Monday, December 28, 2015


Old Saybrook’s Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is rolling out the red carpet to welcome the New Year with an abundance of good resolutions.  Get your funny bones ready as the Boston Comedy Festival sails in on Saturday, January 2 at 8 p.m. with a sleigh full of jokes to make your winter merry and bright for $25 a pop.

Just minutes later, on Wednesday, January 6,at 7:30 p.m. the  amazing song stylings of Rita Wilson will grace The Kate’s stage in a warm and wonderful cabaret evening that is guaranteed to chase the winter blues away. Already an actress and film producer of considerable note, Wilson has recently added song writer and singer to her impressive resume.  Tickets are $49-59.

The combined genius of Jeffrey Gaines and Freedy Johnston will bring their pop star wattage to The Kate on Friday, January 8 at 8 p.m.with a show that multiplies their timeless talents in a seamless presentation of song craft that will leave you breathless and begging for more.Tickets are $22-25. Hold on to your hats for NYCE!, a home grown jazz and rock band led by Nic Lefebvre and his Louisiana partner Danielle Ryce at the microphone.  New Orleans is invading Old Saybrook on Saturday, January 9 at 8 p.m. and you need to be there to experience the musical joy.Tickets are $22-25.

For some mystery with a spot of fun, look no further than the Saybrook Stage Company’s exciting production of that classic thriller “Deathtrap.” When a successful playwright has a bout of writer’s block, he decides to permanently borrow the brilliant work of a young protege and the result just may be murder .From Thursday, January 14 to Saturday, January 16 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 17 at 3 p.m., the dastardly deed is daring to be done.  Tickets are $15-20.

For two afternoons at 12:55 p.m., on Saturday, January 16 and Tuesday, January 19, The Kate will wave a banner of operatic delights when Bizet’s offering of lust, love and longing springs to full blown triumph direct from the Metropolitan.  The Far East will explode in splendor as soprano Diana Damrau portrays a beautiful Hindu priestess who creates an underwater world of rival pearl divers, suitors, all vying for her hand in marriage.Tickets are $28 and 25.

The pace changes dramatically on Thursday, January 21 at 7:30 p.m. when a tribute to the Rolling Stones, “Satisfaction,” moves in with its power and perfection.The band promises to shine with authenticity in its homage to one of Rock and Roll’s greatest.  Tickets are $37.  Move over, men, for a special ladies night to benefit the Old Saybrook Safe Grad Night on Friday, January 22 at 7 P.M. Have a massage, buy a piece of jewelry, try on a lovely new outfit, all while sipping a glass of wine and nibbling on a savory treat.  Tickets are $40.

Classic country rock moves center stage on Saturday, January 23 at 8 p.m. when the pioneering sounds of Pure Prairie League ignite the tumbling tumble weed with their skillful and soothing sounds. Tickets are $55 and 58.  Tie on your toe shoes to enjoy the comedy of the Bard as the Bolshoi Ballet treats audiences to that classic tale of the bad tempered Katharina who is standing in the way of her younger sister Bianca marrying.  Katharina needs to learn a lesson in “Taming of the Shrew” before anyone gets to throw orange blossoms.  Come Sunday, January 24 at 12:55 p.m. for this viewing.  Tickets are $15.

London’s National Theatre Live will enter The Kate triumphantly on Thursday, January 28 at 7 p.m. with a startling new production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in a live broadcast.  Aristocrats will battle for love as well as seductive revenge as reputations are crushed along with hearts in pre-revolutionary France.  Tickets are $20.

An evening dedicated to blues, soul and roots music will be celebrated with Chris Bergson, a recent inductee into the New York Blues Hall of Fame, who brings his unique song sensations on Friday, January 29 at 8 p.m. to The Kate. Tickets are $25 and 35.  Completing this month of extraordinary offerings is another production from the Met, this time “Turandot.” On Saturday, January 30 at 12:55 p.m., Christine Goerke, Lise Lindstrom and Nina Stemme, alternating the title role, will shine as the proud princess of ancient China who uses riddles to defeat the many suitors who are vying for her hand.  Tickets are $28.  

Call The Kate, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook at 877-503-1286 or online at for tickets and more information.

Let January be toasty and terrific as The Kate offers a cornucopia of special treats for your enjoyment. 

Monday, December 21, 2015


                                    JOHN DIETRICH AND WILL BUCK

John Dietrich is a born storyteller, whether he tells his tales in word pictures, dance steps or musical lyrics and notes.  Over the years, he has enjoyed relationships with such prestigious entities as Walt Disney for ice shows like "The Little Mermaid," directing and choreographing national tours of shows like "Singin' In the Rain," and "Beauty and the Beast," helping create projects for such stars as Dolly Parton and Dollywood, leading the giant balloons as part of NBC Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and highstepping it with the Rockettes at Christmas time at Radio City Music Hall, to name drop just a few.

Dietrich was always a performer, growing up in a family that encouraged theatrical events. He remembers his dad, a music teacher and church choir director, telling him one day while he was in fifth grade to "grab your clarinet"and audition for "The Music Man.”  Thus began his career in theater;  although he was sidetracked in college as a journalism major, he soon recognized the error of his ways.

Experiencing a great story is always central to his mission.  If challenged to direct an ice show, for example, "I knew that if I figured just how to tell the story, I could then figure out the medium.” Soon he was directing 220 performers on five stages, with kites and boats.  "I surround myself with people who know how to help."  Clearly he thrives on a challenge, "knowing each one has the value to shape me."

Evidently, John Dietrich is a man who has no regrets, just like the heroine of his latest musical theater project "Only Anne" set to open as one of a trio of new musicals coming to Goodspeed's upcoming Festival of New Musicals the weekend of January 15-17, 2016.  The idea for "Once Anne" was born while Dietrich and his writing partner Will Buck were penning their thesis musical two years ago at the New York University Graduate School.  Will was 25 and John 50 and they discovered, by accident, that both men admired and loved Jane Austen's writings and wanted to take her Victorian Era novel "Persuasion" and her heroine Anne Elliot and transform it.

The men felt Austen portrayed women who were progressive and had different personalities.  They wanted to take the tale out of the Napoleonic Wars and move that aristocratic society forward one hundred years to post-World War I into the Jazz Age.  Maintaining that Anne "lived in a land of strolls and sighs," they wanted to introduce automobiles and telephones and a speed of time after the horrors of war.

To Dietrich and Buck, "this is complex writing, with a universal theme of romance, a human story of miscommunications and misconceptions."  A clash between the upper classes and the nouveau riche as well as the impoverished strata, the story concerns Anne who falls in love with a poor Naval officer Frederick Wentworth and is persuaded by family and friends to break their engagement and end their relationship.  Wentworth has few prospects and is beneath her in social status.

Ironically when the play opens, set in 1920's England, seven years have passed and Anne's vain and extravagent father, with the help of her older sister Elizabeth, have landed the family on hard times.  They will be forced to rent their estate Kellynch Hall and move into more modest accommodations in Bath.

When Anne and Frederick cross paths again, he is now a prestigious and respected Admiral in the Royal Navy and her circumstances have suffered.  Both are involved with new suitors. Can the past be revisited? Is reconciliation possible? Will the changing world help or hinder their chances?

Dietrich's goal, no matter what venue or genre, is to "tell a great story and tell it incredibly well." "Only Anne" has enjoyed staged readings as well as a presentation at the 2015 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat where Donna Lynn Hilton from Goodspeed discovered it.  Dietrich is looking forward to his two week retreat in East Haddam "to dig in again and change a word, a scene, a lyric.  I will get to hear it again, and listen to actors all day.  That's a wonderful gift."

To Dietrich, the workshop process is a "luxury providing valuable insights and new directions."  He and Buck often work by phone or email, and more rarely sitting in a space together.  "We don't need to spend hours in a room together.  I need to be alone and don't enjoy having someone waiting for inspiration to strike."  Their motto is "whoever has the idea first or theme first goes first."

For tickets ($25, students $15),  call Goodspeed Musicals on the Connecticut River in East Haddam at 860-873-8664 for information on the Festival activities or online at  "Only Anne" will be performed on Sunday, January 17 at 1 p.m.

As an audience member, Dietrich wants you to discover that "love conquers all and survives all if it is true love.  Life's so short. Be true to yourself and don't have regrets."  Dietrich also hopes the audience will appreciate the fascinating moments when a character has to sing or dance, a musical moment that deepens the story lines.  He knows he will be thrilled to hear his words come to life and he promises, like Anne, to have no regrets.



At the top of your list for great ways to end the year 2015 and start 2016 with a delicious bang should be a New Year’s Eve celebration at New Haven’s old world Italian flavored family restaurant Consiglio’s.  Located on one of the city’s most charming areas, in the heart of Wooster Street, Consiglio’s is famous for its warmth and welcomeness and this holiday is no exception.

Waiting at the door to greet you will undoubtedly be that astute and master of mystery solutions, Detective Chester Hadlyme.  Michael Sayers assumes the persona of Hadlyme whenever possible, having penned scores of comic situations just waiting to be solved…with your help and participation if you please.

It’s not enough for you to sit back and enjoy a delicious meal - for that’s only half the fun.  You need to jump in, enthusiastically into the fray, and use your noggin and noodle to solve the crime.  And you can be sure someone will be the victim and conveniently die.

Quite recently diners had to solve the conflict between Santa Claus and the Elves, a mutiny in the making, with Detective Hadlyme as the captain of the sinking North Pole ship.  An interactive talented cast, who are quick on their feet and excel at improvisation, mingle among the guests dropping clues like so many candy canes in a snow drift.  It’s your job to dust off those hints and solve the murder.

On Thursday, December 31 at 9 p.m., doors will open for a scrumptious dinner.  Choices of appetizers like fried calamari tossed with an array of Italian herbs, served with a spicy marinara sauce or savory antipasto, are among the five on the menu.  For entrees you can enjoy homemade lobster ravioli with jumbo shrimp, tossed in a light plum tomato sauce or filet mignon gorgonzola, a half pound filet with sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a brandy wine sauce, with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, among the ten offerings.  Desserts include a choice of chocolate mousse cake with Oreo cookie crust or Godiva Tiramisu with espresso and mascarpone surrounded by Godiva Liquor soaked lady fingers. Yummy!

With the intriguing title “That Kills This Year Too” trouble makers will be let loose to create chaos and mayhem and, ultimately, a crime. Three unsuspecting women are all set for a great date for New Year’s Eve only to discover it is with the same man. The cast will come table to table, circulating with genuine clues and “red herrings” to confuse you. 

The merriment continues until the bewitching hour with games, contests, songs and a midnight toast to 2016.  For $65, (beverages, tax and gratuity not included), you can help create the fun.  Call 203-865-4489 for reservations.  Additional mystery shows are already scheduled for Friday, January 22 at 7 p.m., with “Broken Resolutions” and Friday, February 19 at 7 p.m. with “I Know What You Saw!"

Make the New Year especially merry and good enough to eat by letting Consiglio’s Restaurant and Detective Chester Hadlyme be your gracious hosts.

Monday, December 14, 2015



If you ski, skate, sled or snowboard, then you watch for the skies to bring ice crystals of fun.  For most of us, however, winter spells inconvenience,  cold,  slippery sidewalks and perilous road conditions.  One way to guarantee that the heart of the season, in January, spells warmth and enjoyment is to book tickets for Goodspeed's Festival of New Musicals, number 11, in a long lineup of entertainment joys.

Mark your calendars now for the weekend of January 15-17 when three brand new musicals will light up the East Haddam skies.  Be at the cutting edge of the excitement as Goodspeed unveils these latest offerings in staged reading presentations. Students form the Hartt School of Music in Hartford and the Boston Conservatory of Music will do the honors at the trio of new musicals and the pair of Cabarets.

Ryan Scott Oliver offers up "We Foxes" on Friday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m. with a Southern Gothic tale of a tough and feisty orphan girl Willa who is taken in by the sheriff's wife and what happens when she discovers secrets literally hidden beneath the floorboards.  Following this new story of redemption, a Cabaret will be held at the Gelston House next door at 10 p.m. featuring new musical selections never shared before by new and established artists.

Hold on to your argyle socks for Saturday, the 16th, is a fully stuffed day of theatrical surprises, starting at 10 a.m. with workshops featuring the likes of playwright Alfred Uhry who has garnered two Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award; The Razzle Dazzle World of Broadway commentator Michael Riedel; the writing team of Michael Weiner and Alan Zachary dishing on how you can write musical theater (like their "First Date") and make a living; Press Agent to the stars Rick Miramontez explaining his role in a new musical's life; Goodspeed's own orchestrator Dan DeLange telling the secret to making a minimum of instruments sound mighty; and, John Pike sharing his knowledge of dance history as a noted theater historian.

In the afternoon, a preview of a new musical coming soon will be revealed, followed by a free 4 p.m. challenge of what its like pitching ideas for a new musical to secure funding, with Colin McEnroe as moderator.  At 7:30 p.m, "Milo at the Movies," with book by Tom Diggs and music and lyrics by Mark Gaylord will be presented as two brothers, Milo and Dexter, cope with the discouraging fact that silent movies may have crushed their vaudeville career.  Will an unexpected and lucrative gig save their bacon or will they ultimately be fried for breakfast?  A second Cabaret of new musical material will follow at 10 p.m. at the Gelston House.

On Sunday at 1 p.m., an updated version of Jane Austen's classic novel "Persuasion" will hit the moors in "Only Anne," with book and lyrics by John Dietrich and music by Will Buck.  Set in the Jazz Age of 1920's Britain, Anne once again meets the man she was forced to abandon.  Once penniless, Admiral Frederick Wentworth is now ready for reconciliation, or is he?  The exciting weekend culminates at 3:30 p.m. at the Gelston House with a Meet the Writers Reception, when the three teams of composers reveal their insights about the creative process.

The Gold Packages are $119 and are virtually sold out and included all the activities, plus a Saturday night dinner at either the Gelston House or La Vita.  Silver packages for $80 include the three musicals, the symposium and new musical preview and are still available.  Single tickets are a great option at $25 each show or $15 for students.  RisCassi and Davis PC are the lead sponsors.  Call 860-873-8668 or online at for more information.

Reserve your rights to brag at the water cooler come Monday morning after skating through the wonderful theatrical offerings on the weekend of January 15-17 at Goodspeed Musicals. See you in the front row.

Sunday, December 13, 2015



Getting into the holiday spirit can be accomplished in any number of ways, from shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list, to hanging tinsel and ornaments on your tree, to making donations to any one of many worthy causes. No one will dispute that one of the yummiest ways to welcome the festive season is to bake up a batch of delicious Christmas cookies, like peppermint sugar cookies, chocolate krinkles, or the tried and true gingerbread men.

Master bakers Bert Bernardi, for recipe book and clever lyrics, and Justin Rugg, for merry music, have concocted a brand new holiday surprise, with Pantochino Production's "Christmas Cookies! The Musical." The Milford Center for the Arts will be festooned in red and green and silver finery weekends until Sunday, December 27 and what a delicious way to treat the family to some appetizing fun.

For five years, Pantochino has been delivering original musicals and this one may be the most delectable ever.  What do you do when a wonderful old-fashioned bakery falls on "crummy" times?  A little girl writes a sincere letter to Santa asking for help and that assistance comes in the perfect package of a trio of gingerbread girls, Mary Mannix, Shelley Marsh Poggio and Phoebe Wright, who come to life to sing their way to save the bake shoppe, run by Maria Berte as Mrs. Baker.

Once again Jimmy Johansmeyer has gone fashionably wild to dress the cookie girls in holiday happiness, with colorful sets by Von Del Mar, sparkling lighting by Jeff Carr and smashing sound by Nathaniel Dobas, all under the careful care of stage manager Jeff Therkelson.

The large ensemble cast also includes Johansmeyer, Dale Allen, Rugg, Cassie Gerace, Andrea Pane, Anya Caravella, Hazel Foley, Morgan Taylor, Thea Ryan, Dani Corrigan, Jaxon Beirne, Olivia Foley, Justin Cavone and Hannah Kupson.

For tickets ($18 online, $20 at the door), go online to or visit 40 Railroad Avenue South, Milford for performances Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  Saturday at 2 p.m. are "party performances" and are cabaret style with tables and chairs, so you can enjoy your own foods and drink during the show on Saturday, December 19.

Come take a big bite out of this heavenly confection as a trio of Christmas cookies come to the rescue in a most delicious and magically  musical way.



If you're an out of work actor and if your rent is due, putting you on the edge of eviction, you might be desperate enough to take a seasonal job as an elf at Macy's Department Store.  That 's the high level of panic that forces playwright David Sedaris to pen "Santaland Diaries, adapted by Joe Mantello," coming to Music Theatre of Connecticut for the holidays until Sunday, December 20.

Matt Densky wonderfully wraps himself in red and green and gold to assume the persona of Crumpet, not the most compassionate or friendly Christmas creature.  Even though he has a plethora of elfin tasks to perform, from elf greeter, magic elf, photography elf, water cooler elf or cash register elf, he never quite manages to enjoy his assignment or complete it well.

Crumpet is definitely an elf with an attitude, both sarcastic and cynical. In this darkly comic look behind the magic curtain, we discover that fantasy land is not always perfection. Children cry and throw tantrums, mothers have high and unrealistic expectations, Santas are not always jolly and nice and Crumpet has seen and experienced it all...unhappily so. It's not the easiest way to avoid losing your home.

As a one man show, one based on Sedaris' real life experiences, Matt Densky knows the success of his mission impossible rests solely on his holiday burdened shoulders.  He tells each little story as diary entries recited after the fact, like so many gifts that are opened to discover socks and ties and underwear. If he started out with a cheerful devil-may-care, what-the-heck attitude, the toll of ungrateful kids and super demanding parents overwhelms him.  Kevin Connors directs this irreverent through the looking glass peek at Christmas fun on a truly festive set designed by Carl Tallent.

For tickets ($35-55), call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, behind Nine West, Norwalk at 203-454-3883 or online at  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Put on your stocking cap and your pointy tasseled shoes and join the dance of the sugar plum fairies. Not!

Saturday, December 12, 2015



If you love the classic Charles Dickens' tale of "A Chrstmas Carol," if you're into musical entertainment, and if the holidays with a Victorian English flavor appeal to you, then Norwich's Chestnut Street Playhouse has the perfect gift for you and your family to unwrap until Sunday, December 20.

Forget lumpy gravy, rocky mashed potatoes, sour cranberry sauce and undercooked turkey, for the most disappointing and unappetizing aspect of the Christmas season is the love-to-be-hated Ebenezer Scrooge.  For a man who values money more than people, Scrooge is wonderfully and crankily captured in all his mercenary ways by Derek Corriveau, a curmudgeon who delights in cursing the sacred day.  With a hearty "Bah! Humbug!" he clearly has no compassion left in his hardened heart.

 A trio of composers Alan Menkin, Lynn Ahrens and Mike Ockrent have conjured up a delightful musical version of this decidedly different family story.  On Christmas Eve, Scrooge's long time business partner Jacob Marley (David Fenn), long dead for many years, has returned to earth to warn Scrooge to mend his stingy ways and abandon his avarice before it is too late.

To help him learn his lesson, Marley sends three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past (Maureen Pollard), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Randy Ronco) and the Ghost of Christmas Future  (Geralyn Kozel Frishman) to show Scrooge the error of his ways.  In scenes like "Mr. Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball," "Abundance and Charity" and "God Bless Us Everyone," this entire ensemble cast of more than two dozen creates a wonderful portrait of Ebenezer Scrooge's wealthy yet impoverished world. Special mention must be made of Mr. Fezziwig (Justin Carroll), Bob Cratchit (Kyle Donelan) and Scarlett Stanley as the adorable and optimistic Tiny Tim. Lisa Foss directs this spirited holiday tale with warmth and sincerity.

For tickets ($15-30), call Chestnut Street Playhouse, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Check your calendars for two special Chestnut Street Playhouse events, on Wednesday, December 23 at 7:30 p.m. when a magical evening hosted by Valerie Azlynn and Erin Sousa-Stanley will occur.  "No Place Like Home for the Holiday" promises to be stuffed with laughter, joy and song.  On Sunday, December 27 at 7 p.m., "Next Year, Baby" will feature the song stylings of Christopher Faison, accompanied by Dan Brandt, in a personal and revealing exploration of his life and his music.  Tickets are $25.

Don't let the holidays escape without taking advantage of this trio of fine entertainment choices.  Or "Bah! Humbug!" on you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Think Serena and Venus Williams, sisters who exist and thrive in the competitive realm of world class tennis.  How do they maintain a close bond of affection when they are often facing off against each other for the same singular prize? Now meet another pair of sisters, Asian twins M and L, who are making a dramatic and intense team sport at their Midwestern high school, striving to both be the best.  They have taken on the entire class, lining up resumes, academic and extracurricular activities as if they are applying to be head honcho at a Fortune 500 business.

Thanks to playwright Jiehae Park, we are invited to enter the psyches of these two siblings in the world premiere comedy "peerless" at Yale Repertory Theatre until Saturday, December 19.  Their goal is early-decison at a prestigious Ivy League college and when that fails to happen according to plots and plans, they conjure up a decidedly more aggressive scheme to secure their much desired future.

Teresa Avia Lim as L and Tiffany Villarin as M are talented and single minded in their quest, but are they doomed like a Don Quixote to battle at impossible windmill dreams?  I think not.  These are two master strategists who will achieve their goals ruthlessly at any costs.

Along the way to the top, they encounter obstacles like boyfriends (Christopher Livingston), dirty and preppy girls (Caroline Neff) and the one who cannot be named (JD Taylor) who claimed the college spot that rightfully belonged to them.  Will jealousy and the need for revenge color their world evilly black?  This is a comedy that borders on a midnight hue, as directed with an evil glint by Margot Bordelon.  Shawn Boyle's projections add to the mounting sense of drama.

For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Wednesday - Friday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.   The development and production of this work were provided by Yale's Binger Center for New Theatre.

When twins L and M fail to get the "fat envelopes" that signal acceptance to the college of their choice for early decision, they plot to make it happen regardless of the costs.  Come witness their uniquely devious machinations.



 New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre is welcoming a new cast of characters to their main stage, the Fiasco Theater Company, comprised of graduates from Brown University who banded together in the early 2000's to produce ensemble productions.  With a mission of offering "dynamic, joyful, actor-driven productions of classic and new plays," they are bringing their collaborative creative energies to present William Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure" until December 20.

Although billed as a comedy by some and a tragedy by others, it doesn’t fit neatly into either category, despite the best efforts of slapstick performers Lucio (Ben Steinfeld), Pompey (Noah Brody) and Elbow (Paul L. Coffey).  Dealing with themes of truth, justice, mercy and pride, this "problem play" wraps a lot of serious thinking around how easily power can be corrupted.

When the Duke (Andy Grotelueschen) appoints a temporary ruler of Vienna in his place, Angelo (Paul L Coffey), and disguises himself as a priest to discover the pulse of his city, his replacement decides to stop the corruption that is rampant by enforcing laws that are ancient and have stiff punishments attached. Caught in this new moral trap is Claudio (Noah Brody) who is imprisoned and sentenced to death by beheading for making his fiancee pregnant without benefit of marriage.

 Even though in many eyes his marriage to Julietta is valid, Claudio faces death.  To save his life, Claudio enlists the aid of his sister Isabella, played by a fiery Emily Young, a novice nun, to intercede with Angelo and beg for mercy.  The crafty Angelo declares he will spare Claudio’s life but only if Isabella sleeps with him and gives up her virtue. The maid Mariana (Jessie Austrian) helps Isabella work some feminine magic.

Through a series of elaborate trickeries and deceits, as only the Bard can arrange, Claudio’s life is saved as well as Isabella’s virginity, and the Duke reappears as the Friar to unmask the villainous Angelo. Lucio, a friend of Claudio’s,  is so busy spreading slander, like peanut butter on whole wheat bread, about both the Friar and the Duke, that he gets himself figuratively drowning in a vat of grape jelly.  Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld share credits for directing this dramatically comic offering.

Six actors play all the parts, with a set defined by six doors, that are rolled in a variety of configurations that designate the action. Fiasco Theater is a collaborative effort, making all their creative decisions together, with minimalist scenery and an actor driven text. They attack their question mark dramatic moments  and equally effective slapstick comic moments with vigor and dedication.

For tickets ($25 and up), 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 p.m.

Hypocrisy and corruption bubble and boil in Vienna as Claudio declares “I hope to live but I am prepared to die” in this involving tale of power gone awry.                                


                                      SANTA AT THE IVORYTON VILLAGE ILLUMINATIONS

Wherever in the state you venture, signs of the Christmas holiday are evident for entertainment events.  Get out your calendar and book one or three jingle bell bonanzas of fun.

In Waterbury at Seven Angels Theatre, there's a barrel full of holiday enjoyment beginning with Michelle Gotay as that lovable restauranteur Earlene Babcock.  From December 11-27, Earlene's Diner will be serving up a festive menu of comedy, music and mirth as a storm may be raging outside but a warm and toasty welcome is greeting guests inside.  Put "Christmas at Earlene's Diner" on your holiday list.

For a little naughty fun, let comic Rob Bartlett help you usher in 2016 at Seven Angels at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve.  Rob and The Bartlettes are sure to make mischief and merriment.  For tickets, call 203-757-4676 or online at  Parking is free at 1 Hamilton Park Road, Waterbury.

Hartford TheaterWorks is presenting, for the third year in a row, a little original irreverence for the season.  Imagine a bar on Christmas Eve with Ronn Carroll as your sympathetic caretaker ready to listen to the tales of woe from seven of your favorite Christmas characters like Tiny Tim, Clara and the Nutcracker, Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch and Charlie Brown.  It's guaranteed you've never seen these classic guys and gals quite like this before.  Matt Wilkas and Jenn Harris play all the visitors with spirit and spunk.  For tickets, call Hartford TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-526-7838 or online at

The village of Ivoryton is aglow with 300,000 lights to bring you without benefit of Rudolph's red nose, to the Ivoryton Playhouse from December 10-20 for a happy holiday hodgepodge of carols and songs in  "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Come visit the Evans family as they prepare for the festivities, frantically trying to do so much in so little time.  Billed as "a love letter to good old fashioned Christmas fun," this is a lovely way to greet the holidays for the whole family.  For tickets, call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at

Speaking of Rudolph, the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts is  getting their roof ready for a landing as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical" sails into Hartford from December 11-14, with a special sensory friendly performance at 10 a.m.on December13. This holly jolly adventure includes Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster who all help Santa save Christmas.  Call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at

Don't let the holidays fly by without taking advantage of some of these wonderfully entertaining shows.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Traditionally, girls instinctively know how to poarty and what better time of the year to put on your glitz and glamour then when Santa Claus comes to town, the town of Waterbury that is.  The Palace Theater is up for the challenge and " 'Twas Girls Night Before Christmas The Musical" is ready to sparkle one festive night only, tonight, Thursday. December 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Years ago a wannabe playwright Louise Roche, herself the mom to three little ones, was at the theater and came up with the idea  for "Girls Night." Now Roche has designed a new iteration at holiday time with five gal pals as they analyze the past, celebrate their todays and foresee their future together. 

Come meet this sisterhood of friends who love to laugh, cry, dish and schmooze together:  Sharon,Carol, Liza, Kate and Anita.  Sharon plays narrator, an angel who tragically died at 17 and still wants to be one of the girls.  Carol has had two marriages under her chasity belt but still wants to party.  Her younger sister Kate is the sane and sensible one while Liza thrives on complaining about her husband.  Last but not least is Anita who can be equally funny and depressed, bouncing back and forth like a bi-polar balloon.

Be prepared to bond, to hug and to confess all your secrets as these gals share their lives freely and with panache.  Make believe it's Karaoke night and plan to sing along as all the holiday favorites are unwrapped from one giant gift box for your entertainment and pleasure.

For tickets ($45), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at

These girls definitely want to have fun and you're the guest of honor at their party. 



Watch out for it's time for that miserly curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge to fly into town and the Hartford Stage is ready with a gaggle of ghosts to welcome and, perhaps, scare him straight. Tis the season for Scrooge, a wonderfully persnickety Bill Raymond by night and a perfect penny pinching Buzz Roddy at school performances, to learn a touching lesson in the true meaning of Christmas and how we should treat our fellow man.

Until Sunday, December 27, the frighteningly prophetic words of Scrooge's long dead business partner Jacob Marley (Noble Shropshire) ring clear and loud:  Scrooge must change his uncharitable ways or he will suffer the same horrible fate as Marley.  To prove his point and make his case, Marley sends to Scrooge a trio of ghostly apparitions starting after midnight on Christmas Eve.

Each ghost, from the past (Johanna Morrison), the present (Alan Rust) and the time yet to come (Himself) take Scrooge by the hand and revisit his history.  Through these encounters to former times, Scrooge is encouraged to discover why he is how he is and the power he has to reform.  Can he open his closed up heart to let in love and understanding?  Will "bah humbug" continue to be his response to all things Christmasy?  Can the ghosts scare Scrooge
into redemption?

Visitations to his nephew Fred (Terrell Donnell Sledge), his early school and work days, his clerk Bob Cratchit (Robert Hannon Davis) and his young crippled son Tiny Tim (Nora Girard or Max McGowan) will hopefully make a transformation just in time for Christmas Day. As apparitions fly through the skies and chains rattle and clang, as Scrooge's faithful housekeeper Mrs. Dilber (Noble Shropshire) brings him his daily bowl of barley, you will be caught up in the theatrical magic that this Charles Dickens' tale of "A Christmas Carol" traditionally brings to the whole family. Every year for the past 18 years, the Hartford Stage has presented this wonderful gift to the community, and it seems to get more glorious and heartfelt every time.

For tickets ($25-85), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860- 527-5151 or online at  Performances are Wednesday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Get a lesson in humanity and humility, by looking no further than the haunting hosts who are ready to lead you on a ghostly holiday adventure.  Hang on to Scrooge's nightshirt for a wonderfully bumpy and rewarding ride.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


  Olivia (Madison Coppola) with Feste the Clown (Kevin Hilversum)

If Charlie Brown's faithful companion  Snoopy were penning the tale rather than William Shakespeare, the first line would probably be “It was a dark and stormy night.” It's during that stormy night that twins, Viola and Sebastian, are separated at sea and each fears the other has drowned. Washed ashore in Illyria, Viola (Juliana Berse) does what any typical Shakespearean heroine would do: she disguises herself as a male, a page Cesario, and offers her services to the ruler of the land, Duke Orsino.

Such goings on are the delightful fare that make the Bard’s “Twelfth Night” such a mischievous romp.The Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs will be unveiling its version of this ancient tale, fast forwarded three hundred and sixty years, on the Nafe Katter stage until December 13. Love triangles abound as Viola/Cesario is sent by the Duke to woo the countess Olivia
(Madison Coppola) for him, while Olivia, in mourning for her brother, takes an instant fancy to Viola/Cesario. Of course, Viola is smitten with the Duke (Darren Lee Brown). Sound confusing, just eat a dish of Rocky Road ice cream (from the UCONN Dairy Bar) and hold on to your spoon.

Through further trickery, the countess’ steward Malvolio is seduced into believing his mistress cares for him, and a perfectly wonderful series of scenes have him simpering and prancing to garner her affections. Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte is perfection as the lovesick swain in his cross-gartered yellow stockings. All the undercover skullduggery is accomplished by the comic plottings of Sir Toby Belch (Richard Ruiz), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Mark Blashford) and the countess’ maid Maria (Arlene Bozich). The gay and witty actions of Feste (Kevin Hilversum) and Fabian (Curtis Longfellow) punctuate this tale of mistaken identity, misguided affections and foolishness. By the time twin brother Sebastian (Jeff DeSisto) and his henchman Antonio (Brian Sullivan) arrive, the gloves are off and the duels are on.

Victor Mang directs this classic comedy where fools and husbands are likened to minnows and herrings, only husbands are bigger. The fine cast leads a splendid parade down Merriment Lane, on an intriguing set of an upside down tree root designed by Brett Calvo, with great lighting by Justin Poruban and clever costuming by Tuoxi Wu.  For tickets ($7-30), call the CT Rep at 860-486-2113 or go online at Performances are  Wednesday - Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Love is concealed and revealed, revered and reviled, accepted and rejected and ultimately happily applauded in this festival play taking place twelve days after Christmas.  Enter into the mischief which runs wild in Illyria as impossible love affairs are entwined in comic conflict that only the master Cupid, Will Shakespeare, can untangle and set right.