Best of Connecticut 2010: Diversions

 
The Study at Yale, New Haven

The Study at Yale, New Haven

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BALLET

Connecticut Ballet
Stamford & Hartford (connecticutballet.com)
The state’s premier classical and contemporary ballet company celebrates its 30th season next year with a statewide summer tour that features performances at Riverfront Recapture, the Stamford Center for the Arts and Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford. But dancing is not the company’s only focus—its Center for Dance Education as well as its Juvenile Justice Outreach Program provide thousands of students with dance, music and visual-arts classes each year.

BOOKSTORE: NEW

R.J. Julia Booksellers
Madison, (800) 74-READS (rjjulia.com)
Despite (and maybe because of) the Internet, we still seek out the real deal, an old-fashioned bookstore where we can browse, leaf through volumes at our leisure and find simpatico souls to advise us on what to buy. And there’s no better place to do all that than R.J. Julia. Owner Roxanne Coady hosts readings by authors du jour, open mics and story hours in her bookshop/gathering place, where she shares her belief in the magic of books, and she and her staff see matching you to “just the right book” as a sacred mission. Speaking of which, sign up for their “Just the Right Book” service and they will select books customized to your interests each month.

BOOKSTORE: USED

The Book Barn
Niantic, (860) 739-5715 (bookbarnniantic.com)
The Book Barn is living proof that not everyone is ready to switch to Kindle. This book lover’s paradise exudes joy, which is evident from the smiles on the faces of shoppers who spend the day browsing the collection of 350,000 gently used books, at The Main Barn complex and at The Book Barn Downtown. Books are arranged by subject but if you need help, just ask a member of the very knowledgeable staff—somehow they know where eveything is located. They’ll buy your books for cash or store credit here every good-weather day of the week.

COMMUNITY THEATER

Seven Angels Theatre
Waterbury, (203) 757-4676 (sevenangelstheatre.org)
Don’t say community theater isn’t alive in Waterbury. Stage II, the non-equity, community division of the city’s Seven Angels Theatre, has been rehearsing all summer for its production this month of My Fair Lady, directed by local radio-show host and performer Tom Chute and featuring a cast of talented locals with songs in their hearts. The much-beloved Lerner-Loewe musical is set for Sept. 10-12 and 17-19, the first of several Stage II productions that will run alongside Seven Angels’ equity Mainstage shows this season.

EQUITY THEATER

Hartford Stage
Hartford, (860) 527-5151 (hartfordstage.org)
This is a time of change and uncertainty for the capital city’s towering Tony- and Obie-winning resident theater. It’s just launched a major renovation and expansion project while facing the departure of acclaimed artistic director Michael Wilson at the end of the 2010-11 season. At this juncture in its 47-year history Hartford Stage has much to be proud of: eight plays transferred to Broadway (with a potential ninth in Horton Foote’s The Orphan’s Home Cycle), 11 off-Broadway and more than 50 premieres. This season, keep an eye out for the world premiere of Divine Rivalry, directed by Wilson—and centered around the “little-known” meeting of Renaissance peers Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.

FAMILY AMUSEMENT

Lake Compounce
Bristol, (860) 583-3300 (lakecompounce.com)
America’s first family theme park (now 165 years young) is a guaranteed “daycation” crowd-pleaser, from its three coasters—the 1927 Wildcat, Boulder Dash (one of the world’s top wooden coasters) and the Zoomerang loop coaster—to the new Thunder ‘n’ Lightning and Zoomer’s Gas ‘n’ Go (on 1950s Corvettes). Still, lots of families head straight for the splish-splashy fun of Splash Harbor’s Anchor Bay, Clipper Cove, Lake Plunge and Mammoth Falls. Bonuses are live shows in the Starlight Theatre and in Circus World.

FARMERS MARKET

CitySeed Farmers’ Market
New Haven, (203) 773-3736 (cityseed.org).
It’s such a simple concept—buy local, eat healthy—but despite our best intentions, many of us struggle to follow it. Enter CitySeed, which organizes five weekly farmers’ markets in five different locations across New Haven that offer the best in local, organic and sustainable produce from the region. Every carrot, every tomato, every item has been grown in Connecticut by the vendor who is selling it, putting a face to your purchase and helping to support the local economy. It’s a win all around!

FESTIVAL

International Festival of Arts and Ideas
New Haven, (888) ART-IDEA (artidea.org)
For two weeks each June, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas transforms New Haven into a global arts showcase of work by well-known and emerging artists in a variety of genres. The festival’s offerings range from U.S. premieres of plays, dance and music collaborations, opera, jazz, local musicians, poetry slams, films and conversations about everything from civil rights to confronting the global economic crisis to sustainable food. Events take place in venues around the city, and many are free.

Best of Connecticut 2010: Diversions

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