Wednesday, October 31, 2012


If orange, purple and green are your autumn colors and jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, goblins, vampires ad werewolves are among your best buds, then the world premiere of "The Groovy Ghoulies" is just your cup of hot spiced apple cider.  Pantochino Productions Inc. presented this musical, with book and lyrics by Bert Bernardi and music by Justin Rugg as a special Halloween gift at Arts Hall at ECA in New Haven this past weekend.

If you love things that are creepy crawly and definitely go bump in the night, this troupe of groovy ghoulies will be right up there with your bats in the belfry.  Apparently this group of singing and dancing purple pumpkin eaters were quite the rock and roll band back in the 1970's when they had their last big hit.

They've never given up the desire to be back in the spotlight and they keep experimenting with new tunes in their home, the Terrible Towers.  Now Halloween is almost here and they have a chance, decades later, to become popular.  A Hollywood producer Mr. Bigley B. Biggs (Raymond Arnold) is coming to hear their new song.

One problem is they can't agree on what the new song should be and Wolfie Wolfgang (Justin Rugg) is too preoccupied with communicating with his new invisible girlfriend to concentrate on composing.  The Ghostess with the Mostess (Mary Mannix) tries to help Swankenstein (Jimmy Johansmeyer) to mobilize the troops, including D-Rac (Evan Faram), Bones T. Bones (Ian Edward Tucksmith), Twitchy (Adrienne Griffiths), Seamore (Matt Johnson), Shreads (Stavros Koumbaros) and Feep (Jessica Intelisano) but a crisis occurs.  On their doorstep lands a demanding diva dressed in black and white polka dots, Rosalind Stark (Shelley Marsh Poggio) who with her able assistant Dweeble (George Spelvin) is seeking her missing daughter.  She insists the Groovy Ghoulies are hiding her and she pledges to destroy them and their home to get her back.

Before you can say "Boo" or "Trick or Treat" three times, Rosalind is there to find her daughter Dawn (Ali Dunne) and Mr. Biggs returns to hear the new hit single.  That Dawn is Wolfie's invisible girlfriend  as well as a hit teen singing sensation who went missing a year before helps put all the apples in the bucket for bobbing.  Bert Bernardi directs this candy corn confection with spirit, stuffed as it is with inspired costumes designed for Halloween happiness by Jimmy Johansmeyer.

Next up for Pantochino Productions will be "Glitz!," a tinsel and tiara tune fest, December 7-22 at Center for the Arts in Milford.  Come watch a bevy of contestants compete for the pageant title "Little Miss Christmas." Go to for tickets and information.

The group also has portable theater theme tours, specifically for schools, with shows like "The Bookworms" that encourages reading and "The Brothers Grimm" that unveils their famous fairy tales as well as after school drama programs that get the children on stage to perform.  Call 203-937-6206 or for more details.

This new non-profit theatre company is also looking for 100 businesses and professional people to donate $100 each to raise $10,000 to fund productions, sets, costumes, props, lighting, all the essentials of theater productions.  Consider helping them and becoming a theater angel.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


The customary tried and true ways to woo a woman are boxes of milk chocolate caramels and bouquets of pink roses.  Ralph Bellini is anything but an ordinary suitor.  He plies his heart's desire with romantic operatic arias.  At the age of four score years, a young at heart eighty, Ralph has been alone for too long and when he sees a lovely lady in a dog park, with her little terrier Peaches, he puts his heart on his sleeve and leaps.

For this tender and old-fashioned Valentine of a comedy "The Last Romance" by Joe Pietro waltz on over to Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury before Sunday, November 11.

Widowed for a dozen years, Ralph, played by a charming and debonair Ron Crawford, has settled into a tidy, quiet life with his sister Rose, a feisty, outspoken, truth-at-any-cost Geraldine Librandi.  She cooks, cleans and protects him, lest there be a repeat of the ominous events of October 25.  Rose, herself, has been separated from hubby Tony for more than two decades and is secure in the knowledge that she is right and he is wrong.

One day Ralph takes a different road for his daily walk and spies Carol Reynolds, captured delightfully by Joyce Jeffrey,  after the original actress Marie Wallace was injured on opening night. Carol resists Ralph's wit and wisdom as he ardently pursues her, until she finally falls prey to his affectionate ways.

Cupid as a few major obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is a vociferous Rose who doesn't want Ralph to abandon her for another woman.  Helping Ralph win Carol's heart are the warmly sensitive arias sung by Eric Stephenson, who represents Ralph in his youth, when he had a chance for a career at the Metropolitan Opera House.  A sweet faced Molli Healy plays Peaches to perfection.  Semina DeLaurentis directs this pretty pastiche of passion.

For tickets ($29-39), call Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Hamilton Park Pavilion, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at  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.

Imagine the Beatles are serenading with "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as Ralph and Carol discover love in later life can be just as sweet the second time around.



Call Joe, Matthew and Bobby archangels, prophets, wise men or saints, just don't call them late for the Last Supper.  Also if you are preparing to be a contestant on the new television game show, "Great American Bible Challenge," these guys are definitely not the experts you should take as the gospel.  But if your sense of humor is intact and your funny bone is eager to be exercised, then "The Bible The Complete Word of God (Abridged)" might be just what your priest, minister, iman or rabbi has ordered.

Weekends until Saturday, November 17, the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre of Berlin is being supremely irreverent and raising holy heck in the process.  If you're looking for purity and sacredness, replace these  words with profane and sacrilegious, and plain vanilla  silliness and fun.

Joe Autuoro, Matthew Collin Marrero and Bobby Shultz are eager to take you on a religious romp through the Old and New Testaments and they take no prisoners along the way.  Starting with the proverbial fig leaf, they sashay through the Garden of Eden and Genesis with a lively "In the Beginning Blues," kazoo and all.  From pollution to politics to Perry Mason, nothing is safe from satire.

With a style that resembles vaudeville, Monty Python and Saturday Night Live, this talented trio fast forwards from Abraham to Esau, Ruth, Job and King Solomon, although Matthew has a real fixation on Noah and his ark.The audience members actually go two-by-two as they verbally sing out as pigs, ducks, trout, cats and gorillas.  The audience learns such valuable information as wise men don't ask directions (that is why Moses was lost in the desert for forty years), God is a woman (who answers to the name of Shirley), the origin of circumcision was Abraham (Abraham Lincoln, that is), America runs on Dunkin' and Jeremiah was a bullfrog.  Artistic director Kris McMurray presides over the comic chaos with a firm hand and an outstretched arm.

For tickets ($30), call the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.  Bring goodies to share at your table or buy desserts and drinks on site.

God clearly has a sense of humor as this humor filled show fixates on the more memorable moments of the good book as they have never been viewed before. In no way does this presentation replace church, mosque or synagogue  attendance.  Oy vey, OMG.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


(Left to right:) Jacob Heimer, Juliet Lambert Pratt, Elissa DeMaria and Will Erat in the MTC MainStage production of "Next to Normal." 
Photo by Kerry Long
Did you ever feel that sometimes you need a stronger Elmer's Glue just to hold on to life?  Or that you were trapped in a soap opera and you can't find the remote control to change the channel?  Maybe your life is a bad movie and all you want to do is walk out of the theater.  If those feelings resonate or are only remotely familiar, you will commiserate with and feel compassion for Diana Goodman and her family.

The intimate stage of Music Theatre of Connecticut is the perfect venue for "Next to Normal," an intensely personal story of a family in crisis, weekends until Sunday, November 4.  Several years ago Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey were given the challenge to compose a ten minute play about electric shock therapy.  The result, now a full fledged musical, has won them a trio of 2009 Tony Awards as well as the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Juliet Lambert Pratt is wonderfully convincing as Diana, who struggles daily, almost minute to minute, with a diagnosis and label of bi-polar depression.  The loss of a baby son Gabriel, sixteen years before, haunts her and to survive, she regularly communicates with Gabe, a powerfully present Logan Hart, as the teenager he would be had he lived.

Dan, a faithfully supportive Will Erat, is the husband who tries to guide Diana through her mental and emotion ups and downs, chauffeuring her to doctor's visits and the succession of drug therapies.  When all seems darkest, her doctor (Tommy Foster) suggests shock therapy.

Natalie, a struggling teen with her own issues, desperately wants a normal mother and normal family, but she will settle for one that is "next to normal."  Now with a boyfriend Henry, a tender and concerned Jacob Heimer, by her side, she craves a mom to confide in and get advice from, not the woman who is distant and unattached.  Elissa DeMaria is agonizingly perfect as the daughter who yearns for a simple, even dull existence. Kevin Connors does a splendid job directing a fine cast, dealing with the difficult subject of mental illness.

For tickets ($25-45, $5 off seniors and students), call Music Theatre of Connecticut, 246 Post Road East, Westport, lower level of Colonial Green at 203-454-3883 or online at  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m

With songs that evoke both laughter and tears, follow a family caught in a personal and private battle that affects everyone in their world.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


A small plant sits on the window sill of Lena Younger's Chicago apartment in 1959, struggling to catch the sun's rays and thrive.  As the matriarch of the three generations of Youngers, Lena knows that changes are undermining her loved ones and their dreams.  Will the check for $10,000 from her husband's life insurance policy be the promised solution to all their prayers?

More than five decades ago Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" debuted on Broadway, and now you have the opportunity to view this timeless classic at Westport Country Playhouse until Saturday, November 3, with an exceptional cast, under the skilled direction of Phylicia Rashad.

To Lena, a stately and wise Lynda Gravatt, the check means a new home in a better neighborhood, where her daughter Beneatha and grandson Travis can have a bedroom of their own and she can have a small spit of land to plant a garden.  Her daughter-in-law Ruth, an accommodating Susan Kelechi Watson, shares Lena's dream of a home but also wants her sister-in-law Beneatha, a fiery and opinionated Edena Hines, to earn her coveted medical degree.  She also hopes her husband Walter, a conflicted Billy Eugene Jones, can have a business of his own.

For Walter, the check represents his manhood and when Lena refuses him, he is shattered.  These are proud people, descended from slaves and sharecroppers, who want to improve their lot as domestics and chauffeurs to guarantee Travis, an eager to please Luka Kain, a better future.

Into their lives comes Beneatha's two suitors, the rich and conservative Mr. Murchison (Gabriel Brown) and the idealistic progressive Mr. Asagai (Hubert Point-Du Jour), Walter's partner in business Bobo (Alvin Crawford) and the real estate representative Mr. Lindner (John Hemphill) who has an agenda all his own.

Will life continue to be "a barrel of disappointments" or will hope bring promise, happiness and sunshine into their days?  Does Lena have the power to make everyone in the Younger family find joy?

For tickets ($30 and up, students $15), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off route I, Westport 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.

Watch how a windfall of money, with its mighty and endless possibilities, changes a family's dynamics.  Discover for yourself if each of their dreams is destined to be denied and dry up like a raisin in the sun.

Monday, October 22, 2012


    Photos of Christie Brinkley as Roxie Hart by Andrew Eccles in "Chicago"  

Seeking fame, fortune and the spotlight are tricky endeavors, especially if your claim to notoriety is murder.  Come meet Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart who are competing for the same front-page headlines.  With a lot of “razzle-dazzle,” these two femme fatales will sing and dance their way into your heart, just be sure there’s no pistol tucked among their prancing parts.

As Broadway’s longest running revival and winner of six Tony Awards, plus being a smash movie hit, “Chicago” will be taking deadly aim at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts for five performances only from tonight to Sunday, October 28.

With Christy Brinkley starring as Roxie Hart, this musical created by John Kander and Fred Ebb, with choreography by Ann Reinking, in the style of Bob Fosse, is stuffed with glitz and glamour.  Based on a true story set back in 1924 Chicago, the show features two legendary beauties who are charged with murder and the less-than-scrupulous lawyer who is hired to keep them from the electric chair.

While both ladies enlist the favor of Mama Morton, the jail’s accommodating matron, Roxie has the added benefit of the support of her faithful husband Amos, who sings a wonderful song that expresses how he feels about himself, “Mr. Cellophane”  Other great numbers are “All That Jazz,” “Reciprocity” and “We Both Reached for the Gun,” where the lawyer Billy plays ventriloquist to Roxie’s dummy.

For tickets ($20-69), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at  Performances are tonight at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Be electrified by this 2400 watt sparkler of a musical, with mayhem and murder front and center on the marquee.

Monday, October 15, 2012


                                 Shannon Michael Wamser

When two men have a symbiotic relationship, closer than brothers, more than companions, with one acting as guardian and protector, neither one well educated or financially fixed, you have George and Lennie, the two protagonists of John Steinbeck’s emotionally charged “Of Mice and Men.”

West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park will be providing a seriously special production of this unusual male bonding until Sunday, October 28.

This tale of the Great Depression stars Jed Aicher as Lennie Small, a gentle giant of a man who doesn’t realize his own strength, so that he innocently loves things to death.  A pet mouse, a new puppy, a beautiful woman, are all cuddled until they are lifeless, accidental victims of his uncontrollable caring.

Jed Aicher inhabits Lennie’s skin, becoming this teddy bear whose simplemindedness is his undoing.  His best friend George Milton, sensitively portrayed by an alternately infinitely patient and easily irritable Shannon Michael Wamser, tries to protect Lennie from his bad deeds.  Together this pair of migrant farm workers dream of buying a small ranch of their own, with a cow, chickens, some crops and a hutch of soft skinned rabbits for Lennie to tend and touch.  “Living off the fat of the land” will be possible if they work hard and save their stake, especially if they team up with Candy (Robert Britton), a man they meet at their latest job who has half of the money they need to capture their future.

Soon they are swept up in the intrigues of ranch life with Crooks (Clark Beasley Jr.), Carlson (Ted D’Agnostino), Slim (Dustin Fontaine), Whit (Harrison Greene), the Boss (Jonathan Ross), the boss’s son Curley (Tony Knotts) and Curley’s pretty new wife (Kimberley Shoniker).  Inevitably trouble comes to call and George must act one last time, out of love, to protect his friend.

Sean Harris memorably directs this stirring drama on a versatile bunkhouse set created by Tina Louise Jones.  For tickets ($22.50-32.50), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ex. 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.  Come on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. to A.C. Petersens Restaurant next door to be wined and dined by singing waiters from Playhouse on Park.

Watch how hopes can tumble into despair even when they seem momentarily to be just within reach.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


                                                The Cast of Sips and Giggles!

An evening of Sips and Giggles!, the perfect pairing of plays with complimentary wines and light bites, is set for Saturday, October 20 at the intimate Lyric Hall in the Westville section of New Haven, at 827 Whalley Avenue.  The first event this summer sold out.

Thanks to actress and entrepreneur Joanna Keylock, the night promises to sparkle, with amuse- bouches, little tastes that explode in the mouth, combined with appropriately refreshing and unusual wines and a selection of delightful one-act plays that fit the spirit.  The delicious nibbles are courtesy of Stacey Ference of Savour Catering LLC (203-906-7144) or and the distinctive wines are thanks to  The Wine Thief, located at 101 Crown Street and 370 Whitney Avenue, New Haven.

The plays, all comic brain children of area playwright Frederick Stroppel, will include “Mulberries,” about neighbors who get to know each other too well, “Coelacanth” about a sister and her mentally challenged brother who are caught in the past as they try to plan for the future and “Harvest Time” about a man who needs a kidney transplant and the brother who may or may not provide it.  As if that weren’t enough, Jim Noble will read "Testament,"an unusual last will that is bitingly funny.

For tickets ($40), call 203-298-0730.  Non-alcoholic beverages are available for those under 21.

Plan on an entertaining evening of Sips and Giggles!, a three tiered layer of fun.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The recent publication of a trilogy of sexually searing novels, that have enjoyed the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List and for many weeks, has gripped the imagination of the country’s women, as well as a few men.

These best sellers will soon be a movie but, first, come see the new musical version “SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody” written and directed by Jim Millan and Mills Entertainment coming to fire up the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford Thursday, October 25 to Saturday, October 27, naughty and hot from its world premiere this month at City Stage in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The naïve and easily manipulated recent college graduate, now known as Tasha Woods (instead of Anastasia Steele) has had her hands full to overflowing managing the attentive and controlling interests of corporate executive and billionaire Hugh Hanson (no longer Christian Grey).

Mr. Hanson has a unique agenda and a huge contract that attests to his sexual proclivities and the relationship he is dictating for one Tasha Woods.  Author E.L. James is now going by the name EB Janet as she takes her trusty and loyal computer and starts to pen her love fantasy and it springs to life in glorious color on the stage with Tasha as the virginal love-starved girl who has low self-esteem and doesn’t realize her powers and Hugh, the dictatorial dominatrix who has a fetish for bondage, ropes and whips.  Tasha’s after-school job in a hardware store proves providential for his shopping list of needs.

Together, the pair meet when Tasha interviews him for the college newspaper, in place of her roommate who is suddenly taken ill.  When the clumsy Tasha literally falls into his office at his feet, she sets off a string of adventures that involve helicopters, gliders, toothbrushes, whips and chains.

Along their journey, they sing parodies to everything from “The Sound of Music” to Gilbert and Sullivan.  Apparently Hugh Hanson attended the Chippendale School of Dance, as he is incredibly flexible and free in his movements.  The shy Tasha literally opens up at his bidding.

You don’t have to have read “Fifty Shades of Grey” to enjoy this pun-filled romp in the bedroom and in the Red Room of Pain, but you’ll enjoy the punch lines a little faster if you have.  Conceived in July of this year, “SPANK!” is a fun tongue-in-cheek and many other places tribute to what America finds titillating.

For tickets ($35-45), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at  Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Come at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy a special SPANK! Cocktail with friends and have your picture taken with the male hunk starring as Hugh.

Earn bragging rights around the water cooler, in the sports bar, at the beauty parlor, over the coffee cups and in the privacy of the boudoir.  See “SPANK!” in all its tantalizing and teasing temptations.  Grab a necktie and tie one on today.  Beauty and the Beast were never so much fun!

Monday, October 8, 2012


                                 Alex (Justin Rugg) and Mitch (Jimmy Johansmeyer)

“Is everybody happy?” is a question frequently on the lips of high-powered theatrical agent Diane, who probably micro-manages her own dreams.  In her job, she must be in the moment, on top of her game, fighting for every advantage for her actor clients, like a mama bear ferociously protecting her defenseless cubs.

To see Diane in action, with verbal sword and shield intact, come view “The Little Dog Laughed” by Douglas Carter Beane, being engagingly staged by Pantochino After Dark Productions weekends until Saturday, October 13 at Arts Hall at ECA, 55 Audubon Street, New Haven.

Relatively new to the theatrical arena, Pantochino Productions has concentrated on children’s theater, summer camp and acting classes and is now broadening its spectrum to include adult fare.  The inviting set designed by Von Del Mar is a welcoming venue for Diane, a feisty and opinionated Melissa MacLeod Herion, to hold court.  Deference must be paid to the queen of negotiations as she conducts and consummates her deals.

A new movie is being bandied about for Hollywood, an extension of a highly successful Broadway run and she wants her boy in the lead role. Nothing is out of bounds in her realm of control.  Said actor Mitch Green, played with just the right amount of angst by Jimmy Johnansmeyer, is conflicted.  As a homosexual still firmly with one foot both in and out of the closet, he resists Diane’s advice that to land the role of a homosexual in the movie he must be a heart throb and imminently straight.

When Mitch calls an escort service and orders a male companion, he meets Alex, an accommodating Justin Rugg, who doesn’t even recognize the star.  Alex serves as a paid companion for a living, despite having a relationship with Ellen, a savvy and focused Ruth Kennedy.

How Diane manipulates Mitch, Alex and Ellen, making them puppets to her Machiavelli, is a delightful and entertaining experience, thanks to director Bert Bernardi.

For tickets ($25), call Pantochino Productions at 203-937-6206 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.  Get ready for the holiday of Halloween by attending the world premiere of a new musical “The Groovy Ghoulies,” Friday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday October 27 and Sunday October 28 at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.  All tickets are $16 for this “rockin’ monster mash of a musical.”

Let Diane give you a lesson in the fine act of negotiation and control, worthy of Fifty Shades of Christian Grey.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Simon West (Laurence Lau) interviewing Ben Franklin (David McCann)

Your memories of high school days may engender pleasure or pain, depending on your class status on the popularity poll.  Those halcyon years might have been the best or the worst of times.  Playwright Theresa Rebeck has fashioned a new play blending contemporary issues with historical facts and created a fascinating and disturbing picture of the problems facing today’s youth.

The Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs will tackle this emotional powder keg “O Beautiful” until Sunday, October 14 and you are encouraged to weigh in on their excellent theatrical docket.

Lennie Ryan (Coles Prince) and Alice Fletcher (Hannah Kaplan) are probably never going to be voted King and Queen at the high school prom.  They are much lower down on the social strata of cool, insider kids.  When Lennie, encouraged by his mom (Olivia Saccomanno), enters the school talent show to impress Alice, he messes up the words to his song, O Beautiful, and finds himself the target of a vicious bullying campaign.

When his is verbally and physically attacked by the school’s jocks and jills, Luke (Ryan Marcone), Erik (Thomas Dubinski) and Gwen (Kate Mavis Zulauf), Alice tries to defend him and stop them, but she is too busy dealing with her own bad stuff.  Alice has been date raped by Luke and is now pregnant, afraid to tell her parents (Sarah Wintermeyer and Dariusz Burkowski) and endure their disappointment.

Through it all, Alice turns to a loving and compassionate, understanding and supportive, Jesus (yes, that Jesus), played with incredible insight and sensitivity by Will Haden.  Jesus is there for Alice, and for all the students, trying to help them emerge from a landscape littered with mines threatening to explode.

Add to the culture clash a Glenn Beck style TV commentator Simon West (Laurence Lau) who delights in interviewing such personalities as Thomas Jefferson (Anthony J. Goes), John Adams (Michael John Improta) and Benjamin Franklin (David McCann), as he tries to drum up support for his theories on government and gun control.

Don’t be surprised if a justice defending Joan of Arc (Maggie Sulka) strides into the fray as well as an outspoken, truth seeking American history teacher (Thomas Brazzle) who genuinely cares for the welfare of his students, even if it involves calling upon his sister (Whitney Andrews) to risk both their positions to help.  Kit Flannagan’s Mrs. Loomis does not come off as especially effective as the high school principal.

Throughout this drama, that is laced with humor thanks to Jesus’s presence, the visuals projected on the stage are particularly effective in underscoring the play’s message.  As we stand on the precipice of a presidential election, this play beautifully directed by Joseph Hanreddy, is especially timely.  You may even reevaluate Alexander Hamilton (James Jelkin) and his role in founding this nation.

For tickets ($6-30), call the CT Repertory Theatre, Harriet .S. Jorgensen Theatre, on the campus of the University of Connecticut, Storrs, at 860-486-2113 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.

Forget boys and girls holding hands and sharing a strawberry milk shake at the drugstore.  “O Beautiful” deals head on with the real issues facing today’s young people and the world we have left them as their legacy.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Christopher DeRosa and Leah Monzillo Sing and Swing to Neil Sedaka Songs

Remember back to the 1960’s when the Bozo the Clown Punching Bop Bag, with bright red hair, squeaky nose, bop zone and sand filled base, was all the rage.  You vent your stress and frustration by hitting it down and watching it pop right back up again, ready for another round.  How wonderful it would be if people could be that resilient and could bounce back as easily when they are knocked down by disappointment.

Just ask Marge Gelman whose fiancé left her at the altar.  She justifiably was devastated and depressed and despondent.  So it’s her B.F.F, best friend forever, Lois to the rescue and a three-day weekend at Esther’s Paradise Resort in the Catskill Mountains of New York as a quick fix, a temporary Band-aid, to inject a dose of momentary joy.

To journey with Marge and Lois, come along to the Ivoryton Playhouse for a musical injection of Neil Sedaka tunes in “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” with book by Erik Jackson and Ben H. Winters, until Sunday, October 14. 

Leah Monzillo’s Marge and Sheila Coyle’s Lois jump into the bevy of activities that Esther (Melanie Souza) and her resort are famous for as they try to heal one broken and bruised heart.

The girls quickly find themselves swept up with hunky head singer Del Delmonaco (Christopher DeRosa) who has an ego as big as the resort’s mountain range.  Initially he seems a good choice to get Marge out of her despair but his callousness only makes the situation worse, when she realizes her mistake.  Enter Gabe (Scott Scaffidi), a sincere guy who is secretly writing all of Del’s songs and letting Del take all the credit.  Gabe sees Marge for the sweetheart she is and happiness is clearly around the corner.

A happy ending is also forecast for the club’s top comic Harvey (R. Bruce Connelly) who discovers, amidst all the jokes and smaltz, that he loves Esther.  Jacqueline Hubbard directs the romantic romp that is stuffed with Sedaka songs like “Where the Boys Are,” “Stupid Cupid,” “Calendar Girl,” “Solitaire,” “Laughter in the Rain” and “Love Will Keep Us Together,” all under the musical direction of John S. DeNicola and Vic Perpetua.

For tickets ($40, seniors $35, students $20, children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or go online to  Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Cheer for Marge to recover her romantic equilibrium and once again find love, with the help of her best bud Lois and the music of Neil Sedaka as her lucky charms.