It’s not too soon to plan September theater nights
September is coming faster than we want to admit, but the good part about the end of summer is all these great stage performances.
Musicals that were adapted from movies continues to be a theme.
“Ragtime: The Musical” opens Friday, Sept. 27 at the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk. The play intertwines the stories of a family of upper-class WASPs, an African-American couple and some Eastern-European Jewish immigrants intersect as they try to make a success in early 20th-century New York. “Ragtime” was a novel, then a movie. Naturally, it was eventually set to music. The show first opened on Broadway in 1998, when it won nine Tony awards, and has been in production almost continuously ever since. The production appears tailor-made for MTC’s stage.
“Billy Elliot,” another non-musical movie that became a Broadway musical, will open at The Goodspeed in East Haddam on September 13. Set in England, young Billy is torn between his family’s coal-mining roots and his newly discovered passion to dance. Songs by Elton John reflect the emotion of the story. “Billy Elliot The Musical” is The Goodspeed’s final show of the year, capping off a busy season that started with “The Music Man” and “Because of Winn Dixie” at the Opera House and two works-in-development at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester.
“Mamma Mia!” is at Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret Theatre starting Sept. 20. The DTC is like a dinner theater, but you bring your own dinner and maybe a bottle of wine, something that pairs well with ABBA. Of course, before it was a movie, “Mamma Mia!” was a 1975 pop hit that I’ll bet no one ever said “hey, that should be a movie, and a Broadway play!” But it had a bit of a comeback when it was featured prominently in 1993’s “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” By 2008, when the feel-good summer movie of the same name was released, “Mamma Mia!” was a sensation all over again.
“King Kong” is about to be toppled in Manhattan again. The musical version of the classic story closes Aug. 18 at Broadway Theatre after 29 previews and 324 regular performances.
Based on the iconic 1932 novel and 1933 Hollywood movie, “King Kong” follows a young actress (these days played by Christiani Pitts) and a maverick filmmaker (Eric William Morris) as they voyage from the bustling streets of New York to an uncharted island to capture the greatest wonder the world has ever seen. At the center of the stage show is a 20-foot-high, 2,000-pound gorilla brought to life by a team of seamlessly integrated artists and technicians.
Sonny Tilders and Creature Technology Company won a special Tony award for their work. The show also received competitive Tony nominations for scenic designer Peter England, costume designer Roger Kirk and sound designer Peter Hylenski.
The play receive mixed reviews, but critics agreed that “King Kong” was worth seeing for the dynamic visuals and a great cast.