Monday, July 8, 2013


Photo Credit: A. Vincent Scarano   "Broadcast"
Pictured (from left to right): sitting: Tommy McDowell, Wesley Taylor, Jared Zirilli
In back: Theresa McCarthy, Chris McCarrell, Whitney Bashor, Farah Alvin, Jonathan Hadley

Diamonds and gold are buried in the green rolling hills of Waterford and they are gems ready to be mined.  Theater lovers need to run as quickly as possible to the best hidden jewel of entertainment, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, that for forty-nine  years has brought new works to the surface.

Every summer this great campus sponsors a series of conferences beginning in June with an International Puppetry Conference, where "Avenue Q" was given birth, founded by Jim and Jane Henson (Muppets) and Rufus and Margo Rose (Howdy Doody).  Every winter and spring, hundreds of new plays are submitted for consideration at the “National Playwrights Conference” and "National Music Theater Conference" in July.  From this hefty number, fifteen hundred this year, eight plays  and three musicals are selected for a full workshop and staged reading. 

This summer's play offerings include: "The Solid Sand Below" by Martin Zimmerman and performances were July 3 and 4.
Julian Flores narrowly escapes a prison sentence and lands in Iraq where he’s anything but a model soldier. But when an I.E.D. blast nearly costs him his life, something changes for Flores. Soon the adrenaline, clarity, and intimacy of battle become something he can’t live without—even after he returns home.  "Samsara" by Lauren Yee had performances July 5 and 6.  Katie and Craig are having a baby… with a surrogate… who lives in India. A month before the baby’s due date, Craig reluctantly travels to the subcontinent, where he meets Suraiya, their young, less-than-thrilled surrogate. As all three “parents” anxiously wait for the baby to be born, flights of fancy attack them from all sides, in the form of an unctuous Frenchman and a smart-mouthed fetus.  It is a whimsical take on modern-day colonialism. 

A GREAT WILDERNESS by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Braden Abraham will have showings Wednesday, July 10; Thursday, July 11
Facing a forced retirement and early signs of dementia, a man who's devoted his life to counseling teenage boys out of their homosexuality has taken on one last patient at his remote mountain cabin in Idaho. But when tragedy strikes and his life and mind begin to unravel, he is forced to confront some demons of his own.
LITTLE CHILDREN DREAM OF GOD by Jeff Augustin will be performed  Friday, July 12; Saturday, July 13.
Risking it all to ensure a better life for her unborn son, Sula travels from Haiti to Miami floating on a car tire. As Sula struggles to make a life for herself in America, she comes face to face with ghosts from her past. Will she be able to forge a new beginning for herself and her son or will Sula be held captive to the demons that haunt her? 
THE OREGON TRAIL by Bekah Brunstetter  will be shown on Wednesday, July 17; Thursday, July 18.
Jane's trapped in her middle school computer lab playing “The Oregon Trail” for what feels like hours. The game becomes life and rips us back to the trail, 1848, where we travel in a covered wagon with Jane's great great grandmother. As game moves us, back, forward and back again, Now-Jane’s and Then-Jane’s sadnesses are delicately  juxtaposed in this play-meets-video game about depression, Then and Now.
ALL THE ROADS HOME by Jen Silverman will be performed on Friday, July 19; Saturday, July 20.
Madeleine wanted to be a dancer, her daughter Max wanted to be a cowboy, and Max's daughter, Nix, has no idea what she wants, but knows it has to be enough for all of them. Set in the 50's, 70's and today, three women choose which dreams to sacrifice and when to keep fighting. All the Roads Home is about freedom, family, and finding hope where you least expect it.
EVANSTON: A RARE COMEDY by Michael Yates Crowley will be featured on Wednesday, July 24; Thursday, July 25.
Evanston: A Rare Comedy begins with the disappearance of a teenage girl in deepest suburbia and ends when a meeting of the local Women's Book Club goes horribly awry. In between, a housewife dreams of Mexico, an economics professor has an affair with a check-out clerk at Whole Foods, and the financial crisis rages on. Inspired by the words of Psalm 137 and the best-seller "Eat, Pray, Love," Evanston: A Rare Comedy takes a look at Middle America and asks: how can we sing a song of joy in this strange land?
LOST LAKE by David Auburn, directed by Wendy C. Goldberg will be shown on Friday, July 26; Saturday, July 27.
In this melancholy comedy/drama, the lives of two strangers become entwined when a single mother in search of a week’s escape from the city rents a decrepit lakeside cabin. 
In addition to the plays, The National Music Theater Conference this year has three offerings to tempt your palate.  "Broadcast" with Book & Lyrics by Nathan Christensen and Music by Scott Murphy had readings in June.  Does our constantly evolving technology really help us to connect with each other, or is it keeping us at a distance? That is the question of the original wireless era a hundred years ago—at the dawn of radio. "Broadcast" weaves together the lives of inventors, housewives, soldiers, salesmen,and the people next door, all trying to be heard over the invisible waves of that brand new world.

In "The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes" with Book & Lyrics by Christopher Dimond and Music by Michael Kooman, the staged readings were this past weekend.  Howard Barnes is a perfectly average man in his early thirties, until the day that he wakes up to discover that his life has become a musical. Desperate to escape from the show, Howard embarks on a fantastical quest through the realm of musical theater. Equal parts satire, romantic comedy, and love letter to the American musical, "The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes" is intended for people who love musical theater, and their spouses who hate it.

There is still time to catch "Goddess" with Book, Lyrics, and Music by Mkhululi Z. Mabija & Michael Thurber with readings July 6, 7 , 10 and 12, the last at 7 p.m. " Goddess" is set in a fictional city in present day Africa where Nadira, a beautiful, sultry singer, performs nightly in a jazz club. The story revolves around Nadira and the fate of the men who love her. An original musical with pulsing, modern African rhythms, "Goddess" is a story of love, destiny and the place of the supernatural in the modern world.

For tickets ($28) to any performance of a play or musical, call the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, 305 Great Neck Road, Waterford (exit 75, off I-95) at 860-443-5378 or online at  Also check out the Cabaret and Performance Conference in August, from the 1st to the 10th,  featuring headliners like Donna McKechnie on the 6th and Tommy Tune on the 9th. Single tickets are $50-60.
Unleash your prospecting acuity as you mine the abundance of theatrical riches at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center that are just waiting to be discovered.  Claim your golden nuggets and diamonds now.

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