There’s a new play about puppets in town and you’re invited. If you are thinking the mild mannered Kermit and Miss Piggy, think again seriously. Don’t even give a thought to Princeton, the college educated puppet who resides on“Avenue Q.” This is a different breed entirely. Come meet Tyrone, if you dare, the possessed alter ego of a young, confused teenage boy named Jason who is still inthe grips of dealing with his father’s sudden death a mere six months ago.TheaterWorks of Hartford is offering an extremely up close and personal introduction to Jason’s world in Robert Askins’s dark comedy “Hand to God” until Sunday, August 26. Set in a church basement, in rural Texas, “Hand to God” is like nobiblical tale or sermon you’ve ever heard before. Irreverent is putting it mildly.Nick LaMedica’s Jason masterfully commands and controls his own role as well as that of his out-of-control puppet Tyrone and is not happy to be stuck in the churchpuppet club run by his mother. While he enjoys being geographically close to Maggie Carr’s Jessica, a girl he fantasizes about, he is equally unhappy to be in thesame room with Timmy, a sarcastic and overbearing Miles G. Jackson.Jason’s mom Margery, a frustrated and conflicted Lise Velten Smith, tries her best to lead the group but is clearly drowning in the attempt. The amorous and unwantedadvances of Pastor Greg, an ingratiating Peter Benson, are not helping. As Tyrone takes over Jason’s troubled soul, becoming obsessed with sin, sex and Satan, anddeveloping a hunger for human flesh, (think of the carnivorous plant in “Little Shop of Horrors”), the church becomes the site for ungodlike behavior. There is humortucked neatly into the shocking occurrences.Tracy Brigden directs this foray into religion’s darker sides, where evil tries hard to triumph over good. Luke Cantarella is responsible for designing a variety of revolving and intriguing sets that showcase Stephanie Shaw’s collection of puppets.For tickets ($45-70), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.twhartford.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdayat 7:30 p.m, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and matinees weekends at 2:30 pm.Hold on to your rosary beads as Tyrone with a little help from Jason takes you on a bumpy ride to limbo and beyond.
Monday, July 30, 2018
Sunday, July 29, 2018
Kyle Swann leads Zhiguang Hong (Scarpia) and the Tosca ensemble in the Act I finale, Te Deum.
Murder, suicide and torture are not the likeliest subject matter for an opera, but for Giacomo Puccini they were the perfect trio for his dramatic and fascinating “Tosca.” Add to those themes jealousy, romance and passion and you have a complete recipe for drama. Debuting on the first days the twentieth century, and set a hundred years earlier, “Tosca” was not an immediate success although it was soon viewed as powerful and inventive.You have the opportunity to get reacquainted with its masterful themes, or to encounter it for the first time, as Opera Theater of Connecticut celebrates its 33rd season with this Puccini favorite on Tuesday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. (followed by a traditional opening night reception), Thursday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m, Saturday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 12 at 6 p.m. Sung in Italian, with supertitles in English, the performances will be held at Andrews Memorial Theater, 54 East Main Street in Clinton.The epitome of dramatic art, “Tosca” tells the tale of a renowned female opera singer, Tosca, who is in love with the painter Cavaradossi, but consumed with jealousy. While painting a portrait of a famous lady in a Roman church, Tosca accused her lover of having an affair with his model. He denies it. Meanwhile a fugitive Angelotti has escaped prison and appeals to the painter, his old friend, to hide him from the police, headed by the despicable Scarpia and his henchmen Spoletta and Sciarrone.As Napoleon is defeated, Cavaradossi helps Angelotti hide in a well at his villa. Soon after Scarpia appears and confronts Tosca, convincing her that a woman’s fan he has found belongs to Cavaradossi’s new lover. His men follow Tosca to find Cavaradossi and torture him, hoping to discover Angelotti’s hiding place. Scarpia bargains with Tosca to give herself to him to save her painter’s life. To prevent being captured, Angelotti has killed himself. Tosca in turn kills Scarpia to save herself and Cavaradossi. The promised fake execution becomes all too real and Tosca flings herself over the parapet once she realizes her lover is dead. Heroes, heroines and villains, no one survives this epic tale of romance and politics and ill fated dreams.Production Director Alan Mann is excited to bring back this thrilling production that hasn’t been performed for a decade here. “Tosca” has a “big appeal and when we realized that three principals from our production of “Carmen” two years ago were available, Rochelle Bard our bel canto soprano to play the beautiful Tosca, tenor Daniel Juarez as her lover Cavaradossi and Chinese baritone Zhiguang Hong as the powerful and ominous head of the secret police Scarpia, we were all set.” Mann explained that these are mature roles for the singers to embrace. “The singers are deep in their roles and will debut them here and be able to add them their repertoire.”The rehearsals are going well and Mann is busy selecting projections and videos to use as background to establish the settings and support the performance. One circumstance that he is proud to confide is that this is a multi-ethnic cast, international in its scope. While not deliberate, the fact that it just happened is great, with two singers from China, a few of Mexican descent, and one from Romania. According to General Director Kate Ford, “This is like the United Nations. We even have one singer who is a native of Madison, Connecticut and two girls in the chorus whose dad is a Cardinal in the show for a family connection. Our Cavaradossi, Daniel Juarez, even has his two sons in the chorus.”Also in this amazingly talented cast are Ricky Feng Nan as the menacing Spoletta, Michael McAvoy as the henchman Sciarrone, Luke Scott as the escaped prisoner Angelotti and Laurentiu Rotaru as the comic Sacristan. Kate Ford describes it as “a memorable opera, illuminating the conflicts between purity of heart, love of country and lust for power.” Extra enhancements include a large and rousing chorus, incredible period costumes and a 26 piece orchestra under the direction of Kyle Swann.
Tickets are $55, $50.00 for seniors and $30.00 for students. Call 860-669-8999 and inquire about out special price of $40 per ticket for a group of 8 or more people with the organizer of the group attending the show for free! Once again boxed suppers al fresco style from Chips Pub III are available through the Opera Theater of Connecticut office for $15.00 and must be ordered in advance. .A pre-opera talk by the Artistic Director, Alan Mann is $5.00 and will take place before the production to enhance your understanding..For more information or to order your tickets, visit the web sitewww.operatheaterofct.org.
Sunday school was never like this but maybe it should be. Thanks to Stephen Schwartz for music and lyrics and John-Michael Tebelak for the book, “Godspell” is an exuberant musical about Jesus and his followers. To polish your parables, motivate your morals and stimulate your acts as a good samaritan, then the Sacred Heart University Theatre Arts Program had just the musical to get you moving this past weekend.
This lively troupe performed a series of skits, sketches, stories, songs and dances that were wrapped in a cloak of the gospel of St. Matthew, all the while energetically cavorting with joy. Like a rock concert and revival meeting combined, these eleven performers took the audience along as they provided lessons on how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and how to guarantee you get through the Pearly Gates. A dynamic Jesus, captured by Zachary Thomson Lane, was amazing as the humble son of God who has much to teach and only a short time to make his message heard.
On a playground set complete with a see-saw, the cast was in perpetual motion as they demonstrated the good and the bad ways to worship the Lord and to behave to one’s fellow man and one’s family.Thanks to director Jim Schilling and his creative touches, they performed all the lessons that Jesus wanted to teach, like making peace with your brother, judging not lest you be judged, treating peopleas you want to be treated, doing good deeds in secret and lighting up the world.
The glorious words of “Day By Day” that pray for one to see and love and follow God was one of the high points of the show. These musical gifts were presented by Jake Doble, Hannah Jones, Delaney Lynch, Jordan Norkus, Courtney O’Shea, Stachakay Silvers, Tori Vacca, Serge Valcourt, Mike Villanueva and Justin Weigel.
The spirit definitely moved you as you rejoiced in the words and the deeds that were sprinkled like seeds in a fertile field, for you to gather and enjoy.
Monday, July 23, 2018
Since the average American household could afford it after World War II, the television has steadily increased its influence on its viewers, whether it is Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, the Ed Sullivan Show, 60 Minutes, Sunday Morning or American Idol. The viewing public makesits decisions based on what appears on the screen from morning to night. We watch avidly the drama of political tweets unfolding as well as the fate of a dozen boys and their soccer coach in a Thailand cave.With her own personal stash of experience in the world of television, playwright Theresa Rebeck has fashioned a play that examines the obsession some, like couch potato Merv, have with “the tube,” the active dislike others like the purist Alice have with the “instrument of the devil,” the producers like Wes who want to control the air waves at his station and his star news correspondent Jennifer who is the face of his station. The Hole in the Wall Theater in New Britain is airing this controversial reflection on our culture, the good or evil of TV, weekends until Sunday, August 4.Michael Serignese’s Wes runs his network like a dictator, often out of control, vitriolic with four letter words, but incredibly protective of the weapon he views as his key to the top, Suomia Dode’s Jennifer Ramirez. He demands her loyalty, even as he entertains a sexual relationship with her, making her the lead anchor of the morning news. While his second in command of the news William Moro’s Stu raises objections, Wes decides to share Jennifer with his novel idea, making her the voice of a reality show. He even wants her to share the interactions of the faces of the reality show on the morning news.Meanwhile in St. Louis, the obsessive Merv drinks up Jennifer’s new role. He can’t put down the remote long enough to do his share of the chores at the house he shares with Alice (Dina Addorisio), Vince (Alan Burkholder) or Grigsby (Shawna Pelletier) or pay his overdue four months of rent or even replace the food he eats that belongs to the other roommates.Before you can say Walt Disney three times fast, the two stories collide and the news room meets Merv’s living room in an unexpected turn that is alarming and dangerous to all participants. Can Merv be talked down from the tower of terror he has created by his savior Jennifer? Will there be casualties from this confrontation? Ryan Wantroba directs this current debate over our air waves and the influences it exerts on our opinions and beliefs with a steady hand.For tickets ($20, senior and student $15), call The Hole in the Wall Theater, 116 Main Street, New Britain at 860-229-3049 or online at www.hitw.org. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 22 at 2 p.m.Come witness how a television remote control and a container of Greek yogurt ignite a firestorm of protest.
THE CAST OF "OLIVER!" SINGING "FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD"
PHOTO BY DIANE SOBOLEWSKI
A humble, sincere and polite request from a poor orphan boy for a second helping of gruel, “please, sir, I want some more,” starts a series of events that affect the lad in question, one hungry Oliver Twist. Those adventures, that speed along like a roller coaster ride, are captured in their entirety by Lionel Bart’s wonderful family musical ”Oliver!” taking center stage at Goodspeed Musicals, now extended by popular demand until Thursday, September 13. Based on the Charles Dickens story, it is set in England in the 1830’s and Dickens wanted to highlight the deplorable conditions children faced when they were forced to earn a living, as he hoped to change child labor laws.When Oliver has the audacity to ask, politely, for another bowl of gruel, his reward is to be booted out of his pitiful workhouse home and sold by Mr. Bumble (Richard R. Henry) and his soon-to-be wife the Widow Corney (Joy Hermalyn). The lad soon finds himself in the employ of a Mr. Sowerberry (Jamie LaVerdiere) and his sour wife (Karen Murphy), the owners of a funeral parlor and made to be a child mourner following the caskets through the streets.Have no fear, for the lad in question, one resourceful Oliver Twist, a heart stealing Elijah Rayman, soon runs away and lands, for better or worse, in a den of enterprising thieves. He has been rescued off the streets by a resourceful Artful Dodger, Gavin Swartz, who introduces Oliver to the art of pick pocketing and the gang of thieves headed by a genial Donald Corren as Fagin, a kind hearted Nancy, a nurturing EJ Zimmerman, and a terrifying Brandon Andrus as Bill Sikes who is proud to have fear as his middle name.The troupe of young thieves takes Oliver in but he is soon caught in the act and his fate bounces around like a ping-pong ball in a fast game of table tennis. A compassionate Mr. Brownlow (James Young), Oliver’s first victim, gives Oliver a second chance but the long dark shadow of Bill Sikes looms large.Thanks to an energetic and talented cast our spunky hero overcomes all obstacles, buying himself a beautiful morning and a wonderful life. Fagin does a fine job “Reviewing the Situation,” Oliver sings a soulful “Where is Love?” and Nancy declares her faithfulness to Bill in “As Long As He Needs Me." Be aware that there are many dark moments that may be inappropriate for young children. Rob Ruggiero directs this adventurous tale with skill and compassion, with spirited musical direction by Michael O’Flaherty and lively choreography by James Gray.For tickets ($29 and up ), call Goodspeed Musicals at 860-873-8668 or visit the website atwww.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. and 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.Join Oliver Twist in a London of more than a century and a half ago as he learns the fine art of being a thief from the master himself, Fagin, and his right hand boy The Artful Dodger. Witness that despite the dark shadows, Oliver finds hope and love and happiness. Consider yourself part of the family!
Saturday, July 21, 2018
CHANNIE WAITES AS PROSPERO AND UMA INCROCCI AS ARIEL IN "THE TEMPEST" BY CFS
PHOTO BY JUDITH L. BARBOSA
What better way to spend a delightful summer evening then by being outdoors and entertained by Connecticut Free Shakepeare’s charming troupe of entertainers in the Bard’s tale of jealousy and revenge “The Tempest.” Held this year the weekend of July 19 to 22 on the grounds of the University of Bridgeport, families gathered with the kiddies and a picnic to enjoy this intriguing tale. The master magician Prospero has been sent in exile, with young daughter Miranda, to a deserted island. The devilish deed was done by brother Antonio (Mark Friedlander), with the help of Alonso (Craig Anthony Bannister) the King of Naples, and his dishonest cohorts and one goodhearted Gonzalo (Alejandro Lopez), all because of jealousy.
Prospero is the rightful Duke of Milan and now, twelve years after the fact, is set to enact vengeance. In this clever adaptation created by Ellen Lieberman, director and artistic director, Prospero is a woman, crafted with authority by Channie Waites, who conjures up a storm, “a tempest,” to catch her tormentors and shipwreck them, thus putting them at her mercy,
A ship carrying Alonso and Antonio and Alonso’s son Ferdinand (Joel Oramas) and brother Sebastian (Ian Eaton) is traveling home from Tunis and Prospero is busy with her spirit friend Ariel, a free floating Uma Incrocci, and the quixotic Caliban, an unhappy Myles Tripp, who obeys herbut has evil in his heart for Prospero. Prospero’s main concern is her daughter Miranda who was only three when this miscarriage of justice took place. Much of theirsuccess in adapting to their exile is thanks to Gonzalo and his initial help of food, water, clothes and a library of books when Prospero and little Miranda were set adrift in a small boat.
Prospero has thrived on the tiny island. With the aide of Ariel, a spirit only she can see, and Caliban, an ungrateful and menacing son of a witch, she has learned to survive. While Ariel serves her, she only desires her freedom, but Caliban resents her presence and wants her permanently gone.Through her incantations, Prospero separates the men on the ship into three groups, so that Alonso and his son Ferdinand each believe the other is dead. Two of Alonso’s servants Stephano (also Ian Eaton) and Trinculo (also Mark Friedlander ) are delightfully drunk and fall in with Caliban to plot a ridiculous defeat of Prospero. The handsome young Ferdinand is immediately smitten with Miranda (Alex Acosta), so quickly that Prospero feels she must place a few obstacles in the path of true love so “too light winning (may) make the prize light.”Meanwhile Antonio and Sebastian have treachery firmly in mind as they plot to murder Alonso and the good-hearted Gonzalo so that Sebastian can become King. A forgiving Prospero, calm after the storm, with the help of the Bard, makes sure everything works out as “all’s well that ends well.” Forgiveness is a current theme ofCFS, one theyhave broughtto schools, groups and even prisons to create discussions and reflections. Donations are always welcome at a CFS production, which are marked by special effects, creative costuming, humor, joy, dancing and singing.
A web of enchantment is being woven that will surely catch you in its mesmerizing spell. Hold tight to the magic!
Monday, July 16, 2018
THE QUEEN BEES
Turn your clock back to the 1960’s, a kinder, gentler time in many ways, and join two sisters and theirbest friend as they try to scale the mountain to the top of the all girl group singing charts. Come to theConnecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin weekends until Saturday, August 4th to see, hear and bop along withRob Urbinati’s lively “The Queen Bees,” a joyous jukebox musical.The road to the top is not easy and there’s a lot of room for missteps along the way. Good voices and aton of enthusiasm are not enough as sisters Diane and Brenda and BBF Connie soon discover. Findingthe right name for their group (The BonBons sounded too juvenile and sweet), the best manager(Flash Davis didn’t work out) and the proper songs to sing (nothing with car crashes and sea gullsound effects) were a process of trial and error.Maria Soaft’s Brenda, the too wise one, sexually provocative and out for what was best for her, in termsof clothes and financial successful and boys to men, is in direct contrast with younger sister Diane, playedby Amy Bentley, who is conscientious and determined and has the whole group in mind as she makesdecisions for them to succeed. Kristin Iovene’s Connie is the believer of the group, who reads and honors theBible and is slow to approve Brenda’s rebellious ways.The show reveals their hopes, dreams and struggles as the girls try to succeed in a male dominated worldwhere they are dismissed all too often and forced to fight for every little step up the ladder to the top.Amazingly they hit their peak in three years, only to discover that their goals have changed and maybethey are no longer on the same musical page.Along the way they harmonize on a number of great 60’s hits, like “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Leader of the Pack,”“Maybe,” “Remember (Walking in the Sand),” “Twist and Shout,” “The Boy From New York City,” and “Shout!”A lively band of Nathaniel Baker, Jamie Sherwood and Tim Urso sets the pace.Kris McMurray directs this trio of songsters who put their heart and soul into their sound with enthusiasm andglee. For tickets ($34), call the CT Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 oronline at www.ctcabaret.com. Remember to bring goodies to share at your table or plan to purchase dessert anddrinks at the onsite concession stand.Come cheer on Connie, Brenda and Diane, all from Queens, New York, as they travel the highway to a place where dreams can come true…or not.
If you love to laugh and enjoy the complicated joys of farce, then do I have the play for you. Farce is a unique form of comedy that is reminiscent of Abbott and Costello partying with The Three Stooges, only with lots of bedrooms, slamming doors, mistaken identities and a slap dash of romance. The situations are ridiculous, the humor is physical and the dialogue equal parts witty and sexy. Get ready to dip your toes in this delicious sea of silliness.In 1907 Georges Feydeau of France penned the outrageously adorable “A Flea in Her Ear” which has been delightfully adapted by David Ives. Until Saturday, July 28, you are urged to run, not walk, to the Westport Country Playhouse for some fancy French folderol.You will quickly get caught up in the plottings of Raymonde Chandebise (Elizabeth Heflin) who is convinced her husband Victor (Lee E. Ernst) is cheating on her. To catch him in the act, Raymonde contrives to have her best friend Lucienne (Antoinette Robinson) write him a perfumed love note, urging him to meet his new secret admirer at The Frisky Puss Hotel. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?
The flattered Victor enlists his womanizing friend Tournel (Steven Pelinski) to go in his place and the race to comic confusion is on. Add to the mix a smug servant (David Beach) and his amorous (to others) wife (Carine Montbertrand), a doctor with ulterior motives (Hassan El Amin), a cousin with a severe speech impediment (Mic Matarrese) and the hotel’s accommodating staff and residents (Deena Burke, Laura Frye, Robert Adelman Hancock, Wynn Harmon, John Rensenhouse) and you have merry mayhem that is magnificently played upon Kristen Robinson’s beautifully appointed set, with lovely costuming by Sara Jean Tosetti and adapt direction guided by Mark Lamos.A pair of suspenders and a bucket of suspicion start off the race, with a wildly jealous husband of Spanish ancestry (Michael Gotch) firing the starting gun for hijinxs and high comedy. The action spins into revolving bedrooms with laugh-out-loud results. The remarkable resemblance between a man of noble upbringing and a lowly bellman engenders much mistaken personality.For tickets ($30 and up), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport off Route 1 at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.Check-in at The Frisky Puss Hotel for some mischief and merriment in this masterpiece of French bedroom farce. Be sure to ask if room 5 is available.
Fate and luck have a lot to play when a father is a gambler and wins one ticket to freedom for one of his three daughters. It sounds a little like the impossible decisions of a King Solomon or a Sophie’s choice.
In this case a fourteen year old girl in Vienna is put on the Kindertransport train by her parents at the eve of World War ii to escape the Nazis. All she has with her is a small suitcase, the sewing skills taught to her by her father and the love of music given to her by her mother. The train would carry her and almost 10,000 Jewish children to England over the war years and her inspiring story is being revealed by her daughter in a deeply moving concert with words currently thrilling audiences at Hartford Stage until Sunday, July 22.The teenager’s name was Lisa Jura and we can thank her daughter Mona Golabek for bringing her inspirational story to life. Transport yourself to an elegant drawing room where a concert of piano music by Grieg, Debussy, Liszt and Beethoven is being performed, all the while a transforming story of survival unfolds. Mona Golabek first wrote her mother’s story in a book and thanks to Hershey Felder that book, written with Lee Cohen, is now an astonishing narrative accompanied by glorious music.The musically mesmerizing Ms. Golabek takes her audiences on a riveting journey as her mother uses her music to make boys and men fall in love with her, while inspiring hope that the world will survive. Calling her music her best friend, Lisa pounded the keyboard to drown out the boom of bombs during the London blitz. She becomes a musical Pied Piper for all the children terrified of the war, living together under one roof at 243 Willesden Lane.Mona Golabek with no formal training as an actress nevertheless becomes all the people who live in her mother’s world, from the uncle who was supposed to save her to the guardians like Mrs. Cohen and Mr, Hardesty who give her shelter, to the young French soldier who hears her music and is entranced.
Hershey Felder and Trevor Hay have designed a gilted setting of gold and black with empty picture frames that are soon filled with visual projections that portray her life, all surrounding a grand Steinway piano.
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 at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Equal parts stirring piano concert and moving true tale of a teenager, "The Pianist of Willesden Lane" is packed with all the love, respect and honor one daughter can gift to her mother. All the proceeds from her book “The Children of Willesden Lane” go to her non-profit organization Hold On To Your Music, the words spoken to Lisa by her mother Malka as she left Vienna on her incredible journey.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Alex Prakken as Jesus and Ryan Vona as Judas in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
never one to take the road more traveled. Even as a teenager, when he was just startingFew composers are the equal of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. He was
to test out his literary pen, he chose a topic less main stream and more creative: he wrote
a musical about a boy in the Bible who receives an unusual
Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”gift from his father. That became the world famous rock musical “
In the years to come, Lloyd Webber continued his unorthodox choice of subject matter by composing musicals about a gang of backyard felines (CATS), a poor woman who rises to become a powerful figurehead in her country of Argentina (Evita), teams of train engines who race on roller skates (Starlight Express) and a disfigured young man hiding in the bowels of a Paris opera house (The Phantom of the Opera).
Now you have the opportunity to experience another record breaking musical about another boy in the Bible: “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” playing Tuesday to Sunday, to July 22 at the Jorgensen Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut as the last offering in their Nutmeg Summer Series.
Composed by Lloyd Webber with Tim Rice, this almost five decade old musical concerns the last week in the life of Jesus Christ and it is an emotional and moving experience This is true punk rock, a biblical retelling of a savior who wants to cleanse the world of corruption and sin. This last seven days in the life of Jesus Christ, who is portrayed by a memorable Alex Prakken, is told through the eyes of his betrayer, one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, played with all his anger and confusion evident by Ryan Vona.
Tender moments are underscored by Sasha Renae Brown’s Mary Magdalene as she confesses of Jesus “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” while the passion and suffering are momentarily alleviated by the antics of a song and dance Vaudeville routine by King Herod, a mischief making Griffin Biennicker, belting out “King Herod’s Song." The high powered political naysayers who have banned together to end Jesus’ reign as the King of the Jews are led by Tyler Grigsby and Jonathan Cobrda.
This spectacular rock musical that separates the myth from the man is directed by Terrence Mann and the non-stop dance moves are choreographed by Christopher d’Amboise. The lighting designed by Doug Harry is especially effective. A full orchestra led by Bryan McAdams supports the fully sung story.
For tickets ($48 and up), call the box office at 860-486-2113 or online at crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Tuesday, 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.
Enter the emotional whirlwind as Jesus Christ realizes that those closest to him are determined to witness his destruction. After three years of trying to teach his beliefs as the son of God, he is sad and tired and prepared to die for his cause.
Monday, July 9, 2018
JOHNNY NEWCOMB AS DANNY AND KIMBERLY IMMANUEL AS SANDY IN "GREASE"
Imagine yourself in the halls of high school, Rydell High to be exact, whether it is in your past, present or future. It’s time to don a black leather jacket, pedal pushers, or a dress with a dozen crinolines and start practicing your hand jive moves. Slick back your hair and get ready to groove and cruise with some of the coolest cats from the fifties. Rydell High is ready to open for a another school year as a spanking new production of that perennial favorite “Grease” comes to the stage of the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, July 29.
Sandy Dumbrowski, a sweet and naive Kimberly Immanuel, and Danny Zuko, a hipster bad boy in Johnny Newcomb, are ready to make musical magic once again as the Pink Ladies lock lips with the T-Birds in this joyful and spirited teenage rebellion written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey way back in 1971.It’s rock and roll heaven as Sandy and Danny reunite after a brief summertime romance. Soon the girls (Alyssa V. Gomez, Taylor Lloyd, Audrey Wilson) are piercing Sandy's ears and talking about the boys at a pajama party while the guys (Luke Linsteadt, Taylor Morrow, Natale Pirrotta, Max Weinstein) steal hub caps for Kenickie’s new used car he has named “Greased Lightnin’.” Amy Buckley is the teacher in charge, Johnny Cortez plays guitar, Alexa Racioppi is the head cheerleader, Shalani Taylor is the rival school’s guest dance partner and Cory Candelet is the class nerd.Because of a misunderstanding with Danny, Sandy misses the High School Hop. He is initially too cool to acknowledge his feelings for the new girl at school, Sandy, especially after he lied to his pals about her fast ways. At the hop, Vince Fontaine, a popular radio disc jockey, is played by Lawrence Cummings. He also does double duty as the understanding Teen Angel who counsels Frenchy (Katelyn Bowman) to go back to high school after a failed attempt at beauty school. As MC, Vince spins the records and oversees the dance contest where the best hand jive couple wins.The kids change partners, a gang is challenged to a rumble, Danny tries to win Sandy back and Sandy tries to change herself to fit in at Rydell High.Great songs like “Born to Hand Jive,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee,” “Greased Lightnin’, " “Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Queen,” “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and “We Go Together” pepper the scenes. Michael Morris leads the band at a lively pitch. A versatile set designed by Daniel Nischan serves as lunch room, lockers, prom hall, bedrooms, the burger palace and movie drive in. Todd L. Underwood directs all the energetic action at a fever pitch.For tickets ($55, senior $50, students $22, children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online atwww.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Water’s Edge Resort and Spa is partnering with the Ivoryton Playhouse to sponsor a series of dinner and cabaret-style performances throughout the summer, “What I Did for Love” on Sunday, July 15, “La Dolce Vita” on Sundays, July 22 and August 12 and “Summer Nights” on Sunday, August 19 and 25. For tickets ($59, plus tax and gratuity), call Water’s Edge at 860-399-5901or online at www.watersedgeresortandspa.com.Will wholesome and pure Sandy Dumbrowski find love and happiness with the cocky and handsome Danny Zuko? Cha-cha over to the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton and find out for yourself. You’ll be delighted you did.
Saturday, July 7, 2018
THE ENTIRE CAST OF"BARNUM" WITH ELINOR BIGGS
Phineas Taylor Barnum will always be Bridgeport’s favorite son. The recent celebration of his 208th birthday may have been the impetus for retelling of his highly dramatic and colorful life story, at least from the years 1835 to 1881.
Barnum was first and foremost a showman, and if he stretched veracity to the breaking point, like it was a giant slingshot, it was only to promote the wonders of what he was selling to the public. Call it flimflam, buffoonery, humbuggery or malarkey, he believed in giving value for your money, even if he also subscribed to the adage “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
Calling himself a “caterer of amusement,” he delighted in finding freaks and fancies to entice the public to part with a dime and be well entertained. He created exhibitions and sideshows, museums and circuses, menageries and attractions that made and lost him millions.
If you’ve ever wanted to run away and join the circus, now is your golden opportunity. Fairfield's gem of a theater, the Little Theatre at Sacred Heart University, is grandly presenting “BARNUM-The Musical” by Mark Bramble, Michael Stewart and Cy Coleman only until Sunday, July 22.
Come, boys and girls, and children of all ages and meet the Connecticut man who was pure showmanship. Justin Weigel delights as the bigger-than-life entrepreneur who brought to the world Jumbo, the largest elephant, Joyce Heath (Stachakay Silvers), said (by Barnum) to be George Washington’s nurse and 160 years old, General Tom Thumb, (Jake Doble) the tiniest man, and Jenny Lind, (Courtney O'Shea) the Swedish Nightingale of song. With his no-nonsense wife Charity, a lovely Jordan Norkus, at his side, this masterful man with his head in the clouds, created a dynasty of colorful theatrical magic and hocus pocus meant to amaze and to entertain.
Join the ringmaster (Zachary Thompson Lane), clown (Serginho Valcourt ),jugglers and diverse characters (Mike Villanueva, Hannah Jones, Delaney Lynch and Tori Vacca) that peopled Barnum’s universe and suspend your disbelief for a few hours. Kevin Connors directs and Marissa Powers choreographs this leap into the curious world of one of Connecticut’s own native sons.
A special bonus opening night was the appearance of Barnum’s great great great granddaughter Elinor Biggs who is clearly still fascinated by her relative P. T. and collects memorabilia which she gladly shares with others. Most recently she found two letters from P.T. to her grandfather which show the love and affection the two men shared.
She has been involved for over three decades with the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport that showcases a lot of displays about the impresario. She works closely with the museum’s Executive Director Kathleen Maher, currently on a new envisioning of Barnum’s career through epics of his life and master storytelling. This is an attempt to humanize the man and illustrate his struggles and triumphs. The pair also consulted on the recent movie “The Greatest Showman.” Both are impassioned by their work to shine a spotlight on this entertainment mastermind.
For tickets ($22, $15 seniors, faculty $15, students $10), call the Sacred Heart box office 5151 Park Street, Fairfield (exit 47 off the Merritt) at 203-371-7908 or online atwww.edgertoncenter.org. Performances are today at 3 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Sunday at 3 p.m. Free, secure parking is available on the campus. Make plans now to attend the final production, “Godspell,” with book by John Michael Tebelak, and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and directed by Jim Schilling playing July 27, 28 at 8 p.m. and 29 at 3 p.m. The musical follows Jesus and his disciples as they become a community.Now is the time to grab the kiddies and make a run for the big tent.
Monday, July 2, 2018
Summer Theatre of New Canaan is offering up a dilly of a seasonal treat with Cole Porter’s lively and lyrical :Kiss Me Kate,” a highly entertaining play within a play, all set to music. From now until Sunday, July 29, Waveny Park in New Canaan under the big white tent will be bursting with song and kicking up its dancing heels as a divorced and still angry couple of actors are forced to interact on stage and behind the curtain. This is a revered Shakespeare comedy “The Taming of the Shrew” set in Baltimore in the late 1940’s and you’re invited to join the fun.
“Kiss Me Kate” has a delightful book by Bella and Samuel Spewack, plus all of Cole Porter’s sparkling songs, with all the comedy and choreography you could want. Mary McNulty is both Lilli and Katherine, a woman disdainful of both her real life ex-husband Fred and of her on stage suitor Petruchio, created by a not-to-be-easily dismissed David Sattler. How they torment each other is a joy to behold.
Toss into the mix a lying and gambling dancer Bill (Tim Falter) who signs Fred’s name to an I.O.U. for $10,000, thus putting Fred in the hands of two gangsters, deliciously brought to life by Brett Alters and Brian Silliman. The pair almost bring down the house with their rendition of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”
A flirtatious and sexy Lois, a sizzling Rachel MacIsaac, plays Kate’s younger sister Bianca who has all the suitors in the world but cannot marry until older sis Kate has a match approved by dad Bradley Mott. Enter Petruchio who is determined to wed well, even if it means taming a shrew like Kate. Tempers ignite as the pair parry and spar, both on and off the stage. A bouquet of flowers, misdelivered, threatens to cause a volcano to erupt.
While both Fred and Lilli have seemed to have moved on romantically, he courting the young, pretty and teasing cast member Lois, and she the prestigious military man General Howell, a macho and motivated Luke Lynch, embers of their love still linger.
In the Bard’s play, Lilli’s Katherine is a tempestuous shrew whom no suitors will court. Bianca sings a delicious “Tom, Dick or Harry” that shows off her excellent marital possibilities. But Bianca can’t wed until Katherine does. When Petruchio arrives on the scene, loudly proclaiming “I’ve Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua,” the plot to marry him off to the “cursed Kate” is hatched.
Allegra Libonati pulls out all the great gimmicks to make this show a pure pleasure, with Doug Shankman’s energetic choreography, a terrific cast of actors, a versatile set by Julia Noulin-Merat and colorful costuming designed by Arthur Oliver.
For tickets ($40 and up), call the STONC at 203-966-4634 and online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Also on the calendar are shows for children, “Peter Pan”, a world premiere through July 29, “James and the Giant Peach” July 7-29 and Balloonacy July 8-29. Times are 10 a.m., 10:30 and 1 p.m. depending on the show, tickets $23 and up. The New Canaan Library will host “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged,” a comedy presented free outdoors from July 15-29, Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. Go to free tickets/info:stonc.org.
You can’t help being bowled over by this spectacular “wunderbar” performance. It’s too darn hot not to sizzle.