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A Very Hamilton Christmas

It’s going to be a very merry holiday season for Connecticut fans of Hamilton.

When Bushnell subscribers received their invoices to renew recently, they also learned they are the first to get tickets for the national tour of Hamilton, which will play the Hartford theater for three weeks from Dec. 11-30.

New subscribers can have the next shot at tickets in May. Single tickets to the general public are expected to go on sale in late summer.

The producers mandate half of the available tickets — about 32,000 for the three-week run — be available to non-subscribers. Prices for single tickets have not yet been determined.

There will also be a lottery of about 40 tickets per show which will be conducted online through the official Hamilton app. Winners will be notified 24 hours in advance of the show. Tip: There will also be online lotteries for the Boston and Providence runs — as well as in New York — so Connecticut fans with the ability to travel with a day’s notice can enter those lotteries, too, to increase their odds.

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David Lutken, seen here performing as Woody Guthrie, will play another American icon, Will Rogers, at the Goodspeed Opera House.

A Man America Liked

Before David M. Lutken took on the role of Woody Guthrie in the touring production of Woody Sez (which played Hartford’s TheaterWorks and Westport Playhouse), he first played another American icon — Will Rogers — in the ’90s on Broadway and on tour.

He’ll be working the lasso and cracking wise as the legendary comedian-folk philosopher again when The Will Rogers Follies plays East Haddam’s Goodspeed Opera House April 13 to June 21.

Lutken is cornering the market on legendary American figures, having played Abraham Lincoln, too. While he hasn’t taken on the role of Mark Twain, he was in Goodspeed’s production of Big River a while back, based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Is this a good time to bring back Will Rogers, who gently poked fun at politicians with his common-sense brand of humor?

“I don’t think there’s ever a bad time,” Lutken says, adding that the beginning of the show will have him as Rogers commenting on today’s news headlines.

Lutken was discreet, however, when talking about another American figure.

“I met our current resident [of the White House] several times because his second wife, Marla Maples, [was in the replacement cast of Follies] and, because I was the understudy, I was the one who rehearsed with her. We became good friends and she was very sweet and Mr. Trump was along for the ride. It gives me an interesting perspective now.”

Has he changed much? “Well, gee, we’d have to have another phone call about all that I remembered — and all that I’ve forgotten.”

A Man With Designs

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David Hays

David Hays knows design. Actually he knows quite a lot of things after sailing around the world and creating the National Theatre of the Deaf. But his career as a set designer started impressively, having created the look for the original production of Long Day’s Journey into Night in 1956. Now, at 88, the Chester resident has a book out on the subject of set design. Also featuring stories from his long career, the book is called Setting the Stage (Wesleyan University Press).

“We are the storytellers,” Hays says, “and I’m proud to have been part of the storytelling on the visual end.”

Hays says he feared that he might be typecast as “the gloomy designer” after Long Day’s Journey became a hit, but fortunately others recognized that he was a versatile talent. He worked with the likes of directors Elia Kazan and Tyrone Guthrie and composer Richard Rodgers, as well as choreographers George Balanchine and Martha Graham.

He liked his designs for The Tenth Man, O’Neill’s Hughie and Long Day’s Journey,but Balanchine’s dance piece Bugaku for the New York City Ballet was one of his favorites.

Hays says of his career, “I’ve had a hell of a good time.”

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Expect the character of Countess Ellen Olenska to wear something like this in Hartford Stage’s The Age of Innocence. 

Not So Innocent

Don’t look for fully furnished opulence in the Hartford Stage production of The Age of Innocence. Unlike the 1993 Martin Scorsese film starring Daniel Day-Lewis based on the Edith Wharton novel, this new stage version is not about the grandeur of the Gilded Age but rather love — and the moral questions it raises.

“We wanted to avoid the overly upholstered rooms that a film would naturally have to have,” says Douglas McGrath, who did the stage adaptation that Doug Hughes is directing. “We didn’t want to wait for ottomans to roll on and off and chandeliers to come down and up. We wanted to focus on the love triangle.” That, of course, is the one between Wharton’s complex characters of Newland Archer, the lawyer and scion of one of New York City’s finest families, his beautiful fiancée, May Welland, and Countess Ellen Olenska, May’s cousin, with whom Archer falls in love.

“It’s about the essential question for any age which is: Whom is it right for us to love?” McGrath says. “That’s the question that’s at the heart of the book. When is it ever right to hurt someone when you fall in love with someone else? Is love the highest of all emotions? Does loving someone excuse any harm you might cause other people by loving that person? It’s all very moral in its way without being moralistic.”

The co-production runs April 5 to May 6 then moves to the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey.

Have You Heard…?

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin and Kelli O’Hara will perform A. R. Gurney’s Love Letters in a one-night fundraiser for the Westport Country Playhouse April 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $250.

… Tony Award-winning director Darko Tresnjak will leave Hartford Stage as artistic director at the end of the 2018-19 season after eight years. After he stages the last play of the season at Hartford Stage (A Lesson from Aloes) in May, he will direct the world premiere of a new musical, This Ain’t No Disco, at off-Broadway’s Atlanta Theatre with performances starting June 24. Then he will make his directing debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with the season opener, Samson et Delila, starting Sept 24. 

… This year’s annual Arts Day at the Capitol will be held a bit later than usual, just as lawmakers make their final push for the budget. Join the crowd to workshop, strategize and make your voice heard on April 25.


This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of Connecticut Magazine. 

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