Monday, February 29, 2016



When successful Los Angeles television star Andrew Rally moves to New York City on a whim, settling into an apartment previously owned by the grand theatrical force John Barrymore, strange things start happening.  Playwright Paul Rudnick has conjured up a particularly clever premise in his comedy offering “I Hate Hamlet” gracing the stage of Playhouse on Park in West Hartford until Sunday, March 13.

Andrew clearly has a comfort zone.  Playing a doctor on a television series is an easy fix, but when he gets to the Big Apple he is offered the starring role in Shakespeare’s classic tragedy playing Hamlet in the Park.  After he accepts the challenge, he changes his mind and wants to back out.  Dan Whelton’s Andrew has a Greek chorus of voices urging him to say yes or to say no.  Whelton plays conflicted very well as his girlfriend Deirdre (Susan Slotoroff) can’t wait for him to tread the boards as does his psychic realtor Felicia (Julia Hochner).  His agent Lillian (Ruth Neaveill) is all for his donning tights and wielding a sword.

Pushing him to go in the opposite direction is friend Gary (David Lanson) who has decidedly other plans: a lucrative television season of 24 episodes, on 
a new show "Night School,” dangling a paycheck in the millions.  As Andrew agonizes over his decision, he receives a powerful push from the undisputed star of the Shakespeare sphere:  John Barrymore’s ghost.  Ezra Barnes is persuasive and potent as the master manipulator who wants to inspire the reluctant protagonist to strike a victory for the Bard.

Using encouraging arguments and dramatic swordplay, the legendary star challenges him to take a risk, with full support from the spiritual world, of course. Can the sweet Prince of Denmark be convinced to trust his own acting chops?  Will Deirdre provide physical confirmation of her faith? Will Gary 
use greed to convince him to forsake glory for the lure of the almighty dollar?  Vince Tycer directs this duel of desires on a tasteful penthouse set conceived by Emily Nichols.

For tickets ($15-35), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online at  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Let one of the greatest Hamlets of all time, even if he is often in his cups, try to convince one of the newest actors on the scene to rise to the occasion and fortify his backbone to take that great leap of faith that spells stardom.



Playwright Christopher Durang is happy to play mischief maker in the children’s room, the one occupied by middle-aged siblings who never bothered to grow up. Cursed or blessed with the names of characters straight from the scripts of Anton Chekhov’s plays, Vanya, Sonia and Masha are not sure whether they share envy, affection, boredom or misery, or a little of each.

To join the family romp, hop on over to Music Theatre of Connecticut until Sunday, March 13 for the intriguingly different comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”  The two sisters and one brother alternately arrive and flee from the family farm house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where their literary loving parents used to reside, before their untimely deaths.  Now the designated matriarch is the famous movie and television star Masha, a delightfully over the top Jodi Stevens who holds the purse strings which she opens and closes at will as if it were a yo-yo.

Masha has just made a dramatic entrance, firmly velcroed to a muscle bound young hunk, Spike, an eager to please and advance his career Christopher DeRosa, an actor who feels clothes don’t make the man unless they are shed. His roving eye is quickly noted when a neighboring nymph, dewy with youth, Nina, sweetly played by Carissa Massaro, comes to call as a “fan” of Masha’s and soon is escalated to rival status.

Unmarried and marching on in years, Sonia, a when-am-I-going -to-get-my-chance -to -live Cynthia Hannah spends her days believing she is a wild turkey and searching for a glimpse of a blue heron.  With her brother Vanya, who is gay and secretly penning a play, an accommodating Jim Schilling, Sonia has been caring for their elderly parents.  Now that that devoted care is no longer needed,the pair have no set occupation or goal to fall back on.  Their days are spent arguing about Sonia being adopted and whether or not they can legitimately claim to be living in a cherry orchard when the grove is decidedly less than even a dozen trees.  The sudden arrival of Masha, in recovery from her fifth failed marriage, sets that clan in a tizzy, especially when she threatens to sell the ancestral home.

Adding to the fun are the delicious gloom and doom predictions of the housekeeper Cassandra, a spirited Katie Sparer, who wields a voodoo doll to great effect, helping to stir the pot of resentments that threatens to boil over.  Will a costume party help or hinder the escalating drama? Are the family home and Masha’s career on the way to extinction?  Does Dr. Phil need to be consulted to resolve the sibling rivalry and quarreling?  Pamela Hill directs this foray of family foibles with a fine hand.

For tickets ($35-55), call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk, behind Nine West Shoes, 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. MTC encourages its audience members to support their cause on Giving Day on Thursday, March 10.  For 24 hours, you are invited to make a pledge to Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Day of Giving.   Go to

Stroll through the cherry orchard, if indeed one exists, and enjoy the problems and pleasures of the inmates who roam its borders.  Masha would encourage you to come dressed in costume for the scheduled party.  Snow White’s Dwarfs are her decidedly perfect choice.



When NBC TV weatherman Willard Scott acknowledged the one hundred year milestone birthdays of sisters Bessie and Sadie Delany on his SMUCKER’S celebratory salute, he may not have realized the incredible life and achievements of thee two “maiden ladies.”  Born the daughters of a slave, they were raised in Raleigh, South Carolina on the campus of St. Augustine’s School to value their African-American heritage (they preferred to be called Negro or colored), to treasure education (they both graduated college and earned their own way), to hold family close and dear (they shared eight brothers and sisters) and to remain true and honest in all their words and deeds.

Open your hearts and welcome a visit with those two fine ladies at Long Wharf Theatre, until Sunday, March 13, and later at the Hartford Stage, Thursday, March 31 to Sunday, April 24, as they present the tender and moving “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” by Emily Mann, adapted from the book of their memoirs recorded by Amy Hill Hearth.

In need of an extra grandmother or two, you could not do better than adopting Bessie and Sadie who are 101 and 104 when the story opens on Alexis Distler’s inviting homey cottage set.  Brenda Pressley as Bessie is delightfully feisty and independent of heart and spirit while Olivia Cole brings Sadie’s sweetness and shyness to the stage.  Both ladies are wonderfully convincing and sincere as they tell their hundred year journey, one that spans the discriminatory Jim Crow laws, through their personal educational triumphs, their careers, their close family ties, to life in Harlem, across the Civil Rights trials and triumphs, to their current retirement in Mt. Vernon, New York.

These ladies are smart and sharp and filled to the hat brim with wisdom and wit.  As they prepare a feast to celebrate their long deceased and beloved father’s birthday, they freely reveal their unique take on life.  Eating a clove of garlic, a spoonful of cod liver oil, stuffing their diet with vegetables, doing daily yoga (except on Sunday, which is devoted to church) and not having husbands to worry them are all clues to their longevity.

Born to a family of achievers, Sadie became the first woman of color to teach home economics in a New York City high school (even if she had to cheat a little to make it happen), while Bessie became the second Negro woman licensed to practice dentistry in New York (one who never turned away a patient if they couldn’t pay).  They cherished getting the right to vote in 1920, and never missed an election, because it earned them the right to complain. Proud Americans, they refused to let a lack of money or a lot of prejudice stop them.  Jade King Carroll directs their charming and charismatic conversation.

For tickets ($20-85), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at  For the Hartford Stage production, call 860-527-5151 or online at

Come applaud the dignity and devotion of the Delany sisters and the indelible mark they are guaranteed to leave on your heart.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Susannah Resnikoff (Marianne Dashwood) and Bryce Wood (Willoughby) in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY Photo by Gerry Goodstein.
The Dashwood sisters of Norland Park, Sussex, England have endured heartships at the recent death of their father and the subsequent loss of their family estate.  The reserved and rational Elinor oversees her impatient and impulsive younger sister Marianne as they both cope with romance for the first time.  Jane Austen’s beloved first novel “Sense and Sensibility,” adapted for the stage by Joseph Hanreddy and J. R. Sullivan will be delighting audiences at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre Company at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre on the campus of the University of CT at Storrs until Sunday, March 6. 

If you remember the sterling production of “Pride and Prejudice” several seasons ago, you will know to run to get tickets for this new and wildly romantic roller coaster ride.  The siblings, now without protection or financial support, seek the arms of suitable gentlemen to find their way to happiness.  Their step-brother John (Michael Bobenhausen) at the urging of his greedy and manipulative wife Fanny (Meredith Saran) has forbidden her husband from financially aiding the girls and their nurturing mother (Natalie Cuevas). They are claiming their inheritance and moving in to Norland Park, thus forcing the trio out.

The devoted sisters, brought bloomingly to life by Arlene Bozich as the level headed and optimistic at all costs Elinor and Susannah Resnikoff as the flighty, fantasy and musically minded Marianne, are left to survive on their wisdom and wit.  Despite a continual string of monetary setbacks, they happily accept an offer of hospitality from a distant relative Sir John Middleton, a convivial Don Noble, who with his mother-in-law Mrs. Jennings, an accommodating Cynthia Darlow, take in the impoverished three.

Mrs Jennings, who loves the idea of playing matchmaker, introduces a suitable candidate, Colonel Brandon (Curtis Longfellow), to Marianne but her heart has already been taken by the dashing John Willoughby, a secretive and yet to be revealed scoundrel Bryce Michael Wood.  Not to be left out of the love entanglements, Elinor has found herself smitten with Edward Ferrars, a handsomely fashioned Darren Lee Brown.  Imagine Elinor’s dismay when a new acquaintance Lucy Steele, a preening and bubbly Lucy Ling, reveals her secret engagement to Edward.  Lucy’s giddy sister Anne (Madison Coppola) blurts out the news in an inappropriate time and place, causing Edward’s controlling and dominating mama (Vivienne James) to disown him and favor her estate to her other son Robert (Gavin McNicholl).

You’ll need a dance card to follow all the delightfully delicious details, that include Mrs. Jennings’ two well married daughters Lady Middleton (Braley Degenheardt) and her pregnant Charlotte (Jennifer Sapozhnikov) and her politically careered mate (Sam Kebede).  Kristen Wold directs this wonderfully wild jig of a period piece, with colorful costumes designed by Raven Ong, on a simple but tasteful set designed by Tim Brown.

For tickets ($7-30), call the CT Rep Theatre at the Jorgensen, UCONN campus at Storrs at 860-486-2113 or online at  Performances are 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 2 p.m.

Chase after the long and elegant skirts of the Dashwood girls as they take their first tentative steps, sensible Elinor not the romantic Marianne who gallops, down the garden path to true love.  Jane Austen fans, open your hearts to this fine production.

Friday, February 26, 2016


Luis Antonio is a big believer in serendipity.  How else could he explain how his trip to Australia, his walking his chihuahua LJ, an accidental meeting on the street, a need to pay tribute to a beloved best friend Sassie who died recently and his love of the dance could result in an amazing theatrical adventure that is “Escapade.” Now in its third iteration since last October, New Haven’s unique stage at Lyric Hall will welcome “Escapade An Unusual Experience” tonight at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., and Saturday night at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., with drinks and a pre-show one hour earlier.

Think circus. Think art, music and dance. Think the Dada art movement. Think way out of the box or the circus ring. Luis Antonio, the show's creator and director, clearly loves the dance and wants the audience to feel the need to levitate right out of their chairs.  Described as “an adventure into a world of the spectacular, the bizarre and the curious,” it features a series of surprises from the moment you venture into the entrance of Lyric Hall where proprietor John Cavaliere is likely to greet you. Prepare to see a mini-fashion show, artwork, installations, a pre-show fun house and guaranteed novelties.

John met Luis last summer as Luis was walking his dog.  A conversation ensued and John gave Luis and LJ a tour of his one hundred year old establishment, one that started as a silent movie house and burlesque theater, located in the heart of Westville at 827 Whalley Avenue.  John runs his restoration business there by day and by night opens the facility to a series of musical and theatrical events.  His impresario nature bursts out joyfully as he nurtures the arts.

Come see a bearded lady, Kellie Ann Lynch, perform “Wild in the Wind,” a dance conjuring up a black swan in a swirl of tulle, an aerialist Radia Rose              who hangs dramatically from silken ropes and twirls from every limb, hot numbers like “Bang, Bang” with Kiki Lucia and Luis with two great videos by David Kent, Robert Diaz and Luis Antonio that add to the action, a take off of the Andrews Sisters, in this case Kendra Fiercex, Sylvia Heart and Tiana Maxim Rose in a swirl of rainbow sequins belting out a jazzed up version of “Boogie, Woogie Bugle Boy,” a nod to Luis’ good friend Sassie Saltimbocca  with a recording of her great rendition of “River Deep, Mountain High,” and the list explodes in a dozen directions.

With fabulous costumes, worn by a covey of drag queens looking like Vegas showgirls, smooth choreography by the entire troupe include the sauve gentlemen Kadeem Devaron Wallace, Kenneth Padilla and Luis, baton twirling by Kendra Fiercex worthy of a Miss America pageant contestant and soulful singing by barefoot balladeer Jessy Griz, this circus burlesque is sensual and seductive, beautiful and raunchy, always imaginative.  Luis terms it “organic with a lot of artificial people.” By day these performers are nurses, teachers, bankers, models, photographers, sell Starbucks and sunglasses, hold dance and Pilates classes, perform in a band and raise money for charitable arts events like the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. At night, anything and everything goes.

“Escapade” is still growing like Topsy.  With colorful visual projections by David Kent, Robert Diaz and Luis, unusual storylines, utilizing a concept born here in New Haven, it promises a decidedly different evening of entertainment, presented by Image/256 Productions and Lyric Hall.  For tickets ($25 online and $30 at the door), go to

“Escapade” promises an unforgettable experience and delivers even more.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


 Not everyone thinks of a dictionary as a best friend, but the si misfit teens competing in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” certainly do as they qualify as therequisite number of eccentrics already in attendance.Two Planks Theater Company will be bringing this delightfulmusical competition to the United Methodist Church515 Cutlers Farm Road, Monroe weekends until Sunday, March 6.
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with book by Rachel Sheinkin, music and lyrics by William Finn and additional material by Jay Reiss, “Spelling Bee” oozes with charm as you pick one of the nervous Nellies or Neds to root for as trophy material.
Marcy Park (Amanda Friedman) is the dedicated parochial school entry who speaks five or six or seven languages and determines for herself whether she will win or lose. Chip Tolentino (C.J.Landgrebe) is the perpetual Boy Scout who has a physical problem that erupts on stage and ultimately determines his fate. With a handkerchief and a magic foot, William Barfee (Jason Michael Maur) dances his way into spelling stardom.
Also hot into the competition is Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre (Alexandra Petrova) with two pigtails and two papas and a whole lot of pressure. In Olive Ostrovsky (Catherine Gomez), we find a bouncing bundle of enthusiasm who only wishes at least one of her parents were there for encouragement. Sporting a bike helmet and wearing his self-designed clothes, Leaf Coneybear (Nathan Borum) is the home schooled speller. Four lucky volunteers from the audience are also invited on stage to prove their spelling prowess...or not. Apparently Senator Richard Blumenthal was up to the challenge recently.
In addition, Miss Peretti (Priscilla Squiers), Mr. Panch (Michael P. Cartwright) and a felon doing community service named Mitch (Torey Thomas) deliver the words, the rules and the comfort. Susan Halliwell directs this Tony award-winning musical comedy with a fine cast of eager participants who joyfully bring the musical’s charms to life.
For tickets ($20 adults, $18 students & seniors in advance, or $25 and $20 at the door), go online to or email Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
This production is dedicated to The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement whose mission is to provide free Social and Emotional Learning curriculum to school districts worldwide.  It embodies the positive goals of courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion in action in light of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  
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.

Monday, February 22, 2016



Did you know the Devil has a wicked sense of humor? He is also light on his feet and loves a challenge.  Whether he answers to the name Satan, the Lord of Darkness or the Devil, he has been portrayed in movies and theater by any number of actors from Al Pacino to Peter Fonda.  This time around think the boyish charms of a George Burns or Robert DeNiro and the scheming plots of a Jack Nicolson or Harvey Keitel and you have an idea of the newest Lucifer in town: Lou Diamond Phillips.

Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury is heating up the fire and brimstone (or not) for the world premiere of “Burning Desire,” a clever comedy written by and starring the man of machismo and mystery, Mr. Phillips in the flesh, until Sunday, March 13.

“Burning Desire” tells the seductive tale of the Devil encountering a modern day Eve and Adam and his master manipulations in the magic of love.  With the help of his two graceful and adorable dancing minions, Jackie Aitken and Sophie Lee Morris, he arranges a meeting between the perfectly pure Evan, a delightfully earnest and honest Tara Franklin and the sincere but cautious Andrew, a handsome and hunky Ryan Wesley Gilreath.

The fruit and vegetable aisle of the local supermarket becomes the breeding ground for romance as Lucifer masterminds their accidental cart crash (symbolically) and eventual love connection.  With clever dialogue and witty banter, the pair proceed quickly from awkwardness to actual affection.

Once the devious Devil has them trapped like flies in a sticky and honeyed web, he is delighted to design obstacles to drop in their path and test them to commit dastardly deeds.  His goal is to win their souls, or at least Andrew’s, in this engaging game we call life.

“Burning Desire” first sparked to flame while Lou Diamond Pillips was traveling on the Long Island Railroad to perform his award-winning role as the King of Siam on Broadway in “The King and I.”  With the help and encouragement of actor Dan Lauria, the Playwrights Kitchen Ensemble, the show’s director Richard Zavaglia and Seven Angels’ Artistic Director Semina DeLaurentis, Waterbury now has the bragging rights to being the first of many sites to welcome and bring this fickle fated fun fantasy to fruition.

For tickets ($38-57), call Seven Angels Theatre, Hamilton Park, 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.

Watch how the charming, sophisticated and charismatic leader of the underworld lures an unsuspecting pair down the garden path, straight to H-E- double celery and carrot sticks.  While Lou Diamond Phillips is not playing the King of Siam this time around, he certainly knows how to perform royally.  After all, the Devil is surely in the details.


Dust off your pom poms, gold and maroon if possible, hiding in the back of your closet, from your cheerleading days way back in high school.  They are guaranteed to get you in the right frame of mind for a pep rally, an energetic good spirit fest to marshall the troups.  It’s November 22, 1963 and for Kathy, Joanne and Mary, it’s crucial they perfect their movements on the field for maximum popularity, their own first of all, and for the footmball players too if time permits.

Jack Heifner has fashioned a peek into the lives of a trio of Dallas High School cheerleaders who are consumed with their own image and interests in the comedy “Vanities” happily ensconced on the stage of the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin weekends until Saturday, March 26.

The girls, brought to vivacious life by Kristin Iovene, Maria Pompile and Meagan Palmer are totally involved by who and what they are. The play opens with them sitting at a dressing table, one definition of the title. They also possess the qualities of being vain and compulsively buried in self-interest, with no evidence of real values or charitable traits, the other two explanations of vanity.

Even the sudden assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy barely touches their psyches, except if it means the football game, God forbid, will be cancelled.  After all, Kathy, with the help of her best buds, has spent the entire afternoon perfecting their cheers and planning dances, with decorations elaborately composed of chicken wire, rainbows and Kleenex flowers.

Five years later, they are still bonded like Elmer’s Glue, only now they’re finishing college, sorority sisters at Kappa Kappa Gamma.  Joanne is eager to accept her MRS. degree that comes with being a wife and mother, Kathy still thinks being a physical education teacher is her fate, while Mary, always a little promiscuous, is waving her ticket to freedom from her parents, and will soon be off to Europe.

When they reunite six years later, they are each struggling to find a balance and their friendship, framed by a fragile chicken wire structure, is pulling apart at the seams.  There is a definite touch of sadness as we witness their disillusions and disappointing dreams.  They need rallying cries of give me a J, give me an O, give me a Y, but they are silent.

The three actresses are wonderfully true to their personalities and shine under Kris McMurray’s fine direction.  It’s too bad that their fragile companionship didn’t have any “steel magnolias” resilience.  Still visiting with Joanne, Kathy and Mary is an enjoyable education all on its own.

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

Follow the journey of girls who detour on the way to adulthood to discover some disturbing truths about themselves and about life along the bumpy road of life.

Monday, February 15, 2016


With glamorous designer gowns by Oscar De La Renta, Gucci and Versace, millions of dollars worth of diamonds draping necks, arms and ear lobes, spiffy starched and suave tuxedoes, a long ruby red carpet and an array of glittering star power, the 88th Annual Academy Awards are ready to explode on the big screen, the big screen of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center in Old Saybrook that is.  On Sunday, February 28, starting at 6:30 p.m., The Kate will unroll its own red rug of royalty to welcome guests in their elegant finery to pose first of all with a real live Oscar statue and then proceed to the festivities upstairs.

Hosted by WTNH’s own TV anchor Ann Nyberg and the Vice President for Public Relations and Community Investment at Comcast Kristen Roberts, you are encouraged to dress in your own Hollywood Cocktail Attire.  For tickets ($75, members $65), call the Kate at 860-510-0453 or online at to this gala 6th Annual Benefit for the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.  Watch the excitement live on the HD big screen, while you enter the raffle, bid at the glorious Silent Auction on such items as a Golf and Lunch Outing at the Black Hall Golf Course in Old Lyme, tickets to hear Josh Groban at Mohegan Sun on July 29, great artwork and a special “Katharine Hepburn" basket with four dozen roses, chocolates from her favorite chocolatier Mondel’s and a copy of her book “Me,” enjoy hearty hors d’oeuvres and delectable desserts courtesy of Fresh Salt at the Saybrook Point Inn and Spa  and its new chef John  Cortesi and a cash bar.

Start making your selections now.  For Best Picture, will it be a brutally honest look at the abuses in the Catholic Church captured in “Spotlight,” the tale of a brave but naive Irish lass who leaves home to cross the pond to settle in “Brooklyn,” the fierce and brutal story of a man who fights beasts and seeks revenge in “The Revenant” or an astronaut who against all odds proclaims his courage in “The Martian?”  Also up for recognition are a political thriller, a real estate and financial scheme, a futuristic adventure and a compelling drama of kidnapping and survival.

For leading man, could the choice be Bryan Cranston as the screen writer who stands up to Senator McCarthy in “Trumbo,” Michael Fassbender as the aggressively arrogant computer genius “Steve Jobs” or Eddie Redmayne as the courageously transformative Lili in “The Danish Girl?”   Will the Oscar go to Cate Blanchett in the times defying and defining film “Carol,” Brie Larson as the woman held captive for seven years and the son she bears in “Room” or Charlotte Rampling as the trauma-confronting wife who faces disturbing revelations in “45 Years?” 

Other categories include best supporting actor and actress, best animated featured film, cinematography, costume design, directing, documentary, film editing, makeup and hair, music score and song and the list rolls on in 24 distinct categories.

Come to The Kate and hand select your hopeful list of contenders, including that great former contender Rocky, now captured by Sylvester Stallone in “Creed.”  Actor Chris Rock will do the honors, for the second time, after 2005.

At this private and special tribute evening, you will have a chance to hold your own Oscar statuette, courtesy of Art Carney’s nephew Devin Carney who will also serve as master of ceremonies. His uncle won the coveted award way back in 1974 for his portrayal of Harry Coombes, who takes his cat Tonto and travels cross country after his Manhattan apartment is demolished in “Harry and Tonto.”  According to the Kate’s new Executive Director Brett Elliott,  “The Kate’s Oscar Party continues to be a highlight of our year.  With 4 Oscars and 12 nominations,  how can we not celebrate our legendary namesake.  As we do every year we look forward to creating a memorable night for all, and this year we are excited to extend some new surprises mixed in with the festivities of five incredible years gone by.”

The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood will be ablaze with celebrities as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences salutes its finest and The Kate will have its own share of star power capable of a high gloss shine.  Come add to the glow!  Its guaranteed to be first rate at The Kate!

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Jay Gatsby is a man of mystery.  Where is he from and how did he acquire his enormous wealth?  Why does he host lavish parties in his grand mansion on Long Island?  Is he a bootlegger?  Did he graduate from Oxford? Does he own a chain of pharmacies?  Could he be a German spy?  Did he really kill a man?  Does he in actuality run an underground pipeline from Canada and, if so, why?  Gatsby enjoys his unorthodox status and lets all the rumors and innuendoes swirl.  He has a plan, but for the last five years it has not come to fruition.

To learn all of the answers, plan to attend the Downtown Cabaret Main Stage Theatre production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby," adapted for the stage by Simon Levy, by Sunday, February 21.  The time is the summer of 1922, in the heart of the Jazz Age, and the place is Long Island, New York. The Roaring Twenties choreography staged by Joshua Cardoza, with fancy costumes of the times designed by Jessica Camarero, on a mansion set created by Kevin Pelkey, all set the mood for the action.

Eric Regan stars as Nick Caraway, the honorable man who witnesses and narrates the tale.  As the cousin of Daisy Buchanan, an ethereal Chelsea Dacey, Nick is invited to help Jay, an intriguing Chris Kozlowski,  in his plot to win her back.  Before the war they were in love, but she could not wait four long years for his return and, instead, marries Tom Buchanan (Stanley Geter). Tom is less than faithful, now securely in the arms of Myrtle Wilson (Lisa DeAngelis).  The fact that both are married to someone else seems irrelevant.  At Daisy’s home, which is within viewing distance of Gatsby’s estate, visible by a glowing green light at the edge of her dock, Nick meets the famous golfer Jordan Baker (Kristin Gagliardi) and feels he has found his soulmate.

It is an age of wild excess and Gatsby’s parties illustrate the elaborate disregard for truth and faithfulness. A car accident sets off a trail of falling dominoes that makes the stage reminiscent of a Shakespearian tragedy.  By the end, only Nick is left to exit stage left a disillusioned man, one who has never let go of his principles. Julie Bell Petrak directs this tale of misguided love and unhappy dreams, with dramatic original music by Christopher Cavaliere..

For tickets ($ 23), call the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-6163, option 0 or online at Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.  Remember this is a cabaret and bringing food and drink is encouraged. Coming next will be Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s story of a girl of the slums who becomes royalty, “Evita,” from March 11-26.

Enter the decadent world of Jay Gatsby but beware you may find yourself like an innocent fly caught in a dangerous web.


What better way than Valentine’s Day to discover a love affair that was “an open secret,” one that lasted over a decade until one of the pair died suddenly.   The celebrated composer George Gershwin, a force to be reckoned with in the music world that spanned Tin Pan Alley to Broadway, had a heart that expressed a “Fascinating Rhythm” when he met the vivacious socialite Kay Swift.  The fact that she was married, the mother of three daughters, had a classical music background and was a great fan of the music of Irving Berlin, were in no way deterrents to how he felt.

Gershwin’s immediate thoughts were “ 'Swonderful” while Swift’s were “Can This Be Love?”  On Friday, February 12 at New Haven’s intimate Lyric Hall, one lucky audience got to experience all the joy, bittersweet though it might have been, of the world premiere of “Let’s Call the Whole thing Off:  George Gershwin’s Romance with Kay Swift.”

The brain child of Aaron Gandy, with the vital input of Katharine Weber, Kay Swift’s granddaughter and the author of “The Memory of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift and My Family’s Legacy of Infidelities” (Crown Publishers $24), the product of their efforts is delightful and charming and a tribute to their long ago romantic entanglement.

With a sparkling Merrill Grant as Kay and a debonair Sean Doherty as George, the pair warble more than two dozen tunes written by one or the other or both.  Aaron Gandy has created inspiring arrangements from shows like “Lady, Be Good,” “Funny Face,” “Tip Toes,” “Fine and Dandy,” “Of Thee I Sing,” and "Porgy and Bess” and then peppers the evening with insightful anecdotes from the time they meet in 1925, in the height of the Jazz Age, until his tragic death of a brain tumor at the age of 38.  Gandy is the personable pianist/narrator who gushes with enthusiasm about his subject matter, sharing intimacies and insights into the “Embraceable” duo.  Mark York has directed a “Fine and Dandy” overture to love that will “Jig Hop” it’s way straight to your heart.

Hopefully John Cavaliere, Lyric Hall’s dedicated producer and owner, will schedule “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” again quickly and often for “this whole thing” shouldn’t be taken away from you or me.  Even Cole Porter would be swift to admit that it’s “Delightful, Delicious and Delovely."

Monday, February 8, 2016


                     PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS

Take one dark and gloomy castle, set it smack on a bleak and desolate moor, add swirls of fog and wisps of smoke, people it with a gaggle of women all in varying stages of unrequited desires and you have a start at capturing Jen Silverman’s world premiere Gothic romantic mystery comedy.

New Haven’s Yale Repertory Theatre will have a whole lot of melodrama pulsing through its veins until Saturday, February 20 as “The Moors” entices you to explore its dangerous depths. Think the Bronte Sisters Meets Lizzy Borden.  “The Moors” is definitely deliciously devilish and devilishly delicious, but be careful if any one of the maids Marjory, Mallory or Margaret (all portrayed by a rebellious Hannah Cabell) offers you a cuppa tea.

As with all good Gothic tales, there are unexplained incidents, romances that are not what they seem, hidden passageways, an elusive (possibly deceased) hero (or villain), an abiding sense of danger and females in various pangs of peril.  Two unwed sisters, the dominant elder Agatha, captured in the severe, judgmental and exacting aura of Kelly McAndrew, and the flighty and frivolous younger Huldey, portrayed with panache by Birgit Huppuch, are trapped in the family estate.  Agatha has a master plan which she is not going to share with the less than mature Huldey who spends her days sighing and writing fiction in her diary, one she hopes will be scandalously read by everyone in the household, or even the world.

The arrival of a governess, the accommodating and eager to please Emilie, a delightful Miriam Silverman, sets Agatha’s plot in motion.  Why has she been brought here?  Is there a child for her to instruct?  Who actually sent her the packet of letters that lured her to leave her current position to venture to the desolate and forbidding land?

Into this bleak household of women romps a giant dog, a mastiff, anthropomorphized by Jeff Biehl into a philosophizing pet who seeks the meaning of happiness.  In his quest for answers, he meets and falls in love with a Moor-hen, a feathered and flying Jessica Love, who fears all that ails him is indigestion.  Absurd events, that are bizarre and often brutal, punctuate the plot under the skillful manipulation of director Jackson Gay.  Alexander Woodward’s intriguing set encompasses both castle and moor in a satisfying split scenery, with suitably Victorian garb created by Fabian Fidel Aguilar.

For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street (near York), New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m, Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m, Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m and 8 p.m  The play is a product of encouragement by the Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre.

Enter the lonely world where sisters and pets seek love and happiness, a nest for security with the adventurous ability to fly free.


When you think of “Saturday Night Fever,” the first and foremost image that comes to mind is an iconic vanilla white suited John Travolta doing a dance jive like no other.  You have the opportunity to relive and recreate that transforming moment when the classic rock stage musical, with a book by Nan Knighton, in collaboration with Arlene Phillips, Paul Nicholas and Robert Stigwood, invades Waterbury’s Palace Theater.

For three performances, Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20, you’ll have the opportunity to enter the drab black and white and gray world of Tony Manero, a kid from Brooklyn who has a job at a paint story with no future and a crowd of deadbeat pals who aren’t going to win any prizes in the game of life.  When the workweek ends, however, Tony crosses into a technicolor world when he struts into the local disco.

At the discotheque, he is morphed from a lowly frog into the worshiped prince and suddenly he owns the musical world.  Here he is admired.  All things are possible, even a courtship with the much appreciated Stephanie Mangano.

Will Tony’s smooth and groovy dance floor moves help him win Stephanie’s heart?  Could they even be the magic gold ticket that will launch him out of Brooklyn into the big time?

The great tunes from the Bee Gees' repertoire, starting with the smart and savvy lyrics of “Stayin’ Alive,” pulsate compellingly to aid the story’s advance.  Other tunes like “How Deep Is Your Love,” “If I Can’t Have Him” and “Top of Your Game” stroke the momentum, especially with impressive choreography.

For tickets ($50-75), call the Palace, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at  Performances are Friday, February 19 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, February 20 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.  Special added bonuses on Friday and Saturday nights are a Post-Show Disco Dance Party from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. with DJ Jim O’Rourke from YMCA. Follow the glittering disco ball in your leisure suit and platform shoes while imbibing signature 70’s cocktails available for purchase to go with provided finger foods.  Tickets ($30) include one complimentary cocktail, like a snakebite or screwdriver.

Watch temperatures rise to an explosive pitch as “Saturday Night Fever” raises the Palace roof.



  Today, we live in an instantaneous world. We delight in sending e-mails, text messages, tweets, instagrams  and communicating on Facebook. How many of us actually pick up a pen, or God forbid, a fountain pen with real ink, to write a heartfelt message using cursive writing and complete thoughts. it is refreshing to return to a gentler and kinder and more personal time when people took pen to paper and actually exchanged handwritten letters.  Now with Valentine’s Day upon us, we have the unique opportunity to combine the art of penmanship with the composition of notes with a romantic flair in A. R. Gurney’s  touchingly sincere “Love Letters” playing at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts until Sunday, February 14.
How extra special to have celestial sparkling stars like Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal as the two friends, or more than friends, in question sharing their thoughts. Ms. MacGraw portrays Melissa Gardner who has had a fifty-year relationship with childhood friend Andrew Makepeace Ladd III played by her long ago co-star in the classic “Love Story.” That tale of Oliver and Jenny and their ill-fated romance is forever seared in our psyches.  Now the two portray a different couple, one who meet at age seven in second grade to be exact, at a birthday party, and even though she is outlandish, outspoken and a tad rebellious and he is straight arrow, conservative and a bit stuffy, they form a connection that endures over time and geographical separation.

 Whether they are exchanging postcards from summer camp, notes about escapades at private school, get well missives after she breaks her leg skiing, congratulatory words on achieving being at the top of his class at college graduation or the inevitable letters of apology for some slight or misstep, Melissa and Andy mark all the big and small moments of their friendship and affection by writing to each other.  Even their pauses in communication speak volumes, when one or the other is miffed. What began as puppy love has grown over the years and is so much more meaningful when their letters are read by two people who have “history” together.  This is just part of a National Tour for the pair, who are being directed by Gregory Mosher.
 Into her notes, Melissa inserts drawings of cats, bears and kangaroos that hint early on about the art career she will pursue, pursue all the way to Italy.  Into his letters, Andrew reveals his love of the law and of politics that suggests his future path in life, foreshadowing his role as a Senator and the possibility of even a presidential nod.  This poignant interchange of heartfelt, sometimes silly, often loving, communication spans five decades.

 For tickets ($22-81), call The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at  Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Let Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal share the intimacies of Melissa and Andrew so beautifully, expressing how he spent his whole life trying to rescue his lost princess. Perhaps you will be inspired to pen your own love letter in honor of Cupid’s Day.

Thursday, February 4, 2016



If fruits and vegetables and all foods healthy had a policewoman or super spokesperson in charge, Dre Towey would be it.  With humor, clever lyrics and adorable visuals, she could probably persuade even the most artery hardened carnivore to abandon pork ribs and filets of beef.  Her song “You Are What You Eat” uses all kinds of food, mostly healthy, leafy gems like asparagus and crunchy carrots to spell out Dre’s good for you message.  One does notice the occasional candy corn kernels and chocolate chips, licorice and lollipops, as her song happily sings along. The CD features Claymation letters and pictures created with the help of Ellery Lamm, a neighbor’s imaginative daughter.

A mom of three, plus assorted fish, cats and a solo dog, Dre Towey has been strumming a guitar and creating ingenious lyrics since 1998.  Called positively a “Mom of Reinvention,” she has racked up five albums, CDs and a pair of holiday singles, becoming a finalist in The John Lennon Songwriting Awards and receiving a trio of Parents’ Choice Awards along the merry way.

Dubbing herself originally a Jersey girl, she always loved music and describes herself as a”kindie rocker,” a genre of songs specially for kids.  Explaining that “I’m just a kid at heart, going where my songs take me,” Dre came into the music world in a back door kind of way.  “I was teaching in the city and observed a co-worker entertaining her kindergarten class singing and playing guitar.  I just loved it and thought it was cool.  I knew I wanted to do it too.”

Jumping right in to her new career, she collaborated with a fellow teacher on a CD entitled “The Ants Wear Underpants.”  Already proficient as a writer and illustrator, she moved into the new artistic areas with ease.  When she became pregnant with her first child, she was able to indulge her passion and start writing songs and accompanying them on guitar on topics from mashed potatoes to meatballs, mushrooms to monkeys.

An added boost came with a request to write a song about pickles by a pickle maker, Nick Harmon of Horman’s Best Pickles, resulting in an album “In a Pickle.”  Dre confesses “I love pickles and I could eat them all day long.”  Her thoughts about turkeys, which she captures in the catchy and bouncy tune “Turkey Bop," are a little more complicated.  While Thanksgiving conjures up memories of holidays with family on Cape Cod, it also brings about negative thoughts of gluttony and the fate of the poor bird.  The tune, which she hopes will be a “one hit wonder,” came to her while she was running in the annual Turkey Trot race.  “The gobble gobble refrain kept getting in my head.”  Now you can grab a drumstick and do the gobble gobble dance.

Dre Towey believes that “children and food have always landed on the same plate for me.”  Her goal is to start a healthy and fun conversation between parents and their offspring, not to preach but to educate.  She has done extensive research on things like where food comes from, translating it into lyrics that are infectious and imaginative. For more information and to hear and order her music, go to and Watch in the spring for her newest album “Flower Child” about the environment we live in together.

A series of upcoming events will illustrate her message in an entertaining way:  Saturday, February 6 at 11 a.m. at a Teddy Bear Tea Party at Waveny Castle in New Canaan, don’t forget to bring a teddy bear; Friday, February 26 at 10 a.m. at a Mom’s Morning in the Darien Community Association in Darien; Friday, April 8 and Friday, May 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the Rowayton Library for story time and songs. Two years ago, Dre opened JAM, a Junior Art and Music Studio in South Norwalk.

Dre has a band “Sugar on Top” featuring Randy Funke on electric guitar who is also her producer, Kurt Berglund on drums and Benj LeFevre on bass as well as a second band “Dog on Fleas” for her album “In a Pickle.” Sometimes her son, 15, plays drums for her gigs, admitting “Mom, that was amazing.  I wish that the world was only kids and dogs.”  Her children who are now 17,15 and11 have always been involved in her music, being inspiration for most of the songs in a love/hate relationship, even singing backup on her CDs.

It’s hard to believe that Dre Towey, now a Connecticut resident for thirty years, was a picky eater as a child when today she has successfully married her three loves:  art, music and children to the world of healthy food choices.  Write on! Sing on! Eat up!

Monday, February 1, 2016



Sex, drugs and rock 'n roll combined with awesome echoes of the 1980’s and you have a hint of the power packed musical explosion that is “Rock of Ages.” Hold on to your argyle socks as the Warner Theatre salutes this unique era of time in a flamboyant megawatt rendition of big band sounds featuring solo guitar antics that pulse with good vibrations.

Let the music of Journey, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benetar, Styx, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Night Ranger and more rock you to the rafters.  On Saturday, February 6 and 13 at 8 p.m., Sunday, February 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. and Friday, February 12 at 8 p.m., this emotional story will have you levitating with joy.

Think of a jukebox stuffed with classic rock tunes that reaches its peak and becomes an exploding volcano of hits, as the decade’s greatest hot metal bands send out oceans of fiery offerings.  Marry that music to a powerful story of a rocker wannabe Drew Boley (Noel Roberge) who is biding his time as a busboy while waiting for his big break.  Set at a Hollywood nightclub called The Bourbon Room, owned by the show’s narrator Lonny Barnett (Michael King) and his partner Dennis Dupree (Kevin Sturmer), two German real estate developers (Dick Terhune and Anthony Amourando) are set on tearing it down as part of a clean up the city campaign.

Meanwhile a sweet young thing from Kansas named Sherrie (Katie Brunetto) walks in to the club and Drew, instantly smitten, convinces Dennis to hire her as a waitress.  The action escalates as Dennis books a band Arsenal starring Stacee Jaxx (Tony Leone) to headline what might be The Bourbon Room’s finale, Sheree momentarily loses her dream of becoming an actress to take a new job as a stripper and Drew gets a chance to shine on stage and earn a recording contract.

songs that surround a book by Chris D’Arienzo boom skyward, like “Just Like Paradise/Nothing But a Good Time,” “Sister Christian,” “We Built This City,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “I Wanna Rock,” “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Any Way You Want It/ I Wanna Rock.”  A triumphant “Don’t Stop Believin’ ’”reconciles all the disparate pieces of the puzzle as dreams are exchanged for new ones and the Sunset Strip lives to celebrate another day."Rock of Ages" is directed and choreographed by Sharon A. Wilcox with Dan Ringuette as musical director.

For tickets ($29), call the Warner Theatre, 68 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180 or online at This musical is suited for more mature teens and adults.

Can the fairy tale hopes survive when real estate moguls from Germany threaten Sunset Strip in general and the new romance of Drew and Sherrie in particular?  Come discover for yourself.


Jordan Wolfe as the young Reuven Malter and Joshua Whitson as Danny Saunders
photo by Rich Wagner

Two disparate worlds, two sets of fathers and sons, one fast and furious curveball and five blocks in Brooklyn lead a pair of teenage boys on a path of self-discovery.  Playhouse on Park in West Hartford has forged a beautiful staging of Chaim Potok’s novel “The Chosen,” adapted by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok until Sunday, February 14.

Reuven Malter, an enterprising Jordan Wolfe, meets the traditionally educated Chasidic Danny Saunders, across a baseball diamond  Although they are both raised as Jews, they are legions apart in what and how they believe.  Both students of the Talmud, both dedicated “yeshiva brokers,” boy scholars, they have been indoctrinated in radically different households.

Reuben’s dad, an understanding Dan Shor, only wants his son to be happy, hopefully as a college professor of mathematics while Danny’s father, the respected rabbi of a huge congregation, has planned his future, to take over the rabbinic dynasty six generations in the making.

When Danny smacks a baseball deliberately at Reuven’s head, the resulting injury becomes the unlikely catalyst that brings the two together.  Reuben’s dad has been mentoring Danny with literary choices at the library, without either knowing the identity of the other.  Danny soon invites Reuven to join him in studying the Torah with his patriarch, a great honor.

The “hungry minds” of both lads are being nurtured in different ways.  While Reuven’s dad is open and loving, Danny’s is bound by silences, a seeming alienation of affection.  A major riff between the families takes place over the prospect of a Jewish homeland, with David Maulter publicly and vocally in favor, so much so that he risks his health for the cause.  Rev Sounders is equally vociferous in denying that Zionist dream.  Through the four years of the play, from 1944 to 1947, the older Reuven, portrayed by an eloquent David Gautschy, narrates the tale that is universal in its scope.  Fathers and sons have always struggled emotionally to reach a level of love and understanding that is satisfying and liberating.  Dawn Loveland directs a powerful and poignant story that is inspiring in its telling.

For tickets ($22.50-35 ), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Avenue, West Hartford at 860-523-5900 ex. 10 or online at  Performances are  Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

On Tuesday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m., the Playwrights on Park Reading series presents an original piece by Eve Lederman “Let It Come Down.”  The unique relationship of therapist and patient are explored as a potent romance and was inspired by deposition transscripts from a malpractice case,  Call the box office for tickets ($5).

Come discover how each boy, posed on the cusp of manhood, ultimately forges their own personal destiny.