Stephen King knows his way around a stage. His novel Carrie, with its prom-dance backstage blood-soaking prank finale, was adapted into an infamous musical. Rage, one of the novels King wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, was turned into a stage play by Robert Parker, author of the Spenser mysteries. And King's great American novel 11/22/63, his most recent 1000-pager (though he churns out shorter books, short stories, essays and "Kindle Singles" with alarming alacrity and consistent high quality) finds its time-traveling protagonist happily leading the newly formed drama club in a small Texas high school in the mid-20th century. King's descriptions of teens gaining confidence through exposure to live theater form some of the most powerful emotional images in an exceedingly emotional and powerful novel.
King, whose forthcoming book Doctor Sleep is a sequel to one of his best-known works, The Shining, will be interviewed onstage at the Bushnell (166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, marktwainhouse.org) by WNPR radio host Colin McEnroe on July 18 at 8 p.m. If they spend just one minute on each of his bestsellers, or the same amount of time on each of the many literary awards he's won, they've filled more than an hour right there. The event has been set up by the Mark Twain House & Museum, and if you fail to see the connection between Twain and King, well you haven't read Twain's A Ghost Story or King's Tom Sawyer-esque The Body (the basis for the movie Stand By Me). King brings the same horror-tinged coming-of-age whimsy to his hot new summer read, Joyland. And isn't it enough that that both Twain and King can claim to be among the most popular writers of their respective centuries?
Other theater notes: Anything Goes at New Britain's Hole in the Wall Theater (hitw.org) July 12 through August 10, directed by "the Brothers Kegler" and coinciding with the anniversary of composer Cole Porter's graduation from Yale University... In New Haven, the Long Wharf (longwharf.org) hosts a national tour of Lieber & Stoller's rock & roll revue Smokey Joe's Café July 10-28... The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford (theoneill.org) is deep into its 2013 National Playwrights Conference, with two plays having already received their public readings and six others (from the likes of Jeff Augustin, David Auburn and other provocative playwrights) yet to come between now and July 27.