Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Imagine seeing eight of your favorite fairy tale princesses find their happily-ever-afters all in one night, courtesy of Minnie and Mickey Mouse, with a little help from Tinker Bell and that master magician Walt Disney.  What better way to start 2014 than a visit with the family to Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena from January 2-5 or to Hartford's XL Center from January 8-12?

Dreams get ready to come true as your best Disney characters skate in on wings of fantasy as the tradition, started way back in 1949, continues to delight and engage your imagination.  Think of a giant storybook erupting to release eight tales of danger and romance.  Follow Snow White and her Prince, our favorite "Little Mermaid" Ariel and her Prince Eric, Belle and the Beast, Jasmine and Aladdin, "The Princess and the Frog's" Tiana and Naveen, Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from "Tangled" and Cinderella and Prince Charming as they overcome obstacles to find true love.

Each couple will skate in and tell their story, of defeating the villains and winning their fair love's heart.  You'll see Aladdin discover a magic bottle with a genie in a marketplace bazaar.  You'll marvel when a fully clad ship emerges from the mist, complete with a waterfall multi-stories high.  Who could believe a fire-breathing dragon would appear or that silverware could dance or that Cinderella's carriage could carry her to the ball?  You and your big and little ones will be dazzled.  This is Disney, remember, and anything can and will happen.

For tickets ($15-75) to Webster Bank Arena, 600 Main Street in Bridgeport, call 1-800-745-3000  or go online to www.websterbankarena.com.   Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. For tickets ($25-80) to the XL Center,  1 Civic Center Plaza, Hartford, call 1-877-522-8499 or go to www.xl.centerhartford.com.  Performances are  Wednesday to Friday, January 8, 9, 10,  at 7 p.m., Saturday, January 11 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, January 12 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Watch the ice explode in a kaleidoscope of color, of costumes, of creativity as "Disney on Ice" sails in on wings of music, magic, dance and drama.  Fairy tales do come true!

Monday, December 23, 2013


The old saying goes that a fish may love a bird but where would they set up house? The same might be said if an owl fell in love with a pussycat.  Bill Manhoff has taken the question seriously, or comically if you'd prefer, in his quirky and humorous "The Owl and the Pussycat" playing weekends until Saturday, February 1 at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin.
If you remember the nonsense poem by Edward Lear of the same title, published in 1871, forget it.  They really have nothing in common, except for the fact that two very unlikely creatures find a strange attraction.  In this case, Felix Sherman has been using his binoculars and lights upon a neighbor using her bed to make a living. When he reports her, self-righteously, to the landlord, he succeeds in getting her evicted.

The lady in question, Doris Wilgus (or Washington, Waverly, Wadsworth), takes quite an exception to his honorable act of spying and plants herself on his doorstep, demanding he give her a place to sleep for the night.  After all, it's his fault she is now homeless.  Meet Chris Brooks' Felix and Meagan Bomar's Doris, who spar with each other verbally, sparks and four letter words flying, from the moment they collide. She asserts she is a model and an actress and he claims to be an author.

Her simplistic and undereducated background cause friction when it attacks his virtuous and intellectual demeanor.  In fact, they both are under delusions of grandeur, neither being what they appear to be. Like a runaway roller coaster, they take turns being attracted and repelled by the other, with a shooting match of words striking the target.  In fact, Doris is a prostitute, although she drapes herself in the cloak of respectability. Felix is a wannabe author, but he has never been published.

Can these two unlikely opposites forget their ridiculous posturings long enough to see themselves and each other for who they truly are?  Let producer and director Kris McMurray strip them of their blindfolds as he serenades the audience with great and appropriate Tom Jones tunes.

For tickets ($30), call Connecticut Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com.  Performances  are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.  Remember to bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy desserts and drinks on site.

In the movies it was Barbra Streisand and George Segal, on Broadway it was Diana Sands  and Alan Alda.  Here it's the free life style living Doris, a bombastic and enervating Meagan Bomar, entering into an explosive relationship with a stuffy and strait-laced Felix, captured by Chris Brooks' prudish perfection.


If your plans aren't set in ice and snow for New Year's Eve and the weekend leading up to it, here are a few choice activities to consider.

The Connecticut Gay Men's Chorus is always good for a laugh or ten.  They've just finished their "Red Suits and Kinky Boots" tribute to the holidays and now they want to invite you to "Pop Your Cork Bingomania" with that glam hostess with the mostest Joan Crawford.  On Saturday, December 28, you should don your craziest Christmas sweater or your most elegant evening attire to play bingo with the boys.  Doors open at 6 p.m and the games begin at 7 p.m.  $20 admission will provide games galore and money prizes up to $2500 are up for grabs.  The Annex Club at 554 Woodward Avenue, New Haven (exit 50 off I-95) is the place.  Snacks, desserts and drinks are available on site, including the bubbly.

Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury is rolling out the laughter for two shows on New Year's Eve, Tuesday, December 31 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., with "Standup, Count Down New Year's Eve Comedy Night."  A quartet of New York City comedians-Pat McCool, Rob Ryan, Stacey Kendro and Angel Salazar- will help you ring in the New Year.  Call for tickets ($50, for the 6:30 p.m. show and $60 for the 9:30 p.m. show), to the Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org.

For an experience way outside the box or in this case outside a can of blue paint, look to the Shubert Theater in New Haven starting Thursday, December 26 and culminating on New Year's Eve.  Be mesmerized, excited and visually amazed.  Blue Man's Group, without saying a word, uses humor, props, lights and lots and lots of paint to create its extraordinary antics.  Shows are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Monday at 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday, New Year's Eve, at 8 p.m.  For tickets ($15-125), go to the Shubert box office, 247 College Street, New Haven or call Ticketmaster 1-800-745-3000.

Celebrate the New Year with song, as the band Night Fever pays tribute to the iconic 70'2 band the Bee Gees at Bridgeport's Downtown Cabaret.  This all Canadian band  has toured for ten years recreating the sound and the feel of the Bee Gees, with songs like "To Love Somebody," "More Than a Woman" and "Stayin' Alive."  For tickets ($79), call the Downtown Cabaret, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at www.downtowncabaret.org.  The Dance Party starts at 8:30 p.m and includes the Bee Gees performance, after-show party, party favors, ice and soda and coffee and danish after midnight.  Remember to bring your own table snacks and drinks to share.

Wooster Street's great family Italian restaurant Consiglio's is hosting a delicious dinner and a mystery show in honor of the New Year.  Michael Sayers' favorite detective Chester Hadlyme is on the loose again tracking down "That Kills That Year" as a fitting end to 2013.  Four not-so-much friends are forced into an impromptu reunion and murder might be their solution of choice.  Doors will open at 9 p.m. and A Chester Hadlyme Holiday Mystery Party will begin at 9:30 p.m.  Call for tickets ($65, tax, tip and beverages not included), to Consiglio's, 165 Wooster Street, New Haven at 203-865-4489 or online at www.consiglios.com.  Check out the updated menu.

Don't let 2013 end without a proper send-off and attend one of these fun parties!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


To say J. M. Barrie was obsessed with the mythical character he created, a boy who only wanted to have fun and never grow up, is an understatement.  From 1904 to 1928, he wrote draft after draft of a manuscript about his favorite boy, a lad by the name of Peter Pan.

The Yale School of Drama, until Thursday, December 19, has chosen to take one of those old forgotten scripts and created an innovative and imaginative version of their own.  Quite conveniently and providentially, Yale University's Beinecke Library is the repository for the world's largest collection of J. M. Barrie's books, letters and writings.  The University Theatre in New Haven will showcase this most unusual adaptation of "Peter Pan."

Forget Cathy Rigby flying over the audience.  Here we begin in an orphanage:  think Little Orphan Annie if you will.  This ragamuffin collection of Lost Boys is prepared to entertain you by telling you the tale of that hero of motherless lads, their captain and champion Peter Pan.  With a collection of odd items, pillows, cots and bed sheets, a few musical instruments, a broken umbrella, a hodge podge of trunks and valises, this talented troupe puts on quite a show.

All the usual suspects are here, Mr. Darling (Tom Pecinka), Mrs. Darling (Michelle McGregor), Wendy (Sophie von Haselberg), Michael (Mariko Nakasone), John (Matthew McCollum), Nana (Christopher Geary) and, of course, Peter himself (Mickey Theis) who all morph, quick as a wink, from orphans to Indians to pirates, including Tinkerbell and Tiger Lily (both Prema Cruz).  This baker's dozen cast also includes Chris Bannow, Aaron Bartz, Hugh Farrell, Maura Hooper and Aaron Luis Profumo.  Dustin Wills gets full credit for adapting and directing this creative version, one that has a much darker ending than a man-eating crocodile.  Here the ugly head of World War I intrudes on this troupe of orphaned lads who yearn for a mother's love and care, one they enjoy on a temporary basis when Peter flies Wendy and her brothers to Neverland to tell them stoires and darn their socks.

For tickets ($10-25), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at www.drama.yale.edu.  Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 8 p.m. at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven.

Venture off to Neverland with Peter and his gang and meet Tiger Lily and Captain Hook, fight with swords and croquet clubs, prepare to swallow poison and to walk the plank...and don't forget to clap your hands to prove you believe in fairies.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Jimmy Johansmeyer, Dani Corrigan, Ryan Eggensperger, Carter Popkin

What could be sweeter as a family treat than a visit to Pantochino's new holiday offering "The Great Cinnamon Bear Christmas Radio Show"?  This is one confection that has no calories or risk of causing tooth decay.  Until December 29, at Milford Center for the Arts, 40 Railroad Avenue, Milford, decorations will  glow and hearts will swell as this novel musical by Bert Bernardi, with music by Justin Rigg, debuts.

Remember the old-fashioned radio shows, where the family would finish Sunday dinner and gather round the big brown box radio to hear a tale of adventure?  Bert Bernardi has recreated that bygone age with a fun and mysterious tale about an Irish bear, a small Christmas ornament come to life.

Ryan Eggensperger is one perfect Paddy O'Cinnamon, with just the right balance of spunk and kindness.  He rises to the occasion when twins Judy and Jimmy (Dani Corrigan and Carter Popkin) are sent to the attic to find the prized silver star for the top of their Christmas tree.

When they discover the star is missing, the cinnamon bear ornament becomes real and offers to help them recover it.  That means adventures to places like the Root Beer Ocean and Lollipop Mountain and encounters with the Crazy Quilt Dragon, the Inkapoos, King Blotto, a Woo-Woo Whale, Penny the Pelican, the Wintergreen Witch and, finally, Queen Melissa.

Meanwhile at Radio Station WJBJ, the new station manager Mr. Coot (Jim Cooper) is being mean-spirited and threatening to pull the holiday show off the air.  While Harry Hammond (Justin Rigg) accompanies them on piano, commercials about everything from soda to shampoo to Spry are sung by Kylie Poggio, Dale Allen, Shelley Marsh Poggio and Alex Koumbaros, while Meredith Checkerberry (George Spelvin) and Finn Fenneman (Jimmy Johansmeyer) try to maintain order and decorum.

Authentic sound effects add to the fun.  At a recent show, Hannah Kupson stepped in at the eleventh hour and did a splendid job as the radio star Judy.  Bert Bernardi does a delightful turn staging and directing this family treat, perfect for young ones.

For tickets ($17), go online to www,pantochino.com or purchase them at the door.  Performances are Friday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  For an added treat, purchase a "Sweet Cupcasions," a sprinkled cupcake on a stick.

Will Cinnamon Bear save the day and help July and Jimmy find their beloved family silver star?  Tune in to Radio Station WJBJ and find out what Mr. Coot learns about holiday spirit.  This new musical was inspired by a real radio broadcast more than seven decades ago.


If you consider your favorite Christmas characters, like Tiny Tim and Scrooge and Charlie Brown sacred, then the world premiere of "Christmas on the Rocks" may not be your cup of eggnog.  But if you've ever wondered if Tiny Tim got to throw away his crutches or if Scrooge really had his hard heart melted in a vat of milk chocolate, then "Christmas on the Rocks" might be the perfect theatrical gift to give yourself.

Conceived and directed by Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero, Hartford TheaterWorks will be serving up a hearty and rum- laced cocktail, with a twist of mistletoe for garnish, until Sunday, December 22.  You're invited to come and become reacquainted with your favorite holiday boys and girls who are now all grown-up.

How have they fared?  Have the years been kind or cruel?  Are there any surprises in their life plans?  Ruggiero welcomed seven well-known playwrights to devote ten or fifteen minutes each to creating a sketch, a task that was harder for some than for others, but for all a success.  He sets the scene in a bar on Christmas Eve.

In "All Grown Up" by John Cariani, who wrote the recent HTW's show "Almost, Maine" and will later unveil "Love/Sick" in May, 2014, we are reintroduced to Ralphie Parker from "A Christmas Story" and discover he is still obsessed with the lady leg lamp and his pink bunny suit.  Jonathan Tolins who wrote the intriguing tale of Barbra Streisand's boutique basement in "Buyer and Cellar," will offer up "The Cane in the Corner" about the little doubting Sue from "Miracle on 34th Street," who is now a real estate broker and still unsure if Kris Kringle or Santa Claus really do exist.

If you saw "Mrs. Mannerly" at HTW recently, you already know the quality of Jeffrey Hatcher's humor.  This time around he is focusing on an elf who feels he is a misfit and just wants to belong in "Say It Glows."  Matthew Lombardo, whose shows "Looped" and "High" have been spotlighted in Hartford, is busy "Going Green" where Cindy Lou Who still hasn't quite  recovered from her youthful encounter with that great green guy, the Grinch.

A spiritual journey, "God Bless Us Every One," is on Theresa Rebeck's Christmas list.  She brought us such hits as "Bad Dates" and "The Understudy,"  Here we  remeet  Tiny Tim who is in the midst of a psychotic break and has serious issues with Mr. Scrooge.  "Still Nuts About Him" by Edwin Sanchez, an international playwright of such works as "Trafficking in Broken Hearts" and "I'll Take Romance," focuses his talents on Clara who is now married to the Nutcracker, her personal and infuriating czar of love.

Last but certainly not least, Jacques Lamarre is serving up "Merry Christmas, Blockhead."  Remember him for the uber-delightful "I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti."  Now he is the psychiatrist/coach/love counselor for Charlie Brown and the little red haired girl of his youth.

A trio of talented actors, Harry Bouvy and Christine Pedi  play all Christmas characters to Ronn Carroll's sympathetic bartender.  This clever foray into our favorite friends of the holiday is sure to be a tradition at HTW for years to come.

For tickets ($35-50), call Hartford TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-526-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org.  Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.  Come early and enjoy a viewing of the cartoon "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in the art gallery upstairs.

For a cynical, quirky and sentimental look at Christmases past, let "Christmas on the Rocks" serve you a flavorful cocktail of tasty potent potables.



Traditionally fences are built to keep something inside or to prevent someone outside from getting inside its boundaries.  For Rose Maxson, it's the hope that her family will be kept safe and protected and for her husband Troy of eighteen years, the fence is to ward off the specter of death.

To see an astonishing production of August Wilson's involving family drama "Fences," take your carpenter's tool box and head for Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven by Sunday, December 22. "Fences" is part of an amazing ten part cycle, the Century Cycle, with one play for every decade of the 20th century, about African-Americans living in August Wilson's hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  "Fences" is set in the 1950's.

Esau Pritchett is magnificently flawed as Troy, a man whose ancestors were slaves and sharecroppers, who literally left his humble beginnings in the South, to walk North for a better life.  A long stint in prison where he learns to hone his talent for baseball and his meeting with a strong and dedicated woman Rose were both defining moments in his life.

Rose, beautifully captured by the actress Portia, knows what it means to "stand by your man."  She is loyal and the sturdy bridge between Troy and the world.  As Troy, the everyman,who  works as a garbage man providing for his family, he holds his little universe together, with the knowledge that Rose is standing beside him.  Whether he is loaning his son Lyons (Jared McNeill) ten dollars, helping his disabled brother Gabriel (G.Alverez Reid) live on his own or share a bottle of bourbon with his best friend Bono (Phil McGlaston), Rose is ready to support him.

When Troy actively interferes with their son Cory's (Chris Myers) dreams of being a football star, Rose protests.  Later when she learns of Troy's betrayal of infidelity, she rebels.  Yet she relents and asserts her maternal instincts and takes his illegitimate child, an adorable Taylor Dior, into their home.  Phylicia Rashad directs a sterling cast in an awesome production that defines theater at its best. Bravo!

For tickets ($40-75), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the theater's Toys for Tots drive for needy children, organized by the Marines, until Sunday, December 22.

Come meet Troy Maxson, the consummate story teller, who lives in the past and what could have been, and tragically allows that past to dictate his son Cory's future.


For a wee bit of Irish blarney with your Christmas cheer, look no further than the Ivoryton Playhouse until Saturday, December 22 as "The Bells of Dublin," an original holiday offering  conceived and directed by Artistic Director Jacqueline Hubbard is offered.

Set in a Dublin inn and bar owned and managed by the Bell family, you're welcome  to order a pint of ale and settle back by the fireplace for some good cheer.  Michael (Michael McDermott) is your genial host and bartender who is anxiously awaiting his wife Meg to give birth to their first child, while other family members are busy with their own concerns.

Fiona (Olivia Harry) is awaiting a letter to secure her place as queen of the local parade, while her sister Bridie (Janna Berloni) is busy sneaking make-up to wear and money to buy presents from her dad, Paddy.  Paddy (R. Bruce Connelly) is just back from entertaining the orphans in his get-up as Superman.  Hard to believe but this grand super hero is unable to catch a little mouse that has taken up residence at the inn. His wife Katie (Nancy Cardone) is busy hanging holiday decorations and buying last minute gifts as a storm approaches.

The inn's guests from America (Larry Lewis, Ted Phillips, Norm Rutty and Grace Carver) had come for a music competition but were unable to get to the airport, due to a combination of bad weather and even worse accommodations in Frank O'Rafferty's (David Cardone) poor excuse for a car.  When a trio of orphans who are carolers (Carson and Mason Weldon and Tyler Felson) arrive, the guest house is full up with merry makers happy to sing Christmas in with glee.

As Paddy spins his yarns of leprechauns, he realizes that this is a momentous moment, the night that Brian, King of Ireland, is scheduled to return to claim his beloved fiddle.  The fiddle has been hung on the wall of the inn, lo these past fifty years, being guarded by the Bells.
While all the shenanigans occur, a steady stream of wonderful music from both sides of the pond is sung and played on piano, guitar, fiddle, banjo, penny whistle and even bagpipes, arranged by Melanie Guerin, with the additional help of Angela Lamb and Louise Muller.  Emotional numbers like "Danny Boy" and "Feel Like Going Home" are balanced by the livelier tunes like "O'Rafferty's Motor Car," "Must Be Santa" and "Finnegan's Wake."

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

Join the Bells and their guests as they welcome in the holidays with a little mystery and a whole lot of merry making in the music and dance departments.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013



The old saying goes "He who laughs last, laughs longest and best," but how do you apply that sentiment to a modern day version of an ancient Biblical tale?  Playwright Ian Cohen is doing just that herculian task when he takes on the contemporized updating of the story of Abraham and Isaac, the one where God commands a human sacrifice as a test of faith.  God asks Abraham to offer up Isaac on the alter.

In the play "He Who Laughs." the action moves to modern day New York City and we meet Alfred Wells, a man of great prosperity with a beloved teenage son.  God has certainly been gracious and generous and given Alfred many blessings.  But what is the price for all those gifts?  Must Alfred choose between his faith and his family?

You are invited to witness the dramatic scenario as the brand new JCC Theaterworks presents "He Who Laughs" as their inaugural offering.  According to Jewish Community Center Cultural Arts Manager De De Jacobs-Komisar, the show "exemplifies the company's mission of exploring what Jewish theater is and can be."  The play will star Gore Abrams, Kate Kenney, Chuck Montogomery, Jane Tamarkin and Matt Walker.

Under the direction of Reuven Russell, the show will be held at The Off-Broadway Theater, 41 Broadway, New Haven, with entrance next to Toad's Place.. Performances are Saturday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, December 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Monday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets ($25, seniors and students $12), go online to www.jccnh.org or call De De Jacobs-Komisar at 203-387-2JCC.

To explore the deeper meanings of the play, the Connecticut Humanities Fund is sponsoring two panel discussions of interfaith leaders following the Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performances.

Come meet Alfred, his wife Sheila and their 17 year-old son Zach, which is short for Isaac, a name that means 'he who laughs,'  It promises to be an intriguing and involving dramatic theatrical experience.