Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Remember the episode of "I Love Lucy" where Lucy and Ethel work in a chocolate factory and have to eat and hide all the candies they don't have time to wrap? Fascia's Chocolates, celebrating 50 years as chocolatiers, plays the video to get you in the proper mood when you take their Chocolate Bar Tour.

Located in Waterbury on 44 Chase River Road, their new factory and gift shop is perfect for your holiday shopping list.  The tours are only on weekends, or a private tour can be arranged, and times are 12:30 p.m.and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For $10 you can Make Your Own Chocolate Bar and $5 without.  But who can resist the toppings of nuts and krispies and sprinkles wrapped in milk chocolate! Call 203-753-0515, ext. 102 or online at www.fasciaschocolates.com.

Hand dipped caramels, truffles and nougats were my favorites but I didn't get to taste them all.  Come learn how chocolate is made, from the pods and seeds of the cocoa trees in South America and Africa, all the way to your dining room table.  Fascia's, a family owned business that started in the kitchen of John and Helen Fascia in 1964, even has specialized party favors, molded holiday treats, sugar-free offerings and a dozen delicious flavors of Italian Gelato.  And it's all kosher.  Go to Seven Angels Theatre on the night Fascia's Chocolates are featured for an extra treat of candy coated entertainment.

There's a lot to love and feast on at Fascia's. Mangia!

Monday, November 25, 2013


You might not recognize the name Michael Anthony Orlando Cassavitis, but if one says Tony Orlando then flashbulbs of the mind should ignite.  Having songs on the charts since he was sweet sixteen, he has been a show business super star for decades.  Back in the early 1970's, he was half of a team with singer Dawn, but he has been a solo pop artist for years.

You have the unique opportunity to renew your acquaintance with the man and his music for one night only on Thursday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m. when the Palace Theater in Waterbury welcomes his "Great American Christmas" show.  What a special way to usher in the holiday spirit with Tony Orlando crooning such favorites as "White Christmas," "Silent Night," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" among many others.

Orlando has earned a trio of American Music Awards, a People's Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in his six decades in show business.  His songs "Knock Three Times," :Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree" and "My Sweet Gypsy Rose" are legendary.

With warmth and charm, Orlando will share stories with the audience as he ignites a Christmas spirit in your heart.  For years he hosted the Ne York portion of the Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon.  His shows in Las Vegas, Nevada and in Branson, Missouri are popular,  For a time he operated the Tony Orlando Yellow Ribbon Music Theatre.  In 2002 he wrote a memoir "Halfway to Paradise," named for one of his big solo hits.

For tickets ($4-.75 - $75), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at www.palacetheaterct.org.  Before the show, Riverhouse Catering will host a 5:30 p.m. four-course, pre-fixe dinner in the Poli Club, on the theater's mezzanine level for $62.50 a person, including tax, service fees, coffee and tea.  Reservations are required. 

Start clapping your hands together for Tony Orlando as he makes the holiday season sparkle and shine with his special

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Alexandre Dumas’ swashbuckling novel "The Three Musketeers" could be a comedy if it weren't for so much tragedy.  It has been adapted for the stage by Linda Alper, Douglas Langworthy and Penny Metropulos in all its majesty and mayhem.  Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut  will be performing these feats of daring drama until Sunday, December 8 at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre and it is well worth the trip for the excitement alone.

When an eager and brave young man named D’Artagnan travels to Paris in 1625, he is seeking adventure with a capital A.  His only possession of value is his father’s sword and he yearns to use it for courageous deeds in defense of the Queen.

Within minutes of reaching his destination, however, D’Artagnan (Will Haden) accidentally finds himself challenged to a trio of duels, duels that are not only extremely dangerous but also outlawed.  And the men who challenge him in combat are, ironically, the same men he seeks to meet and join: “ The Three Musketeers.”

Needing to prove himself worthy, D’Artagnan implores Porthos (Anthony J. Goes), Aramis (James Jelkin) and Athos (Thomas Brazzle) and the Musketeers’ Captain (Alexander Sovronsky) to let him join their elite ranks.  They soon find themselves fighting the Cardinal (Rocco Sisto) and his guards, led by the conniving Rochefort (Darek Burkowski).

The intrigue continues as it swirls around the fate of noble ladies, Queen Anne (Khetanya Henderson) and her seamstress Constance (Sarah Wintermeyer) and D’Artagnan’s loyal servant Planchet (Harry Elfenbaum as well as the infamous femme fatale Milady, the Countess de Winter (Olivia Saccomanno) who can not be trusted as far as a dropped handkerchief takes to reach the earth.  Into the fray are the two men of the hour, a flamboyant King Louis (Coles Prince) and the admirable Duke of Buckingham (Alexander Sovronsky) who both seek to win Queen Anne’s favor and are willing to fight a war to prove themselves worthy.

Tony Simotes directs the non-stop action with style and verve. As the Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company
in the Berkshires, this is his first experience at UCONN and he loves the play's "heightened language, cinemetic elements and wonderful swordplay." Explaining that he's had "the best time with the students and the show," he is clearly looking for another invitation to direct here.  Impressed by the staff and faculty, he acknowledges "they have made me feel very much at home."  As for the show, "it is wonderfully romantic, with history and politics, religious wars and the intrigue between England and France.  I have had a great time looking at the story in a deeper sense, examining the consequences of the struggles between religion and government.  It is more than just the physicality.  It is so timely that we are performing it as we relive the assassination of President Kennedy fifty years ago and the great repercussions that echo today."

Traveling to UCONN just to see the parade of fashions created and assembled from far and wide by  Fan Zhang
is an added bonus.  The talent of this large cast of Equity actors and drama students is across the board excellent.
For tickets ($7-37), call the CT Rep at 860-486-2113 or online at www.ct.uconn.edu.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday, December 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Friday, December 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m.  There are no performances Thanksgiving week.

It’s “all for one, one for all” in this action-packed tale of friendship, romance and adventure that glimmers like a necklace of diamonds displayed on a sword of steel.

Monday, November 18, 2013


When Robert Frost penned the line of poetry "Fences make good neighbors," he might have been thinking of Hannah Mae Bindler, recently of Texas.  Like a stray cow, in the nicest possible way, mind you, Hannah Mae's friendship knows no boundaries.  You can't fence this lady in or stop her:  she is a steamroller on a mission.

What passes for downhome neighborliness in the Lone Star state doesn't translate so well to the trendy section of Westchester County, New York. Playwright John Ford Noonan doesn't hint why or how Hannah Mae has abandoned the south west, only that she has.  Coffee cup in hand, she appears one sunny morning at the home of her next door neighbor Maude Mix and like a thorn on a rose or a barnacle on the hull of a boat, she is there to stay.
Remember the steamroller.

Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin has filled the coffee pot and set it to brew weekends until Saturday, December 7 to present the no holds barred comedy "A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking."  Bring the milk and sugar and a plate of fresh baked cookies to their coffee klatch.

Chelsea Neville's Hannah Mae is irresistible, the epitome of cheerfulness, the in-your-face reality that Maude Mix abhors.  Maude wants no part of Hannah Mae in her well-organized kitchen and doesn't mince words in saying it politely, firmly and repeatedly.

Tracey Brown's Maude is the pert, proper and polished socialite who has an ordered life and she brooks no interference.  Hannah Mae has obviously learned a few moves from her football playing husband, because she breeches Maude's defenses, insistently and aggressively, until she crosses the goal posts for a touchdown.

These two unlikely companions, who have little in common on the surface, discover a bond eventually.  Hannah Mae's hubby Carl Joe and Maude's Tyler are cut from the same cloth, one full of holes and bad stitching, both with wandering hands and eyes. Hold on to your spatula and cookie sheets as Hannah Mae strategically wages her invasions into Maude's uber-private life.  How they become best buddies is at the heart of this chicken coop of a comedy, happily produced and directed by Kris McMurray for maximum laughs.

For tickets ($30), call the Ct. Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com.  Doors open at 7:15
 p.m.  and the shows are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. Remember to pack goodies to share at your table or plan to buy the yummy desserts and drinks onsite.

Just like in a real hen house, chicks can scratch and bite before they settle down to nest and Hannah Mae and Maude are no different.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


In 1888, a courageous and free thinking Elizabeth Cochrane left her home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for New York City and planted herself on newspaper row with the sole purpose of landing a job as a journalist.  She ignored the fact that it was a man's profession, unless she was content to write about weddings and tea parties.  Declaring she would work twice as hard for half the pay as a man, she took on the male dominated profession, knocking on editor's doors until Joseph Pulitzer, editor of the New York World, allowed her inside the inner sanctum.

Norwich's innovative Spirit of Broadway Theatre is giving this ambitious gal access to front page news as the new musical "Front Page Girl" makes headlines until Sunday, December 8.  With book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg and music by David Friedman, this show will be sure to delight and entertain and reveal insights into a woman the world has barely acknowledged.

Shauna Nicole Goodgold is wonderful as the outspoken, bold and compelling journalist who fights and bites her way to earn newspaper by-lines.  She convinces a reluctant Pulitzer, played by an astute Nicholas Kochanov, to give her a chance to make good and make a name for herself.  He christens her Nellie Bly, after the Stephen Foster song and then lets her loose on an unsuspecting city.

Soon the enterprising Nellie is off and running, exposing the injustices and disgraces of women's mental health institutions, a story she secures by faking insanity and living ten days within the corrupt and unsanitary and unsafe walls.  Stunts follow exploits as Nellie works her way to the top of her profession, alienating all the male colleagues she surpasses.

For her next trick, Nellie convinces her editor she should travel around the world, emulating and beating Jules Verne's fictional account in "Around the World in Eighty Days," a journey of almost 25,000 miles.  She bested Verne's account, completing the circumnavigation in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds.

Nellie would go on to marry millionaire manufacturer Robert Seaman (Steve Sabol), selecting the much older gentleman over her fellow reporter Arthur Brisbane, an affable John Wilkening, who also wanted her hand in marriage.  Other newspaper employees, played by Pauline Batista, Justin Carroll and Brett Bernardini do their best to aid or hinder Nellie's progress.  Artistic Director Brett Bernardini is shepherding this wonderful new work into the public eye for well deserved admiration and praise. Songs such as "Don't Bore Them," "Tell Me What You Need," "Now You," "I'll Be Sweet" and "I'm in Hell" advance the action beautifully.

For tickets ($32), call Spirit of Broadway Theater, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at www.spiritofbroadway.org.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

On Saturday, December 14, plan to attend the SBT's unique holiday concert "Home for the Holidays" to usher in the Christmas season, at 7 p.m. with wine and hors d'oeuvres and at 8 p.m. the musical show.  Tickets are $45.

Come meet and admire Shauna Nicole Goodgold as that incredible, spunky and sassy Nellie Bly, a woman who defied the odds and achieved glorious new heights.


Lyric Hall, the 100 year old establishment in the Westville section of New Haven, on Whalley Avenue, has a trio of terrific treats planned this week.  No matter what your taste, one is sure to tickle your entertainment button.

First up on Thursday, November 21 is Tellabration! 2013, an international celebration of story telling where you settle down and listen to a string of talented yarn spinners.  Imagine a roaring fire and marshmallows toasting on a willow stick if you'd like.  These tales may be funny, scary, sentimental or sweet.  At Lyric Hall, come hear Carol Birch telling Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath," Mike Kachuba singing Woody Guthrie songs and John Cavaliere telling how he restored Lyric Hall.  The good times begin at 8 p.m. and tickets are $16 in advance, $18 at the door, seniors $15 and students $12.  Call Ro Hinman at 203-777-4409 or online at rvhinman@gmail.com.  This is just one night of a month long tribute across the state and the world.

Next up is Joanna Keylock's highly touted and entertaining Sips and Giggles, a unique evening on Saturday, November 23 at 8 p.m that combines witty short plays performed by talented actors with a savory, sharp or sweet wine pairing.  The wines complement the flavor of the play and an appetizer bite adds to the tastes of the wine.

Ms. Keylock, director of the delights, is offering playlets by Frederick Stroppel.  The menu includes "Liver," where two "friends" meet at a bar after a long absence, "Sunday Drive," where a woman catches up on all the fun she missed when she leaves a party early the night before and "A Chance Meeting," when a romantic encounter is interrupted and complicated by an unexpected third party.  Call 203-298-0730 for reservations ($40) or online at joannakeylock@gmail.com.  The evening promises to sparkle.

On Sunday, November 24 at 1:30 p.m, the focus is on science fiction so all you space cadets please take note. In 1968, more than four decades ago, Stanley Kubrick revolutionized the movie world with the release of his extraordinary film: "2001: A Space Odyssey."  The film will be shown in its entirety with the added bonus of having its wonderful star, Keir Dullea as Dr. David Bowman, astronaut, in attendance.

The film details an encounter between humans and a computer named HAL 9000, a journey to Jupiter and an abundance of mysterious occurrences.
The film is credited with pioneering special effects, an interesting musical soundtrack, scientific accuracy and of being one of the most influential films of all times.

After the viewing, Mr. Dullea will participate in a question and answer session with film historian and best-selling author Foster Hirsch.  A silent auction will be held and Mr. Dullea will also be available to sign memorabilia and photos for a small fee.  For a more intimate experience, a lavish Tuscan style catered buffet dinner will be held at an historic home nearby in Westville, following the filming and interview, with Mr. Dullea and his wife, actress Mia Dillon.  For tickets to the film ($20) or to the dinner and film ($50), please call 203-393-0733.  This special event is a fundraiser to purchase more comfortable chairs for the Lyric Hall.

If you're into stories, plays or movies, the Lyric Hall has your number.  Answer the call today.



Love and relationships can be likened to an onion, with layers of meaning that can be peeled back to reveal truths.  Stripping off each covering can be painful or sweet, depending upon what has happened in the past.  For two brothers, Victor and Walter Franz, the unveiling is the revealation of past problems.

On the surface, Arthur Miller’s timeless classic “The Price” is about the value of a man’s apartment of furniture, a hodgepodge of chairs and sofas, radios and picture frames, lamps and record player, accumulated over a lifetime.  A sweet but crafty antique dealer, beautifully played by R. Bruce Connelly, who can make eating a hard boiled egg a work of art, has been summoned to determine the amount of money he is willing to pay to take the entire contents.
Until Sunday, December 1, the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury will be stuffed, thanks to scenic designer Daniel Husvar, with a treasure trove of items that mark the substance of a life, from a beloved harp once played by the wife to the fencing equipment once used by one son.
 Victor Franz (Charlie Kevin) and his wife Esther (Denise Walker) are overseeing the disposal of his dead father’s estate, hoping that the price of the goods will make their financial struggle a bit easier, maybe even allow Victor to retire from his job as a policeman to go into a more rewarding career path.
 Long ago Victor had a serious falling out with his brother Walter (Jon Krupp), a successful surgeon, and the past is coming back to slap him in the face as he confronts the memories stored in his father’s home.  Resentments and angers surface as the two brothers meet among the family clutter and try to reconcile their enormous differences. 
 The presence of the antique dealer acts as a buffer and referee in their emotional battle of wills.  Semina De Laurentis directs this family drama that will resonate in many hearts whenever something or someone of value is in dispute.
 For tickets ($31-45.50), call Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org.  Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Coming up at Seven Angels are "Home for the Holidays" on Saturday and Sunday on December 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. when Tony De Sare and Tom Santopietro will share Christmas songs and stories.  On Friday, December 13 to Sunday, December 22, "Miracle on 34th Street The Musical" will magically appear as a perfect family Christmas classic.

For a little Grinch in your holiday stocking, visit with Rob Bartlett and Tony Powell in the hysterical "I'm Dreaming of a Black and White Christmas" on Sunday, December 15 at 7 p.m.  Finally, usher in 2014 with an emphasis on your funny bone.  Choice 6:30 pm. or 9:30 p.m for Standup - Count Down New Year's Eve Comedy Night.  Call 203-757-4676 for reservations.

In a world set four decades after the 1929 stock market crash, two brothers meet to resolve the price of their choices and the toll those choices took.
What price can be put on family, love, loyalty and forgiveness when so much is at stake and the past continues to overshadow the present and future?


Saturday, November 16, 2013


If you like to dress in red and green, from a pointy tasseled hat to slippers with bells, you may have a secret desire to be an elf.  'Tis the season for all good intentioned elves to assemble and the best place to congregate is clearly the Palace Theater in Waterbury from Tuesday, November 19 to Thursday, November 21 for three performances only, at 7:30 p.m.

The occasion is the production of "Elf The Musical," a super seasonal family show that is guaranteed to inject a holiday spirit in the grumpiest of hearts.  The story swirls around Buddy, a young orphan, whose adventures begin when he accidentally crawls into Santa's bag of goodies and gifts and finds himself transported to the North Pole.  Mistaken for one of Santa's helpers, Buddy tries to make toys in the workshop until his enormous size and lack of real toy making skills makes it obvious he is really a human.

His next adventures, once Santa has given him permission and his blessing, is to return to New York City to discover his true identity and his family.  When he realizes his real dad is more naughty than nice and that his step-brother Michael doesn't even believe in the jolly old man, Buddy takes on the huge task of making them believers, by teaching them the real meaning of the holiday.

You may remember the movie of the same name starring Will Farrell.  The musical version has a book adapted by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan, with music by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin.  Sprinkle a little sugar, cinnamon and fairy dust on this new, modern Christmas classic that is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Matt Kopec stars as Buddy, with Gordon Gray as Santa, Matthew Alan Smith as his dad and Tyler Atomari as step-brother Michael.
Please bring a canned good or non-perishable food item to be donated to United Way of Greater Waterbury for families in need.

For tickets ($50-70), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at www.palacetheaterct.org.  Performances are at 7:30 p.m.

Come cheer on Buddy as he works to save his family and the entire holiday of Christmas single-handedly.  He's sure to dance, sing and skate his way into your heart.

Monday, November 11, 2013


                                 IRENE GLEZOS AS MARIA CALLAS

Being a diva is not an easy task: just ask Maria Callas, that larger-than-life singer who soared to greatness as one of the most famous and international opera singers of the 20th century.  Known for her successes and scandals on and off the stage, this American-born Greek soprano made headlines for her temper as much as for her talents.

Nicknamed "La Diva," Callas has been praised to the roof of the Metropolitan Opera House and La Scala for her voice, her technique and her dramatic gifts, especially as she sang the works of Puccini, Verdi, Bellini and Rossini.  She is noted for her personal triumph of transforming herself into a svelte and beautiful woman, forsaking her heavy build, as well as for her tumultuous love affair with Aristotle Onassis.

Now you have the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's "Master Class" now gracing the stage of Music Theatre of Connecticut until Sunday, November 17.  A master class is a gathering of students in a particular discipline, in this case opera, with a teacher of great skill and renown.

Imagine the fear and delight of a trio of students who are appearing in the auditorium of the Juillard School of Music.  It is the early 1970's and they are in awe of Callas' greatness and also petrified they will be found personally and artistically lacking.  Hers is the only ego allowed to encompass the space and lo to the uninitiated who forgets it.

Irene Glezos is superb as the grand diva who is loath to admit she is past her prime, that others have usurped her musical sphere, that upstarts like Jackie Kennedy could supplant her in Onassis' world.  She is alternately kind and vicious in her treatment of Sophie (Charlotte Munson), Sharon (Emma Rosenthal), and Tony (Andrew Ragone) as she encourages and destroys dreams.  Even though she is at the end of her illustrious career, she still commands attention, alternating between advising and criticizing her students with reliving some of the highest and lowest moments in her life.  Kevin B. Winebold accompanies on piano.  Kevin Connors directs this personal portrait in the great intimate space that is MTC.

For tickets ($25-45), call MTC, 246 Post Road East, lower level, at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com.  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Let Irene Glezos conjure up the fiery and brutally honest Maria Callas as she reflects on her incredible life and tutors some of the upstarts who may one day take her place, or, heaven forbid, surpass her.


                                      DAVID CONAWAY AND HOLLY HOLCOMB

Poison ivy can be irritating and bothersome, but how much more so is an itch for a rash that you can't see?  Affecting men primarily and associated with a specific time, it has been diagnosed by psychiatrists as a psychological problem with far reaching implications.

In 1952 George Axelrod wrote a play, a comedy, about this male centric malady, "The Seven Year Itch," and the Ivoryotn Playhouse is having a hoot producing it until Sunday, November 17.  The title refers to the deed, desire and inclination of a happily married man to seek a new green pasture for sexual grazing as he celebrates seven years of monogamy.

For Richard Sherman, an eager and experiment prone David Conaway, when his lovely wife Helen (Emma O'Donnell) and son (Carson Waldron) go off to the beach for the summer, the opportunity to stray presents itself in multiple situations.  He imagines scenarios where his stenographer (Carolyn Cumming), a foreign exchange student (Caitlin McInerney) and even his wife's best friend (Elizabeth Talbot) are making sexual advances to him.  How long can a man resist temptation?

His fantasies and his fears, his desires and his flings with danger, merge when the upstairs neighbor, a gorgeous Holly Holcomb, presents herself at his front door.  What is a man to do?

One thing Richard does is appeal to a client, Dr. Brubaker (John Little), whose book hs is editing for his publishing house.  In a personal quandry, Richard asks the good doctor for a little friendly free advice as he grapples with the age old question should he or shouldn't he cheat on the woman he loves?

Set in Gramercy Park in New York City in the 1950's, in a well appointed apartment created by Daniel Nischan, "The Seven Year Itch" takes the audience into Richard Sherman's head as he day-dreams about his sexy upstairs neighbor and the realization that he has the power to make all those fantasies come true.  Meanwhile his wife is having a few fantasies of her own with an old friend Tom (Jason Nayllor), guaranteed to make Richard jealous.  Lawrence Thelen directs this farce in the land of fun.

For tickets ($40, senior $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.

Remember the movie with Marilyn Monroe in a flimsy white dress standing over a subway grate?  In the play, remember the dress and forget the subway.


Actor Dan Lauria is busy unwrapping a new musical for the holidays, "A Christmas Story," as well as a brand new book he has co-authored with his godson's mother Cathryn Farnsworth "The Blue Hair Club," perfect for gift giving.  In fact, he might suggest both as perfect presents for all the children in your life.

Lauria is the perpetual perfect parent, first for more than five years as the grumpy dad in "The Wonder Years" to Fred Savage's character Kevin Arnold and more recently  as the dad to a corporate attorney Steve Sullivan who goes home to visit his folks in Pittsburgh and ends up running the family tavern in "Sullivan and Son." The role of dad is being transformed this time around in "A Christmas Story The Musical" dancing on golden wings through the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford until Sunday, November 17.

This time Lauria does not play papa.  Instead he is the narrator Jean Shepherd, the author of this semi-autobiographical piece.  Nine year old Ralphie Parker, a precious, precocious and single-minded Jake Lucas, has only one thing on his Christmas list:  a real Red Ryder Carbine-Actions 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.  No other BB guns need apply. Despite parental warnings that he will surely shoot his eye out, Ralph is willing to go to great lengths to ensure that one gift and one gift only will be waiting for him Christmas morning under the tree.

Forget pajamas and underwear.  Ralph is willing to fight for his prize, even if it means taking on everyone from his fearful mother to unhelpful department store Santas.  He'll go up against dogs and bullies and even turkeys to get his goal, and along the way Ralph and friends will sing and dance their way into your heart.  Based on a series of stories by humorist Jean Shepherd, with sweet and sentimental and silly songs by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek and book by Joseph Robinette, the story is set in a simpler and gentler time in fictional Hohman, Indiana in 1940, under the direction of John Rando.

For tickets ($25.50-96.50), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  Performances are tonight at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Come and watch for a pink bunny suit, a lady's leg lamp, dogs chasing a turkey dinner and an abundance of holiday humor.


Appearing on reality television shows like "The Voice" and "America's Got Talent" take a bucket load of courage and self-confidence and, hopefully, talent.  At the judging stand are a trio of stars ready, willing and able to dash all the contestants hopes or grant them entrance to their wildest dreams of success.

For four men it was a life-altering event when they were discovered after a two year search internationally by  Simon Cowell, judge on "The X Factor" in the United Kingdom a decade ago.   Simon Cowell put these individual stars together, all successful solo singers in their own right, and created "Il Divo," a quartet of singers that have garnered universal appeal.  The four have gone on to achieve incredible levels of musical success.

Cowell and his team searched far and wide and introduced the Spanish baritone Carlos Marin with American tenor David Miller, Swiss-born tenor Urs Buhler and French pop singer Sebastien Izambard and encouraged them to fuse opera and pop in a multi-national quartet. After an initial rocky start, the men are now like brothers.  Recently at the Marquis Theatre in New York where they sang the world's greatest musicals of greatest songs on Broadway, they will be shining bright for one concert only on Sunday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.

The group sings in Spanish, English, Italian, French and even Latin.  They may sing such songs as "Bring Him Home," "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Music of the Night" and "Impossible Dream." Compared to the style of The Three Tenors, they are clearly a globe trotting phenomenon, traveling across continents in hundreds of venues.  To date, they have sold 26 million records.

Their name "Il Divo" has been translated in Italian to mean "divine male performer," or more literally "star" or "celebrity," simply "The Divine." In English, it seems to mean "Spanish egg," who knew. 

For tickets ($55-177), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at www.palacetheaterct.org.  A pre-show dinner catered by Riverhouse Catering at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday will be held in the Poli Club upstairs.  The cost is $62.50 and reservations are required.

Come be thrilled by the voices and the harmonies that have made Il Divo so spectacular  and affirm how on target and intelligent Simon Cowell was in foreseeing their future a decade ago.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013



    Turn back the clock, way back, to a time of black and white TV shows, flower children, civil rights marches, free love, Marilyn Monroe, speeches by John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., when four youngsters from Liverpool debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Until Sunday, November 17, the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport will be entertaining “She Loves You! A Musical Tribute to The Beatles,” in a new refreshed version in honor of the Beatles' 50th Anniversary.  Five new Beatles songs will be featured that have not been in previous shows as well as new media footage and some surprises.
Come discover, or rediscover, the lads who revolutionized the music world with their unique sound.  These guys look like and, better yet, sound like the originals.  Hear Alan Le Boeuf on bass guitar and vocals as Paul McCartney,  Steve Craig on guitar and vocals as John Lennon, John Brosnan on lead guitar and vocals as George Harrison and Carmine Grippo on drums as Ringo.
Chronicling the years from 1964-1969, the show uses newsreels and film clips to showcase the times and the performers.  A litany of hit tunes boom from the stage:  “Yellow Submarine,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yesterday,” “Penny Lane,” “Strawberry Fields,” “Life Goes On,” “Send All Your Loving to Me,” “Hey, Jude,” and “Let It Be” to name a few.
Help recreate an era and be a teeny bopper again.  Watch cast members from the long running Broadway hit “Beatlemania” do their thing, with shaggy haircuts and authentic costumes.  You can sing and dance along and hold up a candle or a cell phone in celebration of the sound.
 For tickets ($39-47), call the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport (exit 27A off I-95 to exit 2) at 203-576-1636 or online at www.DowntownCabaret.org.  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 p.m.  Don’t forget to pack a picnic to enjoy with the show.
 Let this quartet hold your hand and send you all their loving as they convince you that “All You Need Is Love.” 

Monday, November 4, 2013


                                PHOTOS BY DIANE SOBOLEWSKI

In Napa Valley, California, Tony Esposito knows he isn't smart or handsome or young, but he still wants to be a "most happy fella."  The owner of a successful grape farm, he frequents a diner far from home and sees a lovely young lady who stirs his heart.  In his broken English, he leaves her a note proposing marriage.  His "Rosabella," the girl of his dreams, finds a valuable stick pin as her waitress "tip."

To become better acquainted with Tony and his Rosabella, get swept up in their unconventional courtship at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam in their wonderful production of Frank Loesser's stirring "The Most Happy Fella" until Sunday, December 1. It originally opened on Broadway over five decades ago in 1956.

An agreeable and kind Tony, a gentle giant of a man Bill Nolte, has believed the messages from his sister Marie (Ann Arvia) that he is too old and too foolish to ever find love.  She cautions him to forget his dreams of a wife and babinos and concentrate on growing and harvesting his grapes.

At the diner that fateful day, he leaves his love note and unusual tip, encouraging his Rosabella (Mamie Parris) to write to him.  She doesn't quite believe his words of affection but, strangely, she responds by postcard.  When they exchange photos, Tony sends her a picture of Joe, his handsome foreman (Doug Carpenter) so when she finally arrives she is surprised and disappointed to discover whom she agreed to marry.

Unfortunately Tony has a severe accident on the way to meet her train and the doctor (Michael Deleget) fears he is dying.  With compassion, his Rosabella agrees to marry him before he dies.  What happens between Rosabella and Joe and between Rosabella and Tony, when Tony recovers, are at the heart of this grand musical.  Comic relief is provided big time by Cleo (Natalie Hill), another waitress at the diner, and one of Tony's hard working team, Herman (Kevin Vortmann) as they kick up their heels in spirited fashion in "Big D." Beautiful hand painted backdrops of grape vines invite you into this heart warming story set in the early 1950's.

For tickets ($28 and up), call Goodspeed, on the Connecticut River in East Haddam, at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org.  Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 (select 2 p.m.), Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. (select 6:30 p.m.).  During Thanksgiving week, Monday 11/25 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday 11/29 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m, Saturday 11/30 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 1 at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Let the vineyards of the Napa Valley squeeze your heart with the juice of joy as an unlikely romance blooms under its leaves.


Do we own things or do things own us?  Are we better off with everything we desire or should we abhor being trapped by our possessions?
Meet Marion who wants all things and Alec who wants the freedom of having nothing.  The contrasts of their opposite philosophies are presented as a battle.  Marion wants to fight the good fight while Alec can't wait to wave the white flag of surrender.

In Caryl Churchill's "Owners," for sale or rent at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven until Saturday, November 16, we are caught in a strange world where we are encouraged to take sides and root for a winner, if there is one.

Marion (Brenda Meaney) is the successful entrepreneur, a real estate tycoon who wants to own the world, at least her particular piece, in North London in 1972.  She has had a stint in a mental hospital and has known Alec (Tommy Schriber) in a former life, when they were lovers.  Today they are dramatically opposed, at different sides of the boxing ring.

In order to consummate a big deal, she must have her assistant Worsely (Joby Earle) persuade Alec and his wife Lisa (Sarah Manton) to move from their flat.  While the negotiations are heating up, Worsely keeps raising the financial stakes, hoping to lure the pregnant Lisa into an acceptance of the terms.  After all, their flat also contains Alec's aging and sick mom and their two sons.  Alec, himself, has abstained from life, being content to sit in a chair or on a bed and vegetate.  Like Marion, Lisa wants more and she is willing to barter her most precious possession to get it.  But will it be enough or will she regret her actions?

Meanwhile Marion's husband Clegg (Anthony Cochrane) has plots of his own brewing:  he'd like wifey dearest to die, conveniently or with a little help from his friends.  Not to be outdone, Marion has a few wishes of her own to punish Alec for not being responsive to her wiles.  As Alec wakes up form his slumber and his mom (Alex Trow) takes a permanent snooze, the plot becomes more bizarre.  Director Evan Yionoulis keeps the absurdist themes moving toward the darkly comic conclusion on a intricate revolving set created by Carmen Martinez.

For tickets ($20-98), call Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or www.yalerep.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m, Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

You'll need a score card to keep track of who is sleeping with whom, who wants to kill someone else, what means they'd like to use (gun, knife, poison, arson) and who is trying - successfully - to do away with himself.  and you thought "Clue" was a difficult game.



Have you ever imagined what it might be like to have a cup of cocoa with Cleopatra as you float on a barge along the Nile or contemplated having a night cap with Napoleon the night before Waterloo?  Perhaps a martini with Marilyn Monroe is more your style.

For playwright Mark St. Germain, his fascination is with a pair of gentlemen of more weighty stature, famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and literary giant C. S. Lewis.  St. Germain has imagined a meeting between these two masters in their respective fields late in Freud's life, actually only weeks before Freud would take his own life.

The play "Freud's Last Session" will be setting up a comfortable couch at Square One Theatre Company, 2422 Main Street, Stratford weekends until Saturday, November 16.

C. S. Lewis, a competent and assured Gabriel Morrow, has written a book that ridicules Freud's beliefs, especially as they relate to the existence of God in the universe. C. S. Lewis is assured of God's reality as much as Al Kulcsar's wonderfully outspoken Freud is positive God is a fantasy.  He is the devout atheist to Lewis' newly proclaimed Christian faith.

The time is September 3, 1939 as war looms ever closer, so near it will be declared that day in England, with snippets of radio announcements punctuating the somber mood.  The men meet, at Freud's invitation, in his beautifully appointed study, as a friendly Buddha sits on the mantle, welcoming confessions and revelations.  On the top of their agenda  perches God, but following close behind are questions about sex, love and the meaning of life.  This is an intellectual debate with deep philosophical and thought provoking issues.

C. S. Lewis was a poet, novelist and literary critic who wrote essays and studied theology and the medieval times.  He would gain his greatest acclaim by penning "The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe."  While Freud, who was suffering from oral cancer, would take his own life mere weeks after their meeting, Lewis' death on November 23, 1963 was widely overshadowed by the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  A special commemoration of his death will be celebrated on its fiftieth anniversary this month.  Tom Holehan directs this fictional play about two intensely real men and the meeting they might have had.

For tickets ($20, seniors $19), call Square One Theatre Company at 203-375-8778 or online at www.squareonetheatre.com.  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 10 at 2 p.m., with a twilight matinee Saturday, November 16 at 4 p.m. You can apply this ticket to purchase a full subscription for the two future plays in the season.

Stratford's newest restaurant KAMA SUSHI joins Square One Theatre and other area restaurants which continue their working relationship developed over the years benefiting both the theatre and restaurant patrons during the theatre's performance weekends.
Throughout Square One Theatre’s performances Stratford’s newly opened Kama Sushi joins McCoy’s Irish Pub, Acapulco’s Mexican Family Restaurant & Cantina, Stationhouse Wine Bar & Grill and Siena Italian Trattoria offering ‘specials’ for all Square One Theatre subscribers and ticket holders. All restaurants are within walking distance of the theatre.
Square One Theatre performs at the Stratford Theatre, located at 2422 Main Street…
  • ACAPULCOS Mexican Family Restaurant & Cantina is across the street from the theatre at 2419 Main Street - 203.378.7900
  • Kama Sushi (formerly Akoya Asian Cuisine) next door at 2410 Main Street - 203-381-9366.
  • LIL' MOE'S CAFE is across the street at 2415 Main Street - 203.375.2583
  • McCOY’s IRISH PUB is across the street from the theatre at 2399 Main Street - 203.870.8688
  • STATIONHOUSE WINE BAR & GRILL 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
Square One Theatre management suggests that theatre patrons call each restaurant for further details and reservations. Square One patrons are advised to show their tickets on arrival...or when making dinner reservations mention Square One Theatre to get your restaurant specials.

A children's toy drive is being conducted in the lobby so bring your unwrapped toys for children in need.

Enter the minds and hearts of two prominent men in England on the eve of England's entrance into World War II, and invite them to lie back on the couch for some revealing psychoanalysis.

Sunday, November 3, 2013



    Forget that the price of milk is skyrocketing and go greet the world’s most famous dairyman:  Tevye in the classic family musical powerhouse “Fiddler on the Roof.”  No where are the themes of family, love, tradition and religion more beautifully and poignantly portrayed than in the tiny village of Anatevka, in Czarist Russia, where a poor milkman, with his long suffering wife Golde, try to raise five daughters in a world that is spinning out of control.
Let the Community Theatre of the Warner Stage Company at the Warner Theatre in Torrington help you celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of “Fiddler on the Roof” weekends  until Sunday, November 10 with one of its most ambitious undertaking to date.Based on the tales of Sholom Aleichem, with book by JosepStein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, this magnificent musical is universally loved.
Joe Harding is wonderful as Tevye, the papa who must accept the changing times or break like a willow tree in a storm.  With his  wife Golde, the devoted Mary Johnson at his side, the pair make a strong foundation for this tale, as she adds a maternal warmth that glows like the Sabbath candles.
The love stories of the older daughters, Tzeitel (Kate Valiska) for Motel the tailor (Cole Sutton), Hodel (Janina Reiner) for Perchik (Brad Stoll), the teacher and Chava (Autumn Sheffy) for the Russian soldier (Jonathan Zalaski) illustrate how marriages that used to be arranged by the Yente (Susan Hackel), the matchmaker with the permission and blessing of the papa, are now being motivated by more modern means.
Choreographer and director Donna Bonasera manages a mighty community cast of 46 actors,  with a marvelous hand.  Nowhere will you hear more stirring songs than “Tradition,” “Matchmaker,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Miracle of Miracles,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” and the list goes on, under the direction of TJ Thompson.
For tickets ($18-26) call the Warner Theatre, 68 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180, ext.261 or online at www.warnertheatre.org .  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Travel back in time to a long forgotten corner of the world where the villagers mind your business for you and are willing to share your laughter and your tears...the place where life is as precarious as a fiddler playing his music on the roof.