Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Women can form a sisterhood across the span of ages, geography, racial backgrounds, cultures and religions. There is a universality to their desires and dreams, basic principles they share that make them kindred souls. Nowhere is that more evident than in the powerful documentary drama, a staged reading, of "Seven," penned by seven American women playwrights as witnesses to the stories of seven courageous women from around the world.
With the encouragement of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, an organization devoted to raising the visibility of extraordinary females around the globe by enhancing their leadership potential, the writing skills of Paula Cizmar, Catharine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith and Susan Yankowitz were enlisted.Interviews began in 2006 and the tapestry of tales of "SEVEN" is the literary result.
On Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m., the Stray Kats Theatre Company, under the leadership of Artistic Director Kate Katcher, gave a powerful voice to seven incredible women in the Alexandria Room of Edmond Town hall in Newtown, Connecticut and their voices will ring resoundingly in the ears and hearts of all those fortunate enough to bear witness. The only disappointment was that it was only one performance.
Those present learned about Marina Pisklakova-Parker who created the first women's hotline for victims of domestic violence, Center ANNA in Russia; Mu Sochua who conducted door-to-door visits to hundreds of villages in her native Cambodia to win one of two seats granted to females in her country's cabinet; Mukhtar Mai who was gang-raped in Pakistan because her brother committed the crime of holding hands with a woman of a higher caste and turned her tragedy into triumph; Inez McCormack who worked in northern Ireland to secure human rights and social justice for women and minorities; Annabella DeLeon who pulled herself and her family out of poverty in Guatemala to become a congresswoman striving for women and the poor; Farida Azizi who stood up against the Taliban in her native Afghanistan working for peace and has had to seek asylum in the United States because of death threats; Hafsat Abiola who, after her parents were murdered, continued their activist work to build bridges of skills and democracy in her native Nigeria as well as between African and Chinese women.
Marina Pisklakova-Parker's story was brought to life by Jenny Polozov, originally from the Ukraine, she has worked in fashion design, music, finance and philanthropy. Mu Sochua's tale was told by Dionelyn L. DeBorja, a wife, mother, and daughter who has studied zoology and received a law degree. The difficult story of Mukhtar Mai was captured by Bindu Subramanian, who is a writer, traveler and marketing expert.
Giving voice to Inez McCormack was Caroline Winterson, an Irish actress who has emigrated from the Emerald Isle and performed in theater and films. For Annabella DeLeon, Artistic Director Kate Katcher gave her words meaning and momentum, thanks to her extensive theatrical expertise. To tell Farida Azizi's life, Sarah Baroody, an opthalmologist from Danbury who resides in Newtown, was selected. To relate the memorable moments of Hafsat Abiola,
Lisa Scails used her experience as a civil rights leader and advocate for youth and the disenfranchised.
Each of these incredibly moving stories was indelibly recorded. Their acts of courage and determination to prove their personal worth are a testimony to the differences they made, one woman at a time, standing up to challenge the injustices of the world.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The goal of Brett Bernardini and his Spirit of Broadway Theater is to be bold and innovative, to welcome and encourage new musical theater, and he's been doing just that for nineteen seasons. He is proud to say "no one else does what we do, taking risks and not doing the tried and true shows like most other venues do." To that end, the Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich is currently launching another novel work, "Philco Blues, by Jan Warner and Kathe Green, until Sunday, June 9.
For Lara Jean McCallister, a housewife in Wahoo, Nebraska, real life is a disappointment. Her relationship with her husband Roy is unsatisfying and leaves her yearning for more, a way to fill her loneliness and emptiness. Jessica Kelly's Lara knows there's something missing in her life and she is willing to risk grabbing it. Her solution is hidden inside her Philco television set, in the persona of a character on her favorite soap opera "Pine Ledge." In Wade Jarrett (Nicholas Kochanov), Lara finds hope and promise and a fantasy to love.
In the reality that Lara tries to avoid, there is her deceased mother (Shawn Rucker) who delights in coming back to probe Lara's poor choices and remind her of her own pathetic existence. Being haunted by a woman who is insane can breed delusions in her offspring. Matthew Smolko's Roy freely admits he doesn't understand his wife, why she'd rather spend hours writing poetry and letters to a stranger than do the laundry and how her obsession with her television world would allow her to miss her best friend Ginger's husband's funeral in favor of a soap opera episode.
Ginger (Jean Rykowski), with problems of her own, still supports Lara and tries to offer her good counseling. Her poignant ballad "I Won't Let You Cry Tonight" reveals her deep feelings for her husband Chris who was wounded in the war and has suffered so. She identifies with Roy's confusion over Lara's obsession. As a beer drinking, weekend NASCAR racing mechanic, Roy is struggling to rediscover the woman he thought he married.
To Lara, Wade, who is Kipp off the screen, becomes the epitome of her dreams and she runs off to New York City in a brave but ill-conceived attempt to find her identity and love. "Philco Blues" started life more than thirty years ago, but is coming into its own on the stage now, largely due to the efforts of Artistic Director Brett A. Bernardini. He brought in local playwright Kato McNickle to jump start the process and many revisions and rewrites later it is now ready for viewing.
For tickets ($32), call the Spirit of Broadway Theater, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at www.spiritofbroadway.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Let Lara introduce you to her soap opera world where this "lonestar cowgirl" finally discovers a reality where "you taught me how to be."
Monday, May 20, 2013
With big hair and even bigger dreams, the music world of the 1960's and 1970's was filled with girl groups who wanted to make it to the top. With glitz and glamour, they put their personal lives on hold as they tried to catch the gold ring and the fame and fortune and success it would bring.
With Tom Eyen penning book and lyrics and Henry Krieger composing great music, the sensational Broadway hit "Dreamgirls" will pulsate its way into the Palace Theater in Waterbury for three performances only, Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1.
Follow the ambitions and hopes of a trio of young black women from Chicago, The Dreamettes, who put everything on the line to compete at New York's Apollo Theater in Harlem in a huge talent competition. Although they don't win, Effie Melody White, Deena Janes and Lorrell Robinson do gain a new manager, Curtis Taylor, Jr. in the process.
Promoting his new girls, Taylor soon has them singing backup for James "Thunder" Early, until they gain the confidence to strike out on their own. The back stage personality conflicts of the trio and the opinionated differences of the people waiting and wanting to manage them, threaten to derail them. Glorious music like "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," "Defying Gravity," "I Am Changing," "Steppin' to the Bad Side" and "One Night Only" keep the joint jumping.
Loosely based on the rise to fame of the Motown girl group Diana Ross and The Supremes, "Dreamgirls" packs a musical wallop that will have you happily flying high. The backstage intrigue as race, sex, beauty and power are traded for success and fame will keep you on your toes.
For tickets ($49-69), 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. SPECIAL $26 tickets for the upper mezzanine are available now rather than one hour before curtain. At 6 p.m. before the Friday performance, on May 31, a three course dinner at the Poli Club on the mezzanine level will be prepared by River House Catering. Tickets are $62.50 and include tax, fees and coffee and tea, with a cash bar available. Call the box office for reservations.
Follow The Dreamettes as they become The Dreams and experience all the proud and problematic moments that mark their journey to the top.
A lot can happen to a neighborhood and the houses in it over five decades. Through the passage of time, changes can improve or decimate a community, making it unrecognizable to its former inhabitants.
Such is the case with the Chicago neighborhood at the center of Bruce Norris' Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play "Clybourne Park" now gracing the stage of New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre until Sunday, June 2. The set design of the home by Frank Alberino beautifully illustrates those drastic changes.
In 1959, Clybourne Park is a desirable white enclave that is visibly frightened by the prospect of a black family moving in to its sacred territory. While Bev (Alice Ripley) and Russ (Daniel Jenkins) are eagerly awaiting their move to a new home, their neighbors are alarmed. Do they know who is purchasing #406? Bev and Russ are moving to escape their home's bad memories, for it is here their son Kenneth (Jimmy Davis), a Korean War veteran, committed suicide.
Now close to moving day, and Russ' new job, their home has a revolving door policy. Jim (Jimmy Davis) drops in to offer some spiritual advice, Karl (Alex Moggridge) and his deaf, very pregnant wife Betsey (Lucy Owen) arrive to question the suitability of the prospective new owners and the effect on the neighborhood, while Albert (Leroy McClan) stops by to pick up his wife Francine (Malle Powers) who has worked for years for the family. Albert and Francine are quickly called upon to offer their perspective as the only African-Americans present.
The turmoil and questions of 1959 are turned on their head fifty years later in 2009 when a white family dares to foray into what has become a clearly black neighborhood. Lindsey (Lucy Owen) and Steve (Alex Moggridge) have grand architectural plans for #406 and they are meeting at their perspective new home to address a housing permit with friends and associates. With sharp witticisms and biting commentary, the thin veneer of civility is stripped from the racial questions not far from the surface. When Lena (Malle Powers) introduces the subject of a suicide here fifty years before and a construction worker (Daniel Jenkins) uncovers a footlocker buried in the backyard, all the suspicions and mistrust quickly surface. Eric Ting directs this talented cast in this thought provoking exploration of racial prejudices with a truly skilled perspective.
For tickets ($40-70), 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 and Friday at 8 p.m., saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
In a partnership with the New Haven Free Public Library's Page. Stage. Engage. program, free talks on the play will be offered: on Tuesday, May 28 at 6 p.m. at Wilson Library, 303 Washington Avenue with local historian Colin Caplan and Eric Ting and on Saturday, June 1 at 1 p.m. at the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Avenue, with local historians Tom Ficklin and Colin Caplan and Eric Ting. A scene from "Clybourne Park" will proceed the discussion.
Pick up the story where "A Raisin in the Sun" leaves off, as the Younger family prepares to move to their first real home, and bear witness to the cultural clashes that can ensue over a prized piece of real estate.
Children commonly like to play dress-up and pretend games, making believe they are fairy princesses, cowboys, firemen or clowns. Halloween presents a grand time to indulge in fantasy every October, as an excuse to go trick-or-tricking. What happens if a child cannot reconcile the world of make believe with one of reality, so that they blur and overlap.
Such a child might grow up to become Frank Abagnale, Jr., who works hard to escape his personal family life by assuming new identities and personas, ones that he has no training for but, nonetheless, succeeds at portraying. The story of Frank's intriguing true escapades have been captured by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman, from a book by Terrence McNally. The Broadway musical "Catch Me If You Can" will fly into the Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, May 28 to Sunday, June 2.
This Broadway musical is currently enjoying a national road tour, featuring Stephen Anthony as Frank. His adventures in crime, as an incredibly successful con man, probably began as an attempt to escape an unhappy home life. He runs away from his family as a teenager and with a million dollars worth of charm, imagination and forged checks, he dons the costumes of college professor, airline pilot, pediatrician and attorney.
With a string of aliases and a ton of chutzpah, Frank brings the art of false identity to a new height. Nicknamed "The Skywayman," he had police in all fifty states and in twenty-six countries on his trail before he turned 21. The most persistent of all is F.B.I. agent Carl Hanratty, played by Merritt David Janes, who pledges to catch Frank and put him where he belongs: in prison.
For tickets ($20-65), to this high-flying musical, call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are Tuesday - 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.
With a rugged determination like policeman Javert exhibited in tracking down Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables," Carl Hanratty makes Frank Abagnale, Jr. the target of his dedicated pursuit.
With one foot in New York and the other in Connecticut, playwright A.R. Gurney, affectionately known as Pete, is a prolific writer of plays, dozens in fact, that center on a group of privileged people he knows well: White Anglo-Saxon Protestants or WASPS. The morals and manners of WASPS has occupied him for decades, and he usually explores their behavior, peculiarities and customs, with a background of liquid libations or cocktails readily to hand.
Square One Theatre in Stratford is cordially and formally inviting you to weekend performances, until Saturday June 1, of one of Gurney's latest offerings, the quietly comic and charming "Black Tie."
Curtis and Mim are preparing to host the rehearsal dinner tonight and the wedding tomorrow of their son Teddy. The site is not exactly their choice, but the prospective bride and groom's, a remote and slightly shabby hotel in the Adirondack Mountains, where they first met. How to maintain the appropriate level of decorum that Curtis feels the occasion warrants is quickly in question.
Curtis, a dapper and conservative David Victor, is a victim of his father's upbringing. He knows "proper" when it knocks on his door. He has chosen to honor his father's memory by wearing the older gentleman's prized evening attire, a tuxedo that has seen many a formal gathering.
Mim, a supportive wife in the soothing hands of Janet Rathert, will dress accordingly, even though she questions how casual all the other guests may be. Will it set the wrong tone to look too stylish?
While Curtis is busy "dressing to the nines," with everything from pearl studs to suspenders to cummerbund, the ghost of his father, a debonair and arbiter of propriety John Bachelder, appears to Curtis to check on the proceedings. He deems the hotel tacky but does approve of Curtis' attire, a "dinner jacket," rather than a tuxedo, if you please.
As grandfather of the groom, he feels he needs to assure that Curtis' toast at the dinner is up to snuff and freely offers his advice, point by point. When he learns that Teddy is swimming in the hotel pool, without clothes and with both sexes, and that his bride, Maya, is not only not of their class and status, not a WASP, but culturally diverse, part African-American, Vietnamese and Peruvian, he manages to keep his cool.
Periodically their daughter Elsie, a pert and practical Alisson Wood, arrives to deliver up-to-the-minute details on the current crisis and finally Teddy , an assertive but confused Jim Buffone, bursts in to drop his own bombshell.
The delightful interplay between the generations makes for an enjoyable ninety minutes of conversation and confrontation. Artistic director Tom Holehan is a master at keeping the pace smooth, despite all the ripples of contention that threaten Curtis ever giving his congratulatory toast.
For tickets ($20, seniors $19), call Square One Theatre, 2422 Main Street, Stratford at 203-375-8778 or online at www.squareonetheatre.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.,with a special twilight matinee at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 1.
On Saturday, June 8 at 4 p.m., Square One Theatre will present a true silent movie from 1927, "Wings," starring Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Gary Cooper at the theatre as a fundraiser for the William A. Barry Scholarship Fund. A live piano will accompany the action. Tickets are $20, or $15 for Square One subscribers. Make checks payable to Friends of Square One and mail to Hinda Wolf, 397A Ottawa Lane, Stratford, CT 06614 or call 203-385-3855.
Will Curtis be mistaken for a waiter if he wears his"dinner jacket" as Elise cautions him or will Teddy and Maya even reach the altar? Let A. R.Gurney play flower girl and surprise you with the bouquet.
Friday, May 17, 2013
If being born under a black cloud or a tall ladder are indications of bad luck, what is the significance of being brought into this world in a year of thirteen moons? For Erwin, a product of an upbringing in an orphanage, the consequences are tragic.
To enter Erwin's bizarre world of troubles and despairs, cautiously proceed to the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven to become immerced in the world premiere adaptation of "In a Year with 13 Moons," based on a German movie and screenplay by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, adapted for the stage by Bill Camp, who stars in it, and Robert Woodruff, who directs it. It will run until Saturday, May 18.
When the object of his affection casually comments to Erwin, "too bad you're not a girl," it sets him on an odyssey with profound consequences. A trip to Casablanca results in Erwin becoming Elvira in a blind effort to love and be loved.
Bill Camp's confusing journey as Erwin/Elvira includes killing animals in a slaughterhouse, being brutally attacked for his/her sexuality, almost choking to death, fathering a child, watching a stranger commit suicide and confronting the man, one Anton Saitz (Christopher Innvar) who started him on his futile quest and much, much more.
The play spirals out of control as Elvira experiences the last five days of her life, revisiting that major guideposts that led her to her current state of loneliness, despair and agony.
For tickets ($20-96), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org.
This densely layered drama that gives new meaning to avant-garde theatre is suited for the brave of heart willing to challenge the unknown.