Westport Country Playhouse's new season aims to be eclectic, stirring and moving

In the Heights
In the Heights

The Westport Country Playhouse’s 2019 season ticks off all the boxes theatergoers would expect and then some. The season will run April 23 to Nov. 23 and includes two musicals, two dramas and one comedy. Offerings range from classic comedy and poetic and moving dramas to rousing musicals that will make you want to get up and dance. Season and single-show tickets are for sale.

“I am happy to announce our first show of the season will be ‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘In the Heights,’ winner of four Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Score,” said artistic director Mark Lamos. “With an infectious score featuring a blend of hip-hop, salsa, merengue, and soul, ‘In the Heights’ invites audiences to celebrate life and love in a uniquely American story.” The show kicks off the historic theater’s 89th season.
Lamos said he and his artistic staff put together this season’s lineup with each show striking a chord personally.
“They all came from a very passionate connection that we made to them. We read a lot of scripts throughout the year, and we are very much in tune with what is going on in the world,” he said. “We spend a lot of time talking about that when we are choosing the coming season. Each of the plays this season really was something that one or all of us had a really very visceral response to and I felt it was a good balance of things. A lot of the season came together that way, where we were responding to what was going on in a zeitgeist.”
The show is a love letter to New York City’s Washington Heights, a Spanish-speaking community on the brink of change.

Marcos Santana, the show’s director and choreographer who also appeared in the original Broadway production and directed two later productions of “In The Heights,” said, “I’m most excited to bring the story to Connecticut audiences. I think it’s such a beautiful story. Even though it’s a story told through a specific community, it resonates with the entire world, it’s about family and heritage and the warmth of being home.”
Theatergoers will be pleased to note the Westport production’s strength of casting. Not only does it have three actors from the original Broadway production but Santana marked a personal first, casting a 16-year old actor to play one of the teenage cousins to give the show a perspective of the innocence of youth. The three Broadway veterans are Tony Chiroldes (Kevin), Blanca Camacho (Abuela Claudia) and Doreen Montalvo (Camila).
Next up is “Skeleton Crew,” written by McArthur Genius Award-winner Dominique Morrisseau, to run June 4-22. The final play in a trilogy set in Detroit, the show takes place as the Motor City’s last export auto plant is on the verge of closure. “Skeleton Crew” follows four factory workers having opposing agendas and dealing with shifting power dynamics in their attempt to survive. Morrisseau also wrote the book for “Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptation” which is on Broadway right now.
The Playhouse returns to musicals in “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin,” July 16 to Aug. 3. From Czarist Russia to New York’s Lower East Side, Berlin’s inspirational immigrant story is the American Dream and his songs document a patriotic vision of this country.
The second drama this season is Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage’s “Mlima’s Tale,” Oct. 1-19, centering on Kenyan elephant Mlima, killed by poachers for his tusks. It follows the illegal ivory trade, balancing greed and crime with the animal’s noble spirit.
The season ends with Moliere’s “Don Juan,” running Nov. 5-23 for a classic comedy on the legendary lothario whose story will resonate today as his behavior is sure to make audiences cringe.
“It’s very timely because #metoo and various other things but primarily the treatment of women by this one rapacious man,” Lamos said.
Words like eclectic, moving, poetic, timely, and profound come to mind when describing the playhouse’s upcoming season but audiences can decide for themselves.
For more information, visit westportplayhouse.org.