The Connecticut Repertory Theatre, the producing appendage of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Dramatic Arts, casts visiting professional actors and talented university students in its plays, musicals, and contemporary performances. This summer’s marquee boasts three musicals: Guys and Dolls, Seussical the Musical, a musical journey through the works of Dr. Seuss, and My Fair Lady. A cast of veteran performers, including Broadway entertainers Terrence Mann, Eileen Fulton, and Charlotte d’Amboise and comedian Steve Hayes, breathe life into the shows in the same way a stack of old books can breathe life into a fire. Performed 12 times over the course of independent 10-day runs, each musical offers up a surfeit of opportunities for reveling in drama and singing along inside your head as loudly as possible.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, 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 Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
At Summit Studios, aspiring singers and musicians can learn to play a variety of instruments and sing under the tutelage of experienced instructors. During the private, 30-minute lesson, students can saturate their brains and portable chalkboards with the theory behind guitar, piano, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, or drums. Meanwhile, in the voice lessons, expert warblers can train croaky cords to emanate mellifluous vibrations through a focus on breath support, intonation, and sight-reading.
The first Funny Bone location opened in 1982 and has spread infectious laughter ever since. Established stars such as Drew Carey and Jerry Seinfeld have graced the clubs’ stages, as well as up-and-coming talents with fresh faces, fresh routines, and that fresh pine scent. The venue also plays host to a full-service bar, where patrons may steep their sorrows in calming brews, then ingest them triumphantly.
In the space of a former 1960s movie theater, Parkade Cinemas enhances the traditional film-watching experience with live entertainment. Guests munch fresh popcorn as they watch second-run action blockbusters or Oscar-hungry dramas on one of four screens, or they head to one of two live-theater auditoriums to chuckle at comedians, dance to visiting musicians, or accuse their friends of unspeakable crimes during murder-mystery dinners. Parkade does celebrations right with movie-themed birthday parties and yearly Halloween events that feature classic horror films and haunted-house antics staffed by costumed employees and volunteers.
The instructors at Fit Club believe that getting in shape should be fun. That’s why each of their cardio classes, such as Booty Beat, Flirty & Dirty, and three types of Zumba, are designed to engage cores and slenderize frames while keeping the mood upbeat and invigorating. Even the boot camp puts a joyous spin on the otherwise strenuous routines associated with boot camps, emphasizing positive reinforcement rather than shouting and intimidation. Small, 15-person boot camps keep things personal, encouraging interaction and mutual motivation between students.