Arts Beat

by Mark G. Auerbach

Jenn Thompson

“A Doll’s House, Part 2” Comes to TheaterWorks

The recent Broadway hit, Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, comes to Hartford’s Theaterworks, January 17-February 24, staged by Jenn Thompson, who received rave notices for her recent stagings of Oklahoma! and Bye Bye Birdie at Goodspeed, Tribes at Barrington Stage, and The Call at TheaterWorks.

In this “sequel” the to Ibsen classic, A Doll’s House, where Norwegian housewife and mother Nora walks out on husband, children and “the perfect life”, Nora returns home 15 years later, independent and successful, ready for a showdown with her ex. Hnath’s smart and funny comedy picked up a slew of awards, a Tony nomination for “Best Play”, and has become one of the most-produced plays this season. Barrington Stage produced the comedy last summer.

Generally, sequels and prequels don’t work on the stage, other than those Shakespearean histories. Some of the sequels, for example Annie II, Bring Back Birdie, and The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, are legendary flops. The most famous Broadway musical sequel, inspired by the Ibsen classic, was produced by Harold Prince. Called, A Doll’s Life, it opened and shuttered in 1982.

The Theaterworks  cast includes Tasha Lawrence as Nora, Sam Gregory as Torvald, Amelia White as Anne Marie and Kira Player as Emmy.

A Doll’s House., Part 2 is the final show to be presented at TheaterWorks’ Pearl Street Theatre, before the theatre begins renovations, and moves its productions temporarily to the Wasworth Atheneum. For details: 860-527-7838 or www.twhartford.org.

UMass Dancers. Photo by Derek Fowles

UMass Music & Dance Department Honors Legacy of Jose Limón

Members of the renowned Limón Dance Company will perform alongside students from UMass and Five College Dance in a special event, Reflect/Respond: A Limón Legacy Concert, on January 25 in the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall. The program will feature two Limón masterworks along with a world premiere by acclaimed choreographer David Dorfman. The concert is directed by Associate Professor of Dance Paul Dennis, who is himself a former member of the Limón Dance Company, and presented by the UMass Amherst Department of Music and Dance.

Company members will present The Exiles, a classic duet created by José Limón in 1950. Company members will then join students from UMass and Five College Dance in performing one of Limón’s most enduring masterworks, A Choreographic Offering, which he created in 1964 as a tribute to his teacher and mentor, Doris Humphrey. A Choreographic Offering also serves as the point of departure for a new work by David Dorfman titled Picture This, which will be performed by students from UMass and Five College Dance. Dorfman is a Guggenheim Fellow whose works have been commissioned by London’s Bedlam Dance Company, d9 Dance Collective in Seattle, and Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia. Picture This was created as a reflection upon Limón’s indelible impact on the dance world as well as a response to that legacy using modern dance techniques.

For details: 413-545-2511, or www.fineartscenter.com/musicanddance.

Of Note

Rob Ruggiero, TheaterWorks Artistic Director, returns to the Muny in St. Louis to direct the musical 1776, which runs June 27-July 3. Last season, Ruggiero directed Gtpsy as part of the Muny’s Centennial. For details: https://muny.org/uncategorized/muny-announces-101st-season-creative-teams/

Dr. Benjamin Liptzin, former chief of Psychiatry at Baytate Health, who retired in 2016 having served at Baystate for 25 years, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington.. He previously served on the boards of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Jewish Federation of Western Mass, Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Western Mass, and Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts Chapter. For more information, see www.mahaiwe.org

Peter Thomsen

Keep in Mind

Arts Beat Radio airs every Friday at 8AM, on 89.5fm/WSKB.  On January 18, we’ll meet Longmeadow vocal coach Peter Thomsen, who has helped Brynn Cartelli and other singers maintained their voices. Concert production specialist Greg Jones talks about some of his upcoming projects including the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival. ArtsBeat Radio, live on Fridays at 8AM on 89.5fm/WSKB, on Westfield Comcast channel 15, or streamed on www.wskb.org. And, if you miss an episode, ind it on YouTube at WSKB Community Radio’s page

The Broadway Cats Company. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Cats, the record-breaking musical spectacular by Andrew Lloyd Webber that has captivated audiences in over 30 countries and 15 languages, is now on tour across North America, with a stop at The Bushnell in Hartford, January 29 through February 3. Winner of 7 Tony Awards including “Best Musical”, Cats launched the power ballad “Memory”. Westfield native Nick Burrage is in the tour cast. There will be an ASL interpreted performance on February 3 at 6:30pmFor details:  860-987-5900 or www.buhnell.org.

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents Bach & Beyond, Jannuary 18-20 at The Belding Theatre at The Buushnell. Lisa Rautenberg and Leonid Sigal conduct a program which features Baroque dancers Carlos Fittante and Robin Gilbert. For details:  860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org

Lisa Rautenberg

Peter Pan, the musical rings in the New Year at Bowker Auditorium on the UMass/Amherst campus January 10-20, presented by Amherst Leisure Services Community Theater. Based on J. M. Barrie’s 1904 play Peter Pan and Barrie’s own novelization of it, Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan features music mostly by Mark “Moose” Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, and most of the lyrics were written by Carolyn Leigh, with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The original Broadway musical starred Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard, which became a TV classic. For details: www.alsct.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. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat Radio for 89.5fm/WSKB.

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