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'Book Of Mormon' In New Haven, 'Newsies,' 'Laramie Project'

CT Rep opens season with 'Laramie Project.' Murder victim Matthew Shepard would have been 39 this month

When the Matt Stone and Trey Parker — the creators of TV "South Park" — announced they were going to write a Broadway musical, a lot of people laughed, and not in a good way. But look who's laughing now — besides hundreds of thousands of theatergoers.

Their 2011 show "The Book of Mormon" not only won over the duo's TV fans but all of Broadway. New York Times' theater critic Ben Brantley famously called the show "the best musical of this century." (True, the century was only 11 years at the time but still …)

When the national tour hit the road two years ago it was also a sensation, and one of The Bushnell's hottest tickets. Now it returns to the state and is going to play a more intimate space, the 1,600-seat Shubert Theater in New Haven, which premiered such legendary musicals as "Oklahoma!," "My Fair Lady" and "South Pacific."

But even Rodgers & Hammerstein may have appreciated the music of "Mormon" (by Robert Lopez and Parker and Stone) and sweet spirit, though they might have taken exception to some of the dicier lyrics and jokes. Though it has language that might curl your grandmother's hair and wickedly mocks some of the more loopy aspects of faith, the show echoes the Golden Age of the American Musical, too: inspiring songs, uplifting themes, chaste romance and a big open heart at its center.

This leg of the tour plays Tuesday through Sunday, Oct. 13 through 18, at the Shubert, 247 College St., New Haven. Tickets start at $40. Information: shubert.com.

They Had Me At 'Newspapers'

The national tour of the Broadway musical "Newsies" returns to Connecticut (it played Waterbury's Palace last fall) Tuesday through Sunday, Oct. 13 through 18, at Mortensen Hall at the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Based on the cult Disney film, the exuberant boy-friendly show has athletic dancing, buoyant singing and an inspirational story. Tickets start at $29.50. bushnell.org.

Dinner With Friends Gone Bad

"Disgraced" comes to New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, with previews beginning Wednesday, Oct. 14, opening Oct. 21 and running through Nov. 8. The play begins with a seemingly perfect contemporary couple having a few conflicts, but things head south as issues of cultural identity challenge each other — as well as another couple that arrives for a seemingly pleasant dinner party (dessert is a disaster). The play, which that won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony nomination, makes its Connecticut debut in a co-production with Boston's Huntington Theater Company staged by Long Wharf's Gordon Edelstein. Ticket prices vary. Information: longwharf.org.

Still Can't Believe It Was 17 Years Ago

Brandy Burre (Theresa D'Agostino in HBO's "The Wire") and Josh Aaron McCabe (Shakespeare & Company) lead the ensemble cast in Connecticut Repertory Theatre's first show of the season: the "The Laramie Project," by Moisés Kaufman and the members of Tectonic Theatre Project. The show runs Oct. 8 through 18 at the Nafe Katter Theatre on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs. The play details the reaction in the community after the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard. He would have been 39 this month. $30. Information: crt.uconn.edu and 860-486-2113.

Solo Master Returns

Daniel Beaty — whose plays often star him, though some do not ("Breath and Imagination," Resurrection" and "EmergenSEE") — will perform "Mr. Joy" Friday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. at Wesleyan University's CFA Theater, 271 Washington Terrace, Middletown. The show is described as such: "A Harlem community is disrupted when the Chinese immigrant's shoe repair shop, a neighborhood pillar for decades, does not open its doors." $19 general public; $17 senior citizens; $6 Wesleyan students and staff. Information: wesleyan.edu/cfa/events.

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