Well-Known CT Theater Names Win Obies; New Seasons Announced

Some well-known Connecticut theater names took home Obie Awards May 24. Obie stands for off-Broadway; The Village Voice has been bestowing these honors annually since 1956.

"Oslo," directed by former Hartford Stage Associate Artistic Director Bart Sher (whose production of "The King & I" is at The Bushnell May 30 through June 4) was honored for Best Ensemble. "Oslo" also shared the award for Best New American Theatre Work with "Underground Railroad Game."

Paula Vogel, whose Broadway hit "Indecent" had its premiere at Yale Rep in 2015 and played off-Broadway last year, received Lifetime Achievement recognition.

Lileana Blain-Cruz, who graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 2011, got one of the five acknowledgments for Best Directing for her new production of Suzan-Lori Parks' "The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World." That play premiered at Yale Rep in 1991, and Yale Rep has a Parks play on its schedule for next season.

Best Directing honors also went to Rebecca Taichman for "Indecent."

Other Obies went to several performers who have been seen at regional theaters in Connecticut, including Anna Deavere Smith, Michael Urie, Kecia Lewis and Taylor Mac.

Riccardo Hernandez, who designed "Assassins" at Yale Rep this year, won a Sustained Excellence of Set Design trophy. A list of the all the awards is at obieawards.com.

In other awards news, "Hamilton" (by Wesleyan grad and O'Neill Theater Center alum Lin-Manuel Miranda) became the first Broadway musical to win a Billboard Music Award for Top Soundtrack. The nominees tend to be movies; last year's winner was "Pitch Perfect 2."

Schulz's Shakespeare

Hogan's Alley is a snappy, scholarly journal dedicated to the cartoon arts: animation, comic books and, especially, comic strips. In the new 21st issue of this indispensable periodical, Michael P. Jensen, a contributing editor of The Shakespeare Newsletter, has written a heavily illustrated, 15-page article listing dozens of references to the bard in Charles Schulz's "Peanuts." These include:

How sharper than a serpent's tooth is a sister's 'Nyaah'! — Charlie Brown

Don't tell me my life isn't a Shakespearean tragedy! — Sally Brown

Shall I compare thee to a summer day? No, even more. Your eyes are like two supper dishes. — Snoopy

"This is Shakespeare, Charlie Brown" can be proudly added to Jensen's previous explorations of Shakespeare in "Krazy Kat," in "Dick Tracy" and in a series of salacious cocktail napkins. Hogan's Alley has a website at cartoonician.com.

Labour Of Love

Capital Classics has announced exactly whose love's labour will be lost when they present Shakespeare's comedy "Love's Labour's Lost" outdoors July 13-30 on the University of St. Joseph campus in West Hartford. The cast is led by David Nottingham as King Ferdinand, with Billy Saunders Jr., Chris Bailey and Jhulenty Delossantos as his attendants. Caitlyn Harrity is the Princess of France and Emma Krishnaswami is Rosaline.

Krishnaswami played Bianca in last year's Capital Classics production of "Othello." Familiar faces from the company's previous shows include Michael Nowicki (who will play Don Armado), David Regan (Holofernes), Geoffrey Sheehan (Costard), Laura Sheehan (Boyet) and Debra Walsh (Sir Nathaniel and Marcade). Also on board: Maura Bonini (Jaquenetta), Eddie DeJesus-Diaz (Anthony Dull), Ariana Ortmann (Katherine), Dominique Rose (Maria) and Corey Welden (Moth).

"Love's Labour's Lost" is directed by David Watson. Details at 860-218-0300, CapitalClassics.org.

On Again For 'Noises Off'

Michael Doherty, who played Black Stache in the Connecticut Repertory Theatre production of "Peter and the Starcatcher" last summer, and Steve Hayes, who played the jolly mailroom manager in "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" at the same theater that same summer, both return to CT Rep in June to appear in "Noises Off."

Another grand return: director Vincent J. Cardinal, the former CT Rep artistic director who left Connecticut last year for a post at the University of Michigan.

Broadway veteran Jennifer Cody will play Dotty Otley in Michael Frayn's famous farce, which shows the backstage chaos during a performance of a silly British comedy. Also in the cast: Curtis Longfellow, who distinguished himself in the UConn production of "Waiting for Lefty/Severance" this year, Arlene Bozich, Gavin McNicholl, Jayne Ng and Grace Allyn. Details at 860-486-2113, crt.uconn.edu.

Away, Away

The 9/11 musical "Come From Away" will get a national tour, starting in the fall of 2018. The show had a public reading at the Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals in 2013. The current Broadway production features Caesar Samayoa, who starred in the Goodspeed revival of "The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd" last year. No dates or location for the tour have been announced yet.

The Season's Afoot!

The Warner Theatre in Torrington has the Agatha Christie mystery "And Then There Were None" (Sept. 23 to Oct. 1); "Avenue Q" (Nov. 4 to 12); the Sherlock Holmes spoof "The Game's Afoot" (Dec. 9 to 17); "Once" (Feb. 3 to 11); the storytelling lark "The Irish … And How They Got That Way" (March 10 to 18); "The Full Monty" (May 5 to 13, 2018); "Spring Awakening" (June 16 to 24, 2018); and "Disney's The Little Mermaid" (July 28 to Aug. 5, 2018) all on its schedule for the 2017-18 season.

Nice to see that the performance rights to "Once" have trickled down to small theaters; you can expect to see fresh productions of that modest musical throughout the state. Interestingly, a different Agatha Christie-based show, "Murder on the Orient Express" at Hartford Stage), and a different production of "The Games's Afoot" (at Ivoryton Playhouse in November) are already in the air for 2017-18. Trends!

The Warner produces its own shows, but also books some touring bands and other acts. Garrison Keillor of "Prairie Home Companion" will be there Nov. 30, shortly after he appears at the Garde Arts Center in New London Oct. 7. Warner Theatre details are at warnertheatre.org.

It's Curtains For 2017-18

Curtain Call Inc. in Stamford has announced its 2017-18 season. The local premiere of a stage adaptation of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (Sept. 7 to 24); "Damn Yankees (Sept. 15 to Oct. 14); "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (Oct. 26 to Nov. 12); "Sister Act" (Nov. 17 to Dec. 16); Mark Twain's "Is He Dead?" (Jan. 11 to 28, 2018); "Big — The Musical" (Feb. 2 to 24, 2018); "The Boys Next Door" (March 1 to 18, 2018); a to-be-announced title for March 30 to April 28, 2018, that appears to be "Annie" (theaters have to be cagey about making official announcements when a show is in production elsewhere); Ken Ludwig's "A Comedy of Tenors" (May 3 to 20, 2018); and the underrated comic book musical "It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman" (June 1 to 30, 2018). curtaincallinc.com.

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