As a child of four or five, Zack Zadek was obsessed with the D word, not divorce, Darth Vader, but death. He wasn’t traumatized by the lose of a goldfish or a grandmother but, precociously, pondered the unknown. Zack lay in bed one night before sleep and realized people and things don’t last forever. That realization that something was going to happen to him and to his parents was terrifying to the young lad and he spent considerable hours trying to reconcile that reality, the inevitable lack of forever. While he didn’t go to the length of dressing as a Goth, all in black, his thoughts were not directed to the sunny side of the street.
Now Zadek has channeled all his angst and anxiety into a world premiere musical “Deathless” that resolves the question by giving options, eliminating the dying factor, and guaranteeing eternity. Curious how he does it? Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre in Chester will provide the method and the means from Friday, June 2 to Sunday, July 2 and you’re invited to chill out and take a pill of pleasurable discovery.
Even though his dad reassured him that death was too far away to worry about, Zack was not convinced. He started marking his life by benchmarks. like learning to drive , graduating high school and college, by charting a timeline of important events. Now, at the advanced age of twenty four, he needs to keep pinching himself because the milestones are piling up rather rapidly. Nominated by Playbill as “A Contemporary Musical Theatre Writer You Should Know,” he is the winner of the 2017 Weston New Musical Award, the 2017 MacDowell Fellow in Theatre, the winner of the inaugural “Got Musical” award from Disney Creative Entertainment, as well as a stack of honors from Broadway to London's West End.
Being at Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre is “crazy and all I ever wanted and worked for. It’s remarkable. In middle school, before I was even bar mitzvahed, I was a finalist to play in the band of a new musical at The Terris called “13.” It’s amazing that ten years later I am here as the writer of book, music and lyrics for my own show, an endgame.” As to the experience workshopping the show in Chester, Zack calls it “the best of the best. The team of fifty, including the great director Tina Landeau and the wonderful cast of five has been revealing. Before this, I was talking to myself alone in a room and now I have collaborators who are helping me learn about my own piece. The text on page is coming to life, like a baby being birthed.”
“Deathless” is a musical about a family on an annual road trip to Niagara Falls who has just suffered the loss of the mother and about Hayley, the nineteen year old who can’t reconcile her grief. Hayley will be played by Tony nominated actress Jennifer Damiano. Zack calls the story “a mystery” just as death is a mystery. A pill has just become available that will guarantee life forever and Hayley is struggling with a decision to take it or not. Zack hopes the audiences will ponder that choice and have conversations with loved ones about their feelings. Could or would you give up aging? Would you want to stay at the age you are now? What if only some of your family took the pill? What if life no longer had an expiration date?
For tickets ($49 and up ), call the Goodspeed at 860- 878-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The Terris Theatre is located at 33 North Main Street, Chester (exit 6 off route 9).
Even though “Deathless” deals with the big topic of death, it is surprisingly funny. Bring a bag or three of snacks as you take a road trip with the Serling family and relearn how to value your life and live it to the fullest. Zack Zadek will be happy to be your tour guide for this intriguing musical adventure.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017
People join organizations for a variety of reasons: socialization, improving skills like in tennis or bridge, charitable intentions like volunteering or fundraising, to satisfy political aspirations or for just plain fun. Playwright Ivan Menchell has an idea for a new club and he is inviting you to a monthly meeting. Tea and cookies are being served (if you bring them yourself) at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin when “The Cemetery Club” members gather weekends until Saturday, June 24.When a trio of Jewish friends start to lose their husbands one by one, they form a club to go and visit their departed every month, for comfort and little one-sided conversation. The average age of a widow is 56 and these ladies are right on schedule. Barbara Horan’s Ida is sensible and able to look to the future. She is devoted to her Murray and enjoys her visits every thirty days to the man she spent decades of happy married life with. Lucille’s spirit has been captured by a flirting Karen Gagliardi who likes to look sexy, drape herself in mink and pay back her cheating hubby Harry now for his actions during their marriage. Tracy Costa’s Doris is compulsively tied to these visits and to her Abe who is still at the center of her universe. She can no more consider abandoning him than she could taking off for the moon.When on a regular visitation to the graves, butcher Sam Katz, an appealing Russell Fish, wanders by, Lucille immediately latches on to him as a great catch (fish, catch) while Ida and, especially Doris, are appalled by her actions. It seems, however, that Sam has his attentions fixed on Ida and it soon becomes apparent that the feelings are mutual. Will Lucille and Doris try to sabotage this hint of romance? Will an invitation to much married friend Selma’s next nuptuals be an opportunity to advance the courtship? Who the heck invited Mildred (Bonnie Sprague) to the party? Will envy and jealousy destroy long time friendships?Kris McMurray does a great job playing matchmaker and referee in this gentle and humorous tale. For tickets ($30), call CTCabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights 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. There are no performances May 26 and 27.Come visit with the ladies of the Cemetery Club for some cake, champagne, cookies, chicken wings and chicken livers, companionship, conversation, grief counseling, comedy, cleavage and a little cha-cha.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
If you want a main course of community and diversity, with a heaping side order of salsa, you only need to look for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s spicy Latino flavored “In the Heights.” As a Puerto Rican-American composer, rapper, lyricist and actor, Miranda calls the musical his first theatrical event. Written while a sophomore at Wesleyan University in Middletown, he penned it as an on campus project that launched him into a career that has since peaked with his recent success with “Hamilton,” What will he do to top that?
" In the Heights” celebrates life in the Washington Heights section of New York City and Miranda wants audiences to “walk away dancing” and the current production by the Main Stage Theatre at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre until Sunday, May 21 guarantees that and much, much more.
This culture fest features Marcelo Calderon as Usnavi, an all around good guy who owns a small bodega and has a secret crush on Vanessa, a sweet faced Olivia Grace Rivera, who works at the neighboring hair salon. Usnavi has been raised by Abuela Claudia, a dedicated Celia Ortiz, who has been like a grandmother to him and his wise-cracking cousin Sonny, a challenging Joe Cardozo. Life is not easy in the barrio, but it is filled with colorful characters who put their faces up to the sun and pray for better times.
Right now the pride of the neighborhood Nina, a conflicted Jessica Paige Braun, has returned from college in California, with the burden of telling her loving parents, played by Perry Liu and Julie Bell Petrak, that she has lost her scholarship and dropped out of Stanford. Nina finds comfort and care from Benny, a hard working Everton Ricketts, who is employed by her parents but not accepted by them as a proper suitor.
In the midst of this hot summer, on the eve of the fourth of July, two major events take place that are sure to change many lives. Come see for yourself in this energetic and enthusiastic cast, led by director Christy McIntosh-Newsom and musical director and producing artistic director Eli Newsom and choreographer Emily Frangipane. Catch the Latino flavor at its spicy best.
For tickets ($28-33), call the Downtown Cabaret Main Stage Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at www.ctcab.com. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
The magic of Lin-Manuel Miranda is evident from the first merry note to the final redeeming dance of joy. This cast of thirty gives the show 110% wattage power and shines.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Friday, May 12, 2017
Monday, May 8, 2017
Sunday, May 7, 2017
DR. RUTH (ALICE MCMAHON) WITH PICTURE OF PRESIDENT CLINTON
Dr. Ruth Westheimer at 89 years old, only 4 feet 7 inches in height, has quite a life story to tell. Right now, Square One Theatre Company of Stratford is letting all those secrets and stories out of the bag as Mark St. Germain's illuminating tale "Becoming Dr. Ruth" plays weekends until Sunday, May 21. Performances take place at Square One's new home at the Stratford Academy, 719 Birdseye Street, Stratford.Alice McMahon is utterly charming as this petite powerhouse whose courage was tested early on in life when, at the age of ten, she was put on the Kindertransport train from her home in Germany to travel alone to Switzerland when Hitler and Nazism became a threat to Jewish lives. She never saw her beloved family again after they say goodbye.In this historical play, she talks directly to the audience, sharing anecdotes about the people she has met and the obstacles she has overcome. She shows pictures of her family that she is carefully wrapping because after living in this New York Washington Heights apartment for thirty seven years she is finally moving to a new home. Every item she touches triggers a memory, from a music box to a washcloth.Dr. Ruth happily confesses she is pack rat and is quite content to have the audience visit her while she packs up all her treasures. She asserts change is good and moving is good. She reveals that in Palestine her small stature made her a valuable messenger in the war and she served as a sniper. Coming to America, she sought an education and earned a doctorate, abandoning her first thought of being a kindergarten teacher to becoming a sex therapist. Through her radio and television shows, she helped millions of people deal with issues of a personal nature in a more open manner.Did you know it was Dr. Ruth who convinced a Governor Bill Clinton to run for the presidency? Who knew a Beatle (she is not sure which one) sang to her? Have you ever played her Game of Good Sex? Did you know she learned to speak English by reading True Confessions magazines? These are but a few the tidbits of information she reveals about her fascinating life, directed with dedicated care by Tom Holehan.For tickets ($20, seniors $19),call Square One Theatre at 203-375-8778 or online at www.squareonetheatre.com. Performances are Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.Come learn about this fascinating little lady who believes sex is a celebration of love, who bubbles with positive energy and works to repair the world.
EMILY DONAHOE AS MARY JANE PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
Parenting is never easy although it can be the most rewarding task a person can do. Being mom and dad rolled into one is an even more daunting challenge. Now imagine that your child is born prematurely and diagnosed with a litany of medical problems and you are the sole caregiver. Come meet Mary Jane who calmly and with dedicated love cares for her precious son Alex in Yale Repertory Theatre’s world premiere drama "Mary Jane” by Amy Herzog. The window into their lives will stay open until Saturday, May 20.Caring for her son is a 24/7 365 days a year responsibility and it takes a village to perform all the daily tasks that are required. Now two and a half years old, Alex dominates his mother’s life, especially since his dad is no longer in the picture. Three shifts of nurses enter their tiny apartment to lend support and technical assistance. Visitors include nurse Sherry (Shona Tucker), Sherry’s niece Amelia (Vella Lovell), new mom Brianne (Miriam Silverman) and building superintendent Ruthie (Kathleen Chalfant). Alex’s mom is a smiling, positive, even keeled Emily Donahoe who, like a steel magnolia lady, deals with the daily crises with even tempered ease.That steel magnolia spine threatens to bend and break when Alex suffers a Grand Mal seizure and pneumonia and Mary Jane finds herself living in the hospital for seven weeks and counting. There her world is enhanced by meetings with another mom with a sick child Chaya (Miriam Silverman), a music therapist Kat (Vella Lovell), Alex’s doctor (Shona Tucker) and a grief counselor Tenkei (Kathleen Chalfant). Trying to keep her equilibrium in the face of so many medical obstacles is a tremendous challenge despite the community of women who try to protect her. Mary Jane’s perch on her rock of steadiness is in danger of splintering into a thousand pieces.This emotionally challenging new work is directed with compassion by Anne Kauffman. For tickets ($12-99), call the Yale Rep. 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m, Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.Come hold Mary Jane’s hand as you try to protect her heart, and your own, in this sensitive, compassionate story of motherly love.
Monday, May 1, 2017
Monday, April 24, 2017
RAELLEN MAUTHER AS NONI CIMINO PHOTO BY JULIA GERACE
In most cultures and religions around the globe, family is the glue that holds us together. Add to family the uniting and bonding ingredients of food and you have the magic recipe that keeps traditions and holidays so dear to our hearts. Italians have long recognized these important factors and have melded them in every layer of lasagna and morsel of meatball. To learn about the importance of breaking bread and dipping it in gravy, the proper term for tomato sauce, come running to Pantochino Production of “Noni Cimino’s Kitchen” weekends until Sunday, May 7.
This original production was written by Pantochino’s Artistic Director Bert Bernardi for book and lyrics, with music by Justin Rigg, and focuses on a wonderful and warm grandmother, affectionately called Noni by her close knit clan. Played with heart and spirit by Raeleen Mautner, an actress who has a radio show as well as writes books, Noni is at the center of this tale. Excitement is in high gear when the unsuspecting Noni wins the opportunity to make her famous dish, chicken pizziaola on national television with the master chef Graham Kerr.
Thanks to a letter penned by Noni’s daughter-in-law Lori (Hannah Duffy), whose own recipe for gefilte fish was rejected, Noni is now the center of attention, with recognition she doesn’t want. Her daughters (Mary Mannix, Maria Berte and Shelley Marsh Poggio) as well as her granddaughters (Brianna Joy Jackson and Mia Davi), nosy neighbor (Valerie Solli), her niece (Emily Kopstein) and son (Jimmy Johansmeyer) are all aflutter at the news.
Noni’s tiny kitchen, created in great detail by Von Del Mar, is soon stuffed like manicotti, with everyone who wants to be part of the excitement. When the television show’s lead man Jerry (Justin Rigg) arrives, the kitchen is in happy chaos as everyone wants to help. Noni even offers Jerry a slice of heaven, her special dessert bianco mangia, affectionately termed “blah,” an all white with cherries marvel of cake and creme.
|Come be Italian for at least a few hours and let Noni embrace you as one of the family as, to her, la familigia is everything. Bon appetito.|
Saturday, April 22, 2017
DONKEY (SCOTT REDMOND) AND SHREK (WILL MANN)
PHOTO BY GERRY GOODSTEIN
Living in a swamp, all on your own, might not be the ideal location for many people, but for one green hued ogre named Shrek it was perfection. Ever since he was cast out from his family at the tender age of only seven, he took up residence in what some might term murky and muddy and altogether yucky. That wonderful address stopped being so fabulous when, suddenly, neighbors started arriving, uninvited and unwanted. It seems a dictator going by the name of Lord Farquaad, who ruled the town of Duloc, evicted all the fairy tale citizens and sent them with all their luggage, baggage and trunks to live in the swamp with Shrek.
Shrek is now forced to find room in his happy home for a lot of fhomeless misfits, namely Pinocchio, the three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, not to mention the Three Bears, the Ugly Duckling, Humpty Dumpty and the Gingerbread Man, to name drop just a few. To get control of his own home territory again, Shrek, an amazing Will Mann, must venture out of his comfort zone, his personal swamp, and confront the wicked Lord, villainy at its best in Mark Boyett, to reclaim the deed to his land. On his adventures, Shrek is accompanied by a wise-cracking new friend named Donkey, a loyal Scott Redmond, who can be helpful at times, and also a huge hindrance, an annoying BFF if there ever was one. Shrek, although an unlikely hero, bravely fights a ferocious dragon and rescues a feisty fearless princess named Fiona, a vivacious Desi Oakley, in the bargain.
To become acquainted with Shrek and his pals, come to the Connecticut Repertory’s outstanding production of “Shrek the Musical” at the Jorgensen Theatre until Sunday, April 30. This fantastic family musical with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori is great entertainment, with delightful sets by Tim Brown and Morgan Dawn Golightly, choreography by Katie Johannigman, costumes by Corey Brittain and Heather Lesieur and puppetry by Zach Broome.
The use of puppets, a unique feature at UCONN, adds a special element of fun to an already great show, with Matthew Sorensen mastering Pinocchio and the puppeteers creating the Gingerbread Man (Sam Kebede), the Dragon (Valerie Badjan) and the 3 Blind Mice (Rebekah Santiago Berger, Pearl Matteson, Tabitha Gayle) to perfection. The production is such a wonderful adventure, where a green ogre who loves smelly things and his oozy, gooey swamp saves a princess from a dragon and defeats the villain to discover love and true friendship, all in one afternoon or evening.
The message to the audience is “let your freak flag wave.” It’s okay to be different and memorable, even though others may try to belittle us, it’s our differences that make us strong. As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green” but that doesn’t mean it’s not great too.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Nostalgia reigns supreme when a bevy of chorus girls slip into their costumes and show business finery for one last romp of former glory. The stage of their greatest triumphs, the Weismann Theatre, is about to be closed forever, and these ladies want to come together to celebrate what once was. Every year between World Wars I and II, they flamboyantly made their mark tredding the boards. Now, with only a skeleton of past successes, mere planks and scaffolding, they have returned to the Weismann to conjure up memories and bid a reluctant farewell to the past.
Come to the Warner Theatre in Torrington for “Follies” by Stephen Sondheim for music and lyrics and James Goldman for book from Saturday, May 6 to Sunday, May 14, weekends, presented by the Warner Stage Company.
On one level, “Follies” is a simple and heartbreaking attempt to recapture the past and make it live again. On another level, it’s a metaphor for a nation’s loss of innocence after the assassination of President Kennedy when our rose colored glasses were shattered without warning. It’s 1971 and theatrical impresario Dimitri Weismann (James Wood) is having a reunion of ex-showgirls as a final farewell to end the era. Tunes like “Losing My Mind,” “I’m Still Here,” “Too Many Mornings,” “Could I Leave You?,” and “Broadway Baby” fill the rafters of this now crumbling edifice. The memories are not all sweet ones as two couples Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Benjamin and Phyllis Rogers Stone can attest. When they all meet again, old feelings are rekindled and current entanglements are revealed.
At poignant points in the show, the younger versions of the showgirls appear as ghosts of their former selves. This show was inspired by the true account of former Ziegfeld showgirls gathering for a reunion. Michael Berkeley directs this nostalgic look back in time, with Willard C. Minton as musical director.
The cast of Follies also includes Juliette Koch, Cole Sutton, Eric Lindblom, Becky Sawicki, Kelsey Morris, Amber Cameron, Dave Cadwell, Katie Kat, Shannon Leigh Sullivan, Payton Turpin, Amy LeBlanc, Christopher Gilbert, Suzanne Powers, Wendy Aronson Traub Bill Molnar, Darcy Boynton, Eve Van Syckle, Hope Murphy, Elyse Jasensky, Susan Mieras, and Josh Shakeshaft.
For tickets ($19-27),call Warner Theatre, 68 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180 or online at www.warnertheatre.org.
Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Come see what has been called the greatest musical of all time and follow the steps and stories of the past and the present to uncover the truth.
"FLORALITY" BY GEORGE HART, WELL KNOWN MATHEMATICIAN AND ARTIST FROM LONG ISLAND
Imagine a world without daffodils, daisies or day lilies, a landscape bereft of tulips, orchids, sunflowers or roses. An earth without the beauty and color and fragrance of flowers is unacceptable. This year, for the 23rd time, the Eli Whitney Museum's unique tribute to the original Renaissance Man Leonardo da Vinci, the annual Leonardo Challenge fundraiser will pay tribute to the blossoms and buds of the flowering world.
This technicolor world, "Leonardo in Bloom," will take place Thursday, April 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the museum, 915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden. This innovative event will be dedicated to raising scholarships for children to attend the museum's stimulating activities throughout the year on site.Leonardo da Vinci is known for his imaginative inventions as well as his skills in the world of mathematics, architecture, music, anatomy, science, engineering and writing. In addition, his talents as a painter were also a passion and he used his skills wisely, from drawing items as concrete as a helicopter and as ephermal as a hyacinth.From the time Leonardo was a teenager of fourteen, he pursued his love of the arts as an apprentice to Vercocchio, one of the most successful artists of the time. Legend has it that the student was so far superior to his teacher that Vercocchio retired his brushes and never painted again. The young man's powers in botany led him to his famed flower studies that include the lily, narcissus, columbine, carnation and Star of Bethlehem.Flowers exude a language of their own and the Eli Whitney Museum's Leonardo Challenge is stirring artists across the country to contribute a creation of their own, in a painting, a mobile, clothing design, jewelry, game, piece of furniture, the possibilities are endless.According to the museum's associate director Sally Hill, who is also the principal designer of the event, "No matter how many years we've been doing this, we are always blown away by the creativity of each year's entries. This year has not disappointed.” Once again, Hill will contribute an innovative lamp to the auction items.
On Thursday, April 27, the artist's contributions will be on display in a silent auction, ready for bidding. As participants bid, they will listen to the medieval music of Billy Fischer and Mickie Koth, strollers, and enjoy the culinary offerings of such food delights as Small Kitchen, Big Taste’s organic fare, flowered salads made by Two Guys from Woodbridge, Doug Coffin’s Big Green Truck Pizza, Whole G’s artisan bakers, cheeses from Fromagerie Caseus and the liquid libations from Koffee Kocktails and Black Hog Brewery as well as Chocolate Spectacular desserts from Tariq and Asma Farid of Edible Arrangements. .
For tickets ($75, with supporters at $250 violet, $500 lily, $1250 aster and $2500 orchid), go to https://squareup.com/store/
eli-whitney-museum-inc or https://www.eliwhitney.org/7/ exhibitions/leonardo-bloom.
Come enjoy the new garden that will be planted in all its artistic finery at this year's Leonardo Challenge and plan to pluck an offering to take home, all in a worthy cause of educating our youth in thought provoking experiences and experiments of invention and design.