By Christopher Arnott
12:25 PM EDT, September 7, 2012
Most states are lucky to have one theater that's won the Tony Award for Best Regional Theater. Connecticut has five, and two of them are in New Haven.
The Yale Repertory Theatre [1120 Chapel St., New Haven; (203) 432-1234, yalerep.org], right downtown on the corner of York and Chapel Streets, was founded in the late 1960s so that Yale School of Drama students could benefit from working with professional actors, directors and designers. The Rep offers a six-show mainstage subscription season. For 2012-13, that means world premieres from playwrights Sarah Ruhl (Dear Elizabeth) and David Adjmi (Marie Antoinette), the comedies American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose (by Richard Montoya of Culture Clash) and Marie Jones' Irish hit Stones in His Pockets, a stage adaptation by Robert Woodruff and Bill Camp of the Fassbinder film In a Year With 13 Moons, and School of Drama alumnus Paul Giamatti starring in Hamlet.
You should also look beyond the Rep at what other fine theater experiences Yale has to offer: the experimental delight of the grad-student run Yale Cabaret; the three thesis projects, and many smaller productions, helmed by students in the School of Drama directing program; the annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays in May; the Yale Institute for Music Theatre readings in June; the ambitious undergraduate productions done through the Yale Dramat, one of the nation's oldest college dramatic societies; and the many touring theater companies that visit campus.
New Haven's other major regional theater, the Long Wharf Theatre [222 Sargent Dr., New Haven; (203) 787-4282, longwharf.org] announced last year that, after years of planning, it wasn't going to move downtown after all. It extended its lease on the Long Wharf Terminal loading dock where it's been since 1965 and began a multi-million-dollar mainstage renovation, replacing all the chairs in the auditorium and expanding the ladies' rooms. The 2012-13 season, the 11th under artistic director Gordon Edelstein, features Terry Teachout's new Louis Armstrong biodrama Satchmo at the Waldorf, a new version of Frank Marcus' The Killing of Sister George (adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher), the new weight-loss comedy January Joiner by Laura Jacqmin, Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class and William Mastrosimone's Ride the Tiger (about various historic trysts regarding JFK, Sam Giancana, Frank Sinatra and Judith Exner) and a new production of the Pulitzer-winning Broadway hit Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. Of the six shows, Edelstein is directing three, associate artistic director Eric Ting is handling January Joiner and Clybourne Park and actress Kathleen Turner is both directing and starring in Sister George.
New Haven also has a thriving small theater and community theater scene, anchored by the two-decade-old New Haven Theater Co. (newhaventheatercompany.com), the inventive A Broken Umbrella troupe (abrokenumbrella.com), the Elm Shakespeare Company (known for its professional outdoor summer productions in Edgerton Park; elmshakespeare.org) and Theatre 4 (which commissioned an original work this past year, George Brant's Salvage, and landed it in the New York Fringe Festival). Some of these companies have performed at Lyric Hall [827 Whalley Ave., New Haven; (203) 389-8885, lyrichallnewhaven.com], the elegantly renovated former silent moviehouse in the back of an antique furniture restoration studio in Westville.
There are strong theater programs at Southern Connecticut State University (whose Lyman Hall Theater also gets a lot of touring children's theater shows), Quinnipiac University in Hamden and Albertus Magnus College.
But the New Haven venue that gets mentioned most often in theater history books is the Shubert [247 College St., New Haven; (203) 562-5666; shubert.com], which has a rich legacy of preparing shows for Broadway, from hosting out-of-town try-outs for classics by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Tennessee Williams and Neil Simon in the mid-20th century to letting tours build sets and rehearse there today. The Shubert's booked Jersey Boys for a two-week engagement Sept. 25-Oct. 7, but the tour was constructed and had its dress rehearsals on the same Shubert stage several years ago. The rest of the Shubert's 2012-13 Broadway season includes Shrek the Musical, The Addams Family, Blue Man Group, Les Miserables, American Idiot and West Side Story.
Copyright © 2014, WTXX-TV