Monday, September 30, 2013



The classic musical of "South Pacific" conjures up soft island breezes, coral dotted sands, lush green mountains, swaying coconut palm trees, and bouquets of tropical blossoms as well as endless ocean waves.  For an "enchanted evening," look no further than Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin weekends until Saturday, October 26.

James Michener, the author, wrote a trio of short stories in his 1949 Pulitzer-prize winning novel "Tales of the South Pacific" that were transformed into a musical cited by many as the  finest ever composed for the stage.  The stories selected were two about couples in love during World War II, whose happiness is threatened by beliefs and prejudices, and a third tale about a womanizing but lovable sailor, Luther Billis, whose enterprising ways are a source of humor.  Bobby Schultz as Luther and Kelly Bourque as Bloody Mary deserve special recognition.

This royal treat by Rodgers and Hammerstein, with book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan, is "South Pacific" and it has endured for over six decades.  The main story surrounds a middle-aged French plantation owner Emile de Becque, brought to romantic and charming life by Lenny Fredericks, who meets a young and innocent United States Navy nurse at a club dance.  When he spies Nellie Forbush, the captivating and sweet Kaite Corda, from Little Rock, Arkansas across a crowded room, it is love at first sight. The secondary love story concerns a Marine Lieutenant Joe Cable, a committed and strong Chris Pearson, who comes to the island to carry out a dangerous mission spying on the Japanese and becomes spellbound by a lovely Tonkinese girl Liat, played by Sandra Lee.  The bigotry both Nellie and Joe experience is revealed in the sensitive song "You've Got to be Carefully Taught."

Some of the other beautiful tunes that have come out of this production include "This Nearly Was Mine," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Bali Ha'i," "Younger Than Springtime" and "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy."  Lighthearted tunes include "Happy Talk," "Bloody Mary," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair," "There's Nothing Like a Dame" and "Honey Bun."

The stories are woven into a wonderful tapestry that is guaranteed to please, especially with Joey Rebeschi and Kelly Rina Bergland portraying de Becque's children, as well as Dave Wall as Captain Brackett, Gene Coppa and Russell Fish sharing the role of Harbison, William Mosakluk as Buzz, Chris Brooks as Stewpot, James J. Moran as Quale, Ashley Ayala as Janet, Jessica E. Rubin as Dinah and Erika Lee Pocock as Marianne.  A creative Kris McMurray puts this large energetic cast through its paces with military precision.

For tickets ($30), call the CT 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 snacks to share at your table or buy desserts and drinks at the concession stand on site.  On Saturday, October 26 at 3 p.m., watch for a special event: "Here's Killing You, Kid," a  unique murder mystery in the style of Humphrey Bogart and "Casablanca."  Doors open at 2:30 p.m. for a 3 p.m. curtain, for $30.

Let this magical musical transport you to an island in the  Pacific and be prepared to sway in those tropical breezes of romance.


Long ago and far away, well not that far, just in New Jersey and not that long ago just the 1950's and 1960's, there were four lads who were headed down the wrong road, one that could have landed them behind bars.  Fortunately for them and for the music world, they detoured and discovered a rhythm and talent that made them headliners.  Their intriguing story is captured for all eternity in "Jersey Boys," with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music by Bob Gaudio , lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.  They will come and sing their story, which resembles a Rocky Road ice cream sundae, alluding to the bumpy road they traveled as well as an ice cream flavor with a base of chocolate or vanilla, studded with nuts and marshmallows. For four young kids from the Garden State who flirt with crime before devoting their time to being crooners, both definitions apply.  They definitely knew how to capture a sweet sound, a harmonious taste, and their career clearly was a rocky road journey.

To get better acquainted with these four charming lads, travel to the Palace Theater in Waterbury for a high energy introduction from Wednesday, October 9 to Sunday, October 13 and the meet and greet will be sensational as the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons unrolls before your fascinating eyes. Their story is structured around the four seasons as Tommy DeVito, Spring, Bob Gaudio, Summer, Nick Massi, Fall and finally Frankie Valli, Winter, each tell their version of what happened.  Along the way, they wrote their own songs, invented their own sound, sold 175 million records, all before celebrating their big 3-0.

Through trial and error in experimentation as to who fit the membership best, as well as criminal trials for misdemeanors, this quartet of singers struggled to make a name for themselves, to even find a name they liked for their group.  Once Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi recruited Frankie Valli and later Bob Gaudio, the troupe was set to explode on the Billboard charts.  Soon Gaudio was churning out hits and songs like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Oh, What a Night,” “My Eyes Adore You,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back To You,”  giving them entrĂ©e into the big time.

 Success is not without its price and “Jersey Boys” tells its tale straight up, warts and all.  All the time on the road plays havoc with the families left behind and on the guys the fans adore. The struggles for power within the group also  take their toll.  Tommy DeVito’s gambling addiction almost destroys them  until Frankie Valli steps forward and honorably takes on the burden of his debt to the mob.

 The guys are great in their roles, making their story real, their struggles believable, their success sweet and undeniable.  Come hear Brandon Andrus, Nick Cosgrove, Jason Kappus and Nicolas Dromard bring this quartet of blue collar boys to life strikingly and harmoniously.   This great musical stuffed with memorable tunes will have you wanting to dance up the theater aisles.

 For tickets ($55 and up), call the  Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at  Performances are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 1 p.m. and 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 p.m.

Sixteen million people have cheered after seeing this Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning musical.  Now it's your turn to shout out your joy!
 Let four guys from Jersey adore you with their eyes and their voices as they work their way into your heart.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


What might it feel like to have personal chef?  Quite wonderful and decadently delicious in fact!  I have had the opportunity recently when I attended a cooking class demonstration with my daughter at Consiglio's Restaurant, Wooster Street, in New Haven.

In an intimate nook of this 75 year old family Italian restaurant,nine of us had a front row seat as Chef Scott Gordon prepared a four-cpourse feast.  Gordon started out as a dishwasher, went on to the Culinary Institute of America and ran his own restaurant for a period.  Over time, he has developed his own style of cooking, often referring to the hundreds of cookbooks in his home library as he tries out new recipes.  A trio of chefs from his first restaurant, all CIA trained, are still his great friends and mentors today.

For the first course, Scott prepared pan friend sweet corn cakes, golden brown, crispy, warm and delicious and two in number, with a slice of fresh mozzarella in the middle and on top a scoop of arugula and tomato tapenade, diced fresh from the garden as dressing. He made the dish step by step, following the recipes we were given to add notes to and take home.  The appetizer was yummy enough to be a meal all by itself.

The second course was a personal mini focaccia bread stuffed with red grapes, julienned slices of prosciutto, fresh rosemary and grated grana padana cheese.  Scott shared his secrets of using King Arthur Flour and allowing the dough to "bloom" to activate the yeast.  He also suggested using a wine bottle turned on its isde if a rolling pin is not available.

For the entree, he sauteed jumbo shrimp in a large pan, with pre-cooked Gemelli (twisted) pasta, roasted butternut squash, broccoli rabe and a sprinkling of gorgonzola cheese.  In his dishes he uses a liberal amount of EVOO, which I learned quite quickly is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  As he was cooking, he also shared tips on how to cut and dice your butternut squash (without a sledge hammer) and how to make broccoli rabe unbitter.  You'll have to go to class to learn those secrets.

To finish this unbelievable meal, Scott whipped up a lemon pound cake, smoutered with warm peaches and blackberries and topped with a dollop of Chambord cream.  Each course is served after it is demonstrated, right from the kitchen. Consiglio's will even wrap up leftovers so you can enjoy the meal a second time around.  This dinner will be repeated on Thursday, September 26. 

October's menu will include roasted pumpkin bisque

on Thursdays, October 3, 10, 17 and 24.  November's menu will include

For reservations ($65), call 203-865-4489 or online at  You can even book a private class for 10 people and design your own menu.  What a great holiday party that would be!  The fun begins at 6:30 p.m.

Let Consiglio's Restaurant and master chef Scott Gordon treat you to an elegant and delicious feast.  Be their guest! Bon appetit!

Monday, September 23, 2013


The title "Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies" defines the character of the legendary actress who played by her own rules, fought the system and was outspoken throughout her career.  Clearly she took no prisoners and never backed down from a challenge.

To meet the young Miss Davis, early in her iconic stage and screen history, attend the Chekhov International Theatre Festival on Thursday, September 26 at 8 p.m. to see an amazing Jessica Sherr in her original one woman show "Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies."  The one night only performance will take place at the Theatre at Schlumberger, 36 Old Quarry Road, Ridgefield.

The festival includes three other unusual offerings:  Friday, September 27 at 8 p.m. "Apple" by Verne Thiessen, an unexpected play of secrets, sex and second chances;  Saturday, September 28 at 2 p.m., "Milk a Cow's Tail" by Sheri Graubert, a staged reading of a new play bound for Broadway; and Saturday, September 28 at 8 p.m., "Killer Therapy" by Brandt Johnson, a comedy about an assassin who seeks a therapist's help.

Tickets are only $10 each or all four shows for $25.  Go to  An art show will take place during the festival, "Uncommon Landscapes" by Suzanne Benton, Alberta Cifolelli and Stephanie Joyce.

Jessica Sherr has captured the sharp tongue and brazen personality that marked Bette Davis' infamous "bumpy ride" through the streets of Hollywood.  In a show whe wrote herself, Sherr takes her captivated audience along as the controversial icon learns a hard fact on the night of the 1939 Oscar Awards:  she will not win her third statue for her role as Judith Traherne, a socialite who suffers a brain tumor and blindness, in "Dark Victory."  She will lose to Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind."  To make matters more bitter, Davis had originally been considered for the role to play the Southern belle.

Revealing herself as both fierce and fragile, Sherr takes her Bette backward in time from that fateful Oscar night, touching on incidents that got her to that point in her rise to stardom.  Her involving monologue includes many of the fascinating personages who helped and hindered her journey, from studio heads to directors, choreographers to leading actors and actresses.  A fashion show of 1940's vintage clothing accompanies her trip back in time.

"Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies" is an idea that grew out of an acting workshop assignment.  Because of her own red hair and comedic style, Sherr was originally going to focus on Lucille Ball.  But a chance remark by a friend, that she had "Bette Davis eyes," sent her in a totally different direction.

Come see how successful that direction is as Jessica Sherr brings Bette Davis, the iconic legend, to breathtaking life.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Left to right: Jennifer Pyle, RN; Elena Ratner, M.D.; Andrea Brennan, Physician Assistant. Reviewing a gynecology/oncology patient's record. Dr. Ratner is an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services at the Yale University School of Medicine and a researcher for Discovery to Cure.

For actress, author and activist Angelina Jolie, beauty is a trademark as much as her talents on stage and screen, her relationship with Brad Pitt and the children they share and her philanthropic projects for refugees.  Today she has a new distinction, known simply as the Angelina Jolie Effect, her pro-active response to the threat of breast cancer and ovarian cancer and her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy as well as her announced plans to have her ovaries removed.

To celebrate her decision and to educate all women and men about women's cancers, the public is invited to a symposium "The Angelina Jolie Effect: What Every Woman Should Know About Her Genetics" on Thursday, October 3 at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 360 Amity Road, Woodbridge.  As an inspiration to encourage women to take a proactive stance on their health, Jolie had undergone BRCA gene testing and discovered, due to family history, she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer as well as a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer.  Her mother, grandmother and aunt had all died of breast cancer or of ovarian cancer, all at a young age.

Because of her mastectomy, her risks have now been lowered to less than 5 %.  Her decision to go public in May 2013 has opened a free flowing discussion on this sensitive topic.  A panel of medical experts from the Yale University School of Medicine will include: 

James J. Farrell, M.D., Director, Yale Center for Pancreatic Diseases,Associate Professor of Medicine, Section of Digestive Diseases
Erin Wysong Hofstatter, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine,Breast Cancer Program

Ellen T. Matloff, M.S., C.G.C., Director, Cancer Genetic Counseling,Yale Cancer Center

Elena Ratner, M.D., Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences

Pre-registration is required to or  The event is free and open to the public and the co-chairs are Beverly Levy and Judy Sklarz.  "As a cancer patient," states Mrs. Levy, " I know the importance of genetic testing and we've matched up two likely organizations, to which I'm connected, to sponsor this program. Jewish organizations like Women's Philanthropy of the New Haven Jewish Federation are spreading the word about genetic testing because Jews of Eastern European decent have a higher incidence of the BRCA gene mutation than other populations.  And Discovery to Cure co-sponsoring the event is a 'natural.' They are one of the most renowned research units in the world on gynecological cancers and are right here at Yale." The increased risks of BRCA gene carriers for breast (men and women), ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers will also be covered.

We have come a long way from the time cancer was whispered about as the "big C."  One hope for this symposium is to encourage women to be tested and to bring the cost of genetic testing down to make it more affordable.  Women with a specific family history of gynecological cancers will face  more immediate and difficult health decisions and may be able to have their insurance company cover the $3500 price tag.

 Judy Sklarz, the other event co-chair,  feels "Those of us in our 50's and 60's know someone is diagnosed with some kind of cancer all the time, many of them gynecological ones.  But they don't get the recognition or the research dollars that are vital.  My diagnosis of uterine cancer felt like a rite of passage, like this is my turn.  I wanted to be involved in this event to support Beverly and encourage ways to identify these cancers a lot earlier."

For Kate Downey Berges, a photographer from Branford, the cause is also quite personal.  She will speak about the voyage she and her three sisters took when they discovered that they were BRCA 1 positive from their father's side of the family.  That news hit them minutes before two of the sisters of Irish descent were diagnosed:  one was found to have breast cancer, with an 87% risk and one with ovarian cancer, at a 44% risk.  Her moving and courageous story may prompt you to examine your family history, both maternal and paternal.

Through the candidness of one of the most beautiful women in the world and her medical announcement, Angelina Jolie is truly having an effect and empowering women to be educated.  A walk to raise money for all gynecological  cancers is planned for Sunday, October 27 on the Yale University campus, with sign-in starting at 10 a.m. at Woolsey Hall on the corners of Grove and College Streets  A leisurely two mile walk, starting and ending on the Yale Commons, will  focus on sight-seeing with Yale University guides, and include free parking, door prizes, snacks, fun and a great cause. "It's just not good enough that doctors find cancers like my ovarian cancer by accident," continued Levy. "It is the fifth leading cause among cancer deaths for women and there are virtually no early warning signs. While undergoing chemotherapy, I am pouring my energy into fundraising to help the doctors and researchers at Yale develop early detection screening tests so they can find cancers like mine in the early stages when they are most curable and to find more and better treatments for women who are battling gynecologic cancers. We are hoping that people will join us for this great event to help fight back against cancer and enjoy a beautiful stroll on a fall day through the Yale University campus."  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, herself a 27 year ovarian cancer survivor, is the honorary chair of the walk and will cut the ribbon officially opening the walk and give some remarks.

 Gather your family and friends, make a team and help raise money for research and testing. Go to for more information. Pre-registration is encouraged.

Donations can also be sent to:
Office of Development
Yale School of Medicine/Discovery to
Cure Walkathon c/o Joy Carrigan
P.O. Box 7611, New Haven, CT 06519
or call: 203-415-5555

Invest in your own future and that of the women (and men) in your life by attending this informative symposium Thursday, October 3 and walking for a cure Sunday, October 27.


 Kate MacCluggage, Grant Goodman and Robert Eli (background) in La Dispute at Hartford Stage. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

As age old questions go, which came first the chicken or the egg? and why did the chicken cross the road? are often debated.  Another conundrum might well be the one that dates back to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.  For French playwright Marivaux, that query was worthy of a play to answer the puzzle:  who is more unfaithful in love, woman or man?

Maybe you personally have not stayed awake nights weighing the evidence on both sides, but clearly Marivaux did and the Hartford Stage is taking delight in offering you the opportunity to judge his theatrical and social experiment.  Penned in 1744, "La Dispute" will put you squarely in the arena of love until Sunday, November 10, playing in repertory with Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

On a dramatic snow white set of swirled wood cut out trees beautifully designed, with a stream, by Jedediah Ike, a Prince (Grant Goodman) and his lady Hermianne (Kate MacCluggage) playfully agree to disagree on the pressing issue at hand:  infidelity.  Conveniently the Prince's father grappled with the same query at least 18 years earlier and set in motion an experiment to resolve the issue once and for all.

Four orphans were raised in isolation, two girls and two boys, with their only human contact two guardians Carise (Kate Forbes) and Mesrou (David Manis).  Now eighteen years later the Prince and his lady hide in the forest to observe what happens when the four are "unleashed" into the garden to an unknown world.

First to arrive is Egle, a delightfully taken with herself Kaliswa Brewster, who loves herself to excess and could stare at her own reflection for eons.  When the handsome and quite different human Azor (Jeffrey Omura) appears, she at first thinks he is a she, a mistake that is quickly corrected when they instantly fall madly in love.

When their caretakers caution them that separation is healthy to keep their new love strong, Azor departs and moments later Adine (Mahira Kakkar) flies in on happy feet.  Adine is clearly as enchanted with herself and as vain as Egle and equally as besotted with her male counterpart Mesrin (Philippe Bowgen) whom she has just met.

What happens when the couples, who have sworn undying love for each other, meet the other's mate is predictably outrageous and instantaneous.  A chaotic battlefield erupts with director Darko Tresnjak serving as unofficial referee.  Tresnjak adapted the piece, seventy minutes in length without an intermission, with Elizabeth Williamson, from her translation.

For tickets ($25-85), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at  Performances are, in repertory with "Macbeth," Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Sunday and select Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Hold up a mirror (or a magnifying glass) to examine the intricate ingredients that comprise true love and dangerous seduction.

Monday, September 16, 2013


You're invited to a wedding and you don't have to rent a tuxedo or get your ball gown out of mothballs.  All you have to do is show up on time, with a healthy appetite, decide if you want to sit on the bride or the groom's side of the hall, and be prepared to party hearty.  Gifts are optional and you can bring orange blossoms or pink rose petals to scatter if the spirit moves you.

Join Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury as they celebrate "Tony 'n Tina's Wedding" not once, not twice, but three times, until they get it right.  The cocktail reception will be starting promptly at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, September 20 and 21 and again at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 22.  Surely you're available to partake in the festivities at least once. This special fundraiser for the theatre will take place at Chase Collegiate School, 565 Chase Parkway, Waterbury.

Plan to join Tony and Tina as they exchange vows in a less-than-solemn occasion where you, as good friends and family, get to participate in the celebration.  The intended bride and groom have been getting hitched thousands of times Off-Broadway and now it's your turn to toast them with a glass or three of the bubbly.

Maybe your family is sedate and sophisticated but these two clans are anything but.  Expect fireworks and major embaressments as Father Mark prepares to officiate at the union. His job is made more difficult and devilish with the help of the sarcastic maid of honor Connie, a flirting brother of the groom Johnny, a controlling mother of the bride Josephina who wants everything her way, a crazy matchmaking matron on Tony's side, his Grandma Nunzio, as well as bridesmaids, cousins, the photographer, caterer and best man.  All the usual suspects will be there and they all want to have a say in the proceedings.  Grab your dance card and your partner so you don't miss out on the fun.

For tickets ($45 subscribers, $50 non-subscribers), call 203-757-4676 or online at  Corporate tables of 10 are available for $750. The tickets include the ceremony, reception, Italian baked ziti dinner, champagne toast, wedding cake, music, dancing and much more.  A cash bar will be open.

Tony and Tina have been getting married for 25 years.  It's about time you were invited to help them say "I do."

Friday, September 13, 2013


What happens to an almost bankrupt flower shop on Skid Row when an industrious employee discovers a unique and unusual plant that attracts a ton of attention?  The result is the exotically entertaining “Little Shop of Horrors” by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken taking root at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport weekends until Saturday, September 28, presented by the Bridgeport Theatre Company now entering its fourth season of non-profit community theater.

 With sunshine, a weekly watering, a pinch of plant food, an occasional sprinkle of fertilizer and a few encouraging words,  most plants are in a state of nirvana.  But if your philodendron or ivy could talk, it might  request some special tidbit for blooming pleasure.  It definitely would if it’s a unique prickly variety hand cultivated in the floral establishment where one Seymour Krelbourn (Garth West) works.
Love will motivate even the meekest of men to move mountains and molehills for their sweethearts, even if it means making a pact with a fiendish plant.  In order for Seymour to woo and win Audrey (Holly Martin), the girl of his dreams, he must supply “the plant” with its favorite growth elixir:  human blood.  As “the plant,” nicknamed Audrey II, flourishes and flowers, Seymour realizes what a money making monsterpiece he has created and the potential fame it can bring to his modest Skid Row florist shop.  He also realizes that as “the plant” grows, so does its thirsty need for the red stuff and its cries of “feed me” echo louder and louder.  The catchy melodies carry the story out of control, as Audrey II wraps its tendrils around everyone in sight.  The tune "Suddenly, Seymour" is especially moving.
The  plant is a cross between a Venus Fly Trap and a wide-mouthed whale, with voice provided by Gina Lariccia and puppeting by Sean Sepulveda.  Also starring in the show are John Stegmaier as the mad dentist  and many others and PJ Morello as Mr. Mushnik, the shop owner who adopts the orphaned Seymour.  A whole flowerpot of singing and dancing is provided by Heather Abrado, Alana Cauthen and Sarah Paige Morris, in a rock chorus sort of way.  Lance Gray directs and choreographs and Eli Newsom is music director and artistic director of BTC in this fun production that opened Off- Broadway in 2003.
For tickets ($28, seniors $23, students $18), call  The Cabaret box office at 203-576-1636, option "0", or online at or Performances are Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Sunday 9/22 at 5 p.m. as well as Thursday, 9/26 at 7:30 p.m. Future productions include "Dreamgirls" January 17-February 1, 2014, "To Kill a Mockingbird" March 21-29, 2014 and "Shrek the Musical" April 25-May 10, 2014.  Give this new group the opportunity to please and pleasure your entertainment needs.

 You don’t need a green thumb to enjoy “Little Shop of Horrors” but if Seymour offers you a Band-Aid run fast.