April in Pictures
As relevant today as it was when it debuted in 1937, “The Cradle Will Rock” electrifies the Tansill Theater stage, with performances Friday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m, Saturday, March 4, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 5, at 2 p.m. The renowned musical, a biting critique of unrestrained capitalism and income inequality, features musical styles that leap from classical to jazz to pop and capture a story as satirical as it is uplifting and empowering.
Director Ginny Anderson, assistant professor of theater at Connecticut College, says the musical is legendary in theater history. The original production, directed by Orson Welles for the Federal Theatre Project, was shut down by the WPA on its opening night, the theater padlocked and surrounded by security. But the cast and creative team, including director Orson Welles, famously marched 21 blocks north to another, empty theater. The actors' union prohibited them from "performing on stage," but they cleverly found a loophole and performed from within the audience instead, with only composer Marc Blitzstein at the piano on stage. Those in attendance were spellbound.
In selecting the show for the Theater Department production, Anderson said, “It was exciting to expand the students’ repertoire into the highly influential work of Marc Blitzstein through what even then felt like a timely tale of greed, institutional corruption, and disenfranchisement.”
“Our country and our community have gone through a tremendous shift, even since this play was chosen, and many of us have been left with the burning question,’What can theatre do?’,” added Anderson. “Every single rehearsal, something that had happened that morning, that afternoon, found frightening resonance in the lines that Blitzstein wrote 80 years ago.”
Through “The Cradle Will Rock,” Anderson and her students explore the power of theater to focus attention on the most pressing issues of the day.
“Playwright and theorist Bertolt Brecht was a major influence on Blitzstein and on our production; he called for theater that would shake audiences from complacency,” Anderson explains. “Through conventions of ‘epic theater’ which often exposed the very artifice of theater, he empowered the viewer to think critically about the choices characters made and illuminated flaws in social and political institutions.”
Tickets are $12 general admission; $8 for seniors, military and students. Purchase tickets online or call the theater department, 860-439-2605, for more information.