June 21--Connecticut theatergoers will have a chance to see eight new plays and three new musicals move a step closer to their first professional productions during the summer season at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, which runs through Saturday, Aug. 10.
The hotbed of creativity -- named in honor of one of the state's greatest sons -- is a stone's throw from Long Island Sound in Waterford and in its 49 years has been the birthplace of new plays by John Guare, August Wilson and Wendy Wasserstein and such musical hits as "Avenue Q" and "Nine."
A more recent addition to the summer slate -- the Cabaret and Performance Conference -- will wind up the season with performances by Tony winners Tommy Tune and Donna McKechnie and several other Broadway stars.
The National Playwrights Conference and the National Music Theater Conference will overlap on the weekends of July 6 and 13, making it possible for visitors to see two shows if they make an overnight stay in this beautiful part of the state (close to New London and Mystic).
The O'Neill Center brings in professional actors and musicians to work on new material with the writers in the days before the public performances. While these are not fully staged productions, in many cases you will forget that the actors are not in costume or performing on elaborate sets, as the magic of their work takes over.
Many O'Neill audience veterans go back each summer as much for the performing talent as for the opportunity to see brand-new work. I still remember a season in the 1980s when a pre-Academy Award Kathy Bates put on a mind-blowing display of versatility in the new plays she worked on.
Will Rogers, of the current Westport Country Playhouse production of "The Show-Off," has been cast in "Evanston: A Rare Comedy," set for performances on July 24 and 25.
The O'Neill was also the launching pad for August Wilson, whose breakthrough plays, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and "Fences," had their first public readings in Waterford before they were given full productions at the Yale Repertory Theatre.
Tickets are $28 for the new plays and musicals and run between $35 and $50 for the cabaret performances. Visit www.theoneill.org.
News out of Yale Repertory Theatre had a friend joking that she planned to camp out in New Haven starting Sept. 20, when "True Blood" star Joe Manganiello tackles the role of Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire."
The sexy HBO werewolf was stage-trained at Carnegie Mellon in his native Pittsburgh, where the actor's theater credits are extensive.
The director is Mark Rucker.Performances will run through Oct. 12. Visit www.yalerep.org.
The annual visits of the Hudson Shakespeare Company to Stratford have become a summer stage highlight. The Jersey City, N.J.-based troupe will bring a free outdoor production of "Cyrano de Bergerac" to the Stratford Library, 2203 Main St., 2 p.m. Saturday, June 29. If it rains, "Cyrano" will move indoors
The story of the 17th-century poet with a large nose, who gets the beautiful Roxanne to fall in love with his words rather than his face, never fails to grip and enchant. After Cyrano uses the dashing young cadet Christian to be his proxy in wooing Roxanne, the suspense in this unique romantic triangle becomes intense.
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @joesview
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