Curtain Call: Theater welcomes 2019

Just as we change our calendars to the new year, 2019, so too, theaters get ready with a new lineup for the beginning of the year. This is a sneak preview of some of the theater we can look forward to in the early months of the new year.

Jan. 9-Feb. 3: Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven: “Miller, Mississippi.”  Here is a tale of one family’s unfolding secrets. Considering that every family has its own secrets, it is interesting to watch the Miller family, which has more secrets than most, deal with the changes that come about in their lives during the Civil Rights era. “Boo Killebrew’s play is a Southern Gothic tale that confirms the old adage that “the past is never really past.” This family either adapts or faces ruin.

Jan. 10-27: Curtain Call, Stamford, at the Dressing Room Theatre: “Wedding Bells.” Four garden club ladies decide to throw a wedding for a young girl about to marry a man before he ships off for World War II. This light-hearted comedy shows how even the best plans get troublesome, but all’s well that ends well.

Jan. 10-Feb. 3: Hartford Stage, Hartford: “The Engagement Party.” Directed by the artistic director of this formidable theater, Darko Tresnjak presents a drama about a young couple’s gathering with family and friends to celebrate their engagement. As fate would have it, things are revealed that change their lives.

Jan. 29-Feb. 3: “Cats.” If you missed it, never saw it, or want to see it again, “Cats,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that won numerous awards and was presented in over 30 countries and in 15 different languages will arrive in Hartford at The Bushnell.

Feb. 1-17: Downtown Cabaret, Main Stage, Bridgeport: “1984 George Orwell.” Big Brother sees all and knows that Winston Smith is looking for love and freedom in a world of conformity and restriction. Even thoughts are considered crimes. The audience becomes witness to the treatment of Winston.

Feb. 1-23: Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven: “Good Faith.” Here’s a production about race and the New Haven Fire Department. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the City of New Haven violated the civil rights of a group of firefighters who were passed over for promotion. According to the website’s description: Two national election cycles later, the lead plaintiff, now an instructor at the Fire Academy, schools new recruits on the methods and values of the department. Across town in a Greek diner, two former fire department colleagues continue to debate the personal and political impact of the decision. Through distinct, at times directly oppositional, individual voices, Good Faith reveals the soul of New Haven. Good Faith, a play inspired by the landmark labor case Ricci v. DeStefano, is an imaginative response to transcripts, interviews, and the many histories of New Haven.    

Feb. 8-24: Westport Community Theatre, Westport: “The Road to Mecca” by Athol Fugard takes place in a remote white village in South Africa. An elderly widow and artist is threatened by her strange displays of sculpture and art. When urged to move to a nursing home, a young woman intercedes on her behalf.

Feb. 14-March 10: ACT,  Ridgefield: “Working” is the Stephen Schwartz musical based on Terkel’s book of interviews with America’s workforce. According to the theater’s website, the story is told from the perspective of those that the world so often overlooks — the school teacher, the housewife, the fireman, and the waitress amongst many — whose daily grind and aspirations reflect the truths of the people that make up a nation. This world-premiere version of Working features new music by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) with additional contributions by Daniel C. Levine.

Happy New Year to one and all and Happy Theatre 2019.

Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: jgrochman@gmail.com.