010 and the Shubert in New Haven in 2012.
Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport is doing its own production of "In the Heights," directed by Christy McIntosh-Newsom and choreographed by Emily Frangipane, April 28 through May 21. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 5 and 8:15 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. Tickets are $28 to $33. 203-576-1636, dtcab.com.
'The Most Beautiful Room In New York'
Long Wharf Theatre Artistic Director spent years urging his friend Adam Gopnik (the celebrated New Yorker diarist and reporter) to write a musical. The composer David Shire ("Big," "Baby") was also enlisted, and the show that resulted in a tale of New York restaurateurs and their dreams. The premiere of "The Most Beautiful Room in New York" (known in its development phase simply as "Table") is at the Long Wharf, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven, May 3 to 28. It stars Joe Cassidy, Constantine Maroulis and Anastasia Barzee.
Performances are Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m., with Wednesday matinees on May 17 and 24. There is no Saturday matinee on May 6 and no Sunday evening performance on May 28. Tickets are $34.50 to $89.50. 203-787-4282, longwharf.org.