It's July. Time for some theater day trips by the water where it's cool.
The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, a stone's skip from New London, has shifted from National Playwright Conference mode to its National Music Theater Conference. Three new musicals have been getting workshopped at the legendary theater retreat (whose format and values inspired the Sundance Festival) Each gets several public "readings" — that is, they are performed and sung by professionals with scripts-in-hand and some light musical accompaniment. Nathan Christensen & Scott Murphy's Broadcast, about the early days of radio, had its readings last week. Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman's The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, about a man who finds his life has literally turned into a musical, has a few readings left, at 8 p.m. July 3 and at 7 p.m. July 5. Goddess, by Mkhululi Z. Mabija and Michael Thurber, which concerns a jazz singer, African culture and "the place of the supernatural in the modern world," gets heard 8 p.m. July 6, 3 p.m. July 7, 8 p.m. July 10 and 7 p.m. July 12. Info at theoneill.org
The Goodspeed Opera House, which overlooks the Connecticut River in East Haddam, began performances of Hello, Dolly! last week. The official opening night is July 17. The Jerry Herman/Michael Stewart classic (based on the play The Matchmaker by longtime Connecticut resident Thornton Wilder) stars Klea Blackhurst as Dolly Levi, Tony Sheldon as Horace Vandergelder, Ashley Brown as Irene Malloy, Jeremy Morse as Barnaby Tucker and Spencer Moses as Cornelius Hackl. (goodspeed.org)
Not far from the Goodspeed, the Ivoryton Playhouse is in a musical frenzy, with Footloose stomping through the historic hall July 3rd through the 28th, followed by that supreme musical catfight Dreamgirls August 7 through September 1 and the harmony-filled relationship revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change September 25 though October 13. (ivorytonplayhouse.org)
For Hartford denizens who choose to stay close to home this hot month, one hot ticket is Becoming Dr. Ruth, starring Debra Jo Rupp as Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The one-woman show about the elderly sex therapist who became a radio sensation and a much-admired late-night talk show guest, has been extended through July 14 at TheaterWorks (233 Pearl St., Hartford; theaterworkshartford.org).
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