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.