Tuesday, May 19, 2020

RANDOM COVID 19 THOUGHTS



WHERE HAVE ALLTHE FLOWERS GONE? WE ARE CURRENTLY TRAPPED IN AN ARTIFICIAL WORLD WHERE LITTLE MAKES SENSE AND WE HAVE LESS CONTROL OVER EVENTS THAN USUAL. WE ARE INDEBTED TO DOCTORS, NURSES, TEACHERS AND ALL THE SERVICE PROVIDERS WHO STAND ON THE FRONTLINES TO KEEP US SAFE, FED AND CARED FOR. 

ONE ADVANTAGE TO THIS CRISIS, TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, IS THAT WE HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED A GUN SHOOTING IN MONTHS.  OUR AIR IS CLEANER DUE TO THE LACK OF MILLIONS OF CARS ON THE ROAD.  PEOPLE ARE MEETING NEIGHBORS AND HELPING OTHERS EVEN WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND WEARING PROTECTIVE GEAR.

WORKING FROM HOME OR NOT WORKING AT ALL HAS BECOME THE NORM AND MANY STATES ARE CAUTIOUSLY OPENING UP IN AN ATTEMPT TO RETURN TO SOME LEVEL OF NORMALCY. CONNECTICUT IS, THANKFULLY, THE LAST TO OPEN ITS FLOOD GATES.

SO WE SIT AND WAIT WITH GRATITUDE AND GRAYING HAIR THAT WE HAVE FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO HOLD ON TO, EVEN IF ONLY VIRTUALLY.

THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS.

Monday, March 23, 2020

A CELEBRATION OF LOVE AT SEVEN ANGELS THEATRE


 
When four true friends impulsively pledge at  their senior prom to be at each other’s weddings as bridesmaids, none of them realize the commitment they are making. The number of ugly dresses they are promising to wear, the need to convince each reluctant bride to proceed with the ceremony, the bride who will exercise her right to throw the bouquet every year or so, the ones who change their minds mid-ceremony and the ones who regret their choices three decades later are all destined to be present.
 
If you’ve ever questioned the institution of marriage or spent years dreaming of happily ever after, there is much to find humor in in this Jones Hope Wooten comedy
“Always a Bridesmaid” at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury.  Due to the current health crisis, the show will be postponed and hopefully reopen in the near future.  Watch for the announcement.
 
Meanwhile the Laurelton Oaks Country Club is hopping with matrimonial business, under the management of Sedalia Ellicot (Joyce Jeffrey) who desperately wants to quarantee perfection in the bridal department. She doesn’t have any idea that this latest bunch of beauties will try her patience to the bone.
 
These hopelessly romantic gals are all ready and able to fulfill their obligations to each other and don those less than beautiful garments and assist in every way possible their best friend down the aisle, even if they have known the prospective groom all of two weeks.
 
Monette (Stacey Harris)  is taking advantage of promises when she dons a white dress three years in a row.  Her daydreams about a special love fest play like the reruns of “Ground Hogs Day” the movie.  Her pals Charlie (Amanda Burton) appear even if they are sick, Deedra (Anette Michelle Sanders) arrives even if she has just been robbed and Libby Ruth (Valerie Stack Dodge) serves as the conciliatory peacemaker.
 
With each wedding, the predicaments roll on in comic confusion thanks to the white glove direction of Julia Kiley.  Moira O’Sullivan as Kari narrates the action with champagne glass firmly in hand. 

 
No need to bring a wedding gift as these ladies provide a humorous look at all that can go right and wrong on the marital merry-go-round.  Hop on board for a joy filled ride.
 
 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

“EVERY BRILLIANT THING” ENGENDERS THOUGHTFUL INSIGHTS TO LIFE



When a seven year old boy discovers his mom is in the hospital suffering from sadness, he tries everything in his power to make her smile and be happy.  His clever idea is to make a list, at least as long as his arm, filled with all the things that make him happy.  He prays they will make her happy too.

Because of the current health crisis, TheaterWorks Hartford will not be able to complete the run of “Every Brilliant Thing” by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe originally scheduled to run until March 22. With all that being said, the message of the play is well worth considering and it just may make your own life more meaningful.

Do you wake up each morning or go to bed each night thinking of three things for which you are grateful?  For this troubled little boy, brought to meaningful life by Chad Jennings, his idea is to make a list of all those things that make life worth living.  High on everybody’s list might be ice cream, unless you are lactose intolerant and dairy makes you sick.  Think of butterflies and cuddly babies, chocolate and new car smells, the first pop of a spring crocus, a freshly cut lawn,  hitting a home run, attending the first night of a new play, finding your soul mate, acing an exam, and the list goes on.

To help his mother recover, the little boy starts with ice cream and adds the color yellow, wearing a cape, spaghetti and meatballs, piglets, skinny dipping, bubble wrap, the alphabet, new sheets, surprises, bird song, planning a declaration of love and hundreds of thousands more.  The audience is entrusted to help him with his endeavor and play such parts as his veterinarian, his father, a caring teacher, a new love, a college professor and a support group.

Along his journey, he learns to deal with his stress and accept a child’s perception of life and death.  Underneath it all is the fear that he too would follow his mom and no longer wish to live. Eventually he learns it is important to talk about things, on his way to listing a million things to be grateful for. Eric Ort directs this poignant journey into a troubled mind as it works to find answers and hope for the future.

The message is clear:  Don’t postpone joy.  Run make that ice cream cone right now.

Monday, March 9, 2020

YOU'RE INVITED TO SIT AT THE "THE DINING ROOM” TABLE



A.R. Gurney was an astute observer of life.  He loved to poke a gentle fingeof fun at one particular group, the WASPS, the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants he knew
 well. In his sweet, sentimental, slightly serious, often silly play "The Dining Room,” he 
lavishes his particular form of flattery brilliantly well.

A formal dining room can be the simple setting for a hurried bowl of corn flakes and a fast 
read of the headlines at breakfast, a friendly ladies lunch where gossip is more important 
than the spinach and onion quiche, a gala engagement party to celebrate an upcoming and 
long awaited nuptials, all the way to a family gathering to acknowledge the multitude of 
blessings of a Thanksgiving feast.  Seldom has it been the setting for a plethora of stories 
more fulfilling and rewarding than in Square One Theatre Company’s latest offering 
weekends until Sunday, March 22.

Stratford Academy in Stratford at 719 Birdseye Street will be setting a place for you
 in the honored seat at the head of the table. There you will bear witness to a wonderful 
variety of stories that take place in that venerable room of the house. A series of scenes 
will collide and overlap seamlessly in a mosaic blend of passages of time. The 
observations of life tell volumes about the characters, from their use of finger bowls to 
their fiery defense of any slight that affects a family member.  The traditions of the dining
 room are sacred and have experienced a  succession  of changes over the decades, all 
delightfully captured by the playwright.

 A talented and incredibly versatile troupe of performers - Ryan Hendrickson, Josie Kulp, 
Bruce Murray, Priscilla Squiers, Danielle Sultini and David Victor - will tackle a 
multitude of roles, from scrappy lad to forgetful grandma, architect to real estate agent, 
lecturing father to unfaithful mother, a Thanksgiving of disappointment to a marriage that 
needs repairs.  What they all have in common is the sturdy table built in 1898 and the 
occupants who are all WASPS, Gurney's favorite culture, who portray the declining 
vitality of their lifestyle and of the table that was once the focus of their power.  Because 
of the success with "The Dining Room," Gurney left teaching at MIT to write full-time. 
 Tom Holehan serves as the master maitr’d who directs this involving collection of family
 tales that pays homage to a dying tradition and the people who kept it sacred for so long.

For tickets ($22 and seniors $20), call Square One Theatre Company at 203-375-8778 or 
online at www.SquareOneTheatre.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., 
Saturday at 4 pm. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Let A. R. Gurney be your guide into a world he knew intimately well and introduce you to a clan of people whose lives have changed dramatically over

the years, even if their beloved dining room table has endured in tact over the decades. The tapers are lit, the cocktails are chilling, the white tablecloth is starched and laid, and all that is missing is you.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

A TABLE IS WAITING FOR YOU AT “THE VAN GOGH CAFE”



If you’re planning a literary road trip, there’s no better place to pause on your journey than in Flowers, Kansas where a quaint and friendly restaurant, “The Van Gogh Café,” resides.  Along with a plate of flapjacks and a slice of apple pie and coffee, you might just find a bowl of magic.  Just ask ten year old Clara, a lively sprite captured by Shimali De Silva, who runs off to school when she isn’t helping her dad Marc, a patient and loving Mihir Kumar, serve the regular customers . 

The Yale Cabaret at 217 Park Street in New Haven spent a weekend delightfully opening the café for a visit.  A real café was built and the basement space reconfigured to make the atmosphere welcoming and inviting.  Using the small novel by Cynthia Rylant, and proposed, directed and adapted by Madeline Charne and Emily Sorensen, the doors of the Van Gogh Café opened for business and happy were the guests who passed through its artistic doors.

Once upon a time, the café was a theater and Clara is convinced that the ghosts of that establishment magically linger in the café’s corners.  Plus her mother, who now resides in New York, has left knick-knacks of hens and frogs and cuckoo clocks to inspire flights of fancy.

Is it magical when a seagull lands on the roof, when there is no body of water in the flat, dry Kansas landscape?  Why does Emerald the cat steal his owner’s boot and glove and present them as gifts to the gull now named Kip?  Could a strange species love affair be brewing?

When a lightning storm strikes and unexplainable things start happening, is this real evidence of super natural events?  Marc’s cooking equipment repairs itself and then cooks and bakes without assistance, the pies are no longer burnt and Marc becomes a poet with poems that foretell the future.

Through all thes wondrous events, as hundreds of gulls hold a coffee klatch on the roof, the town’s customers and a few strangers faithfully appear: Taiga Christie, Danilo Gambini, Lily Haje, Faizan Kareem, Rebecca Kent, Jocelyn Knazik Phelps, Devin Matlock and Nicholas Orvis.  A new play is penned, a long lost absent daughter returns, people find their soul mates and a forgotten star of the theater returns on a mission.

The Queen of Tarts Catering is available to provide such offerings as Split Pea Soup ($9), Roast Turkey ($19) and Lemon Meringue Pie ($9).  Wine, beer and soft drinks are available.

Sorry but the Van Gogh Café is closed (but may reopen later in the season).  A Satellite Festival featuring small experimental works will occur all around campus on the weekend of March 26-28.  Watch for the artistic explosions!  Call 203-432-1566 or go online to www.yalecabaret.org for reservations.

Brighten your days and nights with a visit to the mysterious and creative doings down under at 217 Park with the inspiring Cab 52 Artistic Team.


Monday, March 2, 2020

“PRIDE AND PREJUDICE” A PURE DELIGHT AT PLAYHOUSE ON PARK



THE BENNET FAMILY AND FRIENDS DO "THE HUSTLE"


Do you consider romance and love a complicated game of rules and manners?  If so, Playhouse on Park in West Hartford has a delightful and enchanting exploration of the topics perfect for your enjoyment until Sunday, March 8.  You don’t want to miss this romp into Jane Austen’s  Victorian world.  Her novel “Pride and Prejudice” has been moved to the stage and you’re invited to take your dance card to the ball. 
This adaptation by Kate Hamill captures the milieu of the author and spins it on its humorous and heartbreaking head with an affectionate lack of concern.  Come meet Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, who are blessed or cursed with four daughters and not one son to inherit the estate.  Therefore when papa dies, they may find themselves homeless, without a satiny place to rest their heads.  Unless , of course, Mrs. Bennet, a fluttery and overwhelmed Maia Guest, fails in her mission to find a wealthy mate for at least one of her darling offspring.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bennett, a preoccupied in his newspaper Sophie Sorensen, fails to join his wife in her prediction of doom. Fortunately, however, some eligible suitors have newly arrived in the neighborhood, any of whom would provide the funding to save the family “farm.”
While daughter Lizzy, a level headed Kimberly Chatterjee, declares she will never marry, the eldest and prettiest one, Jane, Nadezhda Ame,
immediately finds favor with Mr. Bingley, a wealthy and proper Jane Bradley.  Have you noticed yet that the genders are mixed up and roles are frequently reversed?
For the resolute Lizzie, she more than meets her match with Mr. Darcy, an equally stubborn but 
desirable Nicholas Ortiz. The dance floor is crowded with potential gentlemen like Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham, both captured by Matthew Krob, who also manages to create a fervor as Miss Bingley. Mary Bennet, a music playing and sermon spouting Jane Bradley, is in direct contrast to her youngest sister, a flighty and adorable Lydia, Kelly Letourneau, who also manages to become the aristocratic and autocratic Lady Catherine. 
Nineteenth century England has never been more entertaining and worthy of a welcome, thanks to an excellent cast, great contemporary choreography set to modern music by Joey Beltre, and intriguing direction by Jason O’Connell.
For tickets ($27.50-40.00), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at  860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online at www.playhouseonpark.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 2 p.m., Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.and Sunday at 2 p.m. Browse at a selection of Austen titles courtesy of  River Bend Books in the lobby. 
Witness the matchmakers pedal their wares, seeking to find suitable mates for all the available partners who may or may not wish to marry, yet find themselves at the church house doors.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

CURIOUS PLAY INTRIGUES AND EXCITES VIEWERS AT UCONN

Tyler Nowakowski is quite remarkable. As a third year BFA
 Acting candidate at the University of Connecticut, he has taken on the challenging and difficult task of inhabiting the mind and body of a teenager grabbling with autism.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" may be the most wildly different, imaginative, remarkable and disturbingly emotional play you will ever experience.  You don't just see the play, you feel it.  You are a witness and a participant in the engaging action that swirls around a 15 year old boy, Christopher John Francis Boone. The Jorgensen Theatre on the UCONN campus has been transformed until Sunday, March 8 into a mathematical cube of lights and directions to accommodate Christopher's unusual world.The projections created by Taylor Edelle Stuart add to the realism of his often complicated existence.

 Christopher is capable of amazing mind shattering revelations. You, the audience, are invited to enter into his vastly different views of reality and lets you hang on to his coattails for a bumpy and unbelievable ride.  Based on a book by Mark Haddon, it has crossed the pond from London in the form of a new play adapted in 2014 by Simon Stephens.

How disturbing is it to discover a neighbor's dog has died...not just died, but been murdered?  What if you are then suspected of committing that heinous act?  Christopher Boone determines that he must clear his own name and learn who the real culprit is.  Enter Sherlock Holme
That decision takes him on a disturbing and frightening journey.  In his autistic world, many things are too difficult for him to comprehend.  He hates anything yellow or brown and loves mathematics, especially prime numbers. Anything new is scary, being touched is an anathema, loud noises are disorienting.  With a resilence that is almost beyond his ken, Christopher sets off on an odyssey worthy of Ulysses, a young detective determined to uncover the truth. 

With resources he didn't even realize he possessed, he leaves the safety and ordered life he has always known, to go on a grand and dangerous and mysterious adventure.  Along the way, he encounters teachers, subway and train conductors, policemen and an assortment of family, friends and strangers  including his father Joe Cassidy and mother Margot White and favorite teacher Thalia Eddy as well as Elizabeth Jebran, Mauricio Miranda, Justin Jager, Matthew Antoci, Alexandra Brokowski and Nicolle Cooper who aide or hinder his mission.  Kristin Wold directs this intriguing and exciting theatrical revelation into the mind.

 For tickets ($26-35, students $10), call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at 860-486-2113 or online at crt.uconn.edu.  Performances are Wednesday at  7:30 p.m., Thursday an ASL interpretaton at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., a Sensory Friendly show, and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Follow Christopher on his journey of discovery, one that is unexpectedly shocking and totally unanticipated.