Monday, March 27, 2017



Playwrights and composers have never admitted that there is a topic for a musical that cannot be dealt with successfully.  Whether it is the sinking of the Titanic or the taboo topic of mental illness, the issues have been faced straight on and with eyes wide open. The current offering at the Yale Repertory Theatre does push the explosive edge of the envelope to a disturbingly dangerous level with "Assassins," the book by John Weidman and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, taking center stage at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven until Saturday, April 8.

These two enterprising gentleman have focused their attention on nine wannabe members of history, seven men and two women, who for reasons of their own, decided to kill a president.  Whether they were mentally ill or merely misguided, courageous in their desire to change the world or right a wrong, their voices will be heard in word and song. 

Set in a shooting gallery run by the proprietor (Austin Durant), guns are easily obtained and ready to be utilized to satisfy desires. The idea is to use a gun to realize a dream and become happy in the process.  The treachery by these traitors is examined.  They each feel they are victims of scorn and injustice and that their deeds are justified,  no matter the price. They want to occupy a place in history, even if it costs them their lives.

John Wilkes Booth, a strong minded Robert Lenzi, leads off the sobering parade with his assassination of President Lincoln, and then returns to the artillery field to encourage a hesitant Lee Harvey Oswald, played by Dylan Frederick, who also serves as the balladeer or singing narrator. All the participants in the tableau of violence return to cheer on Oswald in his deed to kill President Kennedy.  Along the way we meet Leon Czolgosz (P. J. Griffith) who takes the life of President McKinley, John Hinckley (Lucas Dixon) who tries to kill Reagan, Charles Guiteau (Stephen DeRosa) who takes out James Garfield (Brian Ray Norris), Guiseppe Zangara (Stanley Bahorek) who wants to shoot FDR, Samuel Byck (Richard R. Henry) who sets his sights on Nixon and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme (Lauren Molina) and Sara Jane Moore (Julia Murney) who work together to take down Gerald Ford (Fred Inkley).

Whether they succeed or not, their stories are bizarre, macabre and worthy of a song or three, in a number of folk singing genres. You, the audience, are invited to probe the recesses of the minds of these deeply disturbed individuals, to be shocked by the black humor and complicated issues involved.  One hundred years of American history will be paraded by and you are not asked for sympathy or empathy, but rather for a level of understanding of the problems of these human beings.

The shooting gallery at the carnival corners all the action as the Proprietor  provides the weapons of choice for all the participants.  He entices them to play the game, promising that shooting a President will bizarrely solve their problems, in the song “Everybody’s Got the Right.”  Meanwhile the Balladeer, who represents the American Dream, tells each character’s story in turn.  Please be forewarned that this show may not be suitable for all ages due to its subject matter.  Artistic director James Bundy will direct and Andrea Grody will oversee the music in this intricate and involving exploration of the darker days of our heritage.

For tickets ($12-99), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday to  Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees  Wednesday and Saturday  at 2 p.m.

Let the Yale Rep introduce you to these nine infamous personages who celebrate violence in a nightmarish and controversial manner. 


Music lovers of a certain era are in for a special treat courtesy of the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, April 9. Come raise a glass to toast and pay tribute to a man who recorded 1300 tunes in his illustrious career that spanned decades.

In December of 1915, a baby boy was born to Italian immigrant parents in Hoboken, New Jersey.  He was destined to become a beloved crooner 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.”

For a truly delightful evening of memories and music, the Ivoryton Playhouse is eager to provide nostalgia as it presents  “My Way:  A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra.”   Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, the show features the talents of a sparkling quartet of singers and hoofers,  Rick Faugno, Lauren Gire, Josh Powell and Vanessa Sonon, in a sophisticated supper club setting reminiscent of the late 1950’s created by William Russell Stark.

 Called  “the ultimate theater” by Duke Ellington,  this King of the Hill songster put across a tune like few others could.  Come hear these two men and two women travel from “Strangers in the Night” to “I’ll Be Seeing You,” stopping along the way to pay homage to the nighttime orb, with “Fly Me to the Moon,” spin the light fantastic romantically with such hits as “Where or When,” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” 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,” My Way," “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 quartet 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. Husband and wife team Joyce Chittick and Rick Faugno direct and choreograph this smooth sailing sampling with skill and sophistication.

For tickets ($50, $45 for seniors, $22 for students, $17 for children), call at 860-767-7328 or online at  Performances are Wednesday
and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at  8 p.m. and Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come join this engaging tribute celebration and recapture the spirit of a man whose music was a legend, a man we will long treasure and respect.


If Dr. Charles Wall, a professor at Bakersfield Community College was prophetic, he might have foreseen the enormous implications of his remarkable concept of performing Random Acts of Senseless Kindness.  A teacher of Human Relations students at the California school, he was disheartened to hear about random acts of senseless violence, so he assigned his class to perform an act of kindness and write about the results.

the class protested but did as they were told and the results were nothing short of amazing.  What Dr. Wall, who is blind, started in September 1993, has inspired people around the world to be kinder and nicer.  There is even a week in February dedicated to performing these good deeds.  The NBC TV morning Today Show recently racked up a million recorded incidents of generous deeds.

When examining this concept, perhaps one of the most extraordinary examples of kindness took pace in our neighboring Canada, in a small community named Gander, Newfoundland, when on tuesday, September 11, 2001, the world changed dramatically and irrevocably.

On that morning of devastation when the U.S.A. was attacked, 38 airplanes were diverted and forced to land at Gander as airspe]ace was closed.  Almost 7000 passengers and crew had no idea what was happening. Neither, initially, did the people in the tiny Canadian community.  Soon food, clothing, toothbrushes, blankets, dog food and diapers were being collected.  The people of Gander opened their hearts and their homes to strangers and in five days life long friendships were established.  Here was humanity at its best, forced under extreme emergency circumstances, a five day wonder, by a volunteer army of Good Samaritans.

To share this inspiring story with the world, playwrights and composers Irene Sankoff and David Hein conducted hundreds of interviews at the tenth anniversary of Gander's gigantic Random Act of Kindness and the result is the remarkable musical "Come From Away" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street, New York City.  For tickets ($47-167), call Telecharge at 212-239-6200 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and8 p.m., Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m

Come meet Claude (Joel Hatch), Gender's industrious mayor, Bonnie (Petrina Bromley) whose main concerns are the animals on the plane, Kevin T. (Chad Kimball) and Kevin J. (Caesar Samoyos) who are afraid their gay relationship will be a problem, Hannah (Q. Smith) who is worried her fireman son is in trouble in New York City, Diane (Sharon Wheatley) and Nick (Lee MacDougale) who discover love in the chaos and Beverly (Jenn colleen) who is the first female pilot to captain an American Airlines plane, this one a Paris to Dallas flight. The twelve acts play both the thousands of roles, from passengers to the people of Gander, including Geno Carr, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum and Astrid Van Wieren.

With music that resonates with spirit, like "Welcome to the Rock," "Me and the Sky" and "Stop the World" and a dozen others, the show flies on wings of fear that morph into hope and promise.  This is theater at its remarkable and restorative best. Christopher Ashley directs this wonderful tribute to cooperation with spirit.

Merci, our good neighbor Canada.  Happy 150th Birthday.  Long may we celebrate our friendship.

Monday, March 20, 2017


For 26 years, the Connecticut Critics Circle has focused a spotlight on Equity theater productions across our state, and every June acknowledges the best of that theater with awards of excellence for members of the theater community, from actors to directors, to costumers and sound and light, to debut awards and the prestigious Killen Award for a lifetime of achievement.

Right now we need your help.  If you are a lover of live entertainment, you can help the CCC to perpetuate and enhance its mission.  Go to and make a pledge to help us continue our work: to write about and acknowledge the best of our state's efforts.  There are many levels of participation and all are welcomed and appreciated.  You can also go to to the homepage for further information.  Thank you in advance for your generous support. This opportunity is only open in March 2017.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Unbelievably, in January 2014, almost 50,000 homeless veterans were identified in this country, almost 10% of the entire homeless population.  Most of these are male, are single and suffer from a variety of ailments, from mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Many have served time in jails.  Almost half of them are Hispanic or African-American.  They are clearly in need of socialization, health care, rehabilitation, job training and a safe place to live.

Knowing all of these concerns and wising to make a difference, Peter Van Heerden, the Executive Director for the Arts at Fairfield University’s Quick Center, had a vision.  He wanted to focus a spotlight on the problem and encourage a greater connection with this virtually forgotten segment of society.  We have long acknowledged the bravery and courage of firemen and police who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect and serve.  How much further up on the ladder of sacrifice are our soldiers who go to war all over the world to guard and guarantee our freedoms?

Peter Van Heerden determined to create a theater piece “War Stories” which will premiere Friday, March 31 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 1 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Wien Experimental Theatre at the Quick Center at Fairfield University, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield.  His emphasis is on courageous storytelling, with his team that includes writer Sonya Huber and artist Nina Bentley.  Since January, sixteen veterans, including a trio of women, representing the Army, Navy and Marines have met every day to develop a full-length performance piece, woven from the real experiences of the soldiers…each of their war stories.

Come meet a woman who was born to unfit parents, unwanted by her mother and wanted too much by her father.  While maintaining straight A’s as a student, she felt her life was dangerous  and surrounded herself with losers. Even though she joined the Navy and finally found good friends, alcohol and drugs became her companions so she wouldn’t feel anything.  She finally acknowledges she is in a good place and has forgiven her parents and herself in recovery.  This is her war story.

For a male Marine, he was raised by grandparents after his parents abandoned him.  He was emotionally abused and  never felt loved or supported. Now he is a grandfather himself and loves to provide what he was never privy to enjoy.  For an Army male, being at Home for the Brave has brought him sobriety for the last 18 months. In another’s tale, this Army man, an African-American, raised himself from the age of 14, was expelled from high school, went AWOL, served in jailed for over two decades where he earned three college degrees. That is his war story.

These men and women are clear about what America means to them:  freedom, equality, good people, good friends, democracy and opportunity and they are willing to die to defend those rights.  These are raw, sensitive, honest and sincere words that pour out of their hearts. These confessions, according to Van Heerden serve as “filters through which we understand information, shaping how we connect to each other and the world around us.  Our stories have the potential to alter culture, politics, policy, behavior and perceptions.  Through each of our stories, we can make people care.”  All the storytellers are residents of Bridgeport’s Home for the Brave where their lives are being restored along with their dignity and they are being given a second chance.

This important project is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Office of the Arts and is being presented in partnership with Homes for the Brave.  The event is free for Veterans.  For tickets ($20, Quick Center Members $15, students $5), call the Quick Center at 203-254-4010 or online at

Come open your hearts and your arms to stories that deserve and need to be told and heard.  Come wave an American flag to thank men and women who have sacrificed so much and are striving to create meaningful and productive lives.

Monday, March 13, 2017



Four young guys from the land of opportunity known as New Jersey could easily have been incarcerated for a life of crime.  Instead by the age of 30, they had carved a name for themselves, after a number of iterations, as rock and roll super stars.  You know them better as the Four Seasons in general and Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi, in particular.

Their intoxicating music is heaven sent, especially if you call the 1950’s and 1960’s your type of sound.  Their harmonizing is the best.  Who could have predicted that a quartet of lads from the wrong side of the silver spoon could succeed like a meteor shower, writing their own music and creating their own unique sounds.  The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts will be ready to open its rafters for the boys from Wednesday, March 22 to Sunday, March 26 for another night of their magic as the 2006 Tony Award winning show rocks into Hartford. 

With book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, come and learn how a fresh faced kid rises like cream to the top of the milk bottle as Frankie Valli become lead singer of The Four Seasons. The road to fame and fortune is not smooth and the boys flirt with crime before they set their dreams on a straight path to the top.  Their first hurdle was finding the right combination of voices and the second was settling on a name for their group. Staying out of jail, balancing family life with the rigors of life on the road, a gambling addiction and a huge burden of debt almost defeat them. 

But Frank, Bob, Tommy and Nick persevere and go on to sell 175 million records before they hit the big 3-0, including five #1 hits and 11 that made the Billboard’s top ten, all among the show’s incredible thirty-three songs. Dividing their tale into seasons, we become privy to the twists and turns that drove them to the top of their game and then, ironically, almost destroyed them.  And along the way, there is their music.  Songs like “Oh, What a Night, “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Ragdoll,” “Working My Way Back To You,” “My Eyes Adore You,”  “Walk Like a Man"  and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”
will have you levitating in your seats.

For tickets ($25,50 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at  Performances are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 1 p.m. and 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.

These guys were not choir boys and their gritty story will amaze you.  Catch the beat and hang on tight for oh, what a night!



Whether you are familiar with sexual politics, unconventional mores or confusing genders, playwright Caryl  Churchill is happy to provide you with lessons in the form of farce and satire in her radically different play "Cloud 9" being served up on a silver platter at the Hartford Stage until Sunday, March 19.  Be forewarned that Churchill's "Cloud 9" should not be confused with the traditional definition that means a state of perfect bliss and happiness, a euphoria if you will.

Churchill has divided her play into two distinct parts, Victorian colonial Africa where the natives are restless and capable of cannibalism and the extended family of Clive and Betty reside uneasily.  Act II takes place in London in 1979 and supposedly only 25 years have passed.  Get out your scorecard and take notes.  Clive, a loyal British subject, controls his household with rigidity.  Mark H. Dodd's Clive exists in a world of oppression and repression.  He holds strong views on marriage but that doesn't stop him from carrying on a dalliance with a neighboring widow, Mrs. Saunders, a faint of heart Sarah Lemp, who also does double duty as the governess Ellen.  

Ellen cares for the children Edward, an identity confused Mia Dillon, who likes dolls and Victoria, who is played by a doll.  Edward also likes the adventurous Harry Bagley, the courageous Chandler Williams, who manages to juggles relationships with the young lad Edward, Clive's wife Betty, who is played by a man, Tom Pecinka, and the black servant Joshua, William John Austin, who is played by a white man. Overseeing all this sexual misidentification is Betty's judgmental mom Maud, Emily Gunyou Halaas.

All this frustration explodes even more in Act II where some  of the previous people reappear in a new liberated form.  Check your playbill for the details.  It's London 1979, in a park, and some of the symbols reappear, like dolls and decadence, guns and games and a gold necklace.  British society has released its Pandora's box of secrets and the mismatched alliances are now out in the open and ready for inspection. Women and gays give energy as the search is on for that most elusive and desired quality: happiness. Corset restraints are loosened. The same actors appear but in a different guise.  Occasionally even members of the Victorian era pop in for a brief visit.  Churchill clearly wants to challenge the traditional roles of society and encourage accepting people for who and what they are. Elizabeth Williamson directs this unconventional exploration of the many forms of sexual relationships and marriages and the changes locked therein.

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

Be open minded and lavishly liberal as Caryl Churchill indulges in an intense exploration of the ending of sexual repression.

Monday, March 6, 2017


If it took God six days to create the world, ten men and women to make a minyan, then it's not surprising it will take eleven days to highlight the 21st Annual Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival.  From Thursday, March 16 to Sunday, March 26, you need to grab a box of popcorn, a box of red licorice  and a good, intelligent, involved friend or three and go to five different venues around Hartford and West Hartford to view eighteen outstanding films from ten corners of the globe and soak in all the comedy, adventure and drama.

Take your place at center court for the toss up for the fiercely competitive "On the Map." It's 1977 Israel, just after the Yom Kippur War, when the Maccabi Tel Aviv team, against all odds, accomplishes the impossible.  Come opening night, Thursday, March 16 for a light bite at 5:30 p. m. and film at 7:30 p.m. at the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford for this exciting Connecticut premiere.

Are your dreams passing you by?  Come Saturday, March 18 at 9 p.m. to the Mandell JCC and meet "MOOS," a girl who is letting the care of her widowed father consume her entire life...until an unexpected guest reminds her that life can be so much more.  On Sunday, March 19 at 1 p.m., at Spotlight Theaters, 39 Front Street, Hartford, flex your muscles as you meet "Supergirl," an 11 year old Naomi Kutin from New Jersey who is an Orthodox Jew and a serious world record power builder.  A Reel Talk by medical and sports experts will follow the film.

Also on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Spotlight Theaters, you can see an involving family tale, "Shtisel," the second season of this hit Israeli television show.  Come follow the intrigues and involvements of the extended Shtisel clan as they share an apartment in ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim with humor, love and family fights.  An encore showing will be held Friday, March 24 at 11 a.m. at the Mandell JCC.

A double feature anyone?  Stay at the Spotlight Theaters for the 4:30 p.m. showing of "Fire Birds," an intense murder investigation of an 80 year old victim or see "Hill Start," a comic drama about a coma patient and all the ammunition in the form of visitors the family furiously assembles to wake their mother Ora up and restore her to health. An encore screening of both films will be held at Bloomfield 8 Theaters in Bloomfield on Sunday, March 26 at 4:15 p.m.

Want your own personal movie marathon?  The adventure continues at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 19 at Spotlight Theaters for "Sabena Hijacking-My Version."  Prepare for the intense drama that took place on May 8, 1972 when Belgian Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels to Tel Aviv was highjacked by a quartet from the Palestinian "Black September."  An encore presentation will be held on Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m. at Bloomfield 8 Theaters in Bloomfield.

A final choice for Sunday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Spotlight Theaters is "AKA Nadia" when the past secrets of a woman's identity rise up and overwhelm a 40 year old Maya Goldwasser and threaten to destroy the life she has so carefully created.  An encore screening will be held at 2 p.m. at the Bloomfield 8 Theaters, Wintonbury Mall, 863 Park Avenue, Bloomfield.

On Monday, March 20, the Mandell JCC will open its doors at 6 p.m to welcome "The Man Who Saved the Louvre," when Jacques Jaujard, the museum's director, cleverly devised a plot to save masterpieces of art from the Nazis' grasp.  Also that night at 8:15 p.m. at the Mandell JCC, come make the acquaintance of "Big Sonia," a 90 year old Holocaust survivor who has miraculously emerged from unspeakable horrors in her nine decades on this earth.  Be inspired by her remarkable story.

On Tuesday, March 21 at 1 p.m., The Emanuel Synagogue, 160 Monegan Drive, West Hartford will screen an intense documented portrait of "Jerry Lewis:  The Man Behind the Clown."  Who is this man who has one persona in front of the camera and a totally different one behind the camera?  The short film "The Last Blintz" about the iconic Cafe Edison and its recent closing, after being a legendary restaurant to Broadway's stars, will air first.

"My Hero Brother" is  the tale of two siblings, one with special needs, who undertake a once-in-a-lifetime journey from Israel to India, across the Himalayas. Family issues are carried in their backpacks that are opened and resolved in their monumental trek.  The film, followed by a Reel Talk, will be aired on Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at The Emanuel Synagogue.

The collapse of "The Women's Balcony" during a bar mitzvah at an Orthodox synagogue raises questions about the causes of this disaster.  Were the women not modest or observant enough?  Come hear some of Israel's foremost female comics lift their voices in explanation on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at the Cinepolis, 42 South Main Street, West Hartford.

Another choice at the Cinepolis that night at 7 p.m. is "The Last Band in Lebanon," a bizarre comic tale of a former rock band trapped in Lebanon, caught in a drug-smuggling ring, trying to get back to Israel, with only a guitar for protection.  On Thursday, March 23, also at the Cinepolis at 7 p.m., follow the journey of Nathan Fabre, a French Catholic teacher who, while visiting a concentration camp, sees a picture of a prisoner who looks exactly like his  father.  He sets off on a mission that leads him to the discovery of long-buried secrets in "The Origin of Violence."

How long must you keep a promise? Hours, days, decades? In "Mr. Predictable," playing Saturday, March 25 at 9 p.m. at the Mandell JCC, a boy promises to be good and continues until as a man he realizes death is near.  Can he change his ways and reach for a piece of forbidden happiness before it is too late?

The Jewish Film Festival will conclude on Sunday, March 26 at the Mandell JCC at 7 p.m. with "Fanny's Journey," the fascinating, suspenseful tale of sisters sent away from France to avoid the Nazis who end up traveling to Switzerland with other children but no adult leader.  Fanny assumes control of their fate.  A dessert reception will follow, with a Reel Talk.

Tickets to most films are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, with Opening Night "On the Map" $50 and Closing Night "Fanny's Journey" $25.  Call 860-231-6316 or 860-236-4571 or go online to

According to Nicole Greenblatt, Director of the film festival, "The Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival is in its 21st year.  We strive to find the best Jewish and Israeli films to bring to the Greater Hartford Community to educate and entertain our patrons.  We look for a diverse selection of films and try to cover a wide-range of topics and genres to that there is something for everyone."  

Billed as "Hoops, Heroes and Chutzpah," the 21st Annual Jewish Film Festival promises to be packed with movie treats.

The Hills of Waterbury Are Alive with Music

To Captain Von Trapp, marching is in, music is out, work is in, playtime is out, whistles are in, laughter is out, discipline is in, singing is out. All that changes when an excitable, soon- to-be nun named Maria plays governess to the Captain's seven motherless children in the wonderful family musical classic "The Sound of Music." 

Until Sunday, March 12, , the Palace Theater in Waterbury will play host to the entire von Trapp clan and you're invited to the mountains of Austria to hear all the joy.  With music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, with direction by Jack O'Brien, this musical is a family favorite.

1938 Austria presents profound changes for the earnest and solemn Captain Georg von Trapp (Ben Davis) when both the Nazis and a young impetuous girl named Maria enter his life. He is powerless to defy either as one hardens his heart and the other captures his soul.

The captain has been running his household as he did his naval ships: strictly and decoreously. Instead of names, he uses whistle sounds to summon his seven children: Liesl (Paige Silvester), Kurt (James Bernard), Friedrich (Elliot Weaver), Louisa (Stephanie Di Fiore), Marta (Taylor Coleman), Brigitta (Dakota Riley Quackenbush), and Gretl (Anika Lore Hatch).  When the irrepressible Maria, played wonderfully by Charlotte Maltby, skips into their lives, the hills of Austria and Waterbury suddenly are alive with the sounds of glorious music.

Whether Maria is teaching the children how to sing, in the fun song "Do-Re-Mi", dressing them in play clothes cut from old curtains, helping them yodel their way through a thunderstorm, or preparing them to star in the Carlsbad Festival, she opens windows to love and laughter in their lives.

With the Captain and Maria, Teri Hansen as the Captain's almost fiance, Merwin Foard as the manipulating Max, and Melody  Betts  as Mother Abbess have their individual moments in the spotlight, it is clearly the sweet dimple faced youngest von Trapp who steals the show.

For tickets ($64.50-94.50), call the Palace Theater box office,100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at  Performances are tonight at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 pm. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Before the Friday show and after the Sunday matinee show, Verbena Catering will offer a four-course pre-fixe dinner in the theater's Poli Club for $65 a person including tax, fees, coffee and tea.  Call for reservations.

If girls in white dresses, packages tied up in string, crisp apple strudel, and bright copper kettles are among your favorite things, then plan a visit to the Palace Theater in Waterbury where they are all delightfully awaiting you.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Can a man who loves dogs and hates furry felines find happiness with a woman who has a harem of cats and kittens, especially when they both suffer from the agonizing affliction of loneliness?  The Square One Theatre Company of Stratford has assembled a fine pair of actors, Al Kulcsar and Lucy Babbitt, to present the touching, tender and bittersweet answer in Christian O'Reilly's "Chapatti" weekends until Sunday, March      .

Ireland and India crash, literally and figuratively, when Al Kulcsar's Dan bumps into Lucy Babbitt's Betty at the office of their veterinarian.  His faithful dog Chapatti, named for a flat bread baked in India encounters Betty's box of newborn kittens and none of the pets are ever the same again.  Through a set of complicated circumstances, these two strangers find their lives weaving together in a bizarre set of ways, like a crazy quilt or a mismatched tapestry.  As they interact, we become acquainted with them and begin to care deeply for their fates.

The tragic loss of a cat becomes the starting point for their friendship and  suddenly their solitary lives gain meaning and laughter and , shall I hint, the possibility of love.  All is not smooth on the horizon as Dan has a doghouse of secrets that become slowly apparent and Betty has her hands full using a bit of reverse psychology to help him through his mental missteps.  Set in Dublin, Ireland in the present, "Chapatti" is a fresh breathe of romantic air that as Shakespeare would say "doesn't always run smooth."

Both Kulcsar and Babbitt are wonderful in their roles, he tentatively shy and unassuming with desires that are unrealistic while she is shining optimism and filled with the infectious laughter of hope and promise.  Slowly but surely, she encourages him to open the windows of his life to possibilities to let love fly in and take root. Tom Holehan directs this poignant tale of compassion and friendship, of reaching out for company and companionship, that is sure to make your heart smile.  Bring a Kleenex or three just in case.

For tickets ($20, seniors $19), call Square One Theatre Company at 203-375-8778 or go online to  The show will be held Thursday at     ;, Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at their new home, the Stratford Academy,          Stratford.  A discussion of "Chapatti" will take place at noon, Tuesday, March 21 in the Lovall Room of the Stratford Library.  The next production will be "Becoming Dr. Ruth" about that tiny bundle of sexual energy, May 4-21.

Even though Valentine's Day is in the past, buy a discounted box of milk chocolate candy hearts and come enjoy this well acted tribute to romance.       

Friday, March 3, 2017


Sandra Rodriguez (Sandra), Peter Chenot (Trevor), and Chaz Carmon (Jerry).

Millions of people devote themselves to their pets whether it is a collie named Corky, a cat named Cody or even a lizard named Lizzy or a parakeet answering to the name of Petey.  We love our pets, they are precious to us, and we don't easily admit to their wrongdoing. But what if your "best friend" is slightly outside of the regular mold?   Perhaps a dog house or a bird cage or a fish bowl would not accommodate your favorite?  For  Sandra Morris, an intense and dedicated "mother" created by Sandra Rodriguez, her "baby" is the center of her existence.  Forget the fact that he weighs 200 pounds and is a chimpanzee, her devotion to Trevor is absolute and complete.

To meet Sandra and her close- to- obsession, you would have to have come to the New Haven Theater Company's presentation of "Trevor" by Nick Jones that played until Saturday, March 4 in New Haven at the English Marketplace, now renamed the EBM Vintage on Chapel Street.  To say Trevor is a handful is an understatement.  He likes to steal the family car keys and go for a joy ride, when he isn't chugalugging coffee or wine (no tea please) as he drags around a cardboard cutout of his favorite movie star Morgan Fairchild, portrayed by a luscious Susan Kulp.

Trevor has been created in all his impetuous activity by Peter Chenot and he is wonderful and wild as he freely expresses his emotions, without fear of reprimand.  Sandra is indulgent and permissive and truly believes her "baby" can do no wrong.  The world, however, has different views.  Melissa Smith's Ashley, the next door neighbor, is alarmed by his antics and she fears, rightly so, for the safety of her own newborn. Sharing her concerns are Jim, a sheriff played by Erich Greene, who wants to protect and serve the community and Jerry, a consultant portrayed by Chaz Carmon, who is called in to evaluate Trevor and his more bizarre behavior.  For the next presentation, "Middletown" by Will Eno, and directed by Peter Chenot,  go to

To contrast Trevor's behavior, we meet another chimp, Oliver, brought to life by Trevor Williams, who seems more in control of his destiny.  Both have been bitten by the show biz bug and Trevor can't wait to reunite with his favorite co-star Morgan as soon as possible.  Bizarre events quickly get out of hand and the fate of Sandra and Trevor hover  on the brink.  Drew Gray directs this highly unusual plot adventure and raises the question when is a pet not really a pet?

Give your own precocious companion an extra brushing or bowl of Kibble to show your love.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017



Hold tight to the solid skin of an onion, perhaps a Vidalia from Georgia or a Bermuda that started in the Canary Islands.  If you cut it, you are sure to get a stinging sensation in your eyes and uncontrollable tears due to a release of a volatile gas that irritates.  While onions are excellent for food flavoring, it is unlikely that you will have the same visceral relationship with an onion that Luda Muscolino does:  she prays to her onions. To discover why Luda prays to onions rather than to her Catholic god, please come to Long Wharf Theatre before Sunday, March 12 to witness the involving and touchingly real world premiere of "Napoli, Brooklyn" by Meghan Kennedy and help peel the layers back revealingly of that intriguing vegetable yourself.

Alyssa Bresnahan's Luda is strength that is continually tested.  Think Steel Magnolia strong. She once loved her husband Nic with whom she bore three daughters but life has not been easy, with the economy in 1960's Brooklyn a struggle.  She manages by singing opera in her kitchen while she prepares meals, using the best cuts of meat she can afford to buy at the neighbor butcher shop run by Albert Duffy (Graham Winton),  a man who understands, admires and even loves her.

Her husband Nic, brought to brutal and demanding life by Jason Kolotouros, is beset by his own demons and makes the household quake with his temperamental commands.  He stowawayed on a ship to come to this land of promise and his unhappiness is a curse he places heavily on all the members of his family.  While Luda takes the brunt of his brutality, his daughters Tina (Christina Pumariega), Vita (Carolyn Braver) and the youngest, Francesca (Jordyn DiNatale) endure their share of his punishment.  To protect their mother, they often enter the fray and are injured by his overbearing physicality.

Vita for daring to protect her sister gets sent to a nunnery, Tina is forced to leave school and work in a box factory to help the finances and Francesca plots to leave home with her more than friend Connie (Ryann Shane) to escape to France for the freedom to explore their budding love as teens. A searing event crashes into their lives that changes their destinies, and brings a black friend from Tina's work (Shrine Babb) into their apartment to bear witness to their problems.  The cast is uniformly  excellent, causing us to care what fates they endure and trying to cheer them on to a sense of triumph over their hardships.  This is an immigrant story of hope where faith is tested and love and hate are stirred in a huge pot on the stove to the point of boiling over.  Director Gordon Edelstein is the master chef who takes this melting pot of emotions and brings them to a satisfying simmer.  This production will move to the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York.

For tickets ($34.50-99.50), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  

Come see if Luda will recover her magic and her faith if and when onions allow her once again to produce tears and to cry.