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O’Neill Theater sets summer sessions

Cruz play, 'Tales of the City' on Center's slate

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The tuner adaptation of “Tales of the City” and the latest play by Pulitzer-winner Nilo Cruz are among the new works to be developed this year during the O’Neill Theater Center’s annual summer sessions.

O’Neill campus in Waterford, Conn., hosts a couple of high-profile legit development programs, with separate conferences for plays and musicals. Alums of O’Neill stints include several August Wilson plays and recent Tony winner “In the Heights.”

“Tales,” with book by Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q”) and songs by Scissor Sisters musicians Jason Sellards (aka Jake Shears) and John Garden, will run as part of the O’Neill’s 32nd annual National Music Theater Conference, along with composer-lyricist-librettist Daniel Zaitchik’s adaptation of Aussie novel “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”

At the O’Neill’s 45th annual National Playwrights Conference, Cruz play “The Color of Desire” will join works by Susan Smith Blackburn prize winner Abbie Spallen (“Pumpgirl”) and Julia Cho (“Durango,” “BFE”), among others.

Spallen’s latest, “Bogwog,” is part of the Irish Project at the O’Neill, supported with funds from Xerox. Cho, meanwhile, will present “The Language Archive,” commissioned by the Roundabout Theater Company.

Also nabbing stints at the Playwrights Conference are Lauren Gunderson for her play “Fire Work,” Gregory Moss for “House of Gold,” Josh Tobiessen for “Spoon Lake Blues” and Emily Schwend for “Carthage.”

Writers in residence at the conference will be Tracey Scott Wilson (“The Good Negro,” “The Story”) and Katia Rubina, a multimedia writer from Russia. A third writer is still to be announced.

Playwrights Conference a.d. Wendy C. Goldberg will helm Cruz’s “Desire,” about an American businessman in 1960 Havana who hires a Cuban actress to play his lost love. No other directors have been announced.

More than 800 plays were entered in the Playwrights Conference’s open submissions process. The seven selected plays will be given readings July 4-26.

The two shows selected for the musical conference were drawn from 152 open submissions.

The tuner incarnation of “Picnic,” which was also adapted into a 1975 pic by Peter Weir, has been staged as a reading at Lincoln Center Theater. O’Neill run is skedded for June 27-July 3.

“Tales,” which hopes to tap the Broadway potential of Armistead Maupin’s series of books (and subsequent tube adaptations), will be seen at the O’Neill July 4-11.

Musical conference also will have two residencies for creatives and projects to be announced later.

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