Comedies at TheaterWorks, MTC, “Proof” at Playhouse on Park, and World Premier at Yale

Inside notes and comments about Connecticut and New York Professional Theater

By Karen Isaacs

Interesting Comedy: TheaterWorks is presenting Dancing Lessons, a new romantic comedy by Mark St. Germain, Jan. 23 to March 1.  I saw this show at Barringrton Stage Company this summer and enjoyed it.  It’s about a man with Asperberger’s who want to learn how to dance and the injured Broadway dancer he asks to teach him.  Paige Davis will repeat the role of woman and Andrew Benator will play the man.  Julianne Boyd, artistic director of Barrington, will direct.  Click here  to see my Barringrton Stage Company review. For tickets call the box office at 860-527-7838 or visit www.theaterworkshartford.org

Another Comedy: Maybe since it is so cold outside, we like some warmth — at least emotional warmth – when we go to the theater.  If so, MTC in Norwalk is obliging us with a production of Driving Miss Daisy, Jan. 30 to Feb. 22.  The Albert Uhry play about the elderly Southern Jewish woman and the African American man who is hired to drive her — against her will — stars Rebecca Hoodwin as Miss Daisy, Lorenzo Scott as Hoke and Mike Bolan as her son Boolie. For tickets, visit www.musictheaterofct.com or call 203 -454-3883.

Pulitzer Winner: Playhouse on Park in West Hartford is presenting the 2001 Pulitzer winning drama Proof  through Feb. 8.  The play by David Auburn is about the daughter of a mathematician who must face his death, her estranged sister and the proof hidden in his notebooks.  But whose proof is it?  For tickets call 860-523-5900 x10 or visit www.playhouseonpark.org.

World Premier:  The Yale Rep-commissioned Familiar has its world premier Jan. 30 to Feb. 21.  The press materials describe the play by Obie-award winning playwright Danai Guria as “In a snowy Midwestern suburb, Marvelous and Donald are preparing for the marriage of their eldest daughter. Clashes erupt within the family when the first-generation American bride-to-be insists on observing a traditional Zimbabwean wedding ritual. [This] new play [is] about the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, sisters, wives and husbands—the customs they keep, and the secrets they keep buried.” For tickets call 203-432-1234 or visit yalerep.org.

An Early Valentine:  The Bushnell in Hartford is giving us an early Valentine’s present when the musical Nice Work If You Can Get It visits Feb. 3-8.  Yes, the plot is silly — all about a playboy, chorus girls, rum runners on Long Island — it is set in the 20s — and romance. But the music is all Gershwin and there is a lot of dancing and, did I mention, romance.  For tickets visit bushnell.org or call 860-987-5900.

Ivoryton Mixes It Up: Ivoryton Playhouse’s 2015 season includes a mixture of the old and the new, the country and the rock, and the pop.  The season starts with Stand by Your Man (March 18-April 5) about Tammy Wynette followed by a comedy The Last Romance (April 22- May 10) concerning a senior love story.  Next up is Calendar Girls (June 3- 21) based on the hit British movie followed by the classic South Pacific (July 1-26).  Then it’s on to Memphis (Aug. 5-30), Little Shop of Horrors (Sept. 23 – Oct. 12) and the season concludes with Liberace! (Oct. 28 – Nov. 15.)  For information and subscriptions call 860-767-7318 or www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

A Sad End to 2014:  On the last day of the year, many of us were saddened to learn of the death of Edward Herrmann.  While younger people may know him best as Richard Gilmore in “The Gilmore Girls” — older Connecticut theater goers will remember his fine performances at Long Wharf, Westport and other Connecticut theaters.

New York News: January is the time of shows closing and announcements of new shows for the spring.  Among the recently announced closings are The Last Ship — Sting’s musical, and the Idina Menzel musical If/Then which will ends its run March 22 when her contract is done.  Coming to Broadway is Chita Rivera in the Kander and Ebb musical The Visit. She has championed this show for years; this past summer a tightened 95 minute version of the show won good reviews at Williamstown Theater Festival. I liked it.   Roger Rees will co-star. Click here to see my comments.  Something Rotten! a new musical about dueling playwrights set in Shakespeare’s time will star Christian Borle and Brian D’Arcy James this spring. It’s the show that hastened the demise of Side Show. Tickets are now on sale at Telecharge.  Off-Broadway Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan will star in the musical John & Jen. The show is described as an “intimate story about connections, commitments and healing of the human heart.”  The revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles will star Elisabeth Moss as well as Jason Biggs, Bryce Pinkham and Tracee Chimo.  The show begins performances Feb. 23. Tickets are available through Telecharge.

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