Friday, May 29, 2015


Mary Higgins Clark is the undisputed “Queen of Suspense.” Her legions of readers have held their breath and sat in terror as they inhaled her words about murders and kidnappings and all those things that go bump in the night. As the author of fifty plus best sellers, with books that have sold one hundred million copies in the United States alone, Mary Higgins Clark spoke recently at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, at the invitation of R. J. Julia Booksellers in Madison and Radio Station WSHU. Clark has been described as “literary royalty” and a “woman of all seasons.”

Mary Higgins Clark has come a long way since the year she was twenty-one and toured the world as a flying hostess for Pan American Airlines. She attended secretarial school and much later in life graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University. She holds thirteen honorary doctorates. She freely admitted, “I love to talk about writing and I love to write.” In her early years she voraciously read Nancy Drew and graduated to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes and still reads extensively today.

Mary Higgins Clark began writing poems early in life, claiming “writing is the only talent I have. When the singing and dancing fairies gave out their gifts, I was clearly not available.” She describes herself as a storyteller, lucky enough to have been born into an Irish family. Raised in the Bronx, she wrote from the time she could hold a pencil and always starred in her own plays, much to the chagrin of her siblings, whom she made perform whether they wanted to or not. At monthly family gatherings, she listened to and adored the stories told by relatives and often was caught writing her own short stories in math class instead of doing arithmetic.

Her father died when she was eleven, a tragedy that was repeated when she became a young widow herself in 1964, at age 36, when her husband died suddenly, leaving her to raise five children between the ages of five and thirteen. Clark always wanted to be a professional writer and soon after marriage she took a class in short story writing that set her on her path in life. Her professor advised her to write about what you know, to take a dramatic situation and ask “suppose and what if” and turn it into fiction. She looked to her year as a flight attendant and wrote a short story about being on the last American flight into Czeckoslovakia in 1949, where the plane was to pick up seven Americans. The crowd that cheered their arrival was silent at their departure, and she knew that there was “no one in the crowd who wouldn’t give half their life to be on this plane.” Her short story was entitled “Stowaway,” about a man who hid on the plane and the stewardess who helped him escape. Her professor assured her she would sell it and she did: six years and forty rejection slips later, for $100. That check was the “biggest thrill in my entire life” and it is framed in her Saddle Ridge, New Jersey home where she lives with her current husband. Her short story “Stowaway” is now one of the ones included in her newly released collection “Death Wears a Beauty Mask and other stories.”

This new collection includes tales about a famous model who suddenly disappears, a grieving mother who has lost her son, her favorite lottery winner Alvirah who finds mystery on Cape Cod, a former vice president who is accused of murder, a creepy next door neighbor, and many more intriguing plots. Recently her grandson aged 12, selected one of her books for his summer reading list requirements. So pleased, she asked him why he selected her book and he replied “because it was the shortest.” So much for her ego.

Not without a wonderful sense of humor, she related how some of her rejection letters even came with handwritten comments, like the one that called her writing “light, slight, and trite.” Like the director who penned a note to Fred Astaire telling him he couldn’t dance, one wonders where that editor is today.

Fortuitously, when her husband died, Clark had been offered her own radio show that very morning, a show entitled “Portrait of a Patriot,” vignettes on presidents, first ladies, artists and actors, giving clues to their identity. It was during research for this show that she discovered the subject for her first book, George Washington, “Aspire to the Heavens.” She had studiously avoided the first president because of the stories of the cherry tree and his wooden teeth, but on further reflection, she discovered a charismatic man of six feet, three inches, a hero of the French and Indian Wars, the best dancer in the colonies, a man who rode a horse like an Indian and who had a great love affair with his wife, Martha.

Her routine was to wake up at five a.m., put on a pot of coffee, and write until seven a.m. when she had to get the children ready for school. The book took three years and convinced her that she wanted to write books, now that the short story market had dried up, but the next time she’d prefer a best seller. She learned she needed “a hook” and produced “Where Are the Children?,” about child abduction. Clark claims the first fifty pages of a book are the hardest, when she rewrites over and over, and the excitement when the story “comes to life like the Nutcracker ballet...when you’re chasing the characters down the block and not dragging them.”

One of her many books, “Two Little Girls in Blue,” concerns identical twins, a subject that has always fascinated her. She likes to learn something from her research and was intrigued by how twins feel each other’s emotions and pain, even if they are separated. The book has been optioned for a television movie, although she is still waiting for a true blockbuster from a movie theater. Unlike many writers, she has never felt the need to use vulgarity, sex or extreme violence. She also uses women as her key characters. Clark has also collaborated on several novels with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark.

When she experiences a writer’s block, which she claims is frequently, she whispers to herself “royalty checks” and as ”literary royalty” and the “Queen of Suspense” that seems only proper and fit and works like a charm every time.

Monday, May 25, 2015


With her head of curly red hair, her infectious grin that was six miles wide, her zany sense of humor and unique comedic style, there are few women (or men) who can match that one-of-a-kind comedienne Lucille Ball.  For decades, she entertained millions as Lucy Ricardo with her real life hubby Desi Arnez as Ricky Ricardo and her buddies Ethel and Fred Mertz, played by Vivian Vance and William Frawley.

Now the Palace Theater in Waterbury is preparing to bring you a brand new show “I Love Lucy- Live on Stage” for your viewing pleasure on Saturday, May 30 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 31 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Get ready to laugh, guffaw, giggle and chuckle as that master lady of mirth gets herself into barrels of trouble, as only Lucy can.  While she may have seemed a little madcap on stage and screen, in real life she was a consummate businesswoman, a model, a movie star, a television success and the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu.  She amassed her fair share of Emmy Awards, as well as being one of the first recipients of the Women in Film Crystal Awards, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

In 2012, the sitcom “I Love Lucy”, which ran from October 15, 1951 to May 6, 1957, was voted “Best TV Show of All Time” by a survey conducted by ABC News and People Magazine.  It is often thought of as one of the most influential shows in television history.

 Turn your clocks back to 1952 and imagine you’re in the audience at Desilu Playhouse and waiting  anxiously to watch not one but two live onstage episodes from your favorite redhead.  As you sit at the edge of your seat, a charismatic host will offer entertaining insights about this brand new invention called “television” and literally let you look behind the curtain.

Advertising jingles will ring out thanks to the charming Crystaltone Singers on products you might not have thought about in years or may be items you still use every day.  Then, when the suspense has risen to a fever pitch, you’ll be overwhelmed to welcome Lucy (Thea Brooks), Ricky (Euriamis Losada), Fred (Kevin Remington) and Ethel (Lori Hammel) – live on stage- ready and eager to perform two wild situations from your favorite comedy show.  If you truly love Lucy, then you’ll adore these “I Love Lucy” encounters of the hilarious kind.

For tickets ($40-60), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at www,  Performances are Saturday, May 30 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 31 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Staged and directed by Rick Sparks, “I Love Lucy” is giving a big shout out to Lucy’s legion of fans.  Let the merry madcap magic begin!


David Mamet's intense verbal battle of words is definitely a case of "He said, She said."  The seemingly innocent encounter of a college student seeking assistance from her professor is fraught with potential power struggles and escalates into problematic possibilities.  Who do you believe?  What really happens behind that closed office door?  How does it so quickly explode with emotions?

West Hartford's intimate Playhouse on Park is set to light a tinderbox as Mamet's involving drama "Oleanna"  strikes a match until Sunday, May 31.  Even though the two characters dance around each other, with startling moves of a personal nature, this is no musical performance.  Moira O'Sullivan's Carol has come to beg her professor for leniency when he determines her course grade.  Despite her best intentions, doing all the assigned readings in the book he authored, she doesn't understand the concepts he has promulgated.   Is there something she can do to improve her class standing?

For his part, David M. Farrington's John is so busy fielding the ping pong of problems about his pending new purchase of a house and contemplating the granting of his status of tenure, that he doesn't give Carol the attention she feels she deserves.  Phone calls from his wife, friend and realtor interrupt their dialogue as he impatiently deals with the fires he must extinguish.

As each scene progresses, one month and one week later in time, we witness the metamorphosis of Carol from timid, inarticulate student who continually proclaims, "I don't understand," to a smooth talking spokeswoman for an agenda she clearly subscribes to and believes.  With the backing of "her group," a mysterious feminist organization, Carol mounts an increasingly virulent campaign against the good professor, determined to destroy his credentials and standing in the college community.

Will she succeed?  Can the teacher put the student in her place?  What are the stakes in this war of words?  Director Dawn Loveland keeps the pace building, the exchanges snappy and sharp and the problems pointed.  Anger and fear alternate as the gloves come off and the pair reveal their true identities. This is part of the Playhouse's On the Edge series.  Mamet named it for an obscure 19th century Pennsylvania community where a safe haven, a utopia, is put in jeopardy.

For tickets ($20-22.50), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Avenue, West Hartford at  860-523-5900 ex.10 or online at  Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.

Whichever side you take. it's guaranteed your discussion post-performance will be animated, provocative and spirited, whether in defense or accusation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


To say that Edith Bolling Wilson was a woman ahead 
of her time is an  understatement.  To many she came to
 be called the First Woman President, long before 
Hillary Rodham Clinton threw her chapeau in the political 
arena.  For Edith, a lady of determination and clear intelligent
 view points, became “The Second Mrs. Wilson”and is the 
fascinating subject of a world premiere play by Joe DiPietro 
being inaugurated on the main stage of New Haven’s Long 
Wharf Theatre until Sunday, May 31.

President Woodrow Wilson, brought to charismatic life by 
John Glover, becomes immediately smitten when he meets 
the lovely and opinionated widow, Edith Galt, portrayed with
style and grace by Margaret Colin. A recent widower himself, 
he falls under her spell, much to the dismay of his executive
 entourage that includes his press secretary Joe Tumulty 
(Fred Applegate), his trusted advisor Colonel Edward House 
(Harry Groenier), his vice president Thomas Marshall 
(Steve Routman) and even his personal physician
 Dr. Grayson (Stephen Barker Turner).

Edith, however, knows how to charm.  While previously 
uninterested in politics, her new relationship awakens in her 
an active pursuit of affairs of state.  Woodrow, for his part, 
seeks her advice and opinions and involves her more and
 more in the everyday White House concerns.  The threat 
of America’s entrance into World War I, the war to end all 
wars, leads her to become his personal consultant,
sharing state secrets and even accompanying him to Europe.

With astute intuition, Edith changes the role of the First Lady 
dramatically.  Not a social partygoer, she concentrated on 
more serious matters, discerning the men who were not 
working to help her husband succeed, like Senator
 Henry Cabot Lodge (Nick Wyman).

When Woodrow has a stroke, Edith comes into her own, 
shielding him from the pressing problems of the presidency, 
by making decisions for him.  With great personal resolve 
and strength, Edith Wilson assumes the burden of the office,
 working behind the scenes to get Woodrow’s Treaty of 
Versailles signed to end the war and to create his valuable
 League of Nations.

Joe DiPietro has fashioned a truly brilliant piece of history, 
one that shines a spotlight on a unique role of a President 
and his First Lady. This stellar cast paints a portrait of a 
time and a place and the people who lived in its drama.  
Gordon Edelstein has directed a fascinating picture that 
is sure to engage the audience with its humor and 
humanity, on an inviting and stately set by Alexander Dodge.

For tickets ($25-75), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent
 Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at  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.

At a time when politics were clearly a man’s realm and 
when the Twenty Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, 
dealing with the succession of the vice president to the 
office of president due to the disability of the head of state, 
was almost fifty years in the future, Edith Wilson took 
charge of her husband’s health and of the country’s 
well-being and steered our ship through a multitude of 
storms.  Come hear why and how from the captain 

Monday, May 18, 2015



Lots of things in life are a gamble, but not the current Lucky Lady production of "Guys and Dolls" rolling the dice in a perfect 7 to 11 combination until Saturday, June 20.  The odds are definitely stacked in your favor as the saints try to win over and convert the sinners.  The Frank Loesser musical, with book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, that has been delighting millions for over six decades, will be staking a claim for entertainment and joy at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam.

Get ready to love this show a bushel and a peck, thanks to the sympathetic entreaties of Miss Adelaide, an adorable Nancy Anderson, who has been waiting patiently for her fiance Nathan Detroit,  Nathan is a fast talking, slippery commitment adverse Mark Price, who has been dragging his heels for fourteen years instead of making their relationship legitimate.  The fact that Miss Adelaide abhors gambling and Nathan can't wait to make a quick buck by running crap games make the chances of his being honorable about 100 to 1.

In order to finance his latest illegal endeavor, Nathan decides to con the biggest bettor of them all, the suave Tony Roach as Sky Masterson, who is ready to wager on practically anything.  Nathan finds a sure bet, that Sky can't get the pious and pure head of the Save-a-Soul Mission, the pert Manna Nichols as Miss Sarah Brown, to fly with him to Havana, Cuba.

The quick thinking Sky accomplishes the impossible and trades his marker for one dozen genuine sinners in exchange for a lunch date with Sarah, southeast of the border.  Against all odds the two find love and salvation while Nathan and his cronies Rusty (Jordan Grubb), Nicely-Nicely (Scott Cote), Benny (Noah Plomgren), Harry the Horse (Carlos Lopez), Angie the Ox (Paul Aguirre) and Big Julie (Jerry Gallagher) are busy running around New York City hunting down the elusive and ever changing location of the crap game of the hour.  A determined Lt. Brannigan (David Sitler) is always a step or two behind in trying to catch them in the act.

Glorious Frank Loesser tunes propel this Damon Runyon inspired story, like Adelaide's perpetual cold, "Adelaide's Lament," caused by Nathan's irresponsibility, Sarah's grandfather Arvide's (John Jellison) tender love advice in "More I Cannot Wish You," Nicely-Nicely's fervent plea "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" and Sky's determined prayer "Luck Be a Lady," among many others.  Don Stephenson directs  this colorful cast of characters in a high powered production that's a sure crowd pleaser.

For tickets ($78.50-83.50), call Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam on the Connecticut River at 860-873-8668 or online at are Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m and 6:30 p.m., with an additional performance at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Come place your winning wager on a guaranteed bet!



What might you do if a member of your immediate family were accused of a crime, a crime for which you know in your heart he is innocent of committing?  What if that act were not a capital one, not murder or kidnapping. Suppose it was one of robbery, but that theft was not major, not a bank or armored car, but of a 5 shilling postal order, a mere pittance?  Think of Jean Valjean and his "crime" of stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starving children and being imprisoned for more than a dozen years.

Enter into the intense family situation of a cadet, 14 year old Ronnie Winslow as portrayed in "The Winslow Boy" by Sir Terence Rattigan.  Square One Theatre in Stratford will hold court on Ronnie's case weekends until Saturday, May 30.  Based on a true story and set on the eve of World War I, the drama concerns the  theft, Ronnie being identified as the culprit and being expelled from the Royal Naval College at Osbourne. The tale centers on his family's response to the accusation and their implicit faith that Ronnie is innocent.

Leading the charge is Ronnie's stern disciplinarian of a father Arthur, a stalwart Bruce Murray.  He will not tolerate this blemish on his son's record which reflects badly on him but also on the entire family.  Sam Noccioli's noble character as Ronnie stands tall against this false pronouncement.  To that end, Arthur engages the services of one of the most prestigious attorneys of the day, Sir Robert Morgan, a solidly conscientious Joseph Maker who takes on the task of clearing Ronnie's name.

Also standing on Ronnie's side are his devoted mother Grace (Ann Kinner), his progressive and open minded sister Catherine (Tess Brown) and his jolly and carefree older sibling Dickie (Ryan Hendrickson) who has yet to assume the role of an adult.  Even the family solicitor Desmond (David Victor) and the long serving maid Violet (Lucy Babbitt) are squarely in the cadet's corner.

For the two years the court battle ensues, everyone in the family suffers under the cloud of suspicion.  Catherine's engagement to John (Jim Buffone), one that coincides with Ronnie's homecoming in disgrace, is shaken at its roots.  Dickie's years as a less than dedicated student at Oxford are put into question.  Arthur's health, that had never been strong, is subject to the pressures and stresses of the trial while Ronnie must daily defend his actions.  Even Violet's long standing service to the Winslows is put in jeopardy.

Artistic director Tom Holehan keeps the tension taut, while periodically injecting flashes of humor.  The entire community cast works together to make us care about Ronnie's fate.

For tickets ($20, $19 students and seniors), call Square One Theatre, 2422 Main Street, Stratford at 203-375-8778 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., with a twilight matinee at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 30.
This is the 25th anniversary of the theatre and it will be celebrated at a dinner on Friday, June 19 at Riverview Bistro, 946 Ferry Boulevard, Stratford..  Tickets are $25.

Become engaged in the workings of the British legal system as one family literally fights city hall for their son's need to be declared innocent, even if they face bankruptcy in the process.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Garrison Keillor is the quintessential Minnesotan. When asked how different his life and career  might have been if he'd been born   in any place on earth but Minnesota, he acknowledged, " I spent a lot of time thinking about this when I was 12 and 13, growing up along the Mississippi River, sitting under the trees, tossing stones at the flotsam as it floated by, and also thinking, "What if the Communists came and took over America?" Which did not happen, no matter what Republicans say, and here I am, Minnesota born and bred,  and doing the best I can.

For decades, he has woven tales of a fictional town in his home state, named Lake Wobegon, and populated it with a cast of quirky characters,  These strange souls become real and solid as he fashions stories of their births, schooling, friends, jobs, weddings, divorces and rarely deaths. We learn to care about Pastor Liz and Lillian Tollerud , the savior of the post office and college kid Christopher who quotes Thoreau and gets a summer job at Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery. Garrison admits these folks of his creation are like old friends. In reply to the query how do you keep track of all their comings and goings, births, weddings and deaths?, he replied that they become more and more real and as I learn more about them, I gently take them out of Time and let them remain the same age. Death is rare. Roger Hedlund died a year ago and I'm still in mourning for him. He was a good farmer."

Would he still have created Lake Wobegon if he had sprung from Georgia or Alaska? "Probably not. It derived from small towns where my uncle Aldridge practiced medicine and my home town of Anoka and a part of Stearns County where I lived back in the Seventies. Had I lived, say, in Minneapolis, I would've wanted to be more hip."

Like a modern day Will Rogers, with a unique homespun philosophy and wit all his own, sporting his trademark red socks and /or shoes, Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion fame is coming to share his home town wisdom and inventive humor on Sunday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m.  Southern Connecticut State University's Lyman Center for the Performing Arts  will be welcoming this well known radio personality who has been spouting his views on love and life since July 6, 1974 in St. Paul, Minnesota when a fortunate few, a dozen in number, attended his first broadcast.

After that humble beginning, A Prairie Home Companion has gone on almost continually (there was a brief hiatus in 1987), and now entertains 4 million listeners every week on almost 600 public radio stations in the United Stations as well as abroad in Europe and the Far East.  It has even spawned a movie of the same name in 2008 that starred Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Kline.

 A Prairie Home Companion has grown and changed since 1974. To Keillor, "It started out proudly amateur and local and quietly went professional and national, which made it a better show. We added actors. National performers became aware of it and came around ---- Chet Atkins, the Everlys, Wynton Marsalis, K.D. Lang, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Diana Krall , Odetta --- and that was good. The writing got steadily better, sillier. Fred Newman joined. The show is pretty flexible. We did a Mennonite show one week, then went to Nashville and did blues and bluegrass. The News from Lake Wobegon feels solid to me. So we'll just go on week to week until I retire and then someone else will do it."

 Known for his deadpan delivery and deep voice, Keillor fashioned a radio show based on his tales of Lake Wobegone, his mythical home town, and jazz and folk music, often singing himself as well as inviting entertaining guests. Lake Wobegon is set in the middle of the state, with a population of 942, that is subject to change.  Its name is taken from an Indian term meaning "the place where we waited all day for you in the rain."

As a boy, he wrote stories about talking animals and he liked unusual smells and things that exploded so an exploding smell was great fun for him to contemplate.  Born in Minnesota in 1942, he has entertained the world as a humorist, a commentator on the human experience, a storyteller, an author and a distinctive radio personality. As for the future, Garrison Keillor is happy to keep things going along in the same busy and happy way. "I'm a writer and every morning I sit down to a laptop computer and do what I've been doing since I was a kid. I'm finishing up a Lake Wobegon screenplay, working on a novel about a comedian, sketching out a Christmas musical, and so it goes. About ten years ago, I quit alcohol and that gave me my mornings back and that made a big difference. I sort of miss the bonhomie of the generous gin martini but I prefer to have a clear head at six a.m. "

 With an abundance of dry Minnesota humor, as dry as a saltine cracker, Keillor will share tales of his childhood in addition to his late arrival to parenthood, with a few tales of Lake Wobegone for good measure.  His special guests will include pals from his popular show who are likely to provide musical accompaniment from rock-n-roll to ragtime, Beethoven to blues.

For tickets ($20 student, $35-45 regular and premium, and $75 post-show reception), call Lyman Center box office at 203-392-6154 or online at  The event will be held at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts, 501 Crescent Street, New Haven on the campus of SCSU.It is sponsored by WSHU Public Radio Group.

Let Garrison Keillor share his personal philosophy of life, from his perspective of seven decades, and enjoy the humor of his wry observations. He is well worth waiting all day in the rain to hear.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015



Everyone may be tempted to tell a little white lie from time to time, to spare someone's feelings, to excuse an absence or to prevent a confrontation.  Few people, however, make lying an occupation, a raison d'etre, a way of life.  If you believe that, I have a bridge you might like to buy.

The Westport Country Playhouse cordially invites you to make the acquaintance of Monsieur Dorante who excels as "The Liar."  Penned by Pierre Corneille in 1643 and most cleverly adapted by David Ives, "The Liar" will flaunt its fibbing feathers until Saturday, May 23.

Aaron Krohn's Dorante is superb as the fast talking, immoral genius of the superlative speech who is so enamored of his own untruths that he is incapable of remembering what he prattles to whom.  Fancying himself a cross between a Casanova and a Don Juan, Dorante woos whatever elegant beauty catches his eye, all the while his anxious father Geronte (Brian Reddy) is busy trying to arrange his son's marriage.  Mistaken identities, pomegranates, twin servants, bogus brides, sham duels and secret escapades on the water all conspire to keep the humor contagious and the action lively.

Has Dorante set his heart on the lovely Clarice (Kate Maccluggage) or is he more smitten with the more refined Lucrece (Monique Barbee)?  Does he even know or care?   Does the fact that Alcippe (Philippe Bowgen) is his rival for Clarice disturb him in the least?  Will he convince his valet Cliton (Rusty Ross) to abandon his truthful ways and learn to lie like a rug?  Will Alcippe's good friend Philiste (Jay Russell) win the maid of his choice (both Rebekah Brockman)? Penny Metropulos directs this stellar cast  and has a lot of fun keeping this madcap mincemeat of merry mischief a delight.

The costumes alone, designed by Jessica Ford, are elegant to a fault, aided by Matthew Richards' artistic lighting,  Kristen Robinson's tree laden set, with a snappy sound design by David Budries. For tickets ($30 and up), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

For lessons in prevarications and perfidies, fabrications and falsehoods, sign up with Monsieur Dorante for the epitome of epic equivocations.  You'll love the homework assignments or is it extracurricular assignations?

Monday, May 11, 2015



Imagine Walt Disney created a giant jukebox and it exploded with eight decades of tunes that have delighted millions.You need to come hear all that glorious music, thanks to the CT Playmakers.  Weekends until Sunday, May 24, the group is donning costumes, smiles and enthusiastic voices to take you on a musical journey backwards and forwards in time, when "Dinner With Disney" comes to town.

Walt Disney is responsible for bringing train loads of joy to the world because of his creativity and imagination.  With elaborate animation and an unending brilliance, Disney established his legacy and gifted it to the world (and it's a small world after all).

CT Playmakers, under the spirited direction of Michele Grace, wants you to come to the party, and bring your own dinner while you're at it.  Grab the kids and a casserole and sit at the cabaret tables at the First Congregational Church, 108 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich (exit 5 off I-95) and have a ball.

Speaking of balls, you'll hear tunes from Cinderella, as well as Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White.  There will be a little conflict from such characters as the Big Bad Wolf, Cruella de Ville and a Sea Witch from the ocean floor.  The animal world will be amply represented as The Lion King portrays its poignant "Circle of Life" and the felines prove their power in "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat."  The whole Mickey Mouse Club with lots of fuzzy ears will welcome you to their gang meeting while a fairy godmother with a decidedly Italian flair will wave a magic wand and say "Bibbity Bobbity Boo."

Frozen will take a turn in the spotlight as will Aladdin, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Toy Story, Tarzan and that perennial favorite Ariel of The Little Mermaid fame. All your favorites are sure to please, as music director Chris Coogan leads the parade. Kudos to the energetic cast: Steve Bustamante, Linda Colucci, Rosalind Cormier, Peggi de la Cruz, Martin Diamond, Leslie Duchin, Cathy Hickey, Kara Hodge, Gracie Maranelli, Jodi Maxner, Karen Joyce Miller, Karen Mitchell, Caryn Raimondi, Mickey Raimondi, Maryann Ramos, Janice Rudolph, Laura Skutch, Eric Sporborg, Dan Swartz and Norris Wakefield for making the show so special.

For tickets ($25), call the CT Playmakers at 203-249-5419 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

There's no need "to wish upon a star" as this cast is ready, willing and most able to prove "you've got a friend" in them as they create "a whole new (musical) world."  You're sure to "feel the love."


                                          "ONCE"   PHOTO JOAN MARCUS

One day an immigrant from Czechoslovia walks into a bar where she bumps into an Irish bloke who plays the guitar and sings, and together they make beautiful music.  That is the storyline of the Academy Award-winning film and the Grammy Award-winning Best Musical Theater Album and multiple Tony Awards including Best Musical, "ONCE."  Based on a book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, "ONCE" is billed as a daring, thrilling and unforgettable homage to love and to life.

"ONCE" will sweep majestically into the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, May 26 to Sunday, May 31.  Come meet an engaging street musician with a brogue still evident who is about to abandon his dreams as being hopeless.  Just as he is going to close his guitar case forever, he is approached by a lovely young lass from an exotic place who stirs in him sparks of innovation that ignite in flames and creative conflagration.

Call it penicillin or Prozac, but when the new girl (Dani de Waal) enters the guy's (Stuart Ward) life, miraculous things start to happen.  He is still caught in an old relationship, and even though his ex-girlfriend has moved to New York he can't forget her.  The girl offers to help him win her back, trading her assistance by playing the piano in exchange for his skills in fixing her broken vacuum cleaner.

The girl with her daughter Ivanka establishes a firm place in guy's life, writing new songs with him and  arranging a meeting with a bank manager to secure loans so he can move to the Big Apple and win back his old love.

Lyrical ballads like "Gold," "Falling Slowly," "The Hill" and "It Can't Be About That" propel the story and build to the point where the guy regains faith in his own abilities.  Clearly the two have given each other gifts, in words and music, that will sustain them as their paths intersect and separate.

For tickets ($21-92), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at  Performances are Tuesday - Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Visit a bar in Dublin, where all the performers  are also the musicians and are on stage the whole time. Take a journey of discovery with one girl and one guy.  The message is clear:  "To live you have to love."

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


                    PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG

When it comes to romantic comedies, "Elevada" by Sheila Callaghan is decidedly different, maybe even a little quirky.  Khalil and Ramona are a fix-up, thanks to Khalil's roommate Owen, and neither party really knows it.  Their relationship on the surface is like a balloon meeting a cactus plant, but, somehow, it appears to escape exploding and be capable of flight.

To be an inquisitive fly on the restaurant wall, a curious ear on the bedroom door, an inquiring key to the tell-all diary of the mind, attend the world premiere of this unique and fascinating work at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven until Saturday, May 16.

Alfredo Narciso's Khalil doesn't even know he's on a date when he meets Laurel Casillo's Ramona in a cafe.  He thinks he's meeting her for advise and consultation.  He's a recluse to her bubbly, outgoing personality.  He's a little lost and she's effervescent and definitely in the moment.  Currently unsmployed, he's about to be "branded by a corporation and cease to exist."  She thinks the idea is crazy.

How they even make it to a second date is amazing.  Somehow, with all their issues, and Ramona has a medical mountain of her own, the pair find connections on which to hang Cupid's arrows.  Ramona's concerned and take-charge older sister June (Keira Naughton) can't help providing suggestions and healthy food.  As a successful high end realtor, she has problems of her own, in her love life and underwear drawer.

June may have met her match when she is paired up with Khalil's alcoholic writer/roommate Owen (Greg Keller) who has an opinion about every move Khalil makes as well as anyone else who enters his sphere of influence.

Both Khalil and Ramona are in the midst of major life altering situations, yet they are battling those demons independently.  Can they get their dance steps coordinated so they will tango off into the sunset together?  You'll have to sign up for dance lessons to discover for yourself.  The title "Elevada" refers to a tango step, one that can be performed with elegant movements, by the play's dancers:  Frankie Alicea, Luis Antonio, Evan Gambardella, Melissa Kaufman and Rebecca Maddy.

Jackson Gay directs this talented ensemble in this unusual romantic entanglement with smooth and fluid patterns, as Khalil and Ramona, June and Owen, involve you in their affairs of the heart.  Scenic designer Kurtis Boetcher and projection designer Shawn Boyle add color and flair to this flight of fancy.

For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Rep, 1150 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at scheduled 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Watch Owen play Cupid with some unexpected results, proving once again that "rocky road" is more than just the name of a yummy ice cream flavor.

Monday, May 4, 2015


                               BRIAN HILL             
When Dr. Seuss created his clever character Bartholomew Cubbins, the man of 500 hats, he could have had Brian Hill in mind. The prolific and polished Mr. Hill wears many hats, including but not limited to actor, singer, playwright, book writer, choreographer, director and artistic director.  He has more irons in the fire than a blacksmith and seems to thrive on the responsibility- laden deadlines they entail.

A little over two decades ago, in his home country of Canada, Hill was in a cult driven musical called "Forever Plaid," about a group of high school nerds who want to be a successful singing group.  He and fellow actor Neil Bartram received a phone call that would ultimately change their lives:  a commission to write a show for the Toronto Festival.

Out of the blue (or rather plaid), Hill was invited to do something he had never done before, while Bartram had dabbled in the world of pop and jazz. Together they produced "Somewhere in the World" and they never looked back.  To this day, they "don't know the angel who recommended us but we believe that if a door opens, walk through."

A lot of doors have opened since 1993 and the team has steamed ahead.  They have worked, in tandem or separately, on projects for Disney like "The Little Mermaid" and "The Lion King," "The Adventures of Pinocchio," Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes," a revival of "Brigadoon," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Sunset Boulevard," to name a few, as well as another little show that got its start at Goodspeed Opera House "The Story of My Life" that landed on Broadway.

Today the pair are putting the finishing touches, a nip here a tuck there, on another  Canadian commission that Sheridan College requested be for and about college kids.  "The Theory of Relativity" is set to open today, May 7 and run until May 31 on the stage of the little Goodspeed, Chester's Norma Terris Theatre.  Hill describes the piece as a chamber musical about thirteen characters, all young and anxious and searching, who in song and skits and monologues, explore and discover how their lives intersect.

Hill advises that "this show is like no other. It is unique.  Audiences will be moved."  2015 happens to be the 110th anniversary of Albert Einstein's theory E=mc2 and the 60th anniversary of his death.  These are not coincidences. The play acknowledges Einstein's belief that "only a life lived for others is worth living."

"The Theory of Relativity" is based on "little connections."  For ideas, Hill and Bartram met with students from the University of Oklahoma and asked them "to tell us your stories."  Their answers became the inspiration for the show as the pair "wove them together," tales about twenty year olds who are finding their way through life.  An  ensemble of "incredible actors will all be on stage at the same time and tell their profound stories about leaving home and one family to find another family."

The actors identify completely with the message because they are all going through it. For Hill, "I love being that immersed. Their talent is unbelievable.  They are thirteen unique souls and we are having the time of our lives.  These thirteen strangers have bonded into a family, a community and made human connections."

For tickets ($46),  call Goodspeed at 860-873-8668 or online at  Performances are at the Norma Terris Theatre, 33 North Main Street, Chester on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Come see Brian wearing just two of Bartholomew Cubbins' hats when he acts as both book writer and director of his newest work with music and lyrics by Neil Bartram.  Come hear how joys and sorrows, loves and losses and reaching out and touching someone all propel our interconnected worlds.



                                   (above)Rochelle Slovin and Chet Carlin with Peaches
                                   (below) Chet Carlin with Stephen Mir, his younger self

One of the more unique places to meet a mate might  be a dog park, even if you don't own a terrier or a pug.  Just ask Ralph Bellini who has accumulated a lot of wisdom in his eighty years on earth.  He knows he is fighting a ticking clock so he wastes no time when he sees the lovely Carol and her little pooch Peaches go to the special canine place in the park.

To meet Ralph and Carol and Peaches, make a beeline, with a few biscuits and bones, to the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, May 10 for the charming Valentine of a comedy "The Last Romance" by Joe Di Pietro.

Widowed for a dozen years, Ralph, played by a charming and debonair Chet Carlin, has settled into a tidy, quiet life with his sister Rose, a feisty, outspoken, truth-at-any-cost Kate Konigisor.  She cooks, cleans and protects him, lest there be a repeat of the ominous events of October 25.  Rose, herself, has been separated from hubby Tony for more than two decades and is secure in the knowledge that she is right and he is wrong.  Now Ralph is feeling like he's on a leash as Rose controls his comings and goings according to her schedule.
One day Ralph takes a different route for his daily walk and spies Carol Reynolds, captured delightfully by Rochelle Slovin. Carol resists Ralph's wit and wisdom and Casanova ways as he ardently pursues her, until she finally falls prey to his affectionate courting.
Cupid has a few major obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is a vocal Rose who doesn't want Ralph to abandon her for another woman.  Helping Ralph win Carol's heart are the warmly sensitive arias sung by Stephen Mir, who represents Ralph in his youth, when he had a chance for a career at the Metropolitan Opera House.    Maggie McGlone Jennings directs this pretty pastiche of late in life passion.
For tickets ($42, seniors $37, students $20, children $15), call lvoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318, or online at  Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at  8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Imagine the Beatles are serenading with "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as Ralph and Carol discover love in later life can be just as sweet the second time around, especially with Peaches playing matchmaker.