What Went Wrong? Bad Decisions Fuel The Plots Of Fall Theater Season

What else could possibly go wrong? The fall theater season is a delirious mash-up of missteps, miscommunications and mistakes — expertly devised for maximum entertainment value. Among the intriguing blunders to look forward to at the theater this fall are Alexander Hamilton publishing a pamphlet that sinks his chances at higher office; Dr. Frankenstein building an out-of-control monster; and the provocative disregard of a fishing regulation in “The River.”

Here’s a bit of what’s going wrong when and where, in no particular order.

The Bushnell

The show that exemplifies the glorious, purposeful wrongheadedness of the fall theater season is international hit “The Play That Goes Wrong, ” in which every conceivable mishap that can occur in a live theater production upends a hapless amateur performance of a dopey murder mystery. The convulsive comedy was devised by the London-based Mischief Theatre Company in 2012. The show has been on Broadway since the spring of 2017 and is now embarking on its first national tour. The second stop on that tour is at The Bushnell Sept. 25 to 30.

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A couple of wrong shots and a sex scandal propel Lin-Manuel Miranda’s revolutionary hip-hop musical-theater sensational “Hamilton.” You might have heard that the national tour of the international mega-hit is visiting The Bushnell Dec. 11 to 30. bushnell.org.

Hartford Stage

The 2018-19 theater season began in earnest with the playful revelations of “Make Believe,” Bess Wohl’s new play at Hartford Stage that runs through Sept. 30. The show stars children ages 8 to 11. We see them trying to get along — and sometimes failing. Then we meet the same characters as grown-ups, questioning some of the life choices they’ve made. hartfordstage.org.

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The next play at Hartford Stage — Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” Oct. 11 through Nov. 11 — involves a young monarch struggling to make the right decisions as he brings his country “once more, into the breach.” Director Elizabeth Williamson intends to use the play to comment on modern-day leadership issues.

Goodspeed

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a frolicsome pastiche of 1920s musical comedies, replete with mistaken identities, misunderstandings that nearly scuttle relationships and rampant drinking despite it being the Prohibition era. The musical is renowned for its “Spit-Take Scene.” The Goodspeed Opera House is crafting a loving revival of this 2005 musical for musical fanatics Sept. 21 through Nov. 25. goodspeed.org.

TheaterWorks

A trout-fishing rule is blithely broken in Jez Butterworth’s romantic mystery “The River” Oct. 4 through Nov. 11 at TheaterWorks. Next year, TheaterWorks will be extensively renovating its Pearl Street home base and staging most of its 2019 offerings in other spaces. theaterworkshartford.org.

Playhouse On Park

In “Peter and the Starcatcher,” pirates presume that a mysterious trunk is full of gold and jewelry, but they’re mistaken — and are seriously undervaluing the magical contents of that trunk. West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park sprinkles “starstuff” through Oct. 14, the latest fresh Connecticut production of this popular Peter Pan prequel.

From Oct. 31 through Nov. 18, Playhouse on Park is doing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” A fight for control, and sanity, has some serious consequences in Dale Wasserman’s adaptation of the Ken Kesey novel. playhouseonpark.org.

The Shubert

Jean Valjean might have had second thoughts about stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving child, if he’d realized he’d be pursued for the rest of his life by the obsessive Inspector Javert. The impressive new tour of the hit musical Les Miserables, which was at The Bushnell last season, plays the Shubert in New Haven Oct. 4 to 7.

In the riotous musical “Something Rotten!,” an unknown Elizabethan playwright is told by a fortune teller exactly what he should write about if he wants to out-Shakespeare Shakespeare. He gets it wrong: that’s Hamlet, not omelette! The latest national tour of “Something Rotten” is at the Shubert Nov. 30 through Dec. 2. shubert.com

Long Wharf

In Jen Silverman’s odd-couple drama/comedy “The Roommate,” two empty-nester women find a way to bond, collaborate and pay their rent. Unfortunately, it involves drugs. “Roommates” opens the Long Wharf Theatre season Oct.10 through Nov. 4.

“Paradise Blue,” Dominique (“Sunset Baby”) Morisseau’s drama about the imminent demise of a 1940s jazz club, is at the Long Wharf Nov. 21 through Dec. 16. longwharf.org

Yale Rep

A timely tale of natural disasters and the devastation they can wreak not just on property but families and societies, Charise Castro Smith’s play “El Huracán” premieres Sept. 28 through Oct. 20 at Yale Repertory Theatre.

“El Huracán” is followed at the Rep Nov. 2 to 17 by legendary stage director Peter Brook’s new production “The Prisoner,” which visits the U.S. after being seen in Paris and London. The play, which Brook co-wrote and co-directed with his longtime collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne, poses this provocative scenario: “Somewhere in the world, a man sits alone outside a prison. Who is he, and why is he there? Is it a choice, or a punishment?” yalerep.org.

A ‘Frankenstein’ Frenzy

Capital Classics, the folks that bring you the summer Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival, are doing a golden-age-of-radio-style live reading of “Frankenstein” Oct. 26 to 28 at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford (capitalclassics.org).

There’s another “Frankenstein” happening that month: the Aquila Theatre’s touring version of Mary Shelley’s thriller, subtitled “The Modern Prometheus,” Oct. 16 at UConn’s Jorgensen Center.

And productions of Mel Brooks’ musical “Young Frankenstein” still rove the countryside: West Hartford Community Theater is doing it Nov. 9 to 18 (westhartfordtheater.org).

The Jorgensen

Professional dance companies seldom set a foot wrong, but some troupes are noted for their unpredictability and audaciousness. UConn’s Jorgensen Center welcomes two renowned modern dance companies this fall: Compania Flamenco Eduardo Guerrero Oct. 3 and Camille A. Brown and Dancers Nov. 14. Brown’s company has visited Connecticut multiple times in recent years, and she has had a remarkable year, choreographing “Once on This Island” on Broadway as well as the acclaimed TV production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

In John Steinbeck’s classic novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” the Joad family risk everything on the hope that California will be a better place for them than Dust Bowl-devastated Oklahoma. They remain poor and starving and have to take further risks to keep going. UConn’s Connecticut Repertory Theatre is doing Frank Galati’s grand stage adaptation of Steinbeck’s book Oct. 4 to 14.

Tracy Thorne’s dystopian family drama “Good Children” is at CT Rep Oct. 25 through Nov. 4. From Nov. 29 through Dec. 9, the theater offers Paula Vogel’s large-cast historical epic “A Civil War Christmas.” crt.uconn.edu.

Westport Country Playhouse

Don Quixote thinks a windmill is a multi-armed giant. He thinks a shabby inn is an elegant castle. He thinks a “serving wench” named Aldonza is the high-born lady Dulcinea. Westport Country Playhouse offers a new staging of the classic musical “Man of La Mancha,” based on Cervantes’ epic novel “Don Quixote,” Sept. 25 through Oct. 13. westportplayhouse.org.

‘Rocky Horror’ All Over

Naive newlyweds Brad and Janet choose the wrong house to ask for the use of a phone. The rainy-night stopover sends them into a swirl of supernatural sensations. “The Rocky Horror Show” gets staged by the Phoenix Theater company at the Deep River Theater Oct. 11 to 13 and at the Palace Theater in Stafford Springs Oct. 18 to 27 (phoenixtheater.us).

There are also numerous “shadowcast” or “floor show” presentations of the story, where costumed performers cavort in front of the 1972 film version “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”; there’s an 11:30 p.m. screening Oct. 27 at Sea Tea Comedy Theater (seateaimprov.com).

Ivoryton Playhouse

“Once” rocks the Ivoryton Playhouse Sept. 19 through Oct. 4. The musical, set in Ireland, chronicles the tentative relationship between a musician named Guy and a Czech immigrant known only as Girl. There are wrong assumptions, well-meaning deceptions, mistranslations and very strong love vibes. ivorytonplayhouse.org.

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