Saturday, July 22, 2017

"MARY POPPINS" SAILS INTO TORRINGTON




Using the pen name P. L. Travers, this Australian born author, dancer, journalist, poet, storyteller and Shakespearean actress named Helen Lyndon Goff made the world a magical and happy place with the creation of an unusual nanny who carried a carpet bag and an umbrella with the head of a parrot and could hold tea parties on the ceiling.  Modeled after her own aunt who in her childhood saved the family from emotional and financial disaster, she gave the world "Mary Poppins" in a series of eight books that earned instant success.

Even as a child she was precocious and imaginative, picking a  giant sunflower from a neighbor’s garden thinking the great golden face was the face of God. To learn more about this nanny named Mary, fly over to the Main Stage of the Warner Theatre in Torrington from Saturday, July 29 to Sunday, August 6 to get better acquainted thanks to the innovative Warner Stage Company. With music and lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman, new songs by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, the award winning musical was co-created by Cameron MacKintosh.

As nannies go. Mary Poppins is one of the magical best.  Hailing from England in 1910, she unexpectedly arrives at number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane when the Banks family is in desperate need of her services.  A strong wind delivers her, carpetbag in hand, to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Banks and their children Jane and Michael.  Flying in with an umbrella is only one of her fanciful feats.

Jane and Michael Banks are thoroughly terrible and have chased their current nanny right out the door.  Mere minutes after the children pen their advertisement for  a new one, sung delightfully as “The Perfect Nanny,” who should arrive but Mary Poppins.

Here is a woman who can make statues come to life, whose best friend is a chimney sweep named Bert, who can befriend unusual people like a Bird Woman and a lady who runs a magical sweet shop and who can encourage toys to dance.

While trying to teach the children life lessons, like learning to value each other again, Mary P. inadvertently puts their father’s job at the bank in jeopardy.  But, never fear, all will come out right in the end.

For tickets ($19-27), call the Warner Theatre, 68 Main Street, Torrington at 860-440-8539, ext. 151 or 800-440-8539 or online at tickets.warnertheatre.org.  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Travel with Jane and Michael as they learn that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way,”
when a most amazing Mary Poppins has the spoon and the magic firmly in hand. It's "supercalifragilisticexpialidocius"(ly) great.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MTC SCHEDULES A QUARTET OF HOT SUMMER NIGHTS



                                       DAVID MAIOCCO AS LIBERACE
If variety is the spice of life, then Music Theatre of Connecticut is offering up a veritable perfect selection of flavors.  Their unique musical and entertaining spice rack is filled to overflowing and you're invited to taste and savor them all over a  quartet of hot summer nights.

First up is that sequined and sparkled entertainer Liberace, courtesy of David Maiocco who will dress in flamboyant fluff and finery to perform like the musical master himself.  The piano keys will be tickled as "An Evening with Liberace" conjures up the grand style the maestro was noted for in song and in story.  The candelabra will be lit for one night only, Saturday, July 23 at 8 p.m.

Next up, on Saturday, July 29 at 8 p.m., you're invited to chill out and sip "Cocktails with Cole," thanks to the singing styles of Leslie Orotino, s shining cabaret star who knows how to put across songs, especially those of Cole Porter in the 1930's and 1940's, the ones she loves best.  She grew up hearing her dad sing them and he passed on his love of that era directly to her.  This accomplished night club singer is also a polished actress, with credits in "Annie" as Miss Hannigan, Reno Sweeney in "Anything Goes" and Meg Brockie in "Brigadoon."

Versatile and eclectic, Raissa Katona Bennett inhabits the music worlds of cabaret, jazz, Broadway and classical song with ease.  One moment she is portraying Christine in Broadway's "Phantom of the Opera," and the next she is busy rescuing and training abandoned dogs or serving as assistant chaplain at Norwalk's Unity Church or being a Raiki master.  On Saturday, August 5, at 8 p.m., she will present her winning ways all directly  to your soul in "The Way of the Heart."  This consummate entertainer delivers all great cabaret tunes and scintillating stories too.

On Saturday, August 19, at 8 p.m., "Master of the Imagination" James Mapes will perform his one man Broadway show for your amazement and pleasure.  Billed as "The Imaginologist," Mapes is skilled at bedazzlement, using  misdirection, non-verbal clues, intuition, psychology,  storytelling and a modicum of magic as he delves into the impossible.  Starting his career at the age of nine, he quickly advanced to hypnosis and acting by his teen years.  Using fun and laughter, he educates and motivates, while treating his "subjects" with dignity. Come be captivated. 

For tickets ($25), call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk,behind 9 West Shoes, by calling 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com.
www.musictheatreofct.com
Music Theatre of Connecticut is the premier provider of musical theatre performance and training.


Light up your hot summer nights with some way cool entertainment, courtesy of Music Theatre of Connecticut.

Monday, July 17, 2017

“WEST SIDE STORY” A CLASSIC TALE OF STAR-CROSSED LOVERS











William Shakespeare wrote the original tale of star-crossed lovers centuries ago when he penned the tragic story of Juliet and her Romeo. Years later, the tragedy was retold by shifting it to the streets of New York where the original feuding families, the Capulets and the Montaques, were replaced by two street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets.  The avid animosity and anger were still there and the sweet, innocent and instantaneous love sparked between Maria and Tony was just as poisonous to their world and  impossible to sustain. 

The Ivoryton Playhouse is offering up a moving and emotionally vivid "West Side Story" until Sunday, July 30 and you will soon be caught up in the swirl of romance of Mia Pinero's lovely and luminous Maria matched with ardor by Stephen Mir's heroic and dedicated Tony.  The stirring musical is based on a conception by Jerome Robbins, a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  Musical theater doesn't get any better than this.

When the childhood games of hopscotch, jump rope, and leap frog are abandoned for hide and seek with real guns and turf wars over disputed territory, you know the cliques are now full-fledged gangs. Nowhere are the stakes more obviously at risk then here, pitting two rival gangs in a rumble where the blood runs warm and red. When the leader of the Puerto Rican pack Bernardo (Victor Borjas) finds his sister Maria  has eyes only for Tony, a member of the rival group, the stage is set for tragedy. Just like the doomed lovers of old, Maria and Tony are trapped in conflicts not of their own making. The purity of their love is tarnished by the war that flares out of control. Natalie Madion is a fiery Anita who tries in vain to cool the conflagration and end their affection.

The music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sonheim are magic, enhanced by Todd L. Underwood's energetic choreography and direction and Daniel Nischan’s versatile set. 
For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22,children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 3 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.  Performances are Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Watch for the exciting cabaret theater evenings planned this summer with the Ivoryton Playhouse and the Water's Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook, that combines a delicious dinner with sparkling live entertainment in a personal setting, for $69 a person.  Call Water's Edge at 860-399-5901 for reservations, or go online to www.watersedgeresortandspa.com.  Make your summer musical and memorable.

 Watch how the slash of a switchblade cuts out lives and hopes as it inflicts pain and poignancy to the modern day equivalent of Shakespeare’s favorite pair of lovers.

FLY TO THE BUSHNELL FOR "FINDING NEVERLAND"



THE NATIONAL TOUR OF "FINDING NEVERLAND"    PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG

The Scottish author J. M. Barrie created one of the most beloved characters in literature:  a young lad who could fly with ease, rescue Indian princesses and bravely battle a slew of evil pirates.  Peter Pan is renown for his courage and daring-do and his insistence that he never grow up.

To discover how Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet and Order of Merit, came to create a boy with such pluck and perseverance, set your sails directly for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, August 1 to Sunday, August 6 for "Finding Neverland."  With book by James Graham, music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy,  choreography by Mia Michaels and direction by Diane Paulus, this new musical explores imagination and magic in a fantastical combination.

J. M. Barrie was deeply scarred by the death of his older brother in a skating accident when he was only six and he tried to become the perfect boy to help his grieving mother cope.  Perhaps that explains in a small manner his obsession with  a youngster who never grew up and had the powers to fly out of danger at will.  While his marriage was an unhappy one, the author frequently took walks around London's Kensington Gardens with his Saint Bernard.  He chanced upon a family of five rambunctious boys, the Llewelyn Davies brothers, in the late 1890's, and they became his newest inspiration for Peter Pan.

In his great desire for a family, J. M. Barrie insinuated himself in their lives, so much so that when their parents died he supported them financially. He became "Uncle Jim" and entertained Peter, Jack, George, Michael and Nicholas with fairy tales and make-believe stories. He subscribed to the notion that  "Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."

Barrie's "Dedication to the Five" tells the story of how the play came to be: "I suppose I always knew that I made Peter by rubbing the five of you violently together, as savages with two sticks produce a flame... What a game we had of Peter before we clipped him small to make him fit the boards. He was the longest story on earth." 

All the proceeds from the copyright of Pater Pan were left to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and continue to this day even though they should have expired years ago. For tickets ($22.50 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www..bushnell.org.  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.

Sprinkle some fairy-dust as you come under the spell of J. M. Barrie who freely admitted that he never grew up and never wanted you to grow up either.  Come play make-believe at the Bushnell.

Monday, July 10, 2017

“MY WAY” A DELIGHTFUL MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO FRANK SINATRA IN BERLIN



KAITE CORDA AND JON ESCOBAR IN "MY WAY" AT CT CABARET THEATRE

In honor of its twentieth anniversary, the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin is throwing a musical party and you are cordially invited.  In a night club setting, the songs and stories about America's favorite crooner come pouring out for your listening pleasure. Some of us have even been known to sing along, welcomed or not.  For a delightful evening of songs and memories, come hear  “My Way:  A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” weekends until Saturday, August 5.  Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, the show features the smooth and sophisticated talents of Kaite Corda and Jon Escobar for stories, songs and dances.

In December of 1915, a baby boy was born to Italian immigrant parents in Hoboken, New Jersey, who was destined to become a beloved interpreter of tunes, a swinger with the likes of a Tommy Dorsey and Harry James, a “bobby soxer” idol way before the Beatles and an actor gifted enough to win an Academy Award as well as more than a dozen Grammy Awards. Francis Albert Sinatra, better known as Frank, was part of the Rat Pack with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford and answered to the monikers “Ol’ Blue Eyes” and “Chairman of the Board.”

Duke Ellington called Frank “the ultimate theater” and this King of the Hill duet travels from “Strangers in the Night” to “I’ll Be Seeing You,” stopping along the way to pay homage to the late night  orb, with “Fly Me to the Moon,” spin the light fantastic romantically with such hits as “All of Me,” and “My Funny Valentine,” move around the world geographically with “My Kind of Town,” “New York, New York” and “I Love Paris” as well as a  medley of philosophical favorites such as “That’s Life,” “It Was a Very Good Year” and “I’m Gonna Live Til I Die.”

To Frank Sinatra, the secret of his success was to sing good songs and this wonderful twosome does just that in tribute and style.  Sinatra was known to sing one hundred songs a day and this musical tapestry squeezes in more than half 
that number, sprinkling in anecdotes along the way. The Hoboken Three, featuring TJ Thompson, Jamie Sherwood and Tim Urso play a sparkling backup for the classy tunes. Kris McMurray directs this smooth sampling with flair.

For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin (right off the Berlin Turnpike) at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com.  Performances are Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.  Remember to pack goodies to share at your table or plan to buy drinks and desserts on site.

Come recapture the spirit of a man whose music was a legend, a man we will long treasure and celebrate. Raise a toast to the Chairman of the Board.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

UMBRELLAS UP FOR “SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN”





Put on your yellow slickers, rain hats, rubber boots and inflate your sunny umbrellas for Summer Theatre of New Canaan's truly delightful rain sparkled production of "Singing' in the Rain" under the big white tent at Waveny Park until Sunday, July 30.This smash 1952 movie originally starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor was first brought to the stage in 1985 and continues to be a saccharine sweet crowd pleaser. Credits go to Betty Comden and Adolph Green for the screenplay and to Nacio Brown and Arthur Freed for the music.

The time is 1927 and Monumental Pictures has just released another silent movie hit, “The Royal Rascal,” starring that classic romantic couple Don Lockwood, a dashing Matthew Tiberi, and  Lina Lamont, a lovely looking Jodi Stevens. But the old-fashioned heyday of silent films is suddenly taking a back seat to the new kid on the block, the talkies. Can Monumental and its two favorites make the transition? Only if Lina Lamont never opens her uncultured and raspy mouth. But who is going to tell her she sounds like a mad cat in heat, on her good days?

Enter the savior of the day in the personage of peppy and pretty, perky and
polished Kathy Selden, a darling Annabelle Fox who has a voice song birds would envy.
Don Lockwood’s good friend Cosmo,  an ever clowning David Rossetti, comes up with what seems to be the perfect picture solution as long as the lovely Lina never suspects: using Kathy’s
voice to dub in all the words and melodies.

The choreography is non stop super, both wet and dry, thanks to the talents of Douglas Shankman and the romantic songs likeAll I Do Is Dream of You,” and “You Are My Lucky Star” are balanced by cheery ones like “Good Morning” and the silly ones like “Moses Supposes” and “Make ‘Em Laugh.” Melody Meitrott Libonati directs this puddle jumping joy.

For tickets ($30-64) call Summer Theatre of New Canaan, 11 Farm Road, Waveny Park, New Canaan (just off the Merritt, exit 37, behind the high school) at 203-966-4634 or online at www.stonc.org. Performances are Thursday at  8pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 4pm.  Picnic tables are available for reservation.

Also for the kiddies, STONC is offering up a world premiere of "The Dancing Princesses" about 
a mystery that surrounds the young girls and a two person show playing all the characters in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" on Saturday and Sunday mornings and early afternoons ($22-25).

It’s umbrellas and thumbs way up for “Singin’ in the Rain.”  Lucky stars shine in the New Canaan sky.

UCONN MAKING HEADLINES WITH "NEWSIES"


       JACK KELLY (JIM SCHUBIN)  AND HIS GANG    PHOTO BY GERRY GOODSTEIN

For thousands of kids, mostly homeless and with little chance of an education, scrambling on street corners of cities like New York,as they tried to earn a penny to keep poverty from their door.  They hustled newspapers, as energetic and enterprising youth, hoping to be the first one to sell you the latest headlines of the day.  This practice dates back to colonial times and no protection like child labor laws existed.

In 1899, giants of the industry decided they deserved more profit and leaders like Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raised the price these scruffy lads paid for the "paps" and effectively reduced the lads' profit to nothing.  The boys led by Jack Kelly, a smart thinking Jim Schubin, and his new friend Davey, an equally savvy Noah Kieserman, devised a plan to form a union and fight the big guys.

This true David and Goliath story birthed a new musical "Newsies" with book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman, and it has been making its own headlines, winning Tony Awards in 2012 for Best Choreography and Best Original Score.  Hold on to your reading glasses and run as fast as you can to the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs by Sunday, July 16 for the Connecticut Repertory Theatre's sterling production of "Disney's Newsies The Musical" as it marches proudly and defiantly into the Jorgensen Theatre.  

"Newsies" centers on child labor practices, when the kids united to change the way the big powers compensated them.  In the two weeks the boys refused to sell newspapers, circulation dropped from 360,000 to 125,000 and the kids were victorious in having their voices heard. These boys were often homeless and orphaned.  They were not employees and had no one to protect them but themselves.  They fearlessly took on the giants and won, even though the newspapers wouldn't let them return unsold goods. initially.  Working from early morning often to late in the night, they typically earned 30 cents a day.

Come meet Jack as he gathers his ragamuffin force to protest and finds unexpected support from a reporter named Katherine, a lovely and spirited Paige Smith.  With the help of Davey who with his younger brother Les, a ready to fight for the right Atticus L. Burello, is aiding the family when his dad is disabled, the boys are encouraged to "Seize the Day."  The police and strikebreakers try to snuff their spirit but, ultimately, Jack's championing of their cause prevails and Pulitzer, a power driven Richard Henry,  backs down on his monetary demands.  Even Governor Theodore Roosevelt, a justice seeking Nate Healey, rides in to help save the day.

Also deserving of note are Jack's adopted brother Crutchie, a loyal Tyler Jones, 
and Medda Larkin,  a fiery singing chanteuse Tina Fabrique, who both lend their support to the cause. Director and choreographer Christopher d'Amboise does a super yeoman job in making this production so memorable.

For tickets ($12 to 55), call the Jorgensen Theatre at Storrs, at 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu.  Performances are Tuesday, 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., with an added matinee Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Join Jack and his pals as they carry the banner of truth, justice and the 
American way,  hitting the streets of 1899 New York City as pint-sized heroes to battle the giants and win the day.

Monday, July 3, 2017

CT CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS BEST IN STATE FOR THEATER


MASTER OF CEREMONIES TERRENCE MANN WITH PRESENTERS THE BRIGGS GIRLS
PHOTO BY MARA LAVITT

For the 27th year, the CT Critics Circle honored the best in the state for the 2016-2017 theater season at Sacred Heart University's Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts in a gala celebration.  Three-time Tony Award-nominee Terrence Mann served as a "brisk" Master of Ceremonies while Bobby Conte Thornton, star of Broadway's "A Bronx Tale" performed musical selections.

Taking top honors for best play was Westport Country Playhouse's moving production of a man being held for ransom, "The Invisible  Hand" while best musical went to a family coping with mom's mental illness, "Next to Normal" by Hartford TheaterWorks.

The Tom Killen Award for lifetime service in the theater was awarded to Paulette Haupt for her four decades as Artistic Director of the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford.  Ms. Haunt will retire this year and will be feted at a gala at the unique site in Waterford on July 22 at 6 p.m.  Go to www.theoneill.org for the full schedule of offerings in musicals, plays and cabarets.

The superb British actor Paxton Whitehead was singled out for a special lifetime achievement award, especially for his numerous appearances at Westport Country Playhouse in Alan Ayckbourn comedies.  James Lecesne who has devoted his life to improving the fate of gay youth  through his writings, acting and advocacy work was also recognized.  He appeared this year in his own work, a one man show, "The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey" at Hartford Stage.

Awards for outstanding actors in a musical went to Christiane Noll for playing the mom in "Next to Normal" and to Zach Schanne as Tony in "West Side Story" at Summer Theatre of New Canaan. Outstanding actor in a play went to Eric Bryant as the hostage in "The Invisible Hand" and to Vanessa R. Butler as a conflicted military soldier in Hartford Stage's "Queens for a Year."

Best director nods went to Rob Ruggiero for his emotional "Next to Normal" and to David Kennedy for his intense "The Invisible Hand." Outstanding featured actors in a play in a musical went to Rhett Guter for his title role in Goodspeed's "Bye  Bye Birdie" while Kate Simone took top honors for  her title role as "Gypsy" at Music Theatre of Connecticut.

Mia Dillon was selected best featured actor for her duel roles as a child and as a dowager in Hartford Stage's "Cloud 9" while Cleavant Derricks lobbied for possession of the family legacy in Hartford Stage's "The Piano Lesson."

Long Wharf's Theatre's "The Meteor Shower" took top honors for its quirky ensemble cast, Maya Keleher  won the debut award for playing the conflicted daughter in "Next to Normal,"  Jon Peterson for writing and playing the talented Anthony Newley in Seven Angels' production of "He Wrote Good Songs," and Doug Shankman for his clever choreography in "West Side Story" at Summer Theatre of New Canaan.

Jane Shaw won for her special sound design as did Darko Tresnjak for his outstanding Greek Village set and Fabio Toblini for his flamboyant costumes in "The Comedy of Errors" at Hartford Stage while John Lasiter won best lighting for illuminating "Next to 
Normal.

Presenters included Obie-winning composer Kirsten Childs, actor-director-producer Jerry Adler, O'Neill Theater Center founder George White, former Goodspeed Musicals executive Michael Price, broadway.com editor-in-chief Paul Wontorek, SiriusXM radio host Julie James and Tony Award-winning set designer Michael Yeargan.







PLAYHOUSE ON PARK SEES SHAKESPEARE THRU SILLY EYES


RICH HOLLMAN, SEAN HARRIS AND HANNA CHEEK PLAY AT SHAKESPEARE

Fair warning to Shakespearian scholars and purists:  the Playhouse on Park in West Hartford is offering up a tongue-in-cheek speedy survey of the Bard's collective works until Sunday, July 30.  With song, dance, improvisation, slapstick, horseplay and even a little mime, a trio of actors - Sean Harris, Hanna Cheek and Rich Hollman - skip at warp speed through all of Shakespeare's tragedies, comedies and histories in "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised)" created by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield.

In the fair environs of Verona, we meet Romeo and Juliet, the most famous star-crossed lovers who are doomed by the long standing feuding  by their families.  Before the bottles of poison are even drained, we are quickly swept into a cooking show reminiscent of "Sweeney Todd" as Titus Andronicus, chief chef, seeks revenge by concocting tasty human treats.

The tale of the dark and brooding Othello who becomes jealous when his best pal Iago deceives him about Othello's wife Desdemona and her faithfulness is spotlighted next.  With tweets and Instagrams, the green-eyed witch is revealed.

If one of the Bard's comedies is good, then sixteen of them must be better. Watch  the three  go off and running when they tackle this mix and match mash up with identical twins, tempests and tons of mistaken identifies. Dukes, donkeys and fairies have  a no holds barred free for all in this delightful tangle of tales.

Golfers play through as we go all Scottish on the heath as Macbeth takes center stage in this glorious blood and death story that quickly morphs into the Ides of March and Julius Caesar and football and Troilus and Cressida and ends with the Prince of Denmark himself, Hamlet.  The audience gets to jump into the fray and shout out a few appropriate phrases as Wonder Woman leaps into the fight.  Watch for skulls on motorcycles and a whole lot of chutzpah riding shotgun, but all in the name of frivolous fun.  Tom Ridgely directs this out of control madness and frivolity, all designed for pleasure.

For tickets ($25-40 ), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford, at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online to www.PlayhouseOnPark.org.  Performances are  Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

PLAYWRIGHTS ON PARK Reading Series continues On Tuesday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m. with an intense comedy "COMMUNITY" by Stephen Kaplan.

Come have fun and enjoy the theatrical antics as all of Shakespeare's works are dusted off and hung on the line for exploration , examination and evisceration, all in the name of enjoyment.


Monday, June 26, 2017

“MACBETH” BUSY HAUNTING IN ROWAYTON




In a swirl of fog, with the cackling of tartan plaid witches, as the threat of lightning, thunder and rain emerge, you are welcomed to the heaths of Scotland.  The conquering hero Macbeth has returned victorious after defending his King, Duncan, and marches home with his loyal liege Banquo.  On the way, the two men meet the weird sisters (Jessica Van Niel, Maghan Grover, Beatrice Shannon)who foretell that Macbeth will soon be named The Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland, while Banquo's children will also be kings.,

Grab a blanket, a lawn chair, a picnic supper and the kiddies and head to Pinkney Park in Rowayton by Sunday, July 2 for Shakespeare on the Sound's exciting version of The Bard's greatest tragedy "Macbeth."  Performances are at 7:30 p.m., with a children's version at 6:30 p.m.

Graham Stevens is magnificent as the flawed hero who lets ambition and power cloud his visions, and with the malicious help of Lady Macbeth, a conniving Winsome Brown, agrees to make the words of the witches a reality.  When he is named Thane of Cawdor, he plots to become King by taking Duncan's (Rod Singleton)
life.  He murders the King as all his sleeping ambitions spring to life and everyone he deems is in his way is eliminated.

Murder most foul follows as the pair manipulate fate to secure the ends they desire. The once valiant soldier soon exudes evil, leaving a trail of wickedness in his path. Macbeth begins seeing ghosts of those he has slain while Lady Macbeth manifests her guilt through sleepwalking and confessions.  Their consciences allow them no peace.

Once his cohort Macduff, an enraged Nicholas Urda,  learns Macbeth has slain his whole family, joins forces with the brave Malcolm, Duncan's surviving son, played with regal strength by Henry Jenkinson, to end Macbeth's reign of terror. Claire Shannon Kelly directs this momentous drama on an interesting divided set created by Brian Prather, with a slew of Scottish kilts designed by Crier Coleman and intriguing lighting effects realized by Jamie Roderick.  The fight scenes choreographed by Rod Kinter are smashing while Alex Santullo's sound strikes a dramatic cord.

Donations to this production underwrite this summer festival as well as educational programming year round in schools, libraries, adult and art programs, all with the goal of promoting a love and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare.

Come sit under the stars, after a magnificent sunset, and watch with fascinated eyes how  Macbeth's unleashed lust for power propels him on a course of brutal self-destruction.

COME GET MODERN WITH MILLIE AT GOODSPEED



CAST OF THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE AT GOODSPEED



Within five minutes of arriving by bus from Salinas, Kansas to the Big Apple, an optimistic Millie Dilmount has her hair bobbed, her frock shortened and her knees rouged.  It's 1922 for heaven's sake.  Within ten minutes, she has her hat, purse, one shoe and suitcases spirited away.  Welcome to New York City and the real world, Miss Dilmount.

Have no fear.  This bright, cute as a button, lass will land on her feet, once she gets a pair of matching pumps in the delightful musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" making crowds deliriously happy at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam until Sunday, July 2.

Come cheer on Taylor Quick's adorable Millie, who keeps her glowing sunshine face on almost every minute of this award winning show with book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlon, with new music by Jeanine Tesori and new lyrics by Dick Scanlon.

Millie is on a mission: to find a secretarial job and marry her rich boss.  She moves into the Hotel Priscilla, run by a rather unorthodox Mrs. Meers (Loretta Ables Sayre) and snags a new roommate Dorothy (Samantha Strum) just when the rent she doesn't have comes due.

Securing a job at Sincere Trust, Millie sets her romantic cap for the swaggering stud Trevor Graydon (Edward Watts), while fending off the advances of a penniless suiter Jimmy Smith (Dan DeLuca).  Millie soon find herself mingling in high society, meeting socialite and sultry singer Muzzy Van Hossmere (Ramona Keller).

Meanwhile the nefarious Mrs. Meers, with her cohorts Ching Ho and Bun Foo (James Seol and Christopher Shin), cause orphaned residents of the Hotel Priscilla to suddenly disappear, with a one way ticket to Hong Kong.  Millie, Jimmy and Trevor work to unravel the white slavery trade when Dorothy goes missing.  Unexpected romantic matches occur that make almost all concerned deliciously joyful.

All along the way, the musical numbers directed by Michael O'Flaherty with snap typewriter key rhythm speed and  the choreography and direction by Denis Jones rocks and roars with rousing success.  Gregory Gale has a glorious time designing costumes with a flamboyant flapper's flair, on a set of 1920's sensibility designed by Paul Tale de Poo III.

For tickets ($29 and up), call Goodspeed Musicals, 6 Main Street, East Haddam, on the Connecticut River, at 860-873-8668 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. Select performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Practice your Charleston, shorten the hemline on your flapper frock, hide a flask of bootleg gin, bob your hair and prepare for jazzy fun, mysterious madcap moments and Cupid's arrows flying far afield.

THERE’S GOLD IN THEM ‘THAR HILLS



SUN SETTING ON THE LOVELY CAMPUS OF THE EUGENE O'NEILL THEATER CENTER IN WATERFORD

The California Gold Rush officially opened at Sutter’s Mill in 1849 and 300,000 prospectors  scurried across country to strike it rich.  Fast forward to 1964 when another promising gold rush began in the quiet hills of Waterford, a literary one, when the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center opened its innovative doors.  If you haven’t yet investigated the rich veins of mineral wealth hidden in the Waterford hills. just ripe for the plucking, what are you waiting for?

The Eugene O’Neill Center is dedicated to the incubating of new works in a variety of areas.  June is the month dedicated to the international exploration of puppets, with a Puppetry Conference headed by Artistic Director Pam Arciero.  This year featured workshops by Marvyn Miller, the creative mind that produced the elegant animals of “War Horse” fame.

From more than a hundred submissions, the National Music Theater Conference, headed by long vigilant Artistic Director Paulette Haupt,whittles the selection to three brand new offerings from June 24 to July 14.  This year’s productions will include a true account of a sixteen year old runaway and who and what he encounters living homeless  on the streets.  The work, “Home Street Home,” has book by Fat Mike, Soma Snakeoil, with David Goldsmith, lyrics by Fat Mike, Soma Snakeoil and Jeff Marx and music by Fat Mike.  Look for it June 24, 25, 28 and 30.

On July 1, 2, 5, and 7, get your dance shoes on for “iLLA! A Hip Hop Musical” with book, music and lyrics by Ronve O’Daniel, music by Jevares C. Myrick, with J.Kyle Myrick as co-writer and story consultant. Follow what happens when a young boy’s dreams are threatened by the country’s failing economy and a love that is misdirected.

“Superhero” with book by John Logan and music and lyrics by Tom Kitt will play July 8, 9. 12 and 14 and tell the tale of a mother and son who can’t recover from the death of dad a year ago until a stranger brings them hope for reconciliation.  The productions are staged readings, with song.

On Saturday, July 22 at 6 p.m., a Summer Gala will honor founding Artistic Director of the National Music Theater Conference Paulette Haupt and celebrate her forty years of dedicated service.  The event will take place in the O’Neill’s Sunken Garden.

From more than a thousand submissions, the National Playwrights Conference, headed by Wendy C. Goldberg, selects eight plays for development.  On July 5 and 6, come and see “We Are Among Us” by Stephen Belber about how a younger generation copes with the secrets and deceptions of parents, living and dead.  In “The Quiet Ones” by Mary Elizabeth Hamilton, being offered July 7 and 8, come discover how a kindergarten teacher juggles a number of disturbing problems trying to reconcile who and what she wants and needs in life.

Immigrant women from Poland, Ukraine, Honduras and Afghanistan are housed in a basement in Queens and search for a future in an uncertain new world where the past is also present.  “queens” is written by Martyna Majok and will play July 12 and 13. Basketball as a game on and off the court occupies a new recruit Eli as he is wooed to make choices he may not be ready to accept.  “Exposure” by Steve DiUbaldo will enjoy a fast dribble down the courts on July 14 and 15.

Elaine Romero, in the third part of her trilogy about Mexican immigrants, “Title IX,” continues the tale of a border family of Latino educators for more than four decades as they discover how their rights have been manipulated and not always improved.  Watch for it July 19 and 20.
The New York Times crossword puzzles, especially on the weekends, are juxtaposed against the incredibly difficult task of staying sober in Adam Esquenazi Douglas’ “The One ATM in Antarctica” being revealed letter by clue on July 21 and 22.

When a white policeman shots her black son, a mother retreats onto a fantasy world of comic book superheroes instead of coping with her loss in “Black Super Hero Magic Mama” by Inda Craig-Galvan, turning pages on July 26 and 27.  The golden years glow around a trio of couples who have enjoyed companionship and friendship over the decades and now are contemplating moving in together to continue their ties.  Those ties are threatened to snap with the discovery of infidelity in “Assisted Living” by Michael Tucker on July 28 and 29.

August 2 to 12 welcomes the Cabaret and Performance Conference, under the direction of John McDaniel, where evenings are stuffed with
stars doing their stuff.  From the free opening ceremonies on August 2, the calendar includes Brad Simmons and Christina Bianco on August 3, Tracy Stark on the 4th, Spencer Day on the 5th, Barb Jungr and John McDaniel sharing the mike on August 6th, Tom Wopat on August 8, the Junior Fellows doing the Bee Gees on August 9, an evening with the Cabaret Fellows August 10, Judy Kuhn on August 11 and the Cabaret Finale August 12.  The on site Blue Gene’s Pub is open before and after for a little liquid refreshment to mingle with the stars.

For tickets or more information, call the O’Neill box office at 860-443-1238 or go online to www.theoneill.org.  General admission to the puppetry, plays and musicals is $30 and to the cabaret $40-60, with tables $110-235.

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford on thirteen rolling hills, with four theaters on site, is a gold mine of riches that you need to explore. Inquiring minds, not pick axes, are required.