The new musical “This Ain’t No Disco,” co-written by Stephen Trask and directed by Hartford Stage’s Darko Tresnjak, opened July 24 at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York.
“This Ain’t No Disco,” which ends its limited run Aug. 12, chronicles the downtown arts scene of mid-1980s New York, including the iconic nightlife haunts The Mudd Club and Studio 54. Trask co-wrote the show’s musics and lyrics with Peter Yanowitz and co-wrote its book with Yanowitz and Rick Elice. The musical is choreographed by Camille A. Brown, whose dance piece “Black Girl: Linguistic Play” has been seen in Connecticut at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Wesleyan Center for the Arts and Fairfield University’s Quick Center. Details at atlantictheater.org.
Tresnjak’s production of “Samson et Dalila” will premiere at New York’s Metropolitan Opera Company in September. His next show at Hartford Stage, where he is in his final season as artistic director, will be “The Engagement Party,” Jan. 10 through Feb. 3.
It’s Puppet Time!
Usually, mid-June is when all the puppet frenzy happens in Connecticut, at the annual National Puppetry Conference at the O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford. This year, puppets have been happily inescapable all summer.
Currently, there’s the foul-mouthed Tyrone in “Hand to God” at TheaterWorks (through Aug. 26) and a new national tour of the puppet-driven “The Lion King” at The Bushnell (through Aug. 19). Capital Classics used a gigantic puppet head and hands to portray King Antiochus in “Pericles” for its Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival (which ended July 29). Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham brought his dummies to Mohegan Sun last month. Waggling disembodied limbs and man-eating puppet sharks were featured prominently in “Disaster!” at Connecticut Repertory Theatre in June. Give them all a great big hand.
In the TheaterWorks lobby during the run of “Hand to God,” there’s a colorful exhibit of puppets designed by Kalob Martinez, a recent graduate of the MFA Puppet Arts program at the University of Connecticut. Martinez performed “The Velcro Show” in late July at UConn’s Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. His one-man hand-puppet variation on “Macbeth,” called “El Beto” and set among Mexican drug cartels, was at Sea Tea Comedy Theater in April.
Wesleyan Fall Season
The Wesleyan Center for the Arts has announced its performance events for the fall semester. It includes Raphael Xavier’s hip-hop movement piece “Point of Interest” (Sept. 21), trans actor Becca Blackwell’s autobiographical solo show “They, Themself and Schmerm” (Oct. 5), dancer Mythili Prakash (Oct. 14, as part of the multidisciplinary Navaratri Festival of Indian culture), and the progressive string quartet Ethel with a conceptual concert based around water imagery titled “The River” (Oct. 26).
Also: the Wesleyan Faculty Dance Concert is Oct. 26 and 27; student dance concerts are Nov. 1 to 3; “Sung Poetry and Tea” (Nov. 6, in conjunction with the art exhibit “Chado: The Way of Tea”); a student-acted production of Anne Washburn’s “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play” directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh (Nov. 16 to 18).
A Javanese “wayang kulit” puppet play directed by Wesleyan artist in residence I.M. Harjito is Nov. 30, a “Worlds of Dance” concert is Dec. 2, a student re-creation of one of John Cage’s 1960s “Musicircus” happenings is Dec. 6; and student thesis productions of Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s “The Medea Monologue” and an original sound performance titled “No Replica” by Gabriel Drozdov are both Dec. 6 to 8.
Raphael Xavier performed “Point of Interest” last year at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford. I.M. Harjito is most widely known as a Javanese Gamelan musician; he created the score for the epic theater piece “Islands” at Wesleyan last year.
Details of the Wesleyan Center for the Arts fall season are at wesleyan.edu/cfa/.
Lin-Manuel Miranda Update
We’re still four months away from “Hamilton” arriving at the Bushnell — and no, still no word on when tickets will go on sale. Here’s what the show’s creator, illustrious Wesleyan grad and O’Neill Theater Center alum, has been up to lately:
Lin-Manuel Miranda will make his film directing debut with an adaptation of Jonathan (“Rent”) Larson’s one-man show “Tick… Tick… Boom!” Miranda starred in a stage revival of the show of 2014, but none of the reports on the film mention casting.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway hit, “In the Heights” (which had a workshop at the O’Neill Center in Waterford) celebrated its 10th anniversary with a deluxe vinyl LP set of its soundtrack.
Miranda’s ongoing twice-daily series of affirmational and motivational tweets, which begin “Gmorning” or “Gnight,” will be released in book form in October. “Gmorning, Gnight!” is illustrated by Jonny Sun and published by Random House.
On July 22, Lin-Manuel Miranda announced the creation of the multimillion dollar Flamboyan Arts Fund to support artists and arts organizations in Puerto Rico.
Lin-Manuel Miranda will appear in the BBC’s TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy novels “His Dark Materials,” playing the aeronaut Lee Scoresby.
“Hamilton” will receive a special award at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in December. The Center, in Washington D.C., ordinarily honors individuals rather than artistic works. The “Hamilton” prize will be shared by Miranda, director Thomas Kail (who like Miranda is a Wesleyan grad), choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire. The national tour of “Hamilton” is currently playing at the Kennedy Center through mid-September, with the same cast that will be at Hartford’s Bushnell in December.
‘House That Will Not Stand’
Marcus Gardley’s “The House That Will Not Stand,” which had its premiere in 2014 at the Yale Repertory Theatre, opened in a new off-Broadway production July 30 at New York Theatre Workshop. The play, about a grieving widow and her five daughters, is inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1945 drama “The House of Bernarda Alba.” Gardley has shifted the setting to 1836 New Orleans.
The Yale premiere was a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California. Two members of the original cast are in the new off-Broadway production: Joneice Abbott-Pratt and Harriett D. Foy. The rest of the cast, the design team and director Lileana Blain-Cruz (a 2012 graduate of the Yale School of Drama who’s now the toast of off Broadway) are all new to the show.
ACT Of CT
Ridgefield’s ACT of CT (A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut) has three musicals on its schedule: “Evita” Oct. 4 to 28; “Working” (in honor of the company’s artistic adviser, composer and Ridgefield resident Stephen Schwartz) Feb. 22 through March 10; and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” May 31 through June 16. The company was founded just last year, part of a recent theater boom in Ridgefield that also includes the new-works company Thrown Stone. ACT of CT details at 475-215-5433, actofct.org.