Monday, October 31, 2016


The job of committee chair for a major fundraiser is a thankless job, especially when the shrimp dish is in a broken refrigerator, the music for the opera is misplaced and the star of the show is missing.  Come attend the tenth anniversary of the Cleveland Grand Opera where the world renown tenor Tito Merelli is about to make his American debut.  Only he is nowhere to be found.  Artful Living, a nonprofit theater for the community for a decade, recently presented Ken Ludwig's "Lend Me a Tenor" at the Andrews Memorial Auditorium in Clinton to great acclaim.

It falls on Henry Saunders, (David Cardone) the company manager, to fix things when everything falls apart for the benefit.  He in turn heaps the blame and responsibility on his assistant Max (Steve Sabol) to save the day, and Max comes through in a number of ingenious ways.  In the process, Max must deal with his almost-fiancee Maggie (Vanessa Vradenburgh) who is fascinated with Tito's presence, Julia (Nancy Williams) who is anxious that the party be a success and Diana (Christine Gill) who wants to be more to Tito than a co-star.

When the great Merelli (Michael Cartwright) finally arrives with his wife Maria (Nancy Cardone) in tow, the true beauty of the farce explode with slamming doors, mistaken identities  and not one star to play Otello but two. This is seriously funny stuff.  The list of folks anxious to meet Tito for an autograph (Maggie), an audition (the bellhop-John Demetre) and an assignation (all the females) grows long. Everyone has an agenda of what they want Tito to deliver but Maria, as his fiery wife, is sick and tired of his excesses in food, drink and women.

When an angry and unforgiving Maria storms out of the hotel room, nicely created by Rachel Smith, an avalanche of incidents start to explode. Pat Souney directs this fun and fancy free farce where all the characters excell in their roles.

Watch for future events staged by Artful Living and prepare to be entertained.


                                              PLAYWRIGHT PAUL SLADE SMITH

Who couldn't benefit from two hours of laughter?  Imagine combining burlesque, vaudeville, slapstick and a touch of buffoonery: the result might be a magically and maniacally humorous literary work known as farce.  Just ask actor/playwright Paul Slade Smith who a decade ago wrote a comedy that meets all the requirements.  If slamming doors are a prerequisite, he has a maximum of eight.  Add in two seedy motel rooms, two beds and two eager but inept undercover police, a few crooked thieves, a mayor with a penchant for embezzlement, a female accountant who enjoys shedding her clothes and a serious case of whodunit, and you have the ingredients of "Unnecessary Farce."

Playhouse on Park in West Hartford will be hosting this hometown man's play from Wednesday, November 2 to Sunday, November 20, and you are invited to join in on the fun and frolic.  Grab a donut and come discover what audiences in seven countries and four languages, from the U. S. A. to across the pond in Great Britain, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada and Iceland now know.  Somehow $16,000,000 has disappeared and the police, a shy Eric and a gung-ho Billie, have a video camera and a sting operation ready to catch the thief or do they? Is Karen the accountant going to help them or is she a repressed sex nymph with her own agenda?

And when the mob arrives, who is more surprised that it is a Mafia of a different color: plaid? Paul Slade Smith is delighted his play is coming to his hometown.  His sister alerted him when she saw the schedule of the Playhouse's line up. The Playhouse was amazed to find the playwright grew up in their backyard.  Who knew?

The play began as a small idea a decade or more ago, when Smith's wife Erin, also an actor, was in a farce and not a very good one.  The performers did the best they could with the material but it was less than stellar.  It's hard to write a good farce, like "A Flea in her Ear," "Noises Off," "Lend Me a Tenor" and "The Foreigner." Smith decided; "I could write a farce. A spark ignited and I had my plot in five minutes.  My first draft was done in six months.  I was in "Phantom of the Opera" at the time and I had my fellow cast members, in a hotel room, help me uncover what worked and what didn't by reading it aloud.  It went wicked fast."

Smith found it fun to write, "amusing, and I would read it to Erin and she would laugh out loud but say it made no sense."  As an actor, Smith feels his strongest skills are comedic and he loves playing farce.  "It's great standing on stage, waiting for the laughs, because the audience doesn't know where the plot is going and can't stop laughing.  I find it a favorite rewarding experience."  He loves the elements of farce, the mistaken identities, the language confusion, someone pretending to be someone they are not.  He originally wrote the cop Eric as a role for himself, although he hasn't played it, and the role of Billie, Eric's partner, for his wife Erin, who has played it a trio of times. Now Smith feels, if the opportunity presented itself, he could play all the male roles except for the villain.

As to his favorite roles, on and off Broadway, he has enjoyed playing Captain Hook and the producer of Peter Pan, Charles Frohman, in "Finding Neverland," Charlie Baker in "The Foreigner," and Mr. Cellophane in "Chicago."

Now that "Unnecessary Farce" is enjoying its 250th production by 2017, Smith is busy with his next show "The Outsider," which is a timely political comedy which he hopes will have a "beautiful future" and prove that reality can be absurd. He also hopes to dapple with writing shows for television, all the while keeping his day job in the theater.

For tickets ($30-40), call the Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford, at 860-
523-5900, ext. 10 or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

As Paul Slade Smith has learned, farce is all in the timing.  It is all absurd, yet it has to make sense. His goal is to get the whole thing right.  Come see for yourself if he gets it correct and be sure to slam a door or two on your way in and out.


To Boy Willie Charles, the family piano symbolizes emancipation, an escape from slavery and embrace of freedom.  By selling it, he can buy one hundred acres of land in Mississippi, land that had belonged to the Sutter clan that once were their white slave owners.  To his sister Berniece, that heirloom, hand carved with scenes of their family's births, weddings and deaths, is emblematic of their history, their inheritance, and she will never allow it to leave her possession.  Her people shed their blood and lost lives in securing it and, for that reason, it is irreplaceable.

The Hartford Stage will be opening a window to peer in at the Charles family and the argument that threatens to divide them down the middle, requiring a King Solomon decision perhaps to cut the piano in half to satisfy both brother and sister.  From now until Sunday, November 13, you are invited into the world of August Wilson to view "The Piano Lesson."

The time is 1936 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Boy Willie, a determined and persuasive Clifton Duncan, has just arrived in the middle of the night to his Uncle Doaker 's home where his sister, an unbending tree of a woman portrayed by Christina Acosta Robinson lives with her daughter Maretha, a sweet Elise Taylor. Boy Willie is on a mission.  He has a broken down truck stuffed with watermelons and is traveling with his friend Lymon, an accommodating Galen Ryan Kane, with the plan to sell them as well as the prized piano so he can become a landowner.

The two men, partners, are uninvited and unwelcome. While Doaker, a helpful Roscoe Orman, a chef on the railroad, is happy to see them, Berniece will not tolerate their presence. Boy Willie, who has been in prison for the last three years and may or may not be responsible for Berniece's husband Crawley's death, insists the piano be sold.  The former slave owner Sutter has died mysteriously and his ghost is taking up residence in the house.

Their father lost his life stealing the heirloom from the Sutters, believing they could never be truly free until it belonged to them.  Their grandfather had carved it and it was the symbol of their true emancipation.  Even Berniece's suitor Avery (Daniel Morgan Shelley) was unsuccessful getting her to part with it and donate the proceeds to his new church.  The tension of this family drama is broken with the arrival of the often drunken but charming Wining Boy, Cleavant Derricks, who plays a mean piano and with Boy Willie's new lady friend Grace (Toccarra Cash).

Who will win this tug of war battle over the Charles' legacy at the heart and soul of this involving drama as Berniece clings to the injustices of the past just as strongly as Boy Willie sets his sights on the promise of the future? Jade King Carroll directs this probing portrait of a clan at odds, where no one can be a winner.  Alexis Distler has created a  fine set for the action.

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

This Pulitzer Prize winning play is but one of ten August Wilson penned to showcase each decade of the twentieth century, all set in and around Pittsburgh.  Don't miss it.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


The poet Robert Frost posited years ago that "something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down." What might he think, therefore, about a wall separating the countries of Mexico and America, a border wall that is supposed to end drug trafficking and illegal immigration?  Does this sound even vaguely familiar?  Almost two decades ago the playwrights Bernardo Solano and Allan Havis posed a question to 200 residents of San Diego, Tijuana and Mexicali: "Would you be better, safer and happier with or without a wall separating our two countries?"

The result of this query is the futuristic fantasy of ghosts and hallucinations "Nuevo California," igniting commentary on the campus of the University of Connecticut by the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the Studio Theatre until Sunday, November 6.

In actuality, a 14-mile metal wall does divide San Diego from the neighboring city of Tijuana, built in 1992, right to the shores of the Pacific.  The question raised in this play is should the wall be torn down or fortified.  A multitude of voices on all sides of the question are heard.  A tide of change is coming and many want to stem it, change it or embrace it.  The year is 2028 and the countries are still reeling from a major earthquake five years before that devastated Los Angeles.  To complicate matters, oil has been discovered in Mexico and both sides want to profit from its riches.  Is the creation of a new binational state, to be named Nuevo California, the answer?

For the first time, a Mexican-American Pope, a Roman Catholic, Felipe (Aiden Marchetti), leads the church and the charge to tear down the metal wall.  As he is speaking to the crowd, he is shot by an unknown assailant.  Rebecca (Shavana Clarke), a television newswoman, narrates the action as myriad voices speak up in protest or support. A Jewish photo journalist (Gavin McNicholl) eventually finds love with a spirited young Mexican mother Juana (Rebekah Berger) who tragically lost her son in a border accident.  A proponent of the no border stance is a hip-hop poet Sin Fin (Pearl Matteson) who freely gives her opinion to her cause while a confidante of the Pope, Albert (Sam Kebede) works to support his own agenda.

As Pope Felipe dies, a Black Bird of Death (Kirsten Keating-Liniger) appears to him, with three spirits wearing Mexican Day of the Dead masks, ones who died crossing the border.  They help Felipe heal people who have lost loved ones and, in the process, aid Felipe in finding peace with God.

This talented cast of students from the drama school also includes Perry Madison, Aaron Bantum, Sarah Jensen and Mikaila Baca-Dorion.  Richard Ruiz directs this compelling and challenging work that the playwright Solana describes as "magical realism."

For tickets ($7-36) call 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.

Will fear or forgiveness prevail in this timely drama that deals with multi-languages and cultures and viewpoints? Come experience this community conversation that begs and deserves to be heard.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Under a blood red moon, anything is likely to happen, especially if the calendar says it's almost the magical date of October 31st, Halloween.  What better way to celebrate the holiday, then to skip on over to the Milford Center for the Arts weekends until Sunday, October 30 for Pantochino Productions' original spooky and sweet musical "The Bewitchingly Scrumptious and Extraordinary Mister Trick & Mrs Treat." Created by Bert Bernardi for imaginative book and lyrics, Justin Rigg for memorable music and jimmy Johansmeyer for clever costuming, this is  delightful family fare.

The frost is definitely on the pumpkins in the neighborhood where the family of Mr. Trick (Jimmy Johansmeyer), his daughter Ordelia (Mary Mannix), his son Thorn (Gavin 
Conte), his father Payne (George Spelvin), and his housekeeper Ursa Luna (Hannah Duffy) all delight in the mischievous side of the spooky holiday where orange is the new black and purple.  They have been known to fill donuts with gooey mayonnaise instead of jelly, sprinkle itching powder in sensitive places and dangle dangerous spiders for maximum scary effect.

The Trick family clearly have adopted the ghoulish and ghastly side of Halloween.  Imagine their dismay, however, when a new family moves into the vacant house right next door.  Are they witches? Oh, my!

Here come Mrs. Treat (Shelley Marsh Poggio), and her clan that includes her son Charleston (Justin Rigg), her daughter Tootsie (Annabel Wardman), her nephew Clark (Andrea Pane) and her housekeeper Eclaira (Maria Berte).  While the Trick folks get their jollies at the expense of others, Mrs Treat is 100% sweetness and she can't wait to share her yummy goodies with others on her favorite holiday.

You don't need to be a Sherlock Holmes to see where this delicious and dastardly musical is going.  A patch of pumpkins get a makeover, a water filled bushel of apples become a game and the two neighbors learn the lesson that Halloween can be even more fun if there are both tricks and treats galore.  This enthusiastic cast under the direction of Bert Bernardi sings and dances up a storm, both scary and sugary, about everything that goes bump in the night.

For tickets ($20 online, $22 at the door), go online to Pantochino Productions at  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. 
( only this performance is cabaret style, bring food) and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Milford Center for the Arts at the Milford Train Station, 40 Railroad Avenue, Milford.  It's not too early to plan to see their next production opening December 2, "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus."

Grab the kiddies and have a fantastic and fun family day in honor of that happy and hungry for candy holiday of Halloween.  Boo!


                                          JUDY GARLAND AND TOTO   1939

Dorothy and her puppy Toto are iconic figures in motion picture legend.  Her journey from a farm house in Kansas all the way to the Land of Oz in the Emerald City, via a yellow brick road, is one millions have traveled with her. Judy Garland, the little girl with the booming voice, achieved  stardom with her incredible role as Dorothy and now Goodspeed Musicals is anxious to reveal just how it happened, from now until Sunday, November 27.

Before the scarecrow, the lion and the tin man, before Glinda the good witch and the wicked witch of the West, before the magical and all powerful Oz, there was a little girl from Minnesota named Frances Gumm, a tot with big dreams.

Born into a show business family, Frances was part of the Gumm Sisters in vaudeville, beginning her career at the tender age of 2 and 1/2.  The idea of telling Frances' story, how she was transformed into Judy Garland, was the brain child of Tina Marie Casamento Libby.  Knowing that Judy's story was told in her music, Libby has spent the last seven years developing her idea, revealing the chid who wanted to be a star, all the way to her securing the coveted role of Dorothy.

"Chasing Rainbows Judy Garland's Road to Oz" has a book by Marc Acito and music adapted by David Libby.  First we meet an adorable little Frances, a bright button named Ella Briggs who grows before our eyes into a spark plug of a teenager Ruby Rakos.  She is daddy's little love and the mutual admiration society she develops with dad Frank, a wonderfully expressive Kevin Earley, is a delight to behold.

With her mom (Sally Wilfert) and sisters Virginia (Piper Birney and later Andrea Laxton) and Mary Jane (Claire Griffin and later Lucy Horton), we watch Frances polish her performances until she is ready to strike out on her own.  With the Depression a dark shadow and her dad not able to support the family, it fell to Judy to earn a $100 a week to keep them together.

Off to Hollywood, she is "discovered" by Kay Koverman, an enterprising Karen Mason and pianist  Roger Edens, an encouraging Gary Milner, who bring her to the attention of the tough minded head of M.G.M., Louis B. Mayer, a gruff Michael McCormick.  As the studio head, L. B. Mayer calls his new young star not pretty or thin enough, but her fan club that includes Mickey Rooney (Michael Wartella) and Clark Gable (Danny Lindgren) prevails.

Wonderful tunes like "Over the Rainbow," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "You Made Me Love You" and "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" keep the story a pure delight.  Tyne Rataeli leads this personal tale of will and perseverance down the yellow brick road, through rain clouds, to bluebirds of happiness.

For tickets ($29 and up), call Goodspeed Musicals, on the CT River, in East Haddam (exit 7 off route 9) at 860-873-8668 or online at  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  Shows Thanksgiving week are 11/21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m, 11/25 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., 11/26 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and 11/27 at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Watch Judy Garland of the big voice and big heart earn her ruby slippers through a lot of perseverance and a little bit of luck.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


A section of the public library and shelves of the Barnes and Noble are devoted to how-to books on a myriad of topics, from how to make a garden worthy of a Versailles or make an aquarium reminiscent of an ocean floor.  The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts has an unusual twist on this theme with "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" with book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak, from Tuesday, October 25 to Sunday, October 30.

Think of Don Quixote with his quest for the Impossible Dream velcroed to Monty Python and his mission to secure the Holy Grail and you have the beginnings of the fervor of one Monty Navarro. As a newly orphaned lad, with no money or prospects, Monty discovers that his mum was disinherited from the wealthy D'Ysquith family for marrying beneath her station.

To right this wrong, Monty takes pen to paper and writes to the head of the clan, respectfully requesting a position in the family business so he can earn his inheritance.  The absolute rejection of his claim, with the stern proviso never to contact them ever again, leads the industrious Monty to pursue that how-to book previously mentioned, that guide to love and murder for the proper gentleman.

Monty determines that to become the next Lord D'Ysquith, his most desired position of wealth and good standing, there are only nine family members ahead of him.  His clever solution is to eliminate them, one by one, and all his dreams will become reality.  And if he finds love along the way, all the better.

With ingenuity and a sense of style, he proceeds to help the rightful heirs meet their maker, whether by drowning in a pond of ice, swallowing a potion of poison, falling from a belfry tower or being devoured by hungry cannibals.  The only question that remains is:  will Monty succeed in snatching the title of Lord, with all its attendant riches, or will the coppers charge him with multiple murders?  Come and discover for yourself.

For tickets ($25.50-109.50), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 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 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Grab on tight to Monty Navarro's coat tails for a merry mix of murder, music and mayhem that is sure to delight, especially as the winner of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Monday, October 17, 2016



Hold on tightly to your pogo or hockey stick, well, in this case, your tennis racquet, for 350 years of political history as innovative and imaginative playwright Sarah Ruhl hopscotches from the dynasties of the Charles Stuarts of Great Britain to the George Bushes of America in less than two and a half hours of creative theater telling at the Yale Repertory Theatre until Saturday, October 22.  The world premiere of "Scenes from Court Life or the whipping boy and his prince" will surely open your eyes and mind to the startling revelations and similarities between these seemingly diverse historical families.

Yale Rep's University Theatre takes us seamlessly and flawlessly, quickly and repeatedly, like a championship tennis match at Wimbledon or  the US Open , back and forth across the centuries, from King Charles I and his son, the  royal prince Charles II, to American royalty George H. W. Bush and Barbara, sons George W. and Jeb and their spouses Laura and Columba.  One moment you are dancing in the royal court and the next you are doing a Texas hoe down.

Keep your eye on the tennis ball as it bounces back and forth between the two stories as Greg Keller is alternately excellent as the young prince afraid of the crown he will soon wear and the ambitious son of a president eager for his chance to catch the golden ring on the merry-go-round.  While Prince Charles has a whipping boy, Danny Wolohan, to take his punishment if he commits a sin, George W. has his younger brother Jeb, also brought to life by Danny Wolohan, to serve the same role.

In the early era, Charles I is accused of treason and beheaded and later number 41, President G. H.W. Bush counsels his sons on their positions of potential power.  Both roles are captured with majesty by T. Ryder Smith.  Mary Shultz is the loyal Barbara Bush, protective of her sons while Angel Desai serves a dual role as the harpsichord player who opens the scene and the supportive wife Laura.  

Keren Lugo bridges the ages, first as the arranged wife of Charles II, as Catherine of Braganza from Portugal and later as Columba, the wife of Jeb. With our own contentious contest waging on our soil, it may be comforting to learn that "politics is essentially a tennis match.  Some one wins and someone loses." Mark Wing-Davey presides over a masterful piece of theater, rife with video projections and unusual
props and properties, with an excellent cast of actors on both sides of the pond.

For tickets ($44-88 ), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees October 19 and 22.

Come enjoy the sport of kings, admire George W's artwork, be privy to the inner workings of two regal families and marvel at the genius of Sarah Ruhl.


                                              KIMBERLY SQUIRES AND ALLAN ZELLER

Allan Zeller and Kimberly Squires of Milford have the unique ability to meet as strangers and fall spontaneously in love at 8 p.m. and then ten minutes later be ready, willing and able to kill each other with whatever weapon is handy, like an axe. This talented husband and wife acting team put on and take off personas the way other people hunt for the perfect winter coat at Macy's, carefully and with style. 

 For an entertaining treat, come meet Zeller and Squires at the top of their game at the historic Lyric Hall in Westville for "Delightful Differences: An Evening of One Act Plays," weekends at 8 p.m. on November 4 and 5, and 11 and 12. Come an hour earlier for a musical serenade in the lounge courtesy of Cathy Szebo's engaging vocals, with PJ Letersky at the ivories.

Zeller and Squires have dabbled in the works of a half dozen Connecticut playwrights in fashioning a night of vignettes that showcase their wide range of acting chops. Frederick Stroppel has penned a trio of selections that begin with a couple bickering over a trip to the mall right before Christmas. Finding a parking spot in general and securing their godson's specific Nerf gun gift almost cause World War III, but with bombs of humor, in "Miracle at the Mall."

Stroppel continues the warfare theme with "A Medical Breakthrough" when a spontaneous challenge at a party causes Mr. Moore a great deal of pain and embarrassment.  The foreign object lodged in his rear must be removed by Dr. Fields, a female proctologist.  His last offering also occurs at Christmas when two strangers, both hopeless, meet "On the Bridge" and plan to jump at midnight when sometiing unexpectedly magical occurs.

From Rosemary Foley come a pair of selections where Zeller and Squires play a couple brought together by a love of symphonic music in "Baroque Dating Service."  Move over, eHarmony, and let Bach and Beethoven play Cupid. The fantasies continue as "He Who Would Be Frog" hops into a psychiatrist's office hoping to be cured of his love of all things green and discovers his doctor is masquerading as Little Red Riding Hood.

Get down your rifle and clean and polish it for Elizabeth Keyser's "Shooting Practice" as a father and daughter struggle over the ethics of gun control.  Things can get even more heated in a screenwriter's office when a 007 character mock shoots a scene for a movie and causes sparks to fly with Drew Denbaum's "Succulent."

The sparks really ignite in Jim Gordon's "The Agreement" when a cheating wife tries to blackmail her husband into a lucrative divorce settlement.  The tables definitely turn in this suspense thriller.

Planning a 50th surprise birthday party becomes increasingly intimate when event planner Sheree meets John at his office and finds herself running behind, in front of and around his desk, seeking cover, in Susan Cinoman's "Little Sins." John has a little surprise party planned for someone other than his wife.

For tickets ($25), call the Lyric Hall, 827 Whalley Avenue, New Haven at 203-389-8885 or online at

Come let Allan Zeller and Kimberly Squires entertain you as strangers, dating couples, husband and wife, doctor and patient, father and daughter and acting partners, all in a jam packed nine plays that reveal just how talented and diverse their skills are...and delightfully and differently so.


                                                  PLAYWRIGHT PAULA VOGEL

How often have you stopped to ponder the longevity of a street walker or lady of the evening?  Does she have a pension plan or collect social security after decades of personal service?  Playwright Paula Vogel has considered their plight, so much so she has penned their telling story in the comedy "The Oldest Profession" now entertaining patrons weekends at Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin until Saturday, November 5.

It's the Reagan era in the 1980's in Manhattan and we find four world weary women on a park bench discussing and debating the problems of the world in general and their particular plights personally with their madam.  Their problems are poignant and tied to their profession and the length of time they have been pursuing it

Their clients are now grey haired men who reside in seedy hotels and retirement homes and these gals are still anxious to meet their sexual needs.  The actresses Mae the madam (Jennifer Burns), Lillian (Nancy Ferene), Ursula (Karen Gagliardi), Edna (Barbara Horan) and Vera (Bonnie Sprague) are no spring chickens but they bring an earthy earnestness to their roles.

They bicker about their customers, the long hours, the increasing demands, the lack of security for their eventual retirement and the old days when they received a modicum of honor and respect.  These women of a certain age are frank in their language, as they are faced with arthritis, aches, Alzheimer's and other ailments, trying to develop new tricks of the trade to remain vital and productive.  

You can almost hear the clock ticking as one by one they strip down to their elegant evening wear, don a white boa, and become angelic Gypsy Rose Lee wannabes.  With a mixture of warmth and weariness, these ladies of the street reveal their colorful personalities under the makeup.  As New York changes to a more dignified city, these gals have to endure a makeover of their own.  Kris McMurray is kind to their dreams and ambitions as he showcases their lives.

For tickets ($30), call the 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 bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy desserts and drinks on site.

Get "hooked" on these mature professionals as they struggle to survive and stay productive in a changing world.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


If you have a pink poodle skirt or a black leather motorcycle jacket hiding in your closet in mothballs, now is the time to pull them out for a good airing.  The Warner Theatre in Torrington is declaring Saturday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. an official 1960's music day when Praia Entertainment presents "Pop, Rock and Doo Wopp, LIVE" for your listening pleasure.

Not one, not two, not three, but four great groups with historical and memorable pasts will be saluting their homegrown skills and you can be there to cheer them on.  Dancing in the aisles is encouraged when the clock is rolled back to those glorious days of yesteryear.  

Prepare to be wowed as Jay & The Americans take the stage. This great rock and roll band was inducted into the Vocal hall of Fame in 2002 and are now featuring Jay #3 and enjoying a resurgence in popularity.  According to their founder, Sandy Yaguda, better known as Sandy Deanne, "we don't look old. We're health and full of vitality so it's like Woodstock every night.  It's a love fest, except traveling was a lot easier when we were 20."

Come here their greatest hits like "This Magic Moment," :Cara Mia,: "Come a Little Bit Closer" and "Walkin' in The Rain."  As Sandy states, "we are the Harvard College of Rock and Roll who knew the formula to make a song work."

Another group that surely knows the formula are The Buckinghams who originally hailed from Chicago, Illinois and called themselves The Centuries, way back in 1965.  Considered an American Sunshine pop band, they changed their name to reflect the popularity of the British invasion.  Their hit songs include "Kind of a Drag" that opens with a trademark horn note and put them firmly on the top of the charts, and got them named "The Most Promising Vocal Group in America" by Cash Box Magazine in 1967.  Other tunes like "Hey Baby,They're Playing Our Song," "Susan," "Don't You Care," and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" with their original lead singer Dennis Tufano got the group inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009.

Get ready to cross over the famous Brooklyn Bridge who play do wopp, rhythm and blues and rock and were formed in 1968 by Johnny Maestro on Long Island. Their most popular million dollar best seller is "The Worst That Could Happen."  They will definitely sing that as well as "Welcome Me Love" and "Blessed Is the Rain," tunes that got them inducted into the Vocal Hall of Fame in 2005.

Last up on the stage will be Jay Siegel's Tokens that began with Jay's high school friend Neil Sedaka in Brooklyn as the Linc-Tones and then became The Tokens when Jay joined the following year.  In 2011, Jay's powerful falsetto in "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" celebrated its 50th anniversary.  Watch for Jay in Barcelona, Spain in February of 2017 as well as on Royal Caribbean cruise lines.  The group wrote many of its original hits back in the 1960's like "Portrait of My Love" and "Tonight I Fell in Love."

For tickets ($45-79 ), call the Warner Theatre,                , Torrington at 860-489-7180 or online at

Take a trip down nostalgia lane with this quartet of great groups that are sure to tickle your fancy with magic memories.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Believing in the majesty and magic of Camelot is an idealized utopia that tragically does not exist, but still we hope.  Westport Country Playhouse is letting us imagine its reality in a masterpiece of a production that has already been extended to Saturday, November 5.  Come experience the grandeur and nobility of the legendary King Arthur in this Lerner and Loewe musical, based on T. H. White's book "The Once and Future King."

Pomp and pageantry abound in the mystical land called Camelot where a young and idealistic King Arthur, wonderfully portrayed by Robert Sean Leonard, meets and falls in love with his Queen Quenevere, brought to breathtaking life by Britney Coleman.  A troupe of colorful revelers weave in and out of the action as the two impressionable people create a life filled with ideals and grand plans, plans that include creating a loyal cadre of knights, establishing a Round Table, and instituting a code of morals and ethics known as chivalry.

With the goals of creating virtues of right, honor and justice, Arthur enlists the loyalty of the finest and most courageous to join him in his quest. To that end, he summons Sir Sagramore (Jon-Michael Reese), Sir Lionel (Brian Owen), Sir Dinaden (Mike Evariste) and the grandest, bravest, noblest and most modest of them all Sir Lancelot, played by a perfectly handsome and hearty Stephen Mark Lukas.

Even the grandest of plans are subject to disillusionment, as Arthur's two greatest loves, his wife and Lancelot his bet friend fall in love and threaten the delicate balance of the kingdom.  Add to that the challenge of the maliciously scheming Mordred, Arthur's son by a witch, creatively wicked in the hands of Patrick Andrews. Mark Lamos directs a superb cast, with fantastic costuming by Wade Laboissonniere, imaginative choreography by Connor Gallagher and luminous lighting by Robert Wierzel.  

Glorious music, directed by Wayne Barker, swirls romantically throughout.  Such songs as “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “Camelot,” "C'est Moi" and “Then You May Take Me to the Fair” are poignant or delightful in turn.

For tickets ($40 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport (off route 1)  at 203-227-4177 or 1-888-927-7529 or online at for performances Tuesday at 7 p.m.,Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.,  Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and 
Sunday at 3 p.m.  

Come meet the youngest potential knight, an adorable Sana Sarr as Tom, who introduces the story and provides the hope for the future at the end.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Philosopher/playwright Steve Martin likes to play around with people, personalities and patterns of behavior.  With his trademark wit and caustic and clever commentaries, he observes his characters through a variety of revealing prisms.  for a new and quirky look at his latest subjects under the microscope, head straight to Long Wharf Theatre for the world premiere, a co-production with the Old Globe, of Martin's illuminating comedy "Meteor Shower" until Sunday, October 16.

Pull up a thick cushioned chaise lounge for an excellent view of the celestial fireworks promised by a meteor shower.  Michael Yearn has designed a wonderful revolving set for the action, a California home in the early 1990's, where Corky (Arden Myrin) and hubby Norm (Patrick Breen) happily reside.  Through many year of marriage, they have developed a unique way of communicating, one that honors and respects their thoughts and feelings.

Into this peaceful setting, they have invited  casual acquaintances, Gerald (Josh Stamberg) and Laura (Sophina Brown), who are up for games and mischief.  The action starts, stop, enjoys a do-over and starts again as Gerald and Laura tease and cajole, trying to shake secrets from Corky and Norm in a series of sexual innuendoes  What are their motives?  What is the significance of the three eggplants that arrive mysteriously?  How secure will Corky and Norm's marriage be after Gerald and Laura play their mind games and manipulate them like pawns?

Steve Martin's brilliance shines as brightly as the meteors that streak across the midnight sky.  He cleverly opens the door to temptation, introspection and reflection.  Dark corners of their souls are revealed as possibilities, previously unheard of, are now explored.

As the alcohol flows, intimate details about their lives are revealed, real and imagined.  Like a Svengali, Gerald masterfully manipulates the players but to what end?  He delights in his human experimentation and the unforeseen consequences he can create.  Gordon Edelstein directs this inspired delving into the soul with all its comic and tragic reverberations, letting all of our repressions out of Pandora's box.

For tickets ($27 and up), call Long Wharf Theatre 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 7, Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m, Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Scan the firmament for the revelations about human nature that only a philosophizing playwright like Steve Martin could contemplate.


                                   KING LEAR AND HIS THREE DAUGHTERS

The ruling monarch of Britain, King Lear, is highly unlikely to accept a coffee cup stating "Best Dad Ever."  He wants his trio of daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, to state verbally and vehemently their devotion, affection and loyalty to him so he can divide his kingdom between them.  With virtuous sincerity, Goneril and Regan profess as he requested, stating love for their father is dearer than eyesight or liberty.  Only Cordelia is reticent to speak, no flowery words from that independent lass.  Lear, in a fury, disowns his youngest daughter and divides his kingdom between Goneril and Regan.

For an unforgettable lesson in greed, envy and disloyalty, rush over to the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the Jorgensen Auditorium on the campus of the University of Connecticut until Sunday, October 16 for a masterful and memorable production of William Shakespeare's tragedy "King Lear."

Graeme Malcolm's Lear is the portrait of a proud papa who slowly descends into madness as he loses his stability and reason when his crown grows too heavy for his head.  Witnessing his children Goneril (Arene Bozich) and her husband the Duke of Albany (Michael Bobenhausen) and Regan (Natalia Cuevas) and her husband the Duke of Cornwall (Darren Lee Brown), plot and scheme against him and against each other, quickly sickens Lear's mind.  He realizes all too quickly and too well that it is Cordelia (Kristen Wolfe) who is loyal and steadfast in her devotion.

Even without benefit of a dowry, Cordelia is wed to the Prince of France (Ben Senkowski).  Intrigues emerge when Lear banishes the loyal Earl of Kent (Kent Coleman) from the kingdom, only to have Kent disguise himself as Caius to stay close to protect his sovereign.  Also close to the King is the Earl of Gloucester, a noble Raphael Nash Thompson, whose two sons wage a conflict.  Edmund (Curtis Longfellow), Gloucester's illegitimate son wants to eliminate his brother Edgar (Bryce Wood) from favor and plots against him with venom.

Armies are raised to do battle, Gloucester suffers a severe injury, letters are forged, poisons are administered, innocents are slain, human flaws are revealed and wickedness reigns, all while Lear slowly disintegrates into despair.  Dale AJ Rose directs this stellar cast, with costuming by Raven Ong, scenic design by Pedro L. Guevara, lighting by Margaret Peebles and sound by Justin Graziani.

For tickets ($7-30), call the CT Rep Theatre at 860-486-2113 or online at  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

When King Lear poses the question "Which of you loves me the most?," he is unprepared for the responses and consequences that emerge.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady"sang about wanting  a room somewhere far away from the cold night air, with one enormous chair, stating wouldn't it be loverly. Ten year old Carl Morelli wants that room somewhere, with or without a chair (a beanbag will do), as long as it belongs only to him...and it has an Atari video game, then it would be loverly too. Carl's choice of words are limited to rather strong four letter ones, but you'd get the idea soon enough. (Ivory soap, any one?)

Playwright Charles Messina is busy taking a walk down memory lane, back to his childhood growing up in a tenement in Greenwich village in the late 1970's.  Messina clearly knows how to put the "fun" in dysfunctional but his family isn't going to win any gold medals for normalcy any time soon.

To get up close and personal with the Morelli clan, settle back at Waterbury's Seven Angels Theatre by Sunday, October 16 for "A Room of My Own" enjoying its Connecticut premiere.

Messina cleverly inserts himself in the tale, utilizing Michael Lombardi as the adult version of Carl and Christian Michael Camporin as Little Carl.  The man wants to understand the child he was and, even though his family can't see him, tries to direct the action and the consequences of what is revealed on stage.

Carl has grown up in a ditzy and crazy environment, controlled to a large extent by his mom, Dotty, portrayed with vigor and vigilance by Joli Tribuzio.  She has a good heart even if she is often misguided, directing her focus on her husband Peter, an accommodating Johnny Tammaro, her brother Jack, a flamboyant caring David Valcin, who lives upstairs, and her kids Jeannie (Julia Macchio) and Carl.

It's Christmas time and little Carl has written Santa about his number one and number two wishes, a room only for him, as he now shares the one bedroom flat by sleeping with his dad, and an Atari.  He has no expectations of the first and only a small hope for the second.

A lot of family truths are about to explode and secrets revealed and the adult Carl is powerless to stop them,though he tries to valiantly. The arrival of dad's sister, Aunt Jean, alternately created by Semina DeLaurentis and Lisa Vann, causes a crisis of monumental proportions.  If life was slightly off kilter before, now it is in full blown panic mode.

Charles Messina directs this highly personal revelation that includes nuns, meatballs, tuition payments, ghosts, a notebook, a check, a box of pastries and a dog named Little Piss.  Who could ask for anything more?

For tickets ($38-58), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at  Performances are Thursday at  2 pm and 8 pm,  Friday at  8 pm, Saturday at  2 pm and 8 pm   and Sunday at 2 pm.

Crowd into the Morelli's one room apartment and get caught up in the verbal fisticuffs that echo off the crumbling walls and vote on whether Dr. Ruth or Judge Judy could settle the score.


Long before 1948 when President Harry S. Truman signed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, allowing females to serve as full members of the United States Armed Forces, women have enlisted in the military.  Hartford Stage is mounting the world premiere of T. D. Mitchell's gripping and riveting drama "Queens for a Year" until Sunday, October 2, focusing on how four generations of military women have served proudly and honorably.

A long time has passed since 1918 when Private Opha Mae Johnson enlisted as the first female Marine Reserve, but the way women are treated, respected or disrespected, is a less than memorable commentary.  That tarnishing is the painful subject of "Queens for a Year," a denigrating term for a female Marine where looks, even if ugly, allow her to slack off and be treated as royalty by the males of the unit.

Welcome to the ranks of 2nd Lieutenant Molly Walker Solinas, a sturdy and stable Vanessa R. Butler, who with pride joins a long line of military enlistees.  She serves as did her mother Mae (Mary Bacon), her aunt Lucy (Heidi Armbruster), her grandmother (Charlotte Maier) and her feisty great-grandmother (Alice Cannon).  Molly is a respected officer in the Marine Corps who is faced with a monumental dilemma: a private first class has confided that she has been   raped by a fellow serviceman.

When going through the proper channels of communication fail to get PFC Amanda Lewis, a conflicted Sarah Nicole Deaver, any satisfaction or justice, Molly takes Amanda and runs to a place of sanctuary, her home in Virginia.  Once home,a platoon of buried secrets explode and divide the family unit.

The blood, guts, dangers and risks of training and combat are all too starkly balanced against the real and present problem of sexual assault.  T. D. Mitchell does not sky away from the brutality of the charge or the distinct likelihood that the females making it will be vilified and disbelieved.  Jamie Rezanour gives a powerful indictment of exactly how little support the military provides to the accuser.

This "sisterhood" of women are continually tested, their sacrifices to serve questioned.  It is a drama about their nobility as survivors and as female warriors.  the pace is intense and emotionally exhausting as they place everything they value clearly on the line.  Mat Hustler is the sole male on stage, the brunt of the belligerence and bullying.  the cast is uniformly excellent under the steady hand of director Lucie Tiberghien.

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

Listen to the cadences of the military as they echo the rhythm, the gallantry and commitment, the sacrifices and demands of what it costs to serve.  Your mind and heart will be opened to their stories.