Among the thousands of songs written by Irving Berlin are ditties entitled “Do It Again,” “Together We Two” and “Stop! Stop! Stop! Come Over and Love Me Some More!”
Those are appropriate sentiments when announcing that Hershey Felder’s one-man show about Irving Berlin will not only be at Westport Country Playhouse July 16 through Aug. 3, as previously announcement; it will also be at Hartford Stage June 21 to 30.
Felder has visited Hartford Stage four other times, portraying three other composers. He starred as “George Gershwin Alone” in 2004 and 2006, as “Monsieur Chopin” also in 2006 and just last year as “The Great Tchaikovsky.”
Felder also adapted and directed “The Pianist of Willesden,” which Mona Golabek performed at Hartford Stage in 2015 and 2018 and which she will bring back to the Westport Playhouse Dec. 5-22.
Irving Berlin, who died in 1989 at the age of 101, was one of the most successful composers of the 20th century. His hits included “White Christmas,” “God Bless America,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Three of Berlin’s musicals had their world premieres at the Shubert theater in New Haven: “Louisiana Purchase” in 1940, “Annie Get Your Gun” in 1946 and “Call Me Madam” in 1950.
Tickets for the Hartford Stage booking of “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” went on sale Nov. 23. Details at hartfordstage.org.
Where are they now?
Heidi Schreck, whose office comedy “The Consultant” premiered at Long Wharf Theatre in 2014, has gotten herself an off-Broadway hit with “What the Constitution Means to Me.” The play, which Schreck also stars in, is based on her experiences giving speeches about the U.S. government when she was a teenager. The show ran from mid-September through Nov. 4 at New York Theatre Workshop, which brought it back Nov. 27 for an extended run through Dec. 30. Details at nytw.org.
The show’s director, Oliver Butler, is also known to Long Wharf audiences; he directed “Bad Jews” there in 2015. Butler also did “An Opening in Time” at Hartford Stage in 2015; his mother is the actress Pamela Payton-Wright, herself a veteran of half a dozen Hartford Stage productions.
The new production of “Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn” running through Dec. 30 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey has a lot in common with the show’s premiere production at Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House in 2014. Gordon Greenberg is directing again, Denis Jones is choreographing, Alejo Vietti designed the costumes, Jeff Croiter did the lights and Hayley Podschun is once again playing a major role — except this time she’s the romantic lead Linda Mason instead of the comic relief Lila. There are even a couple of returning ensemble members, Karl Skyler Urban and Amy Van Norstrand. Most of these folks were also involved with “Holiday Inn” when it was on Broadway in late 2016. Details at papermill.org.
“Familiar,” the political family drama by Danai Gurira which premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2014 and was also staged in New York in 2016, can now be seen at Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre through Jan. 13.
A chaperone for the prom
A nostalgia-driven revival became unexpectedly of-the-moment. Goodspeed Musicals’ decision to revive “The Drowsy Chaperone” as the final show of its 2019 mainstage season at the Goodspeed Opera House (where it closed Nov. 25) turned out to have been a timely one. It gave audiences a chance to revisit book writer Bob Martin’s first big hit just as he was experiencing his latest Broadway success, with “The Prom.” Martin’s other work includes “Elf The Musical” (with “Prom” collaborators Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar) and the recent musical adaptation of “The Sting,” which premiered at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. A sequel to “The Drowsy Chaperone” has reportedly been in the works for years.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” was a latecomer to the Goodspeed schedule. It had been originally announced that the season would end with “Bullets Over Broadway,” but when there was a backlash due to scandals associated with the show’s creator Woody Allen, that revival was shelved and “Drowsy Chaperone” got the nod.
More cast changes for ‘Anastasia’
“Anastasia” continues to shake that snowglobe on Broadway. The musical, which premiered at Hartford Stage in 2016, has run in New York since April 2016.
The latest cast change: Max von Essen, who took over the dastardly role of Gleb from Ramin Karimloo, will chase Christy Altomare’s Anastasia for the last time on Dec. 16. His replacement has not yet been announced.
Altomare has been with the show since the beginning, as has John Bolton, who plays the kindly criminal Vlad. Anastasia’s love interest, Dmitry, is currently played by Zach Adkins, Broadway veteran Judy Kaye took over the grandmotherly role of the Dowager Empress from Mary Beth Peil in late September and Vicki Lewis (from TV’s “News Radio”) has been Countess Lily (previously played by Caroline O’Connor) since late March. Details at anastasiathemusical.com.
In other “Anastasia” news, co-stars Altomare and Adkins have recorded a new song, “It’s Just Like Christmas,” for the charity album “2018 Broadway’s Carols for a Cure 2018.” The song was written by Altomare herself. A new “Carols for a Cure” compilation has been released every year for the last two decades. Sales benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Details at BroadwayCares.org.