Defending Theater from Censorship, Tammy Wynette, & Next at Long Wharf

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Inside notes and comments about Connecticut and New York Professional Theater

By Karen Isaacs

 Well Deserved Award:  Howard Sherman — a friend who has a long association with Connecticut theater — received the Defender Award from the Dramatist Legal Defense Fund through the Dramatist Guild.   He  began career as a public relations intern at Westport Country Playhouse, then moved on to Hartford Stage and then in administration at Goodspeed and the O’Neill Center.  He is also the new head of the Arts Integrity Initiative of the New School of Drama. The Center will play an active role in providing resources to arts communities facing censorship issues.  Sherman has been active in many cases of censorship of theater especially cases involving high school productions, including several here in Connecticut including the controversy over a production of Sweeney Todd at Trumbull High School. You can read his columns/blog at

Country Western Diva:  Tammy Wynette was called the “first lady of country music,” charting 23 number one hits in the ’60s and ’70.  Ivoryton Playhouse is presenting Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story March 18 to  April 5.  It tells the story of her journey from the cotton fields  of Mississippi to superstardom including her triumphs and tragedies. More than 20 songs made famous by Wynette are featured including the title song.  The production stars husband and wife performers Kate Barton and Ben Hope.  For tickets call 860-767-7318 or visit

Next at Long Wharf:  Beginning March 25 and running through April 19, Long Wharf’s main stage will feature brownsbille song (b-side for tray). According to the press release, “eighteen-year-old Tray has a bright future. His little sister needs him to be a good brother. His grandma wants him to be a good man. He needs to write his college essay. He’s got to train for his boxing tournament. It seems sometimes that everyone has a story they want to tell about Tray. The thing is, Tray’s going to tell his own story.”  The title refers to the flip side of records.  Eric Ting is directing the play by Kimber Lee which was inspired by the murder of a young boxer in Brownville.  Long Wharf is not only lowering ticket prices for this production but it is also working with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to host a meeting on gun violence on April 9.  It will also host discussions and distributing tickets at various branches of the New Haven Free Public Library.  For tickets visit

Summer Shakespeare:  NY Public’s Theater presents Shakespeare’s The Tempest with Sam Waterston playing Prospero in Central Park, May 27 to July 5.  The season will continue with Cymbeline directed by Tony winner Daniel Sullivan, July 27 to Aug. 22. The productions are performed at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.  Tickets are free but are available through lottery. For information visit

New York News: Wolf Hall based on the history novels of Hilary Mantel which are about Henry VIII is coming to Broadway and audiences better be prepared for long performances.  The novels have been turned into two plays — officially being called Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies;  each are nearly four hours in length. Matinees will begin at 1 p.m. and evening performances at 7.  If you do the math, that is almost 8 hours of theater with a one hour dinner break.  The plays focus on Thomas Cromwell and his rise from blacksmith boy to the King’s chief fixer, procurer and advisor. Tickets are available through


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