Saturday, June 30, 2012


When you think of special events, what happened Thursday, June 28 in a tent in New Canaan certainly qualifies. Summer Theater of New Canaan offered the special needs children of STAR, Inc. an opportunity to shine!  And shine they did!

All the joy and love in the story of the wonderful Wizard of Oz came to life when these terrific youngsters took to the stage and performed with enthusiasm and spunk.  Catherine Harris and Kelly Ritz were both wonderful as they shared the title role of Dorothy who gets caught up in a tornado and spun from her farmhouse in Kansas into the magical world of the Munchkins, somewhere over the rainbow. Jacob Braunhut was adorable as the Scarecrow who desperately wants a brain, Taylor Quinn was outstanding as the Tinman who so wants a heart and Chris Lopes was delightful as the Lion who needs a big infusion of courage.  As Glinda the Good Witch,  Maddie Hess was outstandingly kind and wise and Jack Piscitelli was properly frightening and scary as the Wicked Witch who does want to give up his Broomstick.

As Mayor of Munchkin City, Alex Eveland was most dignified and proper while William Pepin served diplomatically as the Winke General. Of course, the grand master of the moment, Cos DeFelice was definitely dramatic as the Wizard of Oz in charge.   Even Toto was adorable for his walk on part. All the performers in this DramaRama cast were terrific in their roles and deserve to be so proud of all they accomplished in only ten rehearsals.

A special round of applause to all the mentors who “shadowed” their counterparts to help them shine:  Ryan Bloomquist, Olivia Canning, Bobby Godas, Kathy Hardin, Kenny Hess, Adam Hill, Elysia Jordan, Brooke Manning-Hinds, Katelyn Miles, Katie Oxman, Emilie Roberts, Dru Serkes, Ben Simpson, Betsy Simpson, Ali Tesluk and Caitlin White.  Kudos to Melody Libonati for directing this special production, made possible with a grant from the Rotary Club of New Canaan and individual donations. 

DVDs of the show are available for $10 by calling the office at 203-966-4634 or emailing  The performance was preceded by a lively  hootenanny by the Rubberband.

Summer Theater of New Canaan will be offering a “loverly “ production of “My Fair Lady” until Saturday, July 7 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.) as well as “The Wizard of Oz” from now until  August 4  and “Pinkilicious, the Musical” from July 4 to August 5, all perfect for families, as well as the musical treat of “Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat”  from July 14 to August 5, (Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.).  Also don’t miss Disney’s High School Musical 2 for its single performance on July 27 at 3:30 p.m. with a special middle school cast.

Call STONC at  203-966-4634 or online at or for tickets and scheduling information.   All performances are outdoors in a tent at Waveny Park, New Canaan. Take exit 37 off the Merritt, to Farm Road and the New Canaan High School parking lot.

STAR, Inc. is a non-profit organization for individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities and their families.  It is located at 182 Wolfpit Avenue, Norwalk and can be reached at 203-846-9581 or online at

How wonderful to enjoy the summertime at these delightful musical treats courtesy of Summer Theater of New Canaan.
Just follow the Yellow Brick Road.

Monday, June 25, 2012


                               Photo by Rich Wagner of "Metamorphoses"

As ambitious projects go, West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park has set the theatrical bar 

quite high and then proceeded to soar over it.  The theater has built a grand pool of water 

on stage in which to dip your toes or plunge in fully clothed as it tells the fascinating tales of 

“Metamorphoses,” myths of Greek and Roman origins as originally penned by Ovid in 8 

A.D. and adapted in 1996 by Mary Zimmerman.

Until Sunday, July 1, you are invited to experience a series of vignettes about the gods and 

mortals who sought immortality and love, who felt greed and lust, who gave in to 

temptations and wanderlust as a cast of ten talented actors – Amelia Randolph Campbell, 

David Nate Goldman, Harrison Greene, Melissa Kaufman, Troy Peckham, Jillian Rorrer, 

Justin Sease, Quinn Warren, Eric Whitten and Ashley C. Williams-splash, float and come 

close to drowning in the shimmering waters as they retell ancient tales relevant to today’s 

The gods in all their power and frailty come to earth in a series of stories that will provoke and tease, stimulate and sadden, inspire and educate.  You’ll remember King Midas and his prized treasury of wealth, the classic workaholic 24/7, who when offered a boon from the gods chooses a golden touch.  His heart’s desire proves particularly painful when he touches his beloved daughter and turns her into a pure and precious metal.
            The pool turns tempestuous for King Ceyx who leaves his bride Alcyone to go off to sea only to be killed in a storm.  But her love and devotion persuade the gods to let Iris the rainbow goddess transform the tragic pair into birds who will forever fly the heavens.
            Other tales involve Phaeton who demands of Apollo, his father, the keys to his chariot so he can race across the sky, a story he relates to his therapist when he almost destroys the earth by flying too close to the sun, of Cupid with his blinded eyes and his search for true love, and of gods who punish Erysichthon by sending him Hunger so no amount of food satisfies his craving for nourishment, after he cuts down a tree sacred to Ceres, the goddess of the harvest.
        Mourn with Orpheus who loses his bride Eurydice on their wedding day and travels to the Underworld to reclaim her, only to lose her not once more, but twice.  Enjoy the many disguises that Vertumnus assumes in his wooing of the nymph Pomona and how he eventually wins her love by being himself.  Within this story is the tragic tale of Myrrha who is cursed to love her own father in an unnatural way and is punished by melting away in a pool of water, dissolving like her tears.

Sean Harris directs a talented troupe who are almost all making their Playhouse on Park debuts in this imaginative work that spans centuries with its universal themes of love, life, greed, loss, and all their wisdoms and warnings.
Original music is composed and played by Richard Hollman.           
For tickets ($22.50-32.50) call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10 or online at  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
            Dive into this transforming pool where Mary Zimmerman plays lifeguard and the god Poseidon reigns supreme.  There’s no need to bring towels or shower caps.

Sunday, June 24, 2012



Can a man who serves his poker buddies a choice of green or brown sandwiches with warm Coke find happiness with a man who trims the crust from his lightly toasted b.l.t. creations, accompanied by a cold beer? The answer is a Duncan Hines Unseal of Approval, but Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, both divorced friends, give it an Olympic try.

Oscar Madison is sloppy and scattered and wallows in a pigpen of an apartment, all eight rooms of it.  Felix Unger is fastidious and organized and a neatnik.  What brings both men together under one roof is the genius of Neil Simon and his classic comedy “The Odd Couple.”

Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut will be setting up a playpen for the pair until Sunday, July 22 as “The Odd Couple,” under the capable direction of Vincent J. Cardinal, takes to the stage.  Turn the clocks back to 1966 and sit down at the poker game where Felix Unger, immaculately portrayed, with buttoned down perfection, by Pat Sajak lands on the doorstep of his good friend Oscar Madison, comfortably and casually expressed in a teddy bear persona by Joe Moore. When Felis announces his wife Frances has asked him to leave home permanently, Oscar proposes he move in to prevent Felix’s suicide threats from becoming real.

What makes this version so wonderful is that Sajak and Moore are real friends, back to the days when they were Army pals and they have maintained that close relationship, and also that Pat Sajak has been entertaining us for decades as the genial host of “Wheel of Fortune.”  Moore has spent years as a TV news anchorman which corresponds to his character’s career as a sports journalist. Both men are clearly having fun with their on stage bantering.

What seems on the surface to be ideal, with Felix sharing 50% of the costs  and 100% of the housekeeping duties, so Oscar can finally catch up on his child support payments, soon turns into an ugly war of Pledge and Lysol.  All the “improvements” which Felix has wrought turn into “annoyances” for Oscar to find fault with and complain about and become reasons enough to drive each other crazy. When Oscar calls Felix’s ladle a spoon, it’s a cause for a duel at high noon.

The weekly poker game with Speed (Brad Bellamy), Murray (Murray Rubenstein), Roy (David Alan Stern) and Vinnie (Patrick Kerr) soon bites the dust, if there were any dust.  The Pigeon sisters are adorably supportive in the hands of Liz Larsen and Kathleen McNenny and give the bachelors new material to argue about with delightful consequences and crying towels. Michael Anania’s apartment set is a great location for the domestic quarrels.

For tickets ($32-45, children $10), call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, 2132 Hillside Road, Storrs at 860-486-2113 or online at  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 2 p.m.

Check in with Oscar and Felix before Felix has a nervous breakdown or Oscar kills him as they drive each other crazy in the name of brotherhood, bachelorhood and friendship.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


                                                       Maureen Anderman

Unthinkable things happen to people, even good people, like car crashes, chronic illnesses, and, the inevitable worst case scenario, death,  Joan Didion,  journalist, essayist and novelist, is all too familiar with the curses and tragedies of life as she received a double dose of direness that was a painful reality in the two years from 2003 to  2005.  Her husband and writing partner of forty years, John Gregory Dunne, died suddenly and her daughter, Quintana Roo, 39, died after an extended illness.
    To work through her grief, Didion penned a book “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which won the National Book Award and which she adapted into a one woman play.  From now until Saturday, June 30, Westport Country Playhouse will be presenting this personal, poignant and powerful tale starring the legendary Maureen Anderman.
    Didion, who has been hailed as “the finest woman prose stylist writing in English today” by novelist and poet James Dickey, uses the written word as therapy to try and understand what went wrong in her world.  This is a cautionary tale, as she wants the audience to be aware that what happened to her could happen to you.
    When her novelist, screenwriter and literary critic husband died unexpectedly on December 30, 2003 of a heart attack, at the same moment her precious daughter was in an induced coma suffering from septic shock, Didion found that life can change in an instant, that grief has its place but also its limits, and that the writer’s instincts to constantly “revise” work unfortunately don’t apply to life.  She wanted a “do over,” a new ending, so that even as she went through the rituals of a funeral she was preparing for John to return.  She couldn’t give away his shoes because he would need them when he came back.
    Maureen Anderman is wonderfully convincing as she takes us through that unimaginable time when she tried to “see it straight,” when the sea went silent, when she attempts to correct the reversible error.  Artistic director Nicholas Martin keeps a taut and sensitive hold on the personal, intensely intimate and internal exploration of feelings.
    For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport, off route 1, at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and  8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.  
    Learn how Joan Didion used “magical thinking” to survive a time when everyone of importance in her life was snatched away in an instant.

Monday, June 18, 2012



A play about an Iraq war veteran who uses an online chat room to find his way back into civilization, a river boat that travels up and down the mighty Mississippi entertaining folks along its banks and a musical about how fairy tales don’t always end happily ever after were the trio of winners who will take home awards from the Connecticut Critics Circle for best productions of the year this Sunday, June 24 at 2 p.m. at a ceremony to be held at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford.

Hartford Stage’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning  drama “Water by the Spoonful,” Goodspeed Musicals revival of “Show Boat” and the Westport Country Playhouse’s delightful version of “Into the Woods” all will garner kudos as outstanding productions.

The directors of each production also will earn credit:  David McCallum for “Water by the Spoonful,” Rob Ruggiero for “Show Boat” and Mark Lamos for “Into the Woods.”  Also honored will be Sam Gold for “The Realistic Joneses” at Yale Repertory Theatre and Christopher Bayes for “A Doctor in Spite of Himself” at Yale Rep.

To recognize actors and actresses for their outstanding work in either a play or a musical three actors in Long Wharf Theatre’s “February House” will be cited:  Erick Lochtefeld, Stanley Bahorek and Ken Barnett.  Other kudos will go to Stephen Epp for “A Doctor in Spite of Himself,” Brenda Thomas for “Sty of the Blind Pig” at TheaterWorks of Hartford, Annalee Jeffries for “Suddenly Last Summer” at Westport Country Playhouse, Jacqueline Petroccia for “Always, Patsy Cline” at Ivoryton Playhouse, Sara Uriarte Berry for “Show Boat,” Dana Steingold for “Into the Woods,” Sam Tsoutsouvas for “The Crucible “ at Hartford Stage, John Horton for “The Circle” at Westport Country Playhouse, Kirsten Wyatt for “Mame” at Goodspeed Musicals and Claire Brownell for Boeing, Boeing” at Hartford Stage.

For outstanding ensemble, the casts of “Into the Woods,” “Water by the Spoonful” and “The Realistic Joneses” will be recognized.  Alexander Dodge, scenic designer, and Fabio Toblini, costume designer, will be singled out for their work on both “The Tempest” and “Bell, Book and Candle” at Hartford Stage, the latter a collaborative effort with Long Wharf Theatre. Mr. Dodge will also be acknowledged for his work on the set of “The Circle.” The designer John Lasiter will be recognized for his lighting in Goodspeed Musicals’ “City of Angels” and John Gromada for his sound design in Westport Country Playhouse’s “Lips Together, Teeth Apart.”

For outstanding choreography the winner is Noah Racey for “Show Boat” while the Debut Awards will be shared by Carey Cannata for his role in “Over the Tavern” at Seven Angels Theatre and to Ben Cole for “The Tempest.”  The special Tom Killen Award will be presented to Jacqueline Hubbard, Artistic Director of the Ivoryton Playhouse.  A “Special Recognition” will be given to playwright Mike Reiss for his premiere of “I’m Connecticut” at Connecticut Repertory Theatre.

Since 1990, the Connecticut Critics Circle has been dedicated to applauding the best of the state’s theatrical productions.  The organization is composed to reviewers, columnists and broadcasters across the state.  This year, the twenty-second Awards Ceremony, will take place this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Mark Twain House and Museum.


    Professor Higgins, Colonel Pickering and Eliza Doolittle

A perfect summertime family treat, as light and frothy and rich and creamy as a strawberry parfait, is the current magnificent production of Lerner and Loewe's classic musical comedy "My Fair Lady" originally penned more than five decades ago.  The Summer Theatre of New Canaan's offering is perfection in its loverly way and should not be missed.  Hurry to Waveny Park in New Canaan by Saturday, July 7 for a new comfortable seat under their outdoor tent.

The transformation of Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who sells violets for a tuppence in Covent Gardens, into a polished princess who is mistaken for Hungarian royalty, is a delightful tale.  Jazmin Gorsline’s Eliza is superbly engaging and charming as the irrepressible Eliza, determined to improve herself under the tutelage of the demanding and controlling master of languages, Professor Henry Higgins.  Higgins is played by an impressive and arrogant Richard Sheridan Willis, who takes Eliza on as a challenge, after his friend and colleague Colonel Pickering, a courtly and admirable Gary Harger, bets him he cannot make a lady out of a guttersnipe.
         Higgins proceeds to take this “squashed cabbage leaf” who is “condemned by every syllable she utters” and teach her to speak, act and dress properly, so perfectly that he can pass her off as a Duchess. With her opportunistic rapscallion of a father (Brian Silliman) pushing her from the rear and the professor pulling her from the front, and Eliza’s own inner determination to succeed motivating her from within, the “delicious proposal” seems assured.
         Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,”  this  Lerner-Loewe version is stuffed with wonderful tunes, from “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” to “I Could Have Danced All Night” to “On the Street Where You Live” sung by Eliza’s suitor Freddie (Christian Libonati).  Eliza’s dad charms us “With a Little Bit of Luck” and “Get Me to the Church on Time” while the professor reveals his chauvinistic tendencies in “I’m an Ordinary Man” and his tenderness in “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”
    Also in the outstanding cast are two women who boost Eliza’s spirits with their support, Anna Holbrook as Henry’s mother who doesn’t approve of her son’s manners or modes of behavior and Sandy York as his loyal housekeeper, Mrs. Pearce.  Director Allegra Libonati takes us back to London at the turn of the twentieth century in this highly entertaining musical, on a clever revolving stage by Charles Pavarini
iII, with a fashion parade of costumes designed by Arthur Oliver.
         For tickets ($35 and up) call the Summer Theatre of New Canaan at 203-966-4634 or online at Performances are Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. The theater entrance is at 11 Farm Road, at the New Canaan High School entrance.  Come early and picnic on the lawn.
 Watch for their upcoming productions of “The Wizard of Oz,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Pinkalicious, the Musical,” “Disney’s High School Musical 2 and “The Stars of Broadway Concert.”
         Cheer for Eliza to pick herself out of the London gutters and polish her personality until she is the “toast” of the town, with a fine drizzle of orange marmalade on top.

Friday, June 15, 2012



                        AVERY ROSE LEOPOLDINO, AGE 4

The beloved story of Cinderella and her wicked stepsisters, set to music, will be brought to colorful fairy tale life by the Madhatters Theatre Company, an institution on the Connecticut shoreline for over 20 years.

"Madhatters Theatre Company is proud to support the efforts of the Middlesex County Community Foundation in helping to raise both awareness and funding in support of "TEAM AVERY.” Avery Rose Leopoldino, age 4, was born with a rare genetic disorder called CDKL5. It will impair her everyday functioning for the rest of her life and she will require intensive 24 hour care. Avery suffers from daily seizures; she can not walk or talk; she is profoundly cognitively impaired and is cortically blind. Avery is known as a "silent angel" who is always happy and content wherever she is. She loves lights and music and she has gained tremendous  admiration, love and support from so many members of the community.

When purchasing tickets, if  TEAM AVERY is mentioned, $1.00 from each ticket sold will be donated and proceeds from the concession stand will be donated to TEAM AVERY. These generous efforts will be used to promote both awareness and funding towards a cure and improvement in her quality of life. Thank you for helping to make Avery’s dreams of happiness come true!

 Come to the  Chester Meeting House, 4 Liberty Street, Chester, on  Friday June 22, 6 p.m., Saturday, June 23, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and Sunday, June 24,
1 p.m..  Tickets are  $12 Adults and $6 Children, 12 and under. To reserve tickets, please call (860) 395-1861 or go online to Chester is at exit 6 of Route 9.

Help Cinderella and Avery find their glass slippers so they can live happily ever after as all good fairy tales promise.


With a luscious mane of brunette hair flowing down to her toes, a rich voice that dazzles and charms, one of eight siblings born to a Paintsville, Kentucky family, Brenda Gail Webb is uniquely her own person.  Thanks to her older sister, a country western talent by the name of Loretta Lynn, Brenda got a new identity when she too wanted to take to the stage and perform.  Big sis renamed her Crystal Gayle, a moniker that would serve her well in her illustrious career.

Loretta Lynn knew that her younger sibling had to find her own path if she was going to succeed.  There was already one “Coal Miner’s Daughter” in the family.  Loretta came up with Crystal’s name when she saw a Krystal hamburger restaurant on the side of the road and it was a prophetic choice.

Coming from a musical family, where her mom, one of a twin, sang at socials and church events, Crystal states “I grew up in a house full of music.  As the baby of the family, I thought I was a mistake, being five years younger than my youngest sibling but momma exclaimed I wasn’t a mistake but  an accident.”  Contrary to the way her mother was portrayed in the movie about her oldest sibling Loretta, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” she says her mom wasn’t dark or down, rather “she wore the reddest lipstick the better.”

With her debut hit, “I’ve Cried the Blue Right Out of My Eyes,” a gift from the pen of her sister Loretta, Crystal Gayle has crossed over all the musical lines, singing gospel, country western, folk songs, rock ‘n roll and Broadway show tunes. Claiming she grew up singing everything, she soon looked for her own style which she calls “MOR, middle of the road” which now has become main stream, so she was clearly ahead of her time.  While she has never recorded an album with big sister, “When we’re together we laugh a lot.”

The first female artist in country western music history to earn platinum record album sales with “We Must Believe in Magic,” she has sung from the Grand Ole Opry to Las Vegas to Carnegie Hall to the London Palladium, and now she is coming here for two concerts only, on Saturday, June 23 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret.

Come hear her glorious voice belt out such gems as “Wrong Road Again,” “I’ll Get Over You,” “If You Ever Change Your Mind, “It’s Like We Never Said Goodbye,” “Talking in Your Sleep,” “Cry” and her signature song “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”  When she’s on tour, her fans start calling for it by the time she is into the second song of her set.

As for her trademark long hair, she calls it “easy to take care of, just wash and let dry.  It grows quickly, maybe due to my American Indian blood of Cherokee. My children told me I can’t cut it or I wouldn’t be Crystal Gayle.” Her son, a recent graduate of Belmont University with a degree in music business, is an engineer who writes and works in her studio.  They are collaborating right now on several albums, but he has already given her a wonderful gift in her first grandchild, a boy who sings with her when they play together.

For tickets ($47 and 67), call the Downtown Cabaret, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at  Performances are 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and remember to bring goodies to eat and drink at your table. The cabaret is wheelchair accessible and guarded parking is available nearby for a nominal fee.

The Grand Ole Opry welcomed Crystal Gayle on Friday, June 15 and Connecticut gets to embrace her musical greatness on Saturday, June 23.  Be there to celebrate this cool, classy lady who could sing before she could walk!

Monday, June 11, 2012


                Photo by Lanny Nagler of Antoinette LaVecchia as Giulia
                           NOW EXTENDED THROUGH JULY 14!!!

Sexy, sassy and a sensational chef, Giulia Melucci has a lot more success in the kitchen than in the bedroom and she’d like to be at the top of her game in both locales.  While her recipes inspire grown men to cry with gustatory delight, she’d prefer they be panting with promises of everlasting love. 

Come meet Giulia in the truly charming and delicious world premiere comedy, “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti,” being showcased until Sunday, July 8 at TheaterWorks of Hartford.  Caution, don’t come hungry unless you’re lucky enough to score one of the select coveted cabaret tables that come complete with wine and pasta `a la Giulia.

Jacques Lamarre has cleverly adapted the memoirs of Giulia Melucci and fashioned her story into a fast paced race through all the men who were fortunate enough “to mangia” at her Italian-American table.  Antoinette LaVecchia’s Giulia is adorable and gifted as the woman who wants to be loved, loved for her spaghetti and culinary skills, but even more so for herself and her personal qualities.

She will introduce you to the men in her life, who are destined to disappoint her, like Steve, Kit, Ethan and Marcus, men whom she is able to bring to startlingly vivid life through her vocal imitations of their conversations, in all their intriguing strangeness.

While Giulia prepares a gourmet meal, she chatters about the losers who start off being ideal but lose their flavor all too quickly in the harsh light of day.  Rob Ruggiero directs this tasty and delectable comedy with an affectionate passion, on a stylish set designed by John Coyne that allows Giulia to show off her considerable culinary skills. Sasha Wahl’s
sound and musical interludes are delightful as are John Lasiter’s clever lighting techniques.

For tickets ($50-63 or $76 for “kitchen seating”), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.  Come early for the art gallery upstairs featuring the work of  Terry Donsen Feder.

Twirl a forkful of flavorful pasta as you contemplate the perils of the New York City dating scene, where you can starve surrounded by a banquet of male offerings.


Barney Cashman is feeling like life is passing him by big time.  He is stuck in a no passing lane while traffic is soaring past, full steam ahead.  Married for twenty-three years to the same woman, the owner of a seafood restaurant, the most excitement he gets is using alliterative phrases like “flaming Florentine flounder” on his menu selections.  Dressed in a dark blue suit, driving a reliable Buick, he is suddenly anxious to grab life by the pincer claws and hold on tight.

To witness Barney’s attempt to carpe diem, seize life, travel to the Ivoryton Playhouse for Neil Simon’s mid-life crisis comedy “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” until Sunday, June 24.

R. Bruce Connelly is wonderful as the slightly nebbishy lothario who is unaccustomed to wooing and bedding women who are not his wife Thelma.  Not willing to stoop to going to a seedy motel for his assignations, he settles on using his mother’s meticulously clean apartment where the pillows are fluffed and the antimacassars are fussily perfect.

Barney has determined that a little fling is the answer to his problems.  But who to fling with is the question?  Enter Elaine Navazio, played perfectly by Beverly J. Taylor, a brassy no nonsense broad with aggressive tendencies and a smoker’s cough to rival Mount St. Helens.   Barney wants communication;  Elaine wants action.
         Next up is a ditzy and adorable wannabe actress portrayed pertly by Katherine Ailsa Hubbard.  As Bobbi, she weaves charming and incredulous tales of her exploits in a wonderful, perky style that is engagingly over the top.
         Last on Cashman’s date parade is an old family friend Jeanette, a neurotically seasoned Bonnie Black, who plays tour guide on a guilt trip that is endearingly emotional for both travelers. Maggie McGlone Jennings directs this delightful romp into infidelity land with a quartet of talented actors.
    Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p .m. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 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 our website at The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.        
         For helpful hints about seduction and clandestine

affairs, you would do well to avoid the steps taken by the

ultimately decent, gentle and loving Barney Cashman. 




Rarely in the history of musical theater has there been a play
 with the majesty and power of “Man of La Mancha,” a story
 within a story that portrays courage and idealism wrapped in
 a fragile coating of possible madness.  The tale of Don
 Quixote is one such example of greatness.

         If Don Quixote had a middle name, it would surely be Idealist or Dreamer. A gallant and brave individual driven by unrealistic goals, he rides off to battle giants even if they are really windmills, envisions castles when they are actually only humble inns and courts ladies who are in fact lowly scullery maids.
         To meet the classically heroic figure of Don Quixote, one must journey to the Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut by Saturday, June 16 to witness Dale Wasserman’s legendary tale of the “Man of La Mancha.”
         When Miguel de Cervantes, poet, playwright, actor and tax collector is thrown into prison and forced to plead his case before the Spanish Inquisition, he finds to his dismay that his fellow prisoners want to put him on trial first.  They charge him with being an idealist, a poet and an honest man.  In his defense, he conjures up a charade, an entertainment, a tale of a country squire turned knight, one Don Quixote.
         Using the inmates as his actors, Cervantes, magnificently portrayed by Terrence Mann, plays his hero who sallies forth into battle to slay dragons and rescue fair maidens. With his trusty servant Sancho Panza, a loyal and adaptable and affable Richard Ruiz at his side spouting proverbs of encouragement, Don Quixote first faces the Great Enchanter, a giant with many arms, that to some might resemble a windmill.
         Soon he seeks shelter at a nearby castle, wanting hospitality from the lord (Alex Gibson), who for all the world looks like a mere keeper of an inn.  But it is when Quixote’s eyes behold the unkempt maid, whom he claims as his Dulcinea, a fiery and fierce Alix Paige, that his illusions truly take wing.  Is he a mad man or the sanest of us all?
         Musical numbers soar from the title song to the lyrical “Dulcinea,” the sweetness of “Little Bird,” the laughter of “I Really Like Him” to the power of “The Impossible Dream.”  This production is gallantly directed by Vincent J. Cardinal who leads a troupe of truly talented performers to glory.
         For tickets ($10-42), call the Harriet S Jorgensen Theatre, at 860-486-2113 or online at Performances are Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
    Come early to experience the wonderful display of costumes, dress from the Industrial Age, 1850-1900, on  view next door in the gallery until August 17.  Exhibit curator Laura Crow has done an outstanding job of collecting Victorian women’s clothing that depicts the beauty and style of the times.        
    Experience theater at its best as you travel across the dusty Spanish plains with a slightly foolish knight who dreams of attaining honor and chivalry.

Sunday, June 10, 2012



As a baby, Donald Pippin could probably be found with a baton in hand instead of the traditional rattle.  Before he was even born, his mother determined he would be a musician and bought him a piano to start the process.  Gratefully for Pippin, he shared his mother’s dream and then some.

For the last five decades, Pippin has had one of the most famous “back of the heads” as a conductor in the orchestra pit playing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at Carnegie Hall, at London’s Prince Edward Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, throughout the U.S. and Europe.  On Friday, June 8, he regaled the members of the Goodspeed Musicals family with stories and video clips he entitled “A Maestro’s Memoirs.”

Born in Macon, Georgia, he was taking piano lessons by age five and by seven he was winning piano competitions with his picture prominently displayed in the newspaper.  His grandmother warned him he was becoming conceited, telling him “when success turns your head, you’re looking at failure.”

During WWII, he played for the U.S.O., making a good friend of Anthony Benedetto who would later become famous as Tony Bennett.  He began his career on Broadway conducting “Kiss Me Kate” and recalls how he couldn’t afford the $5 or $6 for tickets to shows so at intermission he would sneak in and see the second acts.

Among his good friends he numbers Robert Goulet, composer Vincent Youmans, David Merrick, Jerry Herman, Doris Day, Joan Crawford, Lauren Bacall, Angela Landsbury and Michael Bennett and Pippin told stories about each.  Over his career, he has earned Tonys, Emmys, Golden Records and Drama Desk Awards, from working on two dozen Broadway shows including A Chorus Line, Oliver!, Applause, Woman of the Year, Mame, Dear World, Seesaw, Jerry’s Girls, Mack and Mabel and La Cage aux Folles.

His favorite moment in the theater occurred at Mame, when his father, sitting in the second row, saw him conduct an orchestra for the first time.  From the podium, Pippin said “Hi, dad.” His father nudged the man next to him, telling him proudly, “That’s my son conducting” to which the gentleman replied, “He’s conducting my son’s music.”  It was Jerry Herman’s father.

Apparently Donald Pippin’s mother deserves a lot of credit, thanks and appreciation for setting her son on a musical path, one even she could not have imagined or be more proud of launching.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Half dragon, half lion, with the dragon symbolizing the mysterious east and the lion representing the powerful west, welcome to DRALION, a signature show by the spectacular Cirque du Soleil.

A little over a quarter of a century ago, Cirque du Soleil was a ragtag collection of street performers in a small town near Quebec, Canada, twenty young people on stilts, juggling, dancing, playing music, breathing fire.  Who could have predicted that this small troupe could grow into an organization of 5000 worldwide, including over 1300 artists from 50 nations, attracting 100 million spectators since 1984 to it 22 signature shows.

To be one of the estimated 15 million children and adults who will see a Cirque show this year, make plans now to go to Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena from Wednesday, June 13 to Sunday, June 17 to experience DRALION.

Begin by imagining the three thousand year old tradition of Chinese acrobatics as a harmony achieved by combining the elements that battle for dominance.  Meet the blue element of air, the green of water, the red of fire and the ochre that stands for earth.  Embodied in human form, they will be represented by singers, musicians, acrobats and gymnasts who will defy nature and expose their international talents and skills, all the while striving for a balance and unity.

Be prepared to be dazzled by acts of strength, dexterity and agility from artful aerial dancers high in the sky and then from a sextet of men balancing on bamboo poles, at once on the ground and seconds later in flight.  The flavor of Africa will be seen as a troupe of ten acrobats dive end-over-end through rotating and stationary hoops.

Trampolines become the springboards for improbable feats of flight while chairs are the starting point for a balancing act that towers skyward.  Spinning Chinese yo-yos are maneuvered with dexterity while another children’s game, jumping rope, defies imagination in its daring feats.

Meet Azala, the goddess of air who guards the sun and stands for immortality, in stunning shades of blue, and the fiery demon Yao as fire, representing both all that is good and all that is evil in blinding red tones.  Contrast them with the shimmering emerald jewels of Oceana as water in her universe of green with the basic colors of Gaya, the rich ochre goddess of the earth.  Add to them the chosen child, the Little Buddha, whose special powers are undesired in her quest to be a normal child and Kala, the timeless cycle of life, a circle, a continuum that represents infinity.

For tickets ($28-168.85), call Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard, 600 Main Street, Bridgeport at 800-745-3000 or online at Performances are Wednesday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 16 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 17 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

With colorful costumes inspired by India, Africa and China, a blending of music and rhythms from the west and the east, a set that suggests a Chinese temple of the future or a giant armored plate from medieval times, DRALION will feature a cast of fifty performers soaring in indescribable feats of balance and precision, led by the magnificent Chinese dragon and lion that will dance dramatically to introduce all the magic and mystery.


Until Saturday, June 16, you can catch Patti LuPone in a wonderfully warm and vibrant cabaret show at the newly opened 54 BELOW, a nightclub on 254 West 54th Street, Cellar, in the Big Apple.  The star of such Broadway hits as Gypsy, Les Miserables, Sunset Boulevard, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Anything Goes and, most recently, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, she belts out such numbers as “It’s Just the Gypsy in My Soul,” “Far Away Places,” “I Want to Be Around When Somebody Breaks Your Heart,” a story song about a tale of “The Black Freighter,” the light hearted “Down by the Sea” and the obscure chanson spoofing Edith Piaf “I Regret Everything.”

LuPone’s brassy rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”  as Mama Rose in Gypsy almost brings down the roof of this intimate house.  54 BELOW is Broadway’s newest nightspot, with classically inspired cocktails and cuisine, featuring “amuse bouches,” petite explosions of flavor in your mouth.  Call 646-476-3551 or 866-468-7619 or online at for tickets and reservations.  Future headliners include Andrea Martin June 20-23, Ben Vereen July 10-21 and Andrea McArdle July 23 and 30, among many others.

Heat up your summer plans for a cool visit to 54 BELOW, where intimate entertainment is definitely on the menu along with cuisine by award winning Chef Andre Marrero.  “Broadway’s living room” waits you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


The power and promise of the arts and our youth met in a spectacular synergy on Monday, June 4 at Waterbury’s Palace Theater for the Fourth Annual High School Musical Theater Awards celebration.  Three thousand people dressed in gowns and black tie attended the event sponsored by Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich and its artistic director Brett. A. Bernardini.  Master of Ceremonies was actor Kevin Grey who set a wonderful tone for the evening’s festivities.

The Theater Awards involved 19 high schools from across the state. The participating schools and their associated productions included: East Lyme High School Legally Blonde; New Canaan High School, Sweet Charity; Newton High School, Sweeney Todd School Edition; Granby Memorial High School, No, No, NanetteNew Britain High School, Hairspray; Jonathan Law High School (Milford) Hairspray; St. Paul Catholic High School (Bristol)Legally Blonde; Trinity Catholic High School, (Stamford) Beauty & The Beast; Trumbull High School, The Wiz; Valley Regional High School, (Deep River) Titanic, the musical; Westhill High School, (Stamford) The Drowsy Chaperone; Stratford High School My Favorite Year; Waterbury Arts Magnet High School, Esperanze Rising / Singing In The Rain; Guilford High School, Evita; Plainfield High School, Annie; Regional Center For The Arts, (Trumbull) Ragtime; Fairfield Prep, Kiss Me KateImmaculate High School, (Danbury) Miss SaigonAmity High School, (Woodbridge) Legally Blonde.

Each nominated school presented a number from their show that showcased their talents and the enthusiasm was contagious.  Outstanding leading actor went to Shevance Stephens from Regional Center for the Arts in Trumbull as Coalhouse in “Ragtime” and to Ali Kramer from Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde.”  Valley Regional High School’s production of Titanic, the Musical” won as outstanding production of the year. 

Mr. Stephens and Ms. Kramer will go on to New York’s Minskoff Theatre on Broadway from June 20-25 to represent Connecticut in the National High School Musical Theater Program.  Congratulations to all the wonderful participants who proved that the arts are alive and well.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Step back into history and indulge all your secret fantasies by a visit to a Renaissance Fair.  The Guilford Fairgrounds were alive with color and pageantry the weekends of May 12 to June 3 as the Robin Hood Springtime Festival marched proudly in for all you milords and miladies.

With a garland of daisies firmly in place or a feathered cap, you were welcomed to dress as Robin Hood or Maid Marion for look-alike contests, or as your favorite knight, with or without full armor, or as a pirate, a fairy princess, or even a Disney character, if your fancy dictated it.  Costumes are recommended but definitely not required.

Don’t worry if your closet is not up to the challenge as there were costume rentals available from festive hats, tunics, vests, cloaks, gowns and full regalia from such outfitters as Heath’s Mr. Renaissance.  So whether you’ve always wanted to be Harry Potter, a chess piece, or Romeo, Heath is your man.  For the last fifteen years, he has traveled to a fair every weekend on the East Coast.

If you’re not up to the masquerade route, you can always accessorize with a quaint face painting, a hand carved and painted sword and shield, a pair of dangling star earrings, a couple of horns or pointed ears or even a tail, a wizard’s wand or a knight’s helmet.

For quieter and less obvious enjoyment, you can purchase some pina colada honey sticks, a bargain at 4 for $1, soaps of lavender or macintosh apple, a healing stone to rub for luck, a glittering henna tattoo, a gourd from Mother Earth or a lovely feather rose to present to your lady fair.

To quench your hunger or thirst, the festival overflows with gourmet treats, like grilled steak on a stick or a hearty roasted turkey leg at Giant’s booth.  For the more adventurous, you could partake at Sir Munch-A-Lots of fried twinkies (pastry dipped in vanilla batter and fried to a golden brown and then dusted with powdered sugar), or fried pb and j (peanut butter and jelly), fried snickers or even a fried pickle for the truly strong of stomach.  Quaff down a stein of beer, mead, hard cider or lemonade and then visit the dragon who dispenses ice cream on a stick or a cone.

Activities abound so you can try your hand at darts or crossbow or archery, hurl a bat or throw an axe, as well as watch Johnny Fox swallow a sword (but don’t try that at home).  The charming traveling troubadour Ellen A. Dale offered a minstrel show about Robin Hood and the villainous Prince John while Guido of the Hopeless Romantics inveigled innocent audience members on stage to help him act out the tale of Adam and Eve.

Each day was stuffed with entertainment, from Blackshear’s Curious Magic to Cirque du Sewer (a unique rat circus), Vixens en Garde (Swashbuckling Swordswomen), a Knighting Ceremony, Archery demonstrations, Spy games, Mud Slinging Ladies, Maypole dancing, Madrigals by the Village Singers, Belly dancing by the Tribal Deluna Gypsies and a Six Scene Story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

What festival would be complete without a Jousting Match between arch rivals, Sir Solomon and Sir Marcus, galloping across the tourney field, with only one victor at the end.  After all that exercise, you’ll be ready to relax at a soothing chair massage.

Special dates included a Mother’s Day brunch, a Feast of the Merry, Costume Competitions, a Romance Weekend and a Pet Day (that included dogs and a lizard named Sunshine).  Pets were free with a donation of two cans of dog food for a shelter.  All this great fun is thanks to the festival creator and co-owner Eric Tetreault who went to fairs as a kid and loved them. He saw there was nothing like this in Connecticut and has worked to fulfill his dream.

Never fear, you may have missed this Robin Hood extravaganza ( but it will be back next spring.  Now is the time to mark your calendar for his King Henry the VIII weekend July28-29 on the Town Green in Enfield and autumn spectacular ( King Arthur Faire the weekends of September 29-30, October 6-7-8 (Columbus Day), 13-14, 20-21, 27-28 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Lions Fairgrounds, 347 Gilead Street, Hebron, CT.  General admission is $16, youth $10, children 6 and under free, parking $3.  All the magic and medieval merriment will be there so start planning your visit and costumes now.

If a day of turning back the clock is truly inspirational, think about a Renaissance themed wedding.  Get thee to the faire and prepare to be enchanted.

Friday, June 1, 2012


If you’re in Hartford the weekend of June 2, you have to work hard to miss playwright Jacques Lamarre’s three openings.  He modestly refers to them as “Jacques-a-Palooza.”

The Unitarian Society of Hartford as part of its Performing Arts Series will present the Herstory Theater Reading of his drama “PIERCE,” at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 2 at 50 Bloomfield Avenue, Hartford.  This historical play deals with the tragic life of Jane Means Appleton Pierce, the religious and reclusive wife of Franklin Pierce who was elected President at the brink of the Civil War.

Born in Lamarre’s hometown of Amherst, New Hampshire, the Pierces have been extensively researched through letters and archives.  Will Jane be able to handle the rigors and responsibilities of being First Lady, a title she desperately does not want to assume?

For tickets ($15, or $30 for VIP seating), call 860-233-9897, online at or at the door.  The reading will be followed by a Talk Back with the playwright and Herstory Theater cast members.

The busy Mr. Lamarre will then head off to the Gay and Lesbian Film Fest at Cinestudio, 300 Summit Street, on the campus of Trinity College, in Hartford at 10:30 p.m., Saturday, June 2 for the screening of “Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads,” a film he co-wrote for drag queen performer Varla Jean Merman.  The festival runs from June 1 to June 9.  For information and tickets ($10, students and seniors $7), call the theater at 860-297-2463 or the festival at 860-586-1136, or online at

As if that isn’t enough, Lamarre’s new play “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti,” a comedy he  adapted from the memoir by Giulia Melucci, will premiere this weekend at TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford and run through Sunday, July 8.  A delicious diva in the kitchen, Giulia hasn’t mastered the correct ingredients for true love.  Share her tantalizing and tasty pasta, as she cooks up cures for a broken heart. 

For tickets ($50-63 or special kitchen seating at $76 that includes a front row table with wine and food), call the theater at 860-527-7838 or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Come cheer for Jacques Lamarre at any one of his trio of exciting events or join his fan club and attend all three.