Monday, December 31, 2012

DISNEY ON ICE PRESENTS FOUR FANTASY WORLDS




Can you imagine one great show that has the ability to take you under the seas, around a race track with lightning speed, into the forest with a bevy of beautiful fairies and into a bedroom where toys explode out of a chest?  Think Disney.  Think fabulous.  For more than seven decades, the Ice Capades have provided championship skaters in dazzling costumes and incredible productions.  This time around is no exception when "Disney on Ice:  Worlds of Fantasy" skates onto the floor of the Webster Bank Arena from Wednesday, January 2 to Sunday, January 6, followed by the XL Center in Hartford from Wednesday, January 9 to Sunday, January 13.

The tour guides for this magical visit to a quartet of fantasy worlds are none other than Mickey and Minnie Mouse who tool onto the ice in a spiffy red roadster.  When their vehicle unexpectedly breaks down, and Donald Duck and Goofy admit the task is too mechanically hard, Minnie and Mickey call upon their good friends from "Cars" to come to their rescue.  Lightning McQueen and his trusty pal Mater soon have the pair on the road to adventure.

Children and their parents will marvel at these life-sized autos that each took 20,000 man hours to build and have animatronic features that allow them to have blinking headlights, moving mouths and hydraulic lifts so they can literally dance to the musical beat.

Mickey and Minnie are soon zooming off across the ice, prepared to encounter the undersea world of our favorite mermaid, Ariel, the sweetest sugar-coated little mermaid to ever float in the sea.  With her underwater pals Flounder the fish and Scuttle the seagull, you'll see Ariel yearning to be human and willing to sacrifice everything she knows and loves to win the hand of Prince Eric in the world above the waves.

Next we exchange the world of colorful coral and fascinating fish for the magical land of fairies in the miniature domain of Pixie Hollow where Tinker Bell lives, near her good friend Peter Pan.  Tinker Bell is born from the first laugh of a baby and her entire realm is miniature in size.  Giant inflatable trees, humungous butterflies and large flowers in bloom help create the illusion of spring emerging right before your amazed eyes.

Each fairy, from Iridessa to Silvermist to Rosetta, will have a unique style of dancing on ice and a winged costume especially her own, from velvet roses to shimmering leaves of satin.

The final fantasy world that Mickey and Minnie visit begins in Andy's bedroom as he gets ready to leave for college.  He leaves behind all his favorite toys, including Buzz Lightyear the astronaut, Woody the cowboy, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and Hamm the piggy bank.  With Andy leaving, all his playthings fear he will forget them, especially when they find themselves relocated to the Sunnyside Daycare Center.  Their toy tumbles and hijinks will delight as they showcase their talents and versatility for all to admire as they plan their escape from the daycare crew's clutches.

According to Disney producer Kenneth Feld, " 'Worlds of Fantasy' offers the perfect combination  of elements for fans of 'Disney on Ice.' From the contemporary feel of 'Cars' and 'Toy Story3' to the timeless quality of 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Tinker Bell,' audiences will see four completely different Disney worlds brought to life.  All of this provides a value that is truly unparalled in the world of live family entertainment.  More than ever before, there's something for everyone."

For tickets ($12 kids 2-12 Thursday, Friday, Saturday 7 p.m. Bridgeport and Thursday 7 p.m. show in Hartford; Bridgeport $25,$30, VIP $55 and Rinkside $75; Hartford $22, $28, VIP $56 and Front Row $78), call 1-800-745-3000 or online at disneyonice.com or ticketmaster.com.  Performances are Wednesday, January 2-Friday, January 4 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, January 5 at 11 a.m, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, January 6 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. in Bridgeport. In Hartford, the performances are Wednesday, January 9-Friday, January 11 at 7 p.m., Saturday, January 12 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, January 13 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Let your imagination soar as four of your favorite Disney stories show their stunning stuff on skates in spectacular style.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET" WORTH BILLIONS

                                          Photo by Jeremy Daniel   

Imagine one stage and four mega star performers rocking down the house.  The year is 1956 and the gyrating guys are Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.  As a jam session goes, this one was smokin' hot and unforgettable.  December 4, 1956 lives on in the smash musical hit "Million Dollar Quartet" as it recreates that one and only legendary day in the history of rock 'n roll.

You can be there, front and center, at the Memphis, Tennessee recording studios of Sun Records where this quartet of musical icons set the red hot rafters ringing when "Million Dollar Quartet" lights up the stage of the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford from Tuesday, January 8 to Sunday, January 13.

Think of it as a personal playlist of your favorite hits as these great tunes come tumbling out.  Listen to "Great Balls of Fire," "Sixteen Tons," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On," "Hound Dog," "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the Line," "Memories Are Made of This," "Long Tall Sally" and "See You Later, Alligator."

Hips will swivel, guitar strings will be set aflame and history will be recorded when an impromptu jam session became an instant legend making event.  Carl Perkins (CT native James Barry) had come to Sun Records that day with his brothers and Sam Phillips, (Vince Nappo) the owner of Sun, added Jerry Lee Lewis, (Benjamin Goddard) a recent acquisition, to the mix as pianist.  When Elvis Presley (Billy Woodward) dropped by with his girlfriend, he added his voice to the cauldron and it was the final arrival of Johnny Cash (David Elkins) that made the recipe complete.

These guys, all at different stages of music fame, sat down and sang like a group of old friends, without rehearsals or formal plans, and Cowboy Jack Clement, the engineer, was smart enough to record it.

Country music, rockabilly and rock 'n roll merge and marry as these fellows sing just for the pure pleasure of the sound. For Sam Phillips, called "the Father of Rock 'n Roll," these four men were like his four sons and this show reveals a lot about their relationship, where they came from and where they are going.  It is a sensational staged recreation of the actual event, composed by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott.

For tickets ($20-65), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  Performances are Tuesday - Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Prepare to dance right out of your seat as these four wild men of music move, groove and shake, rattle and roll.  Memories are made of this.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET" A PERFECT FAMILY FAVORITE



The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a New York City tradition since 1924, celebrates a day of recording your blessings as well as signaling the start of the countdown to Christmas.  What better way to mark the festive occasion than to attend the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury's magical community production of "Miracle on 34th Street" by Meredith Willson, being offered for the whole family until Sunday, December 30.  It even begins with a gala parade!

When Doris Walker, a Macy's employee, played by a dedicated and capable Cassie Taylor, discovers her parade's and store's Santa Claus has been imbibing more than hot mulled cider and is unfit for his jolly red suit, she taps a conveniently nearby stranger, Kris Kringle, for the job.  With his full white beard and merry disposition, Kris, portrayed by a convincingly jovial and wise Tim Cleary, seems perfect.

With Kris's philosophy of spreading love, that people should be kind and helpful, he assumes his role as Santa with gusto and enthusiasm.  If Macy's doesn't have a toy a child wants, he has no problem sending mom and dad to the rival store Gimbel's to buy it.

Doris, a single mom with a precocious daughter Susan, has grown up believing in realism, not trusting anything she can't touch, see, taste or smell and she has raised Susan to follow her no-nonsense path.  The adorable Susan, a role shared by twins Kaitlyn and Kirstianna Mueller, who are celebrating their tenth birthdays, is introduced to Kris by a friendly neighbor she calls Uncle Fred, played by an accommodating Billy Hannon.  The twins are delightfully convincing as the young girl who want to believe in fantasy and fairy tales, even if her mother doesn't.

When the store's pseudo-psychologist Mr. Sawyer (Chuck Stango) judges Kris to be unstable, resulting in his being fired, Kris's defenders, including Uncle Fred an attorney, rally to his side.  Kris is put on trial and he is prosecuted by District Attorney Thomas Mara (Tom Chute and Joe Stofko) and Judge Harper (Chuck DellaRocco) has to make a final ruling:  is he really Santa Claus?  Semina DeLaurentis directs this energetic cast of two dozen, ranging in age from 7 to 65, who deliver a stirring holiday musical the whole family will enjoy. 

For tickets ($31-43, special rates for seniors, students and children), call Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Hamilton Park Pavilion, 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.

Learn a lesson of good will, that fairy tales can come true and that faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to do so.   The cast sings, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," to get you in the proper mood.

"A CHRISTMAS CAROL" SAILS INTO HARTFORD STAGE ON GHOST WINGS



The Grinch is a green meanie who hates Christmas, much in the tradition of a present day Scrooge.  Each of them in their own way have hearts that are too hard and too small to allow any joy to enter and thrive.  But lessons can be learned and changes can be transforming.  Even Ebenezer Scrooge, the original curmudgeon, can become lovable.

If seeing is believing, then head over to the Hartford Stage for the fifteenth anniversary production of Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol-A Ghost Story of Christmas" directed by Maxwell Williams until Saturday, December 29.

Once again the inimitable Bill Raymond will portray the miserly man who hates everything festive and merry that makes Christmas so wonderful.  On this particular Christmas Eve, the steely-minded Scrooge has an unlikely visitor: the ghost of his dead business partner Jacob Marley (Noble Shropshire) who has been gone lo these seven years.

The two men ran an accounting house and worshipped money more than men, the almighty dollar mattering more than humanity.  Marley warns Scrooge that he can yet avert his own terrible fate, but only if he repents, changes, mends his skinflint ways.  To that end, he will be visited by three spirits tonight, ghosts who dramatically resemble a trio of creditors who owe him money in life:  Bettye Pidgeon, a doll vendor (Johanna Morrison), Bert, a fruit and cider vendor (Alan Rust) and Mr. Marvel, a watchworks seller (Michael Preston).  The Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future remind Scrooge of who he was, is and is destined to become and urge him to seek redemption.  They appear Christmas Eve when the clock strikes one o'clock, two and three.  When Scrooge awakes and realizes it is truly Christmas Day, he is now benevolent and filled with gratitude.

The ones who clearly benefit from his largesse are his housekeeper Mrs. Dilber (Noble Shropshire), his humble employee Bob Crachit (Robert Hannon Davis) and his son Tiny Tim ( Ethan Pancoast and Fred Thornley IV) and his nephew Fred (Curtis Billings).  Because of the preponderance of ghosts this story is not appropriate for very young children, under the age of nine.

For tickets ($26.50-93.50), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org.  Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m, with matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday and selected weekdays and Saturdays.  Call for special events for the whole family.

Let two hundred pounds of artificial snow bring sparkle to your holiday celebrations as the magic of Scrooge's transformation from naughty to nice captures your heart.

“THE SANTALAND DIARIES:” A TALE OF A RELUCTANT ELF

 


If you’re an unemployed actor, you might be willing to take any job to pay your rent.  David Sedaris found himself in just such a state after landing in New York to make his fame and fortune on the stage.  He has memorialized the experience in a one-man show “The Santaland Diaries” playing with jolly holly fun at TheaterWorks of Hartford until Sunday, December 23.

While the out –of- work actor had some standards, (he would not be a French fry or hot dog or taco standing on the street corner handing out leaflets), he found himself willing to consider an ad for a Christmas elf at Macy’s Department Store, especially after his roommate dared him to apply. At thirty-three years of age, his biggest fear was that he wouldn’t be hired.

Enter Jeff Kready as Crumpet the reluctant elf who endured the indignities of the application process and then found himself clad in red, white and green from his sparkling cap to his curled velvet toes, complete with candy cane leggings.  As an elf with an attitude, he had many career opportunities, from entrance to exit elf, bridge elf, runner elf, magic window or magic tree elf, photo or island elf.  Wherever he landed, he had to deal with grumpy parents and crying children and impossible to please bosses, not to mention fellow elves named Snowball, Gingerbread, Jingle and even Dreidel.

Kready is alternately philosophical and sarcastic about his seasonal stint with Santa, and the task of being “relentlessly cheerful” and  permanently merry only gives him a headache.  His goal of being elected to the Elfin Hall of Fame is probably a lost cause.  Yet  late on Christmas Eve, the skeptical Crumpet finds himself in the presence of a Kris Kingle who gives him pause and actually a new perspective on the true meaning of the holiday.  Rob Ruggiero directs this Christmas tale that is definitely different in its spirit of looking behind the candy canes for what is lurking in the red and green shadows.

For tickets ($30 subscribers, $35 senior matinees, student rush $17, general admission $40-53), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org.  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Lace your eggnog with a splash of rum and let one silly and sarcastic elf bring you some unbridled Christmas cheer.


Photos:
http://www.theaterworkshartford.org/Press/Santa/

"DEAR ELIZABETH" A CHARMING CONVERSATION THROUGH LETTERS

 MARY BETH FISHER AND JEFFERSON MAYS, PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS

Letter writing is a lost art in this age of instant messaging, emails and tweets.  Taking a pen to paper, heavy vanilla cream vellum, is a pleasure few indulge in with any consistency.  How delightful, therefore, to enjoy the exchanges that span three decades and several continents between two literary giants.

Sarah Ruel has penned a world premiere play "Dear Elizabeth" focusing on the lengthy correspondence of two close friends, the poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, at New Haven's Yale Repertory Theatre until Saturday, December 22.  This lyrical waltz of words records the deep friendship that marks their relationship.

Both are gifted in their own right, he having won a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Book Award and both earning a Pulitzer and both serving as the equivalent of what would be called Poet Laureate today.  Their paths crossed  often, but more likely they were at opposite sides of the globe, he in Italy, she in Brazil, he in Maine, she in Key West.  Mary Beth Fisher's Elizabeth and Jefferson Mays' Robert, who went by Cal, capture the spirit of these two literary legends.

No matter where they were, they wrote:  letters, postcards, manuscripts, telegrams, hundreds of which survive.  They met in 1947 and continued their correspondence until Lowell died of a heart attack in 1977.  Each considered the other a "best friend." At one point, Lowell almost asked her to marry him, but it was destined not to be.

Through their many problems, her asthma and alcoholism, his mental illness, they supported each other, sharing thoughts to bolster and boost spirits.  Called a "poet's poet," it was not unusual for each to mail the other newly completed works for comments and criticism.  Les Waters directs this gentle exchange with an understanding hand.

For tickets ($20-96), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven 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.

Calling upon the elements of nature, from water to planets to the moon, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell promise each other a starry eternity.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE" TRES (VERY) REMARKABLE

                                                    Photo  by T Charles Erickson


"Sunday in the Park with George," a musical by the writing team of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, deals with art in general and with artist George Seurat in particular.  Covering two time periods a century apart, 1884 and 1984, and two countries, France and America, it explores the relationships of an artist to his work and the reactions of the critics and the public.

The Yale School of Drama has created a masterful, technically challenging, stunningly beautiful portrait of the struggling artist trying to prove his worth to himself first and foremost, and simultaneously garnering the adoration and admiration of his community of colleagues.  Until Thursday, December 20, enter the artist's world at the University Theatre, York Street, New Haven.  You will never look at a paint brush and palette in quite the same way again. 

Mitchell Winter embodies the souls of both artists named George who share a passion for creating and a direct lineal relationship, although the George of the twentieth century resists the idea that Seurat, the pointillist , could be his great grandfather.

With exquisite style and attention to detail, we witness the birth of an idea, as Seurat conceives it, of people strolling in the park by a river on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  With consideration for composition, balance, light and harmony, he takes a large white canvas and structures his ideas into a pleasing arrangement.  Using the neighborhood patrons, bakers, soldiers, lovers, families and roustabouts,even his mother and her nurse, he moves them within his mental framework, using dots and specks of color that execute his vision of the whole.

Monique Bernadette Barbee's Dot is his muse, his inspiration, who only gets his attention when she is his model set in a pose.  The announcement that she is carrying his child is greeted with silence and disinterest and he allows her to marry Louis, the baker, (Jeremy Lloyd) without a pang of regret.

His focus is consumed by his art and the completion of his painting "Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte" is his goal.  On stage, it is astonishingly lovely.

The George of the next century is also consumed with his creations.  Like his predecessor, he wants his art to be appreciated and become a commercial success.  He, too, is plagued with doubts as he tries to conceive a totally new art form.  Ethan Heard directs this truly talented troupe who embrace this remarkable play and make it totally their own.

For tickets ($25), call the Yale Repertory Theatre at 203-432-1234 or online at http://drama.yale.edu/.  Performances are Monday-Thursday at 8 p.m., with general seating.

Watch a grand painting, one of only a handful that Seurat painted but never sold, come to life before your eyes as you are made privy to the artist's vision and soul.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"ABBAMANIA" A SINGING SENSATION IN BRIDGEPORT



If you walked out of the movie or musical "Mamma Mia" singing "Dancing Queen" or "Thank You for the Music," you're a good candidate for Bridgeport's Downtown Cabaret Theatre's show this weekend, plus New Year's Eve,
celebrating the Swedish singing sensations ABBA.

As far as tribute bands go, ABBAmania is rated number one with all the great costuming, staging and super sounds of the original.  Downtown Cabaret Theatre will be  set to rock the rafters on Friday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 15 at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m and again on Sunday, December 16 at 6 p.m.  And don't forget New Year's Eve!

Be prepared to laugh at their on stage antics and singalong as more than twenty top ABBA hits are belted out in brilliant and dazzling concert style.  The incredible vocals of Toby Boyle, Danny Glockstein, Carly Broome and Katrina Wallis will wow you and have you on your feet with excitement.

Successfully touring all over the world, from Sweden to Switzerland, Austria to Venezuela, you only have to travel on I-95 to exit 27 A to exit 2 for a concert fit for royalty.

For tickets ($47), call the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at www.downtowncabaret.org.  Remember to bring dinner and drinks to share at your table.

Need a place to ring in the New Year?  Look to ABBAmania and the Downtown Cabaret.  Starting at 8:30 p.m Monday, December 31, the celebration begins with that great ABBA sound.  All inclusive tickets are $79, with free parking, party favors, coffee and danish.  Dance on stage and be your own Dancing Queens and Kings.  A midnight balloon drop will be your SOS for fun.

"A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES" A HOLIDAY SPECIAL




The nostalgia of holiday memories, whether it's the baking of raisin-faced gingerbread men or the hanging of popcorn garlands on the tree, are precious ones.  Ivoryton Playhouse is sharing a special batch of childhood Christmas thoughts, courtesy of the National Theatre of the Deaf, until Sunday, December 16 when it offers "A Child's Christmas in Wales - Past and Presents."

Inspired by a favorite poem by Dylan Thomas, it centers on his boyhood by the "two-tongued sea" of Wales when he waited with his pal Jim to ambush the town's cats and pelt them with snowballs.  When the cats wisely failed to appear, the snowballs became the emergency ammunition when Mrs. Prothero's kitchen caught on fire.

His recollections included a bevy of crazy relatives, a tower of useless Christmas presents, lots of cold and snow, valiant postmen and making huge footprints in the snow with bright new boots so people would think a pair of hippos had invaded the town.  Combining signing with the spoken word, Dylan Thomas' childhood thoughts are brought to delightful life by Joey Caverly, Christina Cogswell, Taylor Curtis and Christina Stevens.

A Children's Choir of Julianna Alvord, Jenna Berloni, Olivia Harry, Bridget Harry, Carson Waldron and Mason Waldron sang and signed Christmas carols.  Tales about Virginia asking the New York Sun newspaper if there is a Santa Claus, the lovely story of a husband and wife selling their most precious possessions to buy the other a gift, a clumsy polar bear wanting to help Mrs. Claus decorate a tree, an original audience participation rendition of "On the First Day of Christmas" without a partridge or a pear tree, the story of an unhappy boy Bertram who wants Santa to bring his friends what they want for Christmas, a Chanukah song and a reenactment of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" also were featured.  Brian Jennings directed this happy homespun holiday happening conceived by Betty Beekman.
Performance times are Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $30 for adults, $28 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting the website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org   The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton. The town is illuminated with thousands of colorful lights for your enjoyment.


Journey with Dylan Thomas and the National Theatre of the Deaf to a snow crusted world in Wales where anything is possible for a child if you just believe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"DRIVING MISS DAISY" A SMOOTH AND ENJOYABLE RIDE



Miss Daisy Werthan of Atlanta, Georgia has been determining her own destiny for more than seven decades and she has no inclination to change.  Just because her three week old 1948 Packard "misbehaved" and demolished itself, a garage and a tool shed was clearly the fault of the machine and was no reflection on her driving skills.

As a fine and upstanding Southern gentlewoman of the Jewish persuasion, she refuses to acknowledge she is well-to-do.  She also refuses to listen to her son Boolie who insists she must surrender her car keys and let him hire a colored gentleman to chauffeur her to the Piggly-Wiggly for groceries and to the Temple for worship.

Until Sunday, December 23, you are invited to make the acquaintance of this genteel lady with a backbone of steel as Playhouse on Park in West Hartford presents a delightful production of the Pulitzer Prize- winning "Driving Miss Daisy" by Alfred Uhry.

Waltrudis Buck is wonderful as the opinionated, feisty and fiercely independent Daisy who refuses to give up control of her life.  Bristol Pomeroy is the loving and loyal son Boolie who knows his mama is a "doodle" but understands what's best for her.  To that end, he interviews and hires Hoke Colburn, played with wisdom and quiet dignity by Marvin Bell, to escort his mama around town.

With stubborn resistance, Miss Daisy tries Hoke's patience and over their twenty-five year journey together they form a genuine friendship that is endearing to watch.  Eventually even Miss Daisy admits that Hoke is her "best friend."  Stevie Zimmerman directs this superb trio with white-gloved sensitivity.

For tickets ($32.50, seniors and students $20-30), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford 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. On Friday and Saturday, December 28 and 29 at 8 p.m., the Playhouse will host Mama D's Outrageous Holiday Romp, a Stop/Time Dance Theater Production.  BYOB and tickets are $10.

Take a seat in Miss Daisy's Packard for a smooth ride, with a few bumps like prejudice and racism, as Hoke chauffeurs you along Miss Daisy's interesting life.  Fasten your seat belts, please.

"THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE" IS DARKLY COMIC


When actresses seek out juicy roles on stage and in the movies, Kathleen Turner has gotten more than a fair share of "Tropicana" hits.  Recently she starred on Broadway in the searing role of Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"  Before that she was Maggie the Cat in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."  She has also embodied the soul of Tallulah Bankhead in a memorable one woman show as well as Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate."  From Jessica Rabbit to Peggy Sue, the adventurous Joan Wilder opposite Michael Douglas and the infamous Matty in "Body Heat," Ms. Turner is no stranger to roles that challenge, inspire and even frighten.

Now she has turned her considerable talents in a new direction and New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre is reaping the benefits.  In discovering a play, a dark comedy of a vintage almost five decades ago. she saw its potential and has orchestrated its return to the stage.  "The Killing of Sister George" by Frank Marcus has been updated and adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher and will inaugurate Long Wharf's newly renovated Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck II Mainstage Theatre until Sunday, December 23.

Not only does Ms. Turner direct this twisting comic farce she stars in it as June Buckridge, the caring nurse who tends the poor and sickly on the successful British radio soap opera "Applehurst."  Off the air, June is a hard talking, take-no-prisoners feminist who intimates her young lover and helpmate Childie, captured perfectly by Clea Alsip.

When June senses that her character Sister George is likely to be "bumped off" due to falling ratings, she rants at Childie and then consults her resident psychic Madame Xenia, a perceptive Olga Merediz.
The brassy broad Ms. Buckridge downs a few gins and smokes a few stogies as she confronts the radio station's representative Mercy Croft, a diplomatic and calculating Betsy Aiden, who is set to deliver the axe to the sacrificial Thanksgiving turkey.  Whether or not the axe will hit its mark makes the plot even more delicious.

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.

A day of myth, magic and monsters is planned for the whole family on Saturday, December 15 from 9 a.m. to noon.  You are invited to come dressed as your favorite princess, knight, wizard and monster.  To register for "Quest for Long Wharf Castle," go online at www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282. 

Support the theatre's Toys for Tots Drive by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to the theatre lobby until December 20.  Marines will then deliver them to less fortunate children in the community.

The perfect holiday gift is an "Anytime Pass" for $50 each, a minimum purchase of four, to be exchanged for one play or to use throughout the season.  Call the box office for more information.

Let this all-female cast take you on a journey with June as she battles the forces determined to insure her demise.

"GLITZ!" A SNAZZY NEW MUSICAL ABOUT BEAUTIES AND ONE BEAST

Kylie Poggio, Dani Corrigan, Peyton Iott, Cassie Gerace and Elise Sullivan: Glitz! Girls

In a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Honey Boo Boos of this world, with a passing homage to the reality television show "Toddlers and Tiaras,"a new musical by Bert Bernardi and Justin Rugg is a holiday happening.  "Glitz! The Little Miss Christmas Pageant Musical" will take you behind the scenes of the mother-daughter hijinxs that are attached to this mystical event.

Pantochino Productions will offer this inside peek behind the velvet curtain weekends until  Saturday, December 22 at the Milford Center for the Arts, the town's railroad station, 40 Railroad Avenue, Milford.  Bert Bernardi directs a large cast of beauty winner wannabes and their pushy and frantic mamas as they all compete for the coveted title.

Center stage is the master of ceremonies and pageant director, one Shayde Shams, whose name says it all.  He is shady and a sham.  Claiming  the pageant is to benefit a charity for sick children, he has every intention of pocketing all the proceeds for himself.  Jimmy Johansmeyer's sleazy Shayde needs to learn a lesson or three about being nice and not naughty.

To that end, Shayde is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley (a la Dicken's "A Christmas Carol") and warned to repent by the ghosts of pageants past, present and yet to come. George Spelvin takes on all these roles with panache. Thankfully Shayde mends his ways with the help and encouragement of the precocious contestants Haily (Dani Corrigan), Sophia (Cassie Gerace), Goodness Gracious (Peyton Iott), Taylor (Elise Sullivan) and Barbie (Kylie Poggio) and their manipulating and motivating mothers Helen (Dale Allen), Mugsy (Shelley Marsh Poggio), Marybeth (Jennifer Smith), Olivia (Mary Mannix) and Cheryl (Katie Durham).

Get into the Christmas spirit as this fiercely competitive talent show allows the mothers and daughters to learn the value of truth and honesty.  Songs like "The Pageant Life Is For Me" and "My Daughter's Better Than Yours"
say it all, especially the confessional appeal of "I Want to be Like Valerie Bertinelli."

For tickets ($16), call Pantochino Productions at  203-937-6206 or online at info@pantochinoproductions.com.  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m with no performances Saturday, December 15.

Take a bevy of little beauties, in ruffled socks and black patent leather shoes, add make-up and ambition and talent, sequins and spangles, and you have all the ingredients for an entertaining new holiday happening.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A CLASSIC TALE OF LOVE AND LOSS AT UCONN




If you were asked to guess which of William Shakespeare's plays, both comedies and tragedies, is the most produced worldwide, would you answer "A Midsummer's Night Dream" or "Hamlet"?  Both would be wrong.  Since it was first published in 1597, "Romeo and Juliet" enjoys that distinction and the answer is in the hundreds of thousands.  It is certain that at any moment in time, it is being performed right this minute.

In fact, "Romeo and Juliet," that beloved classic about young love and family enmity, is available right in your own backyard as a splendid rendition is being offered until Sunday, December 9 by the Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut.

This masterful story of first love, a deep affection set on a course to crash and burn, is timeless in its message.  When Romeo attends a masquerade ball given by his family's sworn enemies the Capulets, he becomes immediately taken with their only daughter Juliet.  Despite all the obstacles facing them, the pair bravely face the future with love igniting their souls.

Will Haden's Romeo is impassioned and powerful as the ill-fated suitor, seeking the hand of Hannah Kaplan's luminous Juliet, a girl forbidden for him to know.  The hatred of the Montagues, Romeo's kinsmen, against Juliet's Capulets, is long standing and dooms the couple to a grief filled future.  When Mercutio (Andrea Pane) is slain by Tybalt (Thomas Brazzle), Romeo is swept into the fray and accidentally takes Tybalt's life.

Despite the help of Juliet's loyal nurse (Nora Chester) and the accommodating Friar Lawrence (Richard Ruiz), the couple soon find themselves trapped in a violence not of their own making. Juliet's overbearing father (Anthony J. Goes) demands she marry the suitor of his choice, the Lord Paris (James Jelkin) and issues his ultimatum in a manner bordering on child abuse.  The quiet streets of Verona are marked by swordplay and bloodshed until the death-marked lovers pay the ultimate price for a quarrel begun long before they were even born.  Vincent J. Cardinal directs this complex tale with a strong hand and a surprising number of humorous moments.

For tickets ($6-30), call the Nafe Katter Theatre, 820 Bolton Road, Storrs or www.crt.uconn.edu.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Learn for yourself the lesson "for never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo,"  a couple who are ultimately united in death, teaching their parents the price they paid for their hatred.

PAUL ANKA INVITES YOU TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS




If you're a fan of the television series "The Gilmore Girls," set in Hartford and Star's Hollow, Connecticut, then you might remember that the star of the show Lorelai Gilmore named her sheepdog pet Paul Anka.  Lorelai has fond feelings for this singing sensation and teen idol who enjoyed top billing in the 1950's and 1960's.

Born in Canada and now a naturalized citizen of the United States, Paul Anka has sung with and composed for some of the top names in the music industry, from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson, Johnny Mathis to Peter Cetera.  To hear a marvelous medley of Anka tunes like "Diana," "Lonely Boy" and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder," plan to head to Waterbury's Palace Theater on Saturday, December 8 at 8 p.m. for a concert "Christmas with the Legendary Paul Anka."

Admit it.  You'd like to put your head on his shoulder and let him croon any of the songs he has written and popularized over the last five decades.  Who wouldn't want to hear his rendition of "She's a Lady," a song he wrote for Tom Jones or "My Way" a little ditty he penned for Ole Blue Eyes.

Swoon like you're a teenager again as this prolific songwriter of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries shares his greatest hits as well as a cavalcade of Christmas classics like "Winter Wonderland" and "The Christmas Song."  This personality-plus performer will give 110% as he royally entertains the Palace Theater audience.

Before the performance, attend a 6 p.m. dinner in the Palace's Poli Club by Emily's Catering Group, $40 per member or $50 per non-member, including tax service fees, coffee and tea.  A cash bar will be available.  Call the box office for reservations.

For tickets ($55-100), call 203-346-2000 or go online at www.palacetheaterct.org.  The Palace Theater is located at 100 East Main Street, Waterbury.

Start celebrating this festive season a little early as Paul Anka and his legendary voice and style usher in Christmas My Way, His Way and Your Way.

LONG WHARF THEATRE UNVEILS MAJOR RENOVATIONS




New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre has long been touted for its outstanding regional theater productions, but  if you've enjoyed the pleasure of the work you probably haven't enjoyed the total experience.  A definite lack of knee and leg room interfered with your comfort.

Fear no more.  Long Wharf Theatre has just completed a major renovation to its Main Stage, which will now be known as the Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage Theatre.  The Tow Foundation, endowed by Len, Claire and daughter Emily, created a challenge grant of $1,250,000 to start the almost $4,000,000 project.  According to Charles Kingsley, chairman of the board, "the physical discomfort of the audience has been cured once and for all."  He has been attending excellent theater at Long Wharf since he saw Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" back in 1965.

Gorden Edelstein, who has been the Artistic Director for a decade, boasted that the renovations were a team effort, coming in "on time and on budget and looking good."  As soon as you walk in the large glass doors, you will be greeted by an expanded lobby area with a bar, a larger green room and dressing rooms for the actors, a new lighting grid, advanced heating and air conditioning systems and a larger woman's restroom.  Mr. Edelstein remarked at the press opening that "It takes a village...all the people involved created a supportive community.  The donations from $10 to multiple thousands were incredibly moving to me."

To Len Tow, the donor who set the project in motion. "Long Wharf is the pinnacle of regional theater."  His attachment goes back thirty years and he is very proud to be intimately involved in the theater  He joked that he wants to play a leading role in the upcoming version of "Hamlet."  Tow called Long Wharf "an island of creativity next to a meat market of chops and steaks...the realization of a dream."

That theme, of its unlikely location, was continued by Mary Pepe, the chair of the facilities committee since 2003. "Long Wharf has left a lasting impression on me since the first day I walked in as a high school student in 1965."  She reflected on its "quirky charm" and incredible history.

If you would like to make a donation to the renovation, please call 203-787-4282, or Eileen Wiseman, Director of Development at 203-772-8237, or visit online at www.longwharf.org.  You can name a seat, a comfortable grey suede one, for $1500, $2500 or $5000 but donations of any amount are most welcome.

A formal celebration will take place at the opening of "The Killing of Sister George," a play directed by and starring Kathleen Turner on Wednesday, December 5.  This classic farce, which plays until December 23, will showcase Ms. Turner as a British radio star who is as different as day from night once she is off the air.  She is a nun tending the poor and sick on the radio by day and a hard living, cigar chewing, gin swilling tart by night.

Come see the new improved Long Wharf Theatre for yourself, soon and often.

Monday, November 26, 2012

TRUMAN CAPOTE'S "A CHRISTMAS MEMORY" IS A HOLIDAY READING

                                         THE THOMAS DARLING HOUSE

Take an historic and charming Colonial homestead, add a traditional sentimental tale of the holidays, top if off with tasty sweets and you have a triple-decker family treat. Thanks to the creativity of actress and director Joanna Keylock, you have the delightful opportunity to start the happy month of December off with sparkle and spirit.

On Saturday, December 1 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 2 at 5:30 p.m., you're invited to attend the staged reading of Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," at the Thomas Darling House, 1907 Litchfield Turnpike, Woodbridge. The house, built in 1772, which is on the National Register of Historic Places,  includes a beautifully restored building, barns, carriage shed, chicken coop, pig house and privy, and is an ideal location for this country tale. Written more than five decades ago, this short story, which is largely autobiographical, tells of a seven-year old boy named Buddy and his relationship with an elderly woman, Sook, his best friend and a distant cousin, and the joy they share giving gifts during the holiday season.

All year long they save their pennies, selling blackberries and flowers and doing odd chores, so they can bake thirty fruitcakes, laced with whiskey and stuffed with pecans, for everyone they know and like and even for some they don't personally know but still like, such as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Since Buddy lives  in a home where he is unloved, he searches out affection from Cousin Sook and the two develop a special and close relationship that lasts until her death.  Their Christmases together mark the best time of the year.

For tickets ($15 adults, $10 children),  email jojokeylock@yahoo.com or call 203-298-0730.  The reading will be followed by holiday treats, hot chocolate and spiced cider. A portion of ticket sales will benefit the Woodbridge Historical Society and Sunday's performance will benefit the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Usher in the holidays with Truman Capote's memories of Christmases in the 1930's and the woman who brought him so much joy and love, especially when she announced "It's fruitcake weather."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"A TAFFETA CHRISTMAS" WRAPPED UP IN A GLITTERY BOW


Imagine a giant box wrapped in shiny red and green paper, tied with a silvery bow, postmarked Muncie, Indiana and shipped, fragile handle with care, for delivery weekends until just before Christmas, Saturday, December 23 to be exact.  The destination is the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin and the intended recipients of this special present are you, the audience.

Get into the holiday spirit without hanging a bough of holly or spreading tinsel all over the tree.  Sign up for an infusion of musical joy as the big box of happiness opens to reveal a quartet of sisters, Cheryl, Kaye, Donna and Peggy, whose goal in life is simple and sweet: sing every Christmas song in their playbook to make you merry...and you can sing along too.

Come hear the croonings of Jennifer Augeri (Cheryl), Kelly Bourque (Kaye), Jessica Frye (Donna), and Sandra Lee (Peggy) as they warble out their favorite tunes of these festive days.  It's the 1950's once again and this gal group is offering a Hometown Holiday Hoedown for all their television fans.

America's little sweethearts, dressed in red and green plaid finery, are reprising all the hits that made them famous, everything from "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" to "Santa Baby" to "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays."  They even do a few tunes from around the world to celebrate December 25.  Be careful this is a little audience participation, especially if you are tapped to be Cousin Warren.  They also sing fun tunes like "Sugar Time," "Jambalaya" and "Sincerely."

Kris McMurray directs this happy holiday happening with a hearty hand, helped handily by the band, Pawel Jura on piano, Michael Palin on bass and Tim Urso on percussion.

For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1249 or online at www.ctcabaret.com.  Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.   Bring goodies to share at your table or buy cake and drinks on site.

Just in time for your holiday gift giving or an exciting new direction for 2013, the CT Cabaret Theatre is launching a Performing Arts Center, perfect for thespians of all ages, right next door at 35 Webster Square Road, Berlin on January 14, 2013.  Teachers from all over the state and from Broadway will focus on monologues, what it means to be an actor, creating show choirs of tunes from Bach to Beyonce, establishing a rock band, puppetry, dance, music videos, script writing, film editing and how to smash an audition.  Registration dates are December 3, 5, 11, 13, 17 and 19 from 4 p.m to 7 p.m and December 15 from noon-3 p.m.  Call 860-829-1249 for more information or go to www.ctcabaret.com.

Take a break from stuffing the turkey and the stockings and ring a few bells by singing along with these sweet sisters as they provide a Christmas carol song fest.

Monday, November 19, 2012

"DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL" IS HERE TO PLEASE



A perfect early holiday gift for the whole family is being unwrapped at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford daily until Sunday, November 25.  Now that Thanksgiving is a warm and fuzzy and delicious memory, it's time to get in the festive spirit and what better way than to take the kiddies to see "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical."

Who can resist that feathery green monster without a heart, especially when he has a spider-filled brain with a termite-ridden smile, the disposition of a nasty skunk, and a soul stuffed with unwashed socks?   Only a meanie could hate Christmas and do everything in his power to make sure it doesn't happen.  What are the people of Whoville to do in this dastardly situation?  The Grinch wants to steal their favorite holiday.

With book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, original score by Mel Marvin and choreography by John DeLuca, this family show has been a favorite since 1994 when the estate of Dr. Seuss gave permission to adapt his book.

The musical will star Stefan Karl, from Iceland, as the appropriately chilly frozen minded stinker who wants to drain all the joy from the tinsel-filled day. The Grinch uses all his powers to intimidate the people of Whoville, especially young and old Max, Cindy Lou Who, Mama Who and Grandma Who.

Is it possible to take a green meanie with a heart two sizes too small and transform him into a generous and happy creature?  With songs like "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," "Who Likes Christmas?," "I Hate Christmas Eve," "It's the Thought That Counts," "One of a Kind," "This Time of Year" and "Welcome, Christmas," you are able to travel the spectrum from despair to joy that this eighty-four minute show without an intermission will engender.  It's a great first show for a child to see, stuffed as it is with a colorful array of costumed actors and a story that will touch your heart.

For tickets ($20-60), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Come hear Max the Dog tell the warm-hearted tale of a cold-hearted schemer who learns lessons that change his mind about the value and importance of Christmas.

"SOMETHING'S AFOOT" GREAT WHODUNIT FUN


Once you eliminate the butler, the maid, the caretaker, the valet, the chauffeur and the cook, in other words the staff, all you have left are the invited guests and one stranger who wanders in from the storm.  the fact is they only one you can actually promise isn't the murderer is the butler because he is the first one to meet a grisly end.  Or does he?

You'll need to stay on your toes and scrutinize the clues as Goodspeed Musicals presents a musical whodunit worthy of a Miss Marple or Agatha Christie in "Something's Afoot" with music, book and lyrics by James McDonald, David Vos and Robert Gerlach, with additional music and lyrics by Ed Linderman.  This intriguingly fun murder mystery musical has already been extended to Sunday, December 9.

In the late spring of 1935, Lord Rancour issues six invitations to come to his retreat for the weekend.  Each guest mistakenly assumes he is the only one to receive the coveted missive.  The ingenue Hope Langdon, a pert and pretty Julis Osbourne, is the first one to arrive, quickly followed by the family physician Dr. Grayborn, a chipper Peter Van Wagner.  Next to cross the threshold is the unhappy nephew Nigel, a sulking Benjamin Eakeley, who fears he has been disinherited by his uncle, the Lord of the manor, and Lady Grace, a gracious Lynne Winterstellar, who as the ex-wife doesn't expect any financial favors.

Rounding out the usual suspects are the military man Colonel Gilweather, a starchy Ed Dixon, who had a romantic arrangement with Lady Grace in another lifetime and the industrious, problem solving and take-charge Miss Tweed, a practical and to-the-point Audrie Neenan.

They are all greeted by the staff, the butler Clive, a no nonsense Ron Wisnicki, Lettie the flirty maid, an easily seduced and spooked Liz Pearce and the caretaker Flint, a knowledgeable industrious Khris Lewin, who knows where all the bodies are buried until he becomes one.

When Clive the butler meets his grim end and the body of Lord Rancour is discovered in his bed, dead, the shenanigans take a decidedly shady turn.  Miss Tweed, in the tradition of famous flinty female detectives before her, makes assumptions and leaps to conclusions, that include the last arrival to the castle, a youthful innocent who lost his way in the storm, Geoffrey, an eager to please Hunter Ryan Herdlicka.  Vince Pesce directs an choreographs this jolly journey where one by one the suspect list declines as the list of victims multiples.

For tickets ($27 and up), call Goodspeed Musicals, on the Connecticut River in East Haddam, at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  On Friday, November 23 there is an extra show at 2 p.m.

It's murder, in any number of ingenious ways, worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock plot, and you'll love weighing the clues...or just sitting back and enjoying the deadly fun.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"MY FAIR LADY" DELIGHTS IN WEST HARTFORD



For more than five decades, the story of a poor, dirty faced and uneducated Cockney flower girl, eking out a living selling  bunches of violets for a tuppence in Covent Gardens, has charmed the world.  This particular girl, one Eliza Doolittle, is ready to spread her magic once again when the West Hartford Community Theater brings the wonderful musical "My Fair Lady" to the King Philip School, 100 King Philip Drive, West Hartford for three performances Friday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 17 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.             

Come make the acquaintance of Amanda Kohl as delightful an Eliza Doolittle as you could hope to meet, with just the right amount of skepticism and wonder as you might expect when , suddenly, she is plucked from the gutter by an arrogant and aggressive Professor Henry Higgins and informed that he has the powers to make her a princess, or duchess, or any number of a member of royalty as he so chooses.  The professor in question, a master of languages and at the top of his field, has been challenged by his good friend and colleague Colonel Pickering (Sal Uccello)  to take this "squashed cabbage leaf," this "guttersnipe," and pass her off as a sophisticated lady of privilege. As the masterful professor Patrick Spadaccino is clearly up to the daunting task.

How Henry accomplishes this feat, which he takes full credit for, discounting all the work and effort by one Miss Doolittle herself, is a pure pleasure to watch.  When Eliza's old dad (Alfred Hess ) comes by to save her soul, or at least get paid for her lose of reputation, the goose feathers fly.  The wonderful Lerner and Loewe tunes are stuffed in that fat pillow and soar through the air, like "I Could Have Danced All Night," "Get Me to the Church on Time," "On the Street Where You Live" and "I've Grown Accustomed to her Face."

For all her efforts, Eliza only has the support of two females, the professor's mother (Kayzie Rogers) who knows all too well what a bully her son is and the professor's housekeeper, Mrs. Pierce (Eileen Rausch) who sees his impervious ways on a daily basis as well as the adoration of her suitor Freddie, a devoted Michael McDermott.  For her part, Eliza is swept up in the monumental task of transforming herself from head to toe, inside and out, and she does a magnificent job of the business at hand. 

The large enthusiastic community cast also includes Waas Porter as Mrs. Eynford-Hill, Michael Dolan as Lord Boxington, Susan Porta, Karen Finnegan, Eric Goldberg, Hal Chernoff, Bianca Slota, and Scott McDonald.
WHCT  welcomes back Lisa Camargo, Marcy Balint, Terry Szymanski and Bobbi Schmidt. Young singers include Sydney Weiser, Zach Aldave, Stella Rivera, and Alexandra van der Hulst.  All five members of the van der Hulst clan will join on WHCT's stage this year, including father, Harry, mother, Nancy, and children Russell, Serena and Alexandra.  Other members rounding out the cast include Julie Levine, Joan Delaney, Eleanor Putz, Allison Walbrown, Rebekah Battersby, Judge Linda Prestley, Jean Guthrie. Dancers include Ricardo Carillo Bambaren, Meghan McDermott, Noreen Cavanaugh, Melissa Silvanic, and Lucy Tomasso.

 Lesley Gallagher directs this musical fit for the whole family to enjoy, with energetic choreography by Jan Bunger, lively music direction by Ed de Groat, with able assistance by Paul Leone as stage manager and Jeff Goetz as the assistant director.

The West Hartford Community Theater will present the musical performance of "My Fair Lady" as its fifth major production.  WHCT was started in 2008 by Conard High School graduates, attorney Bruce LaRoche and Maria Librio Judge, a local CPA. Its first production, "Music Man," was made possible with help from Haig Shahverdian and Michael Renkawitz. Other past performances include, "Oklahoma," "Broadway Melodies," "Brigadoon," "A Tribute to Gershwin," "The Sound of Music," The Secret Garden," and "Broadway Nights.

For tickets ($18 in advance, $22 at the door), go to Pfau's Hardware in West Hartford Center or online at www.WHTheater.org.  Call 860-967-7026 for more information.

Cheer on Miss Eliza Doolittle as she trades in her bunches of flowers for a tiara and title, all thanks to a bet that the conceited Professor Henry Higgins can't resist making and winning.

ABIGAIL ADAMS CELEBRATED IN SONG AND VERSE




Presidential First Ladies have always been a fascination, from Martha Washington to Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.  They have ever exuded mystery and mystique, what they wore, what they said, where they traveled, what they did.

Thanks to the newly created Legacy Theatre, we have the unique opportunity to make the acquaintance of First Lady Abigail Adams, the beloved wife of the second president, John Adams and the mother of the sixth president, John Quincy Adams.  Nonie Sorensen has penned a revealing portrait in "Affectionately, Abigail, for its northeast premiere," that will be presented for its final performance, Saturday, November 17 at 2 p.m. at the James Blackstone Memorial Library, 758 Main Street, Branford.

Much of this personal recollection is based on the abundance of letters that an affectionate Abigail wrote to her devoted husband as he served his country before, during and after the Revolutionary War.  From his early days serving in the Continental Congress, when he stayed for months at a time in Philadelphia, through the writing of the Declaration of Independence, his stints as a diplomat dispatched to Paris and London and finally his election to the presidency, Abigail was his constant counsel on issues of politics and government.

Keely Baisden Knudsen is delightful and charming as the steadfast wife who maintains the home front, raising six children, enduring hardships, surviving epidemics, always supportive of the man who gave so much of himself to his country.

Intimate details of their lives are uncovered through words, many spoken by Tom Schwans who takes on the role of narrator and as John, and the music that highlights moments such as his patriotic work, the hopes for women's equality, Abigail's "duty to soften all his cares" and her declaration "I love America."  A continual selection of visual slides accompanies the presentation, adding color and depth.  This historical pageant is beautifully and sensitively directed by Stephanie Stiefel Williams.

The first two performances took place on Friday and Saturday, November 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. at the Nathanael B. Greene Community Center, 32 Church Street, Guilford. The performance is free but donations are most welcome.

The Legacy Theatre will be holding spring Acting Workshops on the third Saturday of each month from January to May, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Guilford Community Center for ages 12 to adult.  Sessions will deal with Beginning Acting, Improvisation, Monologues and Audition Techniques and other theatrical topics.  Go to www.LegacyTheatreCT.org or call 203-457-0138.

The primary mission of the Legacy Theatre is to buy and restore the Stony Creek Puppet House Theatre and make it their permanent home.  A  major fundraising effort will culminate this June.

Let the words of Abigail Adams, in her correspondence with her statesm

"MARIE ANTOINETTE" TRAVELS INSIDE THE WIGGED HEAD OF A QUEEN

HANNAH CABELL, MARIN IRELAND AND POLLY LEE     PHOTO T.CHARLES ERICKSON

Marie Antoinette was a little girl who liked to play dress-up, an Austrian princess who married at age fifteen to Louis XVI, soon to be the King of France.  This alliance of countries brought a sheltered and naive girl, beautiful and gifted in musical skills, to a great position of power at only nineteen.  Her mercurial reign was legendary, filled with destructive rumors and scandals, marked by turbulence, at a time when the peasants of France rose up and demanded a voice of equality and democracy.

To enter the royal palaces of the queen, to follow this Hapsburg princess from beloved to reviled to her dramatic end at the guillotine, be entranced by the world premiere of "Marie Antoinette" by David Adjmi at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, a co-production with the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until Saturday, November 17.

Marin Ireland delightfully embodies Marie, at once frivolous and impetuous, petulant and indulgent, a butterfly who loved parties and gambling and dressing up in haute couture in the most extravagant of styes.  She was in many ways the opposite of her husband, played to perfection by a reclusive and indecisive Steven Rattazzi, who would have been happier tinkering and playing with his collection of clocks than running a vast empire.

Marie's brother Joseph (Fred Arsenault) comes to court to counsel the couple when, after seven years of marriage, they have not produced an heir.  His advice works and their first child, a daughter, is born a year later.  Rumors that Marie is having an affair with the Swedish diplomat Axel Fersen (Jake Silbermann) does not endear her to her subjects, especially as they blame her and her excessive lifestyle for their poverty.

When the peasants revolt and massacres cause blood to run red in the streets, the opulent life of the royal family is doomed. Rebecca Taichman directs this personally revealing tour of one of the most exalted and vilified personages of history, the symbol of the end of European monarchies.  Riccardo Hernandez crafts a fascinating set to showcase the action while Gabriel Berry's costumes are a fashion parade of frivolous fun.

For tickets ($20-96), call the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven 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. and selected Wednesdays.

Can a princess, born into a life style where she had one hundred and twenty-four kitchens in her Austrian palace, find happiness in a political alliance engineered by her mother?  Will she heed the warnings of the sheep (David Greenspan) as she plays at being Little Bo Peep?  Let this fascinating tale capture the tragedy of a girl born to be a queen whose butterfly wings are traumatically clipped.

“THIS IS THE 60’S:” A MAGNIFICENT MULTIMEDIA SHOW

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If the 1960’s are your era, where the times and the tunes speak to your heart and set your feet tapping, then the Palace Theater in Waterbury has a show with your name stamped in gold on the playbill cover.  “This is the 60’s” will capture the decade in every way possible, marking each of the historic milestones from this fascinating and frantic time.

The stage of the Palace Theater will be aglow with the men and the music who made history for one spectacular show only, Saturday, November 17 at 8 p.m.  More than a concert showcasing the music of The Monkees, The Beatles, The Mamas and The Papas, The Beach Boys, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, The Fifth Dimension, Jimi Hendrix, Three Dog Night, Jefferson Airplane and more, the evening will include a timeline of the events that celebrated the decade on its fiftieth anniversary.

Relive the excitement and spectacle of the space program when man first walked on the moon, the phenomenon of the Fab Four lads from across the pond who sparked Beatlemania, the agony and trauma of the Vietnam War and the loss of the icon from Camelot known as John Fitzgerald Kennedy. 

Poignant and powerful film clippings will highlight the culture of the times, complete with commercials from television ads. Seven talented performers, Joan Burton, Eddie Darst, David Krol, Daryn Owen, Freddy Trumbower, Janisse Flowers and Anna Rednour, will offer more than two solid hours of live rock and roll memories and memorabilia as they travel back in time to recreate everything from white bread to Woodstock.

“This is the 60’s” was created by producer/director Jim Duffy, a veteran documentary filmmaker, author and musician, who knows how to capture the moments that mark this turbulent time.

 Before the performance, patrons are invited to arrive early for a 7:30 p.m. flashback performance in the theater’s lobby by Trish Torello, a popular local performer and former lead singer of the 60’s band Good & Plenty. Torello will send patrons tripping back in time when she belts out the signature song of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick, “White Rabbit.”

 Also before the show, Emily’s Catering Group will serve a 6 p.m. pre-show dinner in the Palace’s Poli Club, located on the Mezzanine level of the theater. Dinner is $40 per member and $50 per non-member, which includes tax, service fees, coffee, and tea. A cash bar is also available. Seating is limited, and reservations can be made when purchasing tickets through the Box Office.

For tickets ($25, 35, 45), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at www.palacetheaterct.org.

Come revisit the most exciting decade of the Twentieth Century and stroll down the sidewalks one fabulous musical note after another.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

THE HIT MEN SET TO ROCK THE DOWNTOWN CABARET OF BRIDGEPORT

THE HIT MEN:  Gerry Polci, Don Ciccone, Larry Gates, Russ Velazquez, Lee Shapiro & Jim Ryan

When you think of hit men, your first thought might be criminal gangs like the Mafioso and the Sopranos, but you'd be shooting from the hip in the entirely wrong direction.  Instead of criminals being mowed down, eliminated, assassinated or eviscerated, these talented six guys will reactivate, reconstitute and rejuvenate the acts that you loved from decades past.  The target here is entertainment and the Hit Men are a sensational musical group that scores solid punches at the mega-star acts of the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's.

Come hear Lee Shapiro, Don Ciccone, Jimmy Ryan, Russ Velazquez, Gerry Polci and Larry Gates for a trio of performances only the weekend of Friday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 17 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.  The Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport will be the scene of all the action-packed musical celebration. 

If your favorite numbers on the jukebox are recorded by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Elton John, Jim Crocce, Carly Simon, Tommy James and the Shondells and Cat Stevens, then The Hit Men have your selections plugged in to their musical cavalcade.  Not only will they play your favorites, but also they will share their intimate backstage stories and anecdotes from their days on and off the stage playing with these legendary groups.

These guys are credited with writing or arranging such tunes as "Oh, What a Night," "Who Loves You," "Walk Like a Man," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Hanky Panky."  Each is a great musician, each is a terrific singer and together these men will give all their energy and enthusiasm to make a super evening of the golden tunes that defined three generations. 

The brainchild of Lee Shapiro, who assembled this sextet of superb performers, these men are a brotherhood with many friendships that date back decades. They will come together to create the great sounds of the past.  Their credentials are rock and roll solid gold, vocals and instrumentals melded magnificently.

For tickets ($47, 57), call the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at www.downtowncabaret.org.

For music and memories, a timeline of rock and roll history, for six guys who love what they are doing, look no further than The Hit Men and their sharp shooting style.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"WINGS" FLYING HIGH AND FREE AT SPIRIT OF BROADWAY THEATER




A parent can do nothing better for children than to give them roots and wings, roots to ground and stabilize them, wings so they can fly.  Emily Stillson was gifted with such parents, ones who gave her confidence and strength and also allowed her to literally and figuratively soar, as a walker on the wings of airplanes.

To meet Emily and become intimately acquainted with her personal story of courage and daring, attend the fine producition of "Wings," by Arthur Perlman for book and lyrics and Jeffrey Lunden for music at Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich until Sunday, November 25.

According to director Brett A. Bernardini, who takes great artistic risks in his creative musical productions, the message of "Wings" is to live in the moment and live well.  This unique piece of theater forces the audience to stand on the edge of an abyss and discover those elements of our lives today that we can make memorable.  The play reminds us how powerful our lives are every second.

For Emily, played with remarkable skill and sensitivity by Lauren Adams, her growing up years were spent in the heavens, on the fragile wings of airplanes, defying gravity in air shows with her family.  Her courage and fearlessness were legendary.  The young Emily is portrayed by a vibrant Aysia Reed.

Now later in life Emily lives in her memories from her youth, until, that is, she suffers a stroke and all her glory days are completely erased.  "Wings" follows her struggle and progress back from a land of confusion and darkness.

The director uses swatches of lighting, designed by Ann Sitzman, and echoes of sound, designed by Steven Hinchley, to underscore Emily's journey back to herself.  Along the way, her doctor (Derek Corriveau), her nurse (Jacqueline Yeung) and especially her aide Amy, portrayed by a strong and suportive Aline O'Connor, help her find her way, in bits and pieces, small steps to capture lost language skills.  Her support group includes Mr. Brambilla (Dan Adams) and Derek Corriveau as Billy who sings a wonderful song about his recipe for cheesecake.  One of Emily's most poignant moments is her song "I Remember Snow" as her aide Amy guides her recollection.

For tickets ($30, students $25, children $20), call Spirit of Broadway Theater, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at www.spiritofbroadway.org.  Performances are Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Now is the time to make your reservations for the 12th Annual Spirit Awards on Saturday, December 1 at The Norwch Inn and Spa, route 32, Norwich, with cocktails and hors d'ourves at 6 p.m., a four course gourmet dinner at 7 p.m. and entertainment and awards at 8 p.m.  This black tie event is $99 per person.  Call 860-886-2378 for complete details.

Watch Emily take cautious and slow steps to encourage the light to return and her spirit to soar free.

Monday, November 5, 2012

“NUNSET BOULEVARD” SAILS INTO THE PALACE TONIGHT!

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Since 1985, playwright Dan Goggin has made a career of showcasing the Catholic nuns of his school days in a variety of adventures, all in the name of good, clean fun.  He’s writing about nuns after all.  His latest installment is tonight, for one show only, when he puts his humorous spotlight on “Nunset Boulevard” and his beloved Little Sisters of Hoboken, with the incomparable Cindy Williams of “Laverne & Shirley” fame as Mother Superior.  Waterbury’s Palace Theater will be the place to be at 7:30 p.m. when all the nunsense and nonsense will begin.

The good sisters are thrilled that they have been invited to perform their singing and dancing routines at none other than the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California.
Imagine their dismay, however, when they travel to the sunshine state and discover their
gig is really at the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama.  These heavenly ladies of the cloth soon recover their equilibrium and decide to give the best performance of their show business careers.

Mother Superior who has a family history of tight rope walkers in the circus leads the charge and she is ably joined by Sister Mary Hubert, her second in command, who counts Elvis and a Little Rascal among her ancestors, Sister Robert Anne whose dad back in Brooklyn was a jazz musician, Sister Mary Leo who dreams of being discovered in a drug store and Sister Amnesia who yearns to be a country western star.

Strutting the runway as every drama queen from Ginger Rogers to Mae West, these gals are made for toe-tapping fun.  When they learn a big Hollywood movie producer is holding auditions,  right across the street,  for a new movie musical about the life of Dolores Hart, the famous movie star who became a nun, nothing can hold them back. They scurry to shine in the spotlight for their chance on the silver screen.  Yet when it looks like one of their order may actually have what it takes to be a star, confusion as to their real calling ensues.

For tickets ( $75 and $45), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at
 203-346-2000 or go online at www.palacetheaterct.org.  As part of a special fundraiser for the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, where Sister Dolores Hart currently resides, a portion of ticket proceeds from the Palace’s presentation of this show will benefit the Abbey’s New Horizons Fund. Before the show, Sister Dolores will meet and greet patrons in the orchestra lobby, and after the show, patrons who purchased a $75 ticket will be invited to attend a post-show reception meet-and-greet in the mezzanine lobby with star Cindy Williams, director Dan Goggin and other members of the cast.

At 5:30pm, Emily’s Catering Group will prepare a pre-show dinner in the Palace’s Poli Club, located on the Mezzanine level of the theater. The dinner is $40 per member and $50 per non-member, which includes tax, service fees, coffee, and tea. A cash bar is also available. Seating is limited, and reservations can be made when purchasing tickets through the Box Office.

During its original 1985 New York run, “Nunsense” became the second longest running musical in Off- Broadway history, eclipsed only by “The Fantasticks.” For more information, visit www.nunsense.com.

Come dancing along with this merry troupe of ladies as they discover their talents and happily share them like the angels that they are.

HUNTER BELL, PLAYWRIGHT, ABOUT LAMBS AND MICE, NO BEARS, OH MY!

                      HUNTER BELL AND THE CREATIVE TEAM OF MOUSICAL

Not so long ago, actor/playwright Hunter Bell wrote a play about lambs, a little musical called "Silence," as in "Silence of the Lambs."  Now he is hard at work focusing on a smaller animal group with equal affection, mice.  Hunter Bell is writing the book adaptation of "The Great American Mousical," a children's story crafted with love by Dame Julie Andrews Edwards and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, with music by Zina Goldrich, lyrics by Marcy Heisler and choreography by Christopher Gattelli.

This "sweet, funny book with lots of love is a celebration of theater the whole family can enjoy," according to Mr. Bell.  "It is a real show, not a children's show, although it would be a wonderful 'first' show for a child to see."  Ms. Andrews calls it a "Valentine to Broadway musicals" as it concerns a troupe of mice who have been making their home in the basement of a stately old theater for years.  They put on their version of the shows that are performed upstairs in the historic Broadway house they call home.

When the theater is condemned, panic ensues and the mice mobilize to save it.  All might have worked out but their diva mouse Adelaide, played by an incredible Emily Skinner, a famous and temperamental leading lady, goes out for a nibble of cheese and is kidnapped.  How to rescue her from a trap in Brooklyn becomes the challenge of the moment.

The artistic team of "The Great American Mousical" is hard at work at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in Chester making the show ready for its world premiere on Thursday, November 8.  Collaborating with a fantastic cast, Bell claims to be "deep in the thick of the production, staging, running, tweaking and changing."  When he was first brought in to the process, Bell called his meeting  with Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma like "a blind date" until they discovered they were a good match.  He feels working with Ms. Andrews, who is the director of the musical, "remarkable as she's an icon, inspiring to be around with an incredible energy.  She is kind and talented and has had so much experience.  She's done it all, from Mary Poppins to Maria, and she rolls up her sleeves and gets down to work."

Bringing her "unbelievable work ethic" with her to the Norma Terris Theatre, which she calls "a wonderful sandbox, " she is "meticulous" in her attention to details in bringing this tiny story to gigantic life.  The mice, who perform great singing and dancing, with pay tribute and homage to the Broadway musical, with a tip of their furry ears to shows such as "Annie," "Hello Dolly!" and "Fiddler on the Roof," and will have names that echo the great characters  like Adelaide, Sky, Curly and Pippin. Pippin (Noah E. Galvin) sings a charming tune, "What Do You Think of That?" To Bell, the show is filled with "Rodgers and Hammerstein moments," with music that is laced with humor and wit, both fresh and familiar.

He hopes the audience will walk away with the message that "no matter how small you are, you can make a difference" as they enjoy this "celebration and love letter to the American musical."  He knows this "iconic American art form may ebb and change but it is here to stay."

Tony Walton who did the artwork in the original book is on board again doing scenery and costumes.  In a "fun and fantastical way," he will be "whimsical as he uses hats, hair, whiskers and tails"  to gift the mice with emotional life.

For tickets ($48), call Goodspeed Musicals at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org.  The show will run from Thursday, November 8 now extended by popular demand to Sunday, December 9.  Performances are Wednesday, at 2 p.m and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  The Norma Terris Theatre is located at 33 North Main Street, Chester, exit 6 off route 9.

Come be uplifted by Hunter Bell and the amazing team creating "The Great American Mousical" as he switches gears from dancing and singing lambs to dancing and singing mice. Can bears be far behind?  "What do you think of that?"