Thursday, March 28, 2013


As musical icons go, Elton John and Billy Joel would have to be at the top of anybody's billboard chart.  If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then the tribute bands of Greg Ransom and Mike O'Brien are paying their homage with "Face2Face," capturing the energy and spirit of these two legends in a four show weekend at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre of Bridgeport.

The house will be rocking on Saturday, April 6 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and again on Sunday, April 7 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. as these two performers return to the Cabaret by popular demand.  Each man will perform a solo set, backed by their own killer bands, and then join together for a high octane spectacle of sound.

As successful artists go, with more than 250 million records sold, Sir Elton John is known for such hits as his personal salute single to the late Princess of Wales, Diana, in "Candle in the Wind," as well as "Rocket Man," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" and "Tiny Dancer."  As a flamboyant superstar from across the pond, he has been popular since his debut as a singer/songwriter in the early 1970's.

Come discover Greg Ransom behind the big glasses and the wild and fancy costumes and the over-the-top hats as he garners rave reviews for his rendition as the superstar himself.  Since the mid-1990's, he's been sitting at pianos in hotel bars, casinos, nightclubs and fairs, giving audiences an up close and personal performance, singing such songs as "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Blue Eyes" and "Your Song." Surely some of your favorites will be on his play list.

As to Billy Joel, the original "Piano Man," his first hit song four decades ago, he has propelled his way to unprecedented success.  Ironically a recent episode of the television show "How I Met Your Mother" featured his song "The Longest Time," as the two lead characters Barney and Ted, played by Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Raynor,  harmonized with versions of themselves in the future. Also in the news recently was Vanderbilt University freshman  Michael Pollack who got to rub elbows with his keyboard hero when he was invited on stage at a concert to play "New York State of Mind" while Joel sang along.

Mike O'Brien may favor the audience with such Billy Joel hits as "You May Be Right," "Don't Ask Me Why," "Movin' Out,"  "Tell Her About It," "An Innocent Man," "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "New York State of Mind."  Called the "real-deal Billy Joel," Mike O'Brien first heard his idol sing when he was a freshman in high school while he was in Boston at a dance.  He freely admits to falling in love with the "Piano Man" that night and his admiration has been constant.  He has been perfecting his act since he was 18 when he first worked at a piano bar.

For tickets ($29-39-49), call Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at  Bring goodies to share at your table.

Let Greg Ransom and Mike O'Brien in their tribute to music icons Elton John and Billy Joel "take (you on) a holiday from the neighborhood."

Monday, March 25, 2013


                                   Milton, Haskell, Leah and Ima, Photo by Paul Roth

The distance from Czarist Russia to rural Texas is 6000 miles and worlds away for a young immigrant named Haskell Harelik who wants to exchange the death filled pogroms for personal and religious freedom.  In 1909, Haskell lands in Galveston and starts pushing a cart filled with bananas he sells for a penny a piece and finds himself in the tiny town of Hamilton, exhausted, in front of the home of Milton and Ima Perry.  With Christian charity, the couple rent him a room and start him on a journey of Americanization as this Jewish man earns a living and saves to bring his wife Leah "home."

Let Seven Angels Theatre of Waterbury bring Haskell's story of faith and promise to life as it presents "The Immigrant" with music by Steven M. Alper and lyrics by Sarah Knapp, based on a true story about his grandparents by Mark Harelik.  This American chamber musical piece will play until Sunday, April 21.

Max Bisantz as Haskell is wonderfully convincing as the eager and anxious stranger striving to create a life for himself, exchanging fear of the past for hope for the future.  He is befriended by a good Baptist couple, Milton, an enterprising Paul Blankenship, and Ima, a love-filled Sarah Knapp, who open their hearts and home to this Jew, the first Jew they have ever known.

With encouragement and a financial loan from a friendly banker (Milton), Haskell soon becomes assimilated, forgoing his head covering and requirements to keep a kosher home, as he saves money to bring his wife Leah, a quietly supportive Rita Markova, to live.  When Leah finally arrives, she is dismayed to see how much Haskell has changed and even the good counsel of the Perrys does not easily soothe her mind.

As the Harelik family grows, their relationship with the Perrys undergoes a difficult test, one that takes years to resolve. The stirring music carries the  story along, while the inspiring tune "The Stars" unites the piece at the beginning, the middle and the end.  Semina DeLaurentis directs this fine quartet of actors in a moving story of faith, friendship and freedom.

For tickets ($30-42), 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.

A treat for the whole family is "Glam Kitty Squad," a musical spoof about a trio of kitties who transform themselves through glamor when night falls into crime-fighting cats, determined to save the world.  A special family 4 pack is $38 and includes free face-painting and free glam strands, all sponsored by Sundae Spa.

Discover the American dream in the eyes of a young Jewish immigrant, symbolic of all newcomers to this land, as he tries to capture it for himself and those he loves.


                         Mary Mannix, Shelley Marsh Poggio and Marcia Maslo

Imagine three pretty little kitties who are models of decorum and innocence by day but who morph by night into crime-stopping heroines.  Hold on to your fur and feathers because the writing team of Bert Bernardi, for book and lyrics, and Justin Rugg for music, has penned a new musical spoof for Pantochino Productions.  "Glam Kitty Squad" will prowl across the stage of the Milford Center for the Arts on Railroad Avenue in Milford weekends until Sunday, April 7 with an added show at Waterbury's Seven Angels Theatre on Saturday, April 13 at 11 a.m.

Think "Charlie's Angels" and "Batman" and campy take-offs meant to inspire memories and insure laughter and you have "Glam Kitty Squad" that will feature new adventures and different characters for every performance, like a game of Clue running wild. The whole family will be amused, assures Bert Bernardi, director.  "In the first act, the kitties seek out a mysteriously missing and treasured trinket while the second act is a hilarious canary caper, complete with flying feathers.  It's truly a laugh-a-minute show for audiences of all ages to enjoy."

Jimmy Johanmeyer will design all the 'glam' costumes as well as star along with Mary Mannix, Shelley Marsh Poggio, Peyton Lott and Jennifer Smith.  Composer/musical director Justin Rugg will also find time to portray a comic villain. Von Del Mar will create the sets and Joey Moro will design the lighting.

For tickets ($16), call 203-937-6206 or go online to  Performances are Saturday, March 30 at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Friday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.  The productions are at 40 Railroad Avenue in Milford until April 7 and on April 13 at 1 Plank Road, Waterbury.

Help this trio of felines save the world and keep it safe by cheering them on and giving them a few fashion and make-up tips for added success.


                                Paul Giamaati as Hamlet, Photo by Joan Marcus

Paul Giamatti has endowed his Hamlet with an usual and often misunderstood attribute:  a sardonic and playful sense of humor.  He plays a fool and a clown as he seriously seeks revenge for his father's murder, he who was the King of Denmark. Donning modern dress, even at times shorts and a robe or red sneakers, he takes a distinctly different path to reveal the perfidy of his uncle, Claudius, the new king and his queen, Gertrude, Hamlet's newly widowed mother of less than two months.  Shakespearian purists need not apply.

Until Saturday, April 13, Yale Repertory Theatre will unveil the madness and mania of the Danish prince at New Haven's University Theatre, 222 York Street.  It is rumored that every seat for every performance has been sold, but try nonetheless.

Paul Giamatti's Hamlet is brilliantly crafted.  Once he meets his father's ghost and learns he was poisoned by the man who now accounts himself king, his own brother, Hamlet sets out to unmask Claudius' treachery and punish his mother Gertrude for abandoning her widow's weeds so unwisely and fast.  Assuming his own cloak of madness, Hamet acts strangely to his good friends Rosencrantz (Erik Lochtefeld) and Guildenstern (Michael Manuel), as well as to his supposed love Ophelia (Brooke Parks) and her father Polonius (Gerry Bamman) and brother Laertes (Tommy Schrider).

When a troupe of traveling actors arrive at the castle, Hamlet persuades them to put on a play so close to how Claudius (Marc Kudisch) killed his brother (also Marc Kudisch) as to cause Claudius to reveal his foul deed.  When Hamlet accuses his mother (Lisa Emery) of her infidelity, Hamlet accidentlally slays Polonius who is hiding in her room as a spy.  That act causes Ophelia to truly go mad and leads to a string of tragedies and deaths in its wake.  All that is left in the end is Hamlet's best friend Horatio (Austin Durant) to explain what has happened and why. James Bundy directs a tale that uses comedy to underscore the tragedy that consumes and dictates all of Hamlet's actions.  The set by Meredith B. Ries lends itself to the dramatic events.

For tickets ($20-96), call the Yale Repertory Theatre at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with select Wednesday matinees at 2 p.m. and select Saturday matinees at 1:30 p.m.  The show is three and a half hours in length.

Follow Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, as he feigns madness to uncover the truth of his father's death and seek a justly revenge.

Monday, March 18, 2013


                            CAST OF "CONVENIENCE," PHOTOS BY SEAN DUGGAN

When you have a list of things to do, especially if one or many of them are difficult and worthy of procrastination, the best advice is to "East the frog first."  The frog symbolizes the worst objective on your to-do list, the thing you least want to do and dread the most, and if you accomplish it first, everything else will be easy by comparison.

Trust me, this is good counseling for all of us, but definitely for estranged mother and son, Liz and Vince, who are struggling with news that each feel the other will resent and misunderstand.  Procrastination will not make it easier.

Enter into the close family circles of two young men, Vince and Ethan, and a single mom Liz and her new squeeze Abe, as they struggle to surface over their fears.  The Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich is offering a fine and sensitive production of Gregg Coffin's "Convenience" for your enjoyment until Sunday, April 7.  This is just another in a tradition of new and exciting offerings the theater is noted for presenting. Don't miss it.

In families, honest communication, mutual respect, love and a healthy sense of humor are essential ingredients. Unfortunately, when Vince's dad walked out of the house when Vince, a sensitively attuned Zachary Gregus, was only six, the scars never healed.  Did he blame himself for his dad's desertion or his mom for letting it happen?  Either way, the damage seems irreparable and it has colored their relationship for over two decades.  Inside he is still the little boy fighting space aliens trying to win his father back.

Now Vince has news of his own to confess.  He is making a major step and moving in with his life partner Ethan, played by an affable and supportive Jason Slattery. A trip home to tell mom, played at a young age by a caring Anne Fowler and at the present time by a conflicted Erica LuBonte, both with lovely voices, makes Vince stubbornly avoid "eating the frog first."

Mom has some startling news of her own:  after being alone for twenty years she is seriously considering accepting her good family friend Abe's proposal of marriage.  Abe, brought to life beautifully by Brett A. Bernardini, has ironically been a mentor for Vince and finds himself in the difficult role of counseling them both.  Bernardini also serves as the delicate director of this emotion driven dilemma.

The entire play is a musical conversation, with songs that reveal feelings of tension, insecurity as well as affection and promise, like "Moving Day," "In the Morning" and "Love Has This Power."

For tickets ($32), call the Spirit of Broadway Theater, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m and Sunday at 2 p.m. Inquire about their special Spa Dinner and Theater Package.  This Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m. is A Gala To Remember, with Chef Rafael of local culinary fame presenting a full buffet experience and a Red Carpet Champagne welcome with wine and appetizers, a viewing of "Convenience," followed by luscious desserts and specialty coffees, all for only $75.

Mark your calendars now for Saturday night, April 20 at 7 p.m. for the 14th Annual On The Town Wine Tasting and Auction that includes a sneak peek at the 2013 Theater Season, all for only $50.  Call 860-886-2378 for more information and reservations.

Sit back in the intimate space of this theatrical gem and enjoy this refreshingly honest look at life and it problems, that can often by resolved or at least improved with honesty and openness.



How appropriate that March is Women's History Month and the New Haven Public Library hosted an informative talk on a little known state gem:  the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame.  Created twenty years ago to honor, preserve, educate and inspire, the administrative offices of CWHF are
housed on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University, fittingly where a woman,  Dr. Mary A. Papazian, serves as president. 

To meet the 102 inductees in the fields of business, medicine, politics, reform
, literature, entertainment, sports and education, you're invited to go online to and take a virtual tour.  You will meet women, who according to Katherine Wiltshire, Executive Director, faced "tremendous obstacles and overcame them to be an inspiration in their chosen field."  You will clearly recognize women like Katharine Hepburn, Marian Anderson, Helen Keller, Dorothy Hamill and Ella Grasso, the first woman elected governor.

Less likely to be easily identified but no less worthy of note are women like Isabella Beecher Hooker who worked tirelessly to allow females to own personal property, Mary Hall the first female lawyer in the state, Alice Paul who was arrested frequently in her quest to secure women the right to vote,
Emeline Roberts Jones who learned the science of dentistry from her husband to become the first female dentist, Barbara McClintock who won a Nobel Prize for her work on DNA and Dorrit Hoffleit who was a famous astronomer, to name but a few.

Katherine Wiltshire described these inductees as "courageous and tenacious," who knew how to raise their voices and not be discouraged by the naysayers.

On Wednesday, November 6, from 6-9 p.m., the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford will be the site of the 20th Anniversary Induction Ceremony and Celebration of the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame.  The new I
nductees include the U.S. Representative of Connecticut's 3rd district and women's champion Rosa DeLauro; President and CEO of Barbara Franklin Enterprises and 29th U. S. Secretary of Commerce Barbara Hackman Franklin who led the first White House effort to recruit women for high level government jobs; Linda Koch Lorimer the vice president of Yale University who spearheads strategic partnerships locally and internationally; and, posthumously, Augusta Lewis Troup, a union organizer, journalist and promoter of the suffrage movement as well as a beloved educator and advocate for teachers and minority groups.  For tickets ($150), call 203-392-9007 or visit

You can also call to arrange for speakers or visual displays to be available for your organization.

Let the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame be an inspiration for girls and women alike, to educate and encourage and be positive role models for the future.      


Imagine a jukebox exploding like a rocket ship to the moon with all the great tunes of the 1960's, almost two dozen in number and you don't have to keep putting quarters in to hear them.  Welcome the boys, who started out as a duet, morphed into a trio and stabilize as a quartet.  The Springfield High School Crooning Crabcakes are now all grown up as Denny and the Dreamers and their big dream of the day is to win Big Whooper Radio's Lifetime Talent Search Contest.

Ivoryton Playhouse is ready, willing and most able to give Denny and his pals their big chance at stardom as it presents the cute and clever Roger Bean musical "Life Could Be a Dream" until Saturday, March 30.

Come visit Denny's basement rec room where he runs to escape his mother's nagging him to "Get a Job."  Denny, an overly ambitious Aaron Catano, is soon joined by a less than confident but eager to learn Eugene, played by a nerdy but nice Matt Densky and a good old church abiding Wally, captured in sunshine by Rob Rodems. They need a sponsor for the entrance fee to the contest and Wally nominates Big Earl, owner of Big Stuff Auto.

When Big Earl sends his head mechanic Skip, a magnetizing Evan Siegel, to check out the group, Earl's daughter Lois, a charmer with a heavenly voice named Sheila Coyle, tags along to offer coaching advice.  Her appearance sends Eugene, who had been crushed by her in fifth grade, into a tizzy and causes all the males in attendance to experience testosterone tail spins of their own.

But Lois only has eyes for Skip and the feeling is mutual, but Skip knows his job is on the line and Big Earl is not going to give them his blessing.  As the group prepares for their debut, everything falls apart and Skip is fired, leaves the group and puts the talent search in jeopardy.

A parade of super hits are serenaded from "Fool Fall in Love," "Earth Angel," "Sunday Kind of Love," "Unchained Melody," "The Glory of Love" to "Duke of Earl.," each one better than the one before, and all great listening.  Jacqui Hubbard directs this on- target cast in this fun and groovy journey back in time with style and grace.

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

Don't be a "Runaround Sue" or "The Wanderer" and take a chance on missing this fantastic doo-wop, rama lama ding dong, sh-boom of a show.

Monday, March 11, 2013



    West Hartford's Conard High School is inviting you to put on your magic flying shoes, sprinkle yourself with fairy dust and take off for the wondrous world called NeverLand, where boys choose not to grow up.  Dive into an adventurous visit with that eternal youth, Peter Pan, who professes to dislike grown ups so much he vows never to be one.
The Conard High School Musical Theater Department, under the direction of Corinne Kravetz, has assembled a fine production of J. M. Barrie‘s classic tale “Peter Pan” as a musical with rehearsals being in January. It is set to delight children and adults alike from Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m. and again Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23 at 7 p.m.   

    When Peter Pan, a high flying Colleen Litchfield, and his luminous pal Tinker Bell fly through the bedroom window of the Darling children, Wendy (Brigid Lucey), Michael (Owen Painter) and John (Jake Binder), all their lives are changed forever.  Peter flies with his new friends to NeverLand to meet the Lost Boys, where Wendy becomes “mother,” telling bedtime stories and sewing socks. On this island, they encounter a tribe of friendly Indians led by Tiger Lily (Billie Jefferson) and a band of mean pirates led by Captain Hook (Henley A. L. Solomon, Jr.), as well as mermaids and crocodiles. 
Both Tinker Bell and Peter prove their courage, as the young audience gets to prove that fairies really exist by shouting and clapping their belief.  Corinne Kravetz directs this charming story of one boy who defied the ordinary rules of childhood, with an able assist from ZFX Flying Effects out of New York who handled all the incredible flying techniques.

At a recent rehearsal Brigid Lucey, who plays Wendy Darling, reflected on being in this production.  This is her third year on stage, having already appeared in "Footloose," "Six Degrees of Separation" and "Beauty and the Beast."  As a junior, 17, she has found flying "exhilarating," "awesome" and just a little anxiety driven.  The anticipation of taking off in flight is a little nerve wracking, especially going up 8-9 feet, but she likes it a lot.  Trained by Jason Shumacher from ZFX, he has taught the fathers of the actors to help pull the ropes.  Landings can be hard but Brigid uses her experience as an Irish step dancer to help her point one foot first as she hits the ground.  Brigid is but one of the grand cast of 54, who are assisted by an almost all-student orchestra of 30.
For tickets ($15), come early and purchase tickets at the door or online at   The school is located at 110 Beechwood Road, West Hartford.
Take a child by the hand and fly off on a magical musical adventure, where crocodiles tell time and big fluffy sheep dogs named Nana(Alyssa Murray) serve as nursemaids and boys named Peter Pan never grow up if they are given a choice.


Imagine an Alfred Hitchcock theatrical event that instead of inducing screams of fear, encourages hoots of laughter.  The King of mystery and suspense had a sense of humor so he probably would have enjoyed the spoof that is "The 39 Steps," an adaptation by Patrick Barlow, based on an original concept by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble, from the novel by John Buchan and the 1935 movie of the same name.

Darien Arts Center Stage, a fine community theatre group in Darien that has recently been reorganized, will be taking audiences on a bumpy ride of adventure weekends until Saturday, March 23.

There's an old saying "Be careful what you wish for" so when Richard Hannay, a resourceful and resiilent David Victor, complains one day in his London apartment that he is bored, what happens next sets him fleeing for his life, accused of murder.  Not so bored any more, eh Richard.

When he attends a performance at the London Palladium, he triggers a series of episodes that begin with a German damsel in distress, Annabella (Melissa Schleier) being murdered in his bed.  Before she dies, she warns Hannay that there is a dastardly plot afoot to smuggle documents out of the country that will lead to disaster for England.  She also cautions him to beware of a man with part of his little finger missing.

Soon Hannay is jumping on and off trains, running from spies, hiding out on farms and in hotels, a fugitive from justice, giving speeches in double talk for unknown politicians and falling in love with Pamela (Linda Gilmore), one of his chief accusers.  A versatile and fleet of foot trio, Geoffrey Gilbert, P. J. Morello and Vic Terenzio, play a plethora of roles from milkman to mothers, adding spice to a veritable stew of characters.  Donna Wyant directs this merry and mysterious romp in Alfred Hitchcock Land.

For tickets ($25, seniors $20, students $15), call the Darien Arts Center Stage, 2 Renshaw Road, Darien at 203-655-5414 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m.

Like a game of CLUE that has run amok, "The 39 Steps" will take you on a humorous homage to Hitchcock and his entire genre of spy films.  Listen carefully for all the movie references that Hannay sprinkles into the plot.


"Play It Again, Sam" is oh, so Woody Allen in all his natural and nebbishy best.  Wrapped in a wonton skin of insecurity, "a mass of symptoms" that include a lack of confidence and a surfeit of fussiness, we meet Allan Felix.  As a movie critic, he is at the top of his Oscar-ranking game but as a husband he has lost the battle in a blaze of ignominy.

West Hartford's intimate Playhouse on Park will be showcasing Allan Felix, complete with his neuroses, in a delightful presentation of Woody Allen's "Play It Again, Sam" until Sunday, March 24.

Zane Johnson's Allan Felix captures his character's needs for validation, after his wife (played by a versatile Bethany Fitzgerald) dumps him after two years of dull as dishwater marriage.  Now a virtual virgin in the dating world, Allan seeks romantic advice from his movie alter ego Humphrey Bogart (Ted D'Agostino) and moral support form his best friends The Christies, Dick (Dan Matisa) and Linda (Marnye Young).

Between their phone book of friends and Allan's little black book, a succession of women ( all played in varying degrees of admiration and despair by Bethany Fitzgerald) pass through his West 10th Street New York apartment, all doomed to disappoint and be disappointed.

Through it all, only Linda seems to understand and commiserate with his foibles and phobias, until the simultaneous realization that maybe Allan and Linda are really looking for each other in the Love Department of Life.  Russ Treyz keeps the physical comedy rolling merrily along, on an attractive apartment set created by Erik D. Diaz.

For tickets ($22.50-32.50, seniors $20-25, 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.

Can a movie critic, one of life's great worriers and watchers, find happiness and love, especially when he has Bogey in the pocket of his three piece buttoned down suit? 



Russian writer Anton Chekhov is not everyone's samovar for tea.  He is an acuired taste, even though he is considered to be among  the greatest writers of short stories in history.  Early on, he supported his family writing short, humorous vignettes about contemporary Russian life in the mid to late 1800's.  Hartford Stage has chosen two of these sketches and woven them together in a unique theatrical offering, where sound and visual effects figure prominently.

In the world premiere of "Man in a Case," we encounter a pair of Chekhov's offerings that are staged in an unusual manner, by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar from the internationally acclaimed Big Dance Theater and featuring famed Russian ballet dancer, choreographer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov.  The production will play until Sunday, March 24.

Both "Man in a Case" and "About Love" deal with men and women who find each other but are doomed to despair.  Fear is the third corner of their triangle and it overwhelms their sentiments, crushing them like rose petals beneath their feet.

Mikhail Baryshnikov is the loner and introvert Belikov, a teacher of Greek, who falls for the most unlikely and unsuitable of women, his polar opposite, a flamboyant and lively creature.  She not only rejects him, she does it in a most public and humiliating way, devastating his fragile ego and spirit so he is unlikely to recover.  His fate is to be wrapped in a case of his own making, isolating himself from the world.

In the second story, a man tied to the farmland ventures occasionally into town and is befriended by a gentleman who graciously invites him home for dinner.  The man's beautiful and captivating wife intrigues the farmer and he cannot overcome his inappropriate fascination with this married and forbidden fruit.

Will she abandon her family and run off with him?  Will they be caught and revealed in a scandal?  Or will the pair let their love wither and die without ever being satisfied?

Also in the cast are Jess Barbagallo, Tymberly Canale, Chris Giarmo and Aaron Mattocks as well as costume designer Oana Botez, set designer Peter Ksander, sound designer, artist and musician Tei Blow and video designer Jeff Larson.  The fusion of video and sound, music and dance, with theater adds interesting elements to the staging.

For tickets ($36.50-$116.50), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., 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.

Discover for yourself if love in nineteenth century Russia is destined to end in disaster.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Relive the glory days of high school, courtesy of the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre of Berlin, as they roll out that perpetual, perennial favorite "Grease," with book, music and lyrics penned by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.  Dig out your black leather jackets and poodle skirts and let the fun gang at Rydell High bring back memories of school proms, weekly infatuations, school rings and English lit exams.

Connecticut Cabaret Theatre is set to rock and roll and rumble weekends until March 23 as the slick, cool and cute Danny Zuko (Chris Pearson) unexpectedly reunites with his summertime romance, the sweet and naive Sandy Dumbrowski (Kaite Corda) in the halls of old Rydell.  Their bumpy relationship is complicated by his pals, the Thunderbirds (Kevin Ladd, Bobby Schultz, Jonathan Escobar and Chris Brooks) who razz him about his new girl while Sandy gets advice from the Pink Ladies (Carleigh Schultz, Sandra Lee, Melissa Ingrisano and Jessica Frye) who accuse her of being a Sandra Dee innocent.

All the angst of teenage years is explored as Sandy gets indoctrinated into the Pink Ladies, one of the T-Birds Kenickie gets a new used car "Greased Lightnin'," the local DJ Vince Fontaine (Bill Moskaluk) oversees the school hop with his lead singer Johnny Casino (Jeff Vega) serenading the couples, Danny ditching Sandy for the dance and taking a hot Cha-Cha DiGregorio (Nicole Ciriello) from a rival school and a Teen Angel (Joe Artuoro) singing encouragement to Frenchy when she flunks out of her beauty classes.  Authority is locked in the capable hands of Miss Lynch (Nancy Ferenc) while head cheerleader Patty Simcox (Chelsea Neville) practices her pom poms on the class nerd Eugene (James J. Moran).  Kris McMurray keeps a steady hand on the merry mayhem that ensues as this boisterous troupe of performers gives their all for the cause.  Musical director Pawel Jura keeps the hot tunes like "Summer Nights," "We Go Together," "There Are Worse Things I Can Do" and "Hopelessly Devoted To You" flowing like a champagne fountain.

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 nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.  Remember to bring goodies to share at your table or buy desserts at the concession stand.  Acting classes are now being offered at the cabaret's new studios next door.

Start practicing your great hand jive moves so you'll fit right in at the rock and roll hop with some of the coolest cats from the fifties.


Most nationalities and religions have traditional foods, often viewed as delicacies, that define personalities and are representative of the generations.  Gefilte fish might well be described as one of those foods that is identified with the Jewish people, along with chopped liver and chicken soup with matzoh balls.

For the Dubroff family who immigrated from Russia to Brooklyn, New York in 1904, gefilte fish was the food that spoke loudly and vocally of the Sabbath meal, but more especially of the Passover Seder every spring.  Made by hand, lovingly, from ground up carp, whitefish and pike, seasoned with onions, salt and pepper and sometimes sugar, with eggs and vegetable oil, and matzoh meal to keep the fish balls firm, it was served as an appetizer, with a generous heaping of horseradish and a carrot curl on top.

Matty Selman and Iris Burnett have taken a successful PBS Documentary film and made it into "Gefilte Fish Chronicles The Musical" and the Warner Stage Company will give it vibrant life at the Warner Theatre in Torrington until Sunday, March 10.

Abe and Minnie Dubroff raised seven daughters and one son and family tradition was important.  Their customs and rituals and holiday celebrations were the Elmer's Glue that kept them together,  A trio of sisters, Basha (Mary J. Johnson) and twins Goldie (Sara Dobrinich) and Pearlie (Suzanne Powers), have gathered to plan Basha's elegant wedding to Larry (Joe Harding) but complications have arisen and they all plot to keep the problems away from the bride.  Uncle Jake (James Donohue) tries to resolve the sticky issues, enlisting the help of Ruby the photographer (Pat Spaulding), Goldie's soldier boyfriend Sid (Stephen Michelsson) and even the revered Rabbi (Lana Peck) but it takes more than a hot iron to flatten the wrinkles out of the wedding dress.

Much of the musical is told in flashbacks when the photographer Ruby delivers a book of photos and memoirs from the family poet Pearlie to niece Rebecca (Cat Heidel).  As she reminisces, the story of this close knit family emerges.  Songs such as "Tap a Little Recipe," "Beyond the Pale" and "The Laughter Bank" advance the storyline, while a series of photos and Marc Chagall paintings illustrate the various settings.  Director Katherine Ray uses a loving hand to fashion this clan's legacy, with orchestrations created by James Higgins.

For tickets ($26), call the Warner Theatre, 68 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180 or go online at  Performances are Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m., Saturday March 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m.

Let the Dubroff family invite you to sit down at their Seder table to celebrate Passover and have a taste of their beloved gefilte fish.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


When a couple discovers the wife is pregnant, the overriding sentiment is the desire for a healthy baby.  This wish is poignantly expressed by the father of a nine year old son Jesse when he states "I want a normal child" and "I just want him to be a happy kid."

Sit forward in your seat at the Square One Theatre Company's emotional production of Lisa Loomer's involving family tale "Distracted" playing weekends in Stratford until Saturday, March 16.

Concerned parents, played movingly by Lillian Garcia and Pat Leo, are obviously alarmed when their son's school alerts them to a potential problem:  Jesse cannot focus on his school work, he is acting out and his impulsive, inappropriate behavior is disturbing to the rest of the class.

Not one to ignore a problem, they unite to face it head on.  They want to be told the school is wrong and there is nothing bad happening.  Jesse is simply an active boy doing what active boys do for attention.

Seeking advice from a string of professionals, they consult a variety of doctors (Michelle Duncan, James Leaf, Betty McCready) and receive a plethora of suggestions and directions to pursue.  Jesse is tested and retested until a diagnosis is received, one his parents are reluctant to accept.  Jesse has ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Frankly they'd rather take the advice of their neighbors (Lucy Babbitt and Ann Kinner) and Jesse's babysitter (Alanna Delgado) who has difficulties of her own to straighten out.  In fact, everyone has a potential emotional issue.

Playwright Lisa Loomer "injects" a lot of humor in this distressing tale of distraction, making it real and of the moment.  There is no fast cure, as the family tries to cope with homeopathic solutions, food allergy fixes, a clinic in New Mexico and finally, reluctantly, medication.  Tom Holehan, Artistic Director of Square One Theatre Company, now in its 23rd anniversary season, helps his talented cast, including an engaging Michael Mulligan as Jesse, deal with this developmental issue that affects 3-5% of children around the world.

For tickets ($20, students and seniors $19), call Square One Theatre Company, 2422 Main Street, Stratford at 203-375-8778 or online at  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with a twilight matinee at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 16.  Go online for the list of special restaurant offers available, including:

AKOYA Asian Cuisine next door at 2410 Main Street - 203-381-9366.
is across the street from the theatre at 2399 Main Street - 203.870.8688
ACAPULCOS Mexican Family Restaurant & Cantina
is across the street from the theatre at 2419 Main Street - 203.378.7900
is across the street at 2415 Main Street - 203.375.2583
is located at 2520 Main Street in the NYC-bound side of Stratford Railroad Station - 203.377.1648
SIENA ITALIAN TRATTORIA is located at 2505 Main Street – 203.923.8400

Travel the bumpy road with Jesse and his folks as they try to achieve normalcy and a happy family life.


At a time when women were rare in the newsroom, at the eve of World War II, Hildy Johnson has enjoyed a reputation as an ace reporter at the famed newspaper the Chicago Daily Record.  She was married and divorced from the editor, the hard-boiled Walter Burns, but now she is abandoning both the man and the manic machinations to marry a mild-mannered life insurance tycoon Bruce Baldwin and leave the frantic excitement way behind.

The Connecticut Repertory Theatre has created an elegant newsroom set, thanks to the design work of Posy Knight, the press room of the Criminal Courts Building, upon which to set the screwball comic hit "His Girl Friday," adapted by John Guare from the original Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell movie by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur.  Until Sunday, March 10,head to the Nafe Katter Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut to be wildly entertained.

When Hildy Johnson, played by a vivacious Olivia Saccomanno, enters the press room to bid farewell to her colleagues and her ex-husband Walter, portrayed by a smart and conniving Christopher Hirsh, she finds everyone poised to cover an execution:  convicted murderer Earl Holub (Darek Burkowski)
is scheduled to die.

When Holub escapes, possibly with the aid of his girlfriend Mollie (Khetanya Henderson) or the ineptitude of the sheriff (Thomas Brazzle), Hildy finds herself catching the scoop of a lifetime:  an interview with the killer.  She quickly forgets Bruce (Kevin Crouch), his mother (Penny Benson) and her plans to take the train to Albany for her wedding.  Chicago politics in the corrupt hands of the Mayor (Anthony J. Goes) and the upcoming elections that are rigged add to the frantic fray as Hildy and Walter reunite to do what they do best: get the story.  Dale AJ Rose as director keeps the pace fast and furious and, most of all, fun.

For tickets ($6-30), call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at 860-486-2113.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Follow the action as Hildy once again puts paper in her Underwood typewriter and composes the expose of a lifetime.