Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Do you like to be on the cutting edge of new ideas?  Does having bragging rights around the water cooler excite you?  Do you have the need to namedrop?  If these traits sound like your mantra, then the Seventh Annual Goodspeed  Festival of New Artists is your 2012 cup of tea, eggnog, mulled cider and hot chocolate all rolled into one fragrant punch bowl.

From Friday, January 13 to Sunday, January 15, Goodspeed Musicals’ Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre will showcase a festival of brand new musical works in a series of staged readings, workshops, tours, play previews, a dinner and cabarets.  For the incredible price of only $79, you can have an exciting front row seat to the newest offerings in musical theater presented at East Haddam’s historic location on the Connecticut River.

The festival opens at 7:30 p.m., Friday, with “Harmony, Kansas,” with music by Anna K. Jacobs and book and lyrics by Bill Nelson.  When a young farmer, Heath, joins a newly formed gay men’s chorus, he discovers performing in public threatens to turn his world topsy turvy. At 10 p.m., a cabaret of new songs by new artists will take place next door at the Gelston House.

On Saturday, participants will meet from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Gelston House for a choice of workshops:  Peter Filichia, theater critic and author of “Broadway Musicals MVPs” will review his selections of most valuable players of the past five decades on Broadway and sign his book; “There Is Life After the Festival!” will feature the “Harmony, Kansas” creative team discussing the past, present and future of their new work; “Noel Coward: the Man and His Music,” a discussion of his life and music by Nancy Anderson, a Goodspeed favorite and Noel Coward Cabaret Award Winner; and “Spotlight on: Tony Walton,”  a discussion with the man whose costumes and scenic designs have won awards for fifty years.

From 2:30 -3:30 p.m., participants will be treated to a preview of a new musical to be featured at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester which workshops innovative works.  At 4 p.m., a Noel Coward Symposium will be featured at the Goodspeed Opera House on the “Book of Mormon, Need We Say More?,”  a panel discussion led by Casey Nicholaw, the co-director of this Tony Award-winning hit.  This event is free and open to the public.

A festive three-course dinner will follow at 5:30 p.m. at the Gelston House.  At 7:30 p.m., “Not Wanted on the Voyage,”
with music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill, based on a novel by Timothy Findley, will take place at the Goodspeed Opera House.  Imagine being the one and only family, complete with talking cat, selected to survive the Great Flood, when the world ends for the first time.  Magic, mythology and hope fill this extraordinary tale.  A cabaret follows at 10 p.m. at the Gelston House.

On Sunday, at 11 a.m., a tour of Goodspeed’s 250,000 piece costume collection will be held, followed at 1 p.m. with the final musical, “The Dogs of Pripyat,” with music by Aron Accurso, lyrics by Jill Abramovitz and book by Leah Napolin and Jill Abramovitz, based on a play by Leah Napolin, will be presented at Goodspeed.  Based on a true story, it is the tale of the animals left behind when Chernobyl is evacuated in 1986, USSR and what happens to them as they adapt and survive.

At the Gelston House at 3:30 p.m., a Meet the Writers Reception will allow the composers to share their insights and writing process, with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.  Go to www.goodspeed.org for lodging and dining accommodations.  The entire Festival Package can be purchased for $79 or single events ($15, students $10) can be selected.  Call 860-873-8668 for reservations today so you won’t be disappointed.

Mark your brand new 2012 calendar or IPad, IPod, IPhone or Blackberry for this exciting entertainment event.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Grab a giant bag of Bugles and a six-pack of Hostess Pink Snoballs and bop over to Berlin’s Connecticut Cabaret Theatre for a musical trip back to the 1960’s. Four girlfriends are busy trying to solve the age- old questions about love, marriage and men, whether all the hoopla and fuss are worthwhile.

Roger Bean’s musical comedy “Why Do fools Fall in Love?,” playing weekends until Saturday, January 28, raises lots of questions as it queries the intentions and involvements, successful and not so much, surrounding a quartet of twenty-somethings who readily admit to being confused, anxious and overwhelmed about the dating game.  They may not all be eager to play it, but if they do play, they want to win.

Come meet Millie, Sally, Florence and Dee Dee who are delightfully created by Lauren Adams, Kristin Ceneviva, Anne Collin and Emily LaRose.  The gals have gathered to celebrate Millie’s fast approaching nuptials, only days away.  In the course of toasting the bride-to-be with tequila shots, the scandalous news slips out that her fiancé James has been unfaithful and is among the missing.  While Millie is sure she can work everything out, once she finds him, the group quickly consult their Magic 8 Ball, remember this is the 1960’s, and belt out a bevy of jukebox hits of the era:  “It Hurts to Be in Love,” “He’s a Rebel,” “Baby, I’m Yours,” “Untrue, Unfaithful,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “Hey There Lonely Boy” and “Goin’ Out of My Head (Over You) and many others.

Dee Dee consumes Snowballs and gets a sugar high while rhapsodizing about her Johnny, Flo tries to analyze her relationship to Bobby and Sally lists her entourage of bad boys. They all form a sisterhood of strength and support for Millie.  Kris McMurray directs “this look back fun show” with spirit and verve, on a psychedelic set designed by Matthew Collin Marrero.

For tickets ($30), call CT Cabaret Theatre 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com.
Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.  Remember to bring snacks to nibble or buy dessert and drinks on site.

Auditions for CT Cabaret’s 15th Anniversary Season will be held Monday, January 9 starting at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, January 10, starting at 7 p.m.  Call Kris or Matthew at 860-829-1248 to schedule a 15-minute audition.  Headshots and resumes can also be mailed to mcm_ctcabaret@me.com.

Put your pink paper umbrellas in your alcoholic drink of choice and discover once again why falling in love is definitely worth all the fuss and bother.

Monday, December 19, 2011


George Bailey is the reluctant iconic hero of one of the season’s most beloved stories.  Whether you have known George Bailey for decades or you are a brand new acquaintance, New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is filled with care and affection, thanks to playwright Joe Landry.

Until Saturday, December 31, you are invited to follow in George’s footsteps as he walks through his life in Bedford Falls, New York, an ordinary existence that he himself might describe as dull and without definition.

Created as a 1940’s radio show, on Station WBFR, for Playhouse on the Air, the story by Philip Van Doren was originally a Frank Capra movie starring Jimmy Stewart.  Here a troupe of talented actors – Dan Domingues, Kate Maccluggage, Alex Moggridge, Kevyn Morrow and Ariel Woodiwiss- play multiple roles as they create George’s life, up to the moment when he decides it isn’t worth living and the world would be better off if he had never been born.

While Ebenezer Scrooge has his three ghostly visitations on Christmas Eve, George is blessed with only one:  Clarence, an apprentice angel who is more than two centuries old and has yet to earn his wings.  The hard working and dependable George, who saves his brother Harry from drowning, stops a pharmacist from
dispensing a prescription with poison, stands up to the town’s tyrant, helps a community live in homes rather than shacks and marries a fine woman and raises three children, learns that he is not a failure in life and that he has friends who bless him.  Associate director Eric Ting creates a wonderful atmosphere on stage, where the terrific sound effects by Foley Artist Nathan Roberts are like another character.

For tickets ($52.75-72), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Christmas week Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Christmas Eve at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and for New Year’s Eve week Monday at 7 p.m., Tuesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

In honor of the holiday season, Long Wharf is partnering with the Connecticut Food Bank and patrons are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate.  Most desired items are tuna, peanut butter, soups, stews, pasta, beans, rice and canned fruits and vegetables.

Let your imagination soar as you listen to this tale of redemption and what it means to live a life of purpose.



Are you feeling like the Grinch or Scrooge?  Not in the holiday spirit yet?  Never fear, opportunities abound for an infusion of fun to destress the holidays and celebrate the magic of the season.

First up is “Cirque Dreams Holidaze,”  a creation by Neil Goldberg, at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford until Saturday, December 24.  Your stocking will be stuffed with special spectacles, from spinning penguins, flipping gingerbread men, marching toy soldiers, balancing snowmen, dancing puppets and soaring reindeer on high.  Imagine Santa’s toyshop come to sparkling life and you’ll get the idea.  Holiday songs and original music make this a winter wonderland of fantasy fun.

For tickets ($30-65), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  Performances are tonight at 6:30 p.m., Friday at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.  Come and be dazzled!

The Katherine Hepburn Theater in Old Saybrook, affectionately known as The Kate, has two back-to-back treats to enjoy.  On Friday, December 30 at 8 p.m. fly high with “Blaze of Glory Bon Jovi Tribute Band” ($25) and then come the next night for New Year’s Eve at 9 p.m. with Steve D’Agostino ($35).  Call The Kate, 600 Main Street, Old Saybrook at 877-503-1286 or go online to www.thekate.org.

Want to laugh your way into 2012?  The Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury has a roster of funny people all set to entertain in “Stand Up and Count Down New Year’s Eve Comedy Night” with two shows, 6:30 p.m. ($50) and 9:30 p.m. ($60).  The second show includes appetizers and a champagne toast at midnight.
On tap are the fast talking comedienne, author, motivational speaker, TV show host and adventurer all rolled into one, Fran Capo, the international jokester Mike Dugan who has appeared on both The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, New York born and bred Tom McTiernan who uses his multi-cultural background to flavor and color his humor and the naturally funny man Dan Wilson, long a favorite headliner at comedy clubs on land and the Royal Caribbean Cruise line at sea.

For tickets, call Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Hamilton Park Pavilion, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.SevenAngelsTheatre.org.

If intrigue is more your style, then plan to set sail on West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park’s New Year’s Eve’s imaginative “Murder on the High Seas.”  Dress as your favorite character for this fun, interactive, who-dun-it evening that includes bountiful appetizers, wine, beer, champagne, desserts and an evening of secrets, scandals and spirited spoofs.

Call the Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext 10 for tickets ($55).  The fun starts at 8 p.m. and lasts until 1 a.m.

Whatever your pleasure, select an entertainment gift for yourself to end 2011 and jump start 2012 with enjoyment and laughter.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Stephen Sondheim has won more Tony Awards than any other composer, including a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, not to mention an Academy Award, multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award.  As a youth, he was mentored by none other than Oscar Hammerstein II and on his eightieth birthday in 2010 a Broadway theatre was named in his honor.

More than four decades ago he penned a musical, with book by George Furth and choreography by Harold Prince, about relationships, the challenges of dating and the joys and trials of marriage.  West Hartford’s gem of a non-profit theater, Playhouse on Park, will be shining a spotlight on this delightfully revised production until Sunday, December 18.

The story centers around Bobby, a charming albeit confused bachelor in the capable hands of Ryan Speakman, who is barely acknowledging his thirty-fifth birthday, a milestone his friends are determined he will not forget.  Afraid of being alone and uncommitted, Bobby is still alternately enthusiastic and ambivalent about wedded bliss.

Surrounding him are five couples in varying stages of matrimony, starting with the cynical and brassy Joanne (Amanda Bruton) married to the easy going, accommodating Larry ( Ben Beckley).  The cigarette smoking, alcohol consuming Joanne belts out a powerful “The Ladies Who Lunch.”

Joanne isn’t the only one with a drinking problem.  Harry (Erik Agle) has had difficulties with the law over his alcohol consumption while wifey Sarah (Meredith Swanson) envies people who eat dessert and she might use karate to get your cookies.

For David (Scott Caron) and Jenny (Hillary Ekwall), if the answer isn’t marijuana, then it might be divorce.  In the case of Peter (Kevin Barlowski) and Susan (Victoria Thornsbury), their stance is that a person is not complete until they’re married, while Paul (Brian Detiefs) has quite the reluctant bride- to- be in Amy (Jennifer Lauren Brown).  Amy’s fear of the altar translates into the adorable tune “Getting Married Today” which exposes her lack of certainty.

On the list of Bobby’s female companions, we find April (Lea Nardi) Marta (Keisha Gilles) and Kathy (Alexandra Cutler), each of whom fails to make the cut.  The staging of such numbers as “Side by Side by Side/What Would We Do Without You,” complete with a parade of kazoos, is simply wonderful.  “Company” is creatively directed and choreographed by Leslie Unger.

For tickets ($22.50-32.50), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford (exit 43, off I-84) at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online at www.playhouseonpark.org.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Get your calendars ready for Playhouse on Park has a plethora of great events on tap, starting with Saturday, December 31, New Year’s Eve, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.  Prepare to go on the high seas to discover a killer.  If you want, you can even dress in character for this interactive party that includes bounteous appetizers, desserts, champagne and other libations.  Tickets are only $55.

Intrigue continues in the ingenious comedy “The Mystery of Irma Vep” when a pair of actors plays multiple roles in a fascinating farce set on the English moors, January 11-20.
Also on the entertainment agenda are stop/time dance theater, children’s shows, comedy nights and improv jams and special events like The Amanda Carr Quintet presents Songs from the Heart of the American Songbook, Saturday, February 11 at 8 p.m., just in time for Valentine’s Day ($25).

Help Bobby discover the joys of “Company,” where “Being Alive” means not being alone.



As sweet as a peppermint candy cane and as sentimental as a wet kiss from a warm puppy, Ivoryton Playhouse’s newly minted Christmas offering “Home for the Holidays” is perfect seasonal fare for the whole family.  Conceived and directed by Artistic Director Jacqueline Hubbard, it will provide a wonderful way to welcome the holiday spirit into your heart.

Until Sunday, December 18, you will once again be caught up in a winter blizzard as a dozen and a half men, women and children find themselves stranded at the playhouse on Christmas Eve.  Just think of the recent hurricane and sudden early snowstorm, and the attendant black outs and power outages to put yourself in the mood.

Despite the hardships, this valiant group rallies to the occasion and becomes a makeshift family in its adversity.  The birthday-celebrating Holly (Liz Pester) performs Christmas miracles, a lovesick Joe (Brandon Clark) reveals his affections for the actress Christina (Alanna Burke),  John (John Sebastian DeNicola) keeps everyone’s spirits up with his lively piano tunes while Norm (Norm Rutty) accompanies him on the guitar.

Traditional Christmas songs are stuffed into the Christmas stockings, like Rob’s (Michael McDermott) moving rendition of “Bring Him Home,” Helen’s (Beverley J. Taylor) memorable “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Rob and Sarah’s (Michael McDermott and Carolina Read) bouncy version of “Mr. Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball,” Jennifer’s (Gayle LaBrec) cute “Twelve Days of Cheapness,” and Christina’s (Alanna Burke) saucy contribution of “Santa Baby,” complete with red boa.

The children, Addison Marchese (Sammie), Carson Waldron (Tucker),  Kaitlyn Vitelli (Emily) and Kearney Capuano (Cassie), are a delight with “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” while grandmotherly Jane (Maggie McGlone Jennings) offers her precious silver thimble for a hiding game to entertain them.

Jason Naylor as Steve, Celeste Cummings as Celeste and Erica LuBonta as Cat add their lively voices to make this holiday a memorable one for all concerned, while Will Schneider’s David makes Helen’s Christmas wish come true.

For tickets ($30, $20 students, $15 children), call Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.  Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Be sure to see Ivoryton’s 100,000 holiday lights all aglow every evening.

Jump into the holiday mood with both feet as this dedicated troupe goes all out to make the day special.

Friday, December 9, 2011


To journalist Barbara Walsh, everything in her life is a great story idea and she’s proven it with two new books about her family.

The first, a children’s book, “Sammy in the Sky,” tells the touching tale (tail) of the family’s hound dog who was especially loved by her daughters Nora and Emma.  Found by dad at the pound, Sammy proved to be lovable, protective and fun, chasing soap bubbles and being a “patient” patient when being treated for imaginary medical woes.

When Sammy really gets sick, the book follows his spiritual journey in a touching and sympathetic way.  Released in August 2011, the book went through its initial printing of 10,000 in two weeks.  “Sammy in the Sky” is illustrated beautifully by Jamie Wyeth (Yes, of that famous Wyeth ilk).

“August Gale A Father and Daughter’s Journey into the Storm” tells a saga of Walsh’s family who were fisherman in Newfoundland and centers on a fierce storm while the men were at sea.  She discovered her family’s history when her father in 2002 revealed facts previously hidden that led her to a remote village and relatives she never knew existed.

Her fascination with a 1935 event, a hurricane at sea, led her to pen “August Gale,” a true story that has brought the disparate members of her Irish clan closer in a multitude of unique ways.

There’s already movie buzz that has Barbara Walsh thinking of Ron Howard as director and Russell Crowe as her great uncle Paddy, the captain of the schooner, but she is open to suggestions.

Barbara Walsh and family appeared on December 8, 2011 at the New Haven Public Library for a small but enthusiastic crowd.

Monday, December 5, 2011


As exciting, romantic or sexy states go, Connecticut wouldn’t rank at the top of the continental 48 and especially not if you add in Alaska and Hawaii.  Connecticut is known as the Insurance Capitol of the World, thanks to Hartford, and also the Land of Steady Habits, The Constitution State and The Nutmeg State.  Connecticut doesn’t enjoy the glamour of its neighbor to the south and west, New York, or the mystic of its northern bordering Massachusetts with its rich political history.

Yet do not give up hope.  Connecticut born playwright Mike Reiss is coming to your rescue with a prideful play, a world premiere comedy, “I’m Connecticut,” enjoying its first ever light of day at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at Jorgensen Auditorium on the campus of the University of Connecticut until Saturday, December 10.

“I’m Connecticut” tells the charming tale of a nice guy named Marc, played with spirit and sincerity by Harris Doran, who while born in Simsbury, has transplanted himself to the Big Apple.  His lack of success with women he blames on geography:  he comes from a boring state.

With clever dialogue and amazing visual effects, we follow Marc’s quest for love, much as we would Don Quixote’s search for the Impossible Dream.  After an unsuccessful, substitute disastrous, speed dating event, Marc meets Diane (Maggie Sulka), a Georgia peach who has come north for adventure.

A secondary love story blooms when Diane’s mom Polly, a delightful Joyce DeWitt of “Three’s Company” fame, meets Marc’s grandfather,  a spry Jerry Adler, best known for “The Sopranos” and “Rescue Me.”  The speed dating manager (Darrell Hollens) and Marc’s work buddy Kyle (Michael John Improta) run interference in this lively game of love mating directed by Paul Mullins as head football coach.

Mike Reiss, the Aetna 2011 Writing Fellow at UCONN, wrote this comedy only one year ago.  He is no stranger to the world of humor, having written scripts for “The Simpsons”
for twenty years, co-wrote “The Simpsons Movie,”   “Horton Hears a Who!,” “ Ice Age,” and “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,”  the screenplay for “My Life in Ruins,” fourteen children’s books, as well as writing for “It’s Gerry Shandling’s Show,” “ALF” and “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”

A native of Connecticut, Reiss is uniquely suited to pen a romantic tale about our state and infuse it, just like he does his hero Marc, with pride, enthusiasm and patriotic spirit.

For tickets ($6-29), call the CT Rep at 860-486-4226 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Root for your home team, in this case Marc and the entire Nutmeg state, as we cheer him on to find boasting rights and true love, all in seventy-five fun-filled minutes.


How many of us use our birthdays to evaluate the past, contemplate the present and anticipate the future?  Now at the advancing age of 69, Krapp, a disheveled loner with failing eyesight and faded dreams, sits down for his annual ritual of recording a tape analyzing and cataloguing his past year and you’re invited to the ceremony.

Long Wharf Theatre’s Stage II will be the platform, until Sunday, December 18, for Samuel Beckett’s monologue masquerading as a play, “Krapp’s Last Tape.”  The incomparable Brian Dennehy stars as the man caught in the shadows, between darkness and light, trying to find his way.

Krapp’s pleasures are small:  savoring a ripe banana, taking a fortifying alcoholic drink for courage, looking up an unknown entity in Mr. Webster’s dictionary, verbally caressing the sensual word “spool.”

On this occasion, as he sits under a single bulbed light, at a desk with decorative metal tins filled with tapes of his past, he delays the inevitable, the moment when he must speak aloud and face his fears.  As a delaying tactic, he uses his banana peels as a means for a prat fall and dusts off his journal that records each session.  Eventually he can procrastinate no longer and must face the post mortem that details his life.

Selecting a previous year, three decades ago, specifically box three, spool five, he relives the death of his mother and the end of an affair, a love relationship that might have brought him happiness if he had allowed it.  A writer who has known very little success, he criticizes and denigrates his ambitions and the public who rejected him.

He admits to himself that thirty years ago he had everything and he let it all go.  What future does a man have who allowed disappointments to replace dreams? Jennifer Tarver directs this hour long exploration of one man’s fractured soul.

For tickets ($70), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org,  Performances are  Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

A second installment of Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting’s enthusiastic audience participation program “Spark” will center on Long Wharf’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” set in 1969.  Soldiers returning home from war and the nurses who tend them will be the focus, according to Ting, “reimagining classics in an effort to inject new perspective into dramas that have a long history of production.”

The four 90 minute events will include:  First Rehearsal, Monday, December 19 at 7 p.m., The Body and Text: Interpreting Shakespeare for the Stage, Monday, January 9 at 7 p.m., Technical Rehearsal, Saturday, January 14, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Adapting to the Moment, Monday, January 30, 7 p.m. about the challenges of the production.  For tickets ($50) to the series, call 203-787-4282 or go online to www.longwharf.org.  “Macbeth 1969” will be presented January 18-February 12 on the Mainstage.  The fee will support the theater’s efforts to create new plays and support emerging playwrights.

Watch Brian Dennehy, who says of this play “It’s probably the greatest play I’ve ever been involved with and I’ve done a lot of great plays” and discover for yourself if you agree.


In the spirit of The Three Stooges, with a nodding praise to the puppeteers of Punch and Judy fame, giving a salute to slapstick and a validity to vaudeville, Moliere’s “A Doctor in Spite of Himself” escalates physical comedy and silliness to new heights of humor.

New Haven’s Yale Repertory Theatre will be paying tribute to this unique comedic genre until Saturday, December 17 in this new adaptation by Christopher Bayes, who also serves as director, and Steven Epp, who stars as the witless woodcutter Sganarelle.

A domestic squabble between Sganarelle and his nagging wife Martine (Justine Williams) results in her exacting a form of revenge on her hapless mate.  When two men (Liam Craig and Jacob Ming Trent) happen by in search of a doctor of some renown to cure their master’s daughter who has gone mute, Martine delights in steering them to her husband who is chopping wood in the forest.

Before you can say “take two pills and call me in the morning,” Sganarelle has donned a white coat and stethoscope and is ready to perform miraculous deeds.  With appropriate credit to Hippocrates, Aristotle, Abba, Julie Andrews and Jeannies in a bottle, he manages to satirize the medical profession while decidedly being a curative power for the speechless Lucinde (Renata Friedman), who refuses to speak as long as her doting papa (Allen Gilmore)  wants to control who she marries.

The independent minded Lucinde has her heart set on the chivalrous Leandre (Chivas Michael) and Sganarelle, in his bumbling ways, inadvertently guarantees the young lovers their goal of wedlock.  The servant Jacqueline (Julie Briskman) summarizes the situation with compellingly succinct four letter words.  The band of two, Greg C. Powers and Robertson Witmer, utilize a variety of instruments, trombone, tuba, ukulele, accordion, clarinet and drums, to perform sound effects and the original music composed by Aaron Halva.

For tickets ($20-88), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at the corner of York at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org.  Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m.

If a good doctor can put you in stitches, than a bad doctor can put you in stitches too, of laughter, and he doesn’t necessarily need a rubber chicken to do so.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Now that Thanksgiving is over, the turkey and stuffing and marshmallow sweet potato soufflé just delicious memories, it’s time to turn your attention to the next big holiday on the calendar:  December 25.  To help you get in the festive mood, there is no better incentive than Hartford Stage’s annual Yuletide tradition:  Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol A Ghost Story of Christmas” until Friday, December 30.

Lightning, thunder, fog and a gaggle of ghosts welcome you to this haunting tale of one Ebenezer Scrooge, a man who clearly was born without a holly twig of Christmas spirit.  Scrooge, delightfully portrayed by a twinkle eyed Bill Raymond. is the original Bah Humbug curmudgeon who finds nothing of favor about this red, green and mistletoe wrapped day.

This Christmas Eve marks seven years since Scrooge’s business partner Jacob Marley (Noble Shropshire) has died.  Marley’s ghost has appeared to warn Scrooge that there is still time to avoid his fate, to redeem himself and choose to enjoy life and mankind.  To that end, Marley is sending Scrooge three apparitions at 1 a.m., 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.  The Spirit of Christmas Past (Johanna Morrison) reveals his childhood and shows him all he once had and all he lost.  Next the Spirit of Christmas Present (Alan Rust) shows Scrooge all that is within his grasp to enjoy while the Spirit of Christmas Future (Michael Preston) uncovers what will happen if Scrooge does not change his miserly ways.

As the hands of time spin, Scrooge realizes he can change the shadows, give his clerk Bob Cratchit (Robert Hanson Davis) and his crippled son Tiny Tim (Lorenzo Dalton/Ethan Pancoast) a future, reconcile with his nephew Fred (Michael Bakkensen) and reward his housekeeper Mrs. Dilber (Noble Shropshire/Robert Hanson Davis) for her years of loyal service. Maxwell Williams directs this huge cast of talented actors in this marvelous Christmas tale, with lighting effects by Robert Wierzel, costumes by Zack Brown and the role of Scrooge also being played by Gustave Johnson at school morning performances.

For tickets ($24-69), call Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org.  Performances are Wednesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.  Additional holiday matinees at 2 p.m. are Friday, December 23, Monday, December 26, Tuesday, December 27, Wednesday. December 28 (no evening show) and Friday, December 30. Special events like Santa Saturdays (December 10 and 17), Character Brunches  (Sunday, December 11) Family fun Night (Thursday, December 15) and Behind the Magic (Sunday, December 18) are also planned.

Watch this Currier and Ives Christmas card come to life as snowflakes fall and one man’s hard heart melts.


The Downtown Cabaret Theatre of Bridgeport has gone out of its way to stage a fantastic holiday celebration for your enjoyment and pleasure:  tributes to both Simon and Garfunkel and Neil Diamond.  How special is that?

The singer-songwriting duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel began way back in elementary school when the pair appeared on stage in “Alice in Wonderland” with Simon as the White Rabbit and Garfunkel as the Chehire Cat.  They grew up a few blocks from each other in Forest Hills, Queens, New York and began their career together as “Tom and Jerry” in 1957.  They went on to have many big hits in the 1960’s but experienced their own personal “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” in 1970 when they broke up for the first time.  Since then they have reunited once a decade to perform such hits as “I Am a Rock,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “Homeward Bound,” “The Sound of Silence,” “Feeling Groovy,” “Cecilia” and “Scarborough Fair.”

A chance meeting in 1991 at a club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania brought A. J. Sweringen and Jonathan Beedle together and they have been blending their unique sound ever since in this “Simon and Garfunkel Retrospective,” a return engagement, Friday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 3 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 4 at 5 p.m.  Tickets are $33.50 and may be obtained by calling The Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at dtcab.org.  Remember to bring snacks and drinks to share at your table.  A guarded parking lot is just around the corner.

Neil Diamond, hailing from Brooklyn, New York, started out as a fencer who wanted to find a cure for cancer.  He detoured along the way and sold 115 million records worldwide. As a legendary singer-songwriter, he has penned such hits as “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” “Cracklin’ Rose.” “I’m a Believer,” “Song Sung Blue,” “Desiree,””Love on the Rocks,” “Yesterday’s Songs” and “Heartlight.”  In last week’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, he appeared on a float of Mt. Rushmore singing “America” and “Sweet Caroline.”

Don’t worry if you missed him because Tom Sadge, a remarkable vocal impressionist and disc jockey, has perfected his Neil Diamond over the last fourteen years and will present him in a tribute concert on Saturday, December 17 at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in a 75 minute show with no intermission.  Tickets are $37-47 and may be obtained by calling 203-576-1636 or online at dtcab.org.

Tom Sadge did his first impression of Neil Diamond at the age of ten, singing “Solitary Man” and he hasn’t looked back since.  Watch how A.J., Jonathan and Tom have perfected their impressions of these musical legends. Be there or be square…or diamond shaped.

Monday, November 21, 2011


You may not recognize the names Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, prolific songwriters, but you will surely know their tunes.  Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury wants to reacquaint you with their musical magic until Sunday, December 18 when it delivers for your listening pleasure “Smokey Joe’s Café,”  a wonderful catalogue of rock and roll, rhythm and blues and pop standards.

Called the inventors of rock and roll, Leiber and Stoller are the musical parents of the baby-boomer generation and they are credited with such tunes as “Neighborhood,” “Dance with Me,” “Kansas City,” “Fools Fall in Love,” “On Broadway” and “Stand by Me.”

The talented cast of nine includes Paul Aguirre, Christopher Brasfield, Bobby Gouse, Monica Heuser, Sarah Ledtke, John Lynes, A’Lisa D. Miles, Housso Semon and Nicholas Ward and they belt out the melodies while executing a delightful series of coordinated dance steps arranged by choreographer Janine Molinari.

Comical numbers like “Searchin’ ,” “Poison Ivy,” “Don Juan,” “D. W. Washburn,” “Yakety Yak,” and “Charlie Brown” are done with tongue-in-cheek humor and verve.  Elvis is clearly in the house for tunes like “Hound Dog,” “Loving You” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

Romance is in the air with songs like “Treat Me Nice,” “Love Potion #9,” “There Goes My Baby” and “Spanish Harlem,” while tunes like “Teach Me How to Shimmy,” “Little Egypt,” and “I’m a Woman” capitalize on feminine strengths and skills.

The music team who wrote together for more than 50 years created hits for The Coasters, The Drifters, Ben E. King as well as for “the King” and many girl groups.  They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Let director Semina De Laurentis conduct this personal tour of Leiber and Stoller’s greatest hits.

For tickets ($25-42), call the Seven Angels Theatre, One Plank Road, Hamilton Park Pavilion, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org.  Performances are Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

No plans yet for New Year’s Eve?  Laugh in 2012 with Seven Angels when they bring in four New York comedians for two shows Saturday, December 31 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m..  The second show includes appetizers and champagne.  Call the box office for ticket information.  Lower prices are available before December 1.

For the kids, think pink with “Pinkalicious,”  a story about a little girl who learns a lesson about indulging in too much of a good thing.  Shows are Thursday and Friday, December 1 and 2 at 10 a.m.  Tickets are $8 for students and teachers and $10 for adults.

Be prepared to dance up and down the aisles of Seven Angels as this heavenly music takes wing.


Cathy Rigby is proud to say she’ll never grow up.  At almost sixty years of age, she is still like the trim athletic gymnast who participated in and won high scores in the U. S. Olympics from 1968 until her retirement in 1972.  As the fearless flying, ever youthful Peter Pan, she has spent two decades soaring over the crowds, crowing with pride and sprinkling fairy dust freely.

Capture the magical adventure once again as Cathy Rigby flies into Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in “Peter Pan the Musical” until Sunday, November 27, with music by Mark Charlap, Jules Styne and Carolyn Leigh.  This classic tale by J. M. Barrie is stuffed with memorable moments:  front and center is a mischievous lad who refuses to leave childhood, who shepherds his crew of Lost Boys on a remote island called Neverland, a space populated by pirates, Indians, fairies and even the occasional mermaid and crocodile.

To Neverland, Peter entices Wendy Darling and her brothers John and Michael to join him on his flying adventures, for he wants Wendy to be “mother” to his tribe of orphans.  Peter has a protective fairy named Tinker Bell who looks out for his well being, in addition to a fierce and frightening enemy named Captain Hook, who in turn has a sniveling sidekick Smee.

Once Peter spirits Wendy and her siblings out of the window of their London home, away from the guardianship of their faithful dog Nana, they are caught up in a series of special encounters that test their mettle and provide chills and thrills.

For tickets ($17-68), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  Performances are tonight 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.

Let the energetic and effervescent Ms. Rigby add sizzle to your Thanksgiving holiday with this wonderful family treat, one where you don’t have to worry about counting the calories.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Clever and creative color and lighting characterize the current Goodspeed Musicals’ production of “City of Angels” shining brilliantly on stage until Sunday, November 27.  As a contrast of film noir, in black and white and grey, with blazing Technicolor, it is a unique story within a story, featuring music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel and book by Larry Gelbart.

1940’s Hollywood never looked so glamorous, sultry and smoky as when D. B. Bonds’ fiction writing Stine starts pounding his typewriter keys to create his alter ego, the gumshoe, shamas, detective solving man of darkness and danger, Stone, a chisel-jawed Burke Moses.  The worlds of these two men, one real and one fictional, collide amazingly as captured by director Darko Tresnjak.

As Stine writes and rewrites the screenplay adaptation of his best selling hero private dick, both worlds occupy the stage in a dizzying contrast made memorable by John Lasiter’s special lighting techniques.  David P. Gordon’s opening and closing louver blinds bookcase the action effectively.

In Stine’s realm, he deals with his demanding, overbearing producer Buddy Fidler (Jay Russell), his somewhat supportive wife Gabby (Laurie Wells) and Buddy’s girl Friday Donna (Nancy Anderson).

For Stone, he has his new client Alaura Kingsley (Liz Pearce) who hires him to find her missing stepdaughter Mallory (Kathleen Rooney) and protect her from her sinister stepson Peter (Allen E. Read).  Stone also has to be careful of the thugs who are out to hurt him (Jerry Gallagher and Spencer Rowe) and a cop (Danny Bolero) who has a serious grudge against him.

The actors crossover between the two plots, supporting each story’s mystery and mayhem, romance and rousing ramifications.  As the writing progresses, hits roadblocks, is detoured by the manipulative Fidler, the film winds up in fits and starts and turns toward its inevitable conclusion.  The action is fast paced, a blend of murder, muggings, marriages gone awry and marvelous music.  Songs like “The Tennis Song,” “You’re Nothing Without Me,” “You Can Always Count on Me” and “Double Talk” help propel the action.

For tickets ($28-72), call Goodspeed Musicals, on the Connecticut River, East Haddam at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., with select shows at 2 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with select shows at 6:30 p.m.  Note the special Thanksgiving schedule:  Monday, November 21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday, November 25 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, November 26 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 27 at
2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Don a black raincoat and fedora and enter the plot of this intriguing musical whodunit where a pair of great guys, Stone and Stine, have wonderful yarns to spin entirely for your enjoyment.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Parties are occasions for gala celebrations, for feasting and festivities that mark birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and baby births.  They highlight and overshadow the ordinary days and make us forget our troubles, if only for mere hours in time. What if all one did was party, dancing as fast as one could, to avoid the realities right outside pounding on the door?

Welcome to the seemingly beautiful world of pre-World War II Berlin where the patrons of the Kit Kat Klub, led by the flamboyant Master of Ceremonies, are partying as if their lives depend on it.  Music Theatre of Connecticut in Westport has a seat for you, front and center at their intimate black box stage, to witness the frantic, frenzy of fun that is forced as the carousel spins faster and more feverishly out of control.

Weekends until Sunday, November 20, MTC will present a fascinating peek behind the frivolity of the smash musical hit “Cabaret,”  based on the book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.

Eric Scott Kincaid is the sinister and persuasive Emcee, dedicated to seeing you have a good time, cautioning you to leave your worries behind.  For your entertainment, he has the delightful Sally Bowles, a sparkling Melissa Carlile-Price, to sing such songs as “Don’t Tell Mama” and “ Cabaret.”  The opportunistic Sally has latched on to the newly arrived to Berlin American writer Cliff Bradshaw, played engagingly by Ryan Reilly, who hopes to gain inspiration for his novel.  With Sally as his muse, Cliff settles in to Fraulein Schneider’s (Dorothy Stanley) rooming house and mingles with the other residents, Fraulein Kost (Marty Bongfeldt) who entertains in a more intimate way sailors like Johnny Orenberg and Herr Schultz (Stuart Zagnit) who runs a fruit store and doesn’t realize the dangers that his Jewish faith will pose.

Cliff is quickly befriended by Ernst Ludwig, a devious Daniel Robert Sullivan, who wants him to carry out personal projects for him, to earn money, and help Ernst’s cause.  When Cliff realizes Ernst is a Nazi, he is appalled.  While Sally has her eyes closed to the truth, Cliff sees all too clearly how the world is slipping off its axis.  Kevin Connors directs a splendid cast in a “perfectly marvelous” way.

For tickets ($25-45), call MTC, 246 Post Road East, Colonial Green, Westport (lower level) 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. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Let the occupants of Berlin’s Kit Kat Klub entice you to relax with a drink, a dance and a song as they prepare a new script for Germany’s tomorrows.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Fats Waller, who described himself as 285 pounds of “jam, jive and everything,” was a master of the stride piano, a jazzman who began to show his signs of talent and musical genius at the age of six.  While he lived less than four decades, he crammed a ton of tunes into his career knapsack, leaving a legacy of jazz favorites, enough to be packed into one lively and energized package known as “Ain’t Misbehavin.’ ”

Conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray Horwitz, “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “ will be strutting its sensational stuff at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre until Sunday, November 20.  With a set reminiscent of the Savoy Ballroom or the Cotton Club, thanks to John Lee Beatty, you’ll think you’ve been transported to Harlem, circa 1925, for a fantastic voyage masquerading as a simple musical revue.

Your tour guides on this merry trip are splendid:  Eugene Barry-Hill, Doug Eskew, Kecia Lewis-Evans, Cynthia Thomas and Debra Walton.  Each a star in their own right, they bring Fats Waller’s tunes to brilliant light, showcasing almost three dozen songs, like “Honeysuckle Rose,” “T Ain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do,” “Lounging at the Waldorf,” “Squeeze Me” and “Black and Blue.”  Humorous numbers like “Your Feet’s Too Big” and “Fat and Greasy” are over the top while “The Jitterbug Waltz” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” are sentimental favorites.

On opening night, with director Richard Maltby, Jr. in the house with his co-conceiver Murray Horwitz, the joint was truly jumpin.’ Wes Yarbor, an  Alvin Ailey dancer from New York, who now works at a Hamden dance studio, who saw the original show on Broadway, thought the Long Wharf version was “phenomenal.  For a small theater, Long Wharf is giving the show a full production, complete with a sliding piano across the stage.  The great voices use tricks to make people laugh. The five performers are all stars.  New Haven has bought itself a winner.”

The cast certainly knows how to “spread rhythm around;”  they are hep cats with attitude and flair, who respond to Phillip Hall’s inspired piano playing and Arthur Faria’s delightful musical staging and choreography.  This is a show not to be missed.  Gail Baldoni’s glorious costumes are worth the trip all by themselves.

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 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.

An Open House for the whole family will be held Saturday, November 19 from 9 a.m. to noon.  This Discovery Day for your little superheroes has a suggested donation of $5 a family or $2 a person and snacks will be available.

The story goes that Fats Waller was once kidnapped by gangsters and “invited” to play at Al Capone’s birthday party…for three days.  Come hear the magic and the melody for yourself, the music of Fats Waller, a man who was said to be able to make a piano sing.


If one person could literally and figuratively be on top of the world, then Jacques Lamarre has a great likelihood of being at the apex of the mountain holding the flag.  He has a job he loves as the Manager of Communications and Special Projects at the trendy and topical Mark Twain House and Museum that just celebrated “Mark My Words,” at New Haven’s Woolsey Hall at Yale University. The conversation with bestselling authors David Baldacci, John Grisham and Jodi Picoult raised $125,000 for the house and museum.

Two Saturdays ago, he wed Arthur Galinat, an international student adviser at the University of Connecticut in charge of immigration compliance.  They met six years ago online through Yahoo personals and their Halloween themed wedding took place at the Mark Twain House and Museum, attended by all the theater folks he met at his past careers as publicity representative for the Hartford Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, Yale School of Drama and TheaterWorks of Hartford.

While involved in the “crazy, exhausting environment of theater,” Lamarre met Jeffery Roberson, who performs as an international drag cabaret chanteuse.  Roberson was at the Hartford Stage in 2003 as Varla Jean Merman in “The Mystery of Irma Vep” and the two men connected comically.  Roberson asked him to help him write shows for Varla jean and they have just completed number eight as well as a full length film “Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads,” about her sagging cabaret career that she tries to invigorate by doing a television show for children.  Filmed in New Orleans, the movie should be released next year.

Working with Roberson on the first show “The Girl with the Pearl Necklace” all the way to their latest venture “The Book of Merman,” has been “exciting and wonderful.”  The shows have been staged at Joe’s Pub in New York City, in Provincetown on Cape Cod, in major cities across the United States, all the way to the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

Prior to this, Lamarre referred to himself as “The Accidental Playwright” and “The Incidental Playwright,” not making a living at it but enjoying it and experiencing a lot of luck.  He wrote a mystery play in sixth grade he was really proud of and wrote some scripts while working as a teenager at a summer theater in Milford, New Hampshire, the most successful of which was “Rapunzel.”

Even when Lamarre was studying to be a priest at a Catholic seminary in Rome, he found time to write skits for his classmates, a pastime that was not always appreciated.  He was accused of “going too far and being irreverent.”  Back in Hartford, he began his career in p.r. and didn’t write again until he penned a script for Michael Wilson and Joanne Woodward  to use for a Connecticut Critics Circle awards ceremony.

Since then the writing bug has bitten fiercely and continues with Lamarre sending off scripts and short stories to contests and festivals with some amazing results.  On Friday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m., his play “The Rub,” about parents confronting their adult son about his secret obsession, will be presented at the Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street, Middletown.  This is a once a year showcase of plays by a group of playwrights, the Floating Theater of Middletown, who meet throughout the year for support and literary feedback.

Two days later, on Sunday, November 13 at 3 p.m., Hartford Opera Theater will present “New in November” at Billings Forge, Broad Street, Hartford, featuring six new short operas.  “The Family Plan” by Philip Martin is based on a play by Lamarre, written for the New Mexico Fusion Theater’s annual contest.  With a theme of tangled webs, his play, one of 21 semi-finalists in a field of several hundred, concerns a young Italian-American couple planning a wedding reception seating chart to hilarious results.  For tickets ($10), go online to www.hartfordoperatheater.com.

As if that weren’t enough to brag about, from Friday, November 18 to Saturday, December 10, weekends, the Hole in the Wall Theater, 116 Main Street, New Britain will offer four world premiere one-act comedies by the man of the hour, “Jacques Lamarre Has Gone Too Far.”  The company which has been producing works for four decades is community theater at “the cutting edge, doing really funky stuff,” according to the playwright.  The quartet of plays look at life in America today as a social and comic commentary on our inability to interact politely, everywhere from a dog park to Disneyland.  For tickets ($20, students and seniors $12), call 860-229-3049 or online at www.hitw.org. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays, November 27 and December 4 at 2 p. m.

With pen in hand, and inspiration on his shoulder thanks to his proximity to Mark Twain’s ghost, Jacques Lamarre is securely at the top of his literary world, sure to look down and toss his witty observations on unsuspecting audiences to their amusement and delight.


You know him as The Church Lady who says “Well, isn’t that special,” as Hans of the Hans and Franz bodybuilding duo, as Garth, the co-host of Wayne’s World and the Grumpy Old Man of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Updates.

In the political arena, he can easily be the former president George Bush, Jerry Brown, Bob Dole or H. Ross Perot as well as both Bill and Hillary Clinton.  In the world of show business, he’s a snap at Johnny Carson, George Burns, Regis Philbin, Robin Williams and Charlie Sheen.

If you’d like a comment from Suze Orman or Ted Koppel, he’s your guy.  Clearly there’s only one man for this multitude of personas and that’s the clever impersonator and stand-up comic Dana Carvey.

A staple of Saturday Night Live for years, he will soon be gracing the stage of the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. On Friday, November 11 at 8 p.m., Carvey will appear as himself and so many others, a plethora of personalities, in Lite 100.5 WRCH’s Nite of Life and Laughter.

Tickets start at $37.50 - $70.00, with special tickets for a pre-show reception at $102.50 to benefit  the Helen and Harry Grey Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital.  Call 860-987-5900 or go online at www.bushnell.org for tickets to laugh and celebrate life.

Look for Dana Carvey as the Crazy Puppeteer in Adam Sandler’s new comedy “Jack and Jill,” where Sandler plays both twins at the holidays, opening November 11.  Well, isn’t that special!


Growing up in Buffalo, New York in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s wasn’t all that bad for ten-year-old Eddie.  He learns the skills of how to fish and hunt and build a fire from his grandfather, while his grandmother shares her favorite motion pictures with him and gives him his first lesson in love.  From his parents he learns to respect his elders and how to control his insatiable curiosity.

To meet Eddie and his extended family. Let A. R. Gurney be your travel guide as you hear his “Ancestral Voices” weekends until Saturday, November 19, courtesy of Square One Theatre Company in Stratford.

Eddie, the narrator, played delightfully by Steve Scarpa, reminisces about his siblings, parents and grandparents, letting the majority of their secrets mischievously out of the closet.

Just as their beloved city of Buffalo is at a crossroads, poised for change, so is the family undergoing its own metamorphosis.  The sacred institutions of marriage and fidelity are being rocked from their solid foundations when Grandmother (Davina Poster) announces she is leaving her mate (Pat Leo) for another man.  Now Eddie has to call this interloper “Uncle Roger” and adjust to changes that he and his parents, and especially Grandfather, are loath to acknowledge.

Family celebrations are now awkward and often have to be given double attention.  Cocktail hours are now more than mere social occasions and alcohol is being used as a means to cope and forget.  This prosperous Protestant clan is cracking along its seams and Eddie is chief witness and recording secretary.  He sees all too clearly how his parents (Janet Rathert and David Victor) are trying to keep the family in balance and not allow it to splinter.  This is a fine cast doing a splendid job with this staged reading, as directed with a skilled hand by Tom Holehan.

For tickets ($20, seniors and students $19), call Square One Theatre, 2422 Main Street, Stratford at 203-375-8778 or go online to www.squareonetheatre.com.  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with a special twilight show Saturday, November 19 at 4 p.m.

Let A. R. Gurney and his young pal Eddie give you a guided tour of Buffalo and of one WASP family as it copes with changing times, the country’s and their own personal ones.

Monday, October 31, 2011


The Mattel Toy Company created a fictional life for its best selling fashion doll Barbie more than five decades ago, giving her a collection of friends like Kelly, Krissy and Christie, a convertible car and a boyfriend named Ken.  Real life does not conform to these unrealistic images and happily-ever-afters didn’t work for anyone but Cinderella and Snow White.

Imagine for a moment if you really believed you lived a fairy tale life, married to your special love who is a courageous doctor searching for a cure for pediatric AIDS, residing in a loft in Paris, enjoying all the sweetness of life.  Enter the idyllic world of Abby and Zack as fashioned by Amy Herzog in “Belleville,” being produced by the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven until Saturday, November 12 as a world premiere.

The bohemian, artsy section of Paris known as Belleville could be a wonderful neighborhood for theater lovers, with outdoor cafes and galleries within strolling distance.  For Maria Dizzia’s Abby, it is a dream come true, on the surface at least.

If you probe a little deeper, remove a few protective layers, you realize all-too-quickly that Abby’s world is not so rosy.  She needs pills to keep herself mentally balanced and it doesn’t take anything major to tip her emotional scales out of kilter.

Abby and husband Zack (Greg Keller) are children playing grown-up.  To keep themselves together, she takes baths and booze and he relies on drugs and deception.  Ken and Barbie are due for a serious reality check and it starts when Abby unexpectedly comes home early one afternoon to find Zack is not at work where he is supposed to be.  With the entrance of their landlord Alioune (Gilbert Owuor) and his wife Amina (Pascale Armand) into their apartment, more unpleasant revelations become glaringly obvious.  Anne Kauffman directs this confusing confrontation surrounding the web of lies that is masquerading as a marriage.

For tickets ($20-88), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at York Street at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org.  Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m.

Be careful as you enter the Parisian loft of Abby and Zack as it is littered with emotional land mines set to explode.


Georgia Stitt knew when she went to a music camp in junior high school and took an elective in music composition that she had discovered her life’s passion.  She found herself writing music for the marching band and for friends who were singers.  By the time she was in college at Vanderbilt University working with Professor John Morris Russell writing musicals for summer stock theater, her career path was set.

Her dad even has a recording of her very first composition, “Summer Daydreams,” which he loves but which Georgia confesses “honestly was not very good, but it was a marker of a time in my life.”  Since then, she has been busy conducting orchestras, writing an arrangement for the Boston Pops, working in recording studios, being asked by a playwright to write music for a scene, being a record producer and penning musicals like “Mosaic” with Cheri Steinkellner, “Big Red Sky” with John Jiler, “The Water” with Jeff Hylton and Tim Werenko and “Sing Me a Happy Song” with Jamie Pachino.

“As long as there is music in my life,” Georgia is one happy camper and she “likes how varied my days are.”  For the last two years, she has been writing with Cheri Steinkellner, this time around on a “new-fashioned musical,” using the Great American Songbook.  The show “Hello! My Baby” features Tin-Pan Alley era songs and revolves around a bunch of kids in the early days of sheet-music publishing.

The idea for the show came about when the Emmy Award winning Steinkellner was working in a high school directing students and discovered the kids were amazed by the old standards they were singing in “Anything Goes.”  Their questions, “why don’t we know these songs?,” led her to want to develop “old songs in young voices,” to uncover the old classics and make them fresh again.

Any songs written before January 1, 1923 are part of the public domain and no royalties need to be paid  There were a treasure trove of tunes that fit the category and Steinkellner wondered, “what if I can create an original story about the song industry and make the songs fresh to us?”  At the time, she was working on “Sister Act” with Alan Mencken and he suggested a meeting with Georgia Stitt.  The “marriage” was arranged and happily “Hello! My Baby” is the resulting bouncing musical product.

“Hello! My Baby” will be given a full workshop at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, called the “Little Goodspeed,” from Wednesday, November 2 to Sunday, November 27.  For tickets ($     ), call 860-873-8668 or go online to www.goodspeed.org.  Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., with select shows at 2 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with select shows at 6:30 p.m.

The Norma Terris experience is a “wonderful round-the-clock four week process, writing music all day and typing notes all night.”  It involves problem solving, the “what if stage of development,” made more exciting by the addition of Kelly Barclay’s dance routines.  After many workshops, readings and arrangements for piano and voice, it’s now time to make sure the script is as good as it can be,  to get the show up on stage and, once it’s up, to edit the process and have it polished for the audience…to “freeze the show” and know it is finally finished.

As an added bonus, “Hello! My Baby” was part of the Goodspeed’s New Festival of Musicals last January and was a clear crowd pleaser.  With its run at the Norma Terris, the pair have had four weeks to make it even better.  This is “our time here to see it really dance, with eighteen actors, new orchestrations and all instruments, not just piano…and eventually we have to stop tinkering.”

Georgia Stitt hopes the Norma Terris audiences will recognize the songs like “You Made Me Love You” and sing along as well as appreciate the new verses she composed to add to the truthful story they are telling.  She wants the audience to root for the young songwriting cast.

Stitt, meanwhile, is busy with a capital B.  With Susan Egan, the original Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” she is writing a blog called “Glamour and Goop,” about the glamorous world of Hollywood juxtaposed with the daily chores of laundry and motherhood.  Both women have two daughters under the age of six.

Georgia’s husband Jason Robert Brown is also a composer and lyricist but they don’t collaborate.  She “trusts his musical taste and he is often the first person to hear my music when it is ready to share.”  They do conduct orchestras for each other and write orchestrations for each other, but “it’s too tense to work together.  I’d rather have him love me than think me right.  Keeping separate careers preserve our relationship.”

With daughters two and six, Georgia already sees musical potential but, as parents, she and Jason will be supportive but not pushy.  When their younger daughter turned two, her older sibling played ”Happy Birthday” to her on the piano.  They will be exposed to music but if they choose a basketball hoop, that’s fine too.  For  Halloween, since the girls are in Chester with her, the costumes were Winnie the Pooh for the two year old and a go-go booted 60’s girl for the older.  For right now, the “vagabond life” and its adventures are working well for the family.

Start reading “Glamour and Goop” online to see how the creative Georgia Stitt keeps her family life and career in happy and harmonious balance.