By Mark G. Auerbach
TheaterWorks Announces 2020-21 Season
TheaterWorks announced its upcoming season in a special online edition of Get Sauced with Rob Ruggiero, who was joined by his associates Taneisha Duggan and Eric Ort. Tjhe season will open in late September with Ayad Akhtar’s play The Who and The What, which had originally been scheduled for this spring. The Tony Award winning musical, Fun Home, which had been TheaterWorks’ summer production, will be performed in their April/May 2021 slot. Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside, Matthew Lopez’s Zoey’s Perfect Wedding, and Theresa Rebeck’s Seared complete the season.
TheaterWorks has produced Akhtar’s The Invisible Hand, and the playwright, who won the Pulitzer for Disgraced (which was on the boards at Chester Theatre a few years ago), writes about a Muslim family in Atlanta, where an independent, open-minded daughter writes a provocative novel that offends her more conservative family members. TheaterWorks audiences will also be familiar with the playwright Matthew Lopez, who penned one of their biggest hits, The Legend of Georgia McBride. Lopez’s The Inheritance was a mega-hit in London and on Broadway; the play was commissioned by Hartford Stage.
Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside, which premiered at Williamstown, and just completed a successful Broadway run starring Mary Louise Parker. Pulitzer finalist Rapp partially sets his play at Yale. Theresa Rebeck’s Seared, which also premiered at Williamstown, was a big hit in New York, before shuttering during the pandemic. It’s about a highly lauded chef who can’t share his award-winning recipes with the public.
Fun Home, based on graphic artist Alison Bechdel’s autobiography, is the story of a young woman discovering her sexuality, and life in a house that’s also the family-owned funeral parlor. Bechdel’s father is closeted, and her relationship with him is a pivotal part of the musical, penned by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori. Fun Home won the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Score. Rob Ruggiero is slated to direct.
For details: www.twhartford.org.
The Bushnell has postponed its presentation of The Cher Show, scheduled for its Broadway season in 2020-21 to the following year, since the production has delayed its tour. Subscribers will have their subscription bills pro-rated. For details: www.bushnell.org.
Hamilton, the Broadway megahit, comes to the small screen on July 3. Disney Plus will stream the Lin Manuel Miranda musical, which was filmed at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in 2016. It was intended to be released next year, but the show’s producers and creatives moved the start date up, because so many people are staying at home due to COVID19. Check Disney Plus for screening dates and fees. Hamilton will be at The Bushnell over the holidays.
The Outer Circle Critics Awards honored the best of New York theatre this season, as determined by the out of town theatre press. Awardees with local ties include: Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance (which was developed by Hartford Stage) as “Outstanding New Broadway Play”; Jagged Little Pill (which premiered at Cambridge’s ART) as “Outstanding New Broadway Musical; Darling Grenadine ( which premiered at Goodspeed) as Outstanding New Off-Broadway musical, and actors Elizabeth Stanley (often seen at Barrington Stage) and John-Andrew Morrison (from Hartford Stage’s A Christmas Carol) for outstanding performances.
Playbill now posts listings of online screenings of major theatre events worldwide. https://www.playbill.com/article/schedule-of-upcoming-and-current-free-live-stream-broadcasts-com-322823
PBS is screening several classics. The 2019 Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, with Danielle Brooks, Grantham Coleman, and Chuck Cooper is available through May 27. Hartford Stage is mounting a production of this Shakespeare comedy next season. Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, revived on Broadway with Kevin Kline and Kate Burton, is also available through May 27. For details: www.pbs.org. There are a lot of other choices from PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center and Great Performances, available to those who are Passport members of PBS. For details: www.wgby.org.
A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams’ classic, staged by London’s National Theatre with Gillian Anderson, is available for streaming through May 28. Williamstown Theatre Festival had planned to open their summer season with this play, and it will be performed on Audible sometime this summer. For details: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/nt-at-home-a-streetcar-named-desire
Love Letters, the A.R. Gurney two-hander, starring Sally Field and Bryan Cranston will be streamed online on May 21 at 8PM on YouTube by Broadway’s Best Shows. You may remember the touring production with Love Story stars Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal at The Bushnell a few seasons ago, but back in 2008, Panache Productions in Springfield presented the play with then ABC40 anchors Dave Madsen and Kathy Tobin; Olympic gymnast Tim Daggett and former WWLP anchor Brenda Garton; and Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno with Bay Path President Carol Leary. For details: https://www.broadwaysbestshows.com/
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts will launch its new series Broadway Fridays, featuring free digital streams of past Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts, beginning June 5 at 8PM, with Kelli O’Hara and Nathan Gunn in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. On July 12, Nathan Lane stars in Douglas Carter Beane’s The Nance. Moss Hart’s Act One with Tony Shaloub, Andrea Martin, and Santino Fontana airs June 19. For details: http://lincolncenter.org/lincoln-center-at-home or www.wgby.org.
Take Me To The World The Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, was supposed to be live, to celebrate the Broadway legend, who turned 90 on March 22. But it got moved online, and despite some glitches at the beginning, is now available online. It’s star-studded, and simply delightful. Composer Steven Schwartz of Godspell (due at Berkshire Theatre Group this summer), Pippin, and Wicked, provided a piano version of Sondheim’s overture to Follies. There’s a brilliant version of Sondheim’s “The Ladies Who Lunch” with Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, and Meryl Streep. Personally, I loved the overture to Merrily We Roll Along, and Beaie Feldstein and Ben Platt singing “It Takes Two” from Into the Woods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A92wZIvEUAw&t=2134s
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 TV/Radio for WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB, and is a contributor to Pioneer Valley Radio.