More Tales From Connecticut Theaters

More Tales From Connecticut Theaters

By FRANK RIZZO | frizzo@courant.com

The theater is an ephemeral experience, to be fully shared with others only in the present, and then gone —- forever, save for the memories of those who were there and chroniclers of those special times. Here are glimpses of some theater figures, institutions and behind-the-curtain tales as told by The Courant over the years.

Hepburn Turned 'Box Office Poison' Into Stage Gold

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Hepburn Turned 'Box Office Poison' Into Stage Gold

She was fierce and independent, and there was no stopping Katharine Hepburn once she was determined to become an actress.

Gillette's Career As Great As His Castle

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Gillette's Career As Great As His Castle

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there wasn't a bigger star on the stage than William Gillette.

No Bad Reviews Allowed, And That Means You, Mr. Parker

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

No Bad Reviews Allowed, And That Means You, Mr. Parker

Nobody loves a critic.

Meryl Streep At Yale: Setting The Oscar-Winning Standard

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Meryl Streep At Yale: Setting The Oscar-Winning Standard

Mention the Yale School of Drama in conversation and see how quickly the name of its most esteemed alumna comes up: Meryl Streep.

Yale Repertory Theatre: Taking Theater To The Streets

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Yale Repertory Theatre: Taking Theater To The Streets

In September of 1968, during The Living Theatre's performance of "Paradise Now" at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, audience members left the theater and took to the streets.

Shubert Provides Premiere Experience To The Area

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Shubert Provides Premiere Experience To The Area

Those attending the grand opening of the 1,600-seat Shubert Theater on Dec. 11, 1914, would especially remember comedian Sam Bernard singing "Who Paid the Rent for Mrs. Rip Van Winkle When Rip Van Winkle was Away?"

'My Fair Lady' World Premier At The Shubert: Rex Harrison Was Not Happy

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

'My Fair Lady' World Premier At The Shubert: Rex Harrison Was Not Happy

There was a blizzard. The star refused to go on stage. It looked like a disaster in the making for the world premiere of "My Fair Lady" at the Shubert Theater in New Haven.

 Goodspeed Survives Changes

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Goodspeed Survives Changes

It was quite a celebration on Oct. 24, 1877.

Goodspeed's 'Annie' Was At First Labeled 'A Disaster'

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Goodspeed's 'Annie' Was At First Labeled 'A Disaster'

The one show that changed a Connecticut theater's fortunes more than any other was the musical "Annie" that had its world premiere at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam in 1976.

August Wilson: The Perfect Playwright For This Life Cycle

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

August Wilson: The Perfect Playwright For This Life Cycle

'In midsummer 1982, August Wilson stepped onto the grassy campus of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, wondering whether a clerical error had brought him to the prestigious National Playwrights Conference," The Hartford Courant wrote, describing the arrival of a new playwright who would be a major force in the American theater.

Charles Nelson Reilly: The Usher Who Rose To The Stage

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Charles Nelson Reilly: The Usher Who Rose To The Stage

Charles Nelson Reilly delivered newspapers for The Hartford Courant. He survived the great circus fire of 1944. Then he was an usher at the Bushnell. He eventually went on to be a Broadway stage star ("Hello, Dolly!" "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"), a popular comedian on game shows ("Match Game," "Hollywood Squares") and director of stage shows, many of them starring Julie Harris.

Sophie Tucker: 'Last Of The Red Hot Mamas'

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Sophie Tucker: 'Last Of The Red Hot Mamas'

Sophie Tucker was the salty, zaftig, "last of the red hot mamas," who became one of the biggest stars of vaudeville, radio and nightclubs throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Long Wharf Theatre: $500 And 50 Years Later

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Long Wharf Theatre: $500 And 50 Years Later

Local politicians said Long Wharf Theatre placement in the city's meat packing district was like adding "cabbages to Tiffany's."

Mark Twain Loved The Stage, But Struggled As A Playwright

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Mark Twain Loved The Stage, But Struggled As A Playwright

Mark Twain loved the theater. He also wanted to make a buck off of it, too.

Rosalind Russell: The Fast Talking Dame

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Rosalind Russell: The Fast Talking Dame

She was wicked in "The Women," the girl in "His Girl Friday," the fast-talking dame whom you didn't mess with in countless films and, most memorably, as the ab-fab "Auntie Mame."

Author's Secret Peek At 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Author's Secret Peek At 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'

'Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Hartford's Harriet Beecher Stowe was the book that changed America. Almost as soon as it was published in 1852, there were unauthorized stage adaptations.

 Hartford Stage: The Big Bang Theater Theory

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Hartford Stage: The Big Bang Theater Theory

'The Hartford Stage Company, with no time for trifles, made its debut in its new theater last night, confronting Shakespeare and 'Othello.' "

7:05 AM EST, February 9, 2014

Lucille Lortel: Queen Of Off-Broadway Led White Barn Theatre

She was called the Queen of Off-Broadway but you could call her the Queen of Way-Off-Broadway, too, by way of Connecticut.

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