Hartford Stage Makes A Change; Ivoryton's 2018 Season; Leslie Odom Jr. At Long Wharf

‘Statement’ Out, ‘Aloes’ In At Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage is replacing its scheduled production of Athol Fugard’s political drama “Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act” with another Fugard play, “A Lesson from Aloes.” The performance dates remain the same, May 17 though June 10.

This is the second time in two seasons that Hartford Stage has pulled the final play of its season and replaced it with another work by the same author. During the 2016-17 season, Hartford Stage Artistic Director Dark Tresnjak announced that he would direct George Bernard Shaw’s “St. Joan.” Then four months before it was slated to open, Tresnjak decided to do Shaw’s “Heartbreak House” instead.

Tresnjak was to direct “Statements” and will now direct “Aloes.” In a statement announcing the change in the Hartford Stage season, Tresnjak calls “A Lesson from Aloes” “one of the great plays of the last century.”

“A Lesson from Aloes” was first performed in the U.S. in 1980 at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven starring James Earl Jones. It transferred to Broadway later that year. The play was originally performed in Johannesburg in 1978. During the 1980s, Fugard regularly premiered his plays in Connecticut. In recent years, four of Fugard’s plays premiered at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, including “Have You Seen Us” in 2009 and “The Shadow of the Hummingbird” (starring Fugard himself) in 2014.

“A Lesson from Aloes” was written six years after “Statements After an Arrest.” Both plays have three actors and deal with themes of South African apartheid. Set in the early 1960s, “A Lesson From Aloes” takes place at a dinner party hosted by a liberal white anti-apartheid activist.

Hartford Stage says its subscribers can use the same tickets that were issued for “Statements After an Arrest” for “A Lesson from Aloes.” Single-ticket buyers, the press release says, “have several options, including exchanging their tickets for any upcoming shows.” Details at hartfordstage.org

Ivoryton’s Next Season

The Ivoryton Playhouse’s 2018 season will include four musicals, one rock tribute and the premieres of two new plays.

The season will open with the “The Fantasticks,” which is renowned for running for an impossibly long time in New York and for giving us the Muzak anthem “Try and Remember.” The show will star David Pittsinger and Patricia Schuman and run March 21 through April 8. Next comes the premiere of “Love Quest” (April 25 through May 13), a comedy about online dating by Steven McGraw and Mary Maguire. “A Night With Janis Joplin,” written and created by Randy Johnson (whose producing credits include “Always… Patsy Cline” and Pope Benedict’s visit to New York City), runs May 30 through June 24. The high school musical “Grease” invades Ivoryton July 5 to 29, followed by another iconic ‘70s musical, “A Chorus Line,” Aug. 8 through Sept. 2. Then comes the Irish pub-based musical romance “Once” Sept. 19 through Oct. 7 and the season-ending premiere of Carole Lockwood’s “The Queens of the Golden Masks” (Oct. 31 through Nov. 18), a Civil Rights-themed drama set in 1962 Alabama. Various season subscription deals are available. Details at 860-767-7318, ivorytonplayhouse.org.

Odom To Sing At Long Wharf

Leslie Odom Jr. — Aaron Burr from the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton,” Sam on the cult TV series “Smash” and Dr. Arbuthnot in the recent film version of “Murder on the Orient Express” — will be the headlining attraction at Long Wharf Theatre’s 2018 Gala fundraiser June 4. Odom will perform pop and jazz standards as well as showtunes, backed by a five-piece band. Details at longwharf.org.

Broadway For Pequot

The Eastern Pequot Nation will be a beneficiary of a Broadway-themed concert in New York this month. The Middletown-based nonprofit Artists for World Peace is hosting its seventh annual Broadway fundraising event 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd St., Manhattan. Among the nearly 20 performers: Katrina Lenk from “The Band’s Visit” and “Indecent,” Thom Sesma (“Man of La Mancha” on Broadway; “Imogen Says Nothing” at Yale Rep) and multiple veterans of “Mamma Mia!.” Proceeds go to the AFWP Native Eyes Project, which provides free eye care to the Eastern Pequot Nation and to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Tickets cost $15 to $50. Information at artistsforworldpeace.org.

Long Wharf Evaluates Itself

The Long Wharf Theatre wasted no time in keeping its commitment to “engage a third party to conduct an independent internal review of staff and board policies and procedures for reporting instances of misconduct,” in the wake of allegations that led to the termination of artistic director Gordon Edelstein on Jan. 23. On Jan. 31 the theater issued a statement that it had retained Margaret “Penny” Mason of the New Haven firm LeClairRyan to oversee an independent review of the Long Wharf’s policies and procedures.

Additionally, Maria Trumpler, a “culture change expert” who also happens to be the director of the Yale Office of LGBTQ Resources, will facilitate staff workshops and “create a space for junior staff to speak openly about their concerns and offer tools that allow staff at every level to join in shaping the work environment.”

Long Wharf already had sexual harassment policies in place, but the Edelstein revelations made the theater’s board (led by gender-equality activist and journalist Laura Pappano) concerned that those policies may not be enough.

Reading ‘Raging Skillet’

Hartford playwright Jacques Lamarre’s food play “Raging Skillet,” based on the memoir of the self-described “punk rock caterer” is getting a one-night-staged reading in New York City March 28 at the Theater 14th Street Y. The show premiered last season at TheaterWorks. One member of that cast, Marilyn Sokol as Rossi’s mom, will be in this one as well. Comedian Judy Gold, who was at Ridgefield Playhouse just last month with her stand-up act, will read the starring role of Chef Rossi.

The staged reading will be directed by John Simpkins, who directed the play at TheaterWorks. It’s a benefit to support the Jewish Plays Project’s OPEN Festival of New Jewish Theatre.

And yes, as with the TheaterWorks production, fresh culinary concoctions by Chef Rossi will be served during the performance. Details at jewishplaysproject.org/skillet.

The Scorecard

Playhouse on Park has announced the cast for “Intimate Apparel.” Lynn Nottage’s drama of stitching and hoping will be at the West Hartford theater Feb. 16 through March 4. The show stars Darlene Hope as the starry-eyed seamstress Esther, Beethovan Oden as George, Xenia Gray as Mrs. Dickson, Ben McLaughlin as Mr. Marks, Zuri Eshun as Mayme and Anna Laura Strider as Mrs. Van Buren. “Intimate Apparel” is directed by Dawn Loveland Navarro, whose last directing gig at the playhouse was “The Chosen” but who is also known as the theater’s Director of Institutional Giving. Details at playhouseonpark.org.

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