Monday, October 15, 2018

"THE DROWSY CHAPERONE” IS NO SLEEPER



If you love musical theater, a special treat is waiting for you at Goodspeed Musicals until Sunday, November 25 so don’t be caught napping. To guide you on this journey of discovery, you first have to make the acquaintance of The Man in Chair, a truly delightful character who is most anxious to share his love for the genre and guarantee that you love it as much as he does. John Scherer couldn’t be more charming and personable as our host as he serves as commentator, putting on a phonograph record of his favorite show from 1928, an homage to the Jazz Age, stuffed with magical characters, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” His little apartment suddenly morphs into the show as it comes to life before our unbelieving eyes. Wow!
As it delightfully spoofs the musical comedies of the past, we learn we are participating in the wedding of the century, when Robert Martin (Clyde Alves) meets the sparkling show star Janet Van de Graaff (Stephanie Rothenberg) on a cruise and instantly falls in love. The nuptials are slated to take place immediately, with best man George (Tim Falter) as wedding planner. Unfortunately Janet’s producer Feldzieg (James Judy) can’t afford for her to retire from show biz and plots to stop the couple from saying their “I dos.” To motivate Feldzieg a little more, there are two gangsters at the house, a comic duo (Blakely Slaybaugh and Parker Slaybaugh), who are posing as pastry chefs and threaten him at every turn.
In desperation, Feldzieg employs a Latin lover Aldolpho, a slickly sauve (not!) John Rapson to seduce the bride-to-be but he mistakes her chaperone (Jennifer Allen) for Janet and woos her into submission. “The Drowsy Chaperone” began its stage life as an entertainment for a stag party for the wedding of theatrical couple Bob Martin and Janet Van De Graaff in Canada and has grown, after several reincarnations, into the show the Goodspeed is presenting so wonderfully. Hunter Foster directs this joy stuffed musical adventure, with glorious costuming by Gregg Barnes, a remarkable set by Howard Jones and clever choreography by Chris Bailey.

With book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, winner of two Tonys for best score and best book and four Drama Desks for outstanding musical, book, lyrics and music, this is a show-within-a-show, centering around a conceited showgirl who decides to marry a man she’s known for two New York minutes and a producer who sees his meal ticket waltzing away. The show depends on every campy device known to musical comedy and happily exploits them all. Meanwhile The Man in Chair comments as he tries hard not to jump into the action and save the day and the damsel.

Eccentric and memorable characters lead us on a merry parade to the wedding day, with wannabe stars (Ruth Pferdehirt), dowager ladies (Ruth Gottschall), Trix the Aviatrix (Danielle lee Greaves) and even the butler (Jay Aubrey Jones) insinuating themselves into the bride and groom’s big day and into the pleasure filled plot.

For tickets ($29 and up), call the Goodspeed Musicals, East Haddam at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select 2 p.m. shows), Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. (with select 6:30 p.m. shows).

Come to the wedding and no gifts are required on your part. You'll be the recipient of a gift of laughter and joy and musical merriment as “The Drowsy Chaperone” bursts into life magically before your eyes. If you are like I am, you’ll want to take The Man in Chair home, with his phonograph, to introduce you to more of his favorites. What fun!

TAKE A DIP IN “THE RIVER” AT HARTFORD THEATERWORKS


Mystery swirls in the dark waters that conceal schools of silvery sea trout in the river. A fisherman’s paradise, they are a challenge to catch, especially if you refuse to cheat in the process by using a “monster munch,” a pickle and olive flavored lure which is tantamount to poaching.  Sea trout move like a lightning bolt and are huge creatures, a delight to the purist fisherman to land.

Jez Butterworth has hooked a fascinating line in “The River” now being baited at Hartford TheaterWorks until Sunday, November 11.  The play is set in an isolated cabin, accurately detailed by Brian Prather, where we first encounter The Man, Billy Carter, who lives and breathes his fascination for fish.

He definitely wants a female companion to share his love of the shiny and elusive creatures, a woman who will stand along side him in his river of dreams. Does such a woman exist?  To add to the drama, these amazing beings can only be caught on one moonless night of the year, lucky for us, and this is the night.

Does The Man lure his female friends to his lair as carefully and systematically as he sets out to catch his sea trout?  He clearly loves both pursuits, proclaiming affection for each, only destined to be disappointed if his “lures” don’t work. Andrea Goss and Jasmine Batchelor serve the story as the much desired ladies who ultimately disillusion him.  In the process, The Man prepares a sea trout for tasty consumption.  The fish, fortunately, lives up to its reputation.  Rob Ruggiero directs this simple on the surface tale that has plenty of intrigue underneath its deep waters.

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

You don't have to be an angler to get hooked on this poetic homage to the art of catching creatures, both animal and human.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

AN INTRIGUING SPIDER’S WEB AT SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY





If you are a promising writer, actor, sports personality, model or musician, in the public eye on the brink of fame and fortune, beware the predatory trap of a master spider maker.  Alexa Vere De Vere is a fictional creation designed for herself, by herself, and she is dangerous to anyone who is caught in her web of lies.

Douglas Carter Beane has placed Alexa in the center of his intriguing comic drama “As Bees in Honey Drown,” a phrase Alexa is wont to say as she drops names and places to impress.  Nothing she says or does is true so be careful before she catches you in her calculated hands.

The Performing Arts Department of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield offered up “As Bees in Honey Drown” until October 14 in their Little Theater.

Evan Wyler, a new and promising writer, is her latest victim.  Evan, a naïve Paxton McLane, believes everything this unscrupulous smooth talking grifter is selling.  Delaney Lynch is all too believable as she entices Evan into writing her glamorous life story, purported to be for Hollywood consumption.

When Even discovers his credit card has been maxed out and Alexa has conveniently disappeared, he realizes he is only one victim of many.  He soon meets
the producer Kaden (Andrew Peloquin),  Bethany the wannabe actress (Allison Campbell), Illya the model (Olivia Porriello) and Mike, her dead husband who is very much alive (Kevin Carlson).

Can Evan and this string of victims achieve a level of revenge?  Should he just forget and forgive and go on with his career? Will this powerful self -assured potential star maker get what she deserves? Jim Schilling directs this foray into this sting and scheme operation manipulated by one devilish dream maker and destroyer.


Imagine the chutzpah it takes to feed this line of lies and have no conscience or concern when lives and hopes and promises are destroyed.

“BEAT BUGS” A NEW MUSICAL ADVENTURE ENCHANTS IN MILFORD


Mr. Mustard  and the Five Bugs he is trying to destroy but can't!
A colony of bugs are bopping to the beat of the Beatles’ music:  who could ask for anything more?  Credit the creative talents of Pantochino Productions for being the first ever to bring this new  children’s musical to the stage at the Milford Arts Council weekends until Sunday, October 28.   

Based on the animated Netflix series,  “Beat Bugs” was created
By Josh Wakely and written by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti, with garden set by Von Del Mar, cute and clever costuming by Jimmy Johansmeyer, musical direction by Justin Rugg and staging and direction by Bert Bernardini.

A community of bugs with a slowish slug Walter, Barret Crowder,  an inventive cricket Crick, David Katz, a friendly 
fire fly Buzz, Sydney Maher, a lovely ladybug Kumi, Ariana
Morales, and a brave beetle Jay, Gian Raffaele DiCostanza, revel in taking an adventure, a magical and mysterious journey in their backyard. Led by a host of fire flies, these five pals are
busy celebrating Crick’s birthday together.

Soon they find themselves in a land blessed with strawberry fields forever and deem it heavenly.  Unbeknownst to them, in another part of town, a mean Mr. Mustard, Jimmy Johansmeyer, without the aid of his loyal assistant Prudence Mary Mannix , is plotting  to build a Premium Power Solution Plant that would pollute and, ultimately, destroy all the flora and fauna, bugs and berries, and force any living creature to move their home to a new location in order to survive.

With echoes of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” the pals discover this wondrous new nature preserve and conjure up the Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band, led by Justin Rugg, to express their joy. Tunes like “All You Need is Love,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Yellow Submarine” and “With a Little Help From My Friends” create a new Woodstock, in this case Bugstock.  They are helped in the song fest by Doris, a spider (Anna Hicks) and Postman Bee (Michael Battista).

Will Mr. Sun  (Don Poggio) or the Queen Bee (Shelley Marsh Poggio) be able to save the day and the garden preserve?  Can Prudence persuade mean Mr. Mustard to mend his mischievous manners?  The show is thoroughly delightful and may make you itch for more.  The cast is totally enchanting, even the nasty you know who.

For tickets ($22 online, $25 at the door), go online to www.pantochino.com.  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Milford Arts Council at the train station, 40 Railroad Avenue South.  Free parking is at the bank lot nearby.  A selection of
“Beatles” cupcakes from Sweet Cupcasions are available at the lower level speakeasy to enjoy at your cabaret table. Bring your own goodies to share.

Take the family to this new novel musical show with a message: wherever your friends are is home and love is sure to fill every room.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

COME VISIT “THE RAT PACK LOUNGE” IN BERLIN


God has commanded that Frank, Sammy and Dean leave Heaven where they all currently reside to return to earth on a mission. Apparently Mr. Sinatra committed an unpardonable sin twenty five years ago and now he and his famous cohorts have to correct it. With your help and encouragement, the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin will be holding court weekends until Saturday, November 3 to determine in which direction God will force Mr.Martin, Mr, Sinatra and Mr. Davis. Jr. to go. Credit goes to James  Handyman and Ray Broderick for “The Rat Pack Lounge”, with musical arrangements by John Glaudini, for this singing and drinking tribute to the Chairman of the Board and friends.

With a three piece band “Tommy and the Gang” behind them, this trio rocks the joint, a down on its luck bar owned by one Vic (Nick D’Angelo), the guy who was victimized those many years ago. Now on New Year’s Eve 1998, Vic is ready to end his life and God does not want that to happen. He sends a three unlikely guardian angels down to assure it doesn’t. To prevent Vic’s suicide, the men, who have taken over the bodies of guys who happened to be in the bar at the time, work to restore Vic’s confidence in himself and his musical talents, with Jayson Beaulieu as Frank, Jonathan Escobar as Dean and Rick Bennett as Sammy.


With appropriate formal wear, the requisite mannerisms and shtick, this dynamite team sings, dances and banters like the men they emulate. Their easy camaraderie on stage makes their performance a fun experience and crowns each of them as “kings of the road.” Gradually Viccatches on to their musical magic and is snapping his fingers and crooning like a champ. All along the way a blonde Kristin Iovene sashays in and out to guarantee their progress.

Tunes like “High Hopes,” “Volare,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “My Way,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “I’ve Got the World on a String” and “Birth of the Blues” fill the lounge with great song, Kris McMurray directs this homage to the best crooners of the past in a show that has a theme like “It's a Wonderful Life."

For tickets ($34), call the CT Cabaret Theatre , 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online atwww.ctcabaret.com. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Remember this is cabaret, so bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy them at the concession stand on site.

Gather around the bar and lift up a glass in tribute to the legends of Frank, Sammy and Dean who are living large again in the Rat Pack Lounge. Keep those champagne bottles popping.

Monday, October 8, 2018

SEVEN ANGELS PRESENTS HEAVENLY “ALTAR BOYZ"











Five young men are busy making heavenly harmony at Seven Angels Theatre until Sunday, October 21 and you are invited to join the hallelujah choir and confess your sins and sing praises unto the Lord. 
Part gospel revival meeting, part Bible camp, part Sunday School class, “Altar Boyz” is all high voltage, high energy musical comedy, a spoof on a Christian boys band that is marking the end of their national “Raise the Praise” tour. The boys, aptly named Matthew, Mark, Luke and Juan, with one token Jew Abraham, want to convert the nonbelievers and take temptation away from the sinners in their midst and, in the process, prove it’s cool to be Catholic.

The guys led by Matthew (Jeff Jordan), Mark (Andrew Poston), Luke (Louis Griffin), Juan (Spiro Marcos) and Abraham (Maclain Dassatti) are used to playing bingo parlors but want to headline at the Hollywood Bowl. Like a Richard Simmons exercise video, the five lads applaud God for giving them rhythm as they perform synchonized choreography and impassioned song.
In this modern age, they hear Jesus’s message on their cell phone, fax, email and beeper as they encourage the audience to work on their souls, to cleanse them of sin. According to the boys, God is making a comeback and they are happily his willing agents. Don’t worry about fire and brimstone, these guys are all into love and forgiveness and, ultimately, family.

“Altar Boyz” is the brain child of Kevin Del Aguila, book, and Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, music and lyrics. The show was conceived by Mark Kessler and Ken Davenport, choreographed  and directed by Sam Hay.

For tickets ($45-55), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or www.SevenAngelsTheatre.com. Performances are Thursday to Sunday at 8 p.m., with matinees   at 2 p.m. 


Learn how everybody fits into God’s great family according to the gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham, the self-anointed and angelic “Altar Boyz.”

TAKE A JOURNEY WITH “THE GRAPES OF WRATH” TO UCONN


ANGELA HUNT AS MA AND ALEX CAMPBELL AS ROSE OF SHARON
PHOTO BY GERRY GOODSTEIN


Is it coincidental that Job from Bible lore endures a mighty list of travails, being continually tested by God, and John Steinbeck creates the Joad family in Oklahoma to journey to California, against all odds, during the difficult times of the Great Depression? While Job was wealthy, the Joads knew poverty first hand. Still the comparison seems possible.  One would need determination, perseverance and a strong will to survive the great traumas that face both Job and the Joads.  The suffering and adversities are many, yet the human spirit battles to endure. 

Let the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, in the Jorgenson Auditorium, give you a lesson in courage until Sunday, October 14.  This Steinbeck novel has become a prize-winning movie as well as the 1990 winner of a Tony and Outer Critics Circle Award, a drama penned by Frank Galati.

 Will the Joads find the promised golden land of California, if they even make it to the west coast?  Can the steel magnolia strong Ma Joad have the fortitude to lead this desperate family, three generations strong, against the overwhelming elements? Her son Tom, a newly freed from prison Mauricio Miranda, returns to his Oklahoma roots just as the clan is packing the truck to travel west.  Full of promise, they have just lost their farm but are eager to start anew and leave the Dust Bowl behind. 

 Ma and Pa (Angela Hunt and Ken O’Brien) with Granma and Grampa (Johanna Leister and Dale AJ Rose) want and need work.  Visions of juicy oranges and tasty grapes fill their heads and, hopefully,  soon their stomachs. Like in a video game, obstacles pop up at every curve in the road.  Tom has trouble controlling his temper, his pregnant sister Rose of Sharon (Alex Campbell) has different ideas from her new husband Connie (Aiden Marchetti), brother Noah (Nick Greika) at the last moment refuses to leave home and brother Al (Sebastian Nagpal) has his eye on all the ladies.  Jim Casy (Joe Jung), a former preacher, joins the Joads heading out. 

The heaviness of the heartaches are relieved by the music created by Rob Barnes who sings, plays guitar and also serves as narrator,   A number of unusual instruments like a washboard, banjolele and washtub bass add to the spirit, especially at the lively square dance scene.  Gary English sensitively directs this deeply moving tale of one family’s struggle to secure a better life. 

For tickets ($10-35), call the CT Repertory Theatre at the Jorgenson at 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.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.

John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for his book and Frank Galati secured the 1990 Tony Award for Best Play for his adaptation.  “Grapes of Wrath” is well worth your undivided attention. 

YALE REP CAUGHT IN EYE OF TWO HURRICANES



Hurricanes can wreck havoc and create destruction. People and property are at the mercy of Mother Nature as storm surge and flood waters rise. 
 Multiple mountains of rain and violent winds leave ruins in their path. In Charise Castro Smith’s world premiere drama “El Huracan,” currently
 lashing the foundation of the Yale Repertory’s University Theatre until Saturday,October 20, the toll is obvious. 

“El Huracan” deals with not one but two hurricanes, attacking Miami, Florida twenty seven years apart, one a real one, Andrew, and the second a 
fictional one, Penelope. The effects of these disasters are felt by one family in how they prepare and how they cope and the profound
consequences they experience. Valeria, a charming and enchanting Irene Sofia Lucio, is a magician's dream, performing tricks and sleights of hand with her assistant and love interest Alonzo, an affectionate Arturo Soria.

 The young couiple quickly morph into their older counterparts, the confused grandmother Adriana Sevahn Nichols and the older Alonzo, an accomodating Jonathan Nichols (married in real life). A hurricane is brewing and grandma is clearly living in limbo between past and present, her former days in the spotlight and her current bewildering state living with her daughter, Maria- Christina Oliveras, and her granddaughter, Irene Sofia Lucio. An image of her former self, Jennifer Paredes, flits and floats in her mind. A neighbor boy, Arturo Soria, tries to help them survive the brunt of the storm. 

This Cuban-American family endures an unforgivable act in the storm’s aftermath, one that plagues them for decades. While grandma remembers her successes on the stage of the Tropicana in Cuba, her mind wanders as reality slips in and out. The trauma affects her mind and causes her to act precipitously, resulting in irrevocable consequences, How can you get forgiveness from another if you can’t forgive yourself? Laurie Woolery directs this timely drama that stirs up personal emotional upheaval. 

For tickets ($12-99), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. The play will be at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven and is part of The Sol Project to promote new voices in Latinx theater. 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.

 Become swept up in the lives of these immigrants who are not only trying to survive the trauma of nature but also deal with their inner demons, all to secure a better life.

Friday, October 5, 2018

CONSIGLIO'S CELEBRATES FOUR SCORE YEARS









People and institutions rarely exist long enough to celebrate an 80th anniversary, but a special family and location are ready to party hearty at Consiglio’s Restaurant on Wooster Street in New Haven on Friday, October 19. It’s been eight decades since Annunziata and Salvatore Consiglio, new immigrants to this country, with the help of their seven children, opened a neighborhood family eating estabishment they named “The Big Apple.” 

They used the recipes from their Italian homeland to create a place that featured the freshest ingredients, more than generous portions and reasonable rates for the Amalfi community who settled in the Wooster Square area. A major redevelopment project occurred in the early 1960’s that necessitated a move across the street to their present location at 165 Wooster Street and the name change that became Consiglio’s Restaurant. The past and the present have been wedded beautifully together with the early generation’s Southern Italian favorites like Eggplant Rollatini, Lasagna, Braciole and Cavatelli with the new generation’s recipes for  Braciole and Cavatelli with the new generation’s recipes for Grilled Faroe Island Salmon, Chicken Anna and Pappardelle Bolognese.

Trish Consiglio Perrotti is the third generation to run the family establishment, taking over with her sister when she was 28 in 1993. Through high school and college, she bussed and waited tables and only returned when she learned her parents where ready to retire and planned to sell the family landmark. Trish who “never forgot the name on the front door," that “it was way more than just a job, it was a reputation, “ bought out her sister thirteen years ago and hasn’t looked anywhere but forward since. 

With a great staff, she acknowledges it has captured her “heart and soul.”   Trish has been encouraged to innovate such opportunities as Cooking Classes where guests are given private lessons on how to prepare such dishes as Beef Bolognese over Rigatoni, Sausage stuffed Mushrooms with Mozzarella, Spinach and Peppers and Oreo Chocolate Mousse Cake and then they eat.
 One of the chefs for the Thursday Cooking Classes just added another feather to his toque (hat) and won on Chopped, the Food Network television cooking competition. Daniel Breisford, a Bridgeport fire fighter, has been fascinated with food since he was a child. On the show, he was challenged to use all of a bizarre mystery basket of ingredients like jicama, kosher dill pickles, dinosaur kale, jalapeño cheesecake, sriracha mayonnaise and smoked chocolate chips as he prepared an appetizer, entree and dessert. The episode called “Fire It Up” had Daniel declared Chopped Champion. His skills have been on display at the Consiglio’s Cooking Classes for several years. ($75, reservations needed, 203-865-4489).

Other exciting innovations include the unique murder mystery nights with a three course dinner, led by that dedicated master of ceremonies Michael Sayers, better known as Chester Hadlyme, the famous sleuth. Sayers who writes all the scripts, uses a bevy of local actors who travel from table to table dropping clues, to discover who killed the victim, how and why. On Friday, October 12, the theme is Halloween and you’re welcome to come in costume for “What Are You Wearing??” Burial plots are all ready to be filled on Friday, November 16 when the Syn clan gets caught up in some seriously silly “Family Plotting,” ($65 for dinner and theater), A delicious three course dinner is included with appetizers like fried calamari, veal marsala and Godiva tiramisu. 

Two years ago Trish had the idea to hold an old-fashioned Sunday family lunch “Cuchina,” which means “kitchen.” Dishes are served family style and are shared at your table. Well received, Cuchina features such choices as pasta with meatballs, roast pork marsala and Italian pastries ($29.95 ). The most recent addition to the Consigio offerings is a dinner truck that travels to house parties, growing from an original small food cart. Meals are prepared to order. You might also see the truck at charity functions like the recent Closer to Free event.

 After 80 years, Consiglio’s is hosting its first anniversary party ever and you’re invited to show up in your best 1930’s costume ( a $100 gift card to the best entry) and a free first drink if you come in 1938 attire. On Friday, October 19 from 6-9 p.m.li, Consigio’s will have hot and cold appetizers in a buffet for the appropriate price of $19.38. Come for food, music, reduced price drinks and a costume contest. For reservations, call 203-865-4489 or go online to consigliosrestaurant.com.

Put on your party duds and mosey on over to one of the most charming streets in New Haven and say Congratulations, Salut, Cheers, Mazel Tov, and L’chaim to the Consiglios on their gala #80.

Monday, October 1, 2018

POWERFUL “JEKYLL AND HYDE” AT MTC IN NORWALK







The eternal struggle of good versus evil has been captured for eternity
by Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse in their stirring and disturbing
 “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical” that is currently haunting Norwalk’s Music Theatre of Connecticut. With Halloween right around the corner, this is a timely reminder that evil and darkness can lurk unsuspectingly close by. The forces of terror will be available for viewing until Sunday. October 14.

 This classic tale of a monster is captured in the guise of a passionate physician, Dr. Jekyll, who wants to conduct a medical experiment that creates unexpected and terrifying results. In creating an alter ego,Mr. Hyde, he unwittingly unleashes destruction. Andrew Foote is mesmerizing as both men, switching from sanity to savagery in seconds. Even with the help and counsel of his good friend Utterson (Sean Hayden), he can not stop the sinister deeds he has accidentally released.

Imagine yourself in the dark and foggy streets of Victorian London, scurrying home with your packages, eager to reach the safety of your domicile.  You know you should have finished your business earlier, in daylight, but the velvet blackness of the night fell too suddenly.  Your heart beats faster as you hear the rhythm of footsteps behind you on the cobblestones, reinforcing your fears that a madman is on the loose.  Will you be his next victim?

The original tale was penned by Robert Louis Stevenson, the grisly yet glamorous story of a romantic doctor and his black-hearted opposite, two very different men trapped in one body.  Two women are caught in his machinations, trusting their souls to what could be a terrifying fate, both in love with the same man, yet not knowing his terrifying secret. Both his Emma who is soon be his wife, a lovely and trusting Carissa Massaro, and Lucy, a woman of the streets, a sensitive Elissa DeMaria, fall victim to his advances. Kevin Connors directs this foray into the unknown with skill.


Memorable music like "This Is the Moment," "Someone Like You" and "A New Life" punctuate the drama with force and fervor.  The longest running show in the history of the Plymouth Theater, "Jekyll and Hyde" has been viewed from Austria to Australia, Sweden to Spain. 

For tickets ($30-55), call MTC, 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.

Be mesmerized as this monumental musical of a madman and a medical man makes its mark so majestically.


MAGNIFICENT AND MOVING ”MAN OF LA MANCHA” AT WESTPORT



PHILIP HERNANDEZ AS DON QUIXOTE     PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG

In a few words, Westport Country Playhouse’s “Man of La Mancha” is exceptionally magnificent and moving and a theater goer's “impossible dream” come true. If you love great theater, this incredible musical captures Dale Wasserman’s legendary tale of an unlikely hero with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, emboldening the stage of the playhouse until Sunday, October 13.

It is the time of the Spanish Inquisition, and a humble man, one Miguel de Cervantes, poet, playwright, actor and tax collector has been thrown into prison and forced to plead his case before the courts.  He finds to his dismay that his fellow prisoners want to put him on trial first. They charge him with being an idealist, a poet and an honest man. In his defense, he conjures up a charade, an entertainment, a tale of a country squire turned knight, one Don Quixote.

Have you ever been challenged to stand up for a cause?  To challenge the establishment, even if the cause seems hopeless? The epitome of battling for unrealistic goals is surely Don Quixote. Rarely in literature has there been a more gallant and brave individual driven by fantasies, who has ridden off to battle giants even if they are really windmills, envisioned castles when they are actually only humble inns and courted ladies who are in fact lowly scullery maids. Philip Hernandez embodies every inch of our hero with strength
and courage, sallying forth  with his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza, a loyal and affectionate Tony Manna close by, spouting
proverbs of encouragement.

Using the inmates as his actors, Cervantes  plays the hero who goes forth into battle to slay dragons and rescue fair maidens.  As Don Quixote, he first faces the Great Enchanter, a giant with many arms, that to some might resemble a windmill.  Soon he seeks shelter at a nearby castle, wanting hospitality from the lord (Michael Mendez), who for all the world looks like a mere keeper of an inn. But it is when Quixote’s eyes behold the unkempt maid, whom he claims as his Dulcinea, a fiery and disbelieving but engaging Gisela Adisa,  that his illusions truly take wing. Is he a mad man or the sanest of us all?

Musical numbers soar from the title song to the lyrical “Dulcinea,” the sweetness of “Little Bird,” the laughter of “I Really Like Him” to the power of “The Impossible Dream.” This production is gallantly directed by Mark Lamos, on a versatile set designed by Wilson Chin, with lighting by Alan C. Edwards, costumes by Fabian Fidel Aguilar and musical direction by Andrew David Sotomayor.

For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 1-888-927-7529 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org. Performances are  Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.,  and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Experience theater at its best as you travel across the dusty Spanish plains with a slightly foolish knight who dreams of attaining glory.


“ONCE” IS NOT ENOUGH FOR THIS LYRICAL AND LOVELY MUSICAL



SAM SHERWOOD AND KATIE BARTON THE STARS OF "ONCE"


Lovely and lyrical are two words that identify and epitomize the Academy Award-winning, Grammy Award-winningBest Musical Theater Album and multiple Tony Awards including Best Musical “ONCE.” Well deserving of all these accolades, “ONCE” is gracing the stage of the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton until Sunday, October 14 and it is worth the drive in this glorious autumn season from anywhere in the state.

 While an Irish bloke simply known as Guy, a sensitive Sam Sherwood, is singing his music and playing his guitar, a feisty and opinionated girl from Czechoslovakia, an inspiring Katie Barton, wanders in to the tavern in Dublin and recognizes his talent. Not shy, she immediately confronts him and becomes his muse. As it happens, Guy was on the verge of chucking his musical career andbecoming a full time Hoover man, a repairman for vacuums, with his Da (Don Noble).

 Wouldn’t you know it, the Girl has a Hoover that will not suck and soon they are making beautiful music together as she adds her piano talents to his tunes. A lively chorus of musicians playing banjo, guitar, accordion, bass, drums and violin enrich and enliven the festive scene as the pair work to rescue his failing career and his sagging love life and restore his equilibrium. Based on a book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, “ONCE” is a thrilling and unforgettable homage to love and to life. 

Come meet an engaging street musician with a delightful brogue still evident who is about to abandon his dreams as being hopeless.  Just as he is going to close his guitar case forever, he is approached by a lively young lass from an exotic place who stirs in him sparks of innovation that ignite in flames and creative conflagration.

Call it penicillin or Prozac, but when the new girl enters the guy's life, miraculous things start to happen.  He is still caught in an old relationship, and even though his ex-girlfriend has moved to New York he can't forget her.  The girl offers to help him win her back, trading her assistance by playing the piano in exchange for his skills in fixing her broken vacuum cleaner.


The girl with her daughter Ivonka (Cadyn Malary) establishes a firm place in guy's life, writing new songs with him and  arranging a meeting with a bank manager  (Andreina Kasper) to secure loans so he can move to the Big Apple and win back his old love.

Lyrical ballads like "Gold," "Falling Slowly," "The Hill" and "It Can't Be About That" propel the story and build to the point where the guy regains faith in his own abilities.  Clearly the two have given each other gifts, in words and music, that will sustain them as their paths intersect and separate. Ben Hope directs this song filled joy with a sensitive hand.

For tickets ($55, seniors $50,students $25, children $20), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.  Performances are Wednesday- Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at  and 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. 

Watch for the Fourth Annual Fall Golf Classic on Monday, October 8.  Call 860-767-9520 ext. 205 for more information. An old fashioned day of joy will take pace on the Ivoryton Village Green on October 20, from 5-7 p.m., a Pumpkin Festival for the whole family.

Visit a bar in Dublin, where all the performers  are also the musicians and are on stage the whole time. The festivities start fifteen minutes before showtime. Take a journey of discovery with one girl and one guy.  The message is clear:  "To live you have to love."