Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Grab a pink feather boa, set your fringed and sparkly dress in a swirl or add starch to your snazzy tuxedo as the catchy tunes of the Charleston float through the air.  It’s the Roaring Twenties and you’ve been invited to the wedding of the decade as Jimmy Walker, a man made of money and moolah, prepares to hitch up with the lady of his dreams…until, on the way to the altar, he is sidelined by a funny, feisty and fantastic bootlegger named Billy Bendix.

The main stage of the Warner Theatre in Torrington will be popping the corks from magnums of champagne as Joe DiPietro’s madcap comedy “Nice Work If You Can Get It” bubbles up weekends from Saturday, November 7 to Sunday, November 15.

There’s no need to buy any wedding presents as Jimmy isn’t quite sure whom he is going to marry.  While money is no object for this millionaire playboy, his heart is turned upside down and inside out when Billy knocks on his mansion door to deliver all the booze for the big white veiled event.  But before the orange blossoms get a chance to wilt, Jimmy and Billy are sparring big time and sparks of seduction fly.

Will Billy be scratching out one fiance’s name on the wedding invitations to substitute her own?  Can Billy avoid being arrested for her extracurricular activities before she can say “I do”? If you love the songs of the Gershwin brothers, George and Ira, than you have a treasured treat in store as tunes like “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “But Not for Me,’ “Fascinating Rhythm” and “Someone to Watch Over Me” shine and sparkle.  Glamorous costumes, a bevy of beautiful girls, extravagant dance numbers and a sappy and snappy love story make this a fun evening of entertainment.

Sheila Waters Fucci will direct and choreograph this lighthearted and delightful romanic comedy, with musical direction by Holly J. McCann.   For tickets ($29), call the Warner Theatre, 68 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180 or online at  Performances are Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and Friday at 8 p.m.

Prepare to be razzle-dazzled as the Warner Stage Company goes all glittery, dancing up a storm as a speakeasy roars into Torrington.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015



On these crisp days of autumn, as Halloween creeps closer, you might enjoy some mulled cider or a mug of hot chocolate, with or without marshmallows. That’s not everyone’s cup of tea, however.  For one rock star named Drac, his choice of beverage wanders to something a little thicker with a definite cast of red.  This definitely dangerous songster desires the unique life sustaining resource: blood.  As he is a vampire, that just makes sense.

To make his acquaintance, trick or treat over  to the Milford Center for the Arts to enjoy the original musical “Dractastic” conjured up by Bert Bernardi for book and lyrics and Justin Rugg for music. Pantochino Productions will offer up this spicy concoction until Sunday, November 1 just as ghosts and goblins and all things that go bump in the night magically appear.

Clearly Drac, a mysteriously musical Jimmy Johansmeyer, is admired by his legions of fans.  His special groupies include Kylie Poggio, Kate Harris and Sabrina Henderson, but others quickly come to his nightclub The Edge, to pay allegiance to their hero.  Justin Rugg’s Renfield wants to be Drac’s agent and has contracts and concert dates for him to attend to, while attractive young starlets Lucy Weston, an enthusiastic Shelley Marsh Poggio, and Mina Steward, a sparkling and eager Mary Mannix, can’t wait to be in his enigmatic presence.

Before you can say “BOO,” Mina’s concerned papa (Jeremy Tortora) and confused fiance (Andrea Pane) are following her trail, hoping to rescue her from Drac’s thirsty clutches. They seek to enlist the aid of Von Helsig, a problem solving professor played by George Spelvin.

While Lucy and Mina have fallen under the spell of Drac’s mesmerizing music, bug eaters, zombies, bats and vampires are decidedly on the loose.  Get into the Halloween spirit in this Bert Bernardi staged and directed production, with fantastic costuming by Jimmy Johansmeyer.  For tickets ($18 online and $20 at the door), go online to Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  At Saturday 2 p.m. shows only, cabaret tables will be available so you can bring your own food and drinks.  Shows are at the Milford Center for the Arts, 40 Railroad Avenue South at the train station in Milford. Watch for the next original holiday musical “Christmas Cookies” rolling merrily along December 11-27.

Dress in costume (or not) as that most unusual song master Drac weaves his spell as the Halloween holiday comes to call.

Monday, October 26, 2015



The fates of family and business man George Bailey and wannabe angel Clarence are inexplicably intertwined in the classic Christmas story “A Wonderful Life,” now a musical perfect to usher in the spirit of the holidays.  Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam is putting lights, ornaments and glitter on the evergreen trees in preparation for this heartwarming tale of faith, despair and redemption now extended until Sunday, December 6.

Frank Capra’s famous film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with Jimmy Stewart in the title role, has been transformed into a tuneful tale with music by Joe Raposo and book and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.  The 91 year old Harnick spent time up at Goodspeed recently to put finishing touches of sparkle to this favorite holiday tale.

Duke Lafoon’s George Bailey is wonderfully sincere as the loyal son and resident of Bedford Falls, New York, a good son who honors his parents (George McDaniel and Bethe  E. Austin) and the values he has grown up believing.  Lafoon makes us care about George’s fate, applauding his hard work ethic and his tender courtship of Mary, a lovely Kirsten Scott, and commiserating with his disappointments when he is forced to abandon college plans and give up his honeymoon to help his family and the patrons of Bailey Building and Loan.

Bedford Falls comes to life, from 1928 to 1945, as its citizens try to create a good, wholesome life, fighting against the stern and unfriendly Henry Potters (Ed Dixon) of the world and seeking the financial support of helpful souls like George, who is always ready to lend a hand. 

For two hundred years, Clarence, an open-hearted angel in the guise of Frank Vlastnik, has now been sent to earth to be George’s guardian angel and, in the process, to finally earn his wings.  When George despairs that the world would have been better off if he had never been born, after his Uncle Billy (Michael Medeiros) loses a large cash deposit that will  doom their company and cause George to go to jail, Clarence comes to the rescue to save the day.

With songs and dances and adorable Bailey children like sisters Riley and Ella Briggs and Ben Stone-Zelman, you may need a Kleenex or three as George realizes what his life has truly meant.  Michael Perlman directs this bittersweet and sentimental Christmas card that deserves to be opened and enjoyed.

For tickets ($27 and up), call Goodspeed Musicals, on the Connecticut River in East Haddam at 860-873-8668 or online at  Performances 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.

Watch how hope and love, a pocket of rose petals and the ringing of a bell spell redemption and a renewal of faith in this beloved Christmas classic.  What a great early Christmas present for the whole family!



Even when life seems perfect, you may wait for the other shoe to drop, especially if it suddenly thuds down with a shattering crash. Amir and Emily lead a charmed life in New York City, a happily-ever-after life that crashes when their castle crumbles around them.  He is a successful attorney in a prestigious Jewish law firm, poised to make partner, while his artist wife is awaiting entry into a well respected gallery showing.

Expect an intense confrontation between country and culture when Amir and Emily are swept into a vortex of self-doubt and questioning in the Pulitzer Prize winning drama "Disgraced" by Ayad Akhtar.  Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven  will establish an elegant courthouse of opinions in the couple's well appointed living room, a set designed by Lee Savage, until Sunday, November 8.

Amir, brought to conflicted presence by Rajesh Bose, had "passed" when he sought admittance in his legal shere.  Not admitting to his Pakistani heritage, he changed his name and his country of origin, calling India, the more acceptable homeland, as his birthplace.  While he feels comfortable in this legion of Jews, he identifies more with his fellow attorney Jory (Shirine Babb) who is African-American.

In fact, Jory and her Jewish husband Isaac (Benim Foster) are good friends socially with Amir and his supportive wife Emily, a vision seeking Nicole Lowrance.  A dinner party figures prominently in the drama, revealing secrets and misconceptions that rock the relationships. The catalyst for the earthquake of revelations begins with the arrival of Amir's nephew Abe (Mohit Gautain) who has a compelling request:  he wants his lawyer uncle to stand up in court and defend his good friend, an imam, who has been accused of channeling money to fund terrorists.  Reluctantly Amir is forced to decide if he is going to embrace his Muslim heritage or reject it: who is he  at his deepest source:  Pakistani or American.  Can he straddle the two worlds?  What repercussions will he suffer no matter which side he selects? How will his marriage, his career and his friendships survive his choices?  Gordon Edelstein directs this explosive and thought shifting drama in a taut 90 minute roller coaster ride.

For tickets ($25-85), 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 pm. 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 pm.

Assimilation, ambition and animosity battle for dominance as the American Dream is put on trial and no one, least of all Lady Justice, comes out a winner.

Monday, October 19, 2015


Once upon a time Weller Martin was a force to be reckoned with in the business world, a corporate executive who commanded respect and admiration.  Today he is still fiercely independent but his realm of influence has shrunken completely and he is free to wield his power over a few square feet of space in a rundown nursing facility he reluctantly calls home.

To enter Weller's tiny pocket of pride, head over to the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street, New Yrok City to enjoy the legendary performances of two acting icons:  James Earl Jones and Cicely tyson. They are bringing to life the feisty characters of Weller and Fonsia in D. L. Coburn's "The Gin Game," a tale of two old folks who are not yet ready to throw in their hand.

Kenny Rogers could probably give some card playing advice to Weller, but Weller would refuse to take it.  He prides himself on his skills in the game of gin and his world gets considerably brighter when a new resident Fonsia agrees to play a hand or three of gin with him.  For D. L. Coburn who won himself a Pulitzer Prize in 1978, the play in his own words is "a metaphor for fate and how the events of life are dealt to us.  We have to play them as they come our way."  This was Coburn's first play and it was initially performed on Broadway in 1977 starring husband and wife Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, garnering Tandy a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

As the card games continue, Weller gets increasingly agitated as Fonsia wins, easily and with style, finally exploding in fits of rage and curses. The pair dislike the other residents who are less mobile and verbal and when they do talk focus only on their aches and pains. As the games continue, we learn much of their secrets from the past.  When they dance to one of Fonsia's favorite tunes, the moment is tender and sweet.

As too often happens, the pair have only each other for companionship.  They have both been abandoned by family and friends, neglected and forgotten, left in a retirement home that has not seen good days for decades. Every time Fonsia says "gin," and it happens over and over again, Weller loses with bitterness and anger, forcing Fonsia to threaten to report him for bad behavior.  To see these two fine actors in this classic encounter is a gift that you should not ignore opening. It is scheduled to run until January 10, 2016.  Leonard Foglia directs this bittersweet waltz with affection.

For tickets ($57-141), call Telecharge at 212-239-6200 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 7 p.m, Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Watch how Fonsia drives Weller crazy every time she "plays her cards right."




Do you like to compete and enjoy promoting school spirit?  Is spelling one of the skills you retained from your early learning days?  Do you like to read the dictionary just for fun? Is Daniel Webster one of your heroes?  If you answered yes, then have I got a theatrical experience for you!

Conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with book by Rachel Sheinkin, music and lyrics by William Finn and additional material by Jay Reiss, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” oozes with charm as a half dozen middle school kids who are the nerds and the geeks of the area classes compete for the coveted trophy and savings bond that go to the winner. You might even find yourself on stage with them...if you are brave and confident and ready for a challenge.

Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, until Sunday, November 1, is anxious and able to provide just the perfect setting for the fun and angst that goes with the competition.  Come meet Marcy Park (Gia Asperas) as the dedicated parochial school entry who speaks five or six or seven languages and determines for herself whether she will win or lose. She rejects being perfect, with the help of a heavenly creature. Chip Tolentino (Sam Seferian) is the perpetual Boy Scout and a great ball player but he develops a physical problem related to puberty that erupts on stage and ultimately determines his fate. With a sinus condition, an allergy to nuts, a handkerchief and a magic foot, William Barfee (James Donohue) dances his way into spelling stardom. He resents his name being continually mispronounced but manages to show a softer side.

Also hot into the competition is Logainne Schwartzand-Grubenierre (Mandy Leigh) with two papas and a whole lot of pressure and the need to stand up for equality for all genders and sexualities. In Olive Ostrovsky (Christina Carlucci), we find a bouncing bundle of enthusiasm who only wishes at least one of her parents were there for encouragement. Her dad is busy at work and her mom has elected to go to an ashram in India for nine months. Sporting a bike helmut and wearing his self-designed clothes, Leaf Coneybear (Alec Varcas) is the home schooled speller.His siblings have tred to convince him he is dumb, but he knows better. Four lucky volunteers from the audience are also invited on stage to prove their spelling prowess...or not.

In addition, Miss Peretti (Cassie Hohn), Mr. Panch (Bradley Mott) and a felon doing community service named Mitch (Jerrial Young) deliver the words, the rules, the definitions, the pronunciations, language of origin, use in a sentence and the comfort hugs when they lose. Janine Molinari directs and choreographs this Tony award-winning musical comedy that has a heart bigger than the entire gymnasium. The songs are heartfelt and sweet and express how each kid is feeling and what their world is really about in words and dance.

For tickets ($39-54), call Seven Angels Theatre, One Plank Road, 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. 

Grab your dictionary and be prepared to join the p-a-n-d-e-m-o-n-i-u-m when “Spelling Bee” rings your bell. Brushing up on words that name South American rodents isn't a bad idea either.


Can there be any more devastating loss than that of a child? A time table for healing is simply not available and the hole in your heart may never mend. The pain may eventually lessen after months and years but it will always be there as a reminder of what you have lost. For David Lindsay-Abaire, it has become the sensitive and gut-wrenching heart of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Rabbit Hole" being compassionately staged at the Chestnut Street Playhouse in Norwich until  Sunday, October 25.          .

Come meet Becca and Howie who are dealing with grief and guilt in equal measures. What if she had not run inside to answer the phone, what if he had made sure the gate was locked, what if he hadn't brought home the puppy, would Danny still be alive today?  What role did Becca's sister play in calling Becca to complain about their mom?  Could Jason, the boy who hits Danny, have been driving too fast?  There is enough guilt for everyone to share.

Amy Kozumplik Kirby displays her agony as Becca and relives each moment of Danny's life as she folds each jersey and cradles each stuffed animal.  For Andrew Houlihan's Howie, the grief is a little better disguised but it is just there under the surface, ready to spring out with the slightest provocation. When Becca's sister Izzy, a flaky, irresponsible yet endearing Gita Hassin, announces she is pregnant and unmarried, it takes mother Nat, a conciliatory Linda MacCluggage to play umpire and restore a semblance of balance in the household.

When teenage driver Jason, an apologetic Alec Bandzes, arrives at their door, it forces the family to confront the issues that need to be dealt with honestly and openly. Scott Kegler directs this fine ensemble cast as it deals with issues no family should have to face.  Don't forget to bring Kleenex. An inviting set designed by William Corriveau lends itself to the story.

For tickets ($20), call the Chestnut Street Playhouse, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378  or online at   Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

A special Cabaret evening is planned for Saturday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m when Julie Reyburn brings her award-winning musical show FATE IS KIND to the playhouse. Tickets are $45 and include pre-show appetizers.

Stroll with Becca and Howie through the minefield of grief they are suffering and help guide them to the healing place where they need to be, together.


Rising from poverty to power on a silver platter, from unknown to star, Eva Peron is an example, sterling or tarnished, of the strength of an individual to rise to prominence against staggering odds.  This ambitious girl used her brains and her beauty, as well as a multitude of men, to advance her goals to become a woman of substance.  With Argentina as her landscape, she became a model, an actress and whatever the situation dictated until she won the tiara of queen of the country and the soul mate of Juan Peron.

To meet Eva, and all her captivating charms, run over to Music Theatre of Connecticut in its intimate, new home in Norwalk for Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita." This production, directed by Kevin Connors, is the best offering of this award winning musical that this reviewer has ever had the pleasure of attending.  It will play until Sunday, November 1.

The narrator/commentator Che is in the capable hands of Daniel C. Levine, who represents the people, the peasants and the poverty striken.  His feelings about the ascent of Eva from the gutters to the throne are clearly in evidence.  Katerina Papacostas is wonderfully convincing as Eva Duartes Peron, the ambitious girl who worked her way to the stars by marrying the head of Argentina, portrayed by a masterful Donald E. Birely.

As first lady, she enjoyed folk heroine status.  Acting in the theater from the age of fifteen, she left home with a cardboard suitcase and played roles as diverse as Sarah Bernhardt, Elizabeth I of England and the last Tzarina of Russia, but her greatest role was as the second wife of Juan Peron and as the "Spiritual Leader of the Nation.”

Papacostas embraces the role of Evita, which means "little Eva," with a subtle blend of compassion and flamboyancy.  The total production which is sung begins with her death and travels back in time. She called the day she met Peron at a fundraising party for earthquake victims her "marvelous day" and she never looked back. Tunes like "Buenos Aires," "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Rainbow High" and "And the Money Kept Rolling In" carry the action. The entire cast is flawless, with dynamic choreography by Becky Timms, flamboyant costumes by Diane Vanderkroef and sparkling music directed by Thomas Martin Conroy.
For tickets ($35-55), call Music Theatre of CT, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Nine West), at 203-454-3883 or online at  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Come discover if, like with Juan, Eva will win your heart or, like Che, will be labeled a "tasteless phenomenon," miles away from being "high flying adored."

Monday, October 12, 2015



Good theater is supposed to inspire conversation and maybe even a little controversy.  Playwrights like audiences to leave their seats with questions and comments, hopefully eager to discuss the play’s finer points or disturbing elements.  Sometimes one leaves humming a title song or buzzing with excitement.  One never knows and that’s half the fun of venturing into the theatrical unknown.

For Paula Vogel’s world premiere play within a play “Indecent,” we are invited into the lives of Sholem Asch and his wife Matl, snugly ensconced at the Yale Rep’s University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven until Saturday, October 24.  While a violinist, folk dance, song and a father who is questioning his faith all figure prominently and the old world flavor and charm of the shtetl are clearly evident, this is not your grandfather’s “Fiddler on the Roof.”

The play’s origins began years ago when the director and co-creator Rebecca Taichman worked on a college thesis of the play “The God of Vengeance”  by Asch and its legal complications.  Penned by Sholem Asch in 1907, “The God of Vengeance” enjoyed an interesting and complicated journey from its first reading in a literary salon in Germany, its successful productions across Europe to its dramatic debut in America.

“Indecent” lets us be privy to that journey and those complications as an intrepid troupe of performers dedicates itself to bringing this controversial tale to the public.  While it was cheered in places like Berlin, Rome and ST. Petersburg, this “daring play” confronting “contemporary moral values”  led to the entire cast being arrested on obscenity charges when it premiered on Broadway in 1923.

“The God of Vengeance” deals with a devoted Jew who loves the Torah but also runs a brothel in the basement of his home.  His virginal daughter Rifkele falls in love with a female prostitute Manke, a forbidden relationship that causes Papa to denounce both her and his religion.

A talented minyan of ten actors and musicians -Richard Topol as the stage manager, the actors Katrina Lenk, Mimi Lieber, Max Gordon Moore, Tom Nelis, Steven Rattazzi and Adina Verson and the musicians Lisa Gutkin, Aaron Halva and Travis W. Hendrix - bring this involving story to fervent life in an almost two hour production without intermission.  For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Wednesday and Saturday.  The production will move to the La Jolla Playhouse in California, who is co-producing it, directly after its New Haven run.

Immerse yourself in this extraordinary theatrical production that wrestles with sin and with God, that bears witness to souls rising out of the ashes until they are returned dust to dust.



The Westport Country Playhouse is honoring the prolific and well respected playwright Arthur Miller, who lived in Roxbury, Connecticut for many years, on the occasion of what would have been his hundredth birthday.  To salute his gifts to twentieth century American theater, the Playhouse is mounting a production of his intense play "Broken Glass," until Saturday, October 24.

In the Jewish religion, the marriage ceremony takes place under a canopy, or chuppah, and includes many prayers and blessings.  It culminates with the groom stomping on a cloth-covered glass, shattering it, a tradition that has many interpretations.  One is that we remember the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem, to note that there is sadness even in times of great joy.  Marriage can be as fragile as glass and love must be protected.  The hope is also that a marriage will last as long as it would take to repair the broken glass and make it whole again.

For Sylvia Gellburg, the broken glass has another meaning:  it conjures up the brutal images of Jews in Germany being persecuted by the Nazis during Kristallnacht, the "night of broken glass," on November 9, 1938.  As Sylvia reads about these horrors in the newspaper, she internalizes them and through her fears finds she is paralyzed and cannot walk. Felicity Jones' Sylvia is overwhelmed by this disturbing new medical issue and in her conversations with her worshipful husband Phillip (Steven Skybell), her caring sister Harriet (Merritt Janson), her incredibly solicitous doctor (Steven Schnetzer) and even his wife Margaret (Angela Reed), we learn that her obvious symptoms have a long history.

Phillip and Sylvia have a marriage that is equally as paralyzing as her legs.  Their problems with intimacy are decades in the making.  Phillip, while professing great love for his wife, is conflicted about many issues.  He is proud of their son, the only Jewish captain in the military at West Point, and his position as the valued Jew at his mortgage company, run by Stanton Case (John Hillner).  Yet he sabotages himself with his mixed messages of pride and guilt.  Mark Lamos directs this dark play which comes across like an intense session with a psychiatrist.

For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, 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. Go online to view a complete calendar of special community events to honor Arthur Miller at One Hundred.

Miller is quoted as saying, "Maybe all we can do is hope to end up with the right regrets."  Come discover how Sylvia and Phillip might respond to that challenge.


When theater director and college professor at Wesleyan University Kim Weild was a teenager, her father spoke words to her that would resonate for years afterward:  “How you walk in the world speaks volumes.”  He wanted her to appreciate all that she had, but also to realize that it is transient and could so easily be lost or taken away.  His message was essentially “There but for the grace of God, go I,” to encourage her to be kind, caring and helpful to the people she encountered in life.

Those words, especially if that walk is in a pair of moccasins, are prophetically coming true now that Weild has been involved in the world premiere musical “Indian Joe” at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester from Thursday, October 22 to Sunday, November 15.  As the director of this new work, with book by Elizabeth A. Davis and Chris Henry, music by Ms. Davis. Luke Holloway and Jason Michael Webb and lyrics by Ms. Davis, Kim Weild was immediately drawn to the story of this unusual and true relationship that emphasized the “beauty of the human condition.”

Elizabeth Davis has lived the story of Joe Lightfoot Gonzales, their fourteen year friendship, as well as written it, composed the music for it and is now starring as herself in this highly personal piece.  As a college student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Liz was only 18 when she met Joe in a church basement.  The friendship that developed between this unlikely pair, a homeless Native American man who was down on his luck and a privileged young girl who had won several beauty pageants and wanted to do a good deed, is at the heart of the story.  Her struggles as an artist teeter tottered with his bouts of living on the streets and alcoholism, but, despite their differences, they created a deep and enduring bond.  They became family.

It was not uncommon for Liz, as part of the charity she created “Bridging the Gap,” to cook a hundred meals every Sunday in her apartment and then take them to Mission Waco, which serves this under- helped population. She wanted to be of service, but Joe, proud and often irascible, resisted that assistance. Her boyfriend Jordan at the time, helped Joe make the transition from stranger to one of the family. Jordan, an African-American who plays a mean acoustic guitar, is played by Jahi A. Kearse and is part of the unlikely triangle with this Choctaw Indian aching for a good fight and Caucasian girl who writes songs and is on a mission.  Gary Farmer is making Joe his own creation, bringing Joe to life in spirit and in deed.

After college, as the years and miles separated them, Liz and Joe continued their relationship with words and emails that echo in this sensitive story.  Kim Weild relates that a collage of images of Joe fill a theater wall of real places they shared so “it’s like Joe is in the room and we hear his voice.”  This is “not a docu-drama.”  Rather it is a “theatricalized story” that creates the world of the play.  It began as an essay and grew to be the extraordinary full length musical it is today.

Liz wrote this musical to celebrate Joe’s life.  He died August 15, 2014 at the age of 68 after a courageous bout with prostate cancer.  She even wrote his obituary.  Even though his formal education only extended to the seventh grade, he was “gifted with street smarts” and held positions in a funeral home, restaurants and newspaper offices.  He enjoyed walking the great outdoors and reading inspirational books.

Joe Lightfoot Gonzales was known as a giving and loyal friend, blessed with a great sense of humor and an equally strong temper.  He considered Elizabeth his unofficially adopted daughter.  For her part, Liz still works with the homeless, now at Covenant House in New York which offers help for homeless teens.  She hopes her musical will help young people and she has created a memorial scholarship in his name at Baylor, the Joe Lightfoot Gonzales Memorial Fund, at or, hoping to raise $50,000 for Native American students. “It’s good that Joe’s life and struggle could help the lives of first-year college students.  An education was something Joe never had and he was very aware of that,” according to Liz.

To come meet Joe, Liz and Jordan and their friends, call Goodspeed at 860-873-8668 for tickets ($48) 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 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Norma Terris Theatre, 33 North Main Street, Chester.

Discover the colorful tapestry that Liz and Joe created together as the song “Sewn Together” illustrates, the bond they forged and stitched with strong and sturdy thread for a lifetime and beyond.  She gave him roots and he gave her wings.



Plagiarism is an ugly word and being accused of it is a terrifying prospect.  Just ask Woodson Bull III who finds himself in the cross hairs of his professor of  Elizabethan drama, Dr. Laurie Jamison.  For years, Jamison has created a niche for herself at this elite New England college, holding court on feminist issues she feels are relevant.  Despite dealing with a father who has Alzheimer's, a daughter who has declared her sexual preference for women, a husband who is obsessed with physical fitness, a best friend battling breast cancer, the Bush administration's unrealistic treatment of Iraq and a daily multitude of hot flashes, the good professor has a certainty about Woodson.

To discover her preconceived notions and the lengths she will go to to prove them, head over to Hartford TheaterWorks for an introductory course in Wendy Wasserstein's involving drama "Third" holding classes until Sunday, November 8.

In Jamison's eyes, Woodson, who is known as Third, after his father and grandfather, is preppy and privileged.  The fact that he is a scholarship student and a wrestler doesn't shake her convictions.  When he submits a paper on the psychological aspects of King Lear's character, she is so sure that he couldn't possibly have written such a fine piece of scholarship that she formally accuses him of plagiarism and forces him to defend himself in front of the college's Committee for Advanced Academic Standards. 

Accusing Third of being white, straight and a Republican, she refuses to back down, even when the committee, including her good friend and fellow professor Nancy, absolve him of any wrongdoing.  She is positive any one who wants to be a sports agent could not possibly have penned a paper of that intellect.

Kate Levy is the opinionated and conflicted Professor Jamison, with a hardened heart like Pharoah of Egypt, dealing with her dad's (Edmond Genest) mental problems, her daughter Emily's (Olivia Hoffman) maturity issues, her friend Nancy's (Andrea Gallo) health problems she wants to keep private and her unusual student Woodson Bull III, an eager to learn and inquisitive Conor M. Hamill.

Rob Ruggiero directs this fine cast in this tightly wound drama, with moments of sparkling wit, with a firm and entertaining hand.  Michael Schweikhardt's clever revolving set smoothly changes scenes seemingly without effort.

For tickets ($50-65, senior matinees $35), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at  Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.  Come early to travel through past productions courtesy of Lanny Nagler, the resident photographer for the past two decades.

Let Wendy Wasserstein, in her last play before her untimely early death, issue commentary about the feminine movement, mental and physical illness, academia, aging and relationships with family and friends.  You'll be all the better for listening.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015



You’ll wish you had a pair of tap dancing shoes and a gift certificate to an Arthur Murray studio when you experience the razzle-dazzle spectacular of “42nd Street,” the musical comedy powerhouse coming to the Palace Theater in Waterbury for three performances only, Friday, October 9 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, October 10 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. With book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, who also directs, and choreography by Randy Skinner, the story follows a sweet, young and naive girl fresh off a bus from Allentown, PA as she tries to take a giant bite out of the Big Apple. 
Come meet Peggy Sawyer with all her eager enthusiasm and talented feet.  The fact that she arrives too late for the dance audition for the new Julian Marsh musical “Pretty Girl” doesn’t stop her from landing a coveted spot in the chorus line.  Being on Broadway means Peggy will put in twelve hour days, seven days a week, for five weeks of rehearsal, and earn the princely sum of $32 a week.  It’s the depression and times are tough, but that doesn’t discourage this bright eyed optimist from practicing her shuffle, pivots, pull backs, wings and two steps with gusto.

As luck would have it, Peggy accidentally bumps the leading lady, a fixture in show business, star Dorothy Brock and knocks her literally off her feet, breaking her ankle.  With the help of Marsh, and co-stars Billy Lawlor and Maggie Jones, Bert Barry and Anytime Annie, Peggy finds herself with thirty-six hours to learn the dance routines to take over for the lead. 
This pretty bright and bouncy show, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin, features such great numbers as “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” “We’re in the Money,” “Forty-Second Street,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and “Lullaby of Broadway.” Come see how the newest star in the firmament comes through to save the day.

For tickets ($47-64), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. A festive dinner in the Poli Club precedes the show at 6 p.m. Call for reservations.

Put on a pair of tap dancing shoes and hoof on over to the Palace Theatre for a happy time of show business glitz and glamour when the shiny as a new copper penny, Peggy Sawyer, uses her fancy footwork to get her name in lights.

Monday, October 5, 2015



At the turn of the twentieth century, it was not uncommon to see a rag-tag gang of boys peddling the news at every corner of cities like New York, scrambling to earn a penny to keep their families from poverty's door. All the way back to colonial times, these energetic and enterprising youth shouted in your face trying to be the first one to thrust a paper in your hand.  In 1899, the newspaper giants like Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst decided they could squeeze a little more profit by reducing the pennies the boys earned. No child labor laws protected these kids and their pittance was put in jeopardy.

This true David and Goliath story birthed a new musical "Newsies" with book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman, and it has been making its own headlines, winning Tony Awards in 2012 for Best Choreography and Best Original Score.  Hold on to your reading glasses and run as fast as you can to the Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, October 13 through Sunday, October 18 as "Disney's Newsies The Musical" marches into town. 

"Newsies" centers on child labor practices, when the kids united to change the way the big powers compensated them.  In the two weeks the boys refused to sell newspapers, circulation dropped from 360,000 to 125,000 and the kids were victorious in having their voices heard. These boys were often homeless and orphaned.  They were not employees and had no one to protect them but themselves.  They fearlessly took on the giants and won, even though the newspapers wouldn't let them return unsold goods.  Working from early morning often to late in the night, they typically earned 30 cents a day.

Come meet Jack Kelly, an enthusiastic hard working lad, who rallies his gang when he realizes the cost of the papers from the publisher has been raised.  Jack gathers his force to protest and finds unexpected support from a reporter named Katherine.  With the help of Davey who is helping the family when his dad is disabled, the boys are encouraged to "Seize the Day."  The police and strikebreakers try to snuff their spirit but, ultimately, Jack's championing of their cause prevails and Pulitzer backs down on his monetary demands.  Even Governor Theodore Roosevelt rides in to help save the day.

For tickets ($25.00 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capital Avenue, Hartford at  860-987-5900or online at  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.

Join Jack and his pals as they carry the banner of truth, justice and the American way,  hitting the streets of 1899 New York City as pint-sized heroes to battle the giants and win the day.



The thought is that giving of yourself, your time and talents, to others is rewarding for both the giver and the receiver.  Mark Twain is credited with saying:
"the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." For Mitch Albom, that realization was brought home to him when he reconnected with a special professor at Brandeis University, Morrie Schwartz, after a sixteen year absence.  His sociology teacher had been a mentor to Albom  and when Albom graduated he promised to keep in touch.  He didn't and the years passed.  Now a chance sighting of his old friend on the Ted Koppel television show brings Mitch to Morrie's door to visit him as he battles with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, and makes peace with his impending death.

For a poignant and meaningful conversation, seize this unique opportunity for wonderful theater by listening in on "Tuesdays with Morrie," written by Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher, and being offered at the Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford until Sunday, October 18. Mitch is our narrator,
explaining about how his career as a jazz musician morphed into a profession as a sports writer, now housed in Detroit, and why he is flying every Tuesday to visit Morrie in his Massachusetts home. 

This man whom Mitch calls "coach" is still providing life lessons, even though his thirty years as a teacher are over.  As Morrie faces death, he wants Mitch to discover the wonders of love, work. aging, family, community, forgiveness and even death. His muscles may be degenerating but his mind is sharp.  What starts as a one time visit of an hour quickly changes into a commitment to come every week...until the end.

Morrie poses difficult questions to Mitch:  Are you at peace with yourself? Are you as human as you can be? The message is clear that every day is a gift, that's why they call it the present.  Morrie posits that, like the Buddhists, there is a little bird on his shoulder that asks him every day if he is ready, ready for death.  Mitch learns that the truth that when you learn how to die, that is when you learn how to live.  Morrie urges Mitch to go after life and embrace it, a lesson we can all profit from.

Chris Richards is a wonderfully sensitive Mitch, a man who cares deeply and is open to expanding his heart in meaningful ways.  Gannon McHale is exceptional as the transitional professor facing the most important class in his life, and facing it with wisdom and humor and courage.  We literally see
his disintegration in front of us, sensing his pain and trying to hold him in a healing hug.

For tickets ($22.50-35.00), call Playhouse on Park at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online at Performances are  Tuesday at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Watch for the next Comedy Night, promising 90 minutes of laughter, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., ($15) on Saturday, October 31 and Wednesday, November 25.

Come discover, like Mitch, that without love, we're birds with broken wings and we need to forgive everyone for everything. Also learn what Morrie asks for as extra credit.

Sunday, October 4, 2015



With  a watering can, a green thumb and a box of Band-aids, anything can happen in the world of strange growing plants. Just ask Seymour Krelborn, a potential botanist in the making, who purchased an unusual potted plant from a Chinese man when the world is undergoing some different astrological and weather related events.  Whatever the cause, Seymour soon finds himself the caretaker of a plant he names Audrey II, in honor of the girl he works with who has stolen his heart.  Audrey II has some strange cravings, ones that don't include water, sunshine, fertilizer or plant food.

To discover what Audrey II desires, just head over to the Ivoryton Playhouse by Sunday, October 11 and meet Seymour (Nicholas Park) and the gang at Mushnik's Skid Row Flower Shop, like Mushnik (David Conaway) and Audrey (Laura Woyasz) and their funky Greek chorus of delicious flower children (Azarria White, La'Nette Wallace and Danielle Marie Gray). Come enter the exotically entertaining world of "Little Shop of Horrors" cleverly created by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken where  Mr. Mushnik is about to close up shop permanently.  The arrival of Audrey II changes everything.

Love will motivate even the meekest of men to move mountains and molehills for their sweethearts, even if it means making a pact with a fiendish plant. In order for Seymour to woo and win Audrey, the girl of his dreams, he must supply “the plant” with its favorite growth elixir: human blood. As “the plant,”  flourishes and flowers, Seymour realizes what a money making monsterpiece he has created and the potential fame it can bring to Mushnik's modest Skid Row florist shop. He also realizes that as carnivore grows, so does its thirsty need for the red stuff and its cries of “feed me” echo louder and louder.
Songs like "Somewhere That's Green," "Dentist," and "Suddenly Seymour" set the tantalizing tone.

Martin P. Robinson take credit for this Jack-in-the-Beanstalk and Venus Fly Trap combination conundrum, with voice provided by Steve Sabol and puppeteering by Austin Costello. Also starring in the show are Carson Higgins as the mad dentist,  a sadistic man who punishes his girlfriend Audrey in increasingly painful ways.  Lawrence Thelan directs and Apollo Smile choreographs this new production that opened on Broadway in 2003.
For tickets ($42, seniors $37, students $20, children $15), call Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton  at 860-767-7318 or online at Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday.

You don’t need a green thumb to enjoy “Little Shop of Horrors” but if Seymour offers you a Band-Aid put on your gloves and run for the nearest exit.