Wednesday, May 4, 2016

COME CELEBRATE NEW HAVEN WITH A BROKEN UMBRELLA THEATRE MAY 15



If you crave a slice of pizza, with or without pepperoni, if hamburgers on white bread without catsup suit your fancy, thanks to Louis’ Lunch way back at the turn of the twentieth century, if you marvel at the first published telephone book, all fifty names of it, if you ever wondered how the “Elm City” earned its name by being responsible for the inaugural public tree planting program and if you ever licked a lollipop and questioned its sticky origin, then you are primed and ready to celebrate with A Broken Umbrella Theatre as it celebrates its seventh anniversary with a tribute to its ten original offerings about its favorite city and yours: New Haven.

For one day only, Sunday, May 15, at two showings, 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.,fittingly at Erector Square (one more item New Haven takes credit for:  the Erector Set), 316 Peck Street, Building 5, Floor 2, New Haven, “Made of New Haven: A Grassroots Gala and Show" will be unveiled. This is a fundraiser to guarantee the future of the theatre company, a troupe made up of 30 dedicated ensemble members and hundreds of volunteers.

Everything A Broken Umbrella Theatre produces is unique and original and pays homage to New Haven. Ensemble member Jes Mack gets full credit for directing the show and writing  the script which includes the songs, spectacle and showmanship that will be splendidly displayed. Over the past seven years, music and lyrics have been contributed by different artists including Chrissy Gardner, Dana Astmann, Robert Shapiro, Will Aronson and Dave Baker. 
Starting with the group’s virgin offering of “A Short Story by a Tree,” the troupe will hopscotch forward in time through their insightful prior productions, like the 100 year history of the famed Shubert Theatre in ”Seen Change,” the frighteningly real tale of a home grown pirate ghost in “Thunderbolt,” the story of enterprising Ebenezer Beecher who invented an automated machine to make matchsticks in “Play with Matches,” the journey up, down and around the 125 year old New Haven Free Public Library in “The Library Project” and the story of A.C. Gilbert and his famous Erector Set in ”Gilbert the Great” to name but a few.

And A Broken Umbrella Theatre, under the good care of Artistic Director Ian  Alderman, won’t let you go away hungry.  I don’t know if lollipops, pizza or hamburgers are on the menu, but thanks to Small Kitchen, Big Taste out of North Haven, you’re sure to enjoy delicious and healthy taste treats.  Libations to drink are local beers from Black Hog Brewing Company and Thimble Island Brewery.  Sponsors include Erector Square, Creative Growth New Haven, Alderman-Dow Iron & Metal and Tyco Printing.

According to long time ensemble member Rachel Alderman,"If you've never been to A Broken Umbrella theatrical adventure, here is your chance for a 'best of' experience. It's like a musical tasting menu of everyone's favorite whimsical Broken Umbrella moments, but re-imagined and fresh...and, of course, a few surprises, too. It will be a delicious evening for audiences old and new alike!”  To Director and Playwright Jes Mack,   ‘Made of New Haven' is a muppet-like musical romp through the first seven years of Broken Umbrella creations. Joyful. Delicious. Ridiculous." 

Tickets to this two hour musical adventure are available at www.abrokenumbrella.org.  For more information, call Rachel Alderman at 203-868-0428 or email rachel@abrokenumbrella.org.

Come meet the whole dedicated gang who make A Broken Umbrella Theatre so special and celebrate their milestone of creative achievement in grand New Haven style.

Monday, May 2, 2016

PARTY HEARTY AT THE PALACE



You’ve heard about parties of the night, the week, the season and the year.  Now you’re being invited to the Party of the Decade and the Palace Theater in Waterbury is getting the noise makers and the steamers ready for the gala event.  Mark your calendars now for Friday, May 13, 2016 when the explosions of great gourmet food, fun intoxicating drinks and exciting musical experiences are awaiting your pleasurable arrival.

Set your clocks for the stroke of 5 p.m. when the party before the party begins.  The loading dock of the Palace will be alive and jumping with E2 “The Eagle Experience” as you drink craft beer and eat a variety of fun food from the trucks assembled.  The band, up to eight members strong, will rock the dock with keyboard, bass, percussion, trumpet, guitar, drums and their great tribute vocal cords.

At 6 p.m. until 7, the inviting Tuscan Lounge and Wine Bar will open for your business in the Grand Foyer, that elegant lobby illuminated in gilt and gold. Sip a cocktail, nibble hors d’oeuvlres,and listen to the lilting sounds of soprano Marissa Famiglietti with her husband bass-baritone Shae Apland, singing operatic favorites together that are guaranteed to delight.

Broadway performer Trevor McQueen will be on deck until 11 p.m. with favorites at the Poli Club Cabaret, crooning tunes called both smooth and soulful.  Got a little yen for country?  The 8 p.m. -10p.m. Kickin’ Country Bar in the mezzanine will certainly scratch that musical itch when Nashville artist A J Jansen is all set to provide down home heaven.

Feel like dancing on the Palace’s main stage?  Just start two stepping at 7 p.m. to the dance party run by DJ Jim O’Rourke, Executive Director of the Greater Waterbury YMCA,on the main stage and hold on to your sweetie all the way to 11 p.m.  Plan to end your evening , from 10 p.m to the bewitching hour of midnight, by pulling up a bar stool to listen to the tantalizing tunes from Keys to the City Dueling Pianos.  The orchestra lobby will be setting these dueling ivories to tingle mode for your entertainment excitement.

Tickets for this grand six parties-in-one are only $75 and can be secured by calling 203-346-2000 or online at www.palacetheaterct.org.  For food stations, great drinks (including two drink tickets), an assortment of wild and fun entertainers and parties galore, come celebrate the Palace 10.1, the next installment after last year’s sold-out tenth anniversary 10.0.  Get your dancing shoes ready for this year’s 10.1!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

FUSCO LECTURE AT SCSU WELCOMES ROBIN ROBERTS



                                                    ROBIN ROBERTS


The picture of charm, charisma and courage, Robin Roberts is visible proof of the power of standing tall and fighting off enemies that attack, in her case two virulent bouts of disease. As a beloved co-anchor on ABC’s Good Morning America television show for over a decade, she has cultivated respect and integrity in all her actions.  She began her career as a sportscaster, because of her history on the basketball and tennis courts, broadcasting for ESPN for fifteen years with the famous catchphrase “Go on with your bad self.”

Thanks to the Annual Louis and Mary Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series, number eighteen, you are invited to get up close and personal with Robin Roberts at SCSU on Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m. at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts, Crescent Street, in New Haven.

When her hometown of Pass Christian, Mississippi was especially devastated by Hurricane Katrina, she anchored a series of reports that focused on the region and her personal connections.  With her new co-anchor George Stephanopoulos, she brought the show to the apex of the rating game in 2012 after NBC’s Today Show had taken top honors for the past sixteen years.

Her personal battles with breast cancer in 2007 and again five years later with myelodyplastic syndrome, resulting in her need for a bone marrow transplant, focused national attention on these medical issues.  Her public revelation on her MDS battle led to an incredible increase of 1800% in bone marrow donors in that one day.  Roberts has since shared with her adoring fans her personal relationship with her companion Amber Laign.

When Robin Roberts takes the stage at Lyman Center, she will share the lessons she has learned along life’s path, her conversations with such luminaries as President Barack Obama and Pope Francis at the Vatican, her co-hosting the red carpet Oscar pre-shows, her co-anchoring Good Morning America, her two decades as a broadcaster and her newly formed production company Rock’n Robin in 2014.

In 2013, Reader’s Digest honored her with the vote as the “Most Trusted Person on Television” and she has been awarded numerous distinctions for her devoted work on her personal medical issues and anchoring prowess.  For tickets ($35 premium, $30 regular, $10 SCSU students and $125 for reception, personal meet and greet, autographed book), call SCSU at 203-392-6154 or online at www.SouthernCT.edu.

For lessons in strength and gratitude, from that Steel Magnolia woman from the South, come hear Robin Roberts share what she has learned from life’s often difficult trials and exciting triumphs. Her mother advised her to “make your mess your message” while her philosophy is be inspired and enjoy the journey.

PLAYHOUSE ON PARK’S “WIT:” POIGNANT, PROBING, POWERFUL


VIVIAN BEARING (ELIZABETH LANDE) AND E. M. ASHFORD (WALTRUDIS BUCK)
PHOTO BY RICH WAGNER

Playwright Margaret Edson used her work experience at a research hospital in an AIDS and cancer treatment wing as inspiration for her probingly powerful play “WIT” now exploring the questions of life and death at West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park until Sunday, May 8.  She sent this, her first script, to sixty theaters across the country before it was accepted in 1995 for production in California.  It wasn’t until 1997, however, when New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre offered it, with Kathleen Chalfant as Vivian, that it garnered strong positive reviews, winning three CT Critics Awards, including best play.  In 1999 “WIT” received the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Vivian Bearing, a professor of 17th century poetry at a prestigious university, is faced with her greatest challenge: a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.  With a stage IV rating discovered by her oncologist Dr.Harvey Kelekian, she agrees to an aggressive treatment of an experimental chemotherapy regimen, consisting of a full dosage for eight rounds.

At fifty years of age, she has dedicated her life to her profession and her students, relishing the love of language.  She particularly enjoys the poetry of John Donne, frequently reciting his Holy Sonnet “Death Be Not Proud.”  Now death is not an abstract concept[ but quite real in all its implications. Throughout the vigorous and grueling treatment course, she reflects on her choices in life, a dedicated path to intellectualism and knowledge as opposed to personal attachments to family and friends or marriage. Elizabeth Lande is strikingly vivid and moving as this lady of words who now finds herself alone in her battle for life.

With death staring straight at her, she reevaluates the alternatives she might have enjoyed as she remembers the people who were important in the past:  her father (David Gautschy) who shared her love of books and learning and Professor E. M. Ashford (Waltrudis Buck) a former teacher she admired as well as the new participants in her medical world:  Dr. Jason Posner (Tim Hackney) her current physician whom she knew from the past when he was a student in her class on John Donne, Dr. Harvey Kelekian (David Gautschy) the chief of medical oncology and Susie Monahan (Chuja Seo) the nurse who offers kindness and comfort.

As a metaphysical poet, Donne wrote about life, death, God and an afterlife, using “wit” or wordplay to portray his reality of the world.  He attempted to demystify death, to make it less ominous, to weaken death’s impact and threaten death itself with a bad end when eternity comes. Director Stevie Zimmerman does not minimize the stakes at risk in this emotional battle, a pilgrimage from this world to the next.

For tickets ($22.50-35), 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 and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Come Saturday, May 21 at 7 p.m. or 10 p.m. for Comedy Night ($15), the last show of the season.  

Prepare to be incredibly moved by this starkly frank portrayal of one woman’s attempt to survive and her attempts to reconcile that after years of dedicated research, now she herself is being researched.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

MAKE YOUR WAY TO A MUSICAL MERMAID HIGH IN MILFORD



       JUSTIN RUGG AND MARY MANNIX IN "FAST TIMES AT MERMAID HIGH"


Imagine if Cinderella were a mermaid, how would she ever get to wear her famous glass slippers?  Now conjure up that courageous girl of the seas, a real mermaid named Ariel.  Put the bravery of one with the pluck of the other and you might create Mariel, the mermaid who wants to be human and have legs, ankles, toes and feet so she can wear glass slippers or Jimmy Choo’s and get pedicures and all those girlie things.

Pantochino Productions has done all that imagining for you in their latest highly original and entertaining offering “Fast Times at Mermaid High” playing in oceans of enchantment at the Milford Center for the Arts weekends until Sunday, May 1.  With book and lyrics by Bert Bernardi, music by Justin Rugg and colorful costuming by Jimmy Johansmeyer, the musical is perfect for a family outing.

Mary Mannix is the adorable mermaid Mariel who wants to leave her home under the sea and finally earn her land legs.  When a sea witch offers her the chance to go to high school and experience being human, lower appendages and all, she runs to grab the chance.  Just like Cinderella has a midnight deadline, Mariel has only seven days to fall in love and be loved in return, otherwise she will become sea foam.

Mermaid High is filled with a bevy of students, not all of them happy to welcome the new kid on the block.  The trio of Jennifers (Shelley Marsh Poggio,
Hannah Duffy and Meg Cardi) are all cheerleaders, but they have no cheer to spare for the newcomer.  Principal Fin (Maria Berte) tries to smooth her way and her friend from under the sea Star(fish), a sweet Jaden Bonfietti-Csvihinka, helps Mariel adjust, while attracting the attentions of Fish Box,  a frying hot Jimmy Johansmeyer.  It’s surfer dude Spicooli, a cool Justin Rugg, who gives her a good shot at sailing his surf board to romance while a vision in purple, Professor Scungilli, a devious George Spelvin, who spells the most trouble for our young wannabe land lubber for disturbing motives of her own.

Others in the cast include Andrea Pane, Cassie Grace, Jaxon Beirne, Hannah Kupson and Justin Cavone.  Songs like “Welcome to the 80’s,” “What You See is What You Get,” “Who Needs a Report Card?” and “The Mermaid Dance” make this a lively look at love on land and sea.

For tickets ($18 online, at door $20), go online to www.pantochino.com.  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon is cabaret style, perfect for birthday parties and enjoying snacks.  On May 3-4, a 36 hour online-giving event will be held. Help Pantochino win thousands of dollars.  Go to thegreatgive.org and pledge your help.  Also this is the time to check our their theater camps.

Get your groovy mode on because it’s the 1980’s and you’re invited to jump and jive with joy.

TAKE A DELIGHTFUL WALTZ WITH “MATILDA THE MUSICAL”





Imagine how Harry Potter must have felt being brought up by family members who were muggles and not understanding or compatible with his magical tendencies. Now think of a clever little girl, known for her creative and brilliant ways, who is being raised by less than intelligent caregivers.  Her dad is a car salesman with all the attendant challenges in the honesty department while her mother is an amateur ballroom dancer who wants to be valued for her looks rather than her mind.

Come meet Matilda, the enterprising star of “Matilda the Musical,” created from a story by Roald Dahl and being brought to precocious life by Tim Minchin, music and lyrics, book by Dennis Kelly, and additional lyrics by Chris Nightingale, at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts until Sunday, May 1.

At the age of five, Matilda has her hands full at home dealing with her parents, Harry and Zinnia Wormwood, who are less than encouraging.  They feel that their daughter is “batty” and do little to feed her intellect.   At school, at Crunchem Hall, Matilda continues to fight the establishment as Agatha Trunchbull is the headmistress from H-E- Double Hockey Sticks and gives tyrants and bullies a bad name.

Fortunately, Matilda finds allies who appreciate her in her meek but supportive kindergarten teacher, Miss Honey, and Mrs. Phelps, the helpful librarian, who provides reading challenges and loves Matilda’s incredible stories.  Here is a little girl who cut her imagination  on Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling and is enamored by Will Shakespeare.

To help herself get along, she is not adverse to using a little trickery to get the results she desires, like waking up her parents to their neglect of her needs.  Her greatest triumph, however, is her defeat of the headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who dismisses her students as “shriveled losers.”  Come see how Matilda puts her properly in her place, because even the nicest child sometimes has to be “a little bit naughty.”  Songs like “When I Grow Up,” “Naughty” and “Revolting Children” underscore Matilda’s path to happiness.

For tickets ($27.50-119.00), 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.

Take a seat at your school desk with your plaid book bag, make some paper airplanes and spitballs and prepare to learn some important lessons about life.

LET'S HAM AROUND IN “SPAMALOT”





                      THE KNIGHTS OF CAMELOT  
                      PHOTO BY GERRY GOODSTEIN


For serious drama about King Arthur and his legendary Knights of the Round Table, historically accurate and brimming with authenticity, then you’re looking under the wrong toadstool in the forest. “SPAMALOT” is definitely not the show for you.

If, however, you’re a fan of Monty Python and you enjoy spoof and farce and laughter, then get in line at UCONN’s Jorgensen Theatre on the campus in Storrs for some super silly stuff about killer rabbits, flying cows, the feet of God, showgirls and a quest for the Holy Grail.

Monty Python is not a person but a troupe of six comedians - John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliamo and Eric Idle - who in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s had a popular TV show in Britain and did comic sketches. "Monty Python’s SPAMALOT” was made into a best selling musical from the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” with a book by Eric Idle, score by Eric Idle and John Du Prez and direction by UCONN alum and actor Richard Ruiz .

Characters of note in the play include King Arthur, the Lady of the Lake, Sir Dennis(Chester Martin), Sir Lancelot (Bryce Wood), Patsy (Gavin McNicoll), Sir Robin (Nick Nudler), Prince Herbert (Ryan Rudewicz) and Sir Bedevere (Kent Coleman). At the regal head of the cast are Richard Kline as King Arthur and Mariand Torres as the Lady of the Lake.   Legendary tunes include “Not Dead Yet,” “Knights of the Round Table,” “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” “Brave Sir Robin,” “The Song That Goes Like This” and “Find Your Grail.” Overacting becomes an art form in this 2005 Tony Award winning show for Best Musical.

If you are aspiring to be one of King Arthur’s courageous knights, then don’t pay any attention to what you see on stage. Chivalry may well be dead because it is overwhelmed with laughter.

The great adventure leads the merry lot to the taunting of the French at a castle and a giant wooden rabbit, to the dangers of the forest and the need for new shrubbery, to the unusual chambers of Prince Herbert and an encounter with a killer rabbit who guards the secret of the Holy Grail’s location. Through it all, the infectious merriment will enchant you.

For tickets ($7-36), call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at 860-486-2113  or online at www. crt.uconn.edu.org. Performances are  Wednesday and 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.

Gallop along with King Arthur and his merry band of followers, to the rhythmic tune of clomping coconut shells, as they memorably, mischievously and musically set off on their classic quest for fun, fortune and fame.