Premiere set for stage ‘Guide’

Connecticut theaters lay 2012-13 plans

The musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” will premiere this fall at Hartford Stage, starring Tony winner Jefferson Mays and helmed by Darko Tresnjak, the theater’s new artistic director.

With the Connecticut theater lining up its 2012-13 slate, another area company, New Haven’s Long Wharf Theater, has set plans for a $3.8 million facelift.

“Gentleman’s Guide” was initially slated to bow at La Jolla Playhouse in 2010, but that production was derailed by a rights issue that has since been resolved. The show, with music by Steve Lutvak and book and lyrics by Robert J. Freedman, is based on the obscure British novel by Roy Horniman, “Israel Rank.” The 1949 film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” with Alec Guinness was loosely based on the book.

Mays, now in the Broadway production of “The Best Man,” stars in the story of a poor man in Edwardian England who is eighth in line to a dukedom, so he hires a hitman to kill off the seven heirs ahead of him. All the heirs will be played by Mays in the eight-actor, six-musician show, which runs Oct. 11-Nov. 4.

Also on tap for the 2012-13 season is the world premiere of Daniel Beaty’s play with music “Breath and Imagination: The Story of Roland Hayes,” based on the life of the first internationally acclaimed African-American classical vocalist. The three-hander, which features classical and gospel music, will be a co-production with a theater yet to be named, Show runs Jan. 10-Feb. 3 with Tresnjak helming.

Meanwhile, Long Wharf will undergo an “industrial chic” renovation this summer to expand its lobby, double its bathrooms and replace and enlarge seating that has been in place since the theater was founded there 47 years ago.

“Patron comfort is essential for our survival,” said Gordon Edelstein, artistic director of the theater for the past 10 years as well as the helmer of the revival of “The Glass Menagerie” that played a well-received Off Broadway run in 2010.

Long Wharf’s lease in the New Haven Food Terminal off Interstate 91 extends to at least 2022. Plans for a new building, once proposed for downtown New Haven, have been indefinitely deferred.

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