Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

David Lutken is Will Rogers at Goodspeed next season

Goodspeed Announces Its 2018 Season

Three sure-to-be-crowdpleasers are on tap next year at Goodspeed Musicals. The season opens with The Will Rogers Follies starring David Lutken as the entertainer and politician. Cy Coleman provided the music; Betty Comden and Adolph Green provided the lyrics, and Peter Stone wrote the book for the musical, which took home the “Best Musical” Tony Award. TheaterWorks’ Rob Ruggiero will direct Lionel Bart’s Oliver, the now classic musical version of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. The recent Broadway musical Bullets Over Broadway, adapted by Woody Allen from his film, and using period music, plays Goodspeed in the fall. For details: http://goodspeed.org/2018-season

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock Bushnell-bound October 24-29.

It’s been a banner year for Broadway’s Andrew Lloyd Webber. At Tony Awards time, last June, he had four hit musicals running on Broadway: a revival of Cats, the long-running The Phantom of The Opera, Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard, and his most recent hit School of Rock

School of Rock. London production photo by Tristram Kenton

School of Rock, based on the 2003 film, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater, and book by Julian Fellowes, adapted rom Mike White’s screenplay, is still running on Broadway. A national tour kicked off last month, and it’s Hartford-bound to The Bushnell on October 24-29.

School of Rock follows Dewey Finn, an out-of-work rock singer and guitarist who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. After identifying the musical talent in his students, Dewey forms a band of fifth-graders, in an attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands contest Lloyd Webber contributed 14 new songs to the 11 already in the movie.

By the way, Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, a “sequel” to The Phantom Of The Opera, with Broadway aspirations, plays The Bushnell next year.

Sarah Gancher, author of Seder at Hartford Stage.

For details: 860-987-5900 or www.bushnell.org

Hartford Stage Presents World Premiere of Sarah Gancher’s Seder

Hartford Stage will present the world premiere of  Sarah Gancher’s Seder, an intimate tale of survival and freedom, October 19-November 12. Hartford Stage Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Williamson .directs the visceral family drama, set in Budapest in 2002,  that weaves together a mother’s mysterious past working for the Hungarian KGB with a daughter’s unexpected homecoming. As the family attempts to celebrate its first Passover Seder, a lifetime of dark secrets is revealed. The play is based on a true story.

Playwright Sarah Gancher has two other world premieres coming up this season: I’ll Get You Back Again in October at Round House Theatre, directed by Rachel Chavkin, and The Lucky Ones, a new musical next spring at Ars Nova, directed by Anne Kauffman. Gancher’s writing has been seen on stages across the United States and internationally, including London’s National Theatre, Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, Steppenwolf, and The Flea. Seder is part of her 7th cycle of plays set in Budapest, where she lived for several years.

“In Seder, Sarah tackles a less well-known period of 20th Century Jewish history, post-WWII in Communist Eastern Europe,” Williamson said. “It’s a compelling and thought-provoking play, which asks what I believe are vital questions: What responsibility does a secretary for the Hungarian KGB bear for the atrocities committed by her bosses? And can her children, growing up in a democratic era, actually make more moral choices than she has? What does the right choice look like?”

For details: 860-527-5151 or www.hartfordstage.org.

Pantsula Dance from South Africa at UMass

Keep in Mind…

The Festival of South African Dance, direct from Johannesburg, brings two dance companies to the UMass Fine Arts Center on October 17. The Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies use dance to respond to cultural and political issues in their communities by conveying real-life stories of hard work, human struggles, and longing for a better life.For details: 413-545-2511, t 800-999-UMAS, or www.fineartscenter.com/

Concert For America: Stand Up! Sing Out! Seth Rudetsky is bringing a group of Broadway pals to the Bushnell on October 16, with the purpose of infusing Americans with hope and inspiration!  It’s a benefit for National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ),  National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Immigration Law Center, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Sierra Club Foundation.. Among those scheduled to appear are: Matthew Broderick, Todrick Hall, Maurice Hines, Capathia Jenkins, Judy Kuhn, Rebecca Luker, Beth Malone, John and Leo Manzari, Holly Near, Seth Rudetsky, Jennifer Simard, Jenna Ushkowitz, and James Wesley. For  details: www.bushnell.org.

Multiband Pops at UMass

The UMass Multiband Pops Concert showcases over a dozen wind, brass, choral, percussion and dance ensembles from the Department, including the Minuteman Marching Band, October 20 at the UMass Fine Arts Center in Amherst. For details: 413-545-2511, t 800-999-UMAS, or www.fineartscenter.com/

The Pittsfield City Jazz Festival, featuring The Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, plays Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre on October 14. The Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, led by the late trumpeter’s bassist John Lee, showcases the unique rhythms and well-loved melodies (such as “Manteca” and “Tin Tin Deo”) of Gillespie’s library of Cu-Bop, For details: .413-997-4444, or www.berkshiretheatregroup.org

Janeane Garofalo, the Emmy Award-nominated actress, comedian, and SNL alum, plays The Colonial in Pittsfield on October 21, under the auspices of Berkshire Theatre Group. For details: For details: .413-997-4444, or www.berkshiretheatregroup.org

Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio.

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