Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Anastasia Leads Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations

Anastasia at Hartford Stage. Photo: Joan Marcus

Outer Critics Circle
2016-2017 Award Nominations

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY PLAY
A Doll’s House, Part 2
Indecent
Oslo
Sweat

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY MUSICAL
Anastasia
A Bronx Tale
Come From Away
Groundhog Day
Holiday Inn

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY PLAY
If I Forget
Incognito
A Life
Linda
Love, Love, Love

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL
The Band’s Visit
Hadestown
Himself and Nora
Kid Victory
Spamilton

OUTSTANDING BOOK OF A MUSICAL
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Terrence McNally     Anastasia
Itamar Moses     The Band’s Visit
Chazz Palminteri     A Bronx Tale
Danny Rubin    Groundhog Day
Irene Sankoff & David Hein     Come From Away

OUTSTANDING NEW SCORE
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Stephen Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens     Anastasia
Alan Menken & Glenn Slater     A Bronx Tale
Tim Minchin    Groundhog Day
Irene Sankoff & David Hein     Come From Away
David Yazbek     The Band’s Visit

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
The Front Page
Jitney
The Little Foxes
Othello
The Price
  
OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Finian’s Rainbow
Hello, Dolly!
Miss Saigon
Sunset Boulevard
Sweeney Todd

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Lila Neugebauer     The Wolves
Jack O’Brien     The Front Page
Daniel Sullivan     The Little Foxes
Rebecca Taichman    Indecent
Kate Whoriskey     Sweat

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Christopher Ashley    Come From Away
David Cromer     The Band’s Visit
Darko Tresnjak    Anastasia
Matthew Warchus    Groundhog Day
Jerry Zaks     Hello, Dolly!

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER
Andy Blankenbuehler    Bandstand
Warren Carlyle     Hello, Dolly!
Savion Glover     Shuffle Along
Kelly Devine     Come From Away
Denis Jones     Holiday Inn

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Alexander Dodge    Anastasia
Nigel Hook     The Play That Goes Wrong
Mimi Lien     Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Scott Pask     The Little Foxes
Douglas W. Schmidt    The Front Page

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Linda Cho     Anastasia
Susan Hilferty     Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto     Hello, Dolly!
Ann Roth     Shuffle Along
Catherine Zuber     War Paint

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN
(Play or Musical)Christopher Akerlind    Indecent
Donald Holder    Anastasia
Natasha Katz     Hello, Dolly!
Bradley King     Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Kenneth Posner     War Paint

OUTSTANDING PROJECTION DESIGN
(Play or Musical)Duncan McLean    Privacy
Jared Mezzocchi    Vietgone
Benjamin Pearcy for 59 Productions     Oslo
Aaron Rhyne    Anastasia
Tal Yarden     Indecent

OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN
(Play or Musical)Gareth Fry & Pete Malkin     The Encounter
Gareth Owen     Come From Away
Nicholas Pope    Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Matt Stine     Sweeney Todd
Nevin Steinberg    Bandstand

OUTSTANDING ORCHESTRATIONS
Doug Besterman    Anastasia
Larry Blank     Holiday Inn
Bill Elliott & Greg Anthony Rassen    Bandstand
Larry Hochman     Hello, Dolly!
Jamshied Sharifi     The Band’s Visit

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Daniel Craig     Othello
Michael Emerson    Wakey, Wakey
Kevin Kline     Present Laughter
David Oyelowo    Othello
David Hyde Pierce     A Life

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Janie Dee     Linda
Sally Field     The Glass Menagerie
Allison Janney     Six Degrees of Separation
Laura Linney     The Little Foxes
Laurie Metcalf     A Doll’s House, Part 2

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Christian Borle    Falsettos
Nick Cordero     A Bronx Tale
Andy Karl     Groundhog Day
David Hyde Pierce    Hello, Dolly!
Tony Shalhoub     The Band’s Visit

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Christy Altomare    Anastasia
Christine Ebersole    War Paint
Katrina Lenk     The Band’s Visit
Patti LuPone     War Paint
Bette Midler     Hello, Dolly!



Monday, April 17, 2017

Meet the Playwrights at Hartbeat's Women's Theater Festival April 2

The Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women will host a reception where audience members can meet the playwrights featured in Hartbeat Ensemble's Women's Theater Festival this month.

The reception will be held at 6 pm Friday, April 28 prior to the reading held that evening (see info below for how to attend the festival). Light refreshments will be served. Don't miss a chance to meet the playwrights and network with other women in theater form Connecticut.

Women’s Theater Festival Set
at HartBeat Ensemble

From Artistic Director Julia Rosenblatt:
HartBeat Ensemble in Hartford will present a performance series of plays in development at the Carriage House Theater , 360 Farmington Ave. 


Tickets are $15 General Admission | $10 Students, Seniors and Let's Go! Arts members. Subscription package for all three shows. $35 General Admission; $25 Students, seniors and Let’s Go! Arts members. Shows are 7:30 on Friday and Saturday nights.  
Pegao  - April 21-22
written by Cindy Martinez
*Pegao: The crispy rice at the bottom of the pot.
The year is 1971 and the Flores sisters have returned to their childhood home in Humacao to visit their mother, Dona Lina, Puerto Rico’s reigning queen of dominoes.  But in tonight’s game, the stakes are higher. Throughout the night it becomes clear that the black and white tiles represent life choices as each player tries to expose the other's weaknesses while battling over issues of colorism, the US militarization of Vieques, sterilization abuse and what it means to be a modern woman. 
Lest We Forget - April 28-29
written by Vanessa Butler and Aurelia Clunie
Melding storytelling, poetry and movement, Lest We Forget probe’s the question, “What do I do with this black body, with this legacy, with these stories—in today's world?” Vanessa Butler and Aurelia Clunie, two actresses hailing from the Midwest, swapped family histories and discovered an intersection of experience. Using investigative research techniques and their own personal experiences, Butler and Clunie examine their understandings of 21st century blackness as it stands in the shadow of 20th century blackness. The piece asks,“What do we bring forward with us? What do we lay to rest? What do we shout from the mountaintop, lest we forget?”

Group! (working title)
written by Julia B. Rosenblatt
Six women from vastly different worlds come together to battle the great common denominator: addiction. In this new Musical Theater work, Rosenblatt explores the terrifying, dramatic and often hysterically funny journey toward sobriety.  Who will make it? Who will fall off of the proverbial wagon? And what happens when the place they come to for healing appears to be coming apart at the seams?
For tickets, visit hartbeatensemble.org.

Monday, April 3, 2017

CT Theater Review: Next to Normal -- TheaterWorks

David Garris, Christiane Noll and Maya Keleher. Photo Lanny Nagler
Next to Normal
Music by Tom Kitt
Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
TheaterWorks
Extended again through May 14

By  Lauren Yarger
Presenting something a little different form the norm has proved to be a successful move for TheaterWorks, where an excellent run of the Pulitzer-Prize winning musical Next to Normal has been extended through May 7.

Broadway star Christian Noll (Chaplin, Ragtime, Jekyll and Hyde) stars in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's rock musical about Diana Goodman, a woman struggling with bi-polar disorder and suicidal thoughts. Australian sensation David Harris plays her husband, Dan.

This is not an easy musical, on many levels. Technically, the show requires really good singers who can belt; emotionally, it's hard to watch Diana's illness wreak havoc on her and her family. She has struggled for 16 years and hasn't been much of a wife or mother. Dan made a vow, though when they married and stands by her as it becomes apparent that she needs to adjust her meds. Again.

Her doctors (both played by J.D. Daw) try talking treatments, various medications and even shock therapy, but nothing seems to help long term. Growing up in this house has its effects on daughter, Natalie impressive newcomer Maya Keleher), who turns both to overachieving at school, drugs and new boyfriend, Henry (Nick Sacks), to escape the fear that she might end up just like her mother. Meanwhile, all of the problems in Diana and Dan's marriage might not be the result of her illness. They have unresolved issues with regards to their son, Gabe (John Cardoza).

The libretto contains some of the smartest lyrics I ever have heard in a musical. developing the characters, their relationships and telling the story, which contains some humor to break up the rather serious and troubling reality of the family's situation. 

Blended with music that senses the emotions being experienced, the show takes us on a rocking emotional roller coaster that is at once satisfying and heartbreaking.

The sensation that you're screaming
But you never make a sound,
Or the feeling that you're falling
But you never hit the ground—
It just keeps on rushing at you
Day by day by day by day...
You don't know
You don't know
What it's like to live that way.

Director Rob Ruggiero expertly focuses on the relationships. The night I attended those relationships seemed less cohesive in the first part of the show, but with the song "You Don't Know," they bonded as though they had been pulled together with super glue and were dynamic throughout. 

The six-person band, under the direction of Adam Souza, plays more than 30 numbers housed on stage behind Wilson Chin's ingenious two-level, rotating set lined with bookcases and lights to create the family's house as well as other locations. Ruggiero also uses the house aisles, reinforcing the bond the audience feels with the characters, but unfortunately eliminates the blood from Diana's suicide attempt. The result is that we lose some of the reality and heartbreak of the situation when Dan cleans it up. Without experiencing the gruesome reality of the blood, Dan can seem just like a helpful husband chipping in with the household chores as he rinses out clear rags into a bucket.

Getting huge kudos for advancing the storytelling is the superb Lighting Design by John Lasiter, who delivers some of the best lighting I have seen on any stage any where. Mood is depicted, as well as emotions of characters. The lights seem to develop their own case of schizophrenia as they morph into a rainbow of personalities of color and intensity. In one scene, Diana is slipping away: Dan is in full light, Diana is dim and the past that is pulling her is in the shadows. Exquisite.

Noll brings an almost playful quality to Diana to expand the layers of the character who can other wise seem too depressed or crazy. It's always a pleasure to hear her voice and she doesn't disappoint on the the belting, especially for "I Miss the Mountains" (you can listen to her sing this here.) All of the voices are excellent, in fact. Connecticut audiences know Noll from Goodspeed and concerts with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; Harris also appeared at Goodspeed in Anything Goes and was Jean Valjean in Les Miserable at Connecticut Repertory. This production marks Connecticut native Keleher's professional debut.

Don't miss this one -- if you are a fan, you will enjoy and if you never have seen this musical, you probably won't see a better version.

Next to Normal touches hearts at TheaterWorks, 223 Pearl St., Hartford through May 7. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $35-$75: theaterworkshartford.org; 860-527-7838.

Additional credits: Tricia Barsamian (Costume Design), Ed Chapman (Sound Design).
C O N N E C T I C U T
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C O N N E C T I O N

Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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