Arts Beat, Oct. 19-25, 2021


By Mark G. Auerbach

Kiss My Aztec, a new take on Latin American history, has been added to Hartford Stage’s season, with performances scheduled for June 2-26, 2022. This hilarious and irreverent new musical features a book by Tony and Emmy Award-winner John Leguizamo and Tony Taccone, music by Benjamin Velez, and lyrics by David Kamp, Velez and Leguizamo. The musical comedy, which is based on a screenplay by Leguizamo and Stephen Chbosky, will be directed by Taccone. “Kiss My Aztec!” was originally commissioned by Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the world premiere was produced by Berkeley Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse. Hartford Stage has a great track record for sending musicals on to Broadway. “Falsettos,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” and “Anastasia” got their start in Hartford. For details: www.hartfordstage.org.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Bombyx Center for Arts and Equity, a new arts series originating from the Florence Congregational Church, has announced an ambitious season, produced by Laudable Productions’ Cassandra Holden and Kyle Homstead. The Florence Congregational Church will continue to serve as a spiritual center for its congregation, the reform synagogue Beit Ahavah, and a preschool. Among the programs of note: Grammy and Tony winner Dee Dee Bridgewater and Paul Charlap (Oct. 29) and trumpeter Terence Blanchard (Nov. 14), who made history as the first African-American composer to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. His “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” opened last month to critical acclaim. Other performers headed to Florence include Gilad Hekselman, the Wildmans, Ife, and Yemen Blues. For details: bombyx.live/events/.

Jared Mezzocchi “Someone Else’s House.” (SUBMITTED PHOTO/GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE)

Someone Else’s House, a live virtual experience from Obie-winning writer and performer Jared Mezzocchi, director Margot Bordelon, and creative producer Elizabeth Williamson, opens TheaterWorks Hartford’s 2021-22 season. Running online Oct. 21-31, this performance centers on Mezzocchi’s frightening, true-life haunting inside his family’s 200-year-old New England house. Mezzocchi’s previous work at TheaterWorks was celebrated as a New York Times Critic Pick on Sarah Gancher’s “Russian Troll Farm” (co-director and multimedia designer). Williamson, who worked with Mezzocchi on “Russian Troll Farm,” was formerly an associate director at Hartford Stage, where she adapted and directed “Jane Eyre,” and stewarded “The Inheritance” to its London and Broadway success (where it won this year’s Tony Award for best play). For details: www.twhartford.org.

An Evening with Yo-Yo Ma. The world-acclaimed cellist and part-time Western Mass. resident talks about the role culture can play in bettering our future, in a special conversation with the Connecticut Public Forum, Nov. 9 at The Bushnell in Hartford. For details: www.bushnell.org.

Holyoke Civic Symphony opens its 55th season with a free concert on Oct. 24 at Holyoke Community College, and Maestro David Kidwell celebrates his 25th anniversary on the podium. The program includes music from Eveland, Sadler, Raff, Grieg and Villa-Lobos, whose “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5” will feature soprano Mary Annarella. For details: www.holyokecivicsymphony.org.

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s Nov. 5-7 concerts at The Bushnell celebrate the music of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. Maestra Carolyn Kuan conducts four dance episodes from Copland’s ballet “Rodeo” and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.” The program also includes: Wynton Marsalis’ jazz-infused “Blues” and “Hootenanny” from Violin Concerto in D Major, and Grammy-winning composer Laura Karpman’s “All American,” inspired by music of American women composers. For details: www.hartfordsymphony.org.


Jennifer Koh brings her “Bach and Beyond” program to Bowker Auditorium on the UMass-Amherst campus on Oct. 28. Koh, a violinist, is at the pinnacle of the classical music world. Koh made her orchestral debut at age 11 with the Chicago Symphony and has toured internationally with virtuosic performances of both beloved classics and exciting new music. Koh performs a special program featuring Bach masterworks and new commissions by leading Asian-American composers Vijay Iyer, Nina Shekhar, Anjna Swaminathan and Ken Ueno. For details: www.fineartscenter.com.

Elizabeth Chang

Elizabeth Chang, UMass professor of violin, has been named the new artistic director of Vermont’s Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival. For details: gmcmf.org.


Mark G. Auerbach studied theater 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 WCPC, Channel 15, and WSKB-FM 89.5. He’s a regular contributor to Pioneer Valley Radio and a member of the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association.

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