Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Darko Tresnjak is a master magician, especially when it comes to interpreting the plays of William Shakespeare in a distinct and amazing manner.  Look no further than his current iteration of the Bard’s playful comedy "A Midsummer's Night Dream" that focuses on a gate house, beautifully designed by Alexander Dodge,  that is prim and proper on one side and revolves to reveal an ivy-clad entrance into the woods of Arden, slightly uncivilized and ready for the unknown.  Dash over to Hartford Stage until Sunday,October 8 for this romp in the forests that is refreshingly novel and full of mischief thanks to that Cupid-like character Puck, here a fun seeking  Will Apicella.               . 

To Shakespeare, if one pair of star-crossed lovers is good than two pair must be great. That is the comic premise on which his beloved “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” is based. Lysander and Hermia are in love but Demetrius has been hand picked by Hermia’s father to be her mate. Meanwhile poor Helena is pining away for want of Demetrius. The Duke, exhibiting his tyrannical power over the citizens of Athens, makes Hermia’s decision easier by decreeing she can either marry Demetrius as her father wishes or enter a nunnery or die. What are these young school children to do? But don’t be scared, for this is a comedy.

Hermia (Jenny Leona) and Lysander (Tom Pecinka) decide to run away into the enchanted forest to escape their fate and, of course, Helena (Fedna Laure Jacquet) and Demetrius (Damian Jermaine Thompson) follow quickly in their footsteps. The forest is filled with whimsical creatures, ruled by Oberon (Esau Pritchett) and his queen Titania (Scarlett Strallen) who are experiencing love problems of their own. To teach Titania a lesson, Oberon has his chief elf Puck (Will Apicella) play a mischievous Cupid and drop love potion drops into her eyes and those of the citizens of Athens who are running around in circles in his woods.
The potion causes one to fall in love with whomever one sees upon awakening, which for unlucky Titania turns out to be Nick Bottom (John Lavelle), part of a roving acting troupe, who has been turned into  a donkey, long ears, tail and all. For Lysander, the potion of flowers causes his sudden adoration of a most confused Helena. It also causes Demetrius to now pursue Hermia.  You may need a scorecard to keep everyone straight. This production, directed by Darko Tresnjak, is filled with magic and mischief, a frenzy of lunatics, lovers and poets, thanks to the Bard.

As a play within a play, the itinerant actors perform a dramatic tale for the wedded couples that is a masterpiece in its ineptitude.  Termed the mechanicals, the eager group includes Robert Hannon Davis, Matthew Macca, Alexander Sovronsky, Brent Bateman and Louis Tucci, in addition to the aforementioned Nick Bottom.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford  at 860-527-5151 or  online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 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. 
If you were caught in the web of an arranged marriage, you too might take flight into the woods and like Lysander bemoan the fact that “the course of true love never did run smooth.”

Monday, September 25, 2017


Even as a teenager of only thirteen, Victor Hugo was exhibiting signs of greatness. His poetry was already winning him accolades. This was just his humble beginnings.  Soon he would add  the titles of playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman and human rights advocate to his name.  Perhaps he is best known for his novel “Les Miserables” or The Poor, penned in 1862, about a man Jean Valjean who is imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister and her family and his ultimate tale of redemption.

 Even though it was banned by the government,this story was met with great success by the masses. It is said to have been inspired by a true incident in Paris.  Hugo saw a poor man arrested for a minor crime, in stark contrast to a woman in a nearby carriage, wealthy, wrapped in fur, who was totally unaware of the tragedy happening at her richly clad feet. 

This novel is epic in scope and began  generating great excitement when  first published, when people fought to buy one of the 48,000 copies released on day one.  It would not be set to music  until a century later.  Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, in a stirring new 32th anniversary version, ”Les Miserables” is a sweeping, majestic epic drama, history on parade, and is gracing the stage of Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, October 3rd until Sunday, October 8.

“Les Miz,” set in 19th century France, follows Jean Valjean after nineteen years of imprisonment, his pursuit by the police inspector Javert and his new identity as Monsieur Madeleine where he becomes a wealthy factory owner and mayor. Valjean cannot escape his past as Javert doggedly pursues him.  Valjean performs deeds of valor, saving lives and helping in a student revolt, proving that people can change for the good. This story, timeless in its appeal, unites with a soaring musical score, to applaud the survival of the human spirit.

For tickets ($22.50-112.50), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online atwww.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.

Arm the battlements to fight for good over evil, for democracy over tyranny, for the triumph of love and justice, in this astonishing theatrical musical drama, “Les Miz.” Don't miss the sheer scope of history  and the amazing pageantry.


                                          ROBERT DUBAC

Whether you suspect men and women are from different planets, like Mars and Venus for example, that age old question that goes all the way back to Adam and Eve and is still a puzzlement is how do we co-exist and live to tell the tale. Robert Dubac has his own personal theory about the sexes and he is ready, willing and most able to let you in on his astute observations.  Just mosey on over to Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre by Sunday, October 15 for an in depth examination of the male psyche.

For the last decade and a half, Robert Dubac has been traveling around the globe presenting his unique theories on the interactions of the male and the female and why they often collide and break up and explode. With tongue firmly in cheek, he has written and continues to perform his scintillating comedy show “The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?”  In case you have a question, an oxymoron is a combined set of seeming opposites like jumbo shrimp or honest politician. 

Dubac takes great pleasure in revealing his observations by morphing into a series of male characters, from the main ringleader of the circus Bobby who is confused about his almost fiancee Julia walking out on him, to his legion of chauvinists like The Colonel, a redneck from the word go, to Jean-Michel who views himself as a suave Frenchman who offers women the best, to Fast Eddie who is the perpetual bad boy and proud of it to that old time fisherman Mr. Linger who reckons he has the best bait and lures to Ronnie Cabrezzi, the Bronx- born answer to every woman’s dreams.

Like a learned professor conducting college classes, Dubac carefully illustrates his philosophies and even diagrams them on a chalkboard. He desperately wants the two species to have a chance understanding each other as he probes the brains of each species like a giant science experiment. With wit and humor, he recognizes the confusion that exists and the obvious failure to communicate. For a man to learn to be sensitive is a Herculean task, one that most males admit failure. Yet the world continues to spin…

For tickets ($39.50 to $54), call the Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Hamilton Park, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org.  Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and matinees Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come to this comedy of contradictions where men are exposed to the truths of their personalities and given much needed clues about how to survive in what can be a hostile world.

Monday, September 18, 2017


                            THE GREAT CAST OF "AVENUE Q"

Graduating college, finding an apartment, one you can afford, securing a job, one you are qualified to perform, and growing up are all the responsibilities and requirements facing an anxious young puppet named Princeton.  He starts his search for housing on New York City's Avenue A and by the time he reaches the 17th street of possibilities, he is  not sure he will ever find a roof to call his own.

Happily for Princeton and for the audience, he finds the perfect place on "Avenue Q," a delightful puppet/people graced musical with music and lyrics by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, with book by Jeff Whitty.  Playhouse on Park in West Hartford will be entertaining Princeton and his friends until Sunday, October 8 and you don't want to miss their highly special world.

If you’ve grown up on “Sesame Street” and call Mr. Rogers a friend, and you’re a mature teenager or older, this is the show for you.  “Avenue Q” is a musical that began life at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford at an International Musical Conference  and went on to great acclaim.  Now the puppets and their puppet masters are ready for some colorful and off- color fun.

Pop over to the Playhouse for this smash-hit Broadway musical about making your way in life.  Weston Chandler Long stars spectacularly as Princeton, a recent college graduate, with big dreams and a small wallet.  He finds his way to Avenue Q because it’s the only street in the Big Apple he can afford. Soon he determines he must find and identify a PURPOSE in life.

There he meets some unique neighbors, friendly and not so much, like Kate Monster (Ashley Brooke), a cute kindergarten teaching assistant, a possibly gay couple Rod ( Weston Chandler Long) and Nicky ( Peej Mele), Lucy Slut ( Ashley Brooke), Trekkie Monster (Peej Mele), an internet addict, Christmas Eve (EJ Zimmerman), a therapist, Brian (James Fairchild), an out-of-work comedian, two bad bears (Colleen Welsh ) and their plucky landlord Gary Coleman (Abena Mensah-Bonsu). 

Follow the life and loves, the downs and ups, of this bunch of young adults as they work their way to find a job, a companion and a purpose, with a lot of singing and dancing along their journey.

With life-size puppets as well as people, “Avenue Q” celebrates the angst of growing up and facing responsibilities, challenges like how to get and keep employment and how to get a date, in addition to more intense issues like full-puppet nudity, alcohol and internet porn. Kyle Brand does double duty as a great director and choreographer. Video designers Zach Rosing and Ben Phillippe  add a special artistic touch and musical director Robert James Tomasulo leads a super live band. 

For tickets ($40-50), call the Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10 or online at www.playhouseonpark.org.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinee at 2 p.m., followed by a talk back. There is a special Tuesday matinee at 2 p.m. on September 26, all seats $22.50.

Stroll along with Princeton as he bops down "Avenue Q," the show that won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical.


With our hearts and minds consumed with images of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as well as the fate of millions of immigrants currently living on our shores, who may face deportation, it is timely that the first offering by the Yale School of Drama at the 50th anniversary of the Yale Cabaret is focused on water, escape and refugees.  Penned by Drama School student Josh Wilder, who is also co-artistic director, Yale Cab 50 opened with a mighty splash.  "One Big Breath," which played the weekend of September 14-16, dealt with "current images, refugees in the world and a journey across water," according to Wilder.

Wilder asked the audience "How long is one breath under water," and provided a collage of images, some in effective silhouette, to answer that question.  Relying on experimentation, the cast that included Francesca Fernandez McKenzie, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, Patricia Fa'asua, Jakeem Powell and Catherine Maria Rodriguez, dealt with the fears of escaping persecution, the perilous and arduous trek across a vast sea, the real threat of drowning and the often impossible task of trying to be understood once free in a new and strange land.

Francesca Fernandez McKenzie is a Co-Artistic Director as well as an actor in the piece and explained that "students in the Drama School are free to fail, to step out of the curriculum, to experiment, to absorb themselves in the 'passion project.' "  She feels there is an "electrifying feeling" that promotes trust and security as artists, "a collaboration with spirit."

The Yale Cabaret is celebrating its 50th anniversary and it seems like forever and only a minute since it opened its doors at 217 Park Street in New Haven, just one day after Richard Nixon was elected President in November 1968. The current leadership team which also includes Rachel Shuey as Managing Director, Rory Pelsue as Associate Artistic Director, Latiana (LT) Gourzong as Production Manager and Jaime Totti as Associate Managing Director, are dedicated to doing projects that help them grow as artists, to plum the Cab's  rich history and to bring back prior alumnae.

For each play, the basement space at the Cab is creatively reconfigured for maximum effect.  From September to May, eighteen productions will be offered from drama to comedy to opera to drag.  Every show is diverse, all student run, with a shoestring budget of a mere $350.  Come early at 6:30 p.m. and dine on an eclectic menu that includes small plates like salad nicoise with grilled swordfish $10, sweet potato lentil cakes $8 or lamb kabobs $12 and desserts like flourless chocolate cake $6 as well as snacks, sides, beer and wine. Selections change often thanks to Chef Anna Belcher's culinary touch.

Next up is a musical about Adam and Eve from September 21-23, a political thriller about Vietnam from October 5-7 and a multi-media assault on the Real Housewives from October 12-14.  Performances are 8 p.m.Thursday to Saturday with late nights Friday and Saturday at 11 pm.  Call the Yale Cab at 203-432-1566 or online at www.ysd.cabaret@yale.edu or yalecabaret.org. Tickets are $20, Yale faculty and staff $15, students $12, with various flex passes available for purchase.

Come celebrate five decades of diversity and dedication as the Yale Cab embarks on new and exciting paths to adventurous entertainment.

Friday, September 15, 2017



                                                    MASTER OF MYSTERIES AGATHA CHRISTIE

 In 1939 that dame of murder mysteries, Agatha Christie, penned a masterpiece novel “And Then There Were None.”  This best selling book has been named by Publications International as the seventh top title of all time.  You can now, if you dare, see the dramatic adaptation of the novel into play form courtesy of the Warner Stage Company at the Nancy Marine Studio at the Warner Theatre in Torrington from Saturday, September 23 to Sunday, October 1.

A number of strangers receive personally designed invitations to an island off the Devon coast of England from a man they do not know.  One thinks she is being hired for a job as a secretary, a doctor is lured on the supposition he has a new patient to treat, some think they are coming to reunite with old friends and two believe they are being asked to observe the comings and goings of the other guests in the guise of conducting detective work.
When they arrive, they find the butler and the housekeeper but learn their host, Mr. Owen, will appear tomorrow.  What do these strangers have in common?  Why have they been singled out for an unusual invitation?  After an excellent dinner, they begin to learn their potential fate.  Each of them has been complicit in a criminal act where someone died.  Each escaped punishment…until now.  A nursery rhyme “Ten Little Soldiers” hangs in every guest’s bedroom and strongly suggests the manner of death each will experience. 

 One by one the guests meet their guilt-ridden ends but who is the executioner?  They are trapped on the  island with no means of calling for help or of escape.  On the dining room table, the ten china soldier figurines are quickly disappearing.  Who is to blame?  Will the police eventually discover the master culprit?  Lynn Paulella Beard with John Ozerhoski as assistant director steer this diabolical plot with maniacal skills.

The drama features Nicholas Bourne, Tony Enright, Roger Grace, MayTae Harge, Eric Lindblom, Scott Murphy, Lana Peck, Thursday Savage, Anthony Stachowitz, Payton Turpin and Mike Zizka. Performances are September 23, 29 and 30 at 8 pm and September 24 and October 1 at 2 pm. To purchase tickets, ($27) call the Warner Box Office at 860-489-7180 or visit www.warnertheatre.org.

Feel like playing Sherlock Holmes?  Come consider yourself invited to this island retreat for a most amazing vacation into the mysterious unknown.

Monday, September 11, 2017



Being a good listener is an art.  We are usually so anxious to contribute our thoughts, that we impatieantly interrupt one another.  What if we had no words, like monks in a monastery who have taken a vow of silence? Would we use that time to seek enlightenment within, to soul search, to examine our inner beings and try to resolve issues and make changes for the better? Playwright Bess Wohl will give you the opportunity for that reflection as she takes you on a journey with six lost souls seeking answers in her involving “Small Mouth Sounds” at Stage II of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven until Sunday, September 24.

You are in the woods at a retreat where cell phones, cigarettes and words are forbidden.  You are to follow the directions of the teacher/guru (Orville Mendoza) who is ironically experiencing problems of his own. His advice is not always accurate but he is the best model available for achieving a sense of inner peace. You are one of six seekers, three men (Connor Barrett, Ben Beckley and Edward Chin-Lyn) and three women (Brenna Palughi, Socorro Santiago and Cherene Snow) who all have their individual reasons for signing up for five days of silence.  Each is unhappy, lonely and in need of soul sustenence. 

The projections outside the walls, courtesy of Andrew Schneider, sound like Harvey and Irma and they mimic the interior unrest of the participants.  Each has come with a dilemma to solve.  Jan has a picture of a child which he guards protectively and since he doesn’t speak English may have an advantage with the rule of non-communication. Ned is like Job, a man who has endured a  plethora of problems that would defeat a lesser man. With a well toned body he is proud of displaying, totally, Rodney used yoga as his means of self-communication.

Alicia is unhappy, disorganized, a nibbler and perpetually late and her cell phone, that she should not have, is not allowing her to reach out and touch someone.  Joan and Judy are a lesbian couple who are dealing with illness and failure to connect and their long standing partnership is in danger of unraveling.  All six are looking for answers and, as the guru instructs, aligning their intentions with actions, whatever that means.
Rachel Chavkin directs this 100 minute search for life’s meaning that is both enlightening and excruciating in its anguished quest.  “Small Mouth Sounds” is decidedly different  and worthy of your exploration.

For tickets ($34.50-90.50 ), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7p.m.,Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m .and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Look for compassion and healing, commiseration and silent communication as we struggle together and separately to make of our lives a blessing.

Monday, September 4, 2017


For new director Christopher Faison, producing his debut musical at the Chestnut Street Playhouse in Norwich, has been a homecoming of sorts.  The work, “Songs for a New World” by Jason Robert Brown, is an unusual song cycle that deals with decisions made at a precise moment in time. We all have those moments, moments that are momentous and life altering, fraught with decisions that have far reaching consequences.   For Faison, who has long been an actor, it began in 1996 just after this show debuted Off-Broadway.  He was introduced to the music and it affected him deeply.  He identified with the four main characters who are embarking on different paths and journeys and the hopes that fueled their awareness.

In the year 2000, the show was produced at Chestnut Street Playhouse’s former iteration, the Spirit of Broadway, and when Faison was offered the opportunity to direct, this show was the one that leaped to the forefront.  Faison admits, “I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do.”  He “feels like I gave birth.  It’s a full circle moment.  I hope the audience identifies with it as being about the world right now and will be moved and feel chills.”

“Songs for a New World” will play until Sunday, September 10. It includes a string of tunes connected by a theme “the moment of decision.”  The songs are pop and gospel and jazz that enjoy a spiritual flavor.  They span decades and eons, from a 1492 voyage literally to a new world to a flag being sewn in 1775’s Revolutionary War to honor the two men most important to Mrs. Ross's life to an angry Mrs. Claus who accuses her famous hubby of being neglectful. Personally I would have preferred a little spoken dialogue to ground each piece as they are wildly different in nature as to time and place.

These stores in song explore relatable connections and you are sure to identify with one or three of them yourself.  The energetic company includes Robert Ball, Audrey Rummel, Chris Stanley and Erin Sousa-Stanley, with Michael Goldman and Violet Saylor.  One of the most powerful numbers is “King of the World” where a man proclaims his right to be free so he can return to a life of leadership.  Along the way, we hear abut sacrifice, about choosing security over love in “Stars and the Moon,” how lovers unsuccessfully try to live without each other in “I’d Give It All For You," to a soldier who has given up his life for his country, the ultimate sacrifice, in “Flying Home.”

We meet a woman about to take a flying leap over a ledge to gain her husband’s attention in “One Last Step,” to one who bravely proclaims “I’m Not Afraid of Anything,”  to two men who announce that “The River Won’t Flow” for either of them. The songs skip in a dozen directions and hopscotch from place to place, many with a common thought of understanding heaven’s grand design, with the prayer for God to shine upon them.  Brown even touches on addictions and segregation.

For tickets ($27), call the Chestnut Street Playhouse, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at http://bit.do/CSPSongs or www.chestnutstreetplayhouse.org.  Performances are Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come explore new musical worlds courtesy of Jason Robert Brown who went on to compose “Parade,”  “The Last Five Years,” “13 the Musical,” “Prince if Broadway” and “Bridges of Madison County,” and actor Christopher Faison who is making his directorial debut.