BWW CT Top Theater Picks for April 2017
By Lauren Yarger
Connecticut Stages are blooming this April with a number of diverse and exciting offerings for Top Picks this month.
First up, a shout out to NEXT TO NORMAL at TheaterWorks, Hartford. This is a superb production of the Tom Kitt/Brian Yorkey Pulitzer-Prize-winning musical, directed by Rob Ruggiero and starring Broadway vet Christiane Noll. The Lighting Design by John Lasiter is among the best I ever have seen on a stage. Ticket sales have prompted a second extension of the run through May 14. theaterworkshartford.org
The 2016 Outer Critics Circle Award winner THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKEY, written by and starring James Lecesne, plays at Hartford Stage through April 23. Lecesne ("Trevor") plays multiple characters in a story that explores the disappearance of a teenager who was bullied by his peers in New Jersey. Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) composes the original music. Runs through April 23. www.hartfordstage.org
Taylor Quick headlines in Goodspeed's production of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE April 21 - July 2. The score is by Jeanine Tesori with a book and new lyrics by Dick Scanlan based on the original screenplay by Richard Morris. goodspeed.org
Music Theatre of Connecticut
Judy Garland comes to life, with a little help from actress Coleen Sexton, in the New England Premiere of END OF THE RAINIBOW April 7-23 at MTC MainStage in Norwalk. It's December 1968 and Judy Garland is about to make her comeback...again. The show features some of Garland's most memorable songs including "Over the Rainbow." Kevin Connors directs. www.musictheatreofct.com
CT Repertory Company
Another Tesori musical closes the mainstage series at CT Rep when the comedy SHREK THE MUSICAL (with a book by David Lindsay-Abaire) turns the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre into a swamp. It tells an unlikely ogre love story and is based on the animated film. Shrek's sidekick donkey will feature UConn's acclaimed Puppet Arts program. The musical, directed by Margarett Perry, will run April 20-30. crt.uconn.edu
An old-fashioned circus comes to town April 28-30 with a tour stop at The Bushnell. CIRCUS 1903, produced by the team that brought us THE ILLUSIONISTS, brings a turn-of-the-century circus show to Hartford, complete with elephants, thanks to a partnership with puppeteers Significant Object (War Horse). This circus looks at the circus from putting up the tent to what takes place under the big top. Featured are David Williamson (The Ringmaster), Florian Blummel (The Cycling Cyclone), Anny Laplante and Andrei Kalesnikau (Les Incredibles), Francois Borie (The Great Gaston - Juggler Extraordinaire), Elena Gatilova (Lucky Moon), Ricardo and Alejandro Rossi (Hermanos Rossi), high-wire act The Lopez Family (Los Lopez), Mikhail Sozonov (The Sensational Sozonov), Yevgeniy Dashkivskyy and Yefrem Bitkine (Duo Flash), Artur Ivankovich, Ilya Kotenyov and Petter Linsky (The Flying Fins), Alfonso Lopez Ramirez and Maria Lopez (The Perilous Perigos) and introducing Queenie and Baby Elephant, Peanut. bushnell.org
ONCE, winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards® including best musical, plays the Palace April 7-8. Featuring an ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, ONCE brings the popular movie of the same life to spin the tale of a Dublin street musician who's about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. palacetheaterct.org
Lauren Yarger reviews Connecticut and New York Theater. She is 2nd vice president of The Drama Desk and a member of The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and the CT Critics Circle.