Arts Beat



Broadway Here and There
Broadway’s Blockbuster Returns to Hartford
“Wicked”, the Broadway blockbuster, makes a return visit to The Bushnell in Hartford (November 5-23). Based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel, it’s a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”, telling the story of Glinda and The Witch, before Dorothy arrived in Oz. “Wicked” has been selling out on Broadway, since its opening in 2003, and it’s a “must-see” on The Bushnell’s big stage.
Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life”) wrote the script and Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell”, “Pippin”, “Pocahantas” on film) wrote the music and lyrics. Joe Mantello directs, and Wayne Cilento choreographs. The Broadway design team of “Wicked” also designed this national tour. “Wicked” solidifed the musical theatre credits of Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, whoi played Glinda (the good witch) and Elphaba (the wicked witch of the west). Kara Lindsay and Laurel Harris play the roles in this tour. Gene Weygandt plays the Wizard.
“Wicked” has played to great success globally, and whether it’s a first time peek at Oz before Dorothy, or a return visit, it provides a powerful message wrapped up in a stunning production, and now-standard pop score. “Wicked” is a sumptuous feast for the eyes with Tony Award winning sets and costumes. Speaking of Tony Awards, “Wicked” was nominated for ten, and took home three… for sets, costumes and for Idina Menzel.
“Wicked” is a great introduction to live musical theatre for older kids. They’ll be transfixed by the story, the opulent production, and the music. For tickets: (860) 987-5900 or www.bushnell.org.

Wicked” flies into Hartford. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

“Wicked” flies into Hartford. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Western Mass Sends Broadway a Hit
The Barrington Stage’s revival of the Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jerome Robbins 1944 musical “On the Town”, a serious hit at Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage in 2013, is taking Broadway by storm. The New York Times’ Ben Brantley literally wrote the production a valentine. (I’ll be reviewing the show at the end of the month).
During Broadway’s Golden Age (1940-1970), many hopeful Broadway shows did their “tryout” runs at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, or at several theatres in Boston. Now, Broadway looks to the regionals like Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Hartford Stage and Goodspeed Opera House for its latest hits..
Broadway has done well of late from western New England theatres. Last year, Hartford Stage sent its production of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” to Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for “Best Musical”. Williamstown Theatre Festival also sent the new musical “The Bridges of Madison County” to the Big Apple, and their production of “The Elephant Man” with heartthrob Bradley Cooper is currently in previews.. And, of course, The Goodspeed Opera House has sent so many hits to Broadway, amongst them “Annie”, “Man of La Mancha” and “Shenandoah”. I’d like to see their current offering, “Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” added to the list. Barrington Stage sent the award-winning “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” to Broadway. I’m sure they’re hoping “On The Town” has an equally sucessful run.
Fall is a good time to find discount tickets on Broadway, before the holiday season rush on tickets. If you can’t get into New York before Thanksgiving, things get better for discounts in January. My go-to site for discount tickets is Broadway Box. Sign up for their email alerts. www.broadwaybox.com.
For information on “On The Town”: www.onthetownbroadway.com
Plan Ahead…
***Jazz A La Mode 30th Anniversary Celebration brings area jazz greats together to perform at Springfield’s Community Music School on Sunday afternoon, November 16. New England Public Radio fêtes host Tom Reney with the sounds of Karrin Allyson, Steve Davis, Avery Sharpe, Grant Stewart, Nat Reeves, Paul Arslanian, George Kaye and Jon Fisher. “Jazz A La Mode” and Tom Reney are two WFCR originals, which have really put WFCR and New England Public Radio on the map. Proceeds benefit New England Public Radio. For details:
Keep in Mind…
***Neil Berg’s “100 Years of Broadway” concert comes to Springfield Symphony Hall on November 1. The concert features five Broadway performers, Jeannette Bayardelle “The Color Purple”), Rita Harvey (“Phantom of The Opera” and “Fiddler On The Roof”), Natalie Toro (“Les Miserables” and “Evita”), Richard Todd Adams (Phantom of The Opera”), and Danny Zolli (“Jesus Christ Superstar”) performing musical hits, along with winners of a nationwide contest and audition series. For tickets: 413-788-7044 or www.citystage.symphonyhall.com
***Harvey. Mary Chase’s 1944 play featured Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, the guy who had an imaginary rabbit friend. (A recent revival introduced Jim Parsons to Broadway audiences.) The Majestic Theater in West Springfield presents this Pulitzer Prize winner October 30-December 14. The cast includes: Dave Mason, Cate Damon, Chris Shanahan, James Emery and Nicole Meldonian. For tickets: 413-747-7797 or http://www.majestictheater.com/
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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