Hartford Stage’s 2024-25 season to feature Shakespeare, August Wilson and a horror classic

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Hartford Stage is bringing another finely balanced program of new works, American classics, comedy and drama for its upcoming 2024-25 season, the theater announced Wednesday.

Works by William Shakespeare and August Wilson are on the schedule as are two new comedies and a horror classic. As with recent years, Hartford Stage is offering five mainstage productions plus the holiday staple “A Christmas Carol.”

“This season will show Hartford Stage’s commitment to our community and to good theater,” said Melia Bensussen, who has been the artistic director since 2019. “These titles are what we feel our community needs from our theater.”

Hartford Stage was founded 61 years ago and has only had six artistic directors in that time.

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The season will open with a creative take on a horror classic, Robert Louis Stevenson’s story “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Oct. 10 through Nov. 3, 2024. Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s version has a cast of six, in which four of them all play Mr. Hyde. Hatcher’s adaptation of the stage and screen thriller “Dial M for Murder” was done at Westport Country Playhouse earlier this year.

“It’s a good way to open the season,” Bensussen said. “This is very much a psychological thriller. It really mines the psychology.”

At the same time, Bensussen said the play is full of “fun and theatricality. We asked ourselves what do you experience in the theater that you don’t get anywhere else? Thrills are fun to share in a group.”

Bensussen worked with Hatcher decades ago on a similarly theatrical and psychological adaptation of Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.” She particularly likes that the scheduling of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” which will involve Hatcher visiting Hartford to freshen up the script, overlaps with Halloween.

Wilson’s “Two Trains Running” runs Jan. 23 through Feb. 16, 2025. It’s the fourth Wilson drama Hartford Stage has done, following “Fences” in 2007, “Gem of the Ocean” in 2011 and “The Piano Lesson” in 2016. “Two Trains Running” had its world premiere in Connecticut in 1990 featuring Laurence Fishbourne, Samuel L. Jackson and Samuel E. Wright in the cast. The Hartford Stage production will be directed by Gilbert McCauley, a longtime theater professor at the University of Massachusetts who has directed at many regional theaters and off-Broadway.

“We are a theater that does the great American plays,” said Bensussen, who is readying a production of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” for this month.

“Laughs in Spanish” by Alexis Scheer, running March 6 through May 18, 2025, premiered last year at Colorado’s Denver Center for the Performing Arts and has become popular with regional theaters. The mother/daughter comedy will be directed at Hartford Stage by the same person who directed the premiere, Lisa Portes.

Bensussen, who has known Scheer since the playwright was a graduate student at Boston University five years ago, calls it “a very funny play that is also a bit of a mystery, about an art heist.” Alluding to its title, Bensussen said, “I want to stress that this is a play in English,” unlike a few recent Hartford Stage productions which had extensive dialogue in Spanish. The play is described by its licensing agency as a “fast-paced, cafecito-induced comedy set at Art Basel, the annual high-stakes art fair in Miami.”

“Romeo & Juliet,” playing April 17 through May 18, 2025, is the second Shakespeare play to be directed by Bensussen since she became artistic director in 2019. (She helmed an artfully sparse production of “The Winter’s Tale” in 2023.) “Romeo & Juliet” has been done previously at Hartford Stage by two other artistic directors there, Mark Lamos in 1995 and Darko Tresnjak in 2016. Bensussen has not directed “Romeo and Juliet” before. “I’ve done so many comedies that I’m excited to do a lush, poetic, tragic love story. It’s right for this year,” she said.

“Hurricane Diane,” scheduled for June 5-29, 2025, is a comedy with environmental themes by Madeleine George in which the Greek god Dionysus is reborn as a modern-day female horticulturist. TheaterWorks Hartford considered producing “Hurricane Diane” a few years ago, but now it’s being done at Hartford Stage, where it will be directed by associate artistic director Zoë Golub-Sass.

Golub-Sass is also charged with maintaining the annual staging of “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.” The longtime holiday staple returned last year after several years off, refreshed and revised and recast by its original director/adaptor Michael Wilson. This year, the show will run Nov. 22 through Dec. 29. Allen Gilmore as Scrooge and Noble Shropshire as Marley are among the returning cast members.

Hartford Stage offers season subscriptions. “A Christmas Carol” is not part of the subscription season but subscribers get special offers to purchase tickets for it.

There are two shows remaining on the current Hartford Stage 2023-24 season: Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” April 11 through May 5 and Lisa Kron’s “2.5 Minute Ride” May 30 through June 23.

For more information on the Hartford Stage’s upcoming season, go to hartfordstage.org.