Hartford Stage Welcomes Theater Goers Again With Open House – Hartford Courant

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On September 17, Hartford Stage opens its doors to theatre, music, dance and more – and the season hasn’t even started yet.

Saturday’s event is an open house with four hours of events:

  • Guided tours behind the scenes of the theater will take place between noon and 2 p.m., including glimpses of the stage shop, costumes, props, lighting grid and sound booth. The 1 p.m. tour will be in Spanish.
  • Live music from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. – preferably in front of the theater‘s main entrance, weather permitting – by the Latin American ensemble Grupo Sin Fronteras, who use authentic instruments such as the quena, zampoña and charango. The group is based in Vernon but its members come from Peru, Ecuador and Chile. Hartford Stage first connected with Grupo Sin Fronteras through one of the theater’s community partners, Christ Church Cathedral.
  • Youth theater mini-workshops are from noon to 2 p.m. in half-hour intervals.
  • Hartford Stage staff are available from noon to 2 p.m. to answer questions about their work and theater in general.
  • The Breakdancing Shakespeare teen troupe will perform on the main stage at 2:30 p.m. as part of a community gathering.
  • Prizes and a chance to win Hartford stage memorabilia.
  • Food and beverages from Scott’s Jamaican Bakery, Banh Mee, Agave, Sunberry, Bloom Bake Shop, Dads Kitchen, ZoJu Food, Urban Lodge Brewing Company and others.

There will be information booths from organizations that regularly partner with Hartford Stage, such as the Hartford Public Library, Christ Church Cathedral and Capital Community College.

When Melia Bensussen became artistic director of the theater in 2019, she hosted an open house and “meet and meet” with the cast of “Quixote Nuevo” as that show began rehearsals in fall 2019. The event was a statement that Hartford Stage wanted to engage more deeply with Hartford as a whole.

This is the first open house since then, due to COVID, but outreach to the theater community has continued through other means, including bilingual and Spanish productions at the theater.

Andrea Cuevas, Marketing Director of Hartford Stage, explains that the open house aims to promote the theater, but also to inform attendees of its educational programs and the partnerships it has developed with other community organizations.

“Our goal for this year,” she says, “is to get people, including families, back to the theater.” This means reconnecting with certain traditions but also seeing what has changed.

“Our focus has changed,” Cuervas says. “We manage our resources in different ways and try to set new goals.” She says the final show of the 2021-22 season, the musical “Kiss My Aztec,” showed how Hartford Stage was developing new audiences.

“It was such a different experience than any show we’ve done before. People were dancing in the lobby before they entered the theatre. You felt that energy.

“When you welcome new audiences,” says Cuervas, “there will always be questions. Staff will move around the lobby to answer these questions. Cuervas herself will lead the backstage tour in Spanish.

Hartford Stage’s 2022-23 season begins in October. It’s a diverse mix of classics and new works, from Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” to Kate Snodgrass’ “The Art of Burning.” Four of the season’s six shows were written by women, one of the classics (“Trouble in Mind”) is by a black woman (Alice Childress) and one of the new plays (“Espejos: Clean” by Christine Quintana) is performed in English and Spanish. Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” is on the schedule, as is the return of last year’s holiday show “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Christopher Arnott can be reached at [email protected].

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