Thursday, April 17, 2014

CELEBRATE “THE FANTASTICKS” IN WESTPORT WITH MTC

 
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

"THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD" CREATES A SENSE OF WONDER



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.

ELI WHITNEY MUSEUM SAYS "KNOTS TO YOU"




If you were searching for the true definition of a Renaissance Man, look no further than that master of many virtues, Leonardo da Vinci.  He wore more hats the Dr Seuss's Bartholomew Cubbins as he was prolific and accomplished in almost too many disciplines to mention.  An Italian born in 1452, he was known for his prowess as a mathematician, a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, engineer, anatomist, botanist, geologist, cartographer, musician and writer.  No wonder that he was the inspiration twenty years ago for the unique fundraiser held every April by Hamden's Eli Whitney Museum.

Leonardo was renown for his artistic genius and he would have been pleased and proud to be the namesake for the 20th Annual Leonardo Challenge.  100 artists from all parts of the country are invited to create a novel entry using the material of the moment. In past years, the unusual artistic medium has been items as diverse as ice cream sticks, playing cards, keys, mirrors, rulers, pencils, well, you get the idea.

This year's vehicle of choice is knots.  If you're a Boy Scout, a sailor, a rock or mountain climber, a boater, a macrame artist, an arborist, a fistherman or even a surgeon, you are probably familiar with this useful device.  A knot can be utilitarian or decorative.  Needless to say, the invited artists are busy getting their loops, bends and hitches ready, to produce a mobile, a picture, an item of clothing, a toy, a piece of jewelry or furniture, the possibilities are endless.  Who knew there are knots called monkey's fist, butterfly, anchor bend, figure eight, constrictor, or cow, clove or barrel hitch?

On Thursday, April 24, all entries will be on display at the Eli Whitney Museum, 915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.  The gala fundraiser, entitled "Knot What You Imagined," includes enticing food and drink choices from the Big Green Truck Pizza, The Wine Group fine wines, Caseus, Whole G Breads, Small Kitchen, Big Taste, Koffee & Thimble Islands Brewery.


For tickets ($60, plus special category contributions), call the Eli Whitney Museum at 203-777-1833 or online at
www.eliwhitney.org/museum/exhibitions/knot-what-you-imagine. All the proceeds will provide workshops and scholarships for students to explore new worlds.

For Sally Hill, Associate Director of the Museum, the Leonardo Challenge provides an avenue of creativity which she adores traveling.  As in past years, a lamp is on her artistic list, "As always, I'm making a lamp. I don't know when it started but light has long been an obsession and at some point I started making lamps for the Challenge. After I've 'solved' (or tried to) the Challenge with my invitation, then I start to think about my lamp. It's always
a – challenge – to come up with something fitting."

Apply your imagination and sense of whimsey and adventure to this latest challenge.  The creations will be on display until May 11, free and open to the public.  They are guaranteed to be Knot-What-You-Imagine.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

LINDA LAVIN SHARES CAREER TALK IN FAIRFIELD






You might remember her best as the wise-cracking waitress Alice on the sitcom of the same name who tries to start a new life for herself and her young son at a diner known as Mel's.  The crabby, ill-tempered Mel was the proprietor of the greasy spoon that makes Alice wonder why she is in Phoenix and not pursuing her dream of a singing career.

Linda Lavin is both an actress and a singer who has honed her skills on Broadway in such plays as "Broadway Bound," "The Sisters Rosensweig," "The Diary of Anne Frank," "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers," "Gypsy" and "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife." In films and television, she is noted for "Damn Yankees," "The Nurses," "Rhoda," "Barney Miller," "The Muppet Show," "Law and Order: Criminal Intent," "Touched by an Angel"  and "The Sopranos," to name drop a few.

To get up close and personal with this versatile lady, attend the Sacred Heart University's American Legends Series for an intimate conversation with Linda Lavin on Sunday, April 13 at 3 p.m. at the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts.  Executive director of the Edgerton Center, Jerry Goehring will conduct an "Actors Studio" type interview that will feature video clips of her stage, television and film career as well as questions and answers about her varied and illustrious show business career.  The audience will also have a chance to chat.

Ms. Lavin, who was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in New York City in January 2011, is currently in rehearsal for an upcoming Off-Broadway premiere of "Too Much Sun" by Nicky Silver at the Vineyard Theatre, 108 E. 15th Street, New York.  She will play a celebrated actress Audrey Langham whose life unravels as she prepares to play the lead in a new production of "Medea."  She flees and seeks sanctuary at the home of her married daughter whose welcome is forced and less than cordial.  Her relaxing summer by the sea is like a stormy ocean, not calm and peaceful as she expected it to be.
"Too Much Sun,"  under the direction of Mark Brokaw, will begin previews on May 1 and officially open May 24.

In addition, Ms. Lavin performs regularly with her trio in her hit nightclub concert "Possibilities" and recently released a CD with the same name.

For tickets ($25, seniors, faculty, staff, alumni $15, students $10), call the Edgerton Center, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield  at 203-371-7908 or go online to
www.edgertoncenter.org/american_legends.php.

Let Linda Lavin entertain you with tales of her fascinating career, all the way from Alice to Audrey, and beyond.

Monday, April 7, 2014

PLAY MUSICAL BALL WITH THE BEACH BOYS



Could the Beach Boys possibly be celebrating their 50th anniversary?  Has their super music making machine been cranking out hits for five decades?  Are they still wearing their trademark loud floral Hawaiian style shirts?  The answers to the trio of questions are all a resounding yes.

Get ready to go “Surfin’ USA” with the guys who made it their reason to be when the Beach Boys bring their unique California style to Sacred Heart University. Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts will celebrate these rock and roll icons for one performance only on Saturday, April 12 at 8 p.m.

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to have “Fun, Fun, Fun”  as the “Good Vibrations” invade all their rousing “Rock and Roll Music.”  Called “America’s Band,” the original group consisted of three brothers, Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and a good friend Al Jardine.  They were good old California boys who made surfing cool and California girls objects of love.  In 1988, the core group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Having sold more than 100 million records, in 2004 the group was number 12 on Rolling Stones magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

At Sacred Heart, you will hear Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks croon the tunes that made them famous.  Come sing along to “Kokomo,” “God Only Knows,” “Help Me Rhoda,” “Surfin’ USA,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Cool Cool Water,” “I Get Around,” “Barbara Ann,” “Surf’s Up” and “It’s a Beautiful Day,” to name but a few.

For tickets ($50), call the Edgerton Center, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield at 203-371-7908 or online at www.EdgertonCenter.org.

Wear your loudest sports shirt and your coolest smile and mosey over to lock lips with this great group that has been making merry music for many decades.

"ROMANCE LANGUAGE" THE WORDS OF LOVE?

 
L to R-Stephen Sherman,Jenny Ashman & Audrey Heffernan Meyer
photo credit: Paul Roth




There's an old saying that you "should be careful what you wish for."  When high powered attorney Penny Morgan, who is married to her job, advises her mother Kay to develop new interests and hobbies now that she is alone, Penny is less than pleased when her mom listens.To discover the intriguing consequences of Penny's request and Kay's compliance, head over to Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury before Sunday, April 27.

The world premiere of Joe Godfrey's "Romance Language" offers a world of opportunities to Kay Morgan. Will she devote her time, now that she has been a divorced widow for several years, to taking tap dancing lessons, volunteering for a new charity, signing up for watercolor painting classes, the possibilities are endless.

Kay, an eager to please Audrey Heffernan Myer, heeds her daughter's good advice and decides taking lessons in Italian are the perfect choice.  To that end, she hires Fiore Benedetto, a charming and handsome young tutor, captured smoothly by Stephen Sherman, to teach her how to converse in his most romantic native language.

When his instructions quickly escalate into much more than friendship, a concerned and anxious daughter, portrayed in all her protectiveness and angst by Jenny Ashman, emerges as a knight in armor to guarantee her mom is safe and not the victim of a scam.  Could the much younger Fiore really be in love with Kay, so many years his senior?  Does he see her simply as a way to earn his green card and as a ticket to a wealthy lifestyle?  Could Penny be jealous that her mother has found happiness with a man while she has been unsuccessful herself?  Will issues from the past, such as an overly devoted daughter to a father, emerge as a reason to blame her mom for what she views as abandonment when Kay sought divorce five years ago?

Sasha Brett directs this triangle of confrontation that plays out like an opera, a love both Fiore and Kay share in common.

For tickets ($31-45.50), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org.  Performances are  Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Motives are emotionally in question as suspicions swirl and fog the truth in this play where passions drive actions.

"I'D RATHER BE DANCING!" A TRIBUTE TO HAPPY FEET


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Credit Rich Wagner

The singers are Beckie LaBombard, Victoria Mooney, Hillary Ekwall and Rick Fountain









Get out your leotards and tie on some dancing shoes and get thee over to Playhouse on Park in West Hartford by Sunday, April 13 for some energetic and spirited fancy foot moves guaranteed to make for happy feet.  Heaven becomes a disco when God commands you to dance.  Consider it the eleventh commandment!

Conceived, directed and choreographed by Darlene Zoller, "I'd Rather Be Dancing!" is a delightful tribute to the likes of a Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and will make you want to take a lesson or three in this wonderful pastime  from Arthur Murray. The talented troupe is passionate about their art and they want you to join them in their dedicated pursuit of the art.  Think John Travolta and his magic moves and you are ready to trip the light fantastic with these guys and gals, from ages 20 to 50, two even pregnant, who have been practicing for this performance since last October.

God, a demanding Gail D. Schoppert, is really at the helm of heaven directing the proceedings. With his adorable and hard working assistants, angels trying to earn their wings, Hillary Ekwall and Victoria Mooney, God has to decide whether a man (Rick Fountain) deserves to enter the Pearly Gates or be sent way downstairs to visit Satan, Spencer Pond, who claims this role is the best one he's ever done.

The non-stop action is infectious as numbers like "A Wild, Wild Party" start the proceedings and segue to "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody."  A man however does bite the dust and finds himself at Heaven's door hoping to be admitted. He needs to redeem himself and prove his worth.  He doesn't fare as well as he'd hoped and then has the chance to try the other spectrum in such numbers as "Disco Inferno."  In every instance, from well known numbers like "It Don't Mean a Thing" and "Steam Heat," the choreography is top notch and the costumes vibrant and colorful.

If you think a Zumba class is high energy, you haven't seen anything yet like this high stepping powerhouse posse.  The angels work so hard that they are awarded their furry appendages in record time.  A special tap dance number is executed with supreme skill by special guest Tyler Knowlin.

For tickets ($20-32.50 ), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford  at 860-523-59000, ext.10  or online at www.playhouseonpark.org.  Performances are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tap your way up to heaven on the direct stairway with suave and sophisticated steps as the Resident Dance Company of Playhouse on Park leads the way to the Pearly Gates.