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.
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.
Parkade Cinemas doesn't need a marquee lit up in flashing bulbs or spotlights waving through the sky to get the community through its doors. The film buffs behind the independently run theater know that the focus of the movie experience is the movie itself, so they don't try to overshadow it. And by leaving their decor understated, they've created something distinctly familiar. The red curtains lining the walls around six screens, the blue and white tile leading to the candies in the concession stand, the gray seats whose arms hug audiences during the scary parts are all emblematic of movie-going. These, coupled with the second-run Hollywood blockbusters and the regular live performances from comedians and magicians, make Parkade Cinemas a staple of the community.
Entertainment is important in Hartford Road Cafe. Weekly events include jazz open-mic nights on Sundays, trivia on Tuesdays, and performances from local bands on Thursdays and Fridays. To accompany these feasts for the ears, the café offers a full menu of casual American cuisine, which includes bacon-wrapped scallops baked in a sherry-maple-butter sauce and pesto-topped salmon served over seasoned risotto and asparagus.
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.
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.