Thursday, October 5, 2017

Quick Picks for Connecticut Theater

By Lauren Yarger
I am up against deadlines that are taking me out of town and limited time to write about the great shows I have seen recently in Connecticut. Here are some highlights (back soon!).
Will Clark, Stephen Wallem and Amanda Huxtable. Photo: Anne Hudson
I HATE MUSICALS, THE MUSICAL at Ivoryton Playhouse
By Mike Reiss
Music by  by Walter Murphy
Directed by James Valletti


Simpsons’ television writer and producer Mike Reiss returns with the story of Alvin, a cranky comedy writer (a talented Stephen Wallem) trapped in the rubble of an LA earthquake.  His life plays out before his eyes in the form of a musical -- and he hates musicals. 

What Are the Highlights?
I enjoyed some laugh-out-loud moments (I enjoy Reiss's out-there, blunt sarcasm, even when Jesus and his mother, Mary, pay a visit.) James Valletti directs a solid ensemble including R. Bruce Connelly (who never fails to please and had me chuckling as Alvin's clueless agent, Lee), Will Clark, Sam Given, Amanda Huxtable and Ryan Knowles.

More information:
Through Oct. 15 at Ivoryton Playhouse.

Music direction and vocal arrangements by Michael Morris. Choreography by Schuyler Beeman. The set design is by Dan Nischan, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina.

Performances are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. Evening performances Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children: 860-767-7318; ivorytonplayhouse.org 

One Day More. Photo: Deen Van Meer
LES MISERABLES at the Bushnell
The Victor Hugo classic plays another tour in Hartford (this revised 25th anniversary edition came through on tour a couple of years ago, then settled down on Broadway for a run that recently closed).

What Are the Highlights?
Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean), Josh Davis (Javert) and Phoenix Best (Eponine) nail "Bring Him Home," "Stars" and "On My Own" respectively. The vocals are pretty good across the board and Victor Hugo's own drawings serve as the backdrop. Lighting by Paul Constable is exquisite.

More information:
Through Oct. 8 at the Bushnell. Performances are Friday at 8 pm;  Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm.. Ticket prices start at $22.50: bushnell.org; 860-987-5900


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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at Hartford Stage
Director Darko Tresnjak's take on Shakespeare's fairy-filled fantasy about love among gods and mortals.

What Are the Highlights?
Bottom (a brilliant John Lavelle) and his troupe of actors putting on a play within a play (usually my least favorite part of this too-oft produced play) find new depth and comedy. Alexander Dodge's set is anchored by a beautiful rotating gatehouse, apparently inspired by the one at the Biltmore mansion in North Carolina. Its stone and ivy are surrounded by greenery and benches that transport us to another time and place, then Tresnjak effectively startles by placing Puck (Will Apicella) in the house.

More information:
Through Oct. 8 at Hartford Stage. Performances are Friday, Saturday at 8 pm; Sun at 2 pm. Tickets start at $25: hartfordstage.org.


EJ Zimmerman as Christmas Eve, James Fairchild as Brian, Weston Chandler Long as Princeton/Rod, Colleen Welsh as Bad Idea Bears, Peej Mele as Trekky/Nicky, Ashley Brooke as Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut, Abena Mensah-Bonsu as Gary Coleman. Photo: Courtesy of Curt Henderson, Imagine It Framed


AVENUE Q at Playhouse on Park
Those zany not-for-kids puppets are back, this time at Playhouse on the Park, where director Director/Choreographer Kyle Brand has assembled the ensemble of performers who speak for the puppets.

What Are the Highlights?
Ashley Brooke stands out as Kate Monster/Lucy.

More information:
Through Oct. 8 at Playhouse on Park. Tickets are $40-$50: 860-523-5900 x10 or visit www.playhouseonpark.org


THE MALE INTELLECT: An OXYMORON at Seven Angels Theatre

Robert Dubac proves that when something is funny, the joke can last for a lot of years. Dubac has been touring his one-man, five character exploration of man's psyche in the quest of what women really want for many years.  The saucy, witty presentation is still entertaining.

What Are the Highlights?
The piece has been updated with contemporary jokes.

More information: 
Through Oct. 15 at Seven Angels Theatre. Tickets are $39.50-$54 depending on day of performance. Evenings at 8 and matinees at 2 pm: 203-757-4676; sevenangelstheatre.org

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

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