New plays and musicals will get productions and staged readings at two major theater events in New Haven in May and June and the O'Neill Theater Center in June, July and August.
"Deer and the Lovers" by Emily Zemba, "Preston Montfort — An American Tragedy" by Ryan Campbell, and "The Children," a musical by Phillip Howze, will be the three works featured in Yale School of Drama's tenth annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays. The trio of fully produced shows by graduating playwrights will run in repertory May 8 to 15 at New Haven's Iseman Theater. Information: 203-432-1234.
On June 26 and 27, as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, the Yale Institute for Music Theatre will present two original book musicals to the public in "open rehearsal readings" following their development over two weeks.
"gilgamesh & the mosquito" features music by Bob Kelly and book and lyrics by Sam Chanse; and "Horizons" has music by Ben Wexler and book and lyrics by Mark Sonnenblick. Additional creative team and casting information, as well as performance schedules will be announced.
Over at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, a musical based on Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" will be one of three musicals being developed at the Music Theater Conference.
Composer Jed Feuer and librettist and lyricist Adele Ahronheim created the new work, which will have a staged reading at the conference taking place June 20 to July 10. Also receiving readings will be "We Live in Cairo" by Patrick Lazour (book and lyrics) and Daniel Lazour (book and music). No doubt getting special attention will be "ZM" from the creative team of Broadway's "Urinetown" — Greg Kotis (book and lyrics) and Mark Hollmann (music and lyrics).
Eight new plays will receive staged readings at the O'Neill's National Playwrights Conference from July 1 to 25. They are: Josh Wilder's "Leftovers," Joe Waechter's "Good Ol' Boys," Jenny Connell Davis' "End Of Shift," Steven Sater's "No One's Sonata," Hansol Jung's "Cardboard Piano," Ken Weitzman's "Halftime With Don," Carla Ching's "Nomad Motel" and Wendy MacLeod's "Slow Food." Sater is a Tony Award winner for the book to the musical "Spring Awakening." This is the fourth play at the O'Neill for MacLeod ("The House of Yes").
The Cabaret and Performance Conference, running July 30 to Aug. 8, features "An Evening with Joyce Breach," Natalie Douglas in "Four Women: Nina, Lena, Abbey & Billie," Barb Jungr and John McDaniel in "Come Together — Music of the Beatles," The Skivvies In Concert with special guest, Erik Altemus and Shirley Jones.
In addition, the National Puppetry Conference will have public performances June 12 and 13.
Phillip Boykin, class of '95 at The Hartt School, will be honored with the 2015 Alumni Award at its annual commencement on May 17 at Lincoln Theater in the University of Hartford campus.
A native of Greenville, S.C., Boykin studied with Frederick Moses, receiving his bachelor of music in vocal performance. Since Hartt, Boykin has been an performer, teacher and recording artist. He received a Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for his role as Crown in the Broadway revival of "Porgy and Bess," winning a Theatre World Award. He is currently in the revival of Broadway's "On the Town." He made his Carnegie Hall debut in "Broadway Classics" in 2013. He is also the director and manager of NY Gospel Brothers.
'Black Wall Street'
The Artists Collective's eighth annual Jackie McLean Memorial Celebration will co-present, with the Mark Twain House & Museum, Celeste Bedford Walker's "Black Wall Street," directed by Michael Green. Performances of the play will be presented at the Artists Collective Theater, 1200 Albany Ave. in Hartford on May 15 and 16 at 8 p.m.
The play centers on a little-known community in Tulsa, Ok., in the early part of the 20th century where African Americans, Native Americans, and people of Jewish descent developed "a networking relationship surpassed by none in modern day history, creating more than 600 businesses."
Tickets and information: 860-280-3130 or MarkTwainHouse.org or at the Artists Collective at 860-527-3205.
Varla Jean Merman, the drag performer played by Jeffery Roberson, will return to Hartford in a new show — "A Louisiana Skankee in Connecticut Court" — created for the Mark Twain House & Museum May 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Roberson previously performed "The Lady Behind The Mustache" at the center. In his drag persona Roberson performed at the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Theater, London's Soho Theatre and LA's Renberg Theatre. Roberson also starred in the off-Broaday musical "Lucky Guy" and in Hartford Stage's "The Mystery of Irma Vep."
Information: 860-280-3130 and MarkTwainHouse.org.
'Les Miz' Cast
Tony nominee Liz Larsen (Broadway's "Beautiful") and Ariana DeBose (off-Broadway's "Hamilton") join three-time Tony Award-nominee Terrence Mann recreating his Broadway role as Inspector Javert in a staged concert version of "Les Miserables" at Connecticut Repertory Theatre's Nutmeg Summer Series starting May 28. The show plays at Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre on the UConn campus in Storrs.
"Peter Pan" with Mann as Captain Hook, directed and choreographed by Cassie Abate directing and choreographing, follows. The series ends with the musical "Xanadu" starring Luke Hamilton and Amandina Altomare who were featured in last summer's "Gypsy." Subscriptions are now on sale. Single tickets will go on sale in late April.
As part of a year-long celebration of Washington's Montessori School, Nora and Delia Ephron's "Love, Loss and What I Wore," will be presented May 16 at 7 p.m. at the school with quite a starry cast associated with the school: Christine Baranski, Dorothy Lyman, Mia Farrow and Susan Saint James. John Tillinger directs. Tickets are $100 each and include a reception to follow. Information: washingtonmontessori.org.
>> Wesleyan grad and Tony Award-nominated director Thomas Kail (director of off-Broadway's super hot "Hamilton") and "Dancing with the Stars" vet Alex Rudzinski are set to direct Fox's "Grease: Live" starring Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens set for Jan. 31.
>>Barbara Seyda's play "Celia, A Slave: 26 Characters Testify" is the winner of the 2015 Yale Drama Prize. The winner was chosen by playwright Nicholas Wright, who serves as judge for the 2015 and 2016 competitions. This year's runners-up are Craig Thornton for The High Cost of Heating and Abe Koogler for Kill Floor.
>>The world premiere of "Daphne's Dive" by Quiara Alegria Hudes, who won the 2012 Pulitzer for "Water by the Spoonful" that premiered at Hartford Stage, will bow at off-Broadway's Signature Theater in spring 2016. Hudes's play, about characters at a North Philadelphia bar, will be directed by Wesleyan grad Thomas Kail, who is directing "Hamilton," which opens on Broadway this summer. The Signature season will also include "Love and Money," a new play by A.R. Gurney that is being co-produced by the Westport Country Playhouse, and "Angel Reapers," by Martha Clarke and Alfred Uhry that played the Jorgensen Theatre in Storrs a few years back.
>> Chet Carlin (Broadway's "Fiddler on the Roof," tour of "As You Like It") and Kate Konigisor (artistic director of Shakespeare with Benefits) star in the late-in-life romantic comedy "The Last Romance" at the Ivoryton Playhouse April 22 to May 10. Also featured are Stephen Mir and Rochelle Slovin. Maggie McGlone Jennings directs. The Tony Award-winning DiPietro ("Memphis") is a fave at Ivoryton that also produced his "All Shook Up" and "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." The prolific writer's "Living On Love," starring Renee Fleming, opens on Broadway this month and his latest play, "The Second Mrs. Wilson," premieres next month at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. Information: 860-767-7318 ivorytonplayhouse.org.
>>Aaron Krohn (Broadway's "Cabaret" revival, "The Farnsworth Invention," "The Coast of Utopia," and "The Invention of Love") stars in David Ives' adaptation of "The Liar" at the Westport Country Playhouse May 5 to 23. Also featured are Monique Barbee (Metropolitan Opera's "Die Fledermaus," and Berkshire Theatre Festival's "A Little Night Music"), Philippe Bowgen (Yale Rep's "War," and Hartford Stage's "Le Dispute"), Rebekah Brockman (Yale Rep's "Arcadia" ), Kate MacCluggage (Long Wharf Theatre/Hartford Stage co-production of "Bell, Book, and Candle"), Brian Reddy (Broadway's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"), Rusty Ross (Broadway's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas,") and Jay Russell (Broadway's "End of the Rainbow," "The Play What I Wrote"). Penny Metropulos former associate artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, stages the play.
>> The Lincoln Financial Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant in support of Hartford Stage's Connections program for the 2015/2016 school year. The grant enables the theatre and literacy program to reach students in 30 Hartford classrooms.
>>One of the most uplifting shows of the year is the Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards, honoring the best of high school musicals throughout the state. This year it will take place June 1 at Waterbury's Palace Theater.
>>Brett Elliott is the new executive director of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook. Elliott served as "The Kate" interim director since founding executive director Chuck Still announced his departure in December. Elliott received his MFA in Arts Leadership from Chicago's DePaul University, a joint program with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elliott also spent a brief period in the finance and operations department at Broadway in Chicago. He also worked at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center from 2009 to 2012.
>>There will be a few familiar faces in the cast of "Good People," the next show slated for TheaterWorks: Erica Rolfsrud who was in TheaterWorks' "Time Stands Still" "Rabbit Hole" and "The Dazzle" (as well as Broadway's "The Coast of Utopia," "Exit the King") and Ward Duffy who was in TheaterWorks' "The Other Place" and "Race" are in the acclaimed play by David Lindsay-Abaire. Also cast are Audrie Neenan (Broadway's "Sister Act," "Oklahoma!" revival), Chandra Thomas, Megan Byrne and Buddy Haardt. Artistic producing director Rob Ruggiero will stage the show, which runs May 22 to June 28.
>> Peter Van Heerden is the new executive director at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Most recently, Van Heerden served as executive director of Westport Arts Center. Previously, he was on the faculty at City Varsity School of Media and Creative Arts in Cape Town, South Africa, where he also founded and served as artistic director of ERF 81 Cultural Collective.