Monday, May 14, 2018

SARNA LAPINE DIRECTS “YOU ARE HERE” AT CHESTER




                                      SARNA  LAPINE

Sarna Lapine never aspired to be an actor or a playwright.  This is despite the fact that she loves theater, literature and reading.  She does love to analyze texts and is excited aboutt the way to take conversations and bring them to life. It’s not so surprising that Sarna Lapine has become a director, one who is sought after.  For her apprenticeship, she served as associate director on Broadway for Bartlett Sher and she hasn’t looked back since.

Recently Sarna undertook her most ambitious project ever, overseeing a “really fabulous American play I always wanted to direct." ".Photograph 51” was cool, satisfying and challenging.  Combining philosophy and science, it concerned the first image ever of a double helix, to unlock DNA.”  With a producer, set designer, interpreter and translator, she spent a year in Japan transforming her dream into reality once the rights to the piece finally became available.

Today she is working closer to home, at Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre in Chester, on a new project, one that has never been staged before:  “You Are Here;” with book by Brian Hill and music and lyrics by Neil Bertram.  This bittersweet musical asks the question “what if?” of Diana, a Chicago housewife in 1969.

July 20, 1969 is a signature day for Diana, not only does she witness on television a man historically walk on the moon for the first time, she takes a giant leap of her own.  This late-in-life lady suddenly finds herself abandoning her existence in the suburbs with a cozy couch and kitchen, to strike out into a fast-paced world with a keen desire to discover herself.  This housewife, with no children and a staid and stable husband, seeks to find who she is.  No more quiet inner life for her.

Diana is being brought to life by Patti Cohenour, whom Sarna Lapine says "is carrying the part beautifully, with honesty, strength and vulnerability, just as the composers imagined.”  In her journey of discovery, Diana is accompanied by three voices, Andrea Frierson, Stacia Fernandez and Dan Rosales. With her security net evaporated and a new to-do list in hand, Diana proves it’s never too late to change, in a deeply moving performance, that will surely touch the audience.

The message to the audience is to "step out of your comfort zone and try something new  Live in the moment and start from where you are now.” The music is an “articulation of Diana’s experiential journey over a period of just four days.” To Lapine, directing a brand new work has special aspects, “the reward of embracing an unknown and making discoveries.  This super professional cast is up for the challenges.”

For tickets ($49-54), call Goodspeed at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org.  Performances will be at the Terris Theatre, 33 North Main Street, Chester from May 18 to June 10.  Shows are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

For Sarna Lapine, directing will never be boring.  She is on her toes all the time, without any need for ballet shoes.  She knows how to live in the moment, just like Diana, and she is not afraid to take a leap into the unknown.

COME JOIN THE COMEDY OF NEIL SIMON’S “RUMORS”



         THE ENTIRE CAST OF NEIL SIMON'S "RUMORS"

Chaos, confusion, complications and comedy are clearly on the menu as New Haven Theater Company has a rousing good time pulling off a farce, Neil Simon’s thoroughly engaging “Rumors” for your entertainment pleasure.  Doors slamming are just a hint of things to come.  A lot can run amok with Neil Simon at the helm.  Weekends until Saturday, May 19 consider yourself invited to the tenth wedding anniversary party of Myra and Charley Brock.  

Eat dinner at home before you come because there are no servants to prepare the repast.  There are not even canap├ęs or chips to nibble.  What’s even more alarming is the host and hostess are nowhere to be found.  And whatever you do don’t be on time because you might be the luck guests to find Charley with a gunshot wound.  What would you do?  Phone the police? Call an ambulance?  Cause a scandal?

If you’re a doctor, are you prepared to handle the aforementioned gun shot wound-to the head-no less? whiplash? a sprained back? headache? shock? hearing loss? cut arms? hives? burnt fingers? Poor Chris (Jenny Schuck) and Ken (Peter Chenot) Gorman who ring the doorbell first.  They find Charley passed out and bleeding from the head.  Is it a botched suicide attempt?  Did the missing Myra do it? What should the Gormans do as other guests start to arrive?  Why lie, of course.  And so the rumors fly.

Claire and Lenny Ganz (Susan Kulp and J. Kevin Smith) have problems of their own.  They were involved in a car accident right before arriving, an incident that didn’t improve his two day old BMW.  By the time Ernie and Cookie Cusack (John Watson and Margaret Mann) show up,gossip and innuendoes are flying fast and furiously.  Will the thunder cloud of scandal affect the chances of Glenn Cooper (Jim Lones) who is running for state senator or will he be sabotaged by the angry wind that is his wife Cassie, (Suzanne Powers) who is out for vengeance.

By the time the police officers (Donna E. Glen and Matthew Kling) show up, it is anyone’s guess who is going to be arrested and on what charge.  Not only does George Kulp build a great set for the up and downstairs action, he also directs this funny and fast race for the finish line.  For tickets ($20), go online to newhaventheatercompany.com.  The theater is at the back of English Market, 839 Chapel Street, New Haven Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Come and try to figure out who’s on first in the living room,  what’s on fire in the kitchen. and where the heck are Charley and Myra?






Monday, May 7, 2018

"MOTOWN THE MUSICAL“ ROCKS INTO WATERBURY’S PALACE THEATER


Berry Gordy tried his hand at boxing, owning a record store, working
 on an auto assembly line and being a soldier in the Korean War and, fortunately 
for the American music scene, really wasn’t happy with any
 of those career choices. He went on to become an American record executive, a 
songwriter, film producer, television producer and the founder of Motown Records,
 and, in the process, becoming one of the highest earning African-American 
business owners for decades.

In 1959, in Detroit, he took a family loan of $800 and bought a house at 2648 West Grand Boulevard and converted the garage into Studio A or Hitsville
U. S. A. There with vision and innovation, he married black gospel songs with be bop
 and jazz and created a new sound that changed musical history.  Think of Gordy as 
the conductor of a train, one who introduced such legends as Diana Ross, Michael 
Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Miracles, Martha and 
the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Commodores and many more to 
welcoming pop music tracks and fans.

You are invited to hop aboard this music train for four performances at Waterbury’s Palace Theater, Friday, May 11 at 8 p.m., Saturday May 12 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m and Sunday, May 13 at 1 p.m. for a spectacular ride back in time, one stuffed with all the music of the 1960’s and beyond that made Berry Gordy such a legend. On this glory train, you will hear great tunes like“My Girl,” “I’ll Be There,” “You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You,”“Stop in the Name of Love” and “Sign, Sealed, Delivered,” and dozens more.

Berry Gordy had the unique ability to take a nobody walking in the front door and transform them, by teaching them how to talk, stand, dress, act with class and become a star. He could recognize talent, new and raw, and polish it to perfection.

For tickets ($59.50 and up), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at www.palacetheater.org

 Come have your ticket punched for the brand new beat that came to town courtesy of a forward thinking Berry Gordy, the conductor of the train that proved to be so much more than just a little engine that could.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A POLITICALLY FLAVORED “KISS” AT YALE REP



HADEEL (SOHINA SIDHU) AND AHMED (IAN LASSITER) IN "KISS"

Did you ever feel like your life was a television soap opera and you couldn’t find the tv remote to change the channel or to shut it off?  That lack of control and the idea of events spinning out like items caught in a tornado is devastating and filled with anxiety.  Imagine for a moment you are a citizen earning a living in war torn Syria, trying to survive the madness and still maintain a semblance of a life. Playwright Guillermo Calderon is inviting you for a wild ride in an unstable world with Yale Repertory Theatre’s involving comedy/drama “Kiss”until Saturday, May 19.

Calderon is from Chile, where political unrest is part of the culture, writing the play while working in Germany, penning his first effort in English and setting it in Syria as a musalsalaat or soap opera for American audiences. Melodrama reigns supreme.  Four long time friends are meeting at Hadeel’s (Sohina Sidhu) apartment to eat, drink and watch a soap opera.  When Youssif (James Cusati-Moyer) arrives, it is clear he has issues to discuss.  Although Hadeel is almost engaged to his best friend Ahmed (Ian Lassiter), Youssif has finally summoned the courage to announce to Hadeel that he loves her and wants her to be his wife.  This incredible news is despite his long term relationship with Bana (Hend Ayoub), Hadeel’s best pal, truly a “sister.”

All this is just the first part of the story.  Now it is time to look internally and discover the truth behind the words. The quartet contact the playwright for her insights, but reach her sister (Rasha Zamamiri) and her interpreter (Abubakr Ali) instead by Skype.  The realities of living in Syria with chemical gases and gunshots are unveiled.  The sister is speaking from a refugee camp with all its harshness and dangers. The truths are exposed as well as the secrets that each are hiding.  Where does romantic love fit in to this lost country?  The third part of the story exposes the raw facts of their lives in a fast forward montage of images.This is Damascus 2014 in all its broken pieces. Evan Yionoulis directs this exposed and damaged part of the world so it can be ignored no longer.

For tickets ($30-90), call the Yale Rep,  1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep@yale.edu.  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Come discover what lurks beneath the surface in an unstable country where war and famine, murder and annihilation are all too common and accepted as the norm.

COME LEARN LEONARD’S LIFE LESSONS






 Alexander Kulcsar as Detective Chuck DiSantis and 8 other Characters

We all need reminders about how to act in this world, courses in diversity, training in anti-discrimination, how to be politically correct in speech and actions.  A small town in New Jersey gets the real deal in one Leonard Pelkey, a young teenager who was not afraid to be true to himself.  In a one man play by James Lecesne, we meet Leonard through his acts and deeds, even though he does not appear in person.  He can’t. Leonard Pelkey is dead.  The question is why and how and could it have been prevented.

Square One Theatre Company in Stratford is tackling this challenging and ambitious drama with Alexander Kulcsar playing all the parts in “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” weekends until  Sunday,  May 20. Kulcsar is fascinating as he becomes all the characters in Leonard’s life, the town’s people who embraced his colorful persona and the mean-spirited ones who could not understand or chose not to understand his unique ways. 

 Leonard was gay and shone with his special brightness wherever he traveled, whether to visit the clock repair man or the head of the town’s school of dance.Leonard made his own rainbow sneakers and wore them with pride.  In the theatrical world, he sparkled.  He was his own fashion statement and helped other townspeople discover their own palette of color sense. Unfortunately he paid a terrible price for being different.

The story is told principally by a detective who is told by a mother and daughter who care for Leonard that he is missing.  In his investigation, the detective discovers the unique heart and soul of the boy, how many people he touched and the evil that destroyed him.  What might Leonard have accomplished if  his life hadn’t been cut short?  Leonard’s life lessons are worthy of learning.

“The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” is an extraordinary story telling feat that director Tom Holehan presents as a theatrical gift to the audience. Kulcsar plays New Jersey shore detective Chuck DiSantis and everyone else in Leonard’s world.

For tickets ($20, seniors $19), call Square One Theatre, 719 Birdseye Street, Stratford at  203-375-8778 or online at www.squareonetheatre.com.  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come discover why Leonard has disappeared so mysteriously and who is to blame for robbing the world of his rainbow hued brightness.

Monday, April 30, 2018

ALL ABOARD THE MUSICAL BUS “PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT”



MEET THE STARS OF "PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT"

If you’re familiar with Tarzan,the King of the Jungle, that fact will in no way prepare you for  your acquaintance with “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”  It’s not just because the leafy jungle is wildly different from the dry, sandy desert.  Tarzan is known for his incredibly macho strength while Priscilla is an inanimate object, a bus.  If you’re open minded and seeking musical adventures, then Priscilla is a colorful, zany, lively, upbeat, engaging and unconventional option courtesy of the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport weekends until Sunday, May 20th.

Based on adult movie hit of 1994, the current iteration is credited to Stephen Elliott and Allan Scott for book, married to a hit parade of fabulous songs like “It’s Raining Men,”  “What’s Love got to Do with It?,” “I Love the Nightlife,” “True Colors,” “I Will Survive" and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” among many others.

This musical centers on a trio of drag queens, men who enjoy dressing as women, Tick (Jason Parry), Bernadette (Lance Anthony) and Adam (Tim Rinaldi) who are journeying across Australia to perform a gig at a casino for Tick’s estranged wife Marion (Lisa DeAngelis).  Tick’s ulterior motive is to reconnect with his eight year old son Benji (Alex Rosenberg/RJ Vercellone) who doesn’t know his dad or how he earns a living.

On their trek across the Outback, the three encounter Aborigines who welcome them, a group of homophobic men who greet them with violence, a gaggle of tourists who applaud them and a mechanical problem with the bus that strands them.  A friendly mechanic named Bob (Eric Dino)  rescues them and joins them on their journey, while his wife Cynthia (Bonnie Gregson) shows off a popping good time on the dance floor.

Along the way, a trio of Divas (Jessica Paige Braun, Leondra Smith-West, Alexis Willoughby) act like a Greek chorus and belt out most of the two dozen hit tunes.  The fashion parade of rainbow costumes is courtesy of Jessica Camarero, with Eli Newsom as musical director and producing Artistic Director and Christy McIntosh-Newsom directing this whole feathers and frills extravaganza.

For tickets ($33), call the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden 0Hill Street, Bridgeport at 203-576-1636 or online at ticket@mycabaret.org.  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m, Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m.

Hop aboard Priscilla for a wild ride with three drag queens as tour guides who are busy driving home a message of tolerance and acceptance of homosexuals as well as a plea for love, understanding and friendship.

LOOKING FOR LOVE IN ALL THE RIGHT & WRONG PLACES: “LOVE QUEST”




LINDA PURL AS KATE AND SUSAN SLOTOROFF AS MEGAN
 Once upon a time, marriages were arranged, usually by two sets of parents, often without the prospective parties meeting before they arrived at the altar.  Thankfully, times have changed. There are still blind dates, set up by helpful friends, but the commitment is brief and not for a lifetime. Now there are one minute encounters called speed dating, where a bell is rung after sixty seconds of short conversation. Online dating sites are also popular and account for many long lasting relationships.

Ivoryton Playhouse is happy to introduce you to the world premiere of a comedy dealing with the more modern institutions of connecting socially in the relationship challenged “Love Quest” by Mary Maquire and Steven McGraw, until Sunday, May 13. Based on Mary McGraw’s actual experiences, the play explores the realities of entering a foreign world without preparation and the surprises and dangers that lurk at the end of the wine bottle and the exaggerations and lies that abound.

Linda Purl’s Kate has not dated in thirty years,. The necessity of venturing into this unknown universe is occasioned by her husband running off with a younger woman, a much younger woman. At sixty, she is encouraged by her daughter Megan (Susan Slotoroff) who is the mentor and guiding force for her mom.

Needing to advance in the fashion world forces Jes Bedwinek’s Brook to search out “eye candy” to please her publicist.  Her assistant Bove (Mike Mihm) helps Brook navigate the choices at her disposal online. At thirty-five, she is not finding this world a kind and welcoming place.  Will either woman succeed in her quest for companionship, much less love?  Are there any normal males out there to be found?  Are there enough Krispy Kreme donuts to make the search palatable?  The men of the moment are played by Joe Candelora and Josh Powell.  The use of video projections enhances the roller coaster action. Jacqueline Hubbard keeps the pace light and frothy, as well as anxiety ridden, depending on the scenario of the moment.

For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22, children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860- 767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.  Performances are 2 p.m. matinees on Wednesday and Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Sit back and enjoy the adventures of two brave women as they tentatively dip their toes into the frantic and fun worlds of online dating and witness the humorous and confusing experiences that engenders.  There’s always a donut as a consolation prize.


Friday, April 27, 2018

ALL GOD’S CHILDREN GOT “CROWNS” AT LONG WHARF



THE STARS OF "CROWNS"    PHOTO BY T. CHARLES ERICKSON

Queens and princesses are not the only ladies to wear crowns.  For members of the Red Hat Society, a chapeau in some shade of crimson is mandatory.  A tradition also exists among African-American women from the South to be fashionably attired for church by donning the appropriately festooned hat.  Worn like a badge of honor, these hats make these women queens as they rise and shine to praise the Lord and sing with glory.  To be caught up in their jubilation, look no further than Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven’s joyous celebration of spirit that is Regina Taylor’s gospel experience “Crowns.” Ms. Taylor also directs this special musical gem.

Until Sunday, May 13, we are welcomed into this unique congregation of women who know how to commune directly and poignantly with God and are willing to sing his praises every Sunday in church.  Whether it’s through gospel, spirituals, jazz, blues and even hip-hop, these women become queens in their own world, wearing distinctive and distinguished hats that express their personalities.  It is not unheard of to own over one hundred of these ornaments for the head and to strut proudly and a little defiantly unto the Lord.

Come make the acquaintance of some of these remarkable women who resemble peacocks with pride, led by Mother Shaw, a wise Shari Addison, who with her cohorts Jeanette (Rebecca E. Covington), Velma (Latice Crawford), Wanda (Stephanie Pope) and Mabel (Danielle K. Thomas) and one token male (Lawrence Clayton) as the preacher man to help rescue Mother Shaw’s granddaughter Yolanda, a conflicted Gabrielle Beckford. Yolanda has just witnessed her brother’s death in Brooklyn, and her mother has sent her South to heal and get away from the shooting scene.

Seeking sanctuary at her grandmother’s home, she is guided and indoctrinated into a new sisterhood with these spirited women, one she is reluctant to accept. Dressed like a fashion parade, courtesy of Emilio Sosa,  with the incredible musical help of Jaret Landon and David Pleasant, these feisty and snappy styled ladies surround Yolanda with caring and concern and love, encouraging her to join their sacred society and abandon her baseball cap for a real chapeau.

For tickets ($35.50-91.50), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.  Additional shows are Sunday April 29 at 7 p.m., April 28, May 5 and 12 at 3 p.m. and May 2 and 9 at 2 p.m.


Whether you put on a pill box or a derby, a baseball cap or a turban, a chapeau or a tiara, you’ll enjoy the jubilation of the church ladies as they celebrate laughter, life and love.



Thursday, April 26, 2018

HARTFORD STAGE USHERS IN AN ELEGANT “AGE OF INNOCENCE”




THE WOMEN IN QUESTION: HELEN CESPEDES' MAY & SIERRA BOGGESS' COUNTESS

Known as the Gilded Age, it was a sophisticated time when the upper class society ruled in all its prim and proper protocol.  Some might term it stilted and too prescribed by strict dictates of behavior to be enjoyable.  But the end of the 19th century was marked by more than women’s bustles and men’s morning coats.  To gain an introduction to these special decades from 1870’s to the 1900’s, look no further than Edith Wharton’s revealing “The Age of Innocence” being beautiful displayed at the Hartford Stage until Sunday, May 6.

Boyd Gaines is eloquent as an older and wiser version of himself, a principled young attorney Newland Archer, who reflects back on his life and his choices and serves as the story’s narrator.  He now has the perspective of maturity to determine if he should have acted differently on matters of the heart, society be damned.

Andrew Veenstra is the eager and enthusiastic Newland whose life is laid out for him as a long stately path. Newly engaged to May Welland, a conservative, shy and lovely Helen Cespedes, he is set on a charmed existence.  What happens, therefore, when May’s flamboyant cousin the Countess Ellen Olenska arrives from Europe cloaked in a swirl of scandal.  Newland is immediately intrigued and fascinated by this exotic creature, brought to life by Sierra Boggess.  Conflicted, Newland agonizes over his duty to May and the longings of his heart.

“The Age of Innocence”has been adapted for the stage by Douglas McGrath, in association with The McCarter Theatre Center. John Lee Beatty has designed an elegant set, with distinct period costumes fashioned by Linda Cho, under the cultured direction of Doug Hughes. 

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 and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Enter the rarified world of the privileged elite of New York society where manners and morals trump marriage and matters of the heart.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

PANTOCHINO WANTS YOU TO BRING A SOUP SPOON TO THE WEDDING



RAELEEN MAUTNER AS NONI CIMINO IN “ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP”     
PHOTO BY JULIA GERACE

Every family wants the best for its members  Whether it’s a baptism or a bris, a bar mitzvah or a betrothal, the celebration must be memorable.  What happens, however, when the Italian clan of Antoneliis clashes head first with the Jewish mishpacah of Levis, both wanting a wedding at the premier location, the Casa Monticello in Framingham, Massachusetts, on the same day?

You’ve heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys? Well, they can move over and let Mary Cimino Antonelli, a feisty Shelley Marsh Poggio, go ten rounds with Valerie Solli’s determined Miriam Silverstein Levi for who gets the coveted ballroom for the nuptials.  You can clearly put the blame on Tony Panatone, a suave fast talking Jimmy Johansmeyer, for double booking the important sought after date, time and place.

Consider yourself formally invited to “Italian Wedding Soup,” an original musical courtesy of Bert Bernardi for book, music by Justin Rugg and 1980’s costumes by Jimmy Johansmeyer, a Pantochino Production at the Milford Center for the Arts, 40 Railroad Avenue  South,  Milford weekends until Sunday, May 6.

Bernadette Antonelli, a perky Mary Mannix, is getting married, even though her groom is currently AWOL. Michael Levi, a supportive Justin Rugg, is also awaiting his bride-to-be Maureen, to tie the matrimonial knot.  The papas Alonzo (Steven Azzaro) and Saul (George Spelvin) are reluctantly exercising their checkbooks, while grandmas Noni (Raeleen Mautner) and Esther (Pat Covino) are baking cookies and testing the party menu.

While the tempers flair and each family tries to win the top billing, the caterer’s manager Helen, an accommodating Maria Berte, tries to satisfy all the requests for tablecloths and centerpieces and keep the natives calm. Will they be able to resolve the conflict?  Will anyone get married on the fateful day?  How can the pot of wedding soup be the unlikely solution to the conflict? Others in the cast include Brianna Jackson, Emily Kopstein and Hannah Duffy. Bert Bernardi is the sturdy director who will be sure that “all’s well that ends well.”

For tickets ($28 at the door. $25 online), go online to www.pantochino.com.  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.and Sunday at 2 p.m. The show is cabaret style so bring goodies to share at your table.


Remember the Great Give on May 1 and 2 to benefit all the good works that Pantochino Productions provides. To vote, go to TheGreatGive.org. Banks America is providing matching grants to participating arts organizations.
No matter whether you sit on the bride’s side or the groom’s side, you’re sure to have a fun and tasty time at “Italian Wedding Soup.” 

Monday, April 23, 2018

MTC IS OPENING THE DOOR TO “FUN HOME”




Left to Right: (top) Abigail Root, Megan O’Callaghan, Anthony Crouchelli, Greg Roderick, Raissa Katona Bennett and (bottom) Ari Frimmer, Amy Griffin, Caitlyn Kops, and Jonah Frimmer 
      
Not everyone is lucky enough to be born into "The Brady Bunch” or “The Partridge Family.” Some of us, like graphic writer Alison Bechdel, find ourselves in a complicated situation that may take half a lifetime to unravel for understanding.  To enter Alison’s unusual world, the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk is offering an intriguing opportunity until Sunday, May 6 and you need to be present for the startling revelations,.

Here we meet Alison at three ages, vulnerability and questioning at only ten with Caitlin Kops, Middle Alison at nineteen in college with Megan O’Callaghan and finally at forty-three with the perspective of adulthood with Amy Griffin.  Each Alison is wonderfully moving as each searchs for understanding, trying to determine her place in a complicated family scenario.  Some of her confusion is revealed while she is in college when she realizes she is a lesbian, as she blossoms in her relationship to Joan (Abby Root). Opening that closet door ultimately helps her when she discovers her dad Bruce, a conflicted Greg Roderick, is also gay.  Bruce is often violent, suffers from depression and has a destructive predilection for young boys, all of whom are portrayed by Anthony Crouchelli..

When her dad commits suicide, Alison's search for answers intensifies. She turns to her mother Helen, a silently suffering Raissa Katona Bennett, for understanding. Her mom oversees the raising of Alison and her two younger brothers Christian (Jonah Frimmer) and John (Ari Frimmer) while her dad teaches high school, restores old houses and runs a funeral home.  Not every child plays hide-and-seek among coffins. For Alison, growing up in a small Pennsylvania town raises more questions than it answers. Trying to understand her father and his secret life, in the midst her own growing sexuality, leads her to write her feelings in a series of journals.  Now, with the advantage of hindsight as an adult, she starts to “remember” the clues from the past that impact the present.

This multiple Tony Award winning Best Musical by Lisa Kron for book and lyrics and Jeanine Tesori for music was created from Bechdel’s graphic novel. Director Kevin Connors calls the distinctly different work “ground breaking.” As a cartoonist, Alsion examines the world in a series of quirky art drawings as she becomes a detective probing her past to open the mysteries of her childhood.  The biggest query becomes who is her dad and what role did she play in his death, if any?

For tickets ($30-55), call Music Theatre of CT, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Nine West Shoes) at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com.  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. 

For wonderfully affective theater, let Alison Bechdel literally and figurative draw you into her world as she examines her distinctive unique family through wide open adult eyes.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

YOU’LL LOVE “AS YOU LIKE IT” AT UCONN



BRALEY DEGENHARDT AS CELIA AND ALEX CAMPBELL AS ROSALIND
PHOTO BY GERRY GOODSTEIN


Are you an outdoor person? Are you fearless and daring?  Do you like adventure and are you a sucker for a good love story complete with complications?  Is Will Shakespeare one of your favorite playwrights? If you answered yes to all of the above, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the University of Connecticut has the perfect vehicle for your entertainment pleasure, but only until Sunday, April 29 at the Jorgensen Theatre, so hop right on it.


The merry woods of Arden Forest are welcoming you to forgo caution and run straight in for an amazing experience.  No need to pack camping equipment because everything is already there waiting for you to partake.  Here’s the deal.  Two pretty and sweet cousins Rosalind, an outstandingly gifted Alex Campbell, and Celia, a devoted Braley Degenhardt, find themselves unjustly banished to the forest by a mean spirited Duke Frederick (Jonathan Croy), Celia’s unreasonable papa.  He has already sent Rosalind’s father, his brother, off to ‘Arden after taking his estates and unfairly punishing him.  The court jester Touchstone, a versatile Nikolai Fernandez, accompanies them on their quest.

Once in the forest of Arden, Rosalind disguises herself as a lad Ganymede for protection. In that guise, she rediscovers a comely dude Orlando, a manly Nick Nudler, a youth she fell in love with while in Frederick’s court when he fought and defeated the Duke’s favorite fighter Charles (Anthony Giovino).  Not recognizing her, Orlando uses Ganymede  to practice on with his poems of love for Rosalind, which he prints on every tree. Meanwhile Touchstone gets giddy with the shepherd girl Audrey (Gillian Rae Pardi), she of the adorable lambs and goats, the maiden Phebe (Sierra Kane) is actively pursued by Silvius (Sebastian Nagpal) and even Celia finds romance in the unlikely arms of Oliver (Bryan Mittelstadt), Orlando’s not-so-nice brother.

Thanks to director Kristin Wold, the production is stuffed with imaginative and musical touches that make the Bard’s comedy especially memorable. For tickets ($31-35, student $10), call 860-486-2113 or go online at wwwcrt.uconn.edu. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

In the pastoral pleasure fields of Arden Forest, you’re sure to discover the madness of love in all its varied complexions as traitors and teasers and poets and fools roam freely in merriment and mayhem that is sure to delight.


Monday, April 16, 2018

A STORY WITHIN A STORY IN “THE REVISIONIST” AT PLAYHOUSE ON PARK



CECILIA RIDDETT'S MARIA AND CARL HOWELL'S DAVID
PHOTO BY CURT HENDERSON
If you earn your living composing poetry, penning prose or dispensing literature, experiencing a writer’s block can be a crippling concern.  If your muse is gone and you’ve hit the wall, you might be desperate enough to try anything to coax the words back.  If you are a young American man named David, you might pack a bag, hop a plane and seek the inspiration of a complete change of scenery in the company of a relative even if you haven’t see her in decades,  That is what desperation can feel like.

West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park is encouraging you to climb into David’s head as you watch Jesse Eisenberg’s unusual journey “The Revisionist,” the New England premiere of a puzzling drama being offered until Sunday, April 29.  Carl Howell’s David has a deadline to meet and he’s already six weeks late.  He has rejected a cabin in the woods and writing retreats as possible solutions to his dilemma.  He must revise a science fiction book he has written, “Mindreader,” that comments on society and the real world. An escape , at a cousin’s small apartment in Poland, seems  to be the answer he seeks.

Cecilia Riddett’s Maria is ready to welcome David with open arms.  A little sprite of a woman, she craves family and can’t wait to spoil him with a roasted chicken dinner (he’s a vegetarian), a tour of the city (he’s too busy) and stories about all the family portraits that grace her walls (he knows none of their shared relatives).

To say David is ungrateful, selfish and rude and unappreciative of her efforts is an understatement, yet Maria cheerfully keeps trying.  She even invites her friend Zenon (Sebastian Buczyk) to come and help her in her desire to make David feel loved.  For a lady who holds family so dear, Maria finds it hard to understand David’s apathy.  She is delighted he has “come to bring blood back into the house,” and she is even kind to the telemarketers who continually call on the phone,

Sasha Bratt directs this intriguing encounter that reveals who the true revisionist is in the stories being told.  For tickets ($25-40), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-623-5900 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 at 2 p.m.
Upcoming events include a Play Reading on Tuesday, April 24 ($10),  the 19th Annual Mayor’s Charity Ball on Saturday, May 12, a cool kids musical “Polkadots” May 12-20, a Comedy Night on Saturday, May 19 ($15) and a Young Professionals Night Out onThursday, June 28 from 6-7 p.m. ($20) during the running of “In the Heights” (June 13-July 29). 

You may find yourself revising the whole meaning of your family members after a visit with David and Maria and Zenon.  A stiff glass of vodka may help.

TIME IS TICKING FOR THE LEONARDO CHALLENGE APRIL 26


    

                SUSAN CLINARD'S INTERNAL CALENDAR
   


DELARI JOHNSTON AND KEITH MURRAY'S THE TIME WARP CREW
Alice in Wonderland’s friend the White Rabbit  was often heard muttering “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date.” In this case, the date in question is Thursday, April 26 and the time to arrive is 5:30 p.m.  The occasion is the 24th Annual Leonardo Challenge which this year is the intriguing query “Capturing Time.”

Time is an elusive quantity, but how would our world and our lives operate without it? We wear watches, we wake to alarm clocks, we measure moments and minutes practically 24/7, we refer to the sun and the moon to distinguish day from night.  We even manipulate sunlight and darkness twice a year with Daylight Saving Time.

The Eli Whitney Museum and Workshops, 915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden is encouraging one hundred artists from across the country to explore the fascinating dimensions of time in a myriad of creative ways by designing a piece of jewelry, a mobile, a toy, a painting, an article of clothing, a chair or table, all to honor that greatest of inventors Leonardo da Vinci and, at the same time, raise valuable funds for children’s scholarships and year round educational activities to hopefully produce the inventive and spirited minds of the future.

According to Sally Hill, the museum’s Associate Director and designer of each year’s invitation and exhibit displays,  "We realized early on, that artists almost always 'solved' the Challenge in their own 'language.'Painters painted, sculptors worked 3 dimensionally, photographers used their cameras...etc.This theme of time, it's tricky. It's just gigantic if you try to look at it in general. But if you  think of it in terms of how you personally experience time, we hoped it would be manageable. And people will come up with all kinds of things you'd might not consider –  perhaps ever – in your own experience.''

She has already received a few entries to this year’s program,  a sublime piece from Susn Clinard, Internal Calendar and four Dolls from the Rocky Horror Show, The Time Warp, a pure joyous piece contributed by Delari Johnston and Keith Murray.  According to Sally Hill, these two pieces accurately describe the whimsical nature of the evening.  Sally, herself always submits a lamp and another contribution to the event, one she usually collaborates with another artist to complete.

While single tickets are $75, categories exist for more generous supporters from Galileo at $250 to the Doctor at $5000, each with appropriate incentives to participate.  For more information, call the museum at 203-777-1833 or go online at www,eliwhitney,.org.

Culinary delights will be courtesy of Doug Coffin’s Kitchen and the Big Green Truck Pizza, the delicious cheeses from the fromagerie Caseas, the old world creations of Whole G’s artisan bakers, the organic fare of Small Kitchen, Big Taste, and the libations from Caseus’s Blackhog Brewery and Koffee and special Koffee cocktails.

These can all be enjoyed while you explore all the timeless creations by the artists that you can bid on and, hopefully, taken home.  All the entries will be on display for the public for two weeks after the fundraising party.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

CT GAY MEN’S CHORUS MUSICALLY SALUTES MEN AND BOYS




It’s not just Rice Krispies that snap, crackle and pop. The Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus has the same grooves, sparkle and sizzle and its upcoming spring concert is no exception. The Theater of the CoOp located in the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School at 177 College Street in New Haven will be the exuberant site of its latest and greatest, a tribute to the iconic and favorite boy bands of recent momentum and memory.

On Saturday, April 28 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 29 at 4 p.m., this delightful guy group will salute “Oh Boy!: The Best of the Boy Bands.” Whether you swoon over The Five Satins or The Jackson Five, Boys ii Men or The Back Street Boys, NSYNC or One Direction, The Jonas Brothers or The Beatles, the CGMC’s dance card is sure to be filled with some if not all of your greatest hits.

According to Artistic Director Greg McMahan, “Our boy band theme has allowed us to explore an incredible variety of musical genres - a gorgeous, heartbreaking ballad one minute followed by an infectious pop song that you grew up with  that you can’t get out of your head!  I know our audiences will gasp with delight to hear their favorites being recreated live on stage by our performers.  I mean, what other chance do you get to hear a Monkees favorite on the same bill with one of Ricky Martin’s megabits?  There’s definitely something for everyone!”

For tickets ($25-30), call the CGMC at 203-777-2923 or online at www.ctgmc.org.

Imagine a three or five member boy band magically expand in volume to a chorus of 30 members strong as these guys croon their hearts and souls out to bring you pleasure. With the moves and the music and the male mojo, this creative reunion of the best of the best is sure to be “one sweet day” with “no strings attached” that will go “step by step” to guarantee “they’ll make it beautiful."


OPERA THEATER OF CT PRESENTS LOVE TRIANGLE



The stage is set for murder, fueled by jealousy and infidelity, in a dramatic opera narrated by a clown.  Opera Theater of Connecticut will present Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci,” originally performed in Milan in 1892.  Now set in the Little Italy section of a large American city, it will be 
filled with passion and problems of the heart at the Andrews Memorial Theater, 54 East Main Street, Clinton on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 21 at 3 p.m.

Opera Theater of CT is now expanding its programming to the spring.  Kyle Swann will conduct with Jill Brunelle on piano. Sung in Italian with English supertitles projected overhead, prepared by Artistic Director Alan Mann, Mann will also offer a special half hour Opera Talk before each performance at 60 minutes before curtain that is sure to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the piece.

Daniel Juarez, tenor, will play the jealous husband Canio who suspects his wife Nedda, performed by soprano Rachele Schmiege, of being unfaithful to him.  Luke Scott will sing the role of Tonio, a baritone, the clown an unsuccessful lover who seeks revenge and plots murder while Silvio will be Nedda’s consummate love interest in the hands of Zachary Johnson, baritone. Tenor Jorge Prego takes the role of Beppe, the manager of this group of clowns.

Come and be caught up in the intrigue of the traveling group of performers  and the real life traumas that weave themselves in their theatrical stories.  For tickets ($30, under 18 $10 and $5 for the Opera Talk), call Opera Theater of CT at 860-669-8999 or fax the office at 860-669-6616 or go online and complete the ticket order form at www. operatheaterofct.org and fax it in to the office.

Let yourself enjoy this commanding work that features a dynamic “verismo” repertoire, with pieces like the Bell Chorus, the melodic Intermezzo and the moving “Vesti la giubba” or “Laugh, Clown, Laugh.” 

Monday, April 9, 2018

LINGERIE ON DISPLAY IN “NANA’S NAUGHTY KNICKERS”




LORI FELDMAN,  KAREN GAGLIARDI AND ASHLEY AYALA

Very few things are as private as your underwear.  What you put on under your clothes is basically your business.  But to senior citizen Sylvia Charles her business is getting to the bottom of things, from your knickers to your knockers, in silk or feathers, satin or lace, and she is proud to be so intimately involved in your life.  This feisty and innovative lady doesn’t want to play bridge or take a walk in the park.  Now widowed, she wants to raise a few eyebrows and a few bucks and have a little frisky fun in the process.

To make Sylvia’s acquaintance, head over to the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin for an intimate introduction to Katherine DiSavino’s comic “Nana’s Naughty Knickers” playing weekends  until Saturday, May 5th.  Lori Feldman’s innovative Sylvia has managed to keep her enterprising activities private, away from the prying eyes of her best friend Vera, a nosy but hard of hearing Karen Gagliardi, her good friend Police Officer Tom, a helpful Josh Luszczak, and her landlord Mr Schmidt, an interferring Dave Wall who would like nothing better than to find a good cause to evict her
 from her rent controlled apartment.

Everything is under control and working well until the arrival of her granddaughter Bridget, a questioning Ashley Ayala, who gets quickly suspicious of her nana’s unusual activities. As a law school student, Bridget quickly suspects that Nana is hiding a big secret, one that is kinky as well asillegal and she wants it to stop.  When the UPS men, Chase Fish and Russell Fish, start delivering packages of sex objects and a model Heather, a scantily clad Melissa Pelletier, arrives at the door, Bridget realizes she must act quickly before Officer Tom hauls Nana off to jail for tax evasion and Mr Schmidt discovers the perfect excuse to evict her for breaking her lease.

Luckily the arrival of Nana’s best customer Claire, a commanding Linda Kelly, arrives in the knick of time to save the day.  Kris McMurray has a lot of fun frolicking among the intimate apparel to great comic relief.  For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret  Theatre, 31 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaretct.com.  Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy them at the concession stand onsite.

Wear your fancy inner wear and your red or pink boas so you’ll feet right at home at Nana’s  ingenious take on the old fashioned Tupperware parties of old.  

SEVEN ANGELS THEATRE OFFERING UP “SECOND CHANCE”


MARINA RE'S VIOLET FLIRTS WITH PAUL D'AMATO''S JACK IN "SECOND CHANCE"

Parents spend a lifetime helping to guide and nourish their offspring from new born baby to fully grown adults.  They never stop caring and insinuating their advice, whether welcomed or not.  What happens, however, when the bassinet is turned and the child becomes the keeper of the reins, the one who wants and needs to call the shots, when the parent is in need of help.  How resistant or accepting will the parent be to receiving advice from the child.  If the parent is a cantankerous and opinionated Jack Korman, the ruler of his own destiny for seventy seven years, he will be resentful of any guidance his son Larry has to offer.

To witness the contretemps that blossom between the two men, mosey on over to the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury to see whose side you’ll take in Mike Vogel’s comedy “Second Chance” until Sunday, April 29.  Larry feels his dad needs to make changes in his living arrangements.  After living for fifty years in the same apartment and being widowed for some time, Jack is set in his ways.  He lives for the Yankees and resents Larry interfering in his life style.  Paul D’Amato’s Jack has no desire to change any thing, especially not to move into an assisted living facility.  Jack Lafferty’s Larry is equally determined that his dad will change his residence and tricks him into agreeing to try out the new facility for a week.

Enter Marina Re’s Violet a spunky and sassy Welcoming Committee who literally sweeps Jack onto the dance floor and agreeing to move over in bed.  With a ratio of 4 to 1, Jack is quickly in hot demand, much to the dismay of Warren Kelley’s Chet who deeply resents the new competition. Amanda Kristin Nichols’ Malka is a young nurse in the building who also has unique services to offer the newly arrived resident.  Soon Jack is ready to admit he might have been wrong about relocating but lots of complications arise to make this a rocky road of decisions. Russell Treyz directs this foray into retirement life that ventures onto rough seas before it can level off into smooth sailing.

For tickets ($42-58), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org.  Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Watch how a feeding frenzy of women setting their sights on newcomer Jack help him adjust to his new surroundings and make his transition to retirement life all the easier and more fun.  Soon Jack is hitting his own homeruns, without any help from his beloved Yankees.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

“THE CAPITOL STEPS:” PARADING POLITICAL PUNS WITH APLOMB




What a year to be a comedian who delights in dishing out zingers on the political arena. The material is all there for the taking. They’re the Capitol Steps and politics, with heapings of parody and satire, are easily the name of their “I can top that” game. Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, Green Party person, Tea Party candidate or otherwise affiliated, the Capitol Steps are bound to crunch a few of your sensitive toes as they sling their bipartisan barbs on the icons of Washington, D. C., those hard working and hard playing leaders of our country. And they sing and dance all their satire.

These entertainers know of what and whom they speak, for they began as former Congressional staffers who have gone legit by entering the world of show business. For one night only they will be the official speakers of the house at the Warner Theatre in Torrington. This command performance will take place on Saturday, April 21 at 8 p.m. The troupe brags about putting the MOCK in Democracy.  Hillary and Bill are still fair game as are Vladimir Putin, Rex Tillerson, Mike Pence and, of course, The Donald and all his clan and legion of lawyers.

With savagery and wit, these talented troupers will take today’s headlines and tweets and cast a new and slightly jaundiced eye on those happenings. Their highly successful stint began in the early 1980’s when three staffers for Senator Charles Percy needed to take center stage at a Congressional Christmas party. They took the stage then and haven’t yielded the floor to this day. Talk about filibustering power for a purpose. This year’s show is titled “Orange is The New Black” and encourages you to examine the Obama years as they are overshadowed by the Trump White House and Mar-A-Lago. 
The original trio, Elaina Newport, Bill Strauss and Jim Aidala, began writing the material  for the ever changing scene. Newport often shows up to lead the band and is responsible for writing 95% of the humor, according to another cast member and original home town boy Michael Thornton who grew up in Windsor. Thornton considers himself a rogue classical musician turned jazz singer who now “enjoys thinking on my feet which provides a wonderful opportunity to combine topical humor with music that keeps my job interesting and fresh.”

For tickets ($31-51) call the Warner, 68 Main Street,Torrington at 860-489-7180 or go online to www.warnertheatre.org. 

With a campaign slogan that states Lampoon through Laughter, you are encouraged to poke fun at the follies in our nation’s headquarters.Cast your vote for the former and current politicians who are sure to please the crowds when the Capitol Steps march into our Connecticut political arena. Come laugh, hoot and make merry over Washington’s latest schenigans and scandals.