Hartford Stage Announces Casting for World Premiere of “The Flamingo Kid”

HARTFORD, CT — April 1, 2019 — Hartford Stage announced today the cast and creative team for the world premiere musical The Flamingo Kid, helmed by Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak. The musical, which closes the 2018-19 season, boasts an impressive cast of Broadway and regional theatre talent. Performances for The Flamingo Kid begin on Thursday, May 9, and run through Sunday, June 9.

The Flamingo Kid, inspired by the 1984 Garry Marshall coming-of-age film starring Matt Dillon, reunites Tresnjak with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’s Tony Award-winning book writer and lyricist Robert L. Freedman. They are collaborating for the first time with the Tony Award-nominated composer Scott Frankel (Grey Gardens, War Paint).

“Say goodbye to winter with the world premiere of our sun-kissed musical, The Flamingo Kid. Journey back to the summer of 1963, and join our hero, Jeffrey Winnick, his friends, and his family, for a positively exuberant evening of song, dance, and romance,” Tresnjak said.

In the summer of ’63, against the wishes of his father, Brooklyn teenager Jeffrey Winnick leaves behind his blue-collar roots for an exciting job working as a cabana boy at the colorful El Flamingo — a posh private club on Long Island. There, Jeffrey meets Carla, a forward-thinking young woman from California. The music, the romance, and the beach are magical — until tensions grow between father and son when a slick club member takes Jeffrey under his wing.

Jimmy Brewer (Motherfreakinghood, Playwrights Horizon; The Black Suits, Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre) was cast in the leading role of Jeffrey Winnick in The Flamingo Kid last year while still a student at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama.

Broadway veterans Adam Heller (Elf and Victor/Victoria) and Liz Larsen(Tony Award nominee for The Most Happy Fella and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) will play Arthur and Ruth, Jeffrey’s parents. Three-time Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch (9-5Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,and Thoroughly Modern Millie) and Olivier Award winner and Drama Desk Award nominee Lesli Margherita (Matilda the Musical–originated the role of Mrs. Wormwood in her Broadway debut, Zorro the Musical) play Phil and Phyllis Brody, the affluent couple who frequent the El Flamingo Club. Samantha Massell (Fiddler on the Roof–Revival, Broadway; Rags, Goodspeed Opera House–Winner, CT Critics Circle Best Actress) plays their niece, Carla.

The cast also includes young Broadway talents Lindsey Brett Carothers (Gettin’ the Band Back Together) as Joyce; Ben Fankhauser (Newsies the Musical) as Steve; and Alex Wyse (Waitress) as Hawk.

The Ensemble of The Flamingo Kid includes Ben Bogen (Frozen, Broadway); Michael Hartung (Hello, Dolly!–Revival, Broadway);  Jean Kauffman (Cats–National Tour); Ken Krugman (Anastasia, Hartford Stage and Broadway); Omar Lopez-Cepero (On Your Feet!, Broadway); Anna Noble (Carousel–Revival, Broadway); Erin Leigh Peck (Grease!, Broadway); Steve Routman (The Underpants, Hartford Stage and Long Wharf Theatre); William Squier (Rear Window, Hartford Stage); Kathy Voytko (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Broadway); Price Waldman (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Broadway); Kelli Youngman (Anastasia, Broadway); and Stuart Zagnit (Seussical, Broadway).

Students from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford – Gregory Rodriguez (Ensemble), Taylor Lloyd (Swing), and Jayke Workman (Swing) – round out the cast.

The Flamingo Kid will be Tresnjak’s last production as Artistic Director of Hartford Stage and the first new musical to premiere at the Tony Award-winning theatre since Anastasia in May 2016. Tresnjak most recently directed the critically-acclaimed world premiere of The Engagement Party by Samuel Baum at Hartford Stage.

Tresnjak’s first musical for Hartford Stage,  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder in 2012, transferred to Broadway the following year and earned four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Costume Design for Linda Cho, Book for Robert L. Freedman, and Direction by Tresnjak. Following its sell-out run at Hartford Stage, Anastasia debuted on Broadway in 2017 and closed on March 31. The musical is in the midst of a successful national tour and is also being performed internationally for audiences in Spain and Germany. Next season, productions will premiere in Mexico, Japan and the Netherlands.

In addition to Tresnjak, Freedman and Frankel, the creative team includes Tony Award-nominated Choreographer Denis Jones (Holiday Inn, the New Irving Berlin Musical; Tootsie); Tony Award-nominated Set Designer Alexander Dodge (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Hartford Stage and Broadway); Tony Award-winning Costume Designer Linda Cho (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Hartford Stage and Broadway); Lighting Designer Philip Rosenberg (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Hartford Stage and Broadway); Drama Desk Award-nominated Sound Designer Peter Hylenski (Anastasia, Hartford Stage and Broadway); Drama Desk Award-winning Projection Designer Aaron Rhyne (Anastasia, Hartford Stage and Broadway); Music Director Thomas Murray (Anastasia, Hartford Stage and Broadway); Orchestrations by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin (The Light in the Piazza); Drama Desk Award-winning Hair Designer Charles G. LaPointe (SpongeBob SquarePants, Broadway); Make-Up Designer Joya Giambrone (The Cher Show–Associate Designer, Broadway)Fight Choreographer Thomas Schall (89 Broadway credits, including King Lear and Network); Associate Choreographer Robbie Roby (The Little Mermaid–National Tour); and Assistant Music Director Paul Staroba (My Fair Lady–Revival, Broadway). Composer Scott Frankelwill provide the dance and vocal arrangements.

Hartford Stage Artistic Associate Rachel Alderman is the Associate Director for The Flamingo Kid. Hartford Stage Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Williamson is the Dramaturg.

Linda Marvel (Finding Neverland, Broadway) will serve as Production Stage Manager, assisted by Genevieve Kersh (Finding Neverland, Broadway) and Michael Wilhoite (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Broadway).

The Flamingo Kid is presented by special arrangement with Bob Israel,Larry Hirschhorn, and Cody Lassen.

  • The Presenting Sponsor is The Richard P. Garmany Fund at The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
  • The Lead Sponsors are 50 Church Street Productions and Bank of America.
  • Individual Producers are Jill Adams & Bill KnightSue Ann CollinsMarjorie E. MorrisseyandJack and Donna Sennott.
  • Assisting Production Sponsors are The Cheryl Chase and Stuart Bear Family FoundationThe Jackson Laboratory, Locke Lord LLP and Red Lion Hotels.
  • Additional support has been provided by Federman, Lally & Remis LLC and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford.

The 2018-19 Season is also sponsored by the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

Special Dates

  • Previews begin at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 9
  • Opening Night: 8 p.m., Friday, May 24
  • Closes: 2 p.m., Sunday, June 9

Tickets & Performances

  • Tues., Wed., Thurs., Sun. at 7:30 p.m.—Fri., Sat. at 8 p.m.—Sat., Sun. at 2 p.m.
  • Wed. matinee at 2 p.m. on May 22 only.
  • Weekly schedules vary. For details, visit www.hartfordstage.org.
  • Tickets for all shows start at $25. Student tickets: $18.
  • For group discounts (10 or more), email groupsales@hartfordstage.org or call 860-527-5151.
  • For all other tickets, please call the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151 or visit www.hartfordstage.org.

Special Events

  • HPL @ Hartford Stage–Hartford Public Library and Hartford Stage invite you to dig deeper into the world of the plays onstage. Check out a book today. Select books are available at the theatre and at each Hartford branch library.
  • Sunday Afternoon Discussion–May 19. Enjoy a discussion with artists and scholars connected with the production immediately following the 2 p.m. matinee. Free.
  • AfterWords Discussion—Wednesday, May 22, Tuesday, May 28, and Tuesday, June 4. Join members of the cast and our Artistic staff for a free discussion, immediately following select 7:30 p.m. performances on Tuesday or the 2 p.m. Wednesday matinee.
  • Open Captioned Performances—Sunday, May 26, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. For patrons who are deaf or have hearing loss — free service with admission.
  • Audio Described Performance—Saturday, June 1, 2 p.m. For patrons who are blind or have low vision — free service with admission.


Now in our 55th season, Hartford Stage is currently under the leadership of Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak. In January 2019, Melia Bensussen was named the sixth Artistic Director of Hartford Stage and will assume the role in June. One of the nation’s leading resident theatres, Hartford Stage is known for producing innovative revivals of classics and provocative new plays and musicals, including 73 world and American premieres, as well as offering a distinguished education program, which reaches close to 21,000 students annually.

Since Tresnjak’s appointment in 2011 the theatre has presented the world premieres of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, winner of four 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical by Tresnjak; Rear Window with Kevin Bacon; the new musical Anastasia by Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens; Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Breath & Imagination by Daniel Beaty; Big Dance Theatre’s Man in a Case with Mikhail Baryshnikov; and Reverberation by Matthew Lopez.

Hartford Stage has earned many of the nation’s most prestigious awards, including the 1989 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Other national honors include Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, OBIE, and New York Critics Circle awards. Hartford Stage has produced nationally renowned titles, including the New York transfers of Enchanted April; The Orphans’ Home Cycle; Resurrection(later retitled Through the Night); The Carpetbagger’s Children; and Tea at Five.

The leading provider of theatre education programs in Connecticut, Hartford Stage’s offerings include student matinees, in-school theatre residencies, teen performance opportunities, theatre classes for students (ages 3-18) and adults, afterschool programs and professional development courses.

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