theater

Currier & Ives / Public Domain

To mark the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, we look back the event and how it changed America with two local historians who are experts on the 16th President of the United States. As part of this look back, we hear from actors who will commemorate the anniversary with a staged reading to recreate the final days of the Civil War, the assassination, and the search for and death of John Wilkes Booth.

A Story for the Ages

Apr 2, 2015
Courtesy of mellopix.com, Berkeley Rep, and Hartford Stage

If you’re the parent of a kid who’s taking music lessons, or one who's  just generally interested in music, you should be aware of the remarkable one-person show that just opened at Hartford Stage.

The show is “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” and it’s been out making the rounds in various cities for a couple of years, but this is the first time it’s been seen in Hartford.

Hartford Stage

Love, loss, friendship, and loneliness are all explored in the new play "Reverberation," now playing at Hartford Stage.

Zbigniew Warzynski

"Song of the Goat" is the literal meaning of the ancient Greek word for tragedy. It's also the name of the  theater company from Wroclaw, Poland bringing a new adaptation of "King Lear" to New Haven this weekend.

In Polish, that's "Piesn Kozla."

Grzegorz Bral, the artistic director of the theater company, said he doesn't see "King Lear" so much as a story about a father and his three daughters, but rather a "tragedy without a mother."

Mark Twain House

Hal Holbrook has played Mark Twain in his solo show "Mark Twain Tonight" for more than 60 years, and at almost 90 years old he's still channeling the author.

It's a show that Holbrook never expected to catch on when he first started performing off-Broadway in his mid 30s. It took more than three hours to do his makeup, he told WNPR's Colin McEnroe Showto get in character as an aging Twain. 

Holbrook was an unknown actor in 1959 when the New York Times critic gave him rave reviews, calling it "an extraordinary show," and saying "there should have been posters up all over town to herald its arrival."

An Ode to Opera

Jan 22, 2015
David Shankbone / Creative Commons

In 2012, the New York City Opera -- what Mayor LaGuardia called "the People's Opera" -- declared bankruptcy. This is/was the opera that introduced Americans to Placido Domingo and Beverly Sills. Make what you will of the fact that the bankruptcy announcement coincided with the presentation of a new opera about Anna Nicole Smith.

This is either a problem very specific to the New York Opera, or part of a virus that has been taking down opera companies all over the U.S. and maybe all over the world. In Italy, where opera receives much more public and government support, one fourth of all major opera companies were in a version of bankruptcy as of 2008.

Starting Christmas day, audiences can see a new version of Stephen Sondheim’s nearly 30-year-old musical fairy-tale mash-up, “Into the Woods” — this time, on the big screen.

And as the production moves from stage to screen, the high-budget Hollywood version comes with the requisite star power, including Johnny Depp as the iconic big bad wolf, Emily Blunt as a baker’s wife and Meryl Streep as the wicked witch who sets the whole plot in motion.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It doesn't really even make any sense what has happened at the Goodspeed Opera House every since  Michael Price took over the late 1960s. East Haddam, which is conveniently located near absolutely nothing, has played host to Mike Nichols, Idina Menzel, Jerry Herman, Mark Hamill, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Julie Andrews...I could go on.

T. Charles Erickson
Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage produced its first-ever "sensory-friendly" performance this week. The staging of "A Christmas Carol" was geared toward audience members on the autism spectrum.

Connecticut Lyric Opera

Grand opera returns to Hartford after a five-year hiatus.

Shubert Theater / Facebook

This year marks the 100th anniversary of New Haven’s Shubert Theater. 

Toby Simkin/flickr creative commons

If you charted the course of American musicals, a major stop on this extraordinary journey would be The Shubert Theater in New Haven. The Shubert was considered Broadway's try-out house, a stop where our local audiences determined whether New York producers had a hit or a disaster on their hands. How did this happen? Who got the nod and who earned thumbs down? 

Nathan Turner / Litchfield Jazz Festival

Several performing arts and literary publications in Connecticut have been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, totaling $290,000.

GHAA

Nearly 20 years ago, I made my first visit to the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts at its original site, just past Colt Park in Hartford, heading south on Wethersfield Avenue.

I pulled into a parking lot protected by a tall, chain-linked fence. It acted like a divider between a worn-out apartment building in the deteriorating neighborhood, and the old funeral parlor that had been resurrected as Hartford’s arts magnet high school.

The school has come a long way since then. Last month, it was honored as the nation’s top arts school by the Arts Schools Network.

Tom Jervis / Creative Commons

First up on the Scramble today, writer and thinker Nicholas Carr, whose new book, "The Glass Cage" is about our blind surrender to automation. Most tellingly about the way we surrender (unthinkingly) control to sophisticated computer tools. 

You'll hear for instance, the story of a luxury cruise ship that ran aground on a sand bar because the GPS was spitting out wrong information and the entire crew ignored visual evidence that should have been a dead giveaway.

Rocky and Nelson / Creative Commons

Scandal is a theme today. 

One of our guests today is Anne Helen Petersen, who left academia to write full-time about celebrities and television and celebrity gossip.  One of the themes her first book, "Scandals of Classic Hollywood," is the history of Hollywood scandal so lets get my own theory out of the way. 

Theaterworks

After 20 years apart, a woman tracks down her ex-husband, a poet living in a grungy trailer in the Colorado mountains. Their raw, funny, heartbreaking reunion unfolds in a new play called "Annapurna" by Sharr White, currently running at Theaterworks in Hartford.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Whenever I see a production of Hamlet, I am newly floored by its impact on language, no matter how many times you tell yourself that a lot of our spoken language is in this play, you're freshly assaulted by how many things people say all the time that come from Hamlet. It's crazy.

But then there are all sorts of questions about staging Hamlet. There can be, and there have been many theories about what to emphasize in the play. Themes of sex, politics, indecision, suicide, and reality testing are either brought to the fore, or pushed to the back. No matter what happens on the stage, it's a really, really good story.

Cinémathèque Française/San Francisco Silent Film Festival

A long lost, feature-length silent film starring Connecticut actor William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes was discovered earlier this month in France.

Emmy-winning actress and singer Polly Bergen died at her home in Southbury, Connecticut on Saturday. Bergen played the terrorized wife in the original 1962 film "Cape Fear," and the first woman president in the 1964 film "Kisses for My President." She was 84 years old.

Chion Wolf

Living in Hartford almost all my life I've known for years the story of Horace Wells. At least, I know the story I know, which is that Wells was a Hartford dentist who introduced anesthesia. He may have been the first but I've always known there were other pretenders to that crown. 

I also knew that Wells became addicted to one of those products and died a horrible, tragic and ignominious death.

But, that's all I knew and I wondered how widely known that story was. 

Chion Wolf

Life is full of peculiar ironies and thus, Tom Stoppard, quite possibly the most most dizzyingly proficient writer of the English tongue did not grow up speaking English.  to college. He is, to use his old joke, a bounced check. He grew up in Czechoslovakia and spoke that language until the age of three-and-one half, or perhaps five.

Mark Ostow

At age 83, Ming Cho Lee knows the difference between a world that works and one that doesn’t, certainly when it comes to the stage. For the past six decades, the National Medal of Arts recipient and Tony Award winner has conjured up some of the most memorable scenic worlds of the American theater.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Legendary American folk singer/activist Woody Guthrie, is best known for his classic song, "This Land is Your Land." All of his music gives voice to a restless and profoundly American search for freedom: artistically, politically, and personally.

As the days of August tick away, many Berkshires performance venues are closing the curtains on their summer sessions.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Downtown Hartford now has a new music venue, as Thursday was the grand opening of the Infinity Music Hall and Bistro. 

Western Connecticut State University

Western Connecticut State University in Danbury is home to the only School of Visual and Performing Arts in the Connecticut state university system. Its proximity to New York offers a chance to attract an impressive faculty. Later this month, WestConn will open a new Visual and Performing Arts Center.

Mickey Thurman/flickr creative commons

New York City acting teacher Grace Kiley is interested in the natural actor. Understandable, since she is a licensed mental health counselor who has a gift for teaching what contributes to a transformative performance on stage or on film.

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