December 22, 2014

One season closes — another opens

Square One Theatre Company, Stratford: In wrapping up its 22nd season, Square One has chosen Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor.  

Derived from some of Chekhov’s vignettes, this production will likely be found strong and healthy with its solid cast. In one particular scene, a working class man sneezes on the back of his rich boss’s head at the opera and can’t stop apologizing. Another scene finds a father about to introduce his son to the facts of life at a “house” of questionable morals. 

What makes these vignettes so rich is the poignancy woven into each scene. Like Chekhov, Simon infuses equal amounts of warmth and love with humor and plenty of laughs. 

Tom Holehan, the artistic director of the Stratford-based theater will direct this final show of the season. Performances run Fridays-Sundays, May 11-26. They do have a twilight performance scheduled for May 26 at 4 p.m. I’m hoping they will have more of these performances earlier in the run in the future. Tickets are $20. Box office: 203-375-8778. 

Westport Country Playhouse, Westport: The big red barn will swing open its doors this week with its opening performance of the season, Into the Woods. This is a 25th anniversary revival, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, with book by James Lapine and direction by the Playhouse’s artistic director, Mark Lamos. 

Often described as the “fractured-fairy tale musical,” this production is co-produced with Baltimore’s Centerstage.  Having won many awards, including multiple Tony Awards, this piece is inspired by the Grimm fairy tales. The twist is the realization of what comes to the happy little characters like Cinderella and Little Red Ridinghood after the “happily ever after” finale. 

The 15-member cast includes Danielle Ferland from Derby,  (Broadway’s Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George) as the Baker’s Wife; Erik Liberman (Broadway’s LoveMusik, Helen Hayes Award for Merrily We Roll Along) as the Baker; Lauren Kennedy (Broadway’s Spamalot, Sunset Boulevard) as the Witch; Jeffry Denman (Broadway’s The Producers, White Christmas) as the Narrator; Justin Scott Brown from Avon (25th Anniversary National Tour of Les Misérables) as Jack; Cheryl Stern (2010 revival of La Cage aux Folles) as Jack’s Mother; and Nik Walker (Miss Saigon, Rent) as the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince. Tickets start at $30. Box office at 203-227-4177.