First up is a suggestion to follow the yellow brick road with that intrepid teen Dorothy, her frisky dog Toto and her newly acquired pals the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man as they skip into the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts for a short sojourn. From Friday, April 6 to Sunday, April 8, you’ll have the unique opportunity to travel to the Emerald City and make the acquaintance of the great Wizard of Oz.
Be prepared for adventures galore with the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch, flying monkeys and a host of obstacles that Dorothy and friends must encounter and overcome on their quest. This production is a new, reimagined and enhanced version of the original 1939 classic movie and one that you and the whole family won’t want to miss.
For tickets ($22.50-103.50). call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Join Dorothy as she leaves the safety of Kansas and the comfort of Aunt Em to venture into unknown territory with her ruby red slippers firmly on her feet.
A timeless classic of musical lore, “The Fantasticks” by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones is swinging into the Ivoryton Playhouse to celebrate young love until Sunday, April 8. Enjoyed in over 82 countries worldwide, this universal tale tells the story of two parents who try to manipulate the emotions of their children with unexpected and largely unwelcome results. Reverse physchology can backfire.This longest running musical centers on teenagers Matt (Ryan Bloomquist) and Luisa (Kimberly Immanuel) who are kept separate and forbidden to converse by their interfering mothers Hucklebee (Patricia Schuman) and Bellomy (Carly Callahan) who secretly want them to fall in love. By creating an imaginary feud between these neighbors and erecting a wall (Cory Candelet) to divide them, the two parents hope to magically bring them together.Narrating the action and playing a major role in the plot is the mysteriously gallant El Gallo, embodied by David Pittsinger who takes on the role of a bandit, so Matt can rescue his princess Luisa and prove his love. When El Gallo is unveiled as part of a plot to deceive and impress Luisa, the pair of lovers, much like Romeo and Juliet, face the harsh realities of their mothers’ machinations. Matt rides off to the big city and encounters a bevy of difficulties, while Luisa fancies herself in love with El Gallo. A pair of cohorts of El Gallo’s arrive, Will Clark’s Mortimer and R. Bruce Connelly’s Henry, to advance the plot with comic complications, playing pirates and Indians and other characters..Throughout the tale, the glorious music like “Try to Remember, “ “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” “Round and Round” and the parents’ lament “Plant a Radish” are delightful. Directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan with a magical hand, the music is conducted by Jill Brunelle. For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22 and children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.Come see sixteen year old Luisa have her illusions about love shattered but, ultimately, restored so she can marry her prince Matt. All the while she learns the valuable lesson that “without a hurt the heart is hollow.”
For a distinct change of pace consider venturing to Old Saybrook. Legends swirl around the meteoric career of a rock and roll singer who rose to stardom in a mysterious galaxy and then crashed to earth unceremoniously in an airplane disaster. The rise of Buddy Holly from Lubbock, Texas was spectacular and worthy of note. His musical style lives on even if he doesn’t. In tribute to the star, the Katharine Hepburn Center for the Performing Arts will proudly present Johnny Rogers in “Buddy and Beyond” on Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m. at their unique Old Saybrook theater.
With the endorsement of Buddy’s own brother, Larry, Johnny Rogers has created the perfect platform to acknowledge this beloved star who shone too brightly and burned out too quickly. Buddy, born Charles Hardin Holley, on September 7, 1936 died February 3, 1959, but his influence lives on, inspiring the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Elton John. Rolling Stones Magazine has ranked him #13 in its list of “100 Greatest Artists.”
With original songs like “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “It’s So Easy,” “Heartbeat,” “Raining in My Heart” and “Oh, Boy,” Buddy Holly led rock and roll through the 1950’s. With his trademark heavy black framed glasses, he created a new sound that combined country, western, rockabilly, rock and roll and pop. With Johnny Rogers on guitar, the music of Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ricky Nelson, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley could also come to life.
Having wowed audiences in England, Germany, the Netherlands and all over the United States, from coast to coast, now it’s Connecticut’s turn to go back in time with this sterling performer and revisit the great hits of the 1950’s. 1960’s and 1970’s. For tickets ($35-38), call The Kate, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook at 877-503-1286 or online at http://www.katharinehepburntheater.org/events-tickets/.
Let Johnny Rogers literally set the stage at The Kate on fire as he inhabits the skin and style of Buddy Holly and friends and illuminates them all.
Whether you want to accompany Dorothy, Matt and Luisa or Buddy Holly, we are sure to have an excellent and exciting time in the theater. Enjoy the musical adventure.