Arts Beat

By Mark G. Auerbach



Hartford Stage announced its upcoming season of live performances, which opens with the previously planned  Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy, Ah Wilderness, helmed by Melia Bensussen, beginning in October. It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, adapted by Joe Landry, and co-directed by Bensussen and Rachel Alderman plays Hartford during the holiday season slot usually occupied by A Christmas Carol. The new year brings Pearl Cleage’s Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous; Alaudin Ullah’s autobiographical Dishwasher Dreams, and Neil Simon’s landmark Lost In Yonkers, co-directed by Marsha Mason and Rachel Alderman, and starring Mason. A final production will be announced. For details: www.hartfordstage.org.

Goodspeed Musicals will reopen beginning Sept. 24 with the Tony Award-nominated musical revue, A Grand Night For Singing: A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein, staged by TheaterWorks Hartford’s Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero, who had been slated to stage their classic South Pacific this fall. According to Goodspeed officials, South Pacific is too large a production to present in the small theatre at this time. The revue features standards from the R&H canon, which includes South Pacific, Carousel, The King and I, The Sound of Music, Flower Drum Song, and the lesser-known Me and Juliet, Pipe Dream, and State Fair. For details: www.goodspeed.org.


The Boston Pops July 4 Spectacular concert will take place at Tanglewood, where Keith Lockhart will lead a live televised performance of patriotic favorites with guests Jon Batiste, bandleader of the Late Show With Stephen Colbert and legendary singer Mavis Staples. Seating and lawn capacity is limited. For details: Tanglewood.org.

Kill Move Paradise, James Ijames’s play inspired by the 2014 murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice by a member of the Cleveland Police Department, will be staged by Dexter J. Singleton at Playhouse on Park, June 22-24 at Bushnell Park in Hartford (Rain Date June 25), and available for streaming July7-August 1. The cast includes Christopher Alexander Chukwueke, Oliver Sai Lester, Quan Chamberts, and Trevele Morgan. For details: www.playhouseonpark.org.


The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s Talcott Mountain Music Festival kicks off its 25th summer season with its annual Celebrate America! concert, conducted by HSO Maestra Carolyn Kuan on July 2. (Rain Date: July 3). The program features all of the patriotic favorites one expects at Independence Day, plus fireworks. The concerts are held in Simsbury. For details: www.hartfordsymphony.org.

Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative holds its final virtual workshop for screenwriters with Hollywood literary agent and producer Marilyn R. Atlas, on June 24. This workshop focuses on character development. For details: www.berkshirefilm.org.


Jacob’s Pillow’s onsite performance season launches with plenty of tap. Dorrance Dance, with Michelle Dorrance, Josette Wiggan-Freund, Nicholas Van Young, and musicians and dancers perform June 30-July 4. The program includes a world premiere of a full-company work by Van Young, which was developed during a COVID-compliant residency at the Pillow Lab. Wiggan-Freund’s Praise: The Inevitable Fruit of Gratitude, danced to music by jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold, is also on the bill. For details: www.jacobspillow.org.

La Boheme, Puccini’s powerhouse of an operatic love story which inspired the musical Rent, will be performed by Connecticut Lyric Opera and Connecticut Virtuosi Orchestra live, on July 2 at the Trinity-On-Main Arts Center in New Britain, and again on July 11 at the the Alfred E. Burr Memorial Sculpture Garden (next to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art) in Hartford on July 11. Subsequent performances will be held in other locales in Southern CT. Jan Mason directs. Adrian Sylveen conducts. For details: http://thevirtuosi.org/


The Big E is back, Sept. 17- Oct. 3. That’s great news.

When Life Imitates Theatre. Joshua Long, a Utah high school theatre director, staged a production of Sondheim’s Follies last month, a few weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of the musical’s opening on Broadway. Follies tells the story of a reunion of a group of Follies performers who gather in a theatre about to be torn down for one last reunion. They reminisce, and their younger selves appear as ghosts. Anyway, Long’s high school theatre auditorium was about to be demolished, so he invited theatre alums back to their high school for one last performance–playing the older characters in Follies, while the current high school classmates played their younger selves. Kudos to Long and his students. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEZhuWcLbmA

Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and The Yale School of Drama. He has worked for arts organizations nationwide and reported on the arts for print and broadcast. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat, Athenaeum Spotlight and On The Mark for WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB. He’s a regular contributor to Pioneer Valley Radio and a member of the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association.


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