Dragons, Monsters, Murders: Hot Productions On CT's Stages To Get Us Through Winter

The year 2018 begins with fire and noise on local theater stages to get us through the rest of winter.

The title of “Feeding the Dragon,” Sharon Washington’s one-woman show at Hartford Stage Jan. 11 through Feb. 4, is a metaphor for stoking a coal furnace. Washington’s home when she was growing up was the custodial apartment of a public library in New York, where her father had to keep the building heated.

The first show of the new year at The Bushnell is the return of “Stomp.” The percussive ensemble sound/movement show has been around for decades and is still kicking up clouds of dust with its garbage-can-banging and broom-sweeping routines.

New, or newish, works are plentiful in wintertime. The Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven offers the premiere of Julia Cho’s “Office Hour” Jan. 17 through Feb. 11 at its Stage II space. “Office Hour” premiered last year in California and was produced in New York in November. Cho’s relationship with Long Wharf goes back to the Stage II productions of “BFE” in 2005 and “Durango” in 2006.

The 2015 New York success “Constellations,” a romantic drama by Nick Payne, gets a Connecticut production thanks to TheaterWorks Jan. 18 through Feb. 18.

The acclaimed Austin, Texas, ensemble Rude Mechs presents its latest experimental theater project, “Field Guide,” at Yale Repertory Theatre Jan. 26 through Feb. 17. The Rep describes “Field Guide” as “a surreal hike through one of the greatest — and longest —novels ever written: ‘The Brothers Karamazov.’”

Matthew Lopez’s humorous tale “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” about an Elvis impersonator who becomes a drag queen, is at TheaterWorks March 15 to 22. The play had an off-Broadway run in 2015.

“She Kills Monsters” is a 2011 Qui Nguyen script about a young woman who connects with her deceased sister through a left-behind Dungeons and Dragons scenario. The play was recently revised by the playwright. Connecticut Repertory Theatre at UConn in Storrs is throwing the polyhedral dice March 22 to 31.

Suzan-Lori Parks’ Civil War drama “Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 & 3,” a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist, is at the Yale Repertory Theatre March 16 to April 7. This staging is special because it will be directed by Liz Diamond, who helmed productions of some of Parks’ earliest plays back in the late 1980s and early ’90s. These three “parts” constitute the first third of what’s said to be a nine-play cycle.

There are classic dramas around too. The ever-timely witch-hunting allegory “The Crucible,” by the late Roxbury resident Arthur Miller, is at Connecticut Repertory Theatre in Storrs Feb. 22-March 4.

National tours of Broadway musicals include “Amazing Grace” at the Shubert in New Haven Jan. 19 to 21. A historical show about the writing of that famous hymn, “Amazing Grace” was initially produced by Goodspeed Musicals in Chester before playing on Broadway in 2015.

“Something Rotten!,” the raucous musical comedy that imagines the origins of musical theater during the time of William Shakespeare, comes to The Bushnell Jan. 30 through Feb. 4, starring original “Rent” cast member Adam Pascal and the husband-and-wife acting duo of Rob McClure and Maggie Lakis.

The stage adaptation of the film “The Bodyguard” is at The Bushnell Feb. 20 to 25, starring pop star and Broadway diva Deborah Cox. The first national tour of “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical” returns to Connecticut March 6 to 11 for eight performances at the Shubert. A show that’s been in the state eight times already, “Jersey Boys,” is at the Waterbury Palace March 23 to 24.

Some musicals are just getting started. Goodspeed Musicals holds its 13th annual Festival of New Musicals Jan. 12 to 14. The festival includes seminars, exhibits, cabaret performances and other events, but is anchored by readings of musical theater works-in-progress. This year, those three new works are “Five Points” by Douglas Lyons, Ethan Pakchar and Harrison David Rivers; “Sweetwater” by Sean Mahoney and Patricia Noonan; and “Passing Through” by Brett Ryback, Eric Ulloa and Andrew Forsthoefel.

The latest major modern dance event coming to Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts is Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group’s “Citizen” on Feb. 9. Wesleyan also welcomes the Chicago-based multimedia performance troupe Manual Cinema with its greatest hit “Ada/Ava” Feb. 23. (Manual Cinema premiered the mind-blowing “The End of TV” at New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas this past summer.)

The rock and roll musical “Million Dollar Quartet” seemed to be finished touring, and has already cropped up in Connecticut in several different small theater productions. But a whole lotta shaking is still going on at the larger venues. Not only will a new non-Equity national tour of “Million Dollar Quartet” will be at The Bushnell March 8, a concert show called “One Night in Memphis” turns up at the Waterbury Palace on March 30. “One Night in Memphis” features many of the same songs as “Million Dollar Quartet,” which re-creates the historic 1956 gathering of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley at Memphis’ Sun Studios.

Other rock impersonations at the Waterbury Palace include “Rain – A Tribute to The Beatles” Feb. 16 and: “Broadway’s Rock of Ages Band” (playing the 1980s metal hits that were resurrected by the musical “Rock of Ages”) on March 3.

A celebration of a loud pop star from an earlier era, “Red Hot Mama: The Sophie Tucker Story,” premieres at Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre on Feb. 15 through March 11. The saucy blues singer and vaudeville star Sophie Tucker was raised in Hartford.

Ken Ludwig, the modern farceur and comic mystery maven whose hits include “Lend Me a Tenor” and “The Game’s Afoot,” has his plays at major theaters in Hartford and New Haven this February. Ludwig’s comic adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery “Murder on the Orient Express” is at Hartford Stage Feb. 15 through March 18, in a production that’s expected to be much the same as the play’s popular premiere at the McCarter Theatre Center in New Jersey last year.

“Baskerville,” Ludwig’s humorous take on a classic Sherlock Holmes adventure, is a Long Wharf Theatre Feb. 28 through March 25.

Dragons. Monsters. Brothers. Sisters. Sherlock Holmes. Hercule Poirot. Ada and Ava. Fist & Heel. All that excitement will heat you right up this winter.

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