It's the attack of the teen Shakespeares! The Hartford Stage Young Company presents its Breakdancing Shakespeare breakdown of the bard's Two Gentlemen of Verona through August 15 at 7 p.m. (hartfordstage.org). This is the eighth annual Breakdancing Shakespeare show, developed by Hartford Stage in partnership with the Greater Hartford Arts Council Neighborhood Studios program. The cast includes 15 participants in the summer-long program, plus a dog named Mosie B.
New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre (longwharf.org) has its own summer Shake It Up Shakespeare program, which adapts the classic Elizabethan scripts for modern audience by infusing them with modern pop songs. This year it's Romeo & Juliet, scored with songs by Taylor Swift, Mumford and Sons, Dave Matthews Band, Fun. and the Civil Wars. The war between the Montagues and the Capulets gets four rockin' performances August 22-24 at 7 p.m. and August 25 at 2 p.m.
Also in New Haven, Elm Shakespeare Company — which always includes some teen interns in its casts and crews — slays Julius Caesar nightly, Tuesdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. from August 15 through September 1 in the city's Edgerton Park (elmshakespeare.org). The legendary Alvin Epstein, who played Lucky in the original New York production of Waiting for Godot in 1956 and was a founding member of the Yale Repertory Theatre acting company in the late '60s, is directing the production, in which the company's founder and artistic director James Andreassi plays the conniving Brutus.
Some believe that there are coded messages in Shakespeare's plays, and that he twisted history to make political statements about his own time. Those people might go for the new musical LMNOP, based on Mark Dunn's clever book for children Ella Minnow Pea. In the show, a small town government is so attached to the motto on a downtown monument that when letters fall off the statue, those letters are summarily banned from use. LMNOP, with book and lyrics by Scott Burkell and music by Paul Loesel, plays through August 18 at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre in Chester (goodspeed.org).
As Shakespeare wrote in Love's Labour's Lost, "Our letters, madam, show'd much more than jest."