Saturday, July 20, 2019

Theater Review: Because of Winn Dixie -- Goodspeed

Bowdie and Josie Todd with the cast of Goodspeed Musicals Because of Winn Dixie, extended through Sept. 5 at The Goodspeed. Photo by Diane Sobolewski.
Because of Winn Dixie
Book and Lyrics by: Nell Benjamin, based on the Novel by: Kate DiCamillo
Music by: Duncan Sheik
Choreographer: Chris Bailey
Animal Direction: William Berloni
Director: John Rando

By Lauren Yarger
Because of Winn Dixie at Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House restores our faith in a wholesome, fun, moving story as a viable theater offering. Can I get an "awooo!"?

This charmer, with music by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) a book by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Mean Girls), based on the popular young people's novel by Kate DiCamillo is full of kids, a dog, faith, laughter, friendship and second chances. What's not to love? Especially when you see the tons of kids in the audience. In a climate where most new theater offerings (and updated revivals) feel the need to push every political and social agenda to be "woke" and justified in the "me-too" environment, it is doggone refreshing (sorry, couldn't resist) to enjoy one that focuses on everyday people with everyday issues in a positive, uplifting way. After all, when times are trying, theater should be a happy release some of the time.

And that is just what Because of Winn Dixie is.  It follows the story of 13-year-old Opal (Josie Todd), who moves to a trailer park with her preacher father (J. Robert Spencer) when her mother leaves them. The preacher has no trouble speaking in front of his new congregation, but communicating with his daughter is tougher as he won't discuss their recent loss. Opal overcomes her loneliness by saving a stray she names after the local grocery store. "Winn Dixie" (Bowdie, trained by Connecticut's Tony-Award-winning animal trainer William Berloni) becomes her constant companion and the dog wins the hearts of the congregation and community members.

They are

  • The Dewberry boys, Dunlap and Stevie (Jamie Mann and Jay Hendrix) and their single mom, Jeanne (Kacie Sheik -- yes, she is Duncan's half sister), who starts spending time with the preacher, much to Opal's disapproval
  • Slow-witted Callie and Jiggs Thomas  (Crystal Kellogg and Brian Michael Hoffman) and their little peanut of a daughter, Sweetie Pie (Sophia Massa), for whom they want a better life.
  • Millie and Carl Wilkinson (Nicole Powell  and John Edwards), who are grieving over the death of their son and who don't know how to communicate with their bookworm daughter, Amanda (Chloë Cheers), whom Opal doesn't like at all.
  • Otis (David Poe) , a guitar-playing pet store owner who is treated as an outsider in town because of his prison record.
  • Librarian Fanny Block (Isabel Keating (Franny Block)) who entertains the kids with her story times.
  • Gloria Dump (Roz Ryan ) the witch who lives in the woods and encourages the kids to add their deepest thoughts and wishes to pages storesd in the bottles hanging from her trees and representing her drinking days of past.
All of the characters are dealing with loss of some kind and the feeling that they don't fit in. Winn Dixie changes all of that, breathes some new life into them and unites them all when he disappears during a terrible storm (Lighting and Sound Design by Jeff Croiter and Jay Hilton, respectively.) Choreographer Chris Bailey wisely keeps movement on the subtle side and coordinates nicely so the storytelling isn't overshadowed.

Even if the story weren't engaging, the show would be a hit just because of Winn Dixie, or Bowdie, rather. The pooch, described as a mix between a poodle and something larger,  receives applause on entrance (the audience  is shocked by his large size) and delights as he hits all of his marks and cues perfectly.  There were a lot of "awwwww"s from the audience and even more smiles throughout the production. Here's hoping this musical ends up on Broadway and tours for a long time around a country in need of some "aaaaw" and smiles.

A few things need to happen before that can happen. While there are some nice ballads and an opportunity for Ryan to show her vocal talents -- her "Bottle Tree Blues" is one of the more entertaining numbers -- Sheik's score needs a boost. The openings of both acts are pretty weak and a number of songs seems to offers tunes that sit on the same few notes (and even still, some of them proved a stretch for some of the younger vocalists). It's a new type of musical for the composer of Spring Awakening and American Psycho, but he's up to the challenge.

Donyale Werle's sets are simple, with easy changes between the church, the library, the trailer and other locales. Lighting needs some tweaking, however as there are some awful glares and color and scene changes are telegraphed.

But if anyone can bring it together, it's Director John Rando, who has helmed another family-friendly musical on Broadway, A Christmas Story: The Musical. (He won the Tony for Urinetown). This one is worth tweaking. Kids love DiCamillo's book and the movie on which it was based. The stage musical seems the next natural incarnation of the story and can entertain audiences for years, just like that other wholesome musical starring a dog -- also trained by Berloni -- Annie.


More information:

The run has been extended through Se[t. 5 at Goodspeed, 6 Main St., East Haddam, CT. Performances are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Thursday at 7:30 pm (with select performances at 2); Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3  and 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm (with select performances at 6:30). Tickets: 860-873-8668; goodspeed.org

Additional credits:
Costumer Designer: Emily Rebholz; Wig and Hair Designer, Mark Adam Rampmeyer; Music Supervisor / Orchestrator,  Jason Hart;  Music Director, Adam Souza


Additional casting: Ryan Halsaver (Townsperson); Mackenzie Warren (Townsperson)

Open Caption Performance: Friday, July 26, 8 pm. Open-captioning is a service that displays the text of a show simultaneously with the performance without the use of any special equipment by the patron. The words are displayed on a 4-foot by 1-foot LCD screen located near the edge of the stage and are thus “open” to anyone within view.

 

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Scottsboro Boys -- Playhouse on Park

Troy Valjean Rucker as Haywood Patterson, left center, and Trishawn Paul as Eugene Williams, right center. Photo: Meredith Long
The Scottsboro Boys
Music and Lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Directed by Sean Harris
Choreographed by Darlene Zoller
Playhouse on Park
Through Aug. 4

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The story of nine African-American men falsely accused of rape in 1930s Alabama (book by David Thompson). The case became a sensation as the Scottsboro Boys spent years in jail through multiple trials and court appeals while outrage across the north mounted at their treatment in the Jim-Crow-era South.  With original direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, the musical received 12 Tony Award nominations. The music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb (Chicago; Cabaret) are framed as a minstrel show, featuring an Interlocutor  (Dennis Holland) -- an emcee of sorts -- and Mr. Bones (Ivory McKay) and Mr. Tambor (Torrey Linderas). It was, and still is, one of the most brilliant musicals I have seen.

Troy Valjean Rucker stars as Haywood Patterson, one of the accused who becomes a sort of leader and attempts multiple escapes. While incarcerated, he learns to read and write and it's his story, written in a journal, that is told through the guise of the entertaining minstrel show. Also starring in this production are Renee J Sutherland as "The Lady," who shadows the events and whose connection becomes clear later,  and Cedric Greeneas Olen Montgomery, one of the nine.

Rounding out the cast  are current students in musical theater training programs:
Grant Reynolds (Charles Weems/ Victoria Price) is a rising senior at Carnegie Mellon University, Justin Sturgis (Roy Wright) is currently a student at NYU Tisch, Jerry Hamilton (Andy Wright) will be a sophomore at the Hartt School, Jaylan Evans (Ozie Powell/Ruby Bates) is a rising senior at ELON, Cedrick Ekra (Clarence) is a rising sophomore at Emerson College, Alex Robertson (Willie Roberson) is a rising senior at The Hartt School, and Trishawn Paul, who plays 13 year old Eugene Williams, is currently a sophomore at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.

What Are the Highlights:
It's just a pleasure to see this musical get a run. The show isn't produced often (right just became available) since the show failed to win any Tonys and was embroiled in controversy as protesters objected to the use of a minstrel show because the actual entertainment form used black face. These protests were misguided in my opinion, as the show, and the minstrel show format, are a brilliant commentary on the unjust and ignorant laws and thinking that allowed nine innocent men to be arrested and sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit. The story is one that needs to be told, and the book by David Thompson partnered with lyrics and music by Kander and Ebb, do it very well with good performances by the ensemble. The show gets a solid production helmed by Playhouse's dynamic duo of Director Sean Harris and Choreographer Darlene Zoller. Melanie Guernin (In the Heights) returns as musical director.

What Are the Lowlights?
More depth is needed for the Interlocutor to make clear his two-faced personality (representing those who would be in favor of the prejudiced laws). He is always smiling, pretending to be the Scottsboro Boys' friend, but underneath, there is a man who needs to be in control and who feels an entitled superiority. When his authority is challenged, he should become downright nasty and there should be more fear and understanding among the Scottsboro Boys as his true self is revealed. 

More information:
The Scottsboro Boys runs at Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford, through Aug. 4. Tickets are $40-$50: 860-523-5900 x10 or visitwww.playhouseonpark.org

Additional credits:
Melanie Guernin, musical director; David Lewis, scenic design; Vilinda McGregor, lighting design; Rider Q. Stanton, Sound design;

The Playhouse will partner with the Connecticut Historical Society, in conjunction with its current exhibit, Black Citizenship In The Age Of Jim Crow, for a panel discussion from 5:30 to 7 pm July 30  This event is free and open to the public. Panelists discussing the themes of racism and resistance explored in the exhibition and in the production include the Honorable Richard A. Robinson, chief justice of the CT Supreme Court, Professor Diana R. Paulin of Trinity College and Frank Mitchell, executive director of the Amistad Center for Arts and Culture. The panel will be moderated by Attorney Valerie Caldwell-Gaines. Light refreshments will be served at the event at the Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth St., Hartford. Museum galleries will be open before the programRSVP: rsvp@chs.org; 860-236-5621 ext. 238.  Questions? Contact Natalie Belanger, adult programs manager, natalie_belanger@chs.org

Talkbacks with the cast are scheduled after every performance during this run.
An interview with Director Sean Harris is available at https://playhouseonparkct.wordpress.com.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Drama Desk Nominations Announced

2019 DRAMA DESK NOMINATIONS:

Outstanding Play
Fairview, by Jackie Sibblies Drury, Soho Rep
The Ferryman, by Jez Butterworth
Lewiston/Clarkston, by Samuel D. Hunter, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
Usual Girls, by Ming Peiffer, Roundabout Theatre Company
What the Constitution Means to Me, by Heidi Schreck, New York Theatre Workshop andBroadway
 
Outstanding Musical
Be More Chill
The Hello Girls, Prospect Theater Company
The Prom
Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future, Ars Nova
Tootsie
 
Outstanding Revival of a Play
Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, Signature Theatre
Henry VI: Shakespeare's Trilogy in Two Parts, National Asian American Theatre Company
Our Lady of 121st Street, Signature Theatre
Summer and Smoke, Classic Stage Company/Transport Group
The Waverly Gallery
Uncle Vanya, Hunter Theater Project

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Carmen Jones, Classic Stage Company
Fiddler on the Roof, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and Off-Broadway
Kiss Me, Kate, Roundabout Theatre Company
Merrily We Roll Along, Fiasco Theater/Roundabout Theatre Company
Oklahoma!, Bard Summerscape/St. Ann's Warehouse and Broadway
 
Outstanding Actor in a Play
Jeff Biehl, Life Sucks
Edmund Donovan, Lewiston/Clarkston
Raúl Esparza, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Russell Harvard, I Was Most Alive With You
Jay O. Sanders, Uncle Vanya
 
Outstanding Actress in a Play
Midori Francis, Usual Girls
Zainab Jah, Boesman and Lena
Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery
Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton
Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me
 
Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
Damon Daunno, Oklahoma!
Santino Fontana, Tootsie
Steven Skybell, Fiddler on the Roof
 
Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show
Beth Leavel, The Prom
Rebecca Naomi Jones, Oklahoma!
Anika Noni Rose, Carmen Jones
Stacey Sargeant, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
 
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Charles Browning, Fairview
Arnie Burton, Lewiston/Clarkston
Hampton Fluker, All My Sons
Tom Glynn-Carney, The Ferryman
Brandon Uranowitz, Burn This
 
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Harriett D. Foy, The House That Will Not Stand
Megan Hill, Eddie and Dave
Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill A Mockingbird
Ruth Wilson, King Lear
Alison Wright, Othello
 
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Corbin Bleu, Kiss Me, Kate
André De Shields, Hadestown
Sydney James Harcourt, Girl from the North Country
George Salazar, Be More Chill
Patrick Vaill, Oklahoma!
 
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Stephanie Hsu, Be More Chill
Leslie Kritzer, Beetlejuice
Soara-Joye Ross, Carmen Jones
Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
Ali Stroker, Oklahoma!
Mary Testa, Oklahoma!
 
Outstanding Director of a Play
Sarah Benson, Fairview
Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, The Jungle
Sam Mendes, The Ferryman
Tyne Rafaeli, Usual Girls
Taylor Reynolds, Plano
Jeff Wise, Life Sucks
 
Outstanding Director of a Musical
Noah Brody, Merrily We Roll Along
Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown
Scott Ellis, Tootsie
Daniel Fish, Oklahoma!
Joel Grey, Fiddler on the Roof
 
Outstanding Choreography
presented by LaDuca Dance Shoes
Camille A. Brown, Choir Boy
Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me Kate
Denis Jones, Tootsie
Lorin Latarro, Twelfth Night
Rick and Jeff Kuperman, Alice by Heart
David Neumann, Hadestown
 
Outstanding Music
presented by Music Theatre International
Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
Joe Iconis, Be More Chill
Peter Mills, The Hello Girls
Mark Sonnenblick, Midnight at the Never Get
Shaina Taub, Twelfth Night
David Yazbek, Tootsie
 
Outstanding Lyrics
presented by Music Theatre International
Chad Beguelin, The Prom
Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
Joe Iconis, Be More Chill
Peter Mills, The Hello Girls
David Yazbek, Tootsie
 
Outstanding Book of a Musical
presented by Music Theatre International
Scott Brown and Anthony King, Beetlejuice
Andrew R. Butler, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
Robert Horn, Tootsie
Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, The Prom
Dominique Morisseau, Ain't Too Proud
 
Outstanding Orchestrations
Larry Blank, Fiddler on the Roof
Simon Hale, Girl from the North Country
Daniel Kluger, Oklahoma!
Charlie Rosen, Be More Chill
Daryl Waters, The Cher Show
 
Outstanding Music in a Play
Paul Castles and Jongbin Jung, Wild Goose Dreams
Justin Ellington, Mrs. Murray's Menagerie
Justin Ellington, The House That Will Not Stand
Nick Powell, The Lehman Trilogy
Jason Michael Webb and Fitz Patton, Choir Boy
 
Outstanding Set Design of a Play
Miriam Buether, The Jungle
Es Devlin, Girls & Boys
Maruti Evans, The Peculiar Patriot
Mimi Lien, Fairview
Matt Saunders, "Daddy"
 
Outstanding Set Design for a Musical
presented by Hudson Scenic
Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
Laura Jellinek, Oklahoma!
Laura Jellinek, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
David Korins, Beetlejuice
Rae Smith, Girl from the North Country
 
Outstanding Costume Design for a Play
Dede M. Ayite, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
Dede M. Ayite, If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka
Ásta Bennie Hostetter, Mrs. Murray's Menagerie
Toni-Leslie James, Bernhardt/Hamlet
Nicole Slaven, Henry VI: Shakespeare's Trilogy in Two Parts
 
Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical
William Ivey Long, Beetlejuice
William Ivey Long, Tootsie
Bobby Frederick Tilly II, Be More Chill
Michael Krass, Hadestown
Bob Mackie, The Cher Show
Paloma Young, Alice by Heart
 
Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play
Amith Chandrashaker, Boesman and Lena
Amith Chandrashaker, Fairview
Jiyoun Chang, Slave Play
Jon Clark, The Jungle
Simon Cleveland, Spaceman
Yi Zhao, The House That Will Not Stand
 
Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical
presented by Production Resource Group
Adam Honoré, Carmen Jones
Bradley King, Hadestown
Jamie Roderick, Midnight at the Never Get
Barbara Samuels, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
Scott Zielinski, Oklahoma!
 
Outstanding Projection Design
Peter England, King Kong
Katherine Freer, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
Luke Halls, The Lehman Trilogy
Alex Basco Koch, Be More Chill
Peter Nigrini, Beetlejuice
Joshua Thorson, Oklahoma!
 
Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
Tyler Kieffer, Plano
Fitz Patton, Choir Boy
Nick Powell, The Ferryman
Jane Shaw, I Was Most Alive with You
Mikaal Sulaiman, Fairview
 
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Simon Baker, Girl from the North Country
Drew Levy, Oklahoma!
Brian Ronan, Tootsie
Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz, Hadestown
Mikaal Sulaiman, Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future
 
Outstanding Wig and Hair Design
Campbell Young Associates, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus  
Cookie Jordan, Eddie and Dave
Paul Huntley, Tootsie
Charles G. LaPointe, Beetlejuice
Charles G. LaPointe, The Cher Show
 
Outstanding Solo Performance
Mike Birbiglia, The New One
Carey Mulligan, Girls & Boys
Liza Jessie Peterson, The Peculiar Patriot, National Black Theatre/Hi-Arts
Erin Treadway, Spaceman, Loading Dock Theatre
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
 
Unique Theatrical Experience
All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

O'Neill Announces Summer Season

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center announced today the 2019 summer season of plays, musicals, and other works in development at theNational Music Theater ConferenceNational Playwrights ConferenceCabaret & Performance Conference, and National Puppetry Conference
“This summer in Waterford, CT, the O'Neill, the Launchpad of the American Theater, will continue our work with exciting new musicals, plays, puppetry, & cabaret. I'm delighted to welcome audiences from around the world to experience these vital new works during our 55th anniversary season.”  O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway continues, “I am grateful to each of our Artistic Directors for their bold vision in selecting these pieces and artists that will impact the field for decades to come.”

National Music Theater ConferenceAlexander Gemignani, Artistic DirectorReadings: June 22 - July 12> More Info
Since its founding in 1978, the National Music Theater Conference has developed more than 125 new musicals, including early works of award-winning writers and composers such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, Andrew Lippa, Tan Dun, Robert Lopez, Duncan Sheik, Kirsten Childs, Adam Gwon, Steven Sater, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Maury Yeston, Michael R. Jackson, and Jeanine Tesori.  Each musical will undergo the O’Neill’s signature development process, employing professional creative teams including acclaimed directors, dramaturgs, actors, and musicians.. Selected from 320 submissions, the following three new musicals will be developed:
Borderline
Book by Aryanna Garber
Music & Lyrics by Benjamin Velez
JEANNETTE
Book by Lauren M. Gunderson
Music & Lyrics by Ari Ayesha Afsar
Undesirables
Book & Lyrics by Hansol Jung
Lyrics & Music by Brian Quijada
NMTC Artistic Director Alexander Gemignani shares this about his second season: “The three musicals we’ve chosen exemplify the idea of innovation and serve as a reminder of how powerful the art form of music theater can be. I am thrilled that the O’Neill will be ushering these pieces along on this step of their journey. I cannot wait to get started with these groundbreaking and brilliant writers.”
National Playwrights ConferenceWendy C. Goldberg, Artistic DirectorReadings: July 3-27> More Info
The O’Neill’s founding program will present eight new works this summer season by a broad mix of brand new, mid-career, and established writers. Each play will undergo the O’Neill’s signature development process, employing professional creative teams, including acclaimed directors, dramaturgs, actors, and designers to bring new plays to life.  NPC has developed more than 750 new plays, including early works of award-winning writers such as Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Adam Bock, Kia Corthron, Christopher Durang, John Guare, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Samuel D. Hunter, David Henry Hwang, David Lindsay-Abaire, Martyna Majok. Dominique Morisseau, Lynn Nottage, Robert O’Hara, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Wendy Wasserstein, August Wilson and Lanford Wilson.  The plays were chosen from 1,416 plays received through the O’Neill’s open submissions process. Isaac Gomez (The Way She Spoke) joins as writer-in-residence.
Craig Lucas - Death of the Republic
Zayd Dohrn - The Humanities
Charly Evon Simpson - it's not a trip it’s a journey
George Brant - Tender Age
Anna Ziegler - Antigones
Tearrance Chisholm - Black Dick
Kimber Lee - Untitled F*ck M*ss S**gon Play
Laura Neill - Winter People
NPC Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg shares this about her 15th season: “I am excited to welcome these artists to the O'Neill community this summer. These storytellers are visionaries and sages for our culture and speak with great relevance to this moment in our nation's history. It is an honor to collaborate with them as we move these plays into the world."

Cabaret & Performance ConferenceJohn McDaniel, Artistic DirectorPerformances: July 31-August 10> More Info
The conference brings some of the biggest names in Cabaret Theater to perform at the O’Neill each summer, providing valuable development and performance training for select Cabaret Fellows (up-and-coming performers on the cabaret scene) as well as middle and high school students through the Junior Fellows program. Headliners for 2019 include:
Storytellers - Brad Simmons, with special guest Lennie Watts
Thirsty! - Tori Scott
Barb, Brel and more! - Barb Jungr
Carole Cook Tonight!
The Jam: Only Child - Daniel J. Watts
Artistic Director John McDaniel shares this about his seventh season: “This summer we are featuring everything from an old-school Broadway legend to an incredibly modern & hip sensation, with some downtown hilarity thrown in for good measure. It promises to be a season to remember!”
Atlantic Broadband is the premier sponsor of the 2019 Cabaret & Performance Conference.

National Puppetry ConferencePam Arciero, Artistic DirectorPerformances: June 14 & 15> More Info
The National Puppetry Conference welcomes artists from around the globe to explore the range and power of the puppet, with rehearsals and workshops in puppet and mechanism building, writing, music, marionettes, and more.  As previously announced, artists leading Conference intensives this summer include: Tyler Bunch, Melissa Dunphy, James Godwin, Alice Gottschalk, Kurt Hunter, Jim Kroupa, Bobbi Nidzgorski, Jim Rose, Richard Termine, Fred Thompson, and Derron Wood. Guest artists include Polina Borisova (Body - Object - Space), Tracy Broyles (Unsettling: Unsettling: An Expulsion of Breath), Dan Hurlin (Reading/Misreading Action), and Hansol Jung & Lexy Leuszler (Little Red Writing Hood), The Conference concludes with  two public performances featuring an extraordinary mix of devised work from throughout the Puppetry Conference, led by guest artists, artists-in-residence, and a vast array of performance styles.
Artistic Director Pam Arciero shares this about his 17th season: “This summer our Conference is full of an international mix of creative artists who give our conference it's unique spark. We look forward to featuring works that explore the extraordinary range and power of the puppet.”

National Theater Institute - TheatermakersRachel Jett, Artistic DirectorFREE Performances: Mondays, June 17 - July 22> More Info
One of six programs from the O’Neill’s flagship educational program the National Theater Institute. Theatermakers Summer Intensive trains students in a credit-earning curriculum of acting, directing, and playwriting alongside the O’Neill’s professional artists. Join us each week as students share their works-in-progress with the public.


National Critics Institute
Chris Jones, DirectorJune 30- July 14> More Info
Chris Jones, critic and columnist at the Chicago Tribune, helms America's only boot camp for arts writers. NCI is a two-week residential workshop and conference, designed for writers and critics looking to strengthen their skills in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced industry. Past faculty members include: Mark Blankenship, Ben Brantley, Sarah Kaufman, Peter Marks, Michael Phillips, Tejal Rao, and Dan Sullivan.
Commercial Theater InstituteTom Viertel, CTI Executive Director & O’Neill Board ChairJuly 10-12> More Info
The Commercial Theater Institute’s three-day summer intensive focuses specifically on the producer as a creative force. CTI provides aspiring producers the unique opportunity to get close to the development process as it unfolds at the O’Neill. In this hands-on intensive, teams of participants develop plans for a several of the O’Neill’s plays and musicals through a mixture of sessions with working producers and theater professionals, interaction with writers and directors, and group discussion. The workshop culminates with the teams presenting their strategies to a panel of industry professionals. The program is led by Tom Viertel — CTI Executive Director, O’Neill Board Chair, and Tony Award-winning Broadway producer — along with an all-star faculty from the New York theater community. Applications for 2019 are due June 17. 

The O’Neill Box Office opens to the public June 5. Advance ticket sales are available to O’Neill members May 20.  For more information, visit www.theoneill.orgor call 860-443-5378.

The 2019 Summer Season is made possible by: The Shubert Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Burry Fredrik Foundation, Connecticut Office for the Arts, Geraldine Stutz Trust, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, The Jane Henson Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Edward and Mary Lord Foundation, The Mohegan Tribe/Mohegan Sun, Dramatist Play Service, Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association, The Joseph C. and Esther Foster Foundation, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Foundation, Actors' Equity Foundation, Chester W. Kitchings Foundation, New London Education Foundation/Karl Kelly Fund, Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc. and the support of individual O’Neill donors.

About the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center: Founded in 1964, the O’Neill is the country’s preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater, and named in honor of Eugene O’Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and America’s only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.  The O’Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and thousands more emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O’Neill have gone on to full production at theaters around the world. O’Neill programs include the National Playwrights ConferenceNational Music Theater ConferenceNational Critics InstituteNational Puppetry ConferenceCabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute – which offers six credit-earning undergraduate training programs. In addition, the O’Neill owns and operates Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. The O’Neill is the recipient of two Tony Awards and National Medal of Arts. www.theoneill.org.

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