Westport Gala Nabs Matthew Morrison; Final Circus To Be Streamed Live

Matthew Morrison, who had a long Broadway resume before becoming Will Schuester for six seasons of "Glee," will be the featured entertainment at Westport Country Playhouse's 2017 fundraising gala, Sept. 9.

At the same event, WCP's Playhouse Leadership Award will be given longtime theater patron Ann Sheffer.

After "Glee" aired its last episode in 2015, Morrison returned to the live stage, starring in "Finding Neverland" and honing his solo concert act, which he brought to the Ridgefield Playhouse a year ago. Details of the Westport gala are at 203-571-1138, westportplayhouse.org.

Mann Up

The Connecticut Critics Circle has arranged for Terrence Mann, the new artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre's Nutmeg Summer Series, to host its 2017 awards ceremony June 26 at Sacred Heart University's Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts.

The CCC will bestow its Tom Killen Award on Pauette Haupt, the founding artistic director of the O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theater Conference, who is stepping down from that post this summer after 40 seasons. Details at ctcritics.org.

Speaking of Mann, Connecticut Repertory Theatre has announced the cast for "1776," the musical he will direct June 1-10 as his first Nutmeg Summer Series show. The American Revolution-themed musical stars Jamie LaVerdiere as John Adams (a role he played recently in Northport, N.Y.), with Broadway veteran Gaelan Gilliland as Abigail Adams, CRT regular Richard Henry as Benjamin Franklin, Adam Harrington as John Dickinson, Will Bryant as Thomas Jefferson, Paige Smith as Martha Jefferson, Charlie Patterson as John Hancock, Cullen Reis as Dr. Josiah Bartlett, Frank Mack as Stephen Hopkins and Alessandro Viviano as Connecticut's own Roger Sherman. Oh, and 15 other people. It takes a lot of people to sign a Declaration of Independence. Details at 860-486-2113, crt.uconn.edu.

Outer Critics And Lortels Honor 'Indecent,' Others

The Outer Critics Circle Award winners were announced Monday. The Hartford Stage-hatched "Anastasia" had received 13 nominations but won only one award: Best Projection Design for Aaron Rhyne.

Rebecca Taichman won for directing "Indecent," the Paula Vogel play that originated at Yale Repertory Theatre.

Bess Wohl's wordless drama "Small Mouth Sounds," whose the touring production will open the 2017-18 Long Wharf Theatre season this fall, won the OCC's John Gassner Award.

"Come From Away," which had a reading at the Goodspeed Festival of New Artists in 2013, won five awards, including Outstanding New Musical and Director (Christopher Ashley). "Come From Away" tied with "Hello, Dolly!" for most awards overall.

The OCC doesn't differentiate between Broadway and off Broadway the way other awards do. "Dear Evan Hansen," "In Transit" and "Significant Other" were not eligible because they was acknowledged last season. "Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812" was partly eligible because of new design elements, and won for Outstanding Set, Lighting and Sound.

Also awarded recently in New York: The Lucille Lortel Awards, which honor "Outstanding Achievement off Broadway." The crusading producer and actress Lortel is fondly remembered in Connecticut for the White Barn Theatre on her Westport estate. David Dorfman, who arranged the Klezmer dance movements in "Indecent," won the Lortel for Outstanding Choreographer, beating out "Sweet Charity," "Sweeney Todd," "Hadestown" and "The Total Bent." Dorfman chairs the Department of Dance at Connecticut College,

"Anastasia" may not be an awards magnet, but it was a notable commercial success last week. For the week ending May 7, the musical grossed $1,062,556, up nearly $180,000 from the week before.

Twain And Shaw: Brothers In Snarky Satire

Hartford Stage is exploring the connections between Hartford icon Mark Twain and British playwright George Bernard Shaw, in a free talk 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 15, at the theater, 50 Church St.

Twain had a bushy mustache and Shaw had a bushy beard, but the discussion is a hair deeper than that. Titled "From Avarice to Apathy: An Exploration of the Political Satire of George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain," the talk considers Shaw's play "Heartbreak House" (which closes the current Hartford Stage season, through June 11) and Twain's novel "The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today" (which he co-wrote with legendary Hartford Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner). Can you guess which of those works this quote is from?:

"It is a time when one's spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the future but a way to death. It is a time when one is filled with vague longings; when one dreams of flight to peaceful islands in the remote solitudes of the sea, or folds his hands and says, What is the use of struggling, and toiling and worrying any more? let us give it all up."

Participating in the discussion will be James Golden, director of education at The Mark Twain House & Museum, and David Staller of New York's Gingold Theatrical Group. They both have pretty decent facial hair themselves. Details at 860-527-5151, hartfordstage.org.

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P.T. Barnum himself — the pride of Bridgeport — couldn't have come up with a better finale. The Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus will livestream its final performance on May 21, at 7 p.m., on Facebook Live (live.fb.com) and on the circus' own website ringling.com.

The soon-to-be-late, great Greatest Show on Earth announced a few months ago that it would be calling it a day, after nearly a century and a half in the big top business. Two tours have been criss-crossing the country — "Circus Xtreme," which played Hartford at the end of April and held its last performances in Providence a week later, and "Out of This World," which leaves this world with that final bash May 21 at Naussau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

The circus has livestreamed a final show before: In May of 2016, it webcast the last RBB&B show to feature elephants.

Framed!

Hartford Stage has a backstage tradition of crafting special frames for

the posters of its old shows that decorate the walls of the theater's Scene and Paint Shop. The frames — created by painters, carpenters, tech directors and other Scene and Paint Shoppers — are small sculptures that build upon themes of the shows: a gallows for "The Crucible," a bloody piano for "Hedda Gabler," the maze of hedges from Darko Tresnjak's production of "Twelfth Night."

A dozen of these unique artworks will bedeck the Hartford Stage lobby during the run of "Heartbreak House," at the theater through June 11. "Heartbreak House" should inspire a cool frame itself: It's set in a fancy house that resembles a great ship.

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