Saturday, February 28, 2015


Almost 2500 years ago in ancient Greece, Aristophanes penned a seriously funny comedy about one woman's crusade to end the Peloponnesian War.  With a grand battle cry, a courageous gal, Lysistrata, rallies her female brigade in a unique plan to force their male lovers and husbands to lay down their arms and surrender in peace.

This mightily clever plan has been transplanted and wildly updated by Jen Wineman, an innovative and inspired adapter and director of "Lysistrata."  It will boldly dance across the stage of the Nafe Katter Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut until Sunday, March 8.

Think improv comedy, slap stick, burlesque and add a healthy dose of Groucho Marx, Commedia dell'Arte and modern pop music, and you still won't be close to describing this physically funny theatrical experience.  Wineman has moved the story to World War II when folk heroes like Rosie the Riveter were embodying a female work force, ready, willing and most able to assume the jobs of the men who went off to fight.

When Lysistrata, a fiercely focused and vocal Lisa Birnbaum, calls an emergency meeting, she summons Calonike (Adetinpo Thomas), Myrrine (Madison Coppola), Lampita (Arlene Bozich), Venus (Shavana Clarke) and Serena (Susannah Resnikoff) to join her protest.  With a rallying cry of "peace is more important than pleasure," she urges her charges to withhold all sexual favors until the men sign a treaty of surrender.

On an amazing set designed by Geoff Ehrendreich, the story explodes in farce that is blatantly bawdy and lavishly lewd, not to mention outrageous in an enormously obvious way.  There's nothing subtle about this talented troupe, with costumes to the max and mini by Fiona Shaw-Mumford.

The entrance of the Commissioner of Public Safety, a double-talking Blake Segal, moves the comic battle to new heights and lows of humor.  Will the women, headed by a determined Lysistrata, prevail?  Is sex the newest weapon in the seemingly endless series of war games?

For tickets ($7-30), call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at 860-486-2113 or online at  Performances are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  The Nafe Katter Theatre is located at 820 Bolton Road, Storrs.

Strip shows and sex strikes exploit the women's perfume and powder power as they seek to transform weapons into statues of peaceful doves.

Friday, February 27, 2015


If you're singer and actress Jodi Stevens, there is no such thing as a typical day. And forget bored, she doesn't have time for it.  As an artist, she crafts her day, well, creatively.  It usually starts with getting her son Jackson, 8, up, fed, watered and clothed and off to school.  She thrives on the chaos that quickly ensues and finds great delight in making order out of that unique state.

As a successful juggling act, Jodi admits, "I wouldn't change it for the world."  On the morning we spoke, at 8:15 a.m., she was preparing to mentor a class of eleven eighth graders at a middle school in Weston, conducting a master class in the performing arts.  She teaches her eager students how to do mock auditions by preparing songs or monologues and has even taken them to New York City to visit her agent, go to Actors Equity or see a Broadway play.

Then she could be off to dance class or the gym, to care for aging parents, to teach a private class out of her home, to head to NYC for an audition, to fulfill the 101 artistic needs she has as well as the needs of her son and husband, Scott Bryce, a film producer and TV actor.  She is continually "reinventing myself."  A special love is the extraordinary program she leads for mothers and babies "Music Together," for kids newborn to six, to instill basic music competency, like learning how to listen and she delights in  "watching children blossom." This Bridgeport outreach program has just lost its funding so you can add fundraising to Jodi Stevens' list of accomplishments.

This Energizer Bunny credits her amazing support team at home with allowing her the freedom to pursue her many activities.  A favorite teacher once told her, "If you want to work on your art, you have to work on your life," a lesson she has carefully cultivated.  Her artistic family, her mom and grandfather were involved in a band, her dad is a painter, Arthur Miller is a distant relative, all combined to push her to perform.  "They always forced me to perform and I didn't want to do it.  I wanted to be different."  Something happened in junior high school, however, that changed her path.  "I auditioned for the play "I Ought to be in Pictures" and even though I didn't get the part, the emotional work I did started me on a journey I didn't want to stop.  It was a delicious experience under extraordinary circumstances.  I began to fantasize. I had found my real outlet, my team sport."

Theater has continued to open doors for this talented lady. She is "passionate" about playing roles like Marlena Dietrich, found Velma Von Tussle in "Hairspray" at Summer Theater of New Canaan "so much fun," and being with her husband Scott Bryce in "Love Letters" and Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" were all wonderful experiences.  She gravitates toward playing wayward girls like Lucy in "Jekyll and Hyde" and whether it's Sam Shepard or Sondheim, or Shakespeare, Stephens is ready for the challenge.  If she had her way, she'd love to play the witch in "Into the Woods," 101 parts in Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps,"  or Carole King in "Beautiful."  A girl can dream, can't she?  Theater is clearly where she belongs.

As for her newest gig, her own cabaret show, "A Broad's Way," coming to Music Theatre of Connecticut on Saturday, March 7 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m., she has spent years creating a show where she sings and tells funny stories, colorful tales about the characters she has met along the way, the romantic heartbreaks that momentarily stopped her, promising to "change the names to protect the guilty."  From Broadway and beyond, she has found "my own voice," and looks forward to inviting the MTC audience into "my living room for entertainment and fun and authentic connections, like they went through it with me.  I intentionally plan to break the fourth wall."

For tickets ($30-40), with a complimentary  glass of wine, call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Jones of New York and Nine West outlet) at 203-454-3883 or online at

Come see Jodi Stevens alternately sparkle and sizzle, with Broadway and pop tunes like Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and favorite standards like "That Old Devil Moon," sprinkling anecdotes from her technicolor career like so many bonbons along the way.  You're sure to still love her tonight as well as tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2015



A formal dining room can be the simple setting for a hurried bowl of corn flakes and a fast read of the headlines at breakfast, a friendly ladies lunch where gossip is more important than the spinach and onion quiche, a gala engagement party to celebrate an upcoming and long awaited nuptials, all the way to a family gathering to acknowledge the multitude of blessings of a Thanksgiving feast.  Seldom has it been the setting for a plethora of stories more fulfilling and rewarding than in A. R. Gurney's sweet, sentimental, slightly serious, often silly play "The Dining Room."

Until Sunday, March 8, West Hartford's Playhouse on Park will be setting a place for you in the honored seat at the head of the table. There you will bear witness to a wonderful variety of stories that take place in that venerable room of the house. A series of scenes will collide and overlap seamlessly in "a mosaic and evolution of time passages" according to one of the featured actors, Ezra Barnes. The observations of life tell volumes about the characters, from their use of finger bowls to their fiery defense of any slight that affects a family member.  The traditions of the dining room are sacred and have experienced a  succession  of changes over the decades, all delightfully captured by the playwright.

A talented and incredibly versatile troupe of performers - Ezra Barnes, Annie Grier, Susan Haefner, Sean Harris, Susan Slotoroff and Jay William Thomas - will tackle a multitude of roles, from scrappy lad to forgetful grandma, architect to real estate agent, lecturing father to unfaithful mother, a Thanksgiving of disappointment to a marriage that needs repairs.  What they all have in common are the sturdy table built in 1898 and the occupants are all WASPS, Gurney's favorite culture, wealthy and privileged White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, who portray the declining vitality of their lifestyle and of the table that was once the focus of their power.  Because of the success with "The Dining Room," Gurney left teaching at MIT to write full-time.  Sasha Bratt directs this involving collection of family tales that pays homage to a dying tradition and the people who kept it sacred for so long.

For tickets ($25-35), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext.10 or online at Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Let A. R. Gurney be your guide into a world he knows intimately well and introduce you to a clan of people whose lives have changed dramatically over the years, even if their beloved dining room table has endured in tact over the decades.

Monday, February 16, 2015


                   PHOTO OF "THE WILDEST" BY PAUL ROTH

Turn your entertainment clock back a multitude of decades from the 1920's to the 1960's to celebrate the legendary Louis Prima.  As a bandleader, singer, songwriter, actor and trumpeter, Louis Prima transformed his musical career to match all the trends that changed every decade.

In the beginning in the twenties, Prima conducted a seven-piece band that specialized in New Orleans jazz.  By the 1930's, he had moved his rhythm to the current swing tunes and by the 1940's he turned his attention to the big band.  Las Vegas lured him and with the edition of a new female vocalist, Keely Smith,he  created a lounge act that was wildly successful.  In the 1960's, Prima transformed his genre again, this time into a pop-rock band.

Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury is focusing on this musical duo in the late 1950's in "The Wildest! Hip, Cool and Swingin! The Musical Sounds of Louis Prima and Keely Smith" until Sunday, March 8.  Conceived and written by Randy Johnson, Thomas Porras, Luanne Prima and Toni Elizabeth Prima, the show concentrates on the music, unfortunately with no patter or anecdotes about the pair and their relationship.

Married in 1954, they were hired for a two week gig at the Casbar Lounge at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, an engagement that escalated to five shows a night, six nights a week, from midnight to dawn.  The two weeks morphed into a fantastic six years.

Come hear the energetic and exciting talents of Lizzie Wild, Kristy Merola, Jillian Wallach, Mike Nappi, Paul Binotto and James Donohue as they rock the house.  Their enthusiasm is contagious as they belt out, in song and lively dance, tunes like "The Lip," "How Are You Fixed For Love?," "Everybody Loves a Lover," "Fever," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "That Old Black Magic," "I Wish You Love," "St. Louis Blues" and "When the Saints Go Marching In."  Fun songs like "Hey Ba Ba Re Bop," "Nyow, Nyot Nyow! (The Pussycat Song)," "Bim Mam," "I Beeped When I Should Have Bopped" and "I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" are a pure delight.

Semina De Laurentis directs this nostalgic song fest, a tribute to this iconic singing duo.  For tickets ($39.50-52.50, children and students $25), call Seven Angels, 1 Plank Road, Hamilton Park Pavilion, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at  Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come listen to this sextet as they make "That Old Black Magic" and "Sing, Sing, Sing" because they know its "All or Nothing at All."

Friday, February 13, 2015


Come walk down the illustrious red carpet, even if it's not the more famous one, #87, in Hollywood.  The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Theatre is rolling out one of its own, with all the fanfare worthy of the Oscars and you are invited on Sunday night, February 22 at 7 p.m.

Get your fancy fashions ready so you're spiffed up for the photo shoot with a real life iconic statue of Oscar, gilded in gold. And that's just the beginning of the fun. Your next task, assignment and obligation is to fill a large Chinese container with candy.  Who wouldn't like to be let loose in a candy store?  You'll be able to nibble on red licorice, popcorn and Oscars made of chocolate to your heart's content.

Don't eat too much for you'll want to save room for the delicious gourmet treats provided by Chef Leslie Tripp of Fresh Salt from the savory Saybrook Point Inn, like Spicy Tuna tartar in sesame miso cups inspired by the film "Birdman" and Lobster Pot Pie with sherry cream and winter vegetables in honor of "Boyhood."    Oscar inspired desserts like chocolate panini and truffles will complete the culinary magic.   While you feast, you'll have plenty of time to study the wealth of treasures available in the extensive silent auction, items like tickets to Bette Midler at the Mohegan Sun, wine and restaurant packages, tickets to Goodspeed and a golf day at Black Hall Golf Course.  Raffle items include a 32" flat screen TV, a Kindle e-reader and a Thai gift basket.

Remember this is a glamorous fundraiser for The Kate.  Master of ceremonies will once again be Ann Nyberg, anchor with WTNH News 8 and Kristen Roberts, VP, Public Relations and Community Investment, Comcast  as well as Devin Carney, the grandson of Art Carney, with Art's Oscar, available for personal Kodak  memories. For tickets ($65, members, and $75, non-members), call The Kate, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook, at 860-510-0453 or online at or

Here's your chance to weigh in on your choices for winning nominations.  There is even a contest with prizes for the most accurate accounting.  Will you pick Stephen Hawking's story "The Theory of Everything" or vote for "Birdman," "Boyhood" or "The Grand Budapest Hotel?"  Watch all the fascinating proceedings Live on a big screen HD.

As Best Actor, will you give your nod of approval to Ethan Hawke as the divorced dad in "Boyhood" or lend your support to the ever popular Meryl Streepwho is getting her 19th Academy seal of approval in her supporting role as the witch in the musical "Into the Woods?"  Will you be bent out of shape thatDavid Oyelowe didn't get recognized for his outstanding role as Martin Luther King, Jr. in "Selma" or that Jennifer Aniston didn't get served a slice of the pie for her "Cake?"  There's always drama in these categories.

Come predict the winners and the heart breakers and have a fine time enjoying the decisions, whether or not you agree.  Half the fun are the snubs,
suspense and surprises.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015



Every culture has its traditions and customs, the guiding principles that dictate who and what its citizens are.  Preserving these tenets distinguish one people from another.  For immigrants, many conflicts can arise.  Do you adhere to the past or do you assimilate and adapt the ways of your new country of choice?

For the Chinyaramwira family who have settled in Minnesota, far away from their turbulent homeland in Zimbabwe, they usually consider their place of birth an ancient history.  They have established a comfortable and affluent life in this country and their success makes their old ties difficult to reconcile.  A singular event, however, reopens the past and makes it the elephant in the living room:  the upcoming marriage of their daughter Tendikayi (Cherise Boothe) to a white boy  Chris (Ross Marquand).

The Yale Repertory Theatre commissioned Danai Gurira to write this tale "Familiar" through their Binger Center for New Works.  It will play at the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven until Saturday, February 21. "Familiar" is an intriguing world premiere drama that brings members of the extended clan together, calling forth a volcano of emotions capable of destroying the surface harmonies that are only one layer of thickness deep.

Marvelous Chinyaramwira (Saidah Arrika Ekulona) is matriarch with a capital M.  She knows what is right for the family and every one must kowtow to her formidable wishes.  Her husband Donald (Harvy Blanke) has learned that lesson well.  The upcoming nuptials bring everyone home to the roost but the agendas differ wildly. Younger sister Nyasta (Shyko Amos) still hasn't forgiven or forgotten that she wasn't asked to be a bridesmaid, while Marvelous' sisters Margaret (Patrice Johnson Chevannes) and Annie (Kimberly Scott) view the wedding on diametrically different sides.

Should the wedding be the perfect time and place to reinstate the old ways, to resurrect family ties to Zimbabwe, to demand of Tendikayi's husband-to-be a Roora, a negotiated dowry for the bride, a prize that may or may not include a cow.  Chris calls upon his younger brother Brad (Joe Tippett) to help with the unusual financial arrangements.  The Roora successfully divides everyone, between those who feel it is spiritually rewarding, to call upon the ancient ways and revive them, and those who feel it is ridiculous to move backward rather than forward.

How can there be a wedding with the huge elephant, or rather cow, sitting on the living room sofa? Other secrets, hidden for decades, also escape from their Pandora's box.  Rebecca Taichman directs this involving drama with a compassionate hand, on a lovely set by Matt Saunders and a fine cast of actors who represent all the multiple colors and sides of the question.

For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at  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.

Get familiar with this family in the midst of planning a joyous event who feel their past pulling them in a direction many do not want to travel.  The journey is well worth pursuing.



As a child, your mother must have told you time and time again, "don't play with your food."  As an adult, however, the message is just the reverse.  You're advised and encouraged to "Play With Your Food," especially when it involves a delightful afternoon of theater with lunch, culminating in an informative conversation with the cast of actors, the director and, occasionally, even the playwright.

The fun afternoon begins at noon and ends promptly at 1:30 p.m., starting with a buffet lunch.  The one I recently attended had a distinctly Oriental flavor and optional chop sticks, courtesy of Westport's Matsu Sushi, 33 Jessup Road, and coffee by Starbuck's.  With plenty of time to chat with friends or make new acquaintances, part two of the trifecta, involves a trio of vignettes and excerpts from contemporary playwrights.  In this case, the offerings were "Her Heart," by John Cariani from his comic play "Almost, Maine," performed by Cindy Hannah as Glory and Jim Schilling as East.  These two strangers meet under the Northern Lights and East, a repair man, attempts to fix what is broken in Glory.

"Mandate" by Kelly Younger introduces us to two men, Christopher Wilkes' Drew  and Jeremy Funke's Marc who have been "set up" by their wives in a weirdly sweet attempt for some significant male bonding.   Completing the program is an excerpt from Neil Simon's autobiographical "Broadway Bound" where a mom, Kate Katcher, reveals some secrets straight from her heart to her caring son, Eugene, played by Jeremy Funke.  The entertaining afternoon concludes with a chance to converse with all the participants and have your burning questions addressed.

"Play With Your Food," under the talented direction of Carole Schweid, offers these staged readings at three locations:  in Westport at Toquet Hall, 58 Post Road East, in Greenwich at the Greenwich Arts Council, 299 Greenwich Avenue and in Fairfield at the Fairfield Theatre Company, 70 Sanford Street. Her goal is to provide "the right mix of plays that are intelligent, thought provoking and humorous, with themes that an audience can relate to and connect with."
Since she established this theater endeavor, with Nancy Diamond, over 100 one act plays have been presented, "all little gems, packed with a punch, brilliant little pieces of theater."  "Play With Your Food" is available for libraries, personal occasions, corporations and fundraisers.

For tickets ($45), call  203-293-8729 or online at  Each offering is centered around a theme, in this case romance, just in time for Valentine's Day. The need for relationships and connections and intimacy are all explored. The dates for March and April are Westport March 3, 4, and 5 and March 31, April 1 and 2, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, in Fairfield on Tuesdays, March 10 and April 7 and in Greenwich on Wednesdays and Thursdays, March 11 and 12 and April 8 and 9. Make your reservations soon as they sell out quickly.

Come "Play With Your Food."  It's okay.  You have your mother's permission.  Enjoy Fairfield County's most popular and entertaining series for award-winning theater, fine acting, lunch by enticing local eateries and a chance to chat with all the players.  Who could ask for anything more?

Monday, February 9, 2015


Humorist, author, lecturer, essayist, social critic and entrepreneur Samuel Clemens was best known by his pen name Mark Twain and was labeled by William Faulkner “the father of American literature.”  While born in Florida, Missouri in 1835, he lived long enough in the state of Connecticut, and died here in 1910 at the age of seventy-four, to be considered an honorary Connecticut son and a true state legacy.

Sixty years ago, in 1954, actor Hal Holbrook first donned the traditional white suit that brought to mind Mark Twain.  Since that iconic moment, Holbrook's and Twain's names have been synonymous.  Holbrook developed his unique one-man stage show while he was in college: "Mark Twain Tonight," for which he won both a Tony and a Drama Desk Award.  Ed Sullivan saw one of his early performances and gave him national exposure.  He was even sent by the State Department to Europe to perform.  Holbrook has done the role well over 2000 times. As he has aged with this role, one advantage is that make-up is considerably less these days.

Now the city that Twain called home for two decades, Hartford, will pay a remarkable tribute to Twain on the momentous occasion of Hal Holbrook's 90th birthday, on the exact day, February 17.  All these celebrations will serve as a noteworthy fundraising event for the Mark Twain House, termed "one of the loveliest home(s) that ever was." The evening will be filled with philosophy and wit and excerpts from Twain's most memorable books, with an emphasis on the humorous ones, like "Huckleberry Finn."

This gala event will take place at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday,, February 17 at 7:30 p.m.  For tickets ($25-75), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at  A special VIP/Gold/Broadway Circle Package includes Premium Orchestra Seating and a private dessert reception after the show with Mr. Holbrook at a higher ticket price.

His home in Hartford at 351Farmington Avenue is a tribute to the memory of this man of letters, a house he designed and built and lived in with his family for seventeen years, from 1874-1891.  His beloved wife Olivia gave birth to their three daughters there, Susy, Clara and Jean.  In 1927, the house was rescued from demolition and is now a fascinating place stuffed with personal memorabilia.  It was here he wrote some of his best known works:  “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” “Life on the Mississippi,” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court."

The Mark Twain House is open Monday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., with guided tours available to 4:30 p.m.   The first floor of the house is handicapped accessible.  Admission is $18 adults, seniors $15, children (6-16) $11.  Take exit 46, Sisson Avenue, off I-84.  For more information, call 860-247-0998 or online at

Come experience the charm of Mark Twain, as he is brought to live by the talented and versatile actor, Hal Holbrook, who has devoted his life to keeping his memory alive and

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Come take a sentimental journey with grandson and actor Steven Scionti as he pays loving tribute to the man who gave his life direction and meaning, an immigrant Angelo Morello,from Sicily who owned Angelo's Shoe Repair on Main Street in Middletown and who taught a young boy  what is important in life.  "Hear What's in the Heart- A Shoemaker's Tale" written by Steve Scionti and Anthony Crivello, and directed by Anthony Crivello, will play at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport on Saturday, February 21 at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

A 32 ounce can of Tuttorosso Tomatoes almost sidelines Angelo's funeral wake when one can't be found to make the required red sauce that Steve's mom Rosetta Scionti must cook.  A pox on the heads of her sons Steven and Antonio if they try to pawn off a can of Progresso as a substitute.  The boys have to risk the verbal abuse of Jerry, the pizza maker, once they determine that none of the grocery stores in the entire Middletown, Connecticut area have the Tuttorosso brand in stock.  Thankfully, Jerry, despite his grumbling and garlic-tinged temper, relents when he hears the tomatoes are for the boys' grandfather's wake, a much beloved and respected Angelo Morello.

On his death bed, Angelo  tells Steven "I am proud of you."  He cautions him to lead a rich life, blessed with family and acknowledge the good in everyone.  His life lessons began years before when Steve, whom he affectionately called "Stevenchello,"  started exhibiting a love for dance. His grandfather, who took great joy in opera by Rossini and Verdi, would conduct in front of his shoe making machines so it was only natural that he would make Steve his first dancing shoes and pay for his first dancing lessons.  Angelo was always his chief cheerleader and supporter, defending him when he was teased by his peers for preferring dancing to basketball. Being called "Tina Ballerina" is not easy.

With the message "A man has no dreams, he has no heart" from his grandfather, Steven watched this simple, hard working man establish a life so strong and true that two thousand people gathered in Sicily and at the St, Sebastian Church in Middletown to say farewell on December 5, 1990. In this one man show, Steven Scionti plays everyone in his grandfather's world with amazing skill and humor, making them come alive right before our eyes.  Whether it is his womanizing Uncle Manny from Florida who has a reputation as a lover of food and women or Brother Connolly from Xavier High School who tried to teach the secret to sex education was abstention or his Uncle Amadeo whom he likened to a "dancing banana," Steve has the profound talents to bring them each individually and memorably to life.  Anyone who doesn't see the Soup Nazi from "Seinfeld" in Jerry, the pizza man, isn't looking hard enough.

Whether he is doing disco, playing basketball, or channeling Fred Astaire, Steve Scionti is adhering to a code of honor and respect his grandfather taught him. To come meet his mother Rosetta, his father Sebastiano, his brother Antonio, his Uncles Amadeo and Manny, the pizza man Jerry and Brother Connolly and, of course, his dear Angelo, call the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636, option 0 or online at  tickets are $33.

Let Steve Scionti dance his way into your heart as he shares the wisdom he learned at his grandfather's knee.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


If you wear your heart on your sleeve, if you're a softie for happy endings, if you love to escape in the pages of a romance novel, and if Valentine's Day, with its lacy trimmings, is your favorite holiday of the year, then a Romance Lunch is clearly in your future.  On Friday, February 13 from noon to 1:30 p.m., the Mark Twain House and Museum, in an intimate classroom, will host a welcoming gathering as part of The Write Pros Appetizing Authors Series.

Grab a red feather boa, a pink sequined hat and your heart-filled imagination and come meet a pair of Connecticut authors who are guaranteed to make you hear violins sing.  The event will feature a buffet lunch and a delightful and insightful conversation with romance authors Katy Lee who focuses on suspense married to love in novels like "Warning Signs" and "Grave Danger" and Nan Rossiter who graduated with a degree in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design, wrote and illustrated books for children and now writes novels like "The Gin and Chowder Club" and her newest "Nantucket."  Connecticut author Lucinda Secrest McDowell will moderate the talk and the question and answer discussion, one that will feature book signings and door prizes.

Whether you just enjoy the wonder and mystery and new worlds that reading opens for you or you secretly wish you could write a best selling novel of your own (like E. L. James' wildly successful and lucrative "50 Shades of Grey"), this afternoon promises to be special, informative and stimulating.  For tickets ($20, plus tax and processing), go online to www.The, call 860-653-7733 or email  The Mark Twain House and Museum is located at 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford. The snow date is Monday, February 16.

Let Katy Lee, who defines her books as "higher purpose stories in high speed worlds," a writer of fun, exciting, suspense stories with romance and inspiration and Nan Rossiter who weaves her love of Nantucket and Cape Cod, family and animals into her compelling tales, ones that deal with real issues like autism and Alzheimer's, entertain and enlighten you on all the ways they capture and delight readers like yourself.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Getting married is serious business, but maintaining a sense of humor is paramount.  Once the bride-to-be has an engagement ring on her finger, she immediately becomes preoccupied with invitations, color schemes, her dream gown, china patterns, floral arrangements, music choices and flavor of wedding cake.  The groom needs to select a tuxedo style.  Controlling the myriad facets to the perfect ceremony become critical.

Follow the comic and convoluted concerns and considerations of one Fred Stroppel, playwright of "Fortune's Fools" as he pokes fun at all the foibles that plague the wedding of the hour.  Connecticut Cabaret Theatre will be entertaining the wedding party weekends until February 28.

A giddy Gail (Jessica Rubin) is newly engaged to considerate Chuck (Chris Brooks) and plans are full stream ahead to the wedding chapel.  What would make the nuptials even more special would be if Gail's maid of honor Bonnie (Ashley Ayala) were fixed up romantically with Chuck's best friend and best man Jay (Chris Pearson).

The plans to "match" their friends quickly becomes a disaster as instant hatred blooms like the plant Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors," a gigantic and prickly out-of-control weed.  Bonnie is a feisty outspoken actress while Jay is a mild and sarcastic computer wizard. Their sandpaper abrasiveness is hysterical to behold.

At Gail and Chuck's wedding, however, the temperature changes and frigid cold morphs into torrid heat. When the newlyweds invite friends to see their new home, Bonnie and Jay make some startling self-discoveries.  Kris McMurray, a real justice of the peace, presides over the marital bliss with a loving direction.

For tickets ($30), call CT Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.  Remember to pack goodies to share at your table or plan to buy cake and drinks  at the dessert bar.

The CT Cabaret is planning a special event with spicy overtones, for mature audiences only, with two performances of Martin Casella's "The Irish Curse."  Leprechauns aren't the only wee things in Ireland.  Performances are Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, February 15 at 2 p.m.  Call 860-829-1248 for reservations.

Help tie cans on the back of the newlywed's car, make a Just Married card and come wish Gail and Chuck well.


On National Dance Day, the last Saturday in July, many studios like Arthur Murray, will offer free dance instruction.  Unfortunately, Ever Montgomery can't waltz or foxtrot around long enough to wait for July.  He needs to learn to dance, preferably a fast moving one, today and he's willing to pay for the privilege.

Andrew Benator has captured the essence of Ever, all his charming quirks and ideosyncrasies, all his anxieties and angst, from his allergy to strawberries to his fear of intimacy.  Ever Montgomery has Asberger's Syndrome, a form of autism, and he also has a mandatory social engagement:  he is being honored by the National Autism Coalition.  His work as a professor in environmental studies is being recognized.

In addition to having to give an acceptance speech, Ever is expected to dance, at least once, and, hence, is his dilemma.  Willing to pay for the opportunity, he presents himself at the door of a fellow tenant in his apartment house with $2153 in cash, the equivalent of one week's salary for a Broadway dancer. Senga Quinn, a prickly Paige Davis, has been severely injured and her leg may never heal, casting her dreams as a dancer into chaos.

Playwright Mark St. Germain has put these two vulnerable souls on a collision course of human contact and TheaterWorks of Hartford is measuring their tentative and temper fueled steps in "Dancing Lessons" until Friday, March 6.

Paige Davis' Senga is literally struggling to stay upright.  Her body is betraying her and, since dancing is her life, she has been thrown into a tailspin that is devastating and depressing.  When Ever pounds on her door demanding a one hour dance lesson, she is helpless to resist his desperation.  What develops between these two lost and lonely souls is delightful to behold, under the carefully orchestrated direction of Julianne Boyd.

For tickets ($50-65), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m..  A free student matinee will take place Saturday, February 7 and a special weekday matinee at 11 a.m. will be held Thursday, February 12.  Come early for the art gallery upstairs' display of posters by the Connecticut Historical Society.

The star of "Woody Sez," the music of Woody Guthrie, with present a double fundraiser "An Evening of Music with David Lutken," with special musical guest Antoine Silverman, on Sunday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. and Monday, February 23 at 7:30 pm.  For tickets ($40 for concert, $75 for Sunday's 5:30 p.m. reception with the stars, an open bar and Hors d'oeuvres, call 860-527-7838.

Make room on your blue velvet dance card for this charming, heartwarming and poignant production as Ever and Senga discover the stars.

Sunday, February 1, 2015



Fasten your seat belts for Miss Daisy Werthan of Atlanta, Georgia is at the wheel of her three week old 1948 Packard. Unfortunately the car "misbehaved" and demolished itself, a two car garage and a free standing tool shed. This was clearly the fault of the machine and was no reflection on her driving skills.

Miss Daisy is a fine and upstanding Southern gentlewoman of the Jewish persuasion, one who refuses to acknowledge she is well-to-do.  She also refuses to listen to her son Boolie who insists she must surrender her car keys and let him hire a colored gentleman to chauffeur her to the Piggly-Wiggly for groceries and to the Temple for worship.  This feisty woman guards her independence like it is a prized possession. She resists her new and unwanted driver Hoke's persuasive ways for six long frustrating days, the same amount of time it took God to create the world.  That both happened are genuine miracles.
Until Sunday, February  22, you are invited to make the acquaintance of this genteel lady with a backbone of steel as Music Theatre of Connecticut  presents a delightful thoroughly production of the Pulitzer Prize- winning "Driving Miss Daisy" by Alfred Uhry.
Rebecca Hoodwin is wonderful as the opinionated, feisty and fiercely independent Daisy who refuses to give up control of her life.   Michael Boland is the loving and loyal son Boolie who knows his mama is a "doodle" but understands what's best for her.  To that end, he interviews and hires Hoke Colburn, played with wisdom and quiet dignity by Lorenzo Scott, to escort his mama around town.
With stubborn resistance, Miss Daisy tries Hoke's patience and over their twenty-five year journey together they form a genuine friendship that is endearing to watch.  Eventually even Miss Daisy admits that Hoke, her unwanted and unneeded companion, is her "best friend."  Kevin Connors directs this superb trio with white-gloved sensitivity.
For tickets ($30-50, seniors and students $25-45), call Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk at their new location in the Melissa and Doug Theatre (behind Nine West and Jones New York) at 203-454-3883 or online at  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Mark your calendars for two special events at MTC: New Voices presents "Page to Stage" on Saturday, February 28 at 8 p.m., ($20), a concert that provides a behind the scenes look at how new musicals are built and "A Broad's Way" on Saturday, March 7 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m, featuring Jodi Stevens in a cabaret performance of her illustrious Broadway career, songs and stories that are sure to delight ($30-40, with a glass of complimentary wine).
Take a seat in Miss Daisy's Packard for a smooth ride, with a few bumps like prejudice and racism, as Hoke chauffeurs you along Miss Daisy's interesting life in a sentimental and gentle waltz of a play.