Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Series Returns

<p>Rendering of CRT's Rent by scenic designer Michael Anania. Provided by CRT </p>
Rendering of CRT's Rent by scenic designer Michael Anania. Image provided by CRT

The Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s popular Nutmeg summer theatre series returns this year with two powerhouse Broadway productions – Rent and Smokey Joe’s Café – anchoring its first full summer season since 2002.

Tickets are currently on sale for the four shows in the series, which also includes All in the Timing, a comedic collection of six sketches described by The New York Times as “a wild slice of cerebral vaudeville,” and Endurance, a world premiere play by movement theatre artists, Split Knuckle Theatre.

The season launches with Rent May 27-June 6 in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, in the lower level of the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on the Storrs campus.

“CRT audiences were begging us to bring back a summer season since we last presented the Nutmeg Summer Series,” says Frank Mack, managing director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre. “Last summer we did a production of a play with a lot of great music called Crowns, and based on a tremendous response to that, we made the decision to offer a full schedule in 2010.

“ We’re doing four productions back to back between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and using both the Jorgensen and the Nafe Katter theatres – so the new, full season will have the fun and variety of a theatre festival,” Mack says.

The Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT)  is the professional producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut. CRT productions are directed, designed by, and cast with visiting professional artists, including Equity actors, faculty members, and the department’s most advanced student artists. The synergy between professional and advanced student artists creates extraordinary theatre and a special learning environment.

<p>Rendering of Smokey Joe's Cafe by scenic designer Michael Anania. Provided by CRT</p>
Rendering of Smokey Joe's Cafe by scenic designer Michael Anania. Image provided by CRT

Since it first opened in the late 1940s, the Nutmeg Summer Series has been a popular Connecticut summer theatre venue that has attracted as many as 20,000 people in a single season. The series was suspended in 2002 for financial reasons. But a new financial format that includes major support from the University as well as contributions from private donors has enabled the series to return.

This year’s performances run through July 4 beginning with Rent, which is one of the 10 longest running shows on Broadway and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and four Tony awards including Best Musical. It is a rock opera about struggling young artists based on Puccini’s La Boheme but set in modern-day New York City. Directing the CRT performance is Art Manke, a five-time winner of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award; and the show’s male lead, Corey Bradley (Benny) most recently appeared in the Broadway revival of Ragtime.

Performance dates for the other shows are:

All in the Timing: June 10-20 (Nafe Katter Theatre)

Smokey Joe’s Café:  June 24-July 4 (Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre)

Endurance: June 24-27 (Nafe Katter Theatre)