Playwright Dominique Morisseau won a coveted MacArthur “genius grant” last week. Before that happened, it had already been announced that two of her plays were being produced in Connecticut this season: the jazz club drama “Paradise Blue” at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre in May and “Detroit ‘67” (set amid the race riots of that year) at Hartford Stage in February.
Now we can add that Westport Country Playhouse will be doing Morisseau’s “Skeleton Crew” next year. Westport has been shoring up its 2019 schedule and will be officially announcing the entire season soon.
“Paradise Blue,” “Detroit ’67” and “Skeleton Crew” make up the three plays in Morisseau’s “Detroit Trilogy.” Hartford’s TheaterWorks staged Morisseau’s urban economics drama “Sunset Baby” in 2017. Her other full-length dramas include “Pipeline,” “Blood at the Root” and “Follow Me to Nellie’s.” She also wrote the book for the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations,” which has had regional productions in California and Washington D.C. and will be on Broadway next year.
Among the two dozen other 2018 MacArthur Grant recipients: composer Matthew Aucoin, who is working on an opera based on Sarah Ruhl’s play “Eurydice” (the original play version of which had a landmark production at Yale Rep in 2006 and was done just year at CT Rep) and dancer/choreographer/performance artist Okwui Okpokwasili, who had a residency at Wesleyan University’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance in 2015.
The first national tour of “Anastasia” launched Oct. 9 in Schenectady, N.Y., and will visit nearly 30 cities between now and the end of September 2019. Only one of those stops is in New England: Providence, R.I., Nov. 27 through Dec. 2.
The cast for this first go-round includes Lila Coogan as the title character (who is known for most of the show as Anya). Stephen Brower, who appeared in the Connecticut Repertory Theatre production of “A Chorus Line” in 2014 and in the national tour of “An American in Paris” at The Bushnell plays the male love interest Dmitry, with Jason Michael Evans (who starred in “South Pacific” at Summer Theatre of New Canaan in 2013) as Gleb, Joy Franz as Dowager Empress, Tari Kelly (Audrey in the national tour of “Little Shop of Horrors” at The Bushnell in 2005) as Countess Lily, Edward Staudenmayer (“Exactly Like You” at Goodspeed’s Norma Terri Theatre in 1998, national tours of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “Phantom of the Opera”) as Vlad, and Victoria Amelia Bingham as Little Anastasia.
“Anastasia,” of course, premiered at Hartford Stage in 2016, directed by that theater’s artistic director Darko Tresnjak. It’s been on Broadway for a year and a half now. Besides the U.S. tour, several productions are planned for other countries.
Boland On ‘The Blacklist’
You’ve seen Mike Boland in shows at seemingly every theater in Connecticut. Now you can watch him on TV.
Boland will be a recurring character on the next (sixth) season of the dark NBC thriller “The Blacklist.” The ubiquitous local actor plays a character yet to be revealed by the show, and he says he has “shot one episode so far. Doing another this week, and they tell me another in November.”
You might have seen Boland in the long-eared comedy “Where All Good Rabbits Go” at Ridgefield’s Thrown Stone theater this past summer, or as one of the townsfolk in “An Enemy of the People” at Yale Rep last year, or in “Unnecessary Farce” at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford in 2016. He was also in “Orphans Home Cycle” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” at Hartford Stage, “The Exonerated” at TheaterWorks, several shows during the Doug Hughes regime at Long Wharf, and two national tours (“Twelve Angry Men” and “West Side Story”) that visited The Bushnell.
Parks Wins a Steinberg
Suzan-Lori Parks has won the 2018 Distinguished Playwright Award. The award carries a $200,000 cash prize, and is given once every two years. (In the other years, two younger playwrights are acknowledged with $50,000 each)
Parks, who won a Pulitzer Prize for “Topdog/Underdog,” had a fruitful association with the Yale Repertory Theatre throughout the 1990s, when her plays “The America Play” and “Venus” both premiered there following a notable staging of “The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World” at the 1992 Winterfest. Last season the Rep staged Parks’ epic Civil War drama “Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3).”
New Haven Theater Company has announced its 2018-19 season. The community-based company (actually more of a collective) has a long and rich history. It was started in the mid-1990s by novelist/screenwriter Matthew Martin, had a few different incarnations after he left town, and has been in its current state for a decade now. Key faces have come and gone (including longtime members Peter and Megan Chenot, who moved to the West Coast over the summer), but many others remain, including actor/directors George Kulp, John Watson and Steve Scarpa.
The season: “Love Song,” the offbeat comic romance by John Kolvenbach, co-directed by Margaret Mann and John Watson, Nov. 8-17; the emotional science-fiction drama “Marjorie Prime” by Jordan Harrison, directed by Trevor Williams, Feb. 28 through March 9; and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Dale Wasserman (based on the Ken Kesey novel), directed by George Kulp, April 25 through May 11. (You’ll recall that West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park is also doing “Cuckoo’s Nest” this season.)
For the past several seasons, New Haven Theater Company has worked out of the back room of the EBM Vintage building, 839 Chapel St., New Haven. Details at newhaventheatercompany.com.