"ANASTASIA" AT THE HARTFORD STAGE
The summer season is quickly waning and coming to a close, a good time to stop and reflect on the best theater we’ve just experienced. Surely the high point of June (if not the year) was the spectacular epic production of “Anastasia” that blazed gloriously at the Hartford Stage and is on its magical journey straight to Broadway. The fairy tale of a lost Russian princess who finds her way to love and happiness was a definite crowd pleaser.
If you sat under the stars, often by a lovely body of water or under trees lit by a million fireflies, you saw an honorable Hamlet avenge his father’s death with Shakespeare on the Sound in Rowayton, learned how Petruchio curbed the cursed tongued Kate in CT Free Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” at Stratford’s American Shakespeare Theatre or followed the comic antics of crazed lovers under a spell in Elm Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at New Haven’s Edgerton Park (still available until September 4, except Mondays, at 8 p.m.).
Perhaps you shopped in Barbra Streisand’s Malibu mall in her basement in “Buyer and Cellar” at Westport Country Playhouse as Michael Urie performed a one man show about the diva and her unique ways or journeyed to The Kate for another tour de force as Jonathan Brooke told stories and sang about her unusual mom in “My Mother Has 4 Noses.” Hopefully you were in step to follow the dreams of the wannabe stars of West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park’s energetic offering of “A Chorus Line” or took a leap up the corporate ladder to catch CT Repertory’s musical tribute in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at UCONN.
A smooth sail on a raft on the Mississippi would have carried you along with Huck Finn and his slave pal Jim in “Big River” at the Sharon Playhouse in Sharon while an awesome “West Side Story” was barely contained in the big white tent erected by Summer Theater of New Canaan. For a healthy dose of “all that jazz” you had to travel to Ivoryton Playhouse to catch “Chicago" while Goodspeed Musicals scored big time with its heavenly revival of “Bye Bye Birdie.”
Waterford’s Eugene O’Neill Theater Center offered non-stop pleasure, with puppets, plays, musicals and cabarets all summer long. Don’t admit you missed all they had to give. Hartford TheaterWorks set its sights on Scotland with a jaunt, slightly illegal, between a pair of cohorts in “Midsummer” while Opera Theater of CT soared with the melodramatic tale of “Carmen” in Clinton.
Hopefully you caught the musical about choices that danced its way into the Bushnell in Hartford as “If/Then” or that perennial favorite “The Fantasticks” at Berlin’s CT Cabaret (still playing weekends until September 24, not Labor Day). Just this week local teenage phenom Braiden Sunshine shone brightly at The Kate as the headliner.
Whatever your pleasure, there was surely a perfect offering somewhere in the state. We are blessed with great theater in Connecticut. Take advantage of all the gifts.