Tuesday, April 22, 2014


The essence of Elvis may have left  the building if we’re talking about Graceland or Nashville, but you can find his spirit  at Torrington's Warner Theatre weekends where the music and magic is “All Shook Up.”  A  musical comedy conceived by Joe DiPietro, inspired by and saluting the songs of Elvis Presley, will have you swiveling your hips, donning a black leather jacket or a pink poodle skirt and a pair of beautiful blue suede shoes, until Sunday, May 11.

Think “Footloose” meets “Cyrano de Bergerac,” collides with “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” with a touch of “Romeo and Juliet” and you’ll be close to what happens in a small Midwestern town in 1955 where a opinionated and prejudiced Mayor Matilda Hyde keeps a tight rein on everybody’s actions and thoughts.

Prescribing to the Mamie Eisenhower Decency Decrees, the Mayor has forbidden loud music, tight pants, dancing, public necking and any interracial dating.  Her moral compass is stuck at zero tolerance.  The calm and quiet is disturbed and disrupted when a stranger rides into town on a motorcycle and begins to question the stable and staid status quo. Chad is a rebel and a roustabout and proud of it, and he will change the town whether it’s ready or not.

Chad has such an effect on the local auto mechanic Natalie that she disguises herself as Ed to win his approval and affection.  When it comes to being cool, town folks like Natalie’s dad Jim  and her good friend Dennis  line up to take lessons.  When Chad thinks Miss Sondra  is the cat’s meow, he sends Ed to woo her, only to have Sondra fancy herself smitten by Ed instead.

Meanwhile Sylvia, who runs the local malt shop, tries to give friendly advice to Jim as well as look after her daughter Lorraine  who finds herself falling for the mayor’s son Dean, one of those big no-nos, forbidden relationships, until Sheriff Earl  stands up to the mayor and helps ensure that “all’s well that ends well.”

More than two dozen great Elvis tunes like “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” “Teddy Bear,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Burning Love,” under the musical direction of Aaron J. Bunel, keep the rafters rocking.  This fine cast, under the direction of Sharon A. Wilcox, who also does the choreography, provides hunka, hunka happy times. They all work to keep the joint jumpin'.

For tickets ($18-26), call The Warner, 68 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180  or online at boxstaff@warnertheatre.org.  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Say "I Love Mom" for a special buy one, get one offer on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 11 only.

You “Can’t Help Fallin’ in Love” with Chad and the gang as they “Follow That Dream,” declaring “It’s Now or Never.”  Bebop on over to Torrington and enjoy the finger snapping, toe tapping fun.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Ready for a romp on the beach? The Connecticut Gay Men's Chorus is anxious to sign up to be both lifeguards and surf board instructors.  They'll supply the sun, the sand and the sunblock lotion and you bring the beach balls and the tropical drinks, with or without little pink umbrellas.

Get set to party hearty as the wild and wonderful guys of the CGMC invite you to "Hanging Ten!"  On Saturday, May 3 at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday May 4 at 4 p.m., the guys, probably clad in short shorts and flip flops, will inaugurate the summer festivities at the Co-Op Arts and Humanities High School, 177 College Street in New Haven, just a few doors past the Shubert Theatre.

Hang on to your beach blankets and towels as Annette and Frankie team up with Snookie and The Situation.  Yes, go back and read that line again.  These fellows are known for their clever irreverence and this time around is no exception.,  Put on your most colorful and comfortable mu-mus and get set for fun-fun-fun in the sun-sun-sun.

Great harmony and lots of unexpected treats are in store, so put on your sunglasses, your visor and bikini and take part in the festivities. For tickets ($30), call 203-777-2923 or online at www.ctgmc.org.

Don't forget the CGMC's monthly Saturday night offering of Bingomania, definitely not the game your blue-haired granny played.  Games are held, with a different theme each month, at the Annex Club, 554 Woodward Avenue, New Haven just off I-95.  Call 1-800-644-2462 (CGMC) for news on the May 17th event.  Joan Crawford will be there to oversee the fun.  Prizes and contests make the evening major comedy.  Admission is $20, with doors opening at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. games.  April was Peep Show Bingomania, with Easter Bonnets on parade.

Prepare to hang ten, putting all ten toes off the front of a long board while surfing a wave, kicking back and having a rad day.  Jump in, the water's fine.


Beware, the Syn Family, known as the most dysfunctional family on earth, is on the road again and coming to a restaurant near you.  Consiglio's Restaurant, at 165 Wooster Street, will officially be invaded on Friday, May 2 at 7 p.m. and you are invited to the much needed therapy session as they act out all their grievances in "Revenge of the Syn Family."

Murder may well be on the menu as this wild and wacky clan revs up its emotional engines.  "Come meet all the usual suspects as

'Revenge of the Syn Family' brings us together at the announcement party to the upcoming marriage of their daughter, Harriet, one of three siblings.
Rumors abound as to who it might be... and one wrong move in this family usually means disaster," according to master sleuth Chester Hadlyme.

While they get their angst and act together, you will be enjoying a festive three course meal with lots of delicious choices, starting with appetizers like fried calamari, eggplant Napoleon or stuffed mushrooms.  For your main course, consider chicken Amalfi, boneless chicken breast sauteed with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, finished in a balsamic reduction sauce over linguine, or Sole Provencal, with olives, capers, plum tomatoes in a lemon white butter sauce over linguine, or perhaps Veal Marsala, veal sauteed with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes finished in a marsala wine sauce.  There are 9 gourmet choices in all.  For desserts, there is a trio of yummy selections, either chocolate mousse cake, Godiva Tiramisi or creamy Italian gelato.

Presiding over the tornado of troubles is the tried and true and trusty head of detectives Chester Hadlyme (an earnest Michael Sayers who is the maestro of mystery writers, having penned over 60 in a quarter of a century) who doubles as your genial master of ceremonies.  He knows something bad always happens when the Syn family gathers and you can bet your broccoli rabe that this time will be no exception.

Sayers has been invading the personal problems of the Syns since he wrote 'Seven Deadly Syns" many moons ago.  He describes them as "Ma and Pa Kettle, with money, who demand sequels. I have the best character actors who excel at improvisation.  They take on a role and become the character.  I let them go and they take over the plot and never look back.  Often on the way home from a performance, we write another mystery in the car."

To solve the mystery and play some fun games, like a couples game "So You Think You Know Someone," or a scavenger hunt or music trivia,  make a reservation ($55) with Consiglio's, a family tradition in fine Italian food for 75 years, by calling 203-865-4489 or online at www.consiglios.com.

How much fun is it to witness the silly shenanigans of a truly crazed clan and know you are not related to any of them.


                            Cast of "Somewhere"   Photo by T.Charles Erickson

Living on dreams is an impractical pastime if reality intrudes its menacing head.  Hope and promise can be giant balloons that inflate with the fantasies of what could be until facts cause them to pop.  For the Candelaria family, especially for mama, their dreams swirl around show business, the theater and performing on Broadway.

This Puerto Rican family lives and breathes dance steps and song lyrics.  Their apartment in New York City in the summer of 1959 is focused on a production of "West Side Story," a show mama desperately wants her progeny to audition for and star in.  To witness their preparations for the big debut, head to the Hartford Stage until Sunday, May 4 for "Somewhere," a new play by Matthew Lopez.

Dreams feed the soul but they don't put food on the table or pay the apartment's rent.  The first sign of trouble is a letter from the city to inform them that their home is going to be torn down to make room for a new project: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.  The family has 30 days to vacate and find new accommodations.

When everyone in the family has their heads in the clouds, someone has to be grounded.  That difficult task falls on the eldest child, Alejandro, a dedicated and determined Michael Rosen.  Their dad, a song and dance star, is on the road hoping to support his clan.  Alejandro is forced to put his own dreams of
dancing aside, to deal with the day-to-day problems of survival.  When he informs his mother Inez, a nurturing but stubborn Priscilla Lopez, that they must make plans to move, she refuses to accept the news and tears up the relocation orders.  In her mind, the matter is finished, done, finito.

Meanwhile younger siblings Cisco (Zachary Infante) and Rebecca (Jessica Ann Naimy) have swallowed mama's fantasies whole and with the help of their adopted brother Jamie (Cary Tedder), prepare for auditions for their "dream" roles.  After all, Jamie is the assistant to famous choreographer Jerome Robbins so their success is almost assured.  Giovanna Sardelli directs this touching and charming and dance filled (thanks to Greg Graham's choreography) glimpse into the lives of this hopeful family.  The set, with its criss-crossed lines of laundry, by Donyale Werle is a welcome into their world.

For tickets ($25 and up), call Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org.  Performances are  Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 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.

Root for the Candelaria clan to have all their hopes come true in this fine production with heart and soul and lots of fancy footwork.

Friday, April 18, 2014


For Elizabeth, the decision of which path to take can be almost paralyzing...so the logical solution is to take both ways.  As Liz and Beth, she can indulge all her possibilities.

Come meet Idina Menzel in her dual role in "If/Then," the intriguing new musical with music by Tom Kitt and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 226 West 46th Street in New York City.

With the premise that you never know what will happen to you, Liz and Beth both learn how to live, cautiously and impetuously.  After twelve years of marriage in Phoenix, Elizabeth has returned to New York to discover life's grand design.  Her journey is enhanced and complicated when she meets Kate (La Chanze), her next door neighbor, Lucas (Anthony Rapp), her old activist friend,  Josh (James Snyder), a soldier she happens to meet in the park and Steve (Jerry Dixon), her city planner boss in one reincarnation.

The fact that life is never a straight line causes Elizabeth's dual personas to engage in twists and turns that complicate and color her worlds.  Which job should she accept?  Which man will she love?  She confesses, "I get lost in what might be."

This beautiful and powerful play soars to glorious heights with such songs, verging on operatic, like "It's a Sign," "You Never Know," " Here I Go," "Man Up," "Surprise," "What If" and "What Would You Do?."  Michael Greif directs this compelling journey with sensitivity and skill.  Mark Wendland's set design mirrored ceiling reflects wonder and charm.

For tickets ($60-165), call Ticketmaster at 877-250-2929 or online at ticketmaster.com or If/ThenTheMusical.com.  Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Whether you believe in fate or life's grand design, you'll enjoy traveling Robert Frost's less known paths as the parallel lives cross and intersect.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Think circus. Think carnival. Think scheming fathers and reverse psychology.  Think children and conflict and a little chaos and a little comedy, with lots of song.

 When two well meaning fathers plot to bring their children together by building a wall to separate them, the results are truly fantastic.  In the longest running musical in the world appropriately titled “The Fantasticks,” this simple tale of love and scheming, of day dreaming and harsh realities, of young innocence and cruel awakenings was originally told by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt in 1960.  Since its humble beginnings Off-Broadway, it has played to audiences for over 20,000 performances there and all over the world for over fifty years.  Now Music Theatre of Connecticut will be entertaining this magical musical until Sunday, May 4 with its own original offering in their intimate black box setting.
Come meet the boy Matt (Jacob Heimer), the girl Luisa (Carissa Massaro), the fathers (Lou Ursone and Jack Doyle), El Gallo, the narrator (Tony Lawson) and the comic actors.(John Flaherty and Jim Schilling) who aid the plot by faking an abduction of Luisa so Matt can conveniently rescue her, further win her love and reconcile the supposedly feuding fathers.

 The road to true love certainly does not run smoothly, according to the road map the papas prepared, and life lessons are learned by everyone.  Memorable songs like “Try to Remember,” “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” “Plant a Radish” and “Round and Round” advance the story as Matt and Luisa discover the wonder of young love and the disillusionments that often accompany it.  Kevin Connors directs this delightful tale where a wall, cleverly played by Shanna Ossi, uses a chest of tricks and props to aid and abet the action.
 For tickets ($25-45, with $5 off for students and seniors) call the MTC, 246 P ost Road East, lower level,, Westport at  203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com.  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m.,  Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., with matinees  Sunday at 2 p.m. 
Join two parents in their age old quest to do the best for their offspring by plotting and scheming and manipulating and causing results that threaten to destroy all they’d hoped to create.

Monday, April 14, 2014


A special bond often exists between grandparents and grandchildren, a relationship that is precious and dear and may have entirely skipped the generation in between.  Ask a grandparent about their offspring and bragging rights ensue as does a stream of photographs, now on their SmartPhone rather than from their wallet.

Come and meet a grandfather, Oupa, and his delightful grandson, Boba, as they share their love for each other and hopes for the future in the world premiere play "The Shadow of the Hummingbird" by famed South African playwright Athol Fugard on Stage II of New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre until Sunday, April 27.  This is but the newest in Athol Fugard's stable of almost three dozen works.  Not only has he written it, but he also stars as Oupa, after an absence from the stage for over a decade and a half.

Eugene Lee's inviting study set welcomes us to "The Shadow of the Hummingbird," as a virtual tribute to the art work of ornithologist John James Audubon, a man obsessed with faithfully creating painted portraits of these feathered beauties.  An aging Oupa has always loved these flying creatures and, in fact, has recorded his impressions and sightings of them and of life in general in dozens of notebooks he has penned over his lifetime.

This gentle and philosophical play opens with his searching for a particular passage, to a reference to a hummingbird's elusive shadow as it flits, reflceting against his study's back wall.  This introductory scene has been written by Paula Fourie from Athol Fugard's actual unpublished notebooks.

Ou[a's precocious grandson Boba bursts into the quiet room, with imaginary sword posed to strike, as the pair playact slaying imaginary dragons and monsters.  Their special loving bond is evident in their words and actions as they meet in secret.  Oupa's son and Boba's father, one and the same man, has forbidden their relationship but they are willing to risk his ire.  Gordon Edelstein directs this poignant moment in time with the love and caring it deserves. This gentle interlude in time is 60 minutes, without an intermission.

For tickets ($40-70), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-3787-4282 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. and 7 p.m.

Come witness the energetic interactions of a master, Athol Fugard, as he gives life lessons on alternating performances to amazing twin fifth graders Aidan and Dermot McMillan from Middletown as Boba.  Learn how to catch the hummingbird's fleeting shadow.