By James V. Ruocco
Paris, circa 1640, is the setting for Valley Shakespeare Festival's upcoming outdoor staging of Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano," the familiar story of an unattractive nobleman with a very large nose who pines for his beautiful cousin Roxanne, but believes his ugliness would prevent them from having a viable romantic relationship.
Of course, complications arise. The very handsome but tongue-tied Christian de Neuvillette appears on the scene to woo Roxanne. And she is quite smitten with him and his very good looks. But lacking intellect, wit and eloquence, Christian is at a loss for words until Cyrano offers his services as both letter writer and romantic conversationalist.
The abridged 75-minute production, which runs for four nights only, is being directed by Valley Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Tom Simonetti. It will be staged in a specifically socially distanced setting at Veteran's Memorial Park (38 Canal St. E., Shelton, CT) from Thursday, September 3 through Sunday, September 6. There is no intermission.
Showtime is 7 p.m. The park opens at 6 p.m.
Admission is free with a suggested donation of $10.
"We are very excited that we are able to continue our outdoor free theater series in Veteran's Memorial Park in our 8th year," says Simonetti. "We are taking proper precautions both onstage and backstage by using health policies that align with the state of Connecticut, CDC guidelines and the latest scientific research.
"Each of these three policies have highlighted proper social distancing practices such as staying 6 ft. apart, PPE usage, and regular disinfecting of any high touch surface areas that are key to minimizing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
"The show must go on...but safely."
The production stars Eric Bermudez as Cyrano, Jessica Breda as Roxanne (plus other characters) and Mitchel Kawash as Christian (plus other characters).
"We are extremely pleased to present 'Cyrano' with three excellent actors who have all graced Valley Shakespeare's stages over the past few seasons," adds Simonetti.
Bermudez was last seen as Proteus in last year's critically-acclaimed, two-person play "Two Gentleman of Verona." Breda has appeared in several VSF productions including Emily in "Our Town," Viola in "Twelfth Night," Adriana in "The Comedy of Errors" and Dorine in the Shakespeare in the Bar staging of "Tartuffe." Kawash's credits include George in "Our Town" and Lucentio in "The Taming of the Shrew."
"If you have attended a park show within the past 7 seasons, you will notice the change of dates from July to September," explains Simonetti. "Putting off the performance to September instead of our July dates was one of the better ideas for our organization.
"It gave us extra time to do more research on the virus and ample time to see how our efforts in Connecticut were in slowing down the spread.
"We also went for a shortened runtime for 'Cyrano' to keep any possible exposure to the virus low for both staff and audience. We are being very strategic and cautious in our reopening like any business at this time."
Per Valley Shakespeare Festival. all patrons must where masks when entering the park, going to the food and drink trucks, going to the bathroom, going back to their car and speaking with a VSF staff member or volunteer.
Face masks can be taken off while sitting in the 122-inch circle designed specifically for this production, eating or drinking or when you are safely socially distanced at 6 ft. apart. Any violation of these rules or guidelines will result in removal from the park and the production.
For more information, call (203) 513-9446.
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hartford Stage (50 Church St., Hartford, CT) has cancelled all upcoming plays and onstage performances through June, 2021. This announcement includes the previously postponed "The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged)," Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!" and the annual holiday presentation of "A Christmas Carol."
The entire six-play season, which was scheduled to begin in January, 2021, has also been scrapped. Plays included William Shakespeare's "As You Like It," "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" and "Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous" by Pearl Cleage,
"Having to cancel our final weekend of 'Jane Eyre' this March, the entire run of 'The King's Speech' and the productions of 'Ah, Wilderness!' and 'The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged)' has created a serious financial hardship for the theatre," explains Hartford Stage Managing Director Cynthia Rider." "Cancelling our 2020-2021 season as well was such a painful but necessary decision to ensure the safety of our audiences, staff and the long-term survival of Hartford Stage."
The decision to reopen Hartford Stage in the fall of 2021 is largely dependent of the success of the newly envisioned "Raise the Curtain" fundraising campaign. Patrons, community members and leaders and corporate sponsors are being asked to donate generously to sustain the ongoing operation of Hartford Stage, Ticket holders of cancelled performances are also being approached to donate their previously purchased tickets back to the theatre,
During this time, Hartford Stage will continue to build and structure its online and educational programming, which includes the popular virtual communications conversations series "Scene and Heard: LIVE," hosted by the theater's Artistic Director Melia Bensussen.
"Although I deeply miss the joy of collaborating in our theatre with our artistic guests and staff, I am excited by the new ways we are finding to connect with our audiences and make entertaining and meaningful work," states Bensussen. "Our virtual season this fall gives us an opportunity to further
build our community partnerships, highlight our education work and contribute to a meaningful dialogue with our city and region.
"We need the theater and our artists more than ever to help us make sense of this challenging time and to help us envision the future.
For more information, call (860) 527-5151.
The Bushnell (166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT), one of Hartford's most prestigious venues, is looking forward to reopening its doors in January, 2021. Currently, the theater is busy rescheduling bookings and talking with the production staff of upcoming "National Tours" in conjunction with its popular "Broadway Series."
Based on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, however, there may be additional changes to the upcoming season, but so, far, according to the theater, things look especially stable.
The newly revised "Broadway Series" is as follows:
"The Band Visit" (January 20-24, 2021)
"Escape to Margaritaville" (February 9-14, 2021)
"Dear Evan Hansen" (July 27-August 1, 2021)
"Hadestown" (October 26-31, 2021)
"Pretty Woman: The Musical" (April 12-17, 2022)
"Hamilton" (June 21-July 10, 2022)
"The Cher Show" (cancelled)
For more information, call (860) 987-5900.