New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news


Westport Country Playhouse wins awards and stages newly created musical: “Sing
for Your Shakespeare”

Whoever built the old tannery making men’s leather hats back in 1835, which later became a cider mill before it was abandoned and then turned into a theater in 1931 and later a state–of-the- art venue in its multi-million dollar renovation sparked by actress Joanne Woodward in 2005, would never recognize it today. Just named Theater Company of the Year by the Wall Street Journal and given a $20,000 grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation, The Westport Country Playhouse, under the award-winning artistic direction of Mark Lamos, is currently staging an original new musical created by Lamos and his team called “Sing for Your Shakespeare.”

Originally staged at New York’s 92nd Street Y, as a sort of lecture demonstration, it became a true musical, when Lamos and his group decided it could be with some serious renovations. “It began to coalesce once we had the cast,” Lamos said in a telephone interview from the Playhouse., “We looked for people who could go from jazz to legit to rock and do very contrasting things. Because our contracts with the licensers of each show only allowed us three or four songs from each show, we had to choose very carefully .”

Using songs from such shows as “West Side Story,” “Kiss Me Kate” and “The Boys From Syracuse,” the score includes such as “Darn That Dream,” “Speak Low,” “Too Darn Hot” and the three classics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim from “West Side Story,”: “Maria,” “Tonight” and “Somewhere.”

The six versatile, talented singer/dancers they chose who perform beautifully individually and as ensembles under the imaginative choreography of Dan Knechtges are: Karen Akers, Britney Coleman, Darius DeHaas, Stephen DeRosa, Constantine Germanacos and Laurie Wells.

Shakespeare himself, who appears as a character in this production, must be smiling. Wherever he is, he must take particular delight in the lyrics to Cole Porter’s “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”

“Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow…”

--Gloria Cole Sugarman
June 16, 2914

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