Stage Notes Connecticut Theater News & Reviews

Westport's 2019 season announced; 'Whose Live Anyway' coming to Bushnell

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that “The Jersey Boys” will not be at the Waterbury Palace in March of 2019.

Westport Country Playhouse has announced most of its 2019 season, which unlike most other regional theaters in the state, runs from spring until winter, rather than mirroring the academic year.

The first show of the season, April 23 through May 11, has yet to be announced. It will be followed June 4 to 22 by the previously announced “Skeleton Crew” by Dominique Morisseau. Then comes Hershey Felder as “Irving Berlin” July 16 through Aug. 3, Lynn Nottage’s “Mlima’s Tale” Oct. 1 to 9 and Moliere’s “Don Juan” Nov. 5 to 23.

The theater’s artistic director Mark Lamos is directing the Nottage drama and associate artistic director David Kennedy is handling “Don Juan.” Kennedy directed Moliere’s “Tartuffe” at the playhouse in 2012.

Nottage is the two-time Pulitzer-winning playwright whose “Intimate Apparel” was done at Westport Playhouse in 2015 (and at West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park just last season) and whose latest work “Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine” has just had its off-Broadway run extended through early January.

“Irving Berlin,” directed by Trevor Hay is the latest touring show from actor/pianist Felder, who has brought his impersonations of Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Gershwin to Hartford Stage over the years. Felder has announced that his next show, about Claude Debussy,” will be his last in that vein, though he will continue to perform the ones he’s already done.

Westport Country Playhouse has one show left in its current season: the premiere of “Thousand Pines” by Matthew Greene, directed by Austin Pendleton, Oct. 30 through Nov. 17.

From Dec. 5 to 22, the theater has a post-season bonus, the return of Mona Golabek in “The Pianist of Willesden Lane.” That show, adapted (from Golabek’s book) and directed by Hershey Felder, has been seen at Hartford Stage twice and once before in Westport. Details at

New bookings at Bushnell, Oakdale

A few recent additions to The Bushnell’s schedule: the latest “Platinum Comedy Tour,” headlined by Mike Epps, Nov. 30; “Whose Live Anyway” April 13; and the perennial Chinese dance spectacle Shen Yun April 20 and Cruel Intentions the Musical May 10 and 11. Details at

“Whose Live Anyway” is an improv-based sketch revue. The cast at The Bushnell will include Dave Foley of The Kids in the Hall and “News Radio,” Joel Murray (who played Freddy Rumsen on “Mad Men”) and two “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” veterans, Greg Proops and Jeff B. Davis.

The Oakdale in Wallingford has booked “Jersey Boys” again, for five performances March 29 to 31. The always-in-season Four Season jukebox musical has been there before — as well as several times each at The Bushnell and the Shubert. Details at Details at

Books on theater

William Shatner’s latest memoir, “Live Long And...: What I Learned Along the Way,” is fairly light on “Star Trek” memories for a change and instead focuses on many of the octogenarian actors’ live stage pursuits. There’s a lengthy section on the touring “Shatner’s World” show, which the actor has brought to Connecticut numerous times. Shatner writes about touring the show from New England to the midwest in a blinding snowstorm. There’s an anecdote about when he “crapped my pants” — imagine that phrase said in a William Shatner voice — while suffering from food poisoning at the show’s New York opening. Discussing his early pre-”Star Trek” career, he recalls being forced to flounder onstage while the temperamental female lead in “The World of Suzie Wong,” on Broadway in 1958, was backstage refusing to go on.

Lin-Manuel Miranda update

The “Hamilton” creator’s book “Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You” was released Oct. 26. The book is based on a series of daily affirmations Miranda has tweeted. To promote the book, Miranda visited Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show,” where he compared the audience reactions at the Revolutionary War-based musicals’ New York and London productions.

Tickets go on sale Nov. 10 for the Puerto Rican production of “Hamilton,” for which Miranda will play the starring role for the first time since leaving the Broadway cast in the summer of 2016. The show runs Jan. 8 to 27 at San Juan’s Teatro UPR (on the campus of the University of Puerto Rico). All profits from the production, plus proceeds from a special ticket lottery, will benefit the Flamboyan Arts Fund, co-founded by Miranda to support arts and education programs in Puerto Rico.

In “Mary Poppins Returns,” the long-awaited sequel to the 1964 Disney movie, Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Jack, a street-lamp lighter. The film’s release date is Dec. 19, and trailers are already ubiquitous. The national tour of “Hamilton” is at The Bushnell Dec. 11 to 30.

'Hamilton' Sold Out Within Hours, But You Can Still Get In Through Ticket Lottery »

Where are they now?

If you liked Jez Butterworth’s creepy romance “The River” at TheaterWorks, take a trip to Broadway, where Butterworth’s “The Ferryman” opened to strong reviews Oct. 21.

“Thunderbodies,” a wondrously insane war comedy by Kate Tarker that premiered at Yale School of Drama’s Carlotta Festival of New Plays in 2014, is receiving a full New York production at Soho Rep through Nov. 18. The Soho Rep “Thunderbodies” is directed by another Yale School of Drama grad, Lileana Blain-Cruz. The Soho Rep production marks Tarker’s professional debut, though frequenters of the Yale Cabaret five or six years ago will recall not just her writing but her acting, and those who visited the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford in 2016 will remember the reading of Tarker’s “Laura and the Sea.” Details at

'Henry V' At Hartford Stage Aims For A Contemporary Feel In The Round »

Drama Book Shop drama

New York’s Drama Book Shop will leave its current location at the end of January due to a sizable rent increase. The store, which is also a valuable performance space, hopes to reopen elsewhere.

The announcement that the shop will leave 250 W. 40th St. has led to an outpouring of support from playwrights, including many well known in Connecticut. An Oct. 29 fundraising event, held shortly after the imminent closing was reported, featured Lynn Nottage (“Sweat”), Theresa Rebeck (“The Understudy”), Moises Kaufman (“The Laramie Project”), J.T. Rogers (“Oslo”) and Eric Bogosian and Alex Dinelaris (“On Your Feet”). It has been in this location for 20 years, but the Drama Book Shop has been around for a century, founded in 1917 as an offshoot of the Drama League.

Upcoming signings at the store include Max Posner Nov. 19. Posner’s adaptation of “The Chosen” has been seen at Playhouse on Park and at Long Wharf Theatre (which also did his adaptation of another Potok novel, “My Name is Asher Lev”). Details at

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