Since Connecticut is fortunate enough to enjoy great theater on so many different levels, high school, college, community, professional traveling tours and professional Equity productions; this past year has been filled with exceptional performances that thrilled audiences. Our very proximity to New York and Broadway has a trickledown talent effect that many has made most of Connecticut theater really good. Add to this, the many schools, programs, and training workshops that are available when it comes to teaching acting techniques and theater skills and audiences are confident in seeing fine theater statewide.
Shows that featured performers who belonged to the Equity Union of Professional Actors or belonged to Professional Traveling tours brought plenty of entertainment our way this year. The following is a list of what I consider the top Equity and Touring shows of the year. I’ve included quotes from my reviews on these shows. I don’t list all the fine community theater productions because the actors perform for the love of theater. It is not their primary source of income.
- The Phantom of the Opera: The Palace Theater, Waterbury — “A theatrical masterpiece shines brighter than ever…billed as the “The Spectacular New Production” and it really is exactly that spectacular.
- The Chosen: Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven — “In addition to the differences in Jewish practice, political issues are also at odds in this insightful and thoughtful production. What makes this play so perfect for Chanukah and any holiday season is that it acknowledges differences and respects differences.”
- Jesus Christ Superstar: Seven Angels Theatre, Waterbury — “This extravaganza is the best production I have ever seen of this show…this particular cast, orchestra, and creative team would rock the house anywhere anytime. It’s actually sensational.”
- Beautiful: The Carol King Musical: The Bushnell, Hartford — “The title says it all” as “it features great rock and roll hits that defined a generation as well as a music genre.”
- Million Dollar Quartet: Seven Angels Theatre, Waterbury — “It is one seriously rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ show.”
- The Assassins: Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven — “James Bundy, the Artistic Director of Yale Rep, punches the action with enough pizzazz to delight the audience. Expect a full live orchestra…amazing performances….and a stage filled with the color and energy of an amusement park laced with the danger and shock of gun fire.”
- Rags: Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam — “Ripped apart then tailored to a tight fit.”
- Milk: Thrown Stone Theatre Company, Ridgefield — “Making its U.S. debut, the play is exquisitely written and expertly directed by Jason Peck. It is a play that defies you to forget its urgency. Overall, this is a finely polished production with top talents and superior performances.”
- Lettice and Lovage: Westport Country Playhouse, Westport — “This is an absolutely charming play where romanticism and realism clash. It is a piece that shows how opposites attract. Most importantly it draws the line between fact and fiction in the most amusing way.
Joanne Greco Rochman is a founder and former member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected].