Monday, December 31, 2012


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 or  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


                                          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  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


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  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.


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  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.



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  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.




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 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


                                                    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  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


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  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.


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   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


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  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.


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  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 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.


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  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


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  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.


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  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.


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  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.