In the world of entertainment, an actor can transform from one character or persona to another with a change in voice, a wig or a costume. With skill and talent, a complete metamorphosis can occur right before the audience’s eyes. When Casey, a struggling Elvis impersonator, finds he is overwhelmed with financial issues, from unpaid rent to buying a pizza on the installment plan, he has a moment of revelation: he must change, his name, his dress and his act.
Hartford TheaterWorks is inviting you to that moment of epiphany in Matthew Lopez’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride” stripping down to its essentials until Sunday, April 29. In the hands and other body parts by Austin Thomas, we see Casey struggle to support his wife Jo, an understanding and newly pregnant Samaria Nixon-Fleming, with an optimistic outlook and a new wardrobe. With the encouragement and mama mentoring of Miss Tracy Mills, a fantastic Jamison Stern, Casey finds himself on stage at a bar/club run by Eddie, an enterprising J. Tucker Smith, as a drag queen.Enter Georgia McBride and learn that Elvis has, indeed, left the building. With bows to Liza, Pink and Lady Gaga, Casey emerges in full feathers and flamboyant fashion. The drag queens strut triumphantly, with the addition of Rexy, an outspoken and sassy Nik Alexander, who doubles as Casey and Jo’s understanding landlord Jason. So what’s the problem with this picture? Casey forgets to tell Jo of his new career choice.While Jo is responsible and realistic, Casey is optimistic and full of potential. With the green light from Eddie, and the encouragement and assistance of Miss Tracy, Casey sees the future through his rose colored glasses. Being kind, wise and dependable, Casey discovers that tolerance and diversity and being open to change and opportunity can be life altering. When he lip syncs “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” he isjust hitting his stride. Rob Ruggiero directs this peek under the wig and inside the dress of a drag queen, with help from Leon Dobkowski’sfascinating costumes, Paul Tate dePoo III’s behind and before the stage set design, John Lasiter’s sparkling lighting, Ralph Perkins’ perky choreography and Ed Chapman’s sultry sound.For tickets ($45-70), call Hartford TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.twhartfrod.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.For lessons in makeup, wig styling and drag queen dress, look no further than Casey and Tracy’s dressing room for a behind the curtain peek at a unique area of show business.
Monday, March 26, 2018
HERO (JAMES UDOM) AND PENNY (EBONI FLOWERS)
PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
Being christened with the name Hero as a baby is both a blessing and a curse, ladened as it is with expectations and responsibilities. How do you live up to a name that conjures ancient warriors like Hannibal and Ulysses? Where do the burdens and disappointments lie? For a young black slave living in a corrugated metal hut on his master’s plantation during the Civil War, the potential for disaster is evident every time someone calls out his name. Now Hero is at a crossroads. He must make a difficult choice, one that will make some people happy and another group of his family and friends devastated. The two sides are even betting on the outcome.Suzan-Lori Parks has fashioned an epic saga in the first triptych of her historical drama “Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts 1, 2 & 3” marching into the Yale Repertory Theatre’s University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven until Saturday, April 7. James Udom is commanding and conflicted as Hero who is asked by his boss master the Colonel, Tom Hiatt, to accompany him to war against the Union Army. For this dangerous deed, the Colonel will reward Hero’s courage with the gift of his freedom. It will be Hero’s responsibility to care for his master and for the master’s horse.For Hero, his choice is a field of cotton or the field of battle and he must decide which direction to take. Hero’s dog, an engagingly vital Gregory Wallace, has run off which Hero interprets as a bad sign. To his friend Homer, a disabled Julian Elijah Martinez, the choice is further complicated by the fact that he doesn’t believe the boss master can be trusted to honor his pledge of freedom. Homer and Hero have a complicated relationship that involves a lack of trust with serious consequences.If Hero gains his freedom, he will have the opportunity to live in glory and belong to himself, and even to marry Penny, Eboni Flowers, the faithful woman who loves him. The illusions to Homer’s "The Odyssey," Ulysses, Penelope and the faithful dog are evident. Hero’s decision to go or to stay weighs heavily on his heart and has the potential to change the course of his life. Liz Diamond directs this involving and intriguing tale of life altering choices of which road to travel.For tickets ($44-90 ), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.How will Hero act when asked to help defend a country that does not value him, except in terms of the sweat of his brow and the strength of his muscles, but not of his humanity.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
THE JERSEY BOYS: CHRIS STEVENS AS NICK MASSI, TOMMASO ANTICO AS BOB GAUDIO. JONNY WEXLER AS FRANKIE VALLI AND COREY GREENAN AS TOMMY DEVITO
PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
But Frank Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi persevere and go on to sell 175 million records worldwide, all before they hit thirty, with Gaudio and Bob Crewe, their producer/lyricist writing many of the show’s thirty three songs, including five #1 hits and 11 that made the Billboard’s top ten. Come snap your fingers and hum along to “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Oh, What a Night,” “My Eyes Adore You,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and “Working My Way Back to You.”
For tickets ($57.50 and up), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury or go online to www.palacetheaterct.com. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Let a quartet of talented guys from adore you with their eyes and serenade you with their great voices as they work their way into your heart. Oh, what a night! Join the 24 million who have loved this shows they enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and deservedly so.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
One cannot dispute that in fictional literature Sherlock Holmes reigns as one of the genre’s foremostdetectives. Thanks to the great storytelling skills of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes will forever beacknowledged for his powerful investigative prowess, along with his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson.New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre is inviting you to witness those incredible deductive traits in itslatest offering Ken Ludwig’s "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” sure to be entertainingyou until Sunday, March 25. This case is purported to be Holmes’ most difficult and intriguingever. Can Holmes with his reliance on science, facts and evidence be able to solve it?Holmes is back, stronger and more brilliant than ever after his creator mistakenly killed him off inhis novel “The Final Solution.” The public, however, screamed and protested indignation, forcingDoyle to resurrect him, claiming the great investigator had faked his own death and, thus, “TheHound of the Baskervilles” was born.Now, thanks to Ken Ludwig, the king of farce and humor has put his own delightful spin on the talewhere Holmes, a suave and savvy Alex Moggridge, and his cohort Watson, an accommodatingDaniel Pearce, are aided by a trio of flexible associates playing three dozen zany parts,Kelly Hutchinson, Christopher Livingston and Brian Owen. Nowhere have you likely seen fastercostume changes courtesy of Lex Liang, aided by sharp lighting designed by Robert Wierzel, andsound effects engineered by Victoria Deiorio with original music.Sir Charles Baskerville has mysteriously died, from a heart attack or was he frightened to death bya ferocious and fierce beast, a hound? Is this a continuation of a curse placed on the familygenerations ago when a Sir Hugo Baskerville kidnapped a young maiden and traded his soul to the devilwhen she escaped in order to get her back.Now Sir Henry Baskerville has left his Texas home to claim his inheritance as the only known living heirbut warnings keep popping up. Holmes and Watson had been employed to keep him alive and tosolve the mystery. The chase lands on the moors of Devonshire where director Brendon Fox keepsthe action and suspense moving in a swirl of fog with the haunting howl of the hounds ever present.For tickets ($ 46-91.50 ), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org/baskerville. Performances are Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m onthe Claire Tow Stage.Discover who you can trust and who is patently dishonest as you watch Holmes direct Watsonacross the mysterious moors where anything can happen and danger looms large.
Saturday, March 10, 2018
The Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series is celebrating twenty years of bringing leaders from the worlds of politics, athletics, entertainment and science to Southern Connecticut State University. These intellectual discussionshave, over the years, brought people like NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Tonight Show host Jay Leno, Astronaut Mark Kelly, political analyst Tim Russet, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and a star list of others to the stage of the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts.This year top billing will be for Joe Biden, former Vice President to Barack Obama, who will reflect on his two terms in that position and his contributions to secure peace domestically and on foreign soil. Using his position as the creator of the BidenFoundation, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania and the Biden Institute for Domestic Policy at the University of Delaware, Mr. Biden continues his important work to better our country'sworld standing.With his wife Dr. Jill Biden, he has also founded the Biden Cancer Institute for vital medical research and the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children in memory of their son. This engaging conversation with Vice President Bidenwill take place Friday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lyman Center. Tickets are $75 for premium seating, $65 for regular seating and $25 for SCSU students with a valid ID. For $175 a pre-lecture reception and photo opportunity, premiumlecture seats and an autographed copy of Biden's "Promise Me. Dad," a memoir about his last year as Vice President and the incalculable loss of his son Beau, will be available in VIP form.Note to come early for parking with no bags or backpacks allowed. Proceeds from this event will fund scholarships for SCSU students, Endowed Awards of Excellence, to recognize academically talented youth.Come hear the philosophy and ideals of the 47th Vice President of the United States, his thoughts and his hopes and his promises for America's future .
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Did you ever desire to be a clandestine secret spy? Have you ever envied Sherlock Holmes or Jessica Fletcher? Would examining clues and dusting for fingerprints be a glorious hoot of fun? Are you addicted, even a little, to all the crime solving stories on television? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then Music Theatre of Connecticut has the perfect entertainment evening for you. John Buchan’s “The 39 Steps” is ready to intrigue you, confuse you, confound you and delight you until Sunday, March 18 at MTC’s intimate Norwalk studio.Four talented actors are prepared to change hats, don a mustache, put on a wig, change clothes, adapt a new accent and generally become an entirely new persona as the comic mystery unfolds. Gary Lindemann presents himself as Richard Hannay, a Brit who is bored and tired of his humdrum life. He yearns for change. This is a perfect example of being careful what you wish for as before you can say “Life is dull” three times, Hannay is concealing a woman of dubious character who has a message of doom for the country of England and quickly dies in his arms.Now suspected of her murder, Hannay is off and running…for his life and to find the solution to the puzzle of the man with a missing little finger who is plotting to destroy the country. Think of a game of CLUE that has run amok. In a humorous homage to Alfred Hitchcock, Hannay and a trio of cohorts: Laura Cable, Matt Densky and Jim Schilling set off at a brisk pace, leaping off bridges and on to trains, across the moors to Scotland, stopping at farms and grand houses along the way, catching a plane, escaping from windows, all the time trying to evade the police and arrest.This fast paced suspenseful and silly slapstick ride is an adaptation by Patrick Barlow, based on an original concept by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble, from the novel by John Buchan and the 1935 movie of the same name. Starting from the time Hannay attends a performance at the London Palladium, where he witnesses a performance by Mr. Memory until the moment all the evidence falls neatly into place, you will be rooting for Hannay to succeed in his quest and secure the love of Pamela along the adventurous way.Come witness the split timing schedule as a trio of actors play dozens of roles, from milkmen to motormen, mothers to Mr. Memory, as they romp across the countryside. Pamela Hill directs this merry go round of murder and mayhem with aplomb.For tickets ($30-55), call Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue, (behind Nine West Shoes) Norwalk 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.Come discover for yourself how biscuits and bagpipes, haddock and handcuffs, underwear salesmen and undercover agents, play a significant role in this whistle-while-you-work theatrical tour de force event. Be sure to have your ears tuned to pick up all the references to Hitchcock hits sprinkled liberally throughout this wild and wooly whodunit.
Monday, March 5, 2018
MASTER MYSTERY WRITER AGATHA CHRISTIE
Mystery, intrigue, clues, suspects, motives, opportunities, victims and alibis are all riding side by side, Army uniform to elegant gowns, on the exotic Orient Express. On a luxury train bound from Istanbul to Calais, France, the engineer is that master novelist Agatha Christie and the inquiring conductor is that ingenious detective from Belgium Hercule Poirot. Sit back in the comfort of your compartment seat at Hartford Stage’s train station until Sunday, March 25 as “Murder on the Orient Express” roars into fantastic view.With a clever and complicated adaptation by Ken Ludwig, you will discover a bevy of likely candidates for the stabbing death of a passenger, a highly disagreeable Samuel Ratchett,a man who has been receiving death threats before he climbed on board. He tries, unsuccessfully, to engage the services of Monsieur Poirot to protect him by discovering who is sending him the deadly missives but he is rebuffed.When it is revealed that Ratchett is actually the kidnapper of a young girl Daisy Armstrong, (Jordyn Elizabeth Schmidt) whose wealthy family pays the ransom but she is still killed, the list of suspects suddenly includes everyone on the train as well as the employees. David Pittu’s Poirot quickly has his hands full as he interrogates Princess Dragomiroff (Veanne Cox) and her bumbling helper Greta Ohlsson (Samantha Steinmetz),Colonel Arbuthnot (Ian Bedford) who is engaging is a secret relationship with Mary Debenham (Susannah Hoffman), Helen Hubbard (Julie Halston) an outspoken American who likes to sing Broadway tunes and flirt with Michel (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh) the chief train porter, Monsieur Bouc (Charles Paul Mihaliak) the train company's manager and an old friend of Poirot ’s, Hector McQueen (Juha Sorola) Ratchett’s right hand man and the elegant and helpful Countess Andrenyl (Leigh Ann Larkin) who is always eager to assist Poirot.Who has a motive or better yet, who doesn’t have one? As the train is delayed by a snow storm and communications are cut off from the police and rescue team, the fear and suspicions grow. As Agatha Christie is so masterful in her writing, she tosses in a few red herrings to send you in false directions while insinuating clues as to the real culprit. Never doubt that this reliable detective will handle his task with speed and diplomacy, even if it is not focused on your main suspect.Beowulf Boritt’s intriguing scenic design is evident in every shiny spoke of the locomotive while William Ivey Long has a lovely job of dressing all the suspects, under the illuminating lighting of Ken Billington and the distinct sound design of Darron L. West. Emily Mann directs this involving mystery that is sure to captivate your imagination, one that originated at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey.For tickets ($25-90), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances areTuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Check on line for all the special events.No need to come with a magnifying glass or fingerprint dusting powder as that dapper detective Hercule Poirot is on his game. Just stay alert and observant and see if you can spot the culprit before he does.
If it’s time for your car to fill up on high test octane or your tummy to get fuel with a hot cup of java and slice of pie, there’s no better place for both then Connecticut Cabaret in Berlin’s current offering of “Pump Boys and Dinettes,” a country western musical by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann. They all collaborated on the piece and performed it together on Broadway.Aim your automobile straight for Highway 57, somewhere between Frog Level and Smyna, Georgia for a knee slapping, foot stomping Grand Ole Opry down home musical hootenanny. The pumps will be open weekends until Saturday, March 17 and Prudie and Rhetta Cupp want you to come sit a spell over a platter of eggs and grits at their friendly Double Cupp Diner next door to the pumps. Don’t forget to order a slice of sweet potato or pecan pie! And be sure not to forget to leave them a generous tip. They’ll likely sing you a song to be sure you don’t fail to reach deep in your pocket.If you have a few spare kitchen utensils like wooden spoons or silver spoons or jello molds, feel free to bring them along. They’ll sound right cheery next to the bass, piano, accordion, guitars and drums being featured by the pump boys Timothy Barton, TJ Thompson ( who also doubles as Musical Director)Tony Galli, Jamie Sherwood and Tim Urso. The Cupp Girls are the spirited Cindy Lesser and Julie Lemos.With a sensible philosophy of life that "work won’t kill you, but worry will,” this talented team take the audience on a musical tour that includes songs and ballads about lover boys, serving yourself, friendship, being the best man, taking life slow, catching a catfish, pleasing your grandmother, putting on your drinking shoes and party hats and moonshine. The best tunes are about going to Woolworth’s to see Mona the cashier, the etiquette of leaving an appropriate tip for your waitress and falling in love with Dolly Parton and almost making her your own.With a distinct Southern flavor, Kris McMurray directs this homage to good, old country living that is sure to please your cracker soul.For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Be sure to pack goodies to share at your table or plan to buy them at the concession stand on site.Mark your calendars now for an Evening of Comedy with Jess Miller and Phillip Anthony Borras at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24. Miller has appeared at New York City’s Broadway Comedy Club as well as Caroline’s on Broadway. Tickets are $22 and doors open at 7:15 p.m. It’s BYOB, cabaret style.Come sit and jaw a little with the boys and partake in a serving of pie with the gals as you enjoy a concert of country western songs sure to have you clapping and singing along for the joyous ride.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
BRUCE MURRAY AND ERMA ELLIOTT
In the world's bakery, white bread is a homogenized choice at best. Consider Irish soda bread, Arab pita flatbread, an Italian crusty version, a slice of Jewish seeded rye or a French baguette for your culinary needs. In Bruce Graham's gutsy and tasty new play "White Guy on a Bus," the menu is focused on race and class, the white and the black of our society, how we interact and live side by side, the preconceptions that guide us and divide us, and what happens when civilization as we know it explodes.These difficult issues are being attacked head on by Square One Theatre Company's stark and raw drama playing weekends until Sunday, March 18 at Stratford Academy, 719 Birdseye Street, Stratford and it will engage you, scare you and leave you thinking hard thoughts about your own ingrained views. Come meet Ray (Bruce Murray), a successful investment banker who is ready for a change, of job, of address, of life style. He has been happily married to Roz (Janet Rathert) for decades, and she is devotedly dedicated to her inner city kids whom she tries to teach and better prepare for the hard life they face.Residing in a wealthy part of Philadelphia, the pair pride themselves on how civilized and progressive they are. Years before they "adopted" a neighbor boy Christopher (Ian Diedrich) whom they consider like a son and he is now about to marry Molly (Emily Diedrich). Christopher is working on a dissertation about the portrayal of African-Americans in advertising while Molly is a teacher at an affluent academy where the major problems are eating disorders and the best places to go for spring break.At this moment in time, Ray is ready to run away from their cushy but predictable life and change everything. Roz is waiting to see if she has won a prestigious teaching award. When they visit with Christopher and Molly, they chat about their jobs and the relative merits of what they do and what they hope to accomplish. The question of race and privilege weaves in and out of their conversations.When Ray starts taking a bus to a local prison, he meets Shatique (Erma Elliott), a young black single mom struggling to raise her nine year old son LeShaun, work, and earn a nursing degree. The contrasts between her life and Ray's are staggering. Why is Ray on the bus? What is his motivation in gaining Shatique's friendship? How does the question of racism enter the picture? Is this mild mannered man capable of turning to violence and revenge? Artistic director Tom Holehan steers the action through all the twists and turns a bus makes on its route to its final destination.For tickets ($20, seniors $19), call Square One Theatre at 203-375-8778 or online at www.SquareOneTheatre.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Dinner specials are available at these nearby restaurants: Acapulco's Mexican Cantina, Blue Sky Diner, Kama Sushi,, Maxwell's American Grill and Station House Wine Bar & Grill.Now is the time to make your reservation for Friends of Square One Theatre's Annual Spring Luncheon, Thursday, April 26 at noon at Mill River Country Club in Stratford. For tickets ($26), call 203-377-0273 or mail to Diane Grace, 1470 MainStreet, Stratford, CT 06615 by April 19. Select your choice of entree Chicken Piccata or Pan Seared Salmon.Proceeds will benefit the William A. Barry Scholarship Fund awarded to outstanding students in the arts at Stratford and Bunnell High Schools.Examine your own preconceived notions about how you treat others of diversity as you watch this captivating story of perspectives and prejudices .