The community-oriented Shakespeare & Co. presents high-quality theatrical meditations on life, politics, and elf employment while upholding the art-loving, humanistic tenets of Elizabethan theater. Based on the popular David Sedaris essay of the same name and adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello, The SantaLand Diaries chronicles one man’s achingly amusing struggle playing Crumpet the Elf at Macy’s during a single holiday season. Presented in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, the show combines wry comedic storytelling with a yuletide setting that charmingly evokes years of bygone Santa visits and threats of coal-lump showers. Peter Davenport, a 2009 IRNE nominee, plays protagonist Crumpet the Elf as he struggles through bouts of hilariously irksome Christmastime retail drudgery. Elves, though docile by nature, are prone to outbursts of adult-related content, so this show is not recommended for children ages 13 and younger.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the cha-cha. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and foxtrot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba.
The 3,000-seat Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts—which was built in 1904—underwent a massive renovation in 2002, restoring historic details and adding modern amenities. With seats in the upper balcony, Groupon holders enjoy vistas of the theater's elegant chandelier, gilt-etched walls, and ornate fourth wall.
Intimate evenings of music snuggle comfortably into the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, whose Cabaret Series won Connecticut Magazine's Best Cabaret award in 2011 and 2012. Candlelit tabletops exude a cozy nightclub ambiance around a cabaret stage topped with six acclaimed acts each year and a fresh coat of peanut butter each night. The University of Connecticut brings many more acts to its larger main stage, with a special emphasis on jazz and classical luminaries and music and dance from all corners of the globe.
Spotlight Theaters? screens enrapture audiences with first-run movies. In each movie house, digital sounds and visual projections of fresh Hollywood films alight inner emotions of audiences resting in plush, high-backed seats?each outfitted with a coin-operated mustache comb?or thrown directly into the action through 3-D technology. As eyes and ears relish motion-picture pursuits, soda, candy, and bounties of salty, crunchy popcorn emerge from the concession stand to occupy chatty mouths or catapult towards the screen to feed the hungry actors. Front Street?s brand new Spotlight Theater also houses a full-service restaurant and will soon feature themed movie-and-food pairings, such as French cuisine with French films.
In every production, TheaterWorks aims to create a safe space for voices of all kinds in the midst of bustling downtown Hartford. Banners outside its newly restored Pearl Street home base playfully symbolize this mission with a lion bearing a live mouse within its jaws as tenderly as a child carrying a frog that’s probably magic. The company specializes in high-stakes dramas with social implications from playwrights such as Moises Kaufman, Richard Greenberg, and David Mamet.