Monday, October 23, 2017

EXAMINE THE INNER WORKINGS OF "THE WOLVES" AT HARTFORD THEATERWORKS








As they lace their sneakers and hydrate for the exhaustive exercises to come, a team of high school girls embrace their power and selectivity of being "The Wolves," a soccer club poised for greatness.  Playwright Sarah DeLappe puts her ensemble of adolescents front and center as they cross-chat about topics ranging from genocide in Cambodia to immigration issues to abortion and feminine hygiene products. The girls buzz and sting as they tease, swear and jabber through their extensive warm ups.  

Hartford TheaterWorks wants you to become captivated with their interactions and personal revelations as it presents Sarah DeLappe's "The Wolves" until Sunday, November 5.  Set on a green indoor Astroturf field created by Mariana Sanchez, we get up close and intimately involved in the lives of these females on the peak of womanhood as they prepare to win their way to the nationals. They are the ones who will serve as the striker, the midfields, the defense, the captain and the goalie and they need to forget their conflicts and disagreements as they take the field.  They are a pack, warriors, a team, who need to be united if they are to succeed.

These lady crusaders are a sisterhood of sorts, each different, but united for the purpose of winning. They embrace different personalities, with a variety of temperaments and sensibilities.  The cool, sarcastic girl is  the most worldly and sexually advanced who plays side by side with the skinny, innocent and unlucky girl who may be battling an eating disorder.  The perfectionist member whose fears cause her to throw up before every game is running besides the new girl who has an international background and is trying so hard to fit in with the team.  They each have goals and dreams, to be recognized, to be the one hand-selected when the scouts come to town.

By the end of this ninety minute interaction, well directed by Eric Ort to score goal winning points, an event takes place that shakes up their equilibrium and weakens their foundation.  The talented cast includes Shannon Keegan, Claire Saunders, Dea Julien, Carolyn Cutillo, Emily Murphy, Caitin Zoz, Rachel Caplan, Olivia Hoffman and Karla Gallegos as team members and Megan Byrne as the soccer mom.

For tickets ($55-70), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m and matinees weekends at 2:30 p.m.

Come cheer on these remarkable female warriors as they learn the game of soccer as well as the game of life.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

PANTOCHINO GIVES CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS ON “HOW TO BE A GOOD WITCH”



 MARY MANNIX, SYDNEY MAHER AND SHELLEY MARSH POGGIO
Every good book store has a shelf of How To books on topics that range from how to grow garlic, how to fix your kitchen sink, how to master the art of bidding in bridge, how to knit an afghan, and so on for miles of instruction.  Pantochino Productions has another volume to add to your collection, one you probably never anticipated needing.  With Halloween just around the corner, what could be more appropriate to learn than “How To Be A Good Witch” and this creative acting company has all the pertinent data to make it clear, all packaged in one delightful  musical playing at the Milford Center for the Arts at the Train Station on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until October 29. The clock is ticking so get on your broomstick and sail there straight away.

Rae is a confused little witch on the cusp of turning thirteen and she doesn’t know which (witch) way to turn.  Should she be a good witch or a member of the other sisterhood and do bad things. Her older sister Emmaleen (Kristina Rizzardi) has chosen to go to the darker side and her parents (Justin Rugg and Hannah Duffy) seem to be leaning that way too.  An adorable Rae, Sydney Maher, knows good witches don’t do curses and only perform nice spells.  She is happy to have the good counsel of her Uncle Wink (Jimmy Johansmeyer) but she is still uncertain of her fate.

A chance meeting with Mrs.Gurney (Maria Berte), the librarian, provides her with a book and the opportunity to have the advice and concern of a pair of opposite opinions, Glimmer (Shelley Marsh Poggio) who radiates goodness and Triktoria (Mary Mannix) who enjoys the blacker arts.  With her parents now divided on how she should choose, Rae has the added responsibility of getting both the good and the bad witch back into the How To book, all before Halloween.  How will Rae select her guardian?  What will her new witch name be? Can the appearance of the Mighty Wizard Cadabradorf (George Spelvin) help her reach a decision?

All these burning questions will be happily answered on Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The Friday and Saturday shows will be cabaret style so bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy them on site.  For tickets ($20 on line and $22 at the door),  go online to www.pantochino.com.  These shows are all home grown and original, with book and lyrics by Bert Bernardi, music by Justin Rugg and elaborate costuming by Jimmy Johansmeyer. Coming next are Tori Scott, the Bette Midler of the new millennium, on Saturday, November 4 at 8 p.m and a new musical for the holidays “School for Elves” December 1-17.

The cauldron is simmering with all manner of tasty brews as Pantochino Productions cooks up a precious professional pot of potent potables for your perky pleasure.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

“DRACULA” IS CLEARLY OUT FOR BLOOD IN BERLIN


                        ALEX PAPACODA'S DRACULA
 With Halloween just around the corner, what better time to call up all your favorite friendly and unfriendly ghosts, ghouls and goblins.  The Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin is ready, willing and most able to get you into the scary and spooky mood with a generous offering of that master monster “Dracula,” a dramatic thriller by John Mattera, based on the novel by Bram Stoker.  Dracula will be in his element weekends until Saturday, November 4.

While it’s one thing to be a gracious host and offer your guests a drink, it’s quite a goblet of another color when the host wants to use you as the source of his liquid refreshment. You’d be well advised to remember that this is the season of all things that go bump after midnight.


Come meet the original caped crusader with the penchant for all things wet, cold, and red: Dracula, of Transylvania. With a suitably creepy set designed by James J. Moran, we enter into a dark world of unexplained circumstances.  Dr. Seward (Russell Fish) runs a mental hospital where a patient
Renfield,a disturbed and disturbing Josh Luszczak, keeps escaping his confines, despite the care of his caretaker Butterworth (Tony Galli). Dr. Seward is also plagued by the mysterious ailment that is attacking his daughter Lucy (Tracey Brown), an illness that has already claimed the life of her best friend.

Lucy’s suitor John Harker (Chris Brooks) is understandably concerned about Lucy and agrees an expert should be consulted, in this case Dr. Van Helsing, a perplexed Michael Gilbride.  Even with the constant care provided by Ms. Wells (Tracey Costa), Lucy wakes up each morning “drained” of energy.  What could be causing her exhaustion?  What role does the new mysterious neighbor Dracula play in the drama?  

Alex Papacoda’s Count Dracula permanently banishes sunshine as he stalks the countryside looking for ever new victims. Lucy’s loyal defenders will need to marshal every garlic clove, metal stake, and crucifix in the hopes of battling this devil in disguise. Kris McMurray takes diabolical pride in squeezing every ounce of fright out of this tale.

For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are  Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Remember to bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy desserts and drinks on site.
The theater is slightly west of Transylvania, off the Berlin Turnpike.

Celebrate the 120th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s famous vampire fiend and
witness again how goodness and love triumph over evil and darkness. But, just to be
on the safe side, wear a turtleneck jersey or a heavy wool scarf, with a ring of garlic
for good luck.

LET “FIREFLIES” LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE



JUDITH IVEY'S GRACE ATTEMPTS TO COOL JANE ALEXANDER'S ELEANOR
PHOTO BY T CHARLES ERICKSON

Fireflies are lightning bugs that produce a cold light color from yellow to green to pale red as part of their mating dance. Fireflies glow and flash,wink and emit patterns of attraction, sending out signals to attract potential suitors.  People  can act like these beetles when they too see someone of interest for a romantic entanglement.  To prove this point, come witness the waltz that Abel Brown enacts as he tries to woo a spark of love juice from Eleanor Bannister.  He is going to need jars full of lightning bugs if he is to succeed in his courtship.

Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven is going to be assisting Abel in his pursuits with the charming and sweet world premiere of Matthew Barber’s “Fireflies,” based on a novel by Annette Sanford, until Sunday, November 5.  The dance steps between Denis Arndt’s Abel and the reluctant woman he is pursuing, Jane Alexander’s Eleanor, are quaint and sincere and not always on the mark, but Abel has a goal and he is capable of an organized and subtle attack.

Eleanor is a retired school teacher who has settled into a life of uncomplicated concerns in the lazy town of Groverdell, Texas where she has lived her whole life. Picking her figs and making preserves, getting the air conditioning fixed, and clearing off the back porch are about all that  occupy her quiet days. The only ripple to date is the constant comments of her next door neighbor Grace, an insistently invading Judith Ivey, who needs to know and comment about Eleanor’s every thought and action. The well meaning Grace now has a new threat to convey: there is a stranger, a drifter, who has been seen in the quiet Texas town and is capable of rape and murder and no end of con man schemes and Eleanor needs to be on her guard.

Of course, that monster in the mists is Abel Brown and he appears in Eleanor’s life as a breathe of change and a distinct risk to her equilibrium.  Abel is a handyman and he sees the recent storm has torn a hole in the cottage on her property.  Dare she let him fix it?  Can he be trusted to enter her kitchen for a drink of lemonade? What of his past indiscretions?  If Grace is right, is Eleanor ripe for the picking like her figs?

Alexander Dodge has created a homey kitchen set for the waltz of needs that takes place. The supreme acting skills of these cast members is a pure delight to behold. There are even moments of silent invasion when an old pupil Eugene Michael McFarland enters the fray as a policeman called by the self appointed guardian Grace who fears for her neighbor’s well being.  Gordon Edelstein directs a simply satisfying foray into these lives and makes us feel all the better for the visitation.

For tickets ($34.50-90.50), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are  Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Come be enchanted by Eleanor as she is poised on a literary cliff, almost ready to jump, if she can be sure she will be able (Abel) to fly.

Monday, October 16, 2017

COME HIT THE BUSHNELL RAFTERS WITH ROUSING "SCHOOL OF ROCK"



                                      DEWEY FINN GETTING READY TO ROCK

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has done it again, created a super-duper musical that magically rocks the rafters. The Bushnell in Hartford will be nailing down everything that could jump, bump or vibrate as this stimulating and sensational "School of Rock" is let out of its protective wrapper from Tuesday, October 24 to Sunday, October 29.

With music by Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Julian Fellowes, based on the Jack Black film hit of the same name in 2003, "School of Rock" follows an unemployed rock musician who sings and plays guitar as he tries to make an honest dollar as a substitute teacher.  Forget the fact that he was thrown out of his band and the school gig belongs not to him but to his best friend.

Dewey Finn takes on his new slightly uncomfortable role at a prestigious prep school and instinctively, like a blood hound,  discovers that his new charges have remarkable talents with musical instruments.  Dewey's desire to smash his way to the top of the upcoming Battle of the Bands contest leads him to bring his machinations to transforming his class of fifth graders into rock stars.

Will these studious and straight haired students, who measure success in A's on report cards, let their hair down and follow this rather disreputable leader? Can Dewey perform his magical and maniacal mission without the kids parents or the school authorities discovering his subversive and diabolical plot? How can he get the students to blow their staid exteriors to let loose mind-expanding musical personas?

Before you can say "rock and roll" three times, Dewey has encouraged his class to abandon  gold stars and academic achievement and pledge total and complete allegiance to the band.  Soon school uniforms are gone and his students are blasting out on electric guitars, bass, keyboard and drums and Dewey, the failure and band reject and wannabe rock star, is off and ready to climb "To the Top of Mount Rock."

For tickets ($22.50 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online www.bushnell.org.  Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Come see if Dewey can perform musical miracles and, at the same time, win the damsel of his dreams.

WHO IS "THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE" AT YALE REP




THE MAYOR (ENRICO COLANTONI) CONFRONTS HIS BROTHER
THE DOCTOR (REG ROGERS)      PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
If you are under the delusion that you will be applauded and rewarded for exposing a public disgrace, in the sense of being a whistleblower, you may be sadly disappointed.  Instead of accolades and parades, you may be vilified and ostracized for your courageous actions.  Imagine for a moment you live in a lovely Norwegian community where a health spa attracts tourists and medical patients for its restorative waters, one where the economy of the town resides with the beneficial springs.

The Yale Repertory Theatre will be focusing itself on one such community in the timely drama "An Enemy of the People" by Henrik Ibsen at the University Theatre until Saturday, October 28.  Paul Walsh has provided an exceptional new translation for this tale for this talented cast to explore.

One moment two brothers, one the mayor Peter Stockmann (Enrico Colantoni) and the other a prominent doctor Dr. Thomas Stockmann (Reg Rogers) are congratulating themselves on the highly successful and lucrative endeavor, the health spa, they have created. The next moment the amicable and cooperative spirit has exploded when the doctor, after extensive research and verification, announces that the springs are contaminated, due to improper pipes and plumbing and must be replaced. If not, participants will become ill due to the toxicity of the baths.

Thomas is proud that he has uncovered this damaging fact, ever the physician caring for his patients, while Peter views the situation as an economic and political disaster.  The town relies on the spa for its livelihood.  The repairs to the pipes, if they are made will cost a fortune and take two years to complete.  How will the shop owners survive without a steady stream of visitors?

The good doctor feels he has a responsibility to the citizens by revealing the danger, while the mayor feels an equal responsibility to keep the poisons secret, after all they are merely "conjectures" or "fake news" if you will.

To whom will the town side?  How will the power of the press in the hands of Billing (Ben Anderson), Hovstad (Bobby Roman) and Aslaksen (Tyrone Mitchell Henderson) sway opinions?  Will the doctor's family, his wife (Joey Parsons), his daughter (Stephanie Machado) and sons (Atticus L. Burrello and James Jisoo Maroney) remain loyal?

Will the sea captain (Setareki Wainiqolo) be the only one to remain steadfast at the doctor's side? What role does Thomas' father-in-law (Jarlath Conroy) play in the drama?  Who is, in fact, the enemy of the people?  James Bundy has directed a dramatic verbal match of wits that gives sibling rivalry a new target.

For tickets ($12-99), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org.  Performances are Tuesday-Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Come discover for yourself, in the thrilling confrontation, if the strongest man in the whole world is the one who stands most alone. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

LOVE AND MURDER ARE SET TO MUSIC AT THE PALACE



JAMES TAYLOR ODOM AND THE CAST OF "A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER"

If you were a penniless lad, newly orphaned, with no prospects on
 the horizon, and you accidentally learned your mum was a member
 of the privileged class, what might you do?  So what if that same
 aforementioned mother lost her inheritance for marrying poorly,
 you might still have hopes of getting a piece of the royal pie now you know it exists. 
 Enter one Monty Navarro (Blake Price) who determines to claim what he feels is 
rightfully his.  To that end, he pens a polite letter of inquiry to Lord D’Ysquith 
requesting the right to work for the family and honestly gain his inheritance. 

Unfortunately the Lord wants nothing to do with Monty... ever.  That decision sets off a series of unforeseen 
consequences that result in the thoroughly delightful musical comedy with  an unusual twist on this 
theme,  "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," with book and lyrics by 
Robert L. Freedman and music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak, at the Palace Theater in 
Waterbury on Friday,  October 20 and  Saturday, October 21.

Monty is a Don Quixote in his quest for the Impossible Dream velcroed to Monty Python 
and his mission to secure the Holy Grail and you have the beginnings of his fervor as an heir apparent.   The absolute rejection of his claim, with the stern proviso never to contact the 
D'Ysquiths ever again, leads the industrious Monty to pursue a how-to book, a guide to 
love and murder for the proper gentleman. James Taylor Odom plays all the heirs, male 
and female, with aplomb.

 Monty determines that to become the next Lord D'Ysquith, his most desired position of 
wealth and good standing, there are only nine family members ahead of him.  His clever
 solution is to eliminate them, one by one, and all his dreams will become reality.  And if 
he finds love along the way, all the better. He has a lot of fun juggling a mistress 
Sibella Hallward (Colleen McLaughlin) and a cousin/fiancee Phoebe D’Ysquith
 (Erin McIntyre).

So what if each heir needs a little assistance in meeting his maker, Monty has both 
ingenuity and a sense of style. Soon he is  drowning one in a pond of ice, helps another
 to swallow a potion of poison, pushes one  from a belfry tower and encourages hungry
cannibals to  devour another.  The only question that remains is:  will Monty succeed
 in snatching the title of Lord, with all its attendant riches, or will the coppers charge
 him with multiple murders?  Come and discover for yourself.

For tickets ($57.50 and up), call the Palace, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury  at 
203-346-2000 or online at www.palacetheaterct.org.  Performances are Friday 
at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Grab on tight to Monty Navarro's coat tails for a merry mix of murder, music and 
mayhem that is sure to delight, especially as the winner of the 2014 Tony Award 
for Best Musical.  Root for Monty who has the best of mercenary intensions, 
getting wealthy and sporting a title as Lord.