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Murder for Two at the Ivoryton Playhouse opens July 8. Actors Ian Lowe (rear) and Joe Kinosian on the piano.
Photo: Joan Marcus

What does live theater look like for the rest of the 2021 season and going forward? Today, we talk with people making theater in our state. How have the last 15 months changed the way they engage with art and their audiences? Live theater is coming back, but what does back mean?  

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Betsy Kaplan has been producing episodes of The Colin McEnroe Show for a decade. Today is her last day. (Ostensibly, anyway. She's producing our show next Monday, which isn't really how last days are supposed to work. But it's very much how Betsy Kaplan works.) The Nose is crestfallen.

And: In the Heights is the big (and/or small) screen adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's multiple Tony Award-winning musical. It is directed by Jon M. Chu and stars Anthony Ramos. It debuted in theaters and on HBOMax on Thursday.

bixentro / flickr creative commons

The word "bastard" hasn't always been meant to offend. Used simply as an indication of illegitimate birth at first, the label "bastard" didn't bring with it shame or stigma until long after it first appeared in the Middle Ages.

Today, while its original meaning has not been forgotten, its use is largely reserved for insult. Yet, ironically, the underdog status once associated with a person of illegitimate birth is now something our modern culture celebrates.

From Alexander Hamilton to Game of Thrones's Jon Snow, the bastard's ability to rise above his or her unfortunate circumstances to achieve greatness has become something to root for.

Carol Rosegg

Thornton Wilder's Our Town debuted more than 80 years ago. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and, over the decades since, it has continuously been one of the most produced of American plays.

It is known for its spare set -- just some chairs and tables, perhaps some ladders -- and lack of props and sometimes even costumes. It's known for its metatheatricality and its Stage Manager character, who addresses the audience directly and rarely participates in the action of the play, as much as there really is any.

It is known as old-fashioned, sentimental, nostalgic and, simultaneously, obviously and intentionally not old-fashioned, sentimental, and nostalgic.

This hour, a look at perhaps the quintessential American play: Our Town.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo upstaged the Broadway League on Monday. Industry insiders expected the trade organization, which represents theater owners and producers, to say that some Broadway shows would reopen in September with more coming back during the fall. But at a press conference Cuomo beat them to it, lifting most capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, museums, gyms, salons and retail shops by May 19. That list also included Broadway.

Legacy Theatre / Facebook

It was a silent movie theater, a factory that made women’s undergarments and the home of summer stock theater productions in the 1930s and ’40s. Now, after decades of neglect, a newly renovated building in Branford has begun a new chapter as the Legacy Theatre.

Janus Films

André Gregory has directed and acted in the theater for more than 50 years. He has appeared in a number of movies, including Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, Woody Allen's Celebrity, Brian De Palma's The Bonfire of the Vanities, Peter Weir's The Mosquito Coast, and many more. He has starred in three movies about the theater with the playwright, actor, and comedian Wallace Shawn: A Master Builder, Vanya on 42nd Street, and the iconic My Dinner with Andre.

Gregory's memoir is This Is Not My Memoir. He joins us for the hour.

Jemastock/Harryarts from vecteezy.com

What if, in order to do your job, you had to change your voice? 

Meet an actress who’s an accent expert, a man who is the dubbed-over voice of Peter Griffin and Will Smith in Germany, and a news anchor who went viral when she brought her anchor voice home.

Johnny Clez / Pixabay

The world of professional dance is competitive, ruthless and often reserved for a select few talented individuals. 

But since the start of pandemic, many dancers and dance professionals are stuck at home turning to social media as a creative outlet. And this hour, we dance!

Carol Rosegg

Thornton Wilder's Our Town debuted more than 80 years ago. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and, over the decades since, it has continuously been one of the most produced of American plays.

It is known for its spare set -- just some chairs and tables, perhaps some ladders -- and lack of props and sometimes even costumes. It's known for its metatheatricality and its Stage Manager character, who addresses the audience directly and rarely participates in the action of the play, as much as there really is any.

It is known as old-fashioned, sentimental, nostalgic and, simultaneously, obviously and intentionally not old-fashioned, sentimental, and nostalgic.

This hour, a look at perhaps the quintessential American play: Our Town.

Alan Light / Creative Commons

Colin interviewed Hal Holbrook on February 3, 2015, in advance of Holbrook's performance of Mark Twain Tonight in Hartford on his 90th birthday on February 17, 2015. Colin wrote at the time that Holbrook was one of the most remarkable people he's encountered of all the remarkable people he's interviewed over the years.

Holbrook was so passionate and fun to speak with that Colin never got to ask him all the many questions about the love of his life, his difficult childhood, or his time spent at Suffield Academy. He hoped for a second interview.

Holbrook died on January 23. This hour, we reair our 2015 interview with him.

Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program / Facebook

Since its inception six years ago, the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program has become a focal point nationally for up-and-coming Native American playwrights, storytellers and actors.

Every year the program, also known as YIPAP, presents the Young Native Playwright’s Contest, the Young Native Storytelling Contest, and for the first time this year, the Young Native Actor’s Contest.

Janus Films

André Gregory has directed and acted in the theater for more than 50 years. He has appeared in a number of movies, including Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, Woody Allen's Celebrity, Brian De Palma's The Bonfire of the Vanities, Peter Weir's The Mosquito Coast, and many more. He has starred in three movies about the theater with the playwright, actor, and comedian Wallace Shawn: A Master Builder, Vanya on 42nd Street, and the iconic My Dinner with Andre.

Gregory's memoir is This Is Not My Memoir. He joins us for the hour.

Facebook

2020 is ending on a brighter note for Connecticut arts organizations, which have struggled to remain operational through the prolonged pandemic.

Netflix, Inc.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is George C. Wolfe's film adaptation of the August Wilson play. It stars Viola Davis in the title role and Chadwick Boseman in his final film performance, and it's available to stream on Netflix.

Christopher Nolan's Tenet was the first tentpole movie to be released in theaters during the pandemic. It did okay business (it's currently the third-highest grossing film of 2020), but nothing like what Warner Bros. would've hoped for in a normal time. It's still in theaters, and it's now available to buy on physical disc or from digital platforms. It will be available to rent digitally in January.

HBO

It has come to The Nose's attention that you can rent an entire movie theater out for just $99 and have yourself a slightly less pandemic-panicky moviegoing experience. Which got us thinking about, just, going to the movies. Remember going to the movies?

And then: "Which of the Hollywood Chrises is the worst Hollywood Chris?" is a question the internet has been grappling with recently. As with all things internet, there's now a bit of a controversy.

And: David Byrne's American Utopia is Spike Lee's HBO movie version of Byrne's American Utopia Broadway show, which is a theater version of Byrne's American Utopia tour, which Byrne did in support of his album, American Utopia.

Wharton Center / Wikimedia Commons

This year often feels like a Shakespearean drama!

This hour, theaters around the state join us to talk about the future of the performing arts. What does a Zoom performance look like? Can it really replicate an in person performance?

Do you miss going to some of our state’s amazing performing arts centers? We want to hear from you.

GUESTS:

Yale Repertory Theatre

Gov. Ned Lamont has announced a new grant program that will help arts organizations impacted by COVID-19. The $9 million COVID Relief Fund for the Arts will support not-for-profit performing arts centers, performing groups like orchestras and theaters, and community arts schools.

Hartford Opera Theater

Zoom meetings have become a ubiquitous part of pandemic life. Business meetings, social functions -- really any gathering that used be held in person has moved to Zoom or a similar platform. Now that virtual world has become the setting of a new chamber opera being performed this weekend by Hartford Opera Theater -- live, on Zoom.

Hotel du Vin & Bistro / flickr creative commons

Historian Christine Sismondo says that "America, as we know it, was born in a bar."

Taverns were where the Boston Tea Party was planned. They were where court cases were carried out, where land was bought and sold, where immigrants came to congregate.

Over the centuries since, bars have fostered so much social change. And today, they're where we go to meet people, to catch the game, to talk about our problems, to relax.

Disney

Four years ago, over the course of three days, film crews documented the musical Hamilton as performed by nearly its entire original Broadway cast. Eventually, Disney bought the distribution rights to the movie and planned to release it in theaters next fall. But then there was a pandemic, and people were stuck in their houses, and the film dropped on Disney+ earlier this month.

Hartford Stage
Courtesy Hartford Stage

Three months of COVID-related measures continue to take their toll on arts and culture organizations in the state. The prolonged closure of Connecticut’s performing arts venues and museums has cost those organizations nearly $29 million, according to the national arts advocacy organization Americans for the Arts. 

Facebook

For the last several months, nine African American men -- fathers -- have been workshopping their own personal stories of fatherhood. “The Fatherhood Manologues” is a Moth-style storytelling project that has its virtual debut on Father’s Day.

Yale Repertory Theater
Yale Repertory Theater

The Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre will skip the entire 2020-21 season in response to COVID-19.

In a press release, the school says the decision was made due to the “incompatibility of theatrical production with the best public health practices in response to COVID-19.”

Facebook

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, theater companies in Connecticut are promising to do more to deal with racial injustice in their communities and within their own workplaces.

Quick Quarantined Play Festival / Facebook

While certain public places are finding ways to reopen safely, theaters still have a long way to go. Socially distancing the audience is doable but probably not cost-effective. And what about the actors? Keeping 6 feet apart onstage could make for a bizarre evening of theater.

National Theatre

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live aired a prerecorded special, "Saturday Night Live at Home." Tom Hanks hosted from his kitchen. Michael Che and Colin Jost did Weekend Update from their living rooms and by Zoom or something similar. Chris Martin covered a Bob Dylan song in front of handwritten "ENTRANCE TO TRAIN" signs.

All of the late night shows are operating in some similar way right now. Jimmy Kimmel hosts from his living room and has people like Jason Bateman on by Skype or whatever. John Oliver sits at his desk in front of a mysterious white wall. Samantha Bee hosts from the woods.

Rob Ruggiero
TheaterWorks Hartford

Social distancing has forced performing arts organizations to find creative ways to stay relevant. TheaterWorks in Hartford has responded by stepping up its online presence as a way to stay connected with patrons and supporters.

FX Productions, LLC

The novel coronavirus has started to take its toll on figures from our popular culture. Adam Schlesinger, who founded Fountains of Wayne and wrote songs for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend among other things, died on Wednesday. The great playwright Terrence McNally died last week. The list goes on: songwriter Alan Merrill, country music star Joe Diffie, fashion designer Jenny Polanco, college basketball star Dave Edwards, actor Mark Blum, soccer star Lorenzo Sanz. And it seems like the jazz community has been especially vulnerable: guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, pianists Ellis Marsalis and Mike Longo, and trumpeter Wallace Roney have all died.

And then: Dave is an FXX comedy series that tells a fictionalized version of the rise of rapper Lil Dicky, and John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch is a Netflix children's special that Mulaney made "on purpose."

Virtually all local arts performances and events in the state have been canceled in the face of the coronavirus crisis, meaning lost revenue for these organizations and tough decisions going forward regarding staffing and other budget issues. Other cultural institutions, like museums and libraries, are facing similar concerns as people hunker down at home in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

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