Wednesday, September 30, 2015
MONICA PATTON, DAVID LARSEN, CODY JAMISON STRAND IN "THE BOOK OF MORMON"
PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
An estimated 15 million people belong to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, better known as the Mormons. In upper New York state in the 1820’s, Joseph Smith had a vision of an angel and he saw buried books of golden plates. Brigham Young continued Smith’s religious work and brought the new faith to Utah’s borders. Now you are invited to learn a novel view of the religion when the Shubert Theater in New Haven offers up a donation plate featuring the famous and equally infamous “The Book of Mormon.”
The creators of the television cartoon series “South Park” claim the rights to this irreverent satire that has won 9 Tony Awards: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Church services will be held from Tuesday, October 13 to Sunday, October 18 and the pews are sure to fill up quickly.
“The Book of Mormon” concerns a pair of young missionaries sent out from Utah to convert the world. This is a door-to-door attempt to sell beliefs, similar to an Avon lady or a Fuller Brush man. The goal is to bring enlightenment to the uninformed. Their lucky assignment is Uganda, in the remote and dark regions of Africa.
Unhappily for eager to please Elder Kevin Price, he had his heart set on going to Orlando, Florida for his conversion work for his two year mission. He certainly didn’t plan on being partnered with the nerdy and nebbishy Elder Arnold Cunningham who never bothered to even learn the approved script or even to read the Book of Mormon, their sacred text.
The situation in Uganda is not welcoming. The incongruous pair are quickly robbed and then learn that the villagers are so busy battling poverty, famine, war and AIDS they have little time for prayer meetings.
The team of two struggle to make a difference and have obstacles placed in their rocky path at every turn. Their faith is tested repeatedly and yet, despite all odds, many miraculous things occur. With song and dance and incredible stories, “The Book of Mormon” manages to amuse, astonish and entertain in heavenly ways. Be forewarned the language is not always sweet and pure.
For tickets ($30 and up), call the Shubert Theater, 247 College Street, New Haven at 1-800-745-3000 or online at www.shubert.com. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and 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.
Answer your door bell to discover the messengers from God who are ready to offer you salvation, redemption and an angelic host of humor.
Monday, September 28, 2015
HUEY AND FELICIA in "MEMPHIS" PHOTO BY KEVIN MCNAIR
Conditions in 1950's Memphis, Tennessee were decidedly black and white, with no fifty shades of grey. For disc jockey Huey Calhoun, a naive and wet behind the ears high school dropout, the time was ripe for adventure. He unwittingly became a catalyst for change. Wandering into an underground nightclub of Negro musicians, he immediately identified with the startling new sounds and made the courageous decision to bring them to the radio air waves. It was definitely a ready-or-not moment and that steeped in tradition and prejudiced city didn't know what hit it.
To immerse yourself in the mood and the music, head over to the Downtown Cabaret Theatre of Bridgeport weekends until Sunday, October 11 where the joint will be jumping. With music and book by David Bryan (Bon Jovi) and Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) and choreography by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys), get ready for the lowdown jive of rhythm and blues and rock and roll to break excitedly into the light of day.
Calhoun's ultra-conservative radio station doesn't take easily to Huey's daring and adventurous spinning platters, especially when he puts his new girl friend Felicia Farrell on the air. The city doesn't take easily to these winds of change and push back big time but Huey perseveres in his quest, a modern day Don Quixote who is not easily discouraged.
Hold on to your bobby socks as great music swirls up to the rafters. You'll find yourself levitating from your comfortable cabaret seats, as you snack on your goodies. Don't forget to bring food and drinks along to share while you enjoy the show. Eli Newsom serves as the Producing Artistic Director of the Main Stage Theatre who is presenting this Tony Award-winning show "Memphis."
For tickets ($23-28), call to the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636, option 0 or online at www.MyCabaret.org.
Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
Watch as Huey fights the good fight to bring his newly discovered sounds to a public that doesn't realize immediately the great advances that are being offered so freely and happily.
CHRIS BROOKS AS DAN ROWAN, MEAGAN BOMAR AS GOLDIE HAWN AND JAMES J. MORAN AS DICK MARTIN IN "LAUGH IN"
You can bet your sweet bippy that the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin is bursting the seams of its mod psychedelic mini-skirts and polishing its granny sun glasses, preparing to take off into la-la land. Put on your white go-go boots and run back in time to a more gentle and groovier era as "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In" celebrates nostalgia with a capital N.
Weekends until Saturday, October 24, Kris McMurray will produce and direct all those great television sketches that tickled your funny bone back in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Ed Friendly and George Schlatter have assembled all the principals we grew to love, with Chris Brooks as Dan Rowan, James J. Moran as Dick Martin and Meagan Bomar as Goldie Hawn.
Grab your rubber chicken, practice dancing the swim and the pony, tell a few knock-knock jokes and let the Fickle Finger of Fate lead you right to the CT Cabaret's door. With quick one liners about everything from goats and lizards to politics, visits on a park bench with the feisty little old lady Ruth Buzzi, a romp with "Here Comes de Judge" and a fast travel through the tulips with Tiny Tim, this energetic cast of seventeen is eager to entertain
Come play with Abby Brooks, Sue Emond, Nancy Ferenc, Linda Kelly, Maria Pompile, Bobby Schultz, Dave Wall, Will Dayton, Russell Fish, Barbara Horan, George Lombardo, Grace Rizuto, Carleigh Schultz and Brianna Zuk as they recreate the comedy show, slamming windows in the joke wall cleverly created by James J. Moran and all way before "Saturday Night Live" captured the spotlight.
For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret, 31 Webster Square Road, Berlin (off route 9, exit 22 Mill Street or off the Berlin Turnpike) at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m, with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Bring your own goodies to share table side or plan to buy desserts and drinks on site.
For a "verrrrry interesting" night of reminiscing with "sock it to me" punches and a caravan of corny comic jokes, head to CT Cabaret for some hearty party fun.
CHRISTOPHER SHINN, PLAYWRIGHT
Weathered clapboard houses of a New England landscape are tempered by the intense winds of a cold winter. They mark the setting of Christopher Shinn's world premiere play "An Opening in Time" and they foreshadow the mind set and temperament of the characters who patrol the paths and lanes of this small town. The Hartford Stage will take this new play, that echoes with the flavors of Connecticut, Shinn's birthplace, and give it a a voice until Sunday, October 11.
One doesn't often get a "do-over," a chance to reconcile and repair incidents from the past but it seems that Anne and Ron are privileged to do just that.Three decades ago the pair leaped from good friends to wannabe lovers when each found they were trapped in a loveless marriage and hatched a plan to run off together.
A well-respected English teacher Anne was on the brink of committing to Ron, the high school drama coach, to seize a chance at true love. The appearance of her six year old son Sam caused the pair to retreat in a panicked moment of indecision. Now thirty years later, Anne has returned to their hometown, since her husband has died, with the hope that the flames of that past ardor can be rekindled. Ron has since divorced and, on the surface, should welcome her reentry into his life.
If all went well, there would be no need for a play, but Anne (Deborah Hedwall) and Ron (Patrick Clear) are still oceans apart even when they sit side by side in the local diner run by Anetta (Kati Brazda). Ron is easily distracted by the fact that the town may do the play "Rent" this year and by his conversations with Frank (Bill Crist), his frequent fellow dining companion.
For her part, Anne has concerns about a next door neighbor teenage boy George (Brandon Smalls) who has issues about his sexual orientation, his foster mother Kim (Molly Camp), Anne's son Sam (Karl Miller) who has had brushes with the law and the local detective (Mike Keller) who comes often to investigate the continued assaults on Anne's house.
With all these problems, could Anne put Ron first on her list of attachments? Will either of them be able to make a lasting commitment to each other today, when they couldn't thirty years before? Who is to blame for their predicament and pain? Oliver Butler explores the issues of trust that plague the pair, on an intricate set designed by Antje Ellerman.
For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Many special events are planned during the run.
Travel this rocky road with Anne and Ron as they try to reconcile the past and overcome the myriad difficulties on the path to true love.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Composers and playwrights have never shied away from dealing with unusual topics for their musical shows. They have dealt with mental illness ( Next to Normal ), sinking ships (“Titanic”). AIDS ( “The Normal Heart”) and even large green creatures who live in a swamp (“Shrek”). It takes a special mind, however, to conjure up a theatrical experience that deals with men and women who set out to kill our Presidents. Whether they succeed or not, their stories are bizarre, macabre and worthy of a song or three.
That at least is the opinion of composer Stephen Sondheim, with a book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr., in the Tony Award winning musical “Assassins.” The Nancy Marine Studio Theatre at the Warner Theatre in Torrington will become a carnival show to highlight the nine historical figures, like John Wilkes Booth (Ian Diedrich) and John Hinckley (Josh Newey) who have made a name for themselves by their heinous deeds, weekends from Saturday, September 26 to Sunday, October 4.You, the audience, are invited to probe the recesses of the minds of these deeply disturbed individuals, to be shocked by the black humor and complicated issues involved. One hundred years of American history will be paraded by and you are not asked for sympathy or empathy, but rather for a level of understanding of the problems that plagued these human beings.The show features a Balladeer (Noel Roberge) who serves as the narrator and provides the stories of each of the assassins musically, in a number of folk singing genres. You will meet characters like Charles Guiteau (Joe Harding) who killed President James Garfield, Lee Harvey Oswald (Noel Roberge) who took the life of John Kennedy, and Samuel Byck (Matt Cornish) who tried to kill President Richard Nixon.The shooting gallery at the carnival corners all the action as the Proprietor (Jonathan Ross) provides the weapons of choice for all the participants. He entices them to play the game, promising that shooting a President will bizarrely solve their problems, in the song “Everybody’s Got the Right.” Meanwhile the Balladeer, who represents the American Dream, tells each character’s story in turn. Please be forewarned that this show may not be suitable for all ages due to its subject matter. Katherine Ray will direct and Dan Koch will oversee the music.For tickets ($29), call the Warner Theatre, 82 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180 or online at www.warnertheatre.org. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.Let the Warner Stage Company introduce you to these nine infamous personages who celebrate violence in a nightmarish and controversial manner.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
The good Little Sisters of Hoboken, your favorite nuns, are at it again and you're invited to the party. They are being forced to hold a talent show fundraiser as an emergency measure to stave off the imminent visit by the New Jersey Board of Health. As you may or may not remember, their dedicated Chef Sister Julia, Child of God, made an unfortunate soup that caused fifty two nuns to go to God prematurely. Only forty eight were buried properly and, because funds ran out, the last four were stored in the convent freezer. Hence, the need to quickly raise funds for burial plots.
If this hooky and humorous plot line tickles your fancy, then you are prime candidates for Daniel Goggins' highly successful comedy "Nunsense" being irreverently presented at Waterbury's Seven Angels Theatre weekends Saturday, September 19 and Sunday, September 20 and again Friday, September 25, Saturday, the 26th and Sunday, the 27th.
Come meet the Mother Superior who jealously guards all her chicks and her coterie which includes Sister Robert Anne who is Brooklyn street smart and the driver of the convent van, Sister Mary Leo who is literally always "on her toes" as a wannabe ballerina, the second-in-command Sister Mary Hubert who like Avis keeps trying harder, and, last but not least, Sister Amnesia who lost her marbles and memory when a crucifix fell on her head.
These devoted ladies of the cloth will move heaven and earth to provide you with an angelic performance as they sing, dance, tell jokes, provide cooking lessons and even bring out Sister Marionette, all in the service of the Lord to entertain you. Playwright Dan Goggins has resurrected memories from his sojourn in the Catholic school system to create this easily "habit forming" pastime.
Come see Joyce Jeffrey, Trish Torello, Cathy Wilcox Sturmer, Jillian Holt and Artistic Director Semina DeLaurentis as Sister Amnesia. Be prepared for a religious quiz or three, with appropriate prizes if you are correct, the perpetual understudy Sister Robert Anne vying for her turn in the spotlight, a country western singing session, a turn of fleet feet doing "Tackle That Temptation with a Time Step" and much much more.
For tickets ($37.50-42.50), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org. Come celebrate Seven Angels' 25th anniversary, where in December 1989 "Nunsense" was the initial show on stage.
Prepare to be thoroughly engaged as the Little Sisters of Hoboken kick up their heels and pull out all the stops (and corks from the sacramental wine) to entertain you in heavenly splendor.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
THE CABARET LEADERSHIP: JULIAN ELIJAH MARTINEZ, LEORA MORRIS,
ANNIE MIDDLETON AND DAVID BRUIN
Imagine mounting a new play every weekend, complete with designer sets and costumes, a unique script of lines, with creativity and the joy of creation every step of the way. Now imagine doing it again and again, for eighteen times in a season. That’s exactly the Herculean task that the members in charge are doing for the 48th season of the Yale Cabaret.
Way back in 1968, a group of students from the Yale School of Drama approached the dean of the school, Robert Brustein, with a challenging proposal. The year before the innovative and cutting edge Yale Repertory Theatre had opened and the students wanted a site of their own, a space for their work, a place to take risks and test new ideas. Brustein, whom they affectionately called Bob, responded to their call and gave them a space that had previously been a coffee house and a fraternity.
That seemingly modest beginning in a “cellar” located at 217 Park Avenue in New Haven has blossomed into a site of imagination and creativity that is deemed “artistically successful” by its current fearless leaders. With Annie Middleton as theater manager, who oversees the budget, marketing and administration,and a triumvirate of co-directors Leora Morris, David Bruin and Julian Elijah Martinez at the helm, the Yale Cabaret is poised to take off like a Cape Canaveral rocket.
On Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., audiences are invited to dine at 6:30 p.m. from the eclectic menu selected by Chef Anna Belcher who sidestepped a career in law to take charge of the kitchen, working to coordinate the food choices with inspiration from the theatrical offerings. If time doesn’t permit a full meal, come a little early for a drink and dessert. You’ll likely be seated with strangers who will soon become new friends. Some likely food choices are a small plate of summer rolls with hoisin sauce ($6), angel hair pasta with clams in ginger broth ($8) or grilled swordfish and sautéed kale ($17). Desserts include options like creme brûlée ($5).
The new artistic team was officially selected in April by the Yale Cabaret board and announced in August, after submitting written proposals with a mission statement and their theatrical plans for the year. The process includes a lengthy interview and Leora, David and Julian applied as a team. They are already off and running with their selections 1, 2 and 3 and will soon decide on numbers 4-10. If there is a theme, it is diversity, as they comb through all the proposals that have been submitted: established as well as new plays, collaborations and performance pieces. The season will include a “very different, exciting, surprising variety of 18 shows.”
The team wanted to inspire a “constant conversation" with the audience, thus they include a talk back after Friday night performances. The stage is reconfigured every week to fit the new show and don’t be surprised if your waiter one week will show up as the star on stage the next.
Starting off the new season is “We Are All Here,” with David Bruin as co-director and co-adapter with Jireh Breon Holder. A contemporary riff of Shakespeare’s "Winter’s Tale,” it’s a reinterpretation of the Charles Mee work “Wintertime.” A romantic comedy with “outbursts of dance and song," it will be presented by a big cast of ten. Featuring a trio of couples in a place they all love, the action soon goes haywire. David and Jireh worked through the text, adding and subtracting plot lines, discovering humor and heartfelt sentiment, complete with huge theatrical gestures. Fortunately the playwright Charles Mee welcomes this re-invention of his work.
Next up September 24-26 is a work with the intriguing title “Knives in Hens” directed by Jesse Rasmussen, who is making her cabaret debut. Set in rural times, it revolves around a plowman and his wife and their growing relationship with the town miller. As the wife acquires the language of a man’s world, she gains great empowerment and equally strong destructive tendencies. A crime occurs and “love turns dark and poetic, taut, tight and focused.”
Completing the first trio of performances on October 8-10 is “I’m With You in Rockland,” a collaborative effort with students from the Schools of Art, Music and Drama, directed by Kevin Hourigan in his debut effort. Starting with a line of poetry by Allen Ginsberg and inspired by his life and work, it includes songs and art and images that involve all the disciplines in “a kaleidoscopic montage for our contemporary moment.”
Throughout the eighteen weeks of offerings, eleven artistic associates in addition to the four principals will hold group discussions as they review the submitted proposals. They will decide what is doable and exciting to discover “the pulse of the School of Drama’s cravings.” The goal is to provide the community that includes alumnae, faculty, students and the general public with stimulating theater combined with fine dining to achieve a greater artistic landscape.
For reservations ($20, Yale faculty $15, students $12 or multiple passes like a 9 ticket flex pass $117, faculty $99, student $81), call the Yale Cabaret, 217 Park Street, New Haven at 203-432-1566 or online at www.yalecabaret.org.
The “constant conversation” ball is clearly now in your court.
Sunday, September 6, 2015
The world of magic has always been a mysterious realm, clouded with the supernatural, stuffed with trickery, punctuated with illusions. Whatever you label it, magicians or prestidigitators or conjurors defy easy description as they do the seemingly impossible right before your unbelieving eyes.While the first book of magic tricks was published in England in 1584, the art dates back to the early Greeks. Along the way, the exotic entertainment has been advanced by the likes of Harry Houdini, David Blaine, Doug Henning, Criss Angel and David Copperfield.Hold on to your socks and your hat, as there’s a new crop of magic makers ready to astonish and amaze you with their skills and talents. Seven of them will gather at one place, the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, for a series of performances, Tuesday, September 22 through Sunday, September 27 and you’re invited to attend…if you dare.Straight from the Big Apple and a multi-city tour, “The Illusionists-Live from Broadway” is eager to provide mind-shattering stunts that will leave you with your mouth hanging open and your brain full of fireworks. Starting with Yu Ho-Jin, named the 2014 “Magician of the Year,” better known as The Manipulator, a man who has been performing tricks in his native South Korea since he was nine, you will also experience the lightning speed antics of Dan Sperry, termed the Anti-Conjuror for his unique macabre style of magic and Jeff Hobson, the Trickster, who adds glamour and humor to this performance. Then you’ll meet Andrew Basso, the Escapologist, from Italy who will bring Houdini’s famous Water Torture Cell to the stage. He will be followed by Kevin James, the Inventor, who focuses on the strange and the bizarre, creating his own special style of mystery.Ben Blasque, the Weapon Master, will use a crossbow to get his sharply defined message across while the Daredevil, Jonathan Goodwin from England, will defy death in a dizzying array of ways.Be shocked. Be amazed. Be anything but absent as “The Illusionists” perform Tuesday to 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. For tickets, ($21 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.For outrageous fun and utterly mind-expanding astonishment, look no further than this incredible bag of tricksters called “The Illusionists."
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
TREVOR (CARSON ELROD) AND SUSANNAH (SARAH MANTON) IN "BEDROOM FARCE"
PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG
No matter how many decades it has been since you donned a pair of pajamas and attended a slumber party, an overnight where you did everything with your best friends except sleep, the Westport Country Playhouse has the ideal entertainment solution. You’re invited to enter, unannounced and deliciously quiet as an eavesdropper, to a trio of bedrooms for a voyeuristic adventure.
Be prepared to laugh, out loud, as director John Tillinger offers up the delightfully and only slightly scandalous “Bedroom Farce” by prolific British playwright Alan Ayckbourn until Sunday, September 13. Marjorie Bradley Kellogg has cobbled the sleeping quarters of three couples so tightly together the toes of one couple could almost reach out and touch another couple…so we feel intimately involved in the lives portrayed instantly.
Ernest (Paxton Whitehead) and Delia (Cecelia Hart) are the senior dorm parents, comfortable and familiar after eons of marriage. They cope with leaking roofs, eating sardines in bed, cold feet under the covers and incidents of over-and under- tipping of waiters with ease. What gives them pause is the marriage choice of their son Trevor (Carson Elrod) to Susannah (Sarah Manton) when he had many more suitable choices available.
For Nick (Matthew Greer) and Jan (Nicole Lowrance), the pressing issue is Nick’s recent onset of a severe back pain, pain that has rendered him virtually immobile. While wife Jan is somewhat solicitous, it doesn’t stop her from abandoning him to attend a housewarming party for good friends Malcolm (Scott Drummond) and Kate (Claire Karpen).
Jan explains she really must go if for no other reason than her former suitor Trevor is going through a bad patch with Susannah and Jan is afraid of what will happen at the party. She is sure her calming and patient words will be conciliatory. The complications rise like a twisting flight of stairs until chaos and comedy reign supreme. This ensemble cast is perfect, both in and out of nightclothes.
For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org. 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., with many special events scheduled throughout the run.
Get your scorecard ready so you can keep track of these “strange bedfellows” who migrate hither and yon, somewhat like Goldilocks trying to find a bed and a partner that is just right.