Tag Archives: Yale Repertory Theater

The Age of Innocence, Rags Tops 28th Annual Connecticut Critics Awards

2018_06_11 CT Critics Circle Awards_Lavitt_1.jpgThe world premiere of Hartford Stage’s The Age of Innocence and a revised version of the musical Rags from Goodspeed Musicals took top honors at the Connecticut Critics Circle Awards Monday, June 11. (Complete list of nominees and winners).

The event, which celebrated the work from the state’s professional theaters during the 2017-18 season, was held at Westport Country Playhouse.

Among area theaters, Ivoryton received nine nominations for five different productions (West Side Story, Million Dollar Quartet, Saturday Night Fever, The Game’s Afoot and The Fantasticks).Connecticut native, Cory Candelet tied for outstanding featured actor in a musical for his performance as the Mute in The Fantasticks. He shared the award with Matt Faucher for his performance as Jud in Goodspeed’s Oklahoma!

 Goodspeed received 14 nominations and four awards including Faucher, outstanding production of a musical, Samantha Massell for her leading role in Rags and Kelli Barclay for choreography in Will Rogers’ Follies.

Awards for outstanding actors in a musical went to Samantha Massell in Goodspeed’s Rags and Jamie LaVerdiere in the Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s production of 1776.

Awards for outstanding actors in a play went to Reg Rogers in Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of An Enemy of the People and Isabelle Barbier in Playhouse on Park’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank.

Top directing awards went to Terrence Mann for CRT’s 1776 and Ezra Barnes for Playhouse on Park’s The Diary of Anne Frank.

Outstanding ensemble award went to TheaterWorks’ production of The Wolves;  the debut award went to Megan O’Callaghan  for The Bridges of Madison County and Fun Home, both at Music Theatre of Connecticut. The outstanding solo honor was awarded to Elizabeth Stahlmann for Westport Country Playhouse’s Grounded.

Michael O’Flaherty, longtime music director for Goodspeed Musicals, received the Tom Killen Award for lifetime service to the theater from Donna Lynn Cooper Hilton, a producer at Goodspeed.

Receiving special awards were New London’s Flock Theatre for its production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Monte Cristo Cottage (O’Neill’s childhood home); the Broadway Method Academy of Fairfield; and Billy Bivona, who composed and performed original music for TheaterWork’s production of Constellations.

The outstanding featured actress award in a musical award went to Jodi Stevens for Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s Singin’ in the Rain. The award for outstanding featured actors in a play went to Peter Francis James for Westport Country Playhouse’s production of Romeo and Juliet, and to Judith Ivey for Long Wharf Theatre’s world premiere of Fireflies.

Design awards went to Fitz Patton for sound and Matthew Richards for lighting for Westport Country Playhouse’s Appropriate; Linda Cho for costumes for Hartford Stage’s The Age of Innocence; Yana Birykova for projections for Westport Country Playhouse’s Grounded and David Lewis, for set design for Playhouse on Park’s The Diary of Anne Frank.

Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas, stars of TheaterWorks’ Christmas on the Rocks, presided over the event.

Shore Publication writers Amy Barry and Frank Rizzo co-chaired the event.

This content courtesy of Shore Publications and zip06.


Looking Back at My Nights in Connecticut Theaters This Season

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By Karen Isaacs

 Do you realize how many professional theatrical productions are seen in Connecticut each year?  What would be your guess?

With the ending of the Connecticut theater season which runs from about June 1 to May 31, I attempted to count up the shows. I know I missed some. But including all the professional theaters (those that have some type of contract from Equity the actors’ union) plus the productions seen at the major “presenting” houses such as the Shubert, Bushnell and Palace in Waterbury – the total astounded me.

In all, you could see a professional production for 100+ nights a year. And that didn’t include the “workshop” performances at Goodspeed-Chester, the O’Neill Center and other places.

If you want to consider just the regional theaters – it numbers 70+ productions. (By the way, I saw about 75 percent of these, plus some others). So I was sitting in a theater in Connecticut at least 60+ evenings.

My favorites?  Everyone’s list will be different. Mine includes plays that were thought-provoking or challenging. But my list also includes plays that were just pure fun. I’ve broken them down into a list of my “best” plays and “musicals”.  These aren’t in any particular order. Some are by playwrights that I am very familiar with and others by playwrights new to me.

My Favorite Productions of Plays

 Hartford Stage gave me three productions that I thoroughly enjoyed and would gladly see again. A Lesson from Aloes by Athol Fugard is a play that I saw first at Yale and found it brilliant. This production directed by Darko Tresnjak was equally so – thought-provoking, beautifully designed and marvelously acted. For sheer fun, nothing could be better than Tresnjak’s direction of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which opened the season. The direction of the Mechanicals’ production was the best I’ve ever seen. And in the middle was the McCarter Theatre’s production of Murder on the Orient Express. Stylish and delightful. Another production I would gladly see again was Grounded at Westport Country Playhouse last July. This one woman show is about a military pilot who is reassigned to operating drones over Iraq from the US. And Playhouse on Park gave Connecticut theater goers a magnificent production of The Diary of Anne Frank.

Some plays were very good, but for one reason or another had something missing. Fireflies at Long Wharf was a charming, sweet play that is blessed with an outstanding cast. I’m not convinced that it would as enjoyable in the hands of lesser actors. Jane Alexander, Judith Ivey and Dennis Ardnt made this work. I also thoroughly enjoyed Seder at Hartford Stage, though some of my critic friends hated it. The questions it raised were fascinating and Mia Dillon was fabulous.

Also in this group would be The Game’s Afoot at Ivoryton which was silly, light but just fun, Noises Off at the Summer Series at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, The Chosen at Long Wharf, Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 and 3 at Yale Rep and Age of Innocence at Hartford Stage. Boyd Gaines was magnificent.

Some productions miss the mark – it may be a great idea that isn’t quite developed completely, or it wanders off topic, or the director or actors make some erroneous decisions. Or the play may not be that good, but one or two performances make it enjoyable.

Luckily most of the time, even if that happens there are elements that still make the production worth seeing.

But sometimes, to me the production seems so misguided in so many ways, that it disappoints me. This season there were a few that fit that description. Often my fellow critics disagree with me. Yale’s production of Enemy of the People was just such a production. I felt that both the director (James Bundy) and the leading actor (Reg Rogers) were totally off the mark. Office Hours at Long Wharf was a play that I felt didn’t really work on many levels.

My Favorite Productions of Musicals

 I didn’t think there were really any outstanding musical productions this season. By that I mean productions where the work itself and all elements of the production hit the mark. Most had flaws of some kind.

Many productions were very good. Ivoryton Playhouse has shown it is capable of presenting very good productions. This season I thought Saturday Night Fever, West Side Story and The Fantasticks were all very good.

MTC (Music Theater of Connecticut) has shown that a very small theater (under 120 seats) and an awkward playing area can be made to work for mid-sized musicals. Kevin Connor did a great job directing both The Bridges of Madison County and Fun Home. The Summer Series at Connecticut Rep did a very good Newsies.

 Goodspeed is held to a very high standard – it has wowed us so many times, that we expect perfection in each production. This year, it may have not have been perfection, but it was very, very good.

Rags was a major project: Taking a musical that had failed and working together with the composer and lyricist and a new book writer, to completely reshape the show. Characters were deleted, others added, major plot points changed, new songs written and lyrics revised for other songs. Working with the team was director Rob Ruggiero. This story of turn of the 20th century Jewish immigrants on the lower east side of Manhattan, still isn’t perfect, but the show was done very well and was much improved.

Goodspeed also presented the classic Oklahoma! Again a very good production that I felt missed the mark in some ways.

The Big Theater Stories So Far This Year

 Two major theatrical stories hit even the national press. The first was the firing of Long Wharf Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein after allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Later this spring, Darko Tresnjak announced he will leave Hartford Stage at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. This wasn’t a total surprise. While at Hartford, he had not only produced excellent theater but won a Tony award, directed two new Broadway musicals and was increasingly in demand.

Just as one theater season ends, another begins. I’m already marking my calendar for the shows that I’m most anticipating.


“Oklahoma!” “The Age of Innocence” Lead In Connecticut Critics Nominations

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(Revised from a press release)

Hartford Stage’s world premiere of “The Age of Innocence” and Goodspeed’s “Oklahoma!” led the shows nominated for the 28th annual Connecticut Critics Circle Awards. Yale Rep’s production of “Native Son,” Goodspeed’s production of “Rags,” and “Diary of Anne Frank” at Playhouse on Park also received numerous nominations.

The awards event, which celebrates the best in professional theater in the state, will be held Monday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Westport Country Playhouse. Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas, stars of TheaterWorks holiday comedy perennial “Christmas on the Rocks,” will be masters of ceremony for the event which is free and open to the public.

“The Age of Innocence” earned eight nominations, including outstanding play, director and lead actor and three featured actresses, costumes and lighting while “Oklahoma!” received a total of seven nods, including best musical, director, lead actress and actor and featured actress and actor and choreography.

Other outstanding play nominees are: Yale Repertory Theater’s productions of “An Enemy of the People” and “Father Comes Home From the Wars, Parts 1, 2 and 3.” Other nominees included Long Wharf Theatre’s “The Chosen” and the world premiere of “Fireflies” and West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Also earning outstanding musical nods are Goodspeed’s “Rags,” Connecticut Repertory Theater’s “1776,” Seven Angels Theatre’s “Million Dollar Quartet,” and “Fun Home,” Music Theater of Connecticut.

Receiving the annual Tom Killen Award for lifetime achievement in Connectiocut theater will be Michael O’Flaherty, longtime music director at Goodspeed Musicals.

Receiving special awards this year are New London’s Flock Theater for its production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at the Monte Cristo Cottage, the boyhood home of Eugene ONeill; the Broadway Method Academy of Fairfield; and Billy Bivona, who composed and performed original music for TheaterWork’s production of “Constellations.”

Receiving an award for solo performance will be Elizabeth Stahlmann who starred in Westport Country Playhouse’s “Grounded.”

Other nominees are:

Actor in a play: Reg Rogers, “An Enemy of the People,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Jerod Haynes, “Native Son,” Yale Repertory Theatre;  Jamison Stern, “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” TheaterWorks; Boyd Gaines, “The Age of Innocence,” Hartford Stage; Daniel Chung, “Office Hour,” Long Wharf Theatre.

Actress in a play: Jackie Chung, “Office Hour,” Long Wharf Theatre; Isabelle Barbier, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Playhouse on Park;  Mia Dillon, “Seder,”  Hartford Stage; Jane Alexander, “Fireflies,” Long Wharf Theatre;  Cecelia Riddett, “The Revisionist,” Playhouse on Park.

Actor in a musical: Jamie LaVerdiere, “1776,” Connecticut Repertory Theatre; Rhett Guter,  “Oklahoma!,” Goodspeed Musicals; Jim Schubin, “Newsies,”  Connecticut Repertory Theatre; David Pittsinger, “The Fantasticks,”  Ivoryton Playhouse; Michael Notardonato,  “Saturday Night Fever,” Ivoryton Playhouse.

Actress in a musical: Samantha Massell, “Rags,”  Goodspeed Musicals; Mia Pinero, “West Side Story,”  Ivoryton  Playhouse; Juliet Lambert Pratt, “The Bridges of Madison County,” Music Theatre of Connecticut; Samantha Bruce, “Oklahoma!,” Goodspeed Musicals; Annabelle Fox, “Singin’ in the Rain,” Summer Theatre of New Canaan.

Director of a play: James Bundy, “An Enemy of the People,”    Yale Repertory Theatre; Seret Scott, “Native Son,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Ezra Barnes, “The Diary of Anne Frank,”  Playhouse on Park;  Eric Ort, “The Wolves,” TheaterWorks; Doug Hughes, “The Age of Innocence,”  Hartford Stage.

Director of a musical: Terrence Mann, “1776,”  Connecticut Repertory Theatre; Jenn Thompson, “Oklahoma!,” Goodspeed Musicals; Kevin Connors, “Fun Home,” Music Theatre of Connecticut; Rob Ruggiero, “Rags,” Goodspeed Musicals; Brian Feehan, “The Fantasticks,” Ivoryton Playhouse.

Choreography:  Katie Spelman, “Oklahoma! ,” Goodspeed Musicals; Christopher d’Amboise, “Newsies,”  Connecticut Repertory Theatre; Kelli Barclay, “The Will Rogers Follies,” Goodspeed Musicals; Todd L. Underwood, “Saturday Night Fever,” Ivoryton Playhouse

Ensemble: Cast of “Avenue Q” (Weston Chandler Long, James Fairchild, Ashley Brooke, Peej Mele, E J Zimmerman, Abena Mensah-Bonsu and Colleen Welsh ), Playhouse on Park; Cast of “The Wolves” (Shannon Keegan, Claire Saunders, Dea Julien, Carolyn Cutillo, Emily Murphy, Caitlin Zoz, Rachel Caplan, Olivia Hoffman, Karla Gallegos, Megan Byrne), TheaterWorks;  Cast of “The Chosen”     (Ben Edelman, George Guidall, Steven Skybell, Max Wolkowitz) Long Wharf Theatre; Cast of “The Game’s Afoot” (Erik Bloomquist, Victoria Bundonis, Molly Densmore, Katrina Ferguson, Michael Iannucci, Craig MacDonald, Maggie McGlone-Jennings, Beverly J. Taylor), Ivoryton Playhouse.

Featured actor in a play: James Cusati-Moyer, “Kiss,” Yale Repertory Theatre;
Peter Francis James, “Romeo and Juliet,” Westport Country Playhouse; Tom Pecinka, “Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Dan Hiatt, “Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3,”  Yale Repertory Theatre; Jason Bowen, “Native Son,” Yale Repertory Theatre

Featured actress in a play: Judith Ivy, “Fireflies,” Long Wharf Theatre; Darrie Lawrence, “The Age of Innocence,” Hartford Stage;  Carly Polistina, “The Crucible,” Connecticut Repertory Theatre;  Sierra Boggess, “The Age of Innocence,” Hartford Stage; Helen Cespedes, “The Age of Innocence,” Hartford Stage

Featured actor in a musical: Matt Faucher, “Oklahoma!,” Goodspeed Musicals; Joe Callahan, “Million Dollar Quartet,” Ivoryton Playhouse; Sean MacLaughlin, “Rags,”  Goodspeed Musicals; David Garrison, “The Will Rogers Follies,”  Goodspeed Musicals; Cory Candelet, “The Fantasticks,”  Ivoryton Playhouse.

Features actress in a musical: Jodi Stevens, “Singin’ in the Rain,” Summer Theater of New Canaan;  Gizel Jimenez, “Oklahoma!” Goodspeed Musicals; Nora Fox, “Saturday Night Fever,” Ivoryton Playhouse; Megan O’Callaghan, “Fun Home,”  Music Theatre of Connecticut;  Kimberly Immanuel, “The Fantasticks,” Ivoryton Playhouse.

Projection design: Yana Birykova,  “Grounded,”Westport Country Playhouse; Luke Cantarella, “Rags,”  Goodspeed Musicals; Lucas Clopton & Darron Alley, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Hartford Stage; Wladimiro A. Woyno R., “Kiss,” Yale Repertory Theatre.

Set design: Emona Stoykova, “An Enemy of the People,”  Yale Repertory Theatre; Alexander Dodge, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Hartford Stage; Andrew Boyce, “Appropriate,” Westport Country Playhouse; David Lewis, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Playhouse on Park; Martin Scott Marchitto, “The Fantasticks.” ,Ivoryton Playhouse

Costume design: Linda Cho, “Rags,” Goodspeed Musicals’  Linda Cho, “The Age of Innocence,” Hartford Stage; Joshua Pearson, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Hartford Stage; Fabian Fidel Aguilar, “Romeo & Juliet,” Westport Country Playhouse; Leon Dobkowski, “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” TheaterWorks.

Lighting design: Ben Stanton, “The Age of Innocence,”      Hartford Stage; Michael Chybowski, “1776,”  Connecticut Repertory Theatre; Stephen Strawbridge,  “Native Son,” Yale Repertory Theatre;  Matthew Richards, “Appropriate,” Westport Country Playhouse;  Yi Zhao, “Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3,”Yale Repertory Theatre.

Sound design: Frederick Kennedy, “Native Son,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Kate Marvin, “Grounded,”   Westport Country Playhouse; Fitz Patton; “Appropriate,” Westport Country Playhouse; Jane Shaw, “A Lesson from Aloes,” Hartford Stage; Robert Kaplowitz, “Office Hour,” Long Wharf Theatre.

Debut: Shannon Keegan, “The Wolves,” TheaterWorks;  Megan O’Callaghan,  “The Bridges of Madison County” and “Fun Home,” Music Theatre of Connecticut; Noah Kierserman, “Newsies,” Connecticut Repertory Theatre.

DIRECTIONS: Westport Country Playhouse is at 25 Powers Court in Westport, just off Route  (Exits 17 or 18 off I-91 brings you to Rt. 1.) www.westportplayhouse.org.


Is it farce? Melodrama? Reality TV? Kiss at Yale Rep Tries to Be All Things


Photo by Joan Marcus

By Karen Isaacs

 During the first part of Kiss now at the Yale Rep through Saturday, May 19, you think you know what type of play this is: a melodramatic romantic comedy with some satire thrown into it.

But you will quickly realize it is more than just that. Guillermo Calderón has written a play that touches on so many fascinating topics including the interaction between playwright and cast, interpretation and cultural understandings. At a time, when the theatrical world is concerned with appropriate casting in terms of identity and representation and other groups in society are discussing cultural appropriation, this play seems to reflect these concerns.

It would be nice to say that Calderón has succeeded in illuminating these difficult topics; but he has merely touched the surface. Calderón is a Chilean playwright setting the work in war torn Syria and writing in English for the first time.

The play opens on a living set (nicely designed Ao Li) with an attractive 30ish woman (Hadeel) fliting around. The doorbell sounds; it is Youssif who has arrived early which unnerves Hadeel; the polite conversation soon turns to romance. Yousif announces he is love with her, and after some sparring, she acknowledges a mutual attraction. The problem is that she involved with someone who will soon be there. When Ahmed arrives, there are some farcical elements as he is planning on proposing. Soon another friend (Bana) who works at a TV station arrives late; she announces that she has kissed someone.

The scene ends having moved from farce to drama and very confused about Hadeel’s actual feelings.

But while you are wondering what comes next, the woman playing Bana arrives on stage. We now learn that what we had just seen was American actors playing these parts in a new play. So we have left Syria in 2014 and are now in the present (sort of). Laurel who played the part of Bana tells us how they found the play and tracked down the playwright. They are about to have skype interview with her. To avoid confusion, I will refer to the actors by the names of the Syrian characters they play; those are the ones listed in the program, though each actor has a real name as well.

During the course of the interview, the woman (is she really the playwright?) lets the cast know that they have missed a great deal of the significance of the play. In war torn Damascus, words don’t often mean what you think they do; she tells them that some of the words are code for other things associated with the chaos of the war. She points out that her stage directions reflect the consequences of some of these events.

In the final part of the play, we see the events from the earlier version played out by the cast with this new information.

So does it work? Not totally though it is not the fault of the cast. While some of the choices made by Calderón can be understood, particularly if you read the program notes, they still don’t work with the audience. The language is awkward and some phrases are off-putting. Instead of focusing on the totality, the audience is apt to focus on some these phrases and think they are weird.

During the interview, we get to see the real personalities of the actors from the obviously egotistical Ahmed (Ian Lassiter) to the removed Hadeel. Some of the questions they ask are good and others are self-serving. It is clear that Ahmed is only concerned with his part.

Evan Yionoulis directed this piece; her final production at Yale Rep before taking a new position at Juilliard. The challenge this play poses is not only the often awkward English but the combination of genres. The first part swings from farce to drama with an Albee influence. The interview attempts realism and the final part is played as pure melodrama. This confusion of styles has you feeling as though you are seeing three separate plays.

The melodramatic last part misses the mark. It would be interesting to see how the actors adjust their performances based on the new information the playwright has given them. But it is not clear what they have done; it has just become an exaggerated mess. We cease caring about the situation or the characters or even the awful consequences of the war in Syria.

The many references in the play to Syrian television melodramas is obviously intended to inform our approach to the work, particularly the last part. The four are gathering to watch a melodrama miniseries on TV, Bana is apparently an actress in one and the dialogue makes numerous references. In the notes, we learn that these, called musalsalaat, are not just soap operas but include satirical sketch comedy, thrillers and much more.

The actors do an excellent job with the challenges of playing two characters and two different approaches to the same situation. Ian Lassiter as Ahmed (the boyfriend) was particularly good.

How you react to this 90 minute piece may depend on how willing you accept it on its own terms. Several theater knowledgeable friends said they “hated it” – I found elements of it fascinating and the questions hinted at interesting. I look forward to a play that will address these issues in a more profound way.

Kiss is at Yale Rep through Saturday, May 19. For tickets visit Yale Rep or call 203-432-1234.

This content is courtesy of Shore Publications and zip06.com


Photo by Joan Marcus


Yale Rep’s “Father Comes Home from the Wars: Parts 1, 2 &3” Make for Compelling Theater


Members of the cast Photo by Joan Marcus

By Karen Isaacs

 Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 &3 is an epic work in more senses than one. Suzan-Lori Parks has woven a story of a slave during the Civil War and the Greek Odyssey into a compelling story.

Parks is well known to Connecticut theater goers. The Yale Rep presented the world premieres of The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, The American Play and Venus.

 Parks has said that this play, written in 2014 is the first triptych of what she calls her “up-to-12-part” work which will span centuries, genres and moods.

The War in question is the Civil War and the play is set in West Texas. Part 1- A Measure of a Man introduces us to Hero (James Udom), a slave whose owner “The Colonel” 0is going to head to the war and wants Hero to come with him. The other slaves are betting whether he will or will not go and even Hero doesn’t seem sure. A surrogate father figure (The Oldest Old Man) urges him to go while Penny, his woman, wants him to stay home. One incentive for going is that the Colonel has promised Hero his freedom after war; but he’s made similar promises in the past and hasn’t kept them.  To counter Hero is Homer, another slave who knows that Hero does not live up to his name.

By the end of the first part, Hero is going off to war.

Part 2: A Battle in the Wilderness focuses on the Colonel, Hero and a Union officer whom they have captured. The Colonel blusters, harasses the prisoner, and reveals his bigotry, Hero acts as the dutiful servant/slave, carrying and fetching water, firewood and guarding the prisoner. Parks has provided us with a twist in this part of the play. Yet despite opportunities to leave the Colonel, Hero remains his slave.

The Third Part, after intermission, is titled The Union of My Confederate Parts. It is 1863 and while the war is not over, the Emancipation proclamation has been issued. A group of runaway slaves are spending some time with Homer and Penny on the property. The three runaways are waiting until nightfall to leave and are trying to convince Homer to go with them. Homer seems inclined but Penny will not leave. She dreams of Hero nightly and imagines his return. As evening comes, Hero’s dog (Odd-see Dog) arrives and tells the story of what has happened to Hero and the Colonel. Soon it is Hero, who now calls himself Ulysses, who comes up the path.

What is remarkable about this sprawling, episodic work, is the fine direction of Liz Diamond and a splendid cast. Diamond and the cast have melded these three disparate parts into a unified whole. In parts one and three, in addition to the fine work of James Udom as Hero/Ulysses, we have the fine work of Julian Elijah Martinez ad Homer and Eboni Flowers as Penny as well as Steven Anthony Jones as the Oldest Old Man. Each of these, creates complete and complex characters.

Part two has just three characters and each gives a fine performance. Udom is the glue holding these pieces together, but in Part 2 he is joined by Dan Hiatt as The Colonel and Tome Pecinka as the captured Union officer.

In addition, Martin Luther McCoy provides the musical commentary (also written by Parks) that helps join the pieces together.

As is usual with Yale productions, the design elements are also excellent. Riccardo Hernandez has created the scenic design though there some choices that seem unusual.  In Part 2, there are tall, slanting beams (like steel beams) that are supposed to be trees. Yi Zhao has done a fine lighting design and the sound/musical direction by Frederick Kennedy is also very good.

While this obviously draws (and to some extent parallels) Homer’s Odyssey, is other aspects it may leave you puzzled. At times the story telling approach leaves us puzzled by Hero’s motivations and decisions. Given the opportunity to escape with the Union captain, why doesn’t he? At others times, we can only guess at the reasons behind his actions. In addition, even the title is puzzling; Hero/Ulysses is not a father at anytime during the play.

It will be interesting to see Parks continue her series and the direction that it will take. Will it have similarities to August Wilsons ten play series on African-Americans during the 20th century? Will it continue to reference classical literature/plays for its formats and structure?

Parks is a very talented playwright and therefore to see how she develop this multi-part work will be fascinating.

In the meantime, while three hours in length, Father Comes Home from the Wars – Parts 1, 2 & 3 are well worth seeing. It’s at the Yale Rep’s University Theater on York St. For tickets contact Yale Rep.

“Field Guide” at Yale Rep Challenges the Concept of Theater

By Karen Isaacs

Field Guide which is now at Yale Rep through Saturday, Feb. 17 is an example of exactly what a university based theater should be doing: presenting works that push the boundaries and challenge audiences.

You may find the work, a world premiere commissioned by Yale Rep and developed by the Austin, Texas based Rude Mechs company not to your liking, perhaps even puzzling, but it is different.

Rude Mechs is a collaborative company whose members work together to develop productions; at times it shows that “too many cooks” can definitely make the soup less tasty.

Field Guide is based roughly on Dostoevsky’s massive novel The Brothers Karamozov which is about three brothers, their illegitimate half-brother and the father. But don’t worry if you haven’t read the novel or remembered it. The program provides a listing of “Notable Species” in the novel with all the male characters portrayed as bears and the females as birds, either predators or preys.

The company raises the question if Dostovesky did more than just create the novel? Did he create “a story that might guide us through our lives, a field guide for living?”

It’s a fascinating idea but one that does not really come through in the work.

So let’s focus on some of the work. First of all the lighting by Brian H. Scott is excellent and the music by Graham Reynolds and sound design by Robert S. Fisher are also excellent. Each of these three highlight aspects of the play.

One concern with Field Guide is expectations. It’s billed as inspired by the novel and, in fact, about half the 90 minutes are devoted to aspects of the central plot: the mystery of who killed the father and the romantic entanglements among the three brothers and the father.

It’s the other half that will puzzle you and perhaps infuriate you as you try to put it into the context of the other works. The play begins with Hannah, one of the company members who also wrote the text and plays three characters, performing a stand-up comedy routine. Her delivery may remind those older people in the audience of Cher’s monotone in the opening of the Sonny & Cher show. Not only isn’t the humor particularly funny (only some audience members laughed), but you sit there trying to figure out what the point of it is.

These stand-up comic elements are repeated at times during the show by Hannah and others. Each time the same questions occur.

Once they get into telling a destructed version of the novel, things do move along better. The main characters are sketched in such a way that you have a sense of each individual but too often, you are told what they are or what they feel rather than seeing it. That’s a problem when you condense even the main story of a massive novel to 60 minutes or so.

You will be left wondering about some of the staging. It is definitely clever, as when a series of various sized and shaped cardboard boxes move about the stage (the actors are inside them). Yet, why? How does this relate to the plot or the supposed message?

The ending is funny and unexpected – you probably have never seen anything like it on stage, but connecting to the rest of the show is difficult.

The performers are devoted to their craft. All except Hannah Kenah play just one role. Each does what he or she can with the limited material the script provides. Instead of fully developed characters, we get one dimensional descriptions. We are told the father is both a drinker and a seducer of young women, but we really don’t see it.  Ivan (Thomas Graves) is supposed to go mad, and Dmiti (Lana Lesley) is supposed to be in desperate financial straits. But you just have to take their word for it.

I’m not sure whether the purpose of Rude Mech is to deconstruct theater, move into avant-garde or absurdist theater or spoof the entire idea of theater. In some ways, they do all three.

For a 90 minute show, it seemed to be much longer at times. Yes, there were some startling moments that were moving or funny. But overall, Field Guide did not do what its creators indicated they wanted to do.

Field Guide is at Yale Rep through Saturday, February 17. For tickets visit Yale Rep or call 203-432-1234.

This content courtesy of Shore Publications and zip06.com


Yale’s “Enemy of the People” Mix of Styles and Ideas Confuses the Message


Enrico Colantoni and Reg Rogers. Photo by Joan Marcus

By Karen Isaacs

 Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, now at the Yale Rep through Saturday, Oct. 28 is one of the four great realistic dramas he wrote between 1879 and 1890. They include the better known A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler as well as Ghosts. These drama dealt with real people dealing with social issues that still reverberate today.

Yet, the show is relevant to today. It focuses on the rejection of scientific fact, the willingness to put economic benefit over the environment and people’s health and the public’s ability to be easily swayed. Could have been ripped out of the headlines.

Unfortunately, this production diminishes these issues rather than illuminates them.

Dr.  Thomas Stockmann, played overly manic by Reg Rogers, has returned to his home town and is the medical director of the recently created health spa/baths in this small coastal Norwegian town. It has proved to be a huge success attracting tourists from throughout Norway and helping the local economy. It’s also helped Stockmann as well; he had spent years in near poverty in a very small, isolated village.

His return to the town was partly engineered by his brother, Mayor Peter Stockmann.

But as the play opens, Thomas is anxiously awaiting a letter as various local people gather in his drawing room. They include the young newspaper editor who wants to overthrow the establishment and the older people running the town; the young assistant on the paper; as well as Aslaksen who is the printer/typesetter and is a leader of the small merchants and home owners in the town. “Moderation” is his key word.

Tthe Mayor also drops in and it is clear that there is some between the brothers. Thomas may have suggested the baths, but Peter wants some of the credit for their actual construction and success.

When the letter arrives, Thomas seems surprisingly happy with the news. Some water samples he had sent to Christiana (now Oslo) to be tested have revealed that his hunch is correct: the waters in the baths are seriously polluted and are causing disease to the visitors. He can barely control himself, quickly outlining the problem to the guests, who all pledge their support.

He is sure that his brother, the Mayor, will immediately take the necessary steps which include shutting the spa down and totally redoing the pipes that bring the water to it. An added complication is that the main source of the pollution is the plant owned by the father of Thomas’ wife.

But as he counts on the editor and Aslaksen for support, the Mayor is quietly undermining him. To redo the pipes and eliminate the contaminated water would require shutting the spa down for a year or more, plus the outlay of large amounts of money. Conveniently the shareholders in the baths would not pay the bill; the taxpayers would. With the reduced tourism, the businessmen would see profits go down and real estate values as well. The Mayor even points out that neighboring towns might build their own baths.

Quickly the tide turns. All those who supported him, with the exception of Captain Horster, a ship’s captain, desert him. They are willing to question the science behind the test results, considering it conjecture or exaggerated. Certainly more moderate measures can ameliorate the problem with no need of alerting the public, shutting the baths, or raising taxes.


Photo by Joan Marcus

As his supporters slip away, Thomas becomes more and more adamant, unwilling to consider even the slightest deviation from his ideas. With the help of Captain Horster, he schedules a meeting (at the Captain’s house) to explain his ideas, but the town leaders take it over. Eventually he does speak, but not about the pollution of the baths, but what he views is the moral pollution overtaking the country. He doesn’t blame it on the leaders but on what he calls “the compact majority” who are at fault. He says that the majority never has right on its side; the masses poison the moral values.

The play ends with Thomas defiant though he has lost everything. His fellow citizens have broken the windows to his house, he has been fired from his job, his daughter has been fired from her teaching position, and his sons have been asked to leave school. Even the inheritance that his wife and children would receive from her father, has disappeared. Yet rather than leave for America, the curtain ends with him determined to fight on.

One of the puzzling aspects of this play is Ibsen’s point of view. He has Thomas say that truths are changeable, and that ideas of morals and values are not absolute.  Thomas’s words could be construed to endorse an oligarchy of the educated.

But Ibsen is also clearly talking about the duty of professionals, the balance between economic well-being and doing good, the responsibility for honest communication (the visitors to the baths should know) and even the destruction of the environment. The waters have been polluted by run-off from the mines up-stream, which also provide an economic benefit.

Director James Bundy’s vision of this drama about an idealistic but rash man and his downfall seems to be that it is a somewhat raucous physical comedy. Laughter erupted from the audience in some of the most dramatic moments, somewhat like laughing as Othello strangles Desdemona.

He has also decided to stress the theatrical illusions of the play.  The set allows us to see into the wings of stage; so we can see actors waiting for the cues, stage personnel handing them props, etc. Instead of letting us immerse ourselves in the dilemma facing Thomas and his family, and the town, we are constantly aware that this is just make believe. Movement and dance has also been introduced for no obvious purpose.

The acting styles are also inconsistent. Some characters are played with minimal emotion or affect, seemingly uninterested in what is going on. This is particularly true of Setareki Wainiqolo who plays the ship captain, Captain Horster, the lone townsperson who is on Thomas’ side by the final curtain. But even Thomas’s wife, Catherine, played Joey Parsons seems devoid of most emotion.

Reg Rogers plays Dr. Stockmann in such an exuberant manner that as the play progress and he becomes more and more upset, determined and fanatical, he has no room to escalate his acting style. He becomes more and more hyper until you wonder if he will just collapse. He seems on the verge of a total breakdown. This grandiosity (at the beginning he wonders if the town will throw him a parade to reward him) makes him a laughable character rather than a man having his ideals crushed.

Enrico Colantoni plays the Mayor as the moderate man who considers all the angles before making a move. But he also does a good job of showing the sibling rivalry between the brothers. The Mayor is well aware that Thomas views him as stupid.

Petra, the doctor’s daughter played by Stephanie Machado manages to show us her devotion to her father and his ideals. She too wants to stay and fight.

As the trio of men who accept the Doctor’s hospitality, egg him on and then turn against him, each plays a specific type. Hovstad, the newspaper editor played by Bobby Roman, is the young firebrand who will switch sides when needed; Billing, his assistant, played by Ben Anderson, seems simply a follower. Aslaksen, played by Tyrone Mitchell Henderson, is the “careful” man who is willing to make waves as long as no one gets water in the face. Henderson does the best job of the three in conveying his natural conservatism.

Jarlath Conroy plays Thomas’ father-in-law, the owner of the mill that is one of the sources of the pollution in a way that is much too soft at the beginning. He too has his motives to both back Thomas and later to turn away.

The set by Emona Stoykova, rotates for no apparent purpose. The sides show the off-stage areas which was undoubtedly requested by Bundy. The lighting by Krista Smith is unobtrusive. Sophia Choi has given us period costumes.

An Enemy of the People is a fascinating play that is relevant in so many ways to our 21st century world – even more so in the last year – that deserves a production that encourages discussion and thought, not laughter.

It is at the University Theater of the Yale Rep, 222 York Street, through Saturday, Oct. 28. For tickets visit Yale Rep or call 203-432-1234.

This content is courtesy of Shore Publication Weeklies and zip06.com


Connecticut’s Smaller Theater Well Represented at Awards Ceremony

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Rob Ruggierio and the cast of Next to Normal. Photo by Mara Lavitt

By Karen Isaacs

 The gala celebration of Connecticut’s professional theater, co-chaired by Shore Publishing’s own Amy Barry, produced winners from both the largest professional theaters in the state and some of the smaller.

The big winners were The Invisible Hand produced by Westport Country Playhouse and Next to Normal produced by TheaterWorks.

Invisible Hand by Ayah Akhtar won outstanding drama, outstanding director (David Kennedy) and outstanding actor (Eric Bryant). The play is about an American banker who is held hostage in Parkistan; it deals with economics, terrorism and religious fundamentalism.

Next to Normal, the musical about a family dealing with the mother’s bipolar condition received awards as outstanding musical, outstanding director (Rob Ruggiero), outstanding actress (Christiann Noll), outstanding lighting (John Lasiter).  Maya Keleher who played the daughter received the debut award.

Special awards were presented to actor Paxton Whitehead for his body of work; he has appeared frequently at Westport Country Playhouse in productions of works by Joe Orton and Alan Ayckbourn. The presentation was made by noted director John Tillinger.

Tillinger also made a brief tribute to playwright A. R. Gurney who died in June. Not only did Gurney live in Connecticut, but many of his works were produced here. Tillinger directed a number of them at Long Wharf and Hartford Stage.

James Lecesne, actor, playwright, novelist and activist was honored for his outreach activities while performing his play The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey at Hartford Stage this year. Lecense talked about the impact theater can have on audiences and spoke of how it had “saved” him as a gay teenager. Many winners made similar comments on the importance and impact of theater.

The Tom Killen Award for contributions to Connecticut theater (and theater in general) was given to Paulette Haupt who has served as the artistic director of the National Musical Theatre Conference at the O’Neill Center in Waterford since 1978. Among the 120 new musicals she has selected and helped include In the Heights, Nine, Avenue Q and many more. She’s been instrumental in the careers of Lin Manuel Miranda, Maury Yeston, Tom Kitt and others.

Three of Connecticut’s smaller professional theaters – the Summer Theater of New Canaan (STONC), Music Theater of Connecticut (MTC) and Seven Angels Theater in Waterbury were honored. Jon Petersen received the award for outstanding solo performance at Seven Angels as Anthony Newley in He Wrote Good Songs. Peterson was unable to attend because he is starring as the Emcee in the national tour of Cabaret which was in Portland, Oregon.

West Side Story at STONC received awards for outstanding choreography (Doug Shankman) and outstanding actor in a musical (Zach Schanne)

Kate Simone received outstanding featured actor in a musical for her performance as Louise in Gypsy at MTC.

Hartford Stage took home awards for outstanding actress in a play (Vanessa R. Butler) in Queens for a Year, outstanding featured actress in a play (Connecticut resident Mia Dillon) in Cloud 9 and featured actor in a play (Cleavant Derricks) for The Piano Lesson.  The theater also received three awards for A Comedy of Errors) – outstanding set design (Darko Tresjnak), outstanding sound design (Jane Shaw) and outstanding costume design (Fabio Toblini).

Rhett Guter who is now in rehearsal as Curly in Goodspeed’s Oklahoma! won outstanding featured actor in a musical for last year’s Bye, Bye Birdie at Goodspeed. He played Birdie.

Long Wharf’s production of Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower received the award for outstanding ensemble.

Among the presenters were Sirius-XM radio’s Broadway channel program director Julie James, producer Patricia Flicker Addiss, Tony-winning set designer Michael Yeargen and two former artistic directors of Connecticut theaters: Michael Wilson of Hartford Stage and Michael Price of Goodspeed Musicals.

Terrence Mann, three time Tony nominee, and artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theater’s Summer Stage hosted the evening.  Bobby Conte Thornton, star of Broadway’s A Bronx Tale provided two terrific songs.

But perhaps the stars of the evening were sisters Ella and Riley Briggs, two adorable young girls with bright futures ahead them. Ella played the young Frances Gumm in Chasing Rainbows last year at Goodspeed and she and Riley were both in Godspeed’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

This content courtesy of Shore Publications and zip06.com.

Complete list of nominees and winners.


Karen Ziemba, Andre de Shields and me.

The Hits & Misses of the 2016-17 Connecticut Theater Season

By Karen Isaacs

 Connecticut’s professional theaters produced over 40 shows from June 2016 to the end of May 2017; plus various national tours played the major producing houses. Connecticut theatergoers had over 60 productions to choose from. I saw nearly 90 percent of the shows at the professional theaters and some of the national tours.

So how did the season measure up?

My top plays:

The Invisible Hand at Westport Country Playhouse

Queens for a Year at Hartford Stage

Scenes of Court Life at Yale Rep

A Comedy of Errors at Hartford Stage

The Piano Lesson at Hartford Stage

Meteor Shower at Long Wharf

Endgame at Long Wharf

Heartbreak House at Hartford Stage

My top musicals:

Next to Normal at TheaterWorks

Bye, Bye Birdie at Goodspeed

Gypsy at MTC

He Wrote Good Songs at Seven Angels

The top touring shows:

 The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelsky at Hartford Stage

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Marriage at the Bushnell

The King & I at the Bushnell

An American in Paris at the Bushnell

A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime at the Bushnell

Shows that pleasantly surprised me:

Absolute Turkey at CRT

Bilox Blues at Ivoryton

Trav’ling – the Harlem Musical at Seven Angels

Interesting Observations

Half of my top plays were new – often world premieres..

Many musical productions were fine overall productions, but either not exciting shows or not exciting productions.

The Bushnell had a stellar season of national tours including the rarity of a play.

Darko Tresjnak continue to prove he is also a terrific scenic designer with Italian setting for A Comedy of Errors.

Among the Disappointments.

Unfortunately some shows that I had looked forward to disappointed me. Mostly they were well directed and well- acted, but they just did not maximize their possibilities.  Sometimes it is new play which is still being developed or trying to do or say too much.

Assassins at Yale Rep.  I’ve seen and liked the show in the past, but this production just missed, at least for me.

The Most Beautiful Room in New York at Long Wharf. What can I say? It didn’t live up to my expectations.

Napoli, Brooklyn at Long Wharf.  More soap opera than compelling drama.

Camelot at Westport. This minimalist version was just too minimal though the performances were fine.

 But even these productions had elements that were enjoyable and were well worth seeing.


“Next To Normal,” “The Invisible Hand” Tops Connecticut Theater Critics Nominations

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Next to Normal. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

TheaterWork’s production of the musical “Next to Normal” led the nominations for the 27th annual Connecticut Critics Circle Awards event to be held Monday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart University’s Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts in Fairfield.

The show received a total of 10 nominations, including best musical. Westport Country Playhouse’s production of Ayad Akhtar’s play “The Invisible Hand” led the non-musicals, receiving seven nominations, including outstanding play.

Other outstanding play nominees are: “The Comedy of Errors” at Hartford Stage; “Mary Jane” at Yale Repertory Theatre; “Scenes From Court Life” at Yale Repertory Theatre and “Midsummer” at TheaterWorks.

Also nominated for outstanding musical are: “Assassins” at Yale Repertory Theatre; “Bye Bye Birdie” at Goodspeed Opera House, “Man of La Mancha” at Ivoryton Playhouse and “West Side Story” at Summer Theatre of New Canaan.

The awards show, which celebrates the best in professional theater in the state, is free and open to the public.

Three-time Tony Award-nominee Terrence Mann will be the master of ceremonies for the event. Mann joined the Connecticut theater community this year as artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Series at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

Last year’s top honorees — Yale Repertory Theatre’s play “Indecent” and Hartford Stage’s musical “Anastasia” — are currently on Broadway.

Also receiving special awards this year are James Lecesne for his work using theater as a way to connect with LGBT youths in works such as his solo show “The Absolute Brightness off Leonard Pelkey,” which was presented this spring at Hartford Stage, and Paxton Whitehead, for his longtime career in theater, especially in Connecticut

Receiving the Tom Killen Award for lifetime achievement is Paulette Haupt, who is stepping down after 40 years from her position as founding artistic director of the National Music Theater Conference at Waterford’s Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

Other nominees are:

Actor in a play: Jordan Lage, “Other People’s Money,” Long Wharf Theatre; Tom Pecinka, “Cloud Nine,” Hartford Stage; Michael Doherty, “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Series; Eric Bryant, “The Invisible Hand,” Westport Country Playhouse; M. Scott McLean, “Midsummer,” TheaterWorks.

Actress in a play: Semina DeLaurentis, “George & Gracie,” Seven Angels Theatre; Emily Donahoe, “Mary Jane,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Ashlie Atkinson, “Imogen Says Nothing,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Vanessa R. Butler, “Queens for a Year,” Hartford Stage; Rebecca Hart, “Midsummer,” TheaterWorks

Actor in a musical: Robert Sean Leonard, “Camelot,” Westport Playhouse; Riley Costello, “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,” Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Series; David Harris, “Next To Normal,” TheaterWorks; David Pittsinger, “Man of La Mancha,” Ivoryton Playhouse; Zach Schanne, “West Side Story,” Summer Theatre of New Canaan.

Actress in a musical: Ruby Rakos, “Chasing Rainbows,” Goodspeed Opera House; Christiane Noll, “Next to Normal,” TheaterWorks; Julia Paladino, “West Side Story.” Karen Ziemba, “Gypsy, Sharon Playhouse; Talia Thiesfield, “Man of La Mancha,” Ivoryton Playhouse.

Director of a play: Darko Tresnjak, “The Comedy of Errors,” Hartford Stage; David Kennedy, “The Invisible Hand,” Westport Country Playhouse; Marc Bruni, “Other People’s Money,” Long Wharf Theatre; Tracy Brigden, “Midsummer,” TheaterWorks; Gordon Edelstein, “Meteor Shower,” Long Wharf Theatre.

Director of a musical: Rob Ruggiero, “Next to Normal,” TheaterWorks; David Edwards, “Man of La Mancha,” Ivoryton Playhouse; Melody Meitrott Libonati, “West Side Story,” Summer Theatre of New Canaan; Jenn Thompson, “Bye Bye Birdie,” Goodspeed Opera House; Kevin Connors, “Gypsy,” Music Theater of Connecticut in Norwalk.

Choreography:  Denis Jones, “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Goodspeed Opera House; Chris Bailey, “Chasing Rainbows,” Goodspeed Opera House; Doug Shankman, West Side Story,” Summer Theatre of New Canaan; Patricia Wilcox, “Bye Bye Birdie,” Goodspeed Opera House; Darlene Zoller, “Rockin’ the Forest,” Playhouse on Park.

Ensemble: Cast of “Smart People,” Long Wharf Theatre; Cast of “Trav’lin’ ” at Seven Angels Theatre; cast of “Meteor Shower,” Long Wharf Theatre; cast of “Assassins,” Yale Repertory Theatre; cast of “The 39 Steps” at Ivoryton Playhouse.

Debut performance: Maya Keleher, “Next to Normal,” TheaterWorks; Dylan Frederick, “Assassins,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Nick Sacks, “Next to Normal, TheaterWorks.

Solo Performance: Jodi Stevens, “I’ll Eat You Last,” Music Theater of Connecticut; Jon Peterson, “He Wrote Good Songs,” Seven Angels Theatre.

Featured actor in a play: Jameal Ali, “The Invisible Hand,” Westport Country Playhouse; Andre De Shields, “Seven Guitars,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Cleavant Derricks, “The Piano Lesson,” Hartford Stage; Steve Routman, “Other People’s Money,” Long Wharf Theatre; Paxton Whitehead, “What the Butler Saw,” Westport Country Playhouse

Featured actress in a play: Miriam Silverman, “Mary Jane,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Rachel Leslie, “Seven Guitars,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, “Seven Guitars,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Mia Dillon, “Cloud Nine,” Hartford Stage; Christina Pumariega, “Napoli, Brooklyn,” Long Wharf Theatre

Featured actor in a musical: Mark Nelson, “The Most Beautiful Room in New York,” Long Wharf Theatre; Edward Watts, “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Goodspeed Opera House; John Cardoza, “Next to Normal,” TheaterWorks; Jonny Wexler, “West Side Story,” Summer Theater of New Canaan; Rhett Guter, “Bye Bye Birdie,” Goodspeed Opera House; Michael Wartella, “Chasing Rainbows,” Goodspeed Opera House

Featured actress in a musical: Maya Keleher, “Next to Normal,” TheaterWorks; Jodi Stevens, “Gypsy,” “Music Theater of Connecticut; Katie Stewart, “West Side Story,” Summer Theater of New Canaan; Kristine Zbornik, “Bye Bye Birdie,” Goodspeed Opera House; Kate Simone, “Gypsy,” Music Theater of Connecticut.

Set design: Colin McGurk, “Heartbreak House,” Hartford Stage; Michael Yeargan, “The Most Beautiful Room in New York,” Long Wharf Theater; Wilson Chin, “Next to Normal,” TheaterWorks; Adam Rigg, “The Invisible Hand,” “Westport Country Playhouse; Darko Tresnjak, “The Comedy of Errors,” Hartford Stage.

Costume design: Ilona Somogyi, “Heartbreak House,” Hartford Stage; Marina Draghici, “Scenes from Court Life,” Yale Repertory Theater; Fabio Toblini, “The Comedy of Errors,” Hartford Stage; Gregory Gale, “Thorough Modern Millie,” Goodspeed Opera House; Lisa Steier, “Rockin’ the Forest,” Playhouse on Park.

Lighting design: Matthew Richards, “The Invisible Hand,” Westport Country Playhouse; Yi Zhao, “Assassins,” Yale Repertory Theatre; John Lasiter, “Next to Normal,” TheaterWorks; Matthew Richards, “Comedy of Errors,” Hartford Stage; Christopher Bell, “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” Playhouse on Park, Hartford.

Sound design: Jane Shaw, “The Comedy of Errors,” Hartford Stage; Fan Zhang, “Seven Guitars,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Shane Rettig, “Scenes from Court Life,” Yale Repertory Theatre; Karen Graybash, “The Piano Lesson,” Hartford Stage; Fitz Patton, “The Invisible Hand,” Westport Country Playhouse.

2017 Nominations List


Outstanding Solo Performance

Jodi Stevens                I’ll Eat You Last                     MTC

Jon Peterson                He Wrote Good Songs           7 Angels

Outstanding Debut

Maya Kelcher (Natalie)           Next to Normal           TheaterWorks

Dylan Frederick                      Assassins                     Yale Rep

Nick Sacks                              Next to Normal           TheaterWorks

Outstanding Ensemble

Cast of…                                Smart People                           Long Wharf

Cast of…                                Trav’lin                                    7 Angels

Cast of…                                Meteor Shower                       Long Wharf

Cast of…                                Assassins                                 Yale

Cast of…                                The 39 Steps                           Ivoryton

Outstanding Projections

 Michael Commendatore          Assassins                                 Yale

Outstanding Sound

Jane Shaw                               Comedy of Errors                   Hartford Stage

Fan Zhang                               Seven Guitars                          Yale

Shane Retig                             Scenes From Court Life          Yale

Karin Graybash                       Piano Lesson                           Hartford Stage

Fitz Patton                              Invisible Hand                        Westport

Outstanding Costume Design

Ilona Somogyi                         Heartbreak House                   Hartford Stage

Marina Draghici                      Scenes from Court Life          Yale

Lisa Steier                               Rockin’ the Forest                  Playhouse on Park

Fabio Toblini                           Comedy of Errors                   Hartford Stage

Gregory Gale                          Modern Millie                         Goodspeed

Outstanding Lighting

Matthew Richards                  Invisible Hand                        Westport

Yi Zhao                                   Assassins                                 Yale

John Lasiter                             Next to Normal                       TheaterWorks

Matthew Richards                  Comedy of Errors                   Hartford Stage

Christopher Bell                      A Moon for the Misbegotten  Playhouse on Park

Outstanding Set Design

Colin McGurk                         Heartbreak House                   Hartford Stage
Michael Yeargan                     Most Beautiful Room…         Long Wharf

Wilson Chin                            Next to Normal                       TheaterWorks

Adam Rigg                             The Invisible Hand                 Westport

Darko Tresnjak                        The Comedy of Errors            Hartford Stage

Outstanding Choreography

Denis Jones                             Modern Millie                         Goodspeed

Chris Bailey                            Chasing Rainbows                  Goodspeed

Doug Shankman                     West Side Story                      STONC

Patricia Wilcox                        Bye Bye Birdie                       Goodspeed

Darlene Zoller                         Rockin’ the Forest                  Playhouse on Park

Outstanding Featured Actor – Musical

Mark Nelson (Carlo)               Most Beautiful Room….        Long Wharf

Edward Watts (Trevor)           Modern Millie                         Goodspeed

John Cardoza (Gabe)              Next to Normal                       TheaterWorks

Jonny Wexler (Action)            West Side Story                      STONC

Rhett Guter (Birdie)               Bye Bye Birdie                       Goodspeed

Michael Wartella                     Chasing Rainbows                  Goodspeed

Outstanding Featured Actress – Musical

Maya Keleher (Natalie)           Next to Normal                       TheaterWorks

Jodi Stevens (Secretary/Mazeppa)      Gypsy                          MTC

Katie Stewart (Anita)             West Side Story                      STONC

Kristine Zbornik (Mother)      Bye, Bye Birdie                      Goodspeed

Kate Simone (Louise)             Gypsy                                      MTC

Outstanding Featured Actress – Play

Miriam Silverman (Brianne/Chaya)    Mary Jane                    Yale

Rachel Leslie (Vera)               Seven Guitars                          Yale

Antoinette Crowe-Legacy (Ruby) Seven Guitars                  Yale

Mia Dillon                               Cloud 9                                   Hartford Stage

Christina Pumariega (Tina)     Napoli, Brooklyn                    Long Wharf

Outstanding Featured Actor – Play

Jameal Ali (Dar)                      The Invisible Hand                 Westport

Andre De Shields Headley)    Seven Guitars                          Yale

Cleavant Derricks                   Piano lesson                            Hartford Stage

Steve Routman (Coles)           Other People’s Money            Long Wharf

Paxton Whitehead (Dr. Rance)  What the Butler Saw           Westport

 Outstanding Director – Musical

Rob Ruggiero                          Next to Normal                       TheaterWorks

David Edwards                       Man of La Mancha                 Ivoryton

Melody Libonati                     West Side Story                      STONC

Jenn Thompson                       Bye Bye Birdie                       Goodspeed

Kevin Connors                        Gypsy                                      MTC

Outstanding Director – Play

Darko Tresnjak                        The Comedy of Errors            Hartford Stage

David Kennedy                      The Invisible Hand                 Westport

Marc Bruni                              Other People’s Money            Long Wharf

Tracy Brigden                         Midsummer                             TheaterWorks

Gordon Edelstein                    Meteor Shower                       Long Wharf

Outstanding Actor – Musical

Robert Sean Leonard (Arthur)  Camelot                                Westport

Riley Costello (Finch)             How to Succeed…                 CRT

David Harris (Dan)                 Next to Normal                       TheaterWorks

David Pittsinger (Don Q)       Man of La Mancha                 Ivoryton

Zach Schanne (Tony)              West Side Story                      STONC

Outstanding Actress – Musical

Ruby Rakos (Judy)                 Chasing Rainbows                  Goodspeed

Christiane Noll (Diana)           Next to Normal                       TheaterWorks

Julia Paladino (Maria)             West Side Story                      STONC

Karen Ziemba (Rose)              Gypsy                                      Sharon Playhouse

Talia Thiesfield (Aldonza)      Man of La Mancha                 Ivoryton

Outstanding Actor – Play

Tom Pecinka (Betty/Edward) Cloud 9                                   Hartford Stage

Michael Doherty (Black Stache) Peter and the…                  CRT

Eric Bryant (prisoner) Invisible Hand                        Westport

Jordan Lage (Garfinkle)          Other People’s Money            Long Wharf

Scott McLean (Bob) Midsummer… TheaterWorks

Outstanding Actress – Play

Emily Donohe                         Mary Jane                                Yale

Semina DeLaurentis (Gracie)  George & Gracie                     7 Angels

Ashlie Atkinson (Imogen)      Imogen Says Nothing             Yale

Vanessa R. Butler (Solinas)    Queens for a Year                   Hartford Stage

Rebecca Hart (Helena)            Midsummer                             TheaterWorks

Outstanding Production – Musical

Assassins                                 Yale

Next to Normal                       TheaterWorks

Man of La Mancha                 Ivoryton

West Side Story                      STONC

Bye Bye Birdie                       Goodspeed

Outstanding Production – Play

The Comedy of Errors            Hartford Stage

Midsummer (a play with songs) TheaterWorks

Scenes From Court Life          Yale

The Invisible Hand                 Westport

Mary Jane                                Yale

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