Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The penalty for stealing a loaf of bread, especially when it is taken to stave off starvation for a loved one's child, should not be years of imprisonment.  Said to have been inspired by a true incident, in Paris in 1862, the French playwright and author Victor Hugo saw a wealthy woman bedecked in furs, riding in a luxurious carriage, sit obliviously by as a poor man was arrested. It happened virtually at her feet and the man was hauled away to jail for a minor crime.

Victor Hugo, novelist, essayist, poet, visual artist, statesman and advocate for human rights, was so affected by that scene of injustice that he wove it into his famous story of Jean Valjean in his novel "Les Miserables" or "The Poor."  Even though it was banned by the French government, the story met with great success among the populace, so much so that people fought to buy one of the 48,000 copies sold on the first day it was published.  Set to music a century later, "Les Miserables," produced by Cameron Mackintosh, has celebrated twenty five years as a majestic and sweeping drama that puts history on parade in a dramatic march through the French Revolution.

West Hartford Community Theater has taken on the ambitious gauntlet of presenting a new production of this theatrical gem by Alan Boublil and  Claude-Michel Schonberg weekends from Friday, November 1- Sunday, November 3 and Friday. November 8 to Sunday, November 10 at the Sedgwick Theater,  at the Sedgwick Middle School,128 Sedgwick Road, West Hartford.  Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets ($20 ) are available online at www.whtheater.org and at Pfau's Hardware, in West Hartford Center.

Seventy-six enthusiastic children and adults,from ages 6 to 75, will immerse themselves in 19th century France to capture the tale of a man wrongfully imprisoned for 19 years for the petty crime of stealing a loaf of bread.  When Jean Valjean, a stirring and stalwart Stephen Corma, escapes, he finds that Police Inspector Javert,  a devoted and determined Michael Cartwright, is doggedly on his trail, eager and obsessively dedicated to arresting him again.  Even though Valjean assumes a new identity as the respectable and wealthy factory owner and mayor Monsieur Madeleine, he cannot escape his past.

With stirring music, we learn how Valjean seeks to find redemption from his stigma, as prisoner 24601.  His interaction with the Bishop of Digne,  a forgiving and kind Keith Guinta , where silver was mysteriously stolen, sets Valjean on a path to becoming an honest man.  As a factory owner he saves one of his workers Fantine,  a loving and caring  April Larosa and Alyse Pilch, and ultimately her secret illegitimate daughter Cosette (Sophia Cote, Serena van der Hulst as young Cosette  and Katie Meagher as the adult).  Cosette has been left in the care of a pair of disreputable innkeepers (delightfully evil and mercenary Mitch Hess and Jen Jensen) who give all their money and attention to their own daughter Eponine (Victoria Boustani, Casie Pepe-Winshell and Sydney Weiser). Their voices rise in a splendid rush of emotion that swells the heart.

All this happens as idealistic students and lads like Marius (Michael Morales), Gavroche (Gavin Anderson) and Enjolras (Scott Gilbert) rally to start a revolution and Valjean is swept into the action. Director Lesley Gallagher calls "Les Miz" "my favorite show of all time."  She never put it on before and is finding it wonderful.  "It's taken months and months to put it together, with lights, sound, cast, crew, sets and music."  She believes it is only the second time it has been done in Connecticut by a community theater company.
For Michael Cartwright, he is delighted to be playing Javert, a role he has never tackled before.  "I love his character.  It is a good character, all black and white, no grey.  He believes in the letter of the law and he is out to get his man.  For Javert, there is no redemption and no conflict."

To Steve Corma who plays Jean Valjean, he is excited to play a man of such principles, who gets his parole and is eager to start a new life.  Unfortunately he has no money and no job.  Corma calls this a "dream role."  He played Marius in an earlier show and feels "it is cool to play an opposite part.  It is one of the most challenging roles I ever had."  Keith Guinta, who plays the Bishop, has always loved the show. What he most loves is that his character is not religious or pious.  He extends mercy and trusts Valjean to seek a higher plane.  As the Bishop, he lies to the police to save Valjean and then gifts him with a pair of sliver candlesticks and blesses him, saying that God has raised him out from darkness.  Corma calls his role a hinge or catalyst to give Valjean a new life.

Stirring music fills the show, songs like "I Dreamed a Dream," "Castles on a Cloud," "Who Am I?," "Master of the House," "Red and Black, "Do You Hear the People Sing" and "One Day More." Join the 65 million people, in 42 countries, who have already witnessed this spectacle, the winner of 100 international awards, and let the West Hartford Community Theater unveil this amazing musical, with director Lesley Gallagher and musical director and conductor Michael Ersevim competently at the helm. You'll be thrilled.

Monday, October 28, 2013


In today's world, politeness and manners seem to be fighting a losing battle with rudeness and aggression.  Perpetrators of road rage are rarely ordered to attend etiquette classes, but maybe they should be.  Decades ago, our teenagers were often sent to learn about decorum and deportment, how to greet people, what to say to make conversation, what constitutes the proper way to set a table and eat a meal, how to be a young lady or young gentleman.  Dancing classes were considered an important part of the mix as was the perfect way to pen a thank you note.

Today's youth know how to text and tweet and when they get together at a party they send messages across the room so they don't have to actually exchange words of conversation.  Emily Post and Miss Manners would be appalled.

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher is charmingly reliving those days of requisite lessons in behavior in his autobiographical comedy "Mrs. Mannerly," being presented with appropriate flair and style by TheaterWorks of Hartford until  Sunday, November 17.   Raymond McAnally  is the ten year old Jeffrey, who would rather attend  manners classes than be on the Little League team in Steubenville, Ohio.  He knows he can't succeed on the baseball field so he pins all his hopes that he can win kudos in the dining room.

For at least three decades, or since dirt was born, Mrs, Mannerly,  a determined and dedicated Dale Hodges, has been teaching the youth of Steubenville how to place forks in the correct pattern and how to drink tea in proper society.  Dancing lessons and good posture are also drilled into the little minds of her students, who compete for the coveted "silver spoons" that are pinned to their lapels if they are extra specially correct.

Jeffrey knows that the big day of reckoning is coming, when the class will appear in their finery in  front of the members of the Daughters of the American Revolution to display all they have learned.  They will be graded for their efforts and no one in all these years has ever achieved a perfect score of 100.  Jeffrey is determined that he will be the first.  What happens to him on the way to the top is deliciously funny.  How he eliminates all his competition is truly ingenious.  Will Jeffrey resort to blackmail, using secret information about Mrs. Mannerly he has uncovered, to give himself an edge?  The two leads play off against each other in a decidedly witty exchange, overseen by director Ed Stern.

For tickets ($40-65), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org.  Performances are Tuesdays-Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Learn with Jeffrey how to fold a napkin, that it's never okay to lie, how to pour tea by status not age, never to say 'what' but rather "I beg your pardon" and interrupting someone is a crime.  Will you become one of Mrs. Mannerly's prized pupils?

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Swarms of bees invaded Dodds Theater on the campus of the University of New Haven Friday, October 25 and no one ran for cover or grabbed the bug spray.  That's because the clusters of insects were the contestants in the second annual New Haven Reads Community Spelling Bee and the greatest danger was from the sticky and tacky jokes provided by Master of Ceremonies Matt Scott and Queen of the Hive Ann Nyberg from News 12 CT and WTNH TV, respectively.

Teams of three spellers each, 36 teams in all, competed to spell words of simple to impossible, until there were only 2 teams left.  In an exciting finish, the AARP Misfits triumphed over the Geezer Geeks.  Many dressed in costume, mostly with a honey bee or Halloween theme.

New Haven Reads is a wonderful organization that provides free literacy programs to families in the Greater New Haven community, from one-on-one tutoring for children who need extra help with reading in pre-K and kindergarten and SAT Preparation.  Each week 375 volunteers tutor over 500 students from first grade to high school.  Their Book Bank donated over 130,000 books to schools and area non-profits.

With a mission "to share the joy and power of reading," New Haven Reads welcomes tutors, financial support and gently used children's books.  For more information , go to www.newhavenreads.org or call 203-752-1923.  Send donations to New Haven Reads, 45 Bristol Street, New Haven, CT 06511.  To become a tutor, contact Keri Humphries at Keri@newhavenreads.org.

Clearly everyone involved in this fun event was abuzz in support of this worthy cause.  Follow the buzzing bee for a honey of a night.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


You've heard of "My Three Sons," now consider "My Two Dads," a tale of two men who both have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, both in show business, and both claiming parenting rights to one son.  Steve March-Torme has the happy distinction to be the son of crooner Mel Torme, and the stepson of Hal March, actor, comedian and radio and television personality.

Steve is a product of both dads, by inheritance, osmosis and observation.  They both were supportive, without pressure, of anything he wanted to do.  As for show business, they both encouraged him, without any pressure.  Most importantly, they both "instilled a great sense of self-esteem, making me feel secure in my skin.  If they'd been CPAs or plumbers, I don't know if I would be singing on stage.  I definitely inherited my ears and my voice and I learned from watching them both perform."

When Steve was two, his parents divorced and he grew up with Hal March as his step-dad.  He formed his first band, of many, when he was only 13 and they knew three songs.  With the Rolling Stones as inspiration, their first gig was a gathering at the YMCA that they barely survived.  By sixteen, the band had a name "Shades of Sound," was influenced by the British Invasion and entertained at bar mitzvahs and school dances.

His early life he "grew up with Borscht Belt comedians so I knew more about Buddy Hackett than Buddy Rich.  Hal loved having funny people over for dinner, so our house was filled with the humor of Milton Berle, Lucille Ball and Jan Murray."  When the family moved to Beverly Hills, he palled around with high school chums like Desi Arnez, Jr., Dean Martin, Jr. and Carrie Fisher.  His friendship with Desi is still strong today as they just played golf last month.

Actor/comedian Fred Willard served as his buddy, helping Steve practice and perfect his fast ball pitching for two turns at the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 1985 and 1989, earning gold medals against Venezuela and Canada.  Willard who loved baseball met him at a junior high school field to get him in shape and prepare him for the competitions.

While the cereal Rice Krispies is known for "snap, crackle and pop," Steve March-Torme is known as a jazz singer with a "snap, sizzle, pop."  He describes his style of music as "jazz pop," with smooth sounds, characterizing his voice as sensual and elastic.  While his dad's music was influenced by the Big Band era, like Benny Goodman and Count Basie, using scat singing to make his musical points, Steve grew up in a different era, listening to The Beatles, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Nat King Cole.  He considers himself "a hybrid of the two, being elastic in his improvisations."

In his twenties and thirties, he had the opportunity to appear with his dad Mel in concert, which he recalls as being "a little intimidating.  Subconsciously I wanted to show people that I could sing.  My only regret is that he didn't live long enough.  We worked well together harmonically, but we didn't get too many chances as a duo."

One duet that they did complete was a jazz tune, recorded in just two takes, of "Straighten Up and Fly Right."  Once Mel was finished the second time around, he announced "I'm going to lunch" and walked out of the session.  Unfortunately that great musical event was not repeated.

In his act, with full symphony orchestras and in night clubs, Steve March Torme talks a little about his dad Mel.  He has even designed a show "Torme Sings Torme," as a tribute show, using arrangements by Marty Paige.  He is careful it is not the "Mel, Jr. show," to establish himself as his own man with his own talents.

Those talents will be on display four times in the month of November, all over Connecticut, and Steve hopes you stop by to say hello.  He will be flying in from his home in Appleton, Wisconsin, definitely not The Big Apple or Hollywood, where he and his family live, near his wife's relatives.  Since he has to get on a plane to do any work, he's happy to live in a nice safe little town like Appleton, just eight minutes to the airport.

Look for Steve and his "Snap, Sizzle, Pop" at the Sage American Grill and Oyster Bar, 100 South Water Street in New Haven (203-787-3466), with no cover, on Tuesday, November 5 at  6:30 p.m.   Next up is the Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield on Friday, November 8 at 8 p.m., $35 (203-438-5795).  The next night, Saturday, November 9 at 7:30 p.m. will find him crooning at Nelson Hall in Elim Park, 150 Cook Hill Road, Cheshire, $32 (203-699-5495).  Last up is a visit to the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, affectionately known as The Kate, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook on Sunday, November 10 at  3 p.m., $30 (877-503-1286).

Come hear Steve March-Torme share family stories about his two famous dads and learn what he inherited from both, by birth and assimilation.  Perhaps he'll sing a selection of his own composed songs, a few he's adapted from his dad as well as favorites from Broadway to Bernstein to Bennett.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Like to solve murder mysteries?  Are you a fan of CSI, Law and Order and NCIS?  Do you enjoy solving puzzles?  Then "Perfect Crime" by Warren Manzi may be the thrill driven whodunit romance with your name on it.  Since 1987, theater lovers have been intrigued by its convoluted clues and red herrings.  Who is dead and how where they murdered?  What's the motive?  Who can you believe? Is there a serial killer on the loose or just a lot of people who like to play with guns and knives?

The Snapple Theater at 210 West 50th Street, New York City is the scene of the crimes and you're invited to play detective, if you dare.  Since 1987 except for four performances, Catherine Russell has played the aggressive and opinionated psychiatrist Margaret Brent who is at the heart of the action.  Her extremely wealthy husband, also a psychiatrist, may be dead.  At least that's the claim of the family cook who feels she witnessed his demise.  But when the cook herself turns up dead, who is there to question?

Police Sargent Ascher, a determined Richard Shoberg, arrives on the Brent's doorstep and ends up so believing Margaret's smooth explanations that he finds himself romantically spellbound by her mysterious web of answers. When she produces her husband (Jack Koenig) for his inspection, the detective finds the cook's story suspect.

In short order, the Sargent is told that Margaret often acts out murder plots with her patients, especially Lionel McAuley (George McDaniel) who may or may not be crazy, as well as with a young woman who strangely appears at her door one day seeking help.  Margaret has just written what she hopes will be a best selling book and she is preoccupied with its promotion on David Breuer's (Patrick Robustelli) television show to insure its success.

In the midst of the book launch, the threat of a baseball bat killer sends fear through the neighborhood.  As the bodies pile up, the clues point to a painting on the fireplace that may or may not be significant.  The director Jeffrey Hyatt keeps the action moving rapidly, so you need to keep your wits sharp.

For tickets ($50-60), call the Snapple Theater at 212-921-7862 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.  Performances are Monday at 8 p.m., Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m., dark Thursday, Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  For more information go to www.perfect-crime.com.

While you can go any day except Thursday, plan on a whole Saturday at the Snapple, with a matinee of "The Fantasticks" at 2 p.m, "Me and Jezebel" about Bette Davis at 5 p.m. and an 8 p.m. visit to "Perfect Crime."  For theater lovers, it's a trifecta of treats.



                                         PHOTOS BY MICHAEL J. LUTCH

To help launch his literary career, Tennessee Williams adopted the name “Tennessee” from the state of his father’s birth and he often looked to his own family for inspiration for his plays.  His first successful writing endeavor, “The Glass Menagerie,” set in St. Louis in 1937, takes place in a dreary apartment, not unlike one he grew up in himself.  Venture to the Booth Theatre, 222 West 45th Street, New York City to see a splendid production of this sadly envisioned play.  The run has been extended to February 23,2014.
As a child, Williams spent two years with legs that were paralyzed, and it was during that impressionable time that his mother encouraged him to read and to make up stories.  She gave him his first typewriter when he was thirteen.  In “The Glass Menagerie,” he becomes Tom, the brother who is the breadwinner of the family after their father deserts  them.  His real life mother, a genteel Southern lady who is smothering to her children, is quite the image of Amanda in the play. 
Amanda, who lives in the past, feasts on her memories when she was the Southern belle, entertaining seventeen gentlemen callers in one afternoon,  bragging that she had “a nimble tongue to meet all occasions.”  Amanda overshadows her daughter Laura, an overly shy and timid girl who views her small leg deformity as a major obstacle in her life. 
Cherry Jones is superb as the gushing and gracious Amanda, calculating in her obsession to better her children’s lives, especially in her quest to find at least one gentleman caller to marry Laura.  She nags Tom, wonderfully portrayed by Zachery Quintor, to save the family.  Tom, who narrates this memory play, is locked into a job he hates at the shoe factory, a job Tennessee Williams endured for years, as he strives to write his poetry and find the adventures he seeks through endless nights at the movies.
 Laura, in her fragile state, is obsessed with her collection of miniature glass animals and her old records, as captured by Celia Keenan-Bolger's portrayal of quiet desperation.  For a moment in time, when Tom brings home a fellow shoe company employee to meet Laura, a man she loved in high school, the bigger than life Jim O’Connor, admirable in the hands of Brian J. Smith, there is a glimmer of hope for the Wingfield family.  But that hope dies, like the lights in the apartment, when Jim  reveals his secret.  John Tiffany directs this intimate play with strength and sensitivity.
 For tickets ($42-147), call 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250 or online at telecharge.com.    Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Watch how the delicate glass figurine of a unicorn symbolizes Laura and the fragile hold she has on life, a life similar to Tennessee Williams’ own sister Rose.


  Rubbing elbows and sitting knee to knee with one of your childhood theatrical idols seemed like a dream come true for author Elizabeth Fuller when the iconic star Bette Davis moved into her Weston home, streamer trunk in tow.  The year was 1985 and a chance meeting with Ms. Davis led her to arrive on Liz's doorstep for a day or two until the New York hotel strike ended.  After all they had met the night before when Liz invited a friend to dinner and that friend brought her house guest, Ms Bette Davis, along for what would turn out to be "a bumpy ride."

To learn all the ins and outs, and ups and downs, of their unique friendship, go to the Snapple Theater, 210 West 50th Street, New York City for an intimate acquaintance with the two ladies in question.  Liz Fuller stars as her delightful self, her husband John, her four year old son Christopher, her grandmother and her evangelical friend Grace as she interacts with her idol of stage and screen, brought to astonishing life by Kelly Moore.

Liz is at turns idealistic, ecstatic, bewildered, frustrated, overwhelmed and companionable as she welcomes the two time Oscar winner into her "cottage" home.  What was to be a singular experience for 24 to 48 hours turns into a marathon adventure, as the demanding and opinionated star takes command of the household.  Her mattress isn't firm enough, the chicken isn't cooked enough, the drieveway has too many potholes, and yet Ms. Davis manages to call Paris and Rome on a regular basis and get her gourmet needs met quite adequately.  She also gives Master Christopher an education, making him a miniature clone of herself.

As the days roll into weeks, Liz's long suffering husband issues an ultimatum: either she goes or I do.  How will the first lady of the American screen react to this threat?  Who will win this battle thirty-one days in the making?  Director Mark Graham keeps the laughter and delicious wit bubbling to the surface.

For tickets ($65), call the Snapple Thater at 212-921-7862 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.  Performances are at 5 p.m. Saturdays only.

Come see "The Woman Who Came to Dinner" and forgot to leave.  You'll be charmed.


With the producer and director in place, the twenty-two member cast set, the script secured and ready to mount, what could be missing?  In "Room Service" by John Murray and Allen Boretz, the answer is simple and fairly insurmountable as an obstacle:  the money.  Without a backer, a sugar daddy who will make all things possible, nothing will happen.  The theater will remain dark and the audience will never occupy the plush velvet seats. Until Sunday, October 27, Westport Country Playhouse will be entertaining this zany theatrical zoo.

Originally a 1938 movie starring the Marx Brothers and Lucille Ball, "Room Service" is a laugh out loud farce.  With a quartet of slamming doors in which come a bevy of theater folks, doctors real and imaginary, secretaries, a Russian actor posing as a waiter, a penniless playwright and assorted hotel staff who are suffering from Nellie's nervous breakdowns, the silliness is set to erupt like a volcano.

Room 920 of the White Way Hotel in New York City in 1937 is one busy place.  Gordon Miller, a fast talking conniver Ben Steinfeld, has everything ready for his new hit show, everything but the finances.  Is he worried?  Not by a long shot.  His immediate concern is the large hotel bill he has amassed, with all his actors occupying rooms and ordering meals, or even more expensive, room service.  He has relied on his brother-in-aw Joe, a long suffering David Beach, but now the head hotel honcho, Mr. Wagner, an impatient and anxious Michael McCormick, has arrived to settle the books.

Room 920 gets quite crowded as Gordon's girlfriend Christine (Zoe Winters), his new nervous playwright Leo (Eric Bryant), Harry the director (Jim Bracchitta), Faker the producer (Richard Ruiz), the hotel's secretary Hilda (Hayley Treider), the potential backer Jenkins (Frank Vlastnik), the waiter Sasha (Peter Von Berg) and the doctor (Donald Corren) enter and exit repeatedly.

Will Gordon have to skip out without paying his bill, leaving Joe to settle his debts?  Will the backer renege when he realizes that shady doings are taking place under his nervous nose?  Is the play "Godspeed" worthy of all these madcap machinations?  You'll just have to join the three ring circus to discover the funny solutions that director Mark Lamos has up his sleeves and in his magician's hat.

For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m and 8 p.m, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Art and corruption are married in this silly zoo of insanity where whether or not the curtain will rise is the farcical question.

Monday, October 21, 2013


"Might you have any clothes in your closet that date back to the 1950's?  Now is the time to don your vintage finery to get you in the mood  for a little murder.  Theatrical murder, that is. The Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin is inviting you to become a detective for the afternoon, Saturday, October 26 at 3 p.m. to enjoy "Here's Killing You, Kid" by James Daab, with just a passing nod to the classic film "Casablanca."

Plan to interact with the cast from the moment you arrive (doors open at 2:30 p.m.).  Among the guests are a socialite who is on the sexy side, a bar owner who is aggressive and belligerent, a detective who is not known for his intelligence, a cub newspaper reporter on the scent of the BIG story, a waitress who likes to sing a lot and a cop who may not be exactly what he seems.  This is a film noir spoof set in Burbank, California in 1953 and a millionaire Anthony Forsythe, the famed archeologist who recently uncovered the priceless Majorcan Monkey, a gold statue stuffed with jewels, has been found murdered.

Whoever possesses the Majorcan Monkey will become powerful and rich and everyone in the room is a suspect.  They are all equally desperate to get it into their greedy hands.  Also love is in the air as well as the potential for victim #2.  The excitement and the laughs are totally evident but all the clues may not be.  Maybe if you're lucky, you'll have a Jessica Fletcher, Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes wannabe at your table to help you solve the crime.

Set in Bigelow's Bar and Grill, the mystery is a lot of silly fun so let yourself be drawn into the action.  Maybe you'll be the one to solve the crime.  Remember this is cabaret theatre so bring lots of snacks and drinks or plan to purchase them on site from the dessert bar.  For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com.

Stars of the show will be Melinda Learned, Joe Autuoro, Tom Roohr, Meagan Bomar, Rick Bennett and Will Dayton and Kris McMurray is the producer and director of this unique comedy murder mystery.  Start practicing your best Bogart rendition of "Here's looking at you, kid," don your fedora and plan on being "killed with laughter."


When people are asked what they would rescue if their home were on fire, after children and pets, many mention photo albums and pictures as their most treasured items to preserve.  We mark all special occasions with smiling pictures around a birthday cake or next to the Christmas tree.  We mark our happiness in Kodak moments.

 Sue (Karen Mason), a frustrated artist wannabe and middle-aged woman is in the act of retrieving a suitcase from the attic, to prepare to leave her marriage and her inattentive and unresponsive workaholic husband. She uncovers an album of memories while looking for the means to walk away. The scrapbook chronicles memories from the past...when the couple were younger and happier.

When Dan (Mark Jacoby) comes home early from work, oblivious to his wife's plans, the two end up reviewing and reliving a series of "snapshots" from their life together.  As childhood classmates, friends, lovers, parents and who-are-you-really spouses, the question remains:  can they find each other and find their way back home? Karen Mason and Mark Jacoby play the couple in the present time.

Along the way, songs by prolific songwriter Stephen Schwartz, old and familiar and some brand new, help them discover landmarks of musical significance.  Twenty songs from eleven different shows, like "Children of Eden," "Godspell," "Pippin," "Personals" and "Wicked" are among those selected.  The songs are a catalyst for conversation and prompt the couple to examine the crossroad they have reached now that they are empty nesters, with their only child out  on his own. Susie and Dan will be played at younger ages by Elizabeth Stanley and Matthew Scott, in the middle years, and Ephie Aardema and Dan DeLuca play Susie and Danny when they first meet, in the early years.

From the show "Pippin," a medley of tunes, "Extra Ordinary" and "Corner of Sky" provide a backdrop for a flashback to high school graduation, where everything has its season and time and the future is open ended.  Years later, Dan is the expectant father pacing the delivery room, awaiting word of an imminent arrival.  As a new dad, he is heard singing "All Good Gifts."  Originally from "Godspell," it beautifully captures the specialness of the moment.

The beginnings of "Snapshots A Musical Scrapbook" go back over two decades when playwright, producer, director. movie writer David Stern and his

partner Michael Scheman realized that composer Stephen Schwartz's music had never been celebrated in a show of just his music.  At the time, Stern was working on the play "Nick and Nora" on Broadway with Richard Maltby Jr.  With enterprising speed, Stern looked up Schwartz's phone number, called him, pitched the story idea and got a "sure, go for it" response.  Later Stern learned that Schwartz says that to everyone.

The work had its spurts and starts but other projects interfered and it landed in the infamous bottom drawer for almost twenty years.  After Stephen Schwartz's immense success with "Wicked," everything he ever wrote got a second look and "Snapshots" once more saw the light of day.  Both David Stern and Stephen Schwartz were now twenty years older, with the requisite life experience to write realistically about a middle aged couple.  They reexamined and rewrote the show and Goodspeed Musicals saw it and felt this memory play, "this part revue, part story" deserved to be mounted on stage.  To Stern, "there is nothing like Goodspeed anywhere else.  They answer most of our questions.  They are crazy supportive and have amazing facilities.  If we need ten matching umbrellas, they produce them.  If we decide on ten matching canes, they deliver them too."

For Stern, "the cast is so superior.  I am in awe of what they bring to the table.  They are first class.  90% of our ability to succeed lies in casting.  The other 10% is the production itself.  Our director Danny Goldstein is fully engaged with the right aesthetics.  But at the end of the day, the big question is: did we communicate our thoughts to the audience?  They are the final jury."  He hopes they will walk away with the message that one needs to work on relationships and tell someone you love them, in a way they receive that message.  Learning to communicate is vital, to tell it often and well, so your mate hears it.

These life passages are at the heart of "Snapshots," opening Thursday, October 24-Sunday, November 17 at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre, 133 North Main Street, Chester.  For tickets ($44), call Goodspeed at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org.  Performances are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Next up for David Stern, after his Disney movie "Geppetto" and the school play adaptation of "My Son Pinocchio" is the animated film "Free Birds," the story of two turkeys with a time travel machine going back in history to get themselves off the holiday menu.  Look for it November 1 as we begin preparing for Thanksgiving. 

As for Stephen Schwartz, the only songwriter in Broadway history ever to have three shows run more than 1900 performances, "Wicked,""Godspell" and "Pippin, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Now Stephen Schwartz can add to his prestigious list that he has a musical scrapbook celebrating his music:  "Snapshots." 


Even valiant warriors can be corrupted by power and ambition and nowhere is that more evident than in the Shakespearian tragedy of "Macbeth."  When a spellbinding trio of witches, Kate MacCluggage, Mahira Kakkar and Kaliswa Brewster, greet Macbeth as he returns triumphantly from war, they prophesize that he will soon become Thane of Cawdor and quickly thereafter King of Scotland.

As his sleeping ambitions stir to life, Macbeth, with the encouragement of his wife, Lady Macbeth, a curiously captivating Kate Forbes, strives to hasten the prediction and help him achieve his goals even sooner.  The Hartford Stage will chronicle this charged with blood lust tale, in repertory with "La Dispute," until Sunday, November 10.  The production is word perfect and masterful in its power and passion.  Shakespearian purists will rejoice.

Men and women of conscience can still be misled and allow themselves to descend into the depths of self-deception.  So it is with the once courageous and honorable Scottish nobleman Macbeth and his accommodating spouse.  Their murderous deeds come back to haunt them through ghostly apparitions and sleep walking buts as they try in vain to rid their hands of blood and gore.  To gain his ends, he commits acts most heinous, killing all those who stand in his way to the throne:  men, women and even children.

Matthew Rauch is superb as the once brave soldier who allows visions of grandeur to corrupt his soul.  His descent into madness is a portrait of passionate pathos, his disintegration astounding to witness.  This once good man has surrendered to his evil side, and he plows down, friend or foe, everyone in his path:  King Duncan (David Manis), Banquo (Grant Goodman), and the family of Macduff (Robert Eli).  To a person, the entire cast is riveting, including the porter (Noble Shropshire) who brings a welcome dose of wisdom and humor to his part.

Darko Tresnjak is the chief conjurer responsible for this magical masterwork, with the aid of costumer Suttirat Anne Larlarb, the lighting of Matthew Richards and the sound design of Jane Shaw.

For tickets ($25-95), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street,Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org.  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Sunday and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.  This is a repertory production with "La Dispute" so check the listings.

Watch Macbeth, consumed by "the sound and the fury," allow his wishes and wants to propel himself into a mad obsession and Macduff (Robert Eli) and Malcolm(Philippe Bowgen), King Duncan's son) restore reason to the realm.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


When America Ferrerra was only 9 or 10, she would lie in bed and dream of walking the Red Carpet on her way to the Oscars to earn an Academy Award.  She pictured herself in a beautiful gown, dripping in jewels.  She has since learned that the diamonds are on loan and have to be returned, but she now knows that dreams can and do come true.  She has won an Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, ALMA and Imagen awards.

As a Latino child with five siblings and a single mom who worked long hours to feed and clothe her brood, Ferrerra had to take three buses for hours as a teenager to get the acting lessons she desperately wanted.  She spoke recently at the 8th Annual Students Forum at the Quick Center on the campus of Fairfield University and her message was one of optimism and determination and self-directing your own destiny.  As the star of the hit TV show "Ugly Betty," a recurring role on "The Good Wife," a veteran of two installments of "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and the animated kids show "How to Train Your Dragon," she is most proud of her work on the documentary film "Half the Sky," a movie about turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide.  In it, as in real life,  a young girl overcomes obstacles and has served to inspire so many teens.

Currently an ambassador for Save the Children charities, she also  encourages Latinos to vote (as well as all young people), and helps underprivileged children and families to a better life and education.  Her passion for doing good works predominated her talk as she encouraged the mostly college aged audience to aim high and dream big.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Star-spangled and sequined, super star Mitzi Gaynor is still going strong on stage and does she have some sensational stories to share.  Funny and entertaining, she will grace the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Sacred Heart University on Sunday, October 27 at 3 p.m. with her 150 watt smile and take the audience on a tour of her show business career.

Mitzi Gaynor was born 82 years ago in Chicago with the royal appellation of Francesca Marlene de Czanyl von Gerber and by the age of 13 she was singing and dancing with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Company.  By 17, she had signed a seven year contract with Twentieth Century Fox.

As a bright-eyed beauty, she starred in dozens of musicals and comedies, most notably in "South Pacific" where she washed that man right out of her hair over and over again.  Her appearance on the 39th Academy Awards stopped the show when she sang and danced her way as "Georgy Girl."  She has always maintained that dancing, singing and smiling all at the same time, in heels, was the hardest achievement she did...and backwards no less!

Her beautiful famous long legs are still kicking up a storm in her acclaimed one woman show in "Mitzi...Razzle Dazzle! My Life Behind the Sequins" that has been touring from coast to coast. It has been called "sensational" by Liz Smith, "Terrific" by Regis Philbin, "Fabulous" by Clive Davis and "Brassy, bold and bigger than life" by Stage Buzz.com.

Leading men in her life include such greats as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly.  When the Golden Age of movie musicals faded, Mitzi perfected a stage act in Las Vegas.  Still claiming "Show business is my life," she will surely have wonderful tales to tell next Sunday afternoon, as she chats with Jerry Goehring, Executive Director of The Edgerton Center. Inaugurating the 2013-2014 American Legends Series, Miss Gaynor will speak and discuss the video clips from her long and varied career.  Her triple-threat talents will clearly be on display.

For tickets ($25, seniors $15, students $10), call The Edgerton Center (exit 47 off the Merritt) at Sacred Heart University at 203-371-7908 or online at www.EdgertonCenter.org.

Come meet Mitzi Gaynor, one of the top singing and dancing stars of all time, as she reminisces about her storied and star-studded career.  And if you happen to have an extra $5.5 million, she'd love to sell you her Beverly Hills mansion that is currently sporting a "For Sale" sign.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Give a shout out if country music makes you happy.  Raise your hand up high if Johnny Cash is one of your best buds on the music calvacade of hits.  If black is your signature dress code of choice, then you've won the trifecta and Waterbury's Seven Angels Theatre has your prize:  "Ring of Fire" until Sunday, October 20.

Imagine for a moment you're a musician auditioning in New York City for a musical in Connecticut.  You're not really a fan of country western tunes but you're willing to try.  That's what happened to five performers who found themselves on the stage of Seven Angels on September 10 learning a new show with total strangers.  A short two weeks later Jack Boice, Austin Hohnke, Ashley Rose, Jeremy Sevelovitz and Jeff Tuohy are making sweet sounds as if they've played together for decades.

Richard Maltby Jr. has reconceived his show "Ring of Fire" that he first wrote with William Meade for this five member cast who are premiering it for your listening enjoyment.  Stuffed with songs, and anecdotes about this enigmatic man in black, you'll hear treats like "I Walk the Line," "A Boy Named Sue," "I've Been Everywhere" and "If I Were a Carpenter" that you'll want to sing along with as well as lesser known additions like "Jackson," "Cry, Cry, Cry," "Going to Memphis" and "Hey, Porter."

Tunes like "Five Feet High and Rising," written by Cash about the flooding of his family's farm (twice) and "Folsom Prison Blues" about the prison reform he advocated for and the free concerts he provided for inmates are just two of his homespun melodies.  Among the dozens of songs, a little bit of his life and times peeks through, a sense of the man and his music, his hard times and high times, his love for a girl named June and his career on the stage.  These five performers give it their all to create a spectacular evening of entertainment, even if you don't love Johnny Cash (perish the thought).  Semina De Laurentis directs this love fest where the musical instruments, from mandolin to bass to percussion, electrify and excite.  A backdrop of visuals adds to the poignant scenes.

For tickets ($32.50-45.50, children $12, age 22-35 $25), call Seven Angels Theater, Plank Road, Hamilton Park Pavilion, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or onine at www.sevenangelstheatre.org.  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.

Let this mighty talented cast introduce you to the man and his music.  Meet Mr. Johnny Cash in all his reincarnations and you'll love them all.


Under an archway of pink and red hearts, the Ivoryton Playhouse is inviting you to celebrate love and lust, dating, disappointment and divorce, flirting and family, all mixed up in a delightful hodge-podge of vignettes.  Men and women have been having problems in relationships all the way back to Adam and Eve, the snake and the apple.  Being able to step back and laugh at yourself, from the first blush onward is healthy and thanks to book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts you can do it with spirit.

Ivoryton Playhouse will unveil this delightful musical comedy about love and romance, in all its hilarious and embarassing moments, as we search for our soul mates in "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," until Sunday October 13.

Appropriately the show begins with first dates, those awkward times of getting to know someone new, determining if the connections exist and if there is a future beyond that moment.  With best behavior at the forefront, a man and a woman extend tentative lines to see what the other can catch.  Imagine two nerds, meeting and wishing they were a stud and a babe.  Travel to a restaurant with two couples where the men talk and the women pretend to listen.  Sit at a movie with a sensitive man who finds himself crying at the tear-jerker on screen.

Offer to make lasagna as an excuse to travel from the kitchen to the bedroom, discover a guy who actually calls when he says he will, listen to a convicted murderer act as a courtship counselor, hear parents lament a break-up, learn how to sue for sexual satisfaction, and that's all in act one.

Act two includes the saga of the closet full of ugly bridesmaid dresses, the couple obsessed with babyhood, detours on the highway of love, how not to make a dating video and hints on meeting a mate at a wake, among others.

Let the inspired quartet of Christopher Sutton, Michael Brian Dunn, Holly Holcomb and Sheila E. Coyle (with understudy Greg Sutton), take you on a merry marriage-go-round where love is the golden ring to happiness.  Christopher Sutton directs and choreographs this homage to Valentine's Day like a perfect Cupid.  For tickets ($40, seniors $35, students $20, children $15), call Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at  860-767-7318    or online at www.
ivorytonplayhouse.org.  Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

For a crash course in courtship , in what to do and not to do, let these talented guides escort you right down the aisle to marital bliss.


Get your dancing shoes ready to tap out the beat.  Thirty years after the blockbuster movie, "Flashdance the Musical" is exploding on the scene.  The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford will welcome all these happy dancing feet in this stirring experience from tonight until Sudnay, October 20 and you're invited to leap and love along for the exciting ride.

Hop aboard the joyous journey and hopeful happening when eighteen year old Alex Owens lets her dreams take her into the strastosphere.  By day, Alex toils as a welder in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania factory, a steel mill, fusing metal pipes and watching the sparks fly.  But the job is merely a time filler, a place to fantasize about her real ambitions.

When Alex takes off her protective gear, she arms herself in a new outfit and lets her passions soar free.  By night, Alex explores the world of flashdancing in a club, a closer reality to her real hopes: becoming a ballet dancer.  She is working to gain admittance to a ballet academy and she will do anything, endure any hardship, to make that come true.

Her optimism and her obstacles fuel the show, as her friends, her employer, an aging ballerina and her love interest all help and hinder her climb to her professional heights.  Jillian Mueller stars as Alex and Corey Mach as her boy friend Nick in this pop culture phenomenon.  Songs like "Flashdance-What a Feeling," "Maniac," "Gloria," "Manhunt" and "I Love Rock and Roll," plus sixteen new songs by Robbie Roth for music and Robert Cary and Robbie Roth for lyrics, keep the pace pulsing.  Sergio Trujillo directs and choreographs "Flashdance," based on a book by Robert Cary and Tom Hedley.

For tickets ($22 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  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 p.m.

Jillian Mueller has been taking dancing lessons since she was three, started performing in local theaters at seven and made her Broadway debut at twelve in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  Watch how she takes on the role of Alex Owens and makes it her own, guaranteeing that both Alex and Jillian's dreams are set to come true.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Where do you go when all your options have evaporated, when all your bridges have been burned, when you find yourself alone and virtually friendless?
If you are Blanche DuBois, you have "lost" your ancestral home Beau Rive, you have "lost" your teaching position, you have "lost" your moral compass and you can only go to the place where you have some expectation of welcome:  to your family.

Enter the limiting and frightening world of Miss DeBois, that Southern belle who has fluttered her fan and batted her eyes with a disappointing effect in Tennessee Williams' involving drama "A Streetcar Named Desire."    The Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven will be airing her petticoats and feminine wiles in an absorbing production until Saturday, October 12.

Rene Augesen is outstanding as the flirtacious female who has wandered from the path, but still harbors hopes of fulfilling her dreams.  With a trunk full of silks and furs, and a tiara worthy of a princess, she has landed on her sister's doorstep unannounced. Sister Stella, beautifully portrayed by Sarah Sokolovic, takes her in with welcoming arms, in direct contrast to the suspicious and bullying reaction of Stella's husband Stanley, a magnificently combative Joe Manganiello.

For a moment it seems like Blanche will land on her feet when a poker playing friend of Stan's, a bachelor Mitch (Adam O'Byrne), enters her orbit, like a fly to her captivating spider's web.  But Stan's aspersions, his violent temper and bouts of alcoholism are doomed to strip her of her sanity.  This compelling tale, directed by Mark Rucker with intriguing force, will keep you involved for all three dramatic hours.

For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Repertory Theatre at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at  the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven.

Hope aboard the New Orleans streetcar named Desire and enter the 1947 world of two sisters Blanche and Stella. The French Quarter will capture you in its steamy claws and hold you tight.


                  OTHELLO AND DESDEMONA

Seeking revenge for what he sees as a slight, when Othello chooses to promote Cassio over Iago as his  lieutenant , causes Iago to take on the role of a master manipulator.  In William Shakespeare's classic tragedy "Othello," it is the sublime purpose of Iago to bring Othello to his knees, to disgrace, to utter despair.

Playhouse on Park in West Hartford is giving Iago free reign to enact his vengeful plot against Othello, the Moor, and by extension on his newly wed wife Desdemona, by framing his rival Cassio, until Sunday, October 20.

Tom Coiner's Iago is laced with evil intent and sinister pleasure as he structures his plot against his noble leader.  When he is passed over for lieutenant and instead named only ensign, Iago contrives to catch all his enemies in his snare.

RJ Foster's Othello is at once a powerful leader and equally an all-too-human man who surrenders to the fault of jealousy.  His beautiufl wife Desdemona, the faithful and constant Celine Held, is cast in the role of seductress.  With careful rumors and lies, Iago plants seeds of distrust in Othello's mind that his good lieutenant Cassio (Aidan Eastwood-Paticchio) is having an affair with his wife.  Iago is the master puppeteer making them all dance to his tune, and he uses the gullible Roderigo (Austin Seay) and his own wife Emilia (Jennifer Polansky) to further his dastardly deeds.

A small antique handkerchief dotted with strawberries, Othello's first token of affection as a suitor to the fair Desdemona, becomes proof positive in later days that convinces Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful.  The seeds of doubt have been planted well and watered liberally by Iago and bear poisonous fruit.  Director Sasha Bratt moves the action swiftly to its bloody conclusion, a world of war where innocents are punished as quickly as the guilty.  This is a masterful cast at work.

For tickets ($22.50-32.50), call Playhouse on Park, 244  Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10 or online at www.playhouseonpark.org.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Enter into the devious mind of Iago, a man for whom defeat is unacceptable and ambition is everything.