Summer Theater Sizzles

Summer theater is synonymous with Connecticut. The relaxed yet exciting style of entertainment was practically invented right here. The Westport Country Playhouse -- a converted red barn -- opened in 1930. For nearly 80 years it’s presented Broadway-bound shows and longtime favorites. The list of actors is legendary: from Tallulah Bankhead and Carol Channing to Richard Dreyfuss and Patti LuPone. Stephen Sondheim interned there. The barn has had a great makeover -- thanks to Westporters Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward -- making it an even more wonderful place to see a show. This year’s coming attractions include “The Invisible Hand” and “What the Butler Saw.” For more info: The Summer Theatre of New Canaan is different. Nestled at the bottom of a hill in beautiful Waveny Park, there’s a tent as well as slope-side and open field seating for picnics and lawn chairs. Morning, matinee and evening shows this year include “West Side Story” and “James and the Giant Peach.” For more info:

Not far away on the Connecticut River, Goodspeed Opera House offers not opera, but toe-tapping shows. Birthplace of the original productions of “Man of La Mancha,” “Shenandoah” and “Annie,” Goodspeed’s two intimate theaters offer live musicals in an area filled with restaurants, shops and galleries. This summer’s productions include “Bye Bye Birdie” and “A Sign of the Times,” a new musical featuring the songs of Petula Clark and others. For more info:

For nearly 50 years, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in New London County has pioneered the development of new work and new artists in American Theater. Eight plays are on tap this summer, including a new work by “Mad Men” writer Keith Huff. For more info:

Meanwhile, in the state capital of Hartford, TheaterWorks produces high quality, contemporary theater that engages diverse audiences. The current production, “Midsummer (A Play With Songs),” is that summer staple: a musical romantic comedy. For more info:

A bit further away -- but well worth the trip -- the Connecticut Repertory Theatre is the producing arm of the University of Connecticut Department of Dramatic Arts. On stage this summer: “West Side Story.” For more info:

All of these theaters offer great summer treats. But if you need an extra reason to visit, here’s one: the Today Tix website ( and app offers $20 off any ticket in Connecticut this season. Just use the promo code “HOT20CT.” You don’t even have to say “KMS Partners sent me!”