I’ve been to Connecticut many times in my life. It’s a beautiful state, full of thriving cities, picturesque small towns, a beautiful shoreline and lovely countryside. Now that I live in New York state, I have the opportunity to visit Connecticut more often. And this year, through my work as a Voice, Speech & Dialect coach, I have been privileged to work at two of Connecticut’s premiere regional theaters. Through working in Hartford and New Haven, I was able to see and experience the thriving arts communities in both these cities.
I just got back from spending 5 weeks in Hartford working at the Tony Award winning Hartford Stage. The Hartford Stage was founded in 1963 by Jacques Cartier (who I was privileged to work with years later at Boston University) in a former grocery store warehouse. It has grown to become one of the leading regional theaters in the country. The productions are consistently excellent, the staff is wonderful and the new Artistic Director, Darko Tresnjak, is someone I’m proud to call a friend.
One of the great things about working out of town is the chance I get to explore the city I’m in. Hartford is a wonderful mixture of modern office buildings and beautifully restored historic buildings. It has a gorgeous park – Bushnell Park – right in the middle of the city.
It’s a great walking city. I was able to get to most of my destinations quite easily. And if I couldn’t walk, I could hop on a bus – the bus system is great. If you don’t have a car, a quick bus ride will take you to the Mark Twain House, where Samuel Clemens lived from 1874 -1891 and where he wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Right next door is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Imagine, Stowe (the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was a ground-breaking abolitionist novel) and Samuel Clemens were next door neighbors! She lived in this residence for the last years of her life.
I spent a lovely afternoon at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, founded in 1842, a gorgeous museum filled with art, sculpture, antiquities and decorative arts. This is the perfect-sized museum, not so big that it becomes overwhelming, but big enough to make the visit more than worthwhile. The museum has an incredible collection of Hudson River School landscapes. While I was there, there was an Andrew Wyeth exhibition going on as well as an exhibition on the Civil War.
This is a museum that I will go back to again and again. Their collection is vast. The gift shop is wonderful and there is a lovely cafe that is open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday.
Last January found me in New Haven working at the Tony Award winning Long Wharf Theatre. This amazing theater, founded in 1965 in a food terminal building by the New Haven harbor, has long been a leader in regional theater, presenting classis and contemporary theater. Over 30 of the Long Wharf’s productions have transferred to Broadway and off-Broadway. When I was just out of college, one of my first regional theater experiences as an audience member was at the Long Wharf. My husband, an actor, worked there a few years ago and loved the experience. My experience this past January was equally rewarding.
New Haven has a long history of exciting theater; for many, many years plays and musicals heading to Broadway had an out-of-town tryout in New Haven. If you go to New Haven, try to schedule a visit to the Long Wharf. You’ll see cutting edge, exciting theater. There’s also the famous Yale Repertory Theatre – another Tony Award winning theater – that is linked to the well-known Yale School of Drama. That’s two Tony Award winning theaters in one town!
Yale University’s beautiful campus is in New Haven, and a host of museums, as well. There is the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Connecticut Children’s Museum.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the famous Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, the home of Goodspeed Musicals. This wonderful theater’s mission is to “preserve and produce musical theatre of the highest quality.” And they do.
There’s so much more! Connecticut is a beautiful state and I know you’ll love exploring it.
There’s an exciting opportunity to win a $1000 giftcard, sponsored by
Leave a comment telling me what sites you would visit if you had a day to spend in Hartford, Ct.