New Sheik, O'Keefe Musicals and Belber, Irwin, Rapp Works Play CT's O’Neill Center in Summer

News   New Sheik, O'Keefe Musicals and Belber, Irwin, Rapp Works Play CT's O’Neill Center in Summer
The upcoming Broadway musical Avenue Q was presented last summer at Waterford, Connecticut's Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Now the complex, which houses the Playwrights and Music Theater conferences among others, has announced its 26th anniversary summer season of developing works.

Among the scribes selected this year were Stephen Belber (Tape), Bill Irwin (Fool Moon) and writer-in-residence Adam Rapp (Nocturne), as well as composers Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy: The Musical).

Performances will take place in several of the O’Neill Theater Center venues: the Rufus & Margo Rose Theater Barn; the Dina Merrill Theater; the Amphitheater; and the Edith Oliver Theater. Shows performed at the latter two venues — which are outdoors — will be moved indoors in the event of rain. All performances are subject to change.

The 2003 O’Neill Playwrights Conference summer schedule is as follows:

  • A Small, Melodramatic Story by Stephen Belber (July 4-5), Barn. A woman falls in love with a cop until she finds out secrets about his past.
  • Fuente by Cusi Cram (July 4-5), Edith Oliver Theater. Two residents of a lonely desert town finally hit the road.
  • After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo (July 5-6), Dina Merrill Theater. A 17-year-old boy deals with the death of his mother while his father pens a best-selling book about her murder.
  • Cascarones by Irma Mayorga (July 8-9), Amphitheater. An 18-year-old girl literally dives back into her Texas-Mexican family's history.
  • Father Joy by Sheri Wilner (July 10-11), Edith Oliver Theater. A young art student begins dating her older professor and her father reacts in a curious way.
  • Deeds by Sherry Shephard-Massat (July 11-12), Barn. An inmate comes to terms with his life through his relationship with his deceased brother, on Christmas Eve.
  • Barking Girl by Susan Bernfield (July 12-13), Dina Merrill Theater. A woman battles age and motherhood.
  • Rock Shore by Lisa Dillman (July 15-16), Amphitheater. An Adirondacks town is thrown from its routine when a glamorous newcomer enters.
  • Dark Matters by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (July 17-18), Edith Oliver Theater. When a woman goes missing, her son and husband unearth revelations while searching for her.
  • Mr. Fox: A Rumination by Bill Irwin (July 18-19), Barn. A reflection on the life and work of America’s first celebrity clown, George L. Fox.
  • Smoking Kills by Dominic Leggett (July 19-20), Dina Merrill Theater. A former Gulf War British soldier sends his son to the U.S. for a risky medical procedure to be administered by an Iraqi emigre — who lost her husband in the same war.


    Three writers-in-residence are also currently working on new works. Laura Maria Censabella workshops Three Italian Women about three generations of women linked by humor. Christine Jones pens Theatre for One, which explores environments where things are performed for a solo audience, such as peep show booths and confessionals. Adam Rapp develops his latest, Gompers, about a town wrought by the loss of its steel mill. In August, the O’Neill Music Theater Conference will present two new musicals:

  • The Nightingale , book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik (Aug. 2-10), Dina Merrill Theater. The team behind Broadway-bound Spring Awakening reunite for their take on a Hans Christian Andersen work, in which a young Chinese emperor finds hope in a bird and a common girl.
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall book by Julia Jordan, lyrics by Nell Benjamin, music by Laurence O'Keefe (Aug. 2-9), Barn. A Kansas widower seeks a wife and mother for his children in this musical based on the book by Patricia MacLachlan. When a Maine woman responds, they get something they weren't expecting. For tickets to events at the O’Neill Theater Center, call the box office at (860) 443-1238. For more information, visit their website at

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