It’s a flashback to the 80s with ‘Rock of Ages’ and Paula Poundstone this week in CT arts

Hey, remember the ‘80s?

Besides the musical theater version of the 1982 movie “Tootsie” coming to The Bushnell Feb. 21-25, and “Xanadu,” the self-deprecating stage musical based on the 1980 Olivia Newton-John roller disco flop, still at the community-based Center Stage Theater in Shelton through Feb. 26, Drama Works Theatre in Old Saybrook is revisiting a 1988 play about arms negotiations, “A Walk in the Woods” and Thomaston’s Landmark Theatre is doing Terrence McNally’s 1982 backstage comedy/drama “It’s Only a Play.”

Paula Poundstone, whose career took off with a series of HBO specials in the late ‘80s, is at Infinity Hall Hartford, ACT of CT is staging “Rock of Ages,” the jukebox musical set in the ‘80s and scored with hair-metal classics, and then there’s Goshen Players’ production of “Durang Durang,” a collection of one-acts by Christopher Durang whose title puns on the name of one of the biggest rock acts of the decade.

Beyond these seasoned shows from over 30 years ago, there are plenty of more recent pop culture phenomena to dig into including five present-day punk bands at The State House. Country rocker HARDY is at the Oakdale, and The Webster has post-hardcore band D.R.U.G.S., which reunited two years ago after a decade apart.

Here are some of the top things to do and see this week in Connecticut arts.

Elm City Punk Matinee

The State House, 310 State St., New Haven

An afternoon of five local punk bands — Midnight Creeps, The Ratz, Electric Street Queens, West Rocker and, Cry Havoc — at The State House in New Haven will give you a good sense of the scene and not interfere with your evening plans. Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. $10. Those under 21 can come if accompanied by a parent.

The Popovich Comedy Pet Theater

Jorgensen Center, 2132 Hillside Rd., Storrs

Gregory Popovich and his troupe of dozens of performing animals, all rescued from shelters, flip, jump, juggle and more at UConn’s Jorgensen Center on Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. $22-$26.

John Lodge

FTC Warehouse, 70 Sanford St., Fairfield

Infinity Music Hall, 32 Front St., Hartford

John Lodge was the bassist and one of the vocalists for The Moody Blues from 1966 until 2018, when the band essentially dissolved following the retirement of founding drummer Graeme Edge. Lodge is still playing Moody Blues music. When he last played Connecticut in 2022, Lodge drew from the seven “core” Moody Blues albums. This time he’s concentrating on just one of them, “Days of Future Passed.” He’s playing twice in the state this week: Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. at FTC Warehouse in Fairfield ($64-$159) and Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. at Infinity Hall Hartford ($59-$74).


Oakdale Theater, 95 S. Turnpike Rd., Wallingford

HARDY, the country rocker who hit the charts in the last few years with “Rednecker,” “One Beer” and “Wait in the Truck,” and who has also written songs for Blake Shelton, Morgan Wallen and others, fills the Oakdale in Wallingford on Feb. 23 at 7:45 p.m. Hardy’s got a new album out, “The Mockingbird and the Crow.” $225.

‘Rock of Ages’

ACT of CT, 36 Old Quarry Road, Ridgefield

“Rock of Ages” morphed from an improvised theater piece to a hit Broadway musical and a Tom Cruise movie, sparking fresh interest in certain flamboyant metal 1980s rock. ACT of CT, the professional theater company that specializes in modern American musicals, dons the spandex and wigs for this mythic musical of show biz, Feb. 23 through March 19. Performances are Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with an added evening performance on March 5 at 7 p.m. $63-$76.

Hartford Chorale

The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford

It’s the last week of Black History Month and the Hartford Chorale is singing “The Music of David Hurd and Margaret Bonds,” with accompaniment from members of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Hurd is the director of music at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City’s Times Square. Bonds was a songwriter and musical theater composer who wrote popular arrangements of Black spirituals and collaborated many times with the writer Langston Hughes. The works by these two Black composers being performed by the chorale include the Connecticut premiere of Hurd’s “In Honor of Martin: a Musical Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Five Movements,” and Bonds’ “Credo,” which is set to a text by W.E.B. DuBois. Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. $33-$71.


The Webster, 31 Webster St., Hartford

D.R.U.G.S. stands for Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows. The band formed in Michigan in 2010, broke apart in 2012, was rebuilt in 2020 and released its second album last year. The hardcore band headlines a long loud night at the Webster, also featuring Varials, The Callous Daoboys, 156/Silence and Sharptooth. Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. $25.

Paula Poundstone

Infinity Music Hall, 32 Front St., Hartford

Paula Poundstone is beloved by NPR listeners for her visits to “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me,” “Prairie Home Companion,” “Book of the Day” and other programs over the past few decades. She’s also been doing stand-up comedy for over 30 years, has written books and hosted podcasts. If you know her from radio, you recognize her voice. If you know her from stage or screen, you recognize her suspenders. Poundstone takes the stage at Infinity Music Hall Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. $55-$79.

‘A Walk in the Woods’

Drama Works Theatre Company, 323 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook

“A Walk in the Woods” is a low-key conversational drama about the fraught arts of international arms limitation agreements. A veteran Russian negotiator and his less experienced American counterpart take a break from intense talks in Switzerland for a head-clearing walk in the woods, where they continue to talk but less formally. The play by Lee Blessing had its world premiere at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1987 and was on Broadway a year later. Performances are Feb. 24 and 25 and March 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. plus a 3 p.m. matinee on March 5. $24.

Durang Durang

Goshen Old Town Hall, 2 North St., Goshen

Playwright Christopher Durang attended the Yale (now David Geffen) School of Drama at the same time as Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver and Wendy Wasserstein. His best-known works include “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You” and “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” The Goshen Players are doing “Durang Durang,” a collection of six of the playwright’s one-acts, including the over-the-top Tennessee Williams parody “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls.” Feb. 24 through March 5 at Goshen Old Town Hall. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. $20.

‘It’s Only a Play’

Landmark Community Theatre, 158 Main St., Thomaston

Terrence McNally’s comic drama of backstage backstabbing shows us a producer, playwright, director cast members and others all waiting around for the opening-night reviews of their latest effort, “The Golden Egg.” Produced by Landmark Community Theatre Feb. 25-March 12 at the Thomaston Opera House, 158 Main St., Thomaston. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. $26.

Reach reporter Christopher Arnott at