"Waiting for Lefty" is the stuff of political theater legend, right up there with "The Cradle Will Rock" and "The Crucible."
Clifford Odets' Depression-era drama, staged as a series of short vignettes featuring a range of New York City characters, concerns an impending strike by taxi drivers. The need for such a strike is dramatized. Personal and professional issues are explored. A rally is held. There are rousing scenes of a community that's been beaten down, hoping to "make a new world." The play, which caused a sensation in the 1930s with hundreds of productions around the country, measures the human cost of social change and the fight for justice.
Connecticut Repertory Theatre is staging "Waiting for Lefty" Feb. 23 through March 5 at the Nafe Katter Theatre, 802 Bolton Road on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs. Director Michael Bradford, for his first production since being named CT Rep's new artistic director last year, commissioned playwright Levi Alpert to craft a one-act "curtain closer" titled "Severance" to accompany "Lefty" and give the evening some added contemporary relevance.
Performances are Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 24 and 25 at 8 p.m., March 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m., March 3 at 2 and 8 p.m. and March 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $30, $21 for the Feb. 23 preview performance and $7 for students. 860-486-2113, crt.uconn.edu.
To The Nines
Caryl Churchill's ever-timely sociopolitical satire "Cloud Nine" has long been a college theater staple. Just in the last few seasons, Yale School of Drama staged the show in 2013, Connecticut Repertory Theatre did it in 2014 and Connecticut College did it in 2015. Professional regional theater productions of the show — which lampoons British Colonialism in Africa in the early 1900s, then morphs some of the same characters into Margaret Thatcher's London of the late 1970s — are a bit harder to come by. It's been 15 years since Tony Taccone directed it at Trinity Rep in Providence.
Hartford Stage has never staged a Caryl Churchill play before. This production is a coming-out party of sorts for director Elizabeth Williamson. She joined Hartford Stage as its senior dramaturg and director of new play development in 2012 and became its associate artistic director in 2015 but (other than some readings) hasn't directed a play there until now. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with added 2 p.m. matinees on March 4, 8 and 18 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday shows on Feb. 26 and March 12. Tickets are $25 to $90. 860-527-5151, hartfordstage.org.