What's Opening: 'Rags,' 'Fireflies,' 'Wolves,' 'Exchange' At Long Wharf

A Broken Umbrella Theatre devised its latest local-culture-based theater piece "Exchange" from some real-life history. The show explores the development of the first telephone switchboard in New Haven in 1878. A Broken Umbrella Theatre also spent months collecting oral histories from hundreds of area residents. The result is an ensemble play about communication and community.

"Exchange" is being performed during one of the biggest autumn community arts events in New Haven, the annual City Wide Open Studios visual-arts showcase.

Performances are at 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. on the following dates and locations: Oct. 7 and 8 at 446A Blake St., New Haven; Oct. 14 and 15 at 290 Goffe St., New Haven; and Oct. 28 and 29 at 315 Peck St., New Haven. All shows are free. 203-868-0428, abrokenumbrella.org.


Joseph Stein's "Rags" is set well over a century ago. But the musical has become extremely timely, since it's about immigrants and how America treats them. The Goodspeed Opera House is ending its 2017 mainstage season with a radically altered version of the show.

"Rags" is being heavily restructured and rewritten by its lyricist — Stephen Schwartz of "Wicked" and "Godspell" fame — and Charles Strouse, who composed the scores for "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Annie." The new book writer is David Thompson, whose previous musical rewrites include "Chicago" and "Flora the Red Menace."

Director Rob Ruggiero, a fine reshaper and reinterpreter who made "Showboat" fit onto the Goodspeed stage six seasons ago, is also involved.

"Rags" plays Oct. 6 through Dec. 10 at the Goodspeed Opera House, 6 Main St., East Haddam. Performances are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. There are also 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening performances through Nov. 5, and 2 p.m. Thursday matinees beginning Nov. 9. Tickets at $40 to $85. 860-873-8668, goodspeed.org.

'The Wolves'

How do kids get their kicks these days? Soccer.

"The Wolves" is a sweeping coming-of-age drama featuring a whole team of girls and just one adult. This hot new play by Sarah DeLappe had a hit off-Broadway production last year. It will soon be found in New York again, at Lincoln Center Theater in November. "The Wolves" will also be part of the national Women's Voices Theater Festival this winter in Washington, D.C.

Hartford's TheaterWorks is among the first regional theaters to embrace "The Wolves." It opens TheaterWorks' 2017-18 season Oct. 5 through Nov. 5. Eric Ort directs this Connecticut premiere. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. There is no Saturday matinee on Oct. 7. $45 to $70. 860-527-7838, theaterworkshartford.org.

First Flight

Playwright Matthew Barber, who was raised in L.A. and now lives in New York, is known in Hartford for his masterful stage adaptation of the 1922 romance novel "Enchanted April." The play had its world premiere in 2000 at Hartford Stage, then moved to Broadway.

Barber returns to Connecticut for the premiere of another literary adaptation. "Fireflies," at the Long Wharf Theatre Oct. 11 through Nov. 5, is based on Annette Sanford's novel "Eleanor & Abel." The book is about the relationship between a 69-year-old small town schoolteacher and a 70-year-old carpenter who offers to fix up a cottage she owns.

Long Wharf has assembles an impressive cast for the four-character "Fireflies": Tony- and Obie-winning actress Jane Alexander as Eleanor;' Denis Arndt (from Broadway's "Heisenberg") as Abel; New York theater legend Judith Ivey (whose previous Long Wharf appearances include "The Glass Menagerie" and "Shirley Valentine") as Grace; and Yale School of Drama grad Christopher Michael McFarland as Eugene.

Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m.; with added 3 p.m. matinees on Oct. 21, 28 and Nov. 4 and 2 p.m. matinees on Oct. 22, 25 and Nov. 1. Tickets are $34.50 to $90.50. 203-787-4282 and longwharf.org.

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