>>There may be a feeling of ghosts about when the concert version of Lerner and Loewe’s "My Fair Lady" plays New Haven‘s Shubert TheaterSaturday, Jan. 25. at 2 and 8 p.m. After all, local audiences in 1956 were the first to hear the now-famous songs when the show premiered in the middle of a blizzard. Now Yale alums and students in the performing arts will present the score backed by a 60-piece orchestra, and that’s something you almost never hear in this age of diminished sounds in Broadway pits. (203-562-5666 and 800-745-3000 and http://www.shubert.com)
>>Grown men have been know to weep at the last scenes of "War Horse," the highly theatrical, beautifully staged theater epic of a poor Irish lad in search of his noble stead in the midst of the battles of World War One. That the horses on the show are life-size puppets manipulated by two or three performers make the work all the more remarkable. When I saw it at huge, thrust Lincoln Center stage in 2011, it was simply one of the most moving, magical evenings theater story-telling I had ever seen. But will the national tour on a proscenium stage still capture that breathtaking experience? Well, giddy-yap! The show runs Jan. 28 to Feb. 2 at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Artsin Hartford. (860-987-5900 and http://www.bushnell.org).
>>It’s romantic, it’s quirky and yes there are more Irish accents — but this time there’s also lots of music, too (including an Oscar-winning song) for the arrival of the national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical "Once." It’s the type of deceptively simple show that sneaks up on you until you realize you care passionately about the fate of the pair of lonely lovers on stage. Beautifully staged by John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett, it arrives at Shubert Theater in New Haven on Feb. 26 to March 2. (203-562-5666 and 800-745-3000 and http://www.shubert.com)
>>And speaking of "My Fair Lady"’s Henry Higgins, we’re intrigued by the world premiere of a new play which will play at West Hartford‘s Playhouse on Park: Lawrence Thelen’s "Higgins in Harlem" is set in Harlem in the ’20s and follows the classic "Pygmalion" tale by George Bernard Shaw "with a cultural twist." on class and gender — and jazz. The show runs March 5 to 23. (860-523-5900 and http://www.playhouseonpark.org)
>>When I saw Laurie Metcalf perform Sharr White’s’ "The Other Place," I was stunned by the performance and the dare of the writing, creating a character that keeps the audience guessing until the big a-ha moment. Without revealing too much this suspenseful psychological play is about a troubled women — researcher Dr. Juliana Smithton — going through a personal ordeal that will be hard to forget. In a co-production with the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Hartford’s TheaterWorks presents the regional premiere that will run March 14 to April 19. (860-527-7838 and http://www.theaterworkshartford.org).
>>It’s scatalogical, its sacrilegious and yes, it’s kind of sweet, too. It’s Broadway’s biggest hit since that green-skinned witch defied gravity. It’s 2011’s "The Book of Mormon. "Matt Stone and Trey Parker of TV’s "South Park" along with Bobby Lopez ("Avenue Q") and Casey Nicholaw created the show that both skewers and celebrates religion —- along with the American Broadway musical. The national tour finally arrives at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford for a run March 18 to 30. Will audiences feel the calling? Well, Bushnell’s premium tickets are sky high so apparently they already are. (860-987-5900 and http://www.bushnell.org)
>>After the 2010 Broadway musical "American Idiot," Green Day’s front man Billie Joe Armstrong apparently wanted another go at creating songs for the theater. So the rocker is writing new numbers for the world premiere of "These Paper Bullets" at Yale Repertory Theatrein New Haven March 14 to April 5 at the University Theatre. The show is Rolin Jones’ (TV’s "Weeds") contemporary adaptation of William Shakespeare‘s "Much Ado About Nothing" centering on a rock and roll quartet from Liverpool. It’s not the first time the Bard has rocked, but the names attached to the show give it an especially high hip factor. (203-432-1234 and http://www.yalerep.org)
>>It’s always an event when South African writer Athol Fugard world premieres a play at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre. Following the death of Nelson Mandella, it’s all the more curious to see what’s on this great writer’s mind. His new play is "Shadow of a Hummingbird" and he returns to the stage as actor for the first time in 15 years in this gentle meditation on the beauty and transience of the world around us. The show, directed by frequent collaborator Gordon Edelstein, runs March 26 to April 27. (203-787-4282 and http://www.longwharf.org).
>>"There’s a place for us," goes a song in "West Side Story." Playwright Matthew Lopez ("The Whipping Man") takes us into the home of a Puetro Rican family whose lives are changed by the filming of the movie based on that musical in his new play "Somewhere." To make the family theme work even more evident, Tony Award-winner Priscilla Lopez ("A Chorus Line," "A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine") stars — she is also the playwright’s aunt. After an earlier production, the play gets further development with a full new production at Hartford Stage. The show runs April 3 to 27. (860-527-5151 and http://www.hartfordstage.org).
>>It’s hard to imagine that after scores of musicals Goodspeed Opera House has never produced the classic "Damn Yankees" —- until now. The script gets a bit of a regional twist as writer Joe DiPietro substitutes the Red Sox for the Washington Senators as the also-ran team that just can’t beat those guys in pinstripes. (Kind of ironic, given last season, no?) The show opens just in time for the start of the season —- baseball’s and Goodspeed’s 51st —- and runs from Aporil 11 to June 21. (860-873-8668 and http://www.goodspeed.org)