Saturday, April 30, 2016


                                                    ROBIN ROBERTS

The picture of charm, charisma and courage, Robin Roberts is visible proof of the power of standing tall and fighting off enemies that attack, in her case two virulent bouts of disease. As a beloved co-anchor on ABC’s Good Morning America television show for over a decade, she has cultivated respect and integrity in all her actions.  She began her career as a sportscaster, because of her history on the basketball and tennis courts, broadcasting for ESPN for fifteen years with the famous catchphrase “Go on with your bad self.”

Thanks to the Annual Louis and Mary Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series, number eighteen, you are invited to get up close and personal with Robin Roberts at SCSU on Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m. at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts, Crescent Street, in New Haven.

When her hometown of Pass Christian, Mississippi was especially devastated by Hurricane Katrina, she anchored a series of reports that focused on the region and her personal connections.  With her new co-anchor George Stephanopoulos, she brought the show to the apex of the rating game in 2012 after NBC’s Today Show had taken top honors for the past sixteen years.

Her personal battles with breast cancer in 2007 and again five years later with myelodyplastic syndrome, resulting in her need for a bone marrow transplant, focused national attention on these medical issues.  Her public revelation on her MDS battle led to an incredible increase of 1800% in bone marrow donors in that one day.  Roberts has since shared with her adoring fans her personal relationship with her companion Amber Laign.

When Robin Roberts takes the stage at Lyman Center, she will share the lessons she has learned along life’s path, her conversations with such luminaries as President Barack Obama and Pope Francis at the Vatican, her co-hosting the red carpet Oscar pre-shows, her co-anchoring Good Morning America, her two decades as a broadcaster and her newly formed production company Rock’n Robin in 2014.

In 2013, Reader’s Digest honored her with the vote as the “Most Trusted Person on Television” and she has been awarded numerous distinctions for her devoted work on her personal medical issues and anchoring prowess.  For tickets ($35 premium, $30 regular, $10 SCSU students and $125 for reception, personal meet and greet, autographed book), call SCSU at 203-392-6154 or online at

For lessons in strength and gratitude, from that Steel Magnolia woman from the South, come hear Robin Roberts share what she has learned from life’s often difficult trials and exciting triumphs. Her mother advised her to “make your mess your message” while her philosophy is be inspired and enjoy the journey.



Playwright Margaret Edson used her work experience at a research hospital in an AIDS and cancer treatment wing as inspiration for her probingly powerful play “WIT” now exploring the questions of life and death at West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park until Sunday, May 8.  She sent this, her first script, to sixty theaters across the country before it was accepted in 1995 for production in California.  It wasn’t until 1997, however, when New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre offered it, with Kathleen Chalfant as Vivian, that it garnered strong positive reviews, winning three CT Critics Awards, including best play.  In 1999 “WIT” received the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Vivian Bearing, a professor of 17th century poetry at a prestigious university, is faced with her greatest challenge: a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.  With a stage IV rating discovered by her oncologist Dr.Harvey Kelekian, she agrees to an aggressive treatment of an experimental chemotherapy regimen, consisting of a full dosage for eight rounds.

At fifty years of age, she has dedicated her life to her profession and her students, relishing the love of language.  She particularly enjoys the poetry of John Donne, frequently reciting his Holy Sonnet “Death Be Not Proud.”  Now death is not an abstract concept[ but quite real in all its implications. Throughout the vigorous and grueling treatment course, she reflects on her choices in life, a dedicated path to intellectualism and knowledge as opposed to personal attachments to family and friends or marriage. Elizabeth Lande is strikingly vivid and moving as this lady of words who now finds herself alone in her battle for life.

With death staring straight at her, she reevaluates the alternatives she might have enjoyed as she remembers the people who were important in the past:  her father (David Gautschy) who shared her love of books and learning and Professor E. M. Ashford (Waltrudis Buck) a former teacher she admired as well as the new participants in her medical world:  Dr. Jason Posner (Tim Hackney) her current physician whom she knew from the past when he was a student in her class on John Donne, Dr. Harvey Kelekian (David Gautschy) the chief of medical oncology and Susie Monahan (Chuja Seo) the nurse who offers kindness and comfort.

As a metaphysical poet, Donne wrote about life, death, God and an afterlife, using “wit” or wordplay to portray his reality of the world.  He attempted to demystify death, to make it less ominous, to weaken death’s impact and threaten death itself with a bad end when eternity comes. Director Stevie Zimmerman does not minimize the stakes at risk in this emotional battle, a pilgrimage from this world to the next.

For tickets ($22.50-35), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford 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.
Come Saturday, May 21 at 7 p.m. or 10 p.m. for Comedy Night ($15), the last show of the season.  

Prepare to be incredibly moved by this starkly frank portrayal of one woman’s attempt to survive and her attempts to reconcile that after years of dedicated research, now she herself is being researched.

Sunday, April 24, 2016



Imagine if Cinderella were a mermaid, how would she ever get to wear her famous glass slippers?  Now conjure up that courageous girl of the seas, a real mermaid named Ariel.  Put the bravery of one with the pluck of the other and you might create Mariel, the mermaid who wants to be human and have legs, ankles, toes and feet so she can wear glass slippers or Jimmy Choo’s and get pedicures and all those girlie things.

Pantochino Productions has done all that imagining for you in their latest highly original and entertaining offering “Fast Times at Mermaid High” playing in oceans of enchantment at the Milford Center for the Arts weekends until Sunday, May 1.  With book and lyrics by Bert Bernardi, music by Justin Rugg and colorful costuming by Jimmy Johansmeyer, the musical is perfect for a family outing.

Mary Mannix is the adorable mermaid Mariel who wants to leave her home under the sea and finally earn her land legs.  When a sea witch offers her the chance to go to high school and experience being human, lower appendages and all, she runs to grab the chance.  Just like Cinderella has a midnight deadline, Mariel has only seven days to fall in love and be loved in return, otherwise she will become sea foam.

Mermaid High is filled with a bevy of students, not all of them happy to welcome the new kid on the block.  The trio of Jennifers (Shelley Marsh Poggio,
Hannah Duffy and Meg Cardi) are all cheerleaders, but they have no cheer to spare for the newcomer.  Principal Fin (Maria Berte) tries to smooth her way and her friend from under the sea Star(fish), a sweet Jaden Bonfietti-Csvihinka, helps Mariel adjust, while attracting the attentions of Fish Box,  a frying hot Jimmy Johansmeyer.  It’s surfer dude Spicooli, a cool Justin Rugg, who gives her a good shot at sailing his surf board to romance while a vision in purple, Professor Scungilli, a devious George Spelvin, who spells the most trouble for our young wannabe land lubber for disturbing motives of her own.

Others in the cast include Andrea Pane, Cassie Grace, Jaxon Beirne, Hannah Kupson and Justin Cavone.  Songs like “Welcome to the 80’s,” “What You See is What You Get,” “Who Needs a Report Card?” and “The Mermaid Dance” make this a lively look at love on land and sea.

For tickets ($18 online, at door $20), go online to  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon is cabaret style, perfect for birthday parties and enjoying snacks.  On May 3-4, a 36 hour online-giving event will be held. Help Pantochino win thousands of dollars.  Go to and pledge your help.  Also this is the time to check our their theater camps.

Get your groovy mode on because it’s the 1980’s and you’re invited to jump and jive with joy.


Imagine how Harry Potter must have felt being brought up by family members who were muggles and not understanding or compatible with his magical tendencies. Now think of a clever little girl, known for her creative and brilliant ways, who is being raised by less than intelligent caregivers.  Her dad is a car salesman with all the attendant challenges in the honesty department while her mother is an amateur ballroom dancer who wants to be valued for her looks rather than her mind.

Come meet Matilda, the enterprising star of “Matilda the Musical,” created from a story by Roald Dahl and being brought to precocious life by Tim Minchin, music and lyrics, book by Dennis Kelly, and additional lyrics by Chris Nightingale, at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts until Sunday, May 1.

At the age of five, Matilda has her hands full at home dealing with her parents, Harry and Zinnia Wormwood, who are less than encouraging.  They feel that their daughter is “batty” and do little to feed her intellect.   At school, at Crunchem Hall, Matilda continues to fight the establishment as Agatha Trunchbull is the headmistress from H-E- Double Hockey Sticks and gives tyrants and bullies a bad name.

Fortunately, Matilda finds allies who appreciate her in her meek but supportive kindergarten teacher, Miss Honey, and Mrs. Phelps, the helpful librarian, who provides reading challenges and loves Matilda’s incredible stories.  Here is a little girl who cut her imagination  on Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling and is enamored by Will Shakespeare.

To help herself get along, she is not adverse to using a little trickery to get the results she desires, like waking up her parents to their neglect of her needs.  Her greatest triumph, however, is her defeat of the headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who dismisses her students as “shriveled losers.”  Come see how Matilda puts her properly in her place, because even the nicest child sometimes has to be “a little bit naughty.”  Songs like “When I Grow Up,” “Naughty” and “Revolting Children” underscore Matilda’s path to happiness.

For tickets ($27.50-119.00), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at  Performances are Tuesday - Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Take a seat at your school desk with your plaid book bag, make some paper airplanes and spitballs and prepare to learn some important lessons about life.


                      THE KNIGHTS OF CAMELOT  
                      PHOTO BY GERRY GOODSTEIN

For serious drama about King Arthur and his legendary Knights of the Round Table, historically accurate and brimming with authenticity, then you’re looking under the wrong toadstool in the forest. “SPAMALOT” is definitely not the show for you.

If, however, you’re a fan of Monty Python and you enjoy spoof and farce and laughter, then get in line at UCONN’s Jorgensen Theatre on the campus in Storrs for some super silly stuff about killer rabbits, flying cows, the feet of God, showgirls and a quest for the Holy Grail.

Monty Python is not a person but a troupe of six comedians - John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliamo and Eric Idle - who in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s had a popular TV show in Britain and did comic sketches. "Monty Python’s SPAMALOT” was made into a best selling musical from the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” with a book by Eric Idle, score by Eric Idle and John Du Prez and direction by UCONN alum and actor Richard Ruiz .

Characters of note in the play include King Arthur, the Lady of the Lake, Sir Dennis(Chester Martin), Sir Lancelot (Bryce Wood), Patsy (Gavin McNicoll), Sir Robin (Nick Nudler), Prince Herbert (Ryan Rudewicz) and Sir Bedevere (Kent Coleman). At the regal head of the cast are Richard Kline as King Arthur and Mariand Torres as the Lady of the Lake.   Legendary tunes include “Not Dead Yet,” “Knights of the Round Table,” “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” “Brave Sir Robin,” “The Song That Goes Like This” and “Find Your Grail.” Overacting becomes an art form in this 2005 Tony Award winning show for Best Musical.

If you are aspiring to be one of King Arthur’s courageous knights, then don’t pay any attention to what you see on stage. Chivalry may well be dead because it is overwhelmed with laughter.

The great adventure leads the merry lot to the taunting of the French at a castle and a giant wooden rabbit, to the dangers of the forest and the need for new shrubbery, to the unusual chambers of Prince Herbert and an encounter with a killer rabbit who guards the secret of the Holy Grail’s location. Through it all, the infectious merriment will enchant you.

For tickets ($7-36), call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at 860-486-2113  or online at www. 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.

Gallop along with King Arthur and his merry band of followers, to the rhythmic tune of clomping coconut shells, as they memorably, mischievously and musically set off on their classic quest for fun, fortune and fame.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


                                               SALLY HILL: 1350 ml LAMP

                                            SUSAN CLINARD: DIANA, A WIRE SCULPTURE
As a mastermind of incredible inventions, with an expanding mind that encompassed a multitude of disciplines from science to mathematics to architecture, none can compare to that Italian marvel born in 1452.  Leonardo da Vinci would be renowned if all he ever did was pick up a paint brush. His most famous works like the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper are enough to insure his place in a gallery of masterpieces.

Fortunately for the world, Leonardo put down that palette of paints to experiment with contributions in sculpture, music, engineering, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, history, cartography and writing.  How appropriate it is that the Eli Whitney Museum selected this original “Renaissance Man” as the inspiration for its annual Leonardo Challenge, now in its 22nd year.

This upcoming event, on Thursday, April 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., is entitled “Imagination in Focus,” a celebration of the inventor par excellence and a unique fundraiser for the community to enjoy.  Every year one hundred artists from all over the country are invited to take a common object, like keys, playing cards, rulers, wooden ice cream spoons or mirrors and design a mobile, toy, item of clothing or furniture, jewelry, painting, photograph, whatever they fancy.  The challenge for 2016 is a lens, a precursor 350 years later of the contact lens.  DaVinci’s sketches suggested that optics of the human eye could be altered by placing the cornea in direct contact with water.

According to the invitation’s cleverness which opens to form a Camera Obscura, a box with a lens, one created by the Eli Whitney Museum’s Associate Director Sally Hill, the artisans are encouraged to use their “wit, whimsy and artistry.” Their creations will be on display and available for purchase in a silent auction, remaining on site for visitors to admire, at the museum’s home, 915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, on the border of New Haven for several weeks.  Proceeds from the event will fund scholarships for children to attend activities and camps throughout the year.

A banquet worthy of your culinary delights will include fine wines and spirits, international cheeses from Caseus and brews from their Black Hog Brewery, the artistry of Doug Coffin’s Kitchens and the amazing treats of pizza fired up in the Big Green Truck, the crusty confections of Whole G’s artisan bakers of breads with old world charm, the nature inspired organic blessings of Small Kitchen, Big Taste and the special indulgences that spell Koffee and Koffee Cocktails.

Tickets to this most special event are $75 and can be secured by going online to or by calling Naseema Mohammed at 203-777-1833.  Where else can you go to celebrate a grand inventor, feast on gourmet delights, peruse and purchase unique artworks, contribute to a worthy cause for budding inventor/artists and have one whale of a great time?  The Leonardo Challenge offers them all.


To celebrate its three decades of musical excellence, the Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus has chosen to invade the international scene.  As if one spirited tribute wasn’t enough to jingle your bells, the CGMC is taking on two:  ABBA and Queen. Both groups, one from Sweden and one from Britain, topped the charts way back in the 1970’s and still are a powerful influence today.

The Swedish song group ABBA started off their masterful career by giving their home country its first triumph by winning in 1974, at the Dome in Brighton, UK at the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest.  While the group endured its problems when the two married couples that comprised it hit marital walls, revived interest in their sounds occurred with the advent of a trio of movies and musicals:  Muriel’s Wedding, The Adventure of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Mamma Mia!  ABBA’s hit “Waterloo” was selected as the best song at the Eurovision song Contest in 2005.

Not to be outdone, the CGMC will also pay homage to Queen, the British rock band formed in London in 1970, one that started off as heavy metal and toned down over the years to pop and rock.  Their world wide success was sealed with their contributions Sheer Heart Attack and A Night at the Opera.  In 2002 Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was voted the “UK’s favorite hit of all times” in a poll conducted by Quinness World Records British Singles Book and two years later it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  The rock threatical version based on songs by Queen premiered in 2002 and ran until 2014.  “We Will Rock You” became the longest running musical ever to play at London’s Dominion Theatre.

There is no doubt that as Artistic Director of the CGMC, Greg McMahon will incorporate the best of these two iconic groups, taking from their diverse songbooks everything from “delightfully campy songs to some incredibly moving ballads.”  He guarantees “there is something for every musical taste in this show” and encourages all who attend to “enjoy a cocktail or dinner before or after the show” at any of the multitude to restaurants and bars that exist in the heart of New Haven.

For tickets ($25-30), call the CGMC at 203-777-2923 or go online at  The performances are Saturday, April 30 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 1 at 4 p.m. and will take place at their new home, the Co-Op Theater, 177 College Street, New Haven.

ABBA/Queen is definitely the spring concert you won’t want to miss! The CGMC is sure to do its unique spirit and spin on every song…transforming you into a Dancing Queen for sure. 

Monday, April 18, 2016



Living a century of life, starting as the daughters of a slave and achieving success in teaching and dentistry,  make Sadie and Bessie Delany incredibly special and the Hartford Stage is inviting you to make their acquaintance until Sunday, April 24.  These two “maiden ladies” grew up in Raleigh, South Carolina on the campus of St. Augustine’s School where both their parents held positions.  They were raised with their eight brothers and sisters to value their African-American heritage, to hold family close and dear and to be true and honest in all their dealings in life.
Do yourself a favor and attend 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. This is a co-production with Long Wharf Theatre where it played earlier this year.  

Director Jade King Carroll has a special connection to this production.  When she was a teenager, she went with her father Balkida Carroll, who composed the original music for the Broadway production, to attend rehearsals.  She got to meet and admire these ladies who were 101 and 103 at the time.  She held their hands and now twenty years later she gets to tell their story.

A unique Oral History Project “Having Their Say: Generations in Conversations” has been held with young African-American women paired with their counterparts who are 70 or older to explore their lives growing up in Hartford.  Be sure to take time to hear their stories in the lobby display upstairs.

In need of an extra grandmother or two, you could not do better than adopting Bessie and Sadie.  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.

Smart and sharp and filled to their Sunday go-to-church hat brim with wisdom and wit, we meet these fine ladies 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, made even more touching because of her personal connections to the ladies in question.

For tickets ($25-85), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at Performances are  Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

You’ll  admire and  applaud the dignity and devotion of the Delany sisters and the indelible mark they are guaranteed to leave on your heart.

Thursday, April 14, 2016



The reluctant relationship between two tentative and unlikely roommates is a tinderbox waiting to explode in Samuel D. Hunter’s world premiere drama “Lewiston.”  Long Wharf Theatre’s Stage II will set off a series of fireworks displays until Sunday, May 1 as it explores connections and disconnections as a family is created, destroyed and reassembled in an entirely new way.

Set in a small town in Idaho, where the memories of the long ago mission of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark still resonates, Hunter investigates the question of history and heritage on modern day descendants.  When President Jefferson requested Lewis lead a great adventure into the west to explore the animals, plants and people in the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, he could not have anticipated the toll in hunger, illness, injury and Indians that would plague the expedition of 1804.  That 8000 mile journey into an unknown continent is still being examined two hundred years later by its direct heirs.

Alice has clung to her cattle ranch in Lewiston, selling off bits and pieces until it’s now a mere twenty acres, with a small homestead and a fading and failing fireworks stand.  Like a prickly cactus plant, she offers a gruff exterior, one that conceals kindness within.  Alice shares her home with Connor, in a symbiotic relationship that has worked for years, each giving the other a completeness they would not have realized alone.

Randy Danson’s Alice and Martin Moran’s Connor are on the verge of finally achieving a level of financial freedom.  A large subdivision is under construction and Alice holds the last few acres, a parcel she can parlay into a brand new condo, hopefully by the pool.  Her carefully negotiated plans erupt like the fireworks, the cracklin’ balls, cat tails, golden showers and smoke bombs she sells, when a young girl appears on her property.  Arielle Goldman’s Marnie has her own ties to the land in question.  It’s where she was born and where her mother Katherine died, by killing herself.  Marnie is Alice’s long estranged granddaughter and she has come home on a mission.  Her mother Katherine’s words, preserved on tape by Lucy Owen, reveal how her recreation of the original Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean was a goal and, ultimately, a great disappointment to her. Now Marnie must take a stand to achieve her dream of preserving her heritage.

Director Eric Ting lets us understand how tenuous each person’s hold on the land is and how vital it is to guard it for dear life.  For tickets ($30.50-75.50), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m and 7 p.m.

Let a fine trio of actors take you on a short journey of remembrance and self-discovery as they find their own place in the Idaho landscape of life.

Monday, April 11, 2016


                                                     -   David M. Lutken

When Henry John Deutshendorf Jr. was eleven years old, he received a gift from his grandmother that determined his destiny.  His grandmother’s guitar led him to pursue his love of singing by encouraging him to join a boys’ choir and to take guitar lessons.  If his grandparent had presented him with a basketball or a set of golf clubs, how different he and his future might have become.

When a career in music presented itself, Henry John Deutshendorf Jr. was advised to change his name because it was too long for a marquee.  Heeding that thought, he changed his moniker to the beautiful capitol of his favorite state and became John Denver.  If his music and story are important to you, mosey on over to the Ivoryton Playhouse by Sunday, April 24 for the rich and inspiring tale of friendship entitled “The Road: My Life with John Denver” composed by Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman.

For decades Dan Wheetman was a musician who traveled and played in John Denver’s band.  Maybe not his BFF, he was nonetheless privy to  the man and his music and is well qualified to comment on his contributions as a singer, songwriter, performer, actor, activist and environmentalist.

David M. Lutken and Sam Sherwood share the honors  as Denver’s friend, confidante and musical accompanist, traveling all over the country on buses and his private jet, traveling as far away as Australia.  With Katie Deal as a spirited vocalist, and Dan’s wife Penny, an entire jukebox of John Denver’s greatest hits roll down the highway.  From “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Rocky Mountain High,” “Annie’s Song,” “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Back Home Again,” we are gifted, and encouraged to sing-along, with many of the two hundred songs Denver composed.

With Dan Wheetman as musical director and Randal Myler as director, we have the solid core of this exciting and vibrant new production at the sturdy helm.  John Denver fans will be in their glory.

For tikcets ($44, senior $39, students $22, children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivortyon 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 Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. On April 10, a Hootenanny was held at 4:30 p.m,next door at the Ivoryton Tavern with participants bringing a banjo, fiddle, even a spoon to come to play.

The premiere of a new children’s play “Polkadots: the Cool Kids Musical” was shown on Monday, April 11 at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, April 12 at 7 p.m, and the final performance is Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $15. The show is based on Little Rock Nine and features Lily Polkadot who teaches lessons about dignity and respect.

Imagine the wind in your hair and a song in your heart as you travel the open country road to reach peaks of rocky mountain highs with sunshine on your shoulders.



Imagine you have a time machine and you dial it back to October 9, 1980.  That auspicious date would have been John Lennon’s BIG 4-0.  As long as we’re dreaming, let’s go one giant step further and imagine one iconic group of lads coming together after a decade long separation and you’d have the reunion that never was: The Fab Four, the leaders of the “British Invasion,” The Lads from Liverpool.

This iconic group was the epitome of boy bands, even though they had a lot of trouble settling on what to call themselves.  In a relatively short time, they tried out The Quarrymen (named after a school two attended), Johnny and the Moon Dogs, Long john and the Silver Beetles, The Black Jacks Skiffle Group (for one week), The Nerk Twins (for two days), The Beat Brothers, The Beatals, The Silver Beats, finally settling on The Beatles, as a tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.

 Those four lucky and plucky lads from Liverpool are legendary in the world of rock and roll.  From the moment John, Paul, George and Ringo took up their guitars and drums, it was magic.  Ed Sullivan introduced this famous quartet to the United States on his really big television show and the rest, as they say, is musical history.
 In tribute to The Beatles, the Palace Theater in Waterbury is bringing you an all new stage show by Annerin Productions "Let It Be: A Celebration of the Music of The Beatles” for three performances Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16. To date over two million people have traveled through “Strawberry Fields,” experienced “A Hard Day’s Night,” and brought you back to a glorious “Yesterday.” Don’t miss this grand opportunity to relive the music that moves mountains of music fans.
The show will trace their meteoric rise from their tentative beginnings at the Cavern Club in Liverpool to the height of Beatlemania, and their enduring success that is evident today and will be long into the future. For a merry reunion with John, Ringo, George and Paul, plan to journey to the Palace on Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Saturday, at 8 p.m. to witness the phenomenon that is The Beatles.
All the top ten hit parade of tunes should be featured, from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” “All My Lovin’,” “A Hard Day’s Night” “Roll Over, Beethoven,” “Help!,” “Yesterday,” “Penny Lane, “ “Hey, Jude”  and “Let It Be” to name a few.  You may even get to sing-a-long to “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine.”
 This personable and talented foursome play their hearts out for nearly two hours of historic Beatles fare, along with a visual and auditory journey through the 1960’s, with film clips and commercials.  Their costumes and hairstyles, including mustaches, mark their transitions through the years.
 For tickets ($50-65), call The Palace, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at  if you come Friday, April 15, you can enjoy a four-course pre-fixe dinner by Verbena Catering in the theater’s Poli Club before the show at 6 p.m. for $62.50 per person.  This includes tax, service fees, coffee and tea.  Be sure to make a reservation.
 If you’re a Beatlemania fan, then run right over to the Palace’s wonderful tribute to those popular performers and icons of rock and roll.


Saying “hello” is always so much easier than saying “goodbye.” Your goodbyes may be tinged with regrets for words not spoken or deeds not done.  There is a finality to a goodbye that denotes sadness and an ending.  For Cathy Hiatt and Jamie Wellertein, the scenes of their relationship are poignant and bittersweet thanks to Jason Robert Brown’s intriguing take on a marriage that fails in his musical offering “The Last Five Years.”  The Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk will be presenting all the missed opportunities and mistaken steps in this couple’s search for love and happiness until Sunday, April 24.

Unfortunately we are not gifted with a crystal ball or hindsight.  We learn our lessons the hard way, first hand.  Cathy is a struggling actress wannabe and Jamie is a budding novelist and they meet on equal and common ground, both striving to succeed, as they both try to find their voice.  Jennifer Malenke is Cathy, an ambitious looking ahead with hope and promise gal who tells their story from the ending to the beginning while Nicolas Dromard’s Jamie starts at the beginning when everything is fresh and new and travels five years to the unhappy ending when they part.

Jason Robert Brown uses his own failed marriage as a starting point to tell the tale, with tuneful messages couched in every verse, from Jamie’s exuberant “Shiksa Goddess” all the way to the tearful “I Could Never Rescue You.”  Cathy expresses her feelings and doubts in such songs as “Still Hurting” and “See I’m Smiling.”  As Jamie’s career launches straight to the stars with a best selling novel, Cathy continually hits roadblocks with auditions that don’t work, landing in far away Ohio to get a part.  Their separations take a toll and they lose the joys that once brought them together.

With honesty and only a little name calling and blame, the pair examine their wrong turns and mistakes.  Didn’t they believe in themselves or each other enough?  Did they move too fast in trying to make it work? The expectancy of new love is all too soon eclipsed by recriminations as a whole gamut of emotions characterize their musical tribute to the time.  The music beautifully captures all the exact moments where love blooms and fades, from first date and Jamie’s reluctance to tell his mother that Cathy doesn’t share their religious background to his wildly successful book signing and pressures of fame to Cathy’s angst at not getting the roles she hoped for, their first Christmas, to the time of farewell when they admit it is not working.
Kevin Connors directs this refreshingly candid look at love, one he had originally visited back in 2008.

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., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come watch two fine actors showcase their talents in this intimate and heartfelt tale of  romance on a merry-go-round that spins out of control with no brass ring for either one.

Friday, April 8, 2016


Gather your four leaf clovers, horse shoes, rabbit’s feet and lucky pennies, all the traditional charms you’ll need to arm yourself with before you venture to West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park for their current fortuitous offering “Superstition” until Sunday, April 10.  Choreographer and co-artistic director Darlene Zoller is clearly not a subscriber to the anxiety-laden triskaidekaphobia, a fear of all things 13.  When she realized that this year would be the 13th season of her stop/time dance theater, she immediately started working on creating “Superstition.”  In defiance of everything associated with black magic, like midnight colored cats, broken mirrors, walking under ladders and knocking on wood, Zoller has crafted an evening of dance, with her toe-tapping group stop/time dance theater that embraces whistling in the theater, opening an umbrella indoors and throwing salt over your shoulder for good luck.

With style and imagination, Zoller has conjured up an homage to the mysterious black magic arts that intrigue and perplex.  Numbers like “Knock on Wood,” “Witchcraft,” “Devil May Care" and “Old Devil Moon” are matched with “Black Cat,” “I Put a Spell on You,” “Good Luck Charm” and “How Lucky Can You Get?”  With a sensual and seductive sizzle “Witchy Woman” bewitches while a covey of razzle dazzle fringed ladies reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties rock in “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”  

The smooth stepping company consists of Meredith Atkinson and Rick Fountain who both sing and dance, singers Becky La Bombard, Victoria Mooney and Jacob Silver, dancers Jennifer Bunger, Lisa Caffyn, Lynsey Chartier, Beckie Correale, Amelia Flater, Laurie Misenti, Sheri Righi and Alicia Voukides, with guest dancers Erica Misenti and Spencer Pond.  A great combo of Sean Pallatroni, David Uhl, Nick Cutroneo, Andrew Studenski and Michael Blancaflor play back up with jazzy rhythms.

Forget old wives tales about getting up on the wrong side of the bed or whistling in the theater being bad luck, for “Superstition” is super packed, high energy, happy wattage from beginning to end…and you won’t want it to end!

For tickets ($22.50-$35.00), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext 10 or online at  Performance are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  Next up the Playhouse will present the intense Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "Wit”by Margaret Edson from Wednesday, April 20 to Sunday, May 8.

Forget all the curses you have heard about Friday the 13th being drenched in bad auras.  “Superstition” will clearly dance and sing away all theories of ill fortune and guarantee pots of gold and rainbows.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Do you fancy yourself a little trip to Scotland in the midst of a blizzard?  The International Festival of Arts and Ideas would dearly like to sell you a ticket…no passport or packing required.  The Festival, an unbelievable 21 years old, will take place from June 10-25, a well stuffed gift to New Haven and the surrounding communities.

Imagine a feast or banquet laid out before you and being given a chance to taste a hearty appetizer, in this case a bite of Scottish brogue.  Lucky souls got to experience an afternoon or evening of special fare with the National Theatre of Scotland’s original tale “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart" at Yale University’s Gryphon’s Pub at 204 York Street in New Haven from March 30 to April 2.

Created by David Greig and directed by Wils Wilson, this intriguing musical adventure has sold out across Scotland, the United Kingdom and internationally, and now it was part and parcel of the Festival for audiences to enjoy recently.  Folks came to whet their whistle with a wee dram of whiskey, courtesy of Benromach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.  Your feet and imagination flew as Annie Grace, Jessica Hardwick, Alastair Macrae and David McKay fired up their fiddles and bagpipes to tell the tale of Prudencia Hart, a scholar who was enamored with ballads of the Scottish Borders and set out to deliver a paper at a conference.

Through no fault of her own, the primly proper professor finds herself the victim of a snowstorm and, quicker than you can say “border ballads are neither borders nor ballads” was in a whole whale of a predicament.  Clad in a green velvet cape, she eschews the help of a colleague named Colin to solve her own logistics problem, only to become the fixation of an underworld creature known as Satan. How Prudencia seals her fate, with clever maneuvering and ingenious plots adds to the story’s charms. 

For this year’s offering the National Theatre of Scotland has a whole new event:  “Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour,” a U.S. premiere that introduces six Catholic schoolgirls competing in a singing contest in Edinburgh.  In a single day these lassies are exposed to love, lust, pregnancy and death, all with a background of 1970’s pop rock tunes.

The opening day of the Festival, Friday, June 10, the Yale Repertory Theatre will start the party with dinner and drinks, the play, and ending with dancing and karaoke at the post-show reception. The musical will also be held, with post-show discussions, on Saturdays, June 11 and 18 and Tuesdays, June 14 and 21.

Adapted by Lee Hall, from the novel “The Sopranos” by Alan Warner, directed by Vicky Featherstone, in collaboration with Live Theatre, Newcastle, “Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour” is but one of the highlights of this iconic gift to the New Haven community.  Be prepared for some funky Rhythm and Blues from George Clinton, acrobatic gyrations from Cirque Mechanics, walking and biking tours, family fun, food tastings, master classes, films, lectures, concerts on the green, dance and so much more.  Go to or call 203-498-3772 for more information.

Welcome to the Festival 21 and take part in all of the fancy festivities, 80% of which are free.  Celebrate the world right here in your own backyard.

Monday, April 4, 2016


Take a quartet of pretty and perky girls, all sisters, and dress them in a swirl of pastel party gowns, put matching scarfs around their necks and white gloves on their hands and you have the delightfully delicious singing group “The Taffetas.” From now until Sunday, April 24, Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury will be paying musical tribute to the girl groups of the 1950’s in this sweet nostalgic journey back in time in a show conceived by Rick Lewis.

Think the McQuire Sisters, the Fontane Sisters or The Chordettes, as Kaye, Peggy, Cheryl and Donna belt out dozens and dozens of golden oldies like a jukebox gone wild.  Mia Scarpa, Chesley Jo Ristaino, Melissa Rose Hirsch and Holly O‘Brian are terrific as these four sisters hailing from Muncie, Indiana who just want to entertain you.

Tonight is their television debut on the Dumont Television Network’s Spotlight on Music and they are primed and ready to perform their hearts out.  The tunes keep rolling out, like a nickelodeon shooting out firecrackers on the Fourth of July.  Starting with “Sh-Boom,” “Mr. Sandman,” and “Tonight You Belong to Me,” they quickly segue into a series of love songs tinged with sorrow, like “I’m Sorry,” “Ricochet,” “Cry” and “Smile.”

Next the group goes traveling from “Constantinople” to Hawaii, France, India and Rome, with stops under the “Allegheny Moon” and a visit to “Old Cape Cod,” pretty much “Around the World.” Love songs are surely a priority as these gals think boys are special.  Tunes like “You, You, You,” “Sincerely,” “Mr. Lee,”  “Where the Boys Are” and “Little Darlin’” complete the play list.  Semina DeLaurentis directs this happy homage to girl groups of a bygone era.  The combo of Jacob Yates, Dan Kraszowski, Mark Ryan and Kurt Burgland set a terrific tempo.

For tickets ($38.50-54), call Seven Angels, Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at  Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. A special Brass City Music Bash! will be held on Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. as a Fundraising Concert for the theatre featuring the Devino Brothers, Michael and Tom, with Tommy Maia to present the Tower of Power music’s greatest hits while Connecticut Transit Authority will perform the music of Chicago.  Call the box office for tickets ($33.75).

Let the Taffetas swing, swirl and sway with songs and patter as they spin the best 1950’s platters.


When you think of sweaters, the ones that button in the front for men, you might conjure up an image of that sweet crooner Perry Como or that friendly and gentle children’s television personality Mister Rogers.  Well move over Perry and Fred, there’s a new set of sweaters in the neighborhood.  The Connecticut Cabaret in Berlin are welcoming “The Cardigans,” a musical conceived by Rick Lewis, weekends until Saturday, May 6 and if you love the songs of the fifties this is just the jukebox show for you.

Think sock hops, homecoming dances, pep rallies, cute girls and clean cut guys. This quartet of recent college graduates who all are sons of ministers, all belonged to Alpha Mu Phi Pi fraternity, who never uttered a four letter word unless it was love, luck, nice or neat, are now embarking on their first musical tour. It’s time to leave their roots in Wooster, Ohio and take on the world, or at least, one hundred miles in any direction.

Imagine a barbershop quartet backed by a three piece combo, in this case The Delux Reverb, featuring Sean Lewis, Jamie “Fingers” Sherwood and Tim “Sticks” Urso married to the gang of great guys, Jayson Beaulieu, Rick Bennett, Jon Escobar and Anthony Galli.  As we learn about the lads and their squeaky clean history, they harmonize with a score of special sounds, songs like “Oop Shoop,” “Dream Lover,” “Kokomo,” “Venus” and “In the Still of the Night.”

Since love and ladies are never far from their minds, they croon a series of girl dedicated tunes like “Valerie,” “Gloria,”  “Oh Carol,” “Tammy” and “Sherry.”  They let the fun out of the box with a number dedicated to “Running Bear” who hopes to catch White Dove and a cutie “Beep Beep” where a little Nash Rambler locks “horns” with a giant Cadillac car. The audience is invited to sing-along as these mostly merry tunes float by, including a nod to Motown standards like “My Girl” lighting the way. There are a few sentimental platters like “Star-Crossed Lovers” and “Tears on My Pillow” as well as hits from the day like “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” and “Mack the Knife.” That great harmony rolls on.  Dressed in ruby red sweater, these guys sport perpetual smiles and give it their all, 110%. Director and producer Kris McMurray is ever your genial host at this musical dance party.

For tickets ($30), call CT Cabaret, 31 Webster Square Road, Berlin, off the Berlin Turnpike 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 this is a cabaret and you are invited to bring snacks to share at your table or plan to buy cakes and drinks on site.

Put on your bobby socks and saddle shoes and sit back and enjoy a nostalgic journey to sock hop heaven.

Friday, April 1, 2016



In Shakespeare’s day, it was a common practice for men to play women’s roles as well as their own. Today, in the spirit of turnabout’s fair play, in the Bard’s mind-expanding play “Cymbeline” currently exploding in love, lust, passion, power, revenge and rage, women are finding themselves in breeches and bodkins and men in brocade and bodices.  The Yale Repertory Theatre will be entertaining the fashion revisions until Saturday, April 16.  For director Evan Yionoulis, the transgender switches are intriguing and open up lines of emotional exploration, to have a female play King Cymbeline and have his Queen, his second wife, tower over him as a six foot male.

“Cymbeline” is packed with complexities, with comic moments, violent battles, a marriage without permission, kidnappings, banishments and forgiveness, clearly a fairy tale gone out of control. Jean Kim’s amazing castle set lends an air of mystery and magic to this tale as do the subtle lighting changes created by Elizabeth Mak and the original music design by Pornchanok (Nok) Kanchanabanca.  This play by the Bard does not easily fit into one category as it contains tragedy, romance and comedy so you need to come and judge for yourself, all almost three hours of action.

Kathryn Meisle presides over the court as the judgmental Cymbeline, King of Britain, who has lost two infant sons in a kidnapping, has remarried a Queen, the stately and conniving Michael Manuel and cannot control the love interests of his daughter Imogen.  The independently minded Imogen, a feisty spark of a maiden Sheria Irving, has secretly married Posthumus Leonatus, an honorable but lowly commoner Miriam A. Hyman.

The King banishes Posthumus so that Imogen can marry a royal and thus succeed to the throne, but the pair has already exchanged a ring and a bracelet as tokens of their betrothal.  Meanwhile the Queen is busy plotting the deaths of both Imogen and the King, to free the path for her posturing fool of a son, Cloten, cleverly brought to ridiculous life by Christopher Geary.

While Posthumus hides in Rome, his scheming friend Iachimo (Jeffrey Carlson), bets him he can prove Imogen is unfaithful, Cloten steals clothes from Posthumus in his vain attempt to win Imogen’s affection, the Roman ambassador (Jonathan Higginbotham) demands the King pay tributes to Rome and when he refuses a war ensues, Imogen disguises herself as a lad Fidele (faithful) to find Posthumus, the treacherous Queen dies and her son is beheaded.  Hopefully you are taking careful notes.

As Will is wont to do, all the loose ends are tied up nicely at the end, with Imogen and Posthumus reunited, the King finding his long lost sons (Robert David Grant and Chalia La Tour) thanks to a confession by their kidnapper (Anthony Cochrane), the tribute to Rome is paid and a great party is held to celebrate.  Evan Yionouixs directs this most ambitious theatrical offering in a grand and royal fashion.

For tickets ($20-99), call the Yale Repertory Theatre at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. on April 13 as a senior reception as well as school performances. All shows will be at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven.

Watch how jealousy and betrayal unbalance a kingdom as love is threatened, battles are waged and revenge is anything but sweet.