Monday, November 12, 2018

PULL THE “RIPCORD” FOR COMEDY AT SEVEN ANGELS




PEGGY COSGROVE AND MARINA RE IN "RIPCORD"
PHOTO BY PAUL ROTH
The Bristol Place Senior Living Facility is in grave danger of being lifted off its foundation. This situation is not because of a hurricane or other natural disaster but rather is due to the new roommate that has arrived at Abby’s doorstepAbby likes to be in control of her surroundings and a talkative and bubbly addition to her space is not acceptable or tolerated. In the past, she has been able to encourage the temporary invaders to vacate the premises, but the new gal Marilyn refuses to budge. Talk about “The Odd Couple.”
Settle back at the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury for a thoroughly delightful visit with Abby and Marilyn as David Lindsey-Abaire’s comedy “Ripcord” pulls out all the punches until Sunday, December 2. 
People of a certain age can be forgiven for being set in their ways, but Abby carries that philosophy of life to extremes. Marina Re’s Abby is as cantankerous as Scrooge and proud of it. Like a three year old in the sandbox, she has declared her room off limits to any one else. She is not above bribing the genial aide who deliveries glad tidings and medication, Jovan Davis’ Jonny, to help her get her way.
Peggy Cosgrove’s Marilyn is sunshine herself, but she is not about to move her belongings to another floor. She likes the view from the window and she is ready and willing to tolerate Abby’s inhospitable ways. The two are about to wage the fight of the century when they decide on a bet: if Abby can make Marilyn angry, she wins, but if Marilyn can make Abby show fear she will be the victor. Abby will either gain her room back or Marilyn will move into the favored bed by the window.

The pranks they each stage grow wilder and soon cut close to home. Abby involves Marilyn’s daughter Colleen, a caring Julia Register, and her husband Derek, an accommodating Ben Paul Williams. In turn, Marilyn digs into Abby’s past and produces an unwelcome Benjamin, an asking for forgiveness Ed Rosini. The personal attacks escalate to life threatening stages. Brendan Burke directs this look at the escapades of senior citizens with a hilarious eye.

For tickets ($42-55), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at sevenangelstheatre.org. Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Thanksgiving week shows are added for Tuesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. but not on Thanksgiving Day. Watch for a return of “Christmas Eve at Earlene’s Diner” from December 7-19 and a holiday visit with The Edwards Twins on Thursday, December 20 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Come root for these two women at a crossroads in life as they battle for their rights and almost kill themselves and each other in the process.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF" SIZZLES AT MTC




Music Theatre of Connecticut is honoring the literary genius of playwright Tennessee Williams with an intensely sizzling rendition of the Southern dramatic classic “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” until Sunday, November 18.  The production is sultry, sexy, sensual, stormy and steamy.

It is Big Daddy’s birthday and the family has all gathered to celebrate. They all know that he is dying of cancer and are, for the most part, anxious for part of his 28,000 acre cotton estate and all the wealth that comes with it.  Frank Mastrone is expansive and pompous as the master of his kingdom, not knowing the truth of his medical exams.

The Pollitt household is filled with lies and deceit as each member distorts the truth to suit his own purposes. Cynthia Hannah’s Big Mama exudes charm and good will even though she knows in her heart that her husband does not love her at all, while she worships him.  Son Gooper (Robert Mobley) and his wife Mae
(Elizabeth Donnelly) are practically salivating over the prospects of inheriting the plantation, not missing a single opportunity to denigrate brother Brick and his wife Maggie. 

After the death of his great friend and football buddy, Brick has taken to a love affair with liquor, further neglecting his wife best known as Maggie the cat. Michael Raver’s Brick is indifferent to Maggie, to inheriting the estate, to life. He is slowly drinking himself to the grave.  Andrea Lynn Green’s Maggie 
uses all her feminine wiles to entice Brick into bed but she is doomed to fail.  The presence of Doc Baugh (Jeff Gurner) and the Preacher (Jim Schilling) only serve to escalate the  troubled talk and anxious action. Kevin Connors directs this intense family confrontation with a firm hand, on a Mississippi plantation set designed by Kelly Burr Nelsen.

For tickets ($30-55), call Music Theatre of CT, 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.

An Evening with Broadway star Adam Pascal, with Larry Edoff on piano, will take place on Saturday, December 1 at 8 p.m. ($75. $65)

Will Maggie the cat be able to stay on that hot tin roof long enough to save her soul and win back her husband Brick? Come judge for yourself.

COME HEAR A DIFFERENT ”LOVE SONG” IN NEW HAVEN



                                     SUSAN AND GEORGE KULP IN "LOVE SONG"

                                         
                                  JO KULP AND CHRISTIAN SHABOO IN "LOVE SONG"


If your life seems to be a monochromatic brown or grey, you are doomed to be unhappy and alone and even a hearty dose of Prozac is not likely to fix what ails you.  Beane, a depressed Christian Shaboo, is in that state and he has accepted it as his normal lot in life.  In great contrast to Beane are his sister Joan and hubby Harry, a married –in-real-life couple Susan and George Kulp, who are vibrant and productive, happy to reside in a lovely detailed home, where lively conversations verging on debates take place. 

For all Joan and Harry are high on life, and on wine, the contrast to Beane is sad to witness.  They try to help him, to reach into his psyche and strike a chord of humanity, but Beane is clearly not at home. To enter this world of differences, head to the New Haven Theater Company’s current offering of John Kolvenbach’s quirky comedy “Love Song” playing until Saturday, November 17.

Ironically it is a robbery that sets Beane on a new path and wakes up his desire to join the human race. In an apartment, where his most treasured possessions are a spoon and a cup, Molly the thief, the real life daughter of the Kulps, Jo, has arrived to steal.  She is disappointed and really angry that Beane is bereft of anything of note.  Where is his artwork, his television and stereo, not a thing worth pinching can she find. Finally she settles on his jacket and jeans, but she berates him for his paltry pickings. Their verbal exchanges are amusing.

Who is Molly and how and why has she given Beane a sense of hope and promise and I daresay love. Joan and Harry are mystified by this new elusive and expansive being.  Yet they are secretly elated.  They suspect drugs are the answer for what else could explain the drastic changes in personality and outlook.  What is more troubling is they can’t find a trace of Molly no matter where they look. Margaret Mann and John Watson direct this foray into fantasy and riff with reality.

For tickets ($20), go online to nhtcboxoffice@gmail.com. The New Haven Theater Company, 839 Chapel Street, New Haven is located at the back of the vintage consignment shop EBM, the English Marketplace. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Watch how a turkey sandwich, a melon, a cup and spoon, a mousetrap, wallpaper, a jelly donut and a lot of wine influence and transform the lives of all the participants in this wildly different song of love.

“ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST” AT PLAYHOUSE ON PARK




THE STAFF AND INMATES AT "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST"
 In these troubled times, when mad men with guns enter schools, churches, synagogues, concerts, nightclubs and any venue where people gather to learn, pray, sing, dance and participate, there is a renewed emphasis on mental illness and the reasons why such tragic events occur. Is the line between sanity and insanity a narrow tightrope walk? When Randle Patrick McMurphy chooses to commit himself to a mental institution as an easy way to fulfill his punishment instead of jail time, he finds himself truly in a madhouse. This fun-loving, gambling fool, this devilish and self-confident rogue, this arrogant and disrespectful of rules hustler quickly locks horns with Nurse Ratched, the titular head and ultimate authority at the mental hospital.
 
To get a front row seat to the verbal and emotional fisticuffs, book a reservation at West Hartford's Playhouse on Park’s gripping production of ”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” by Dale Wasserman, based on Ken Kesey’s novel until Sunday, November 18. This is the Playhouse’s tenth season and it is marked by bravery and excellence.
 
Wayne Willinger is outstanding as the swaggering R. P. McMurphy, who assumes leadership of the patients in his ward as soon as he steps over the threshold, bumping out the unofficial head of the pack Dale Harding (Adam Kee ) without so much as a whimper. His bravado and aggressive stance speak volumes.
 
McMurphy’s new gang includes Billy (Alex Rafala) an insecure, nervous and shy boy masquerading in a man’s body, Cheswick (Rick Malone) a big talking guy who lacks the courage to follow through on his grandiose ideas, Martini (Harrison Greene) a friendly Italian chap who hallucinates he is in combat, Frank (John Ramaine) who entertains delusions, Ruckley (Ben McLaughlin) who is preoccupied with building bombs and obsessed with destruction and Chief Bromden (Santos), the play’s narrator, a schizophrenic Native American who pretends to be deaf and dumb until McMurphy challenges him to respond.
 
The talented cast also includes the tyrannical and controlling Nurse Ratched, a strong willed Patricia Randell, who confronts McMurphy in a struggle for power and is willing and eager to go to any lengths to win the war, the ineffectual Dr. Spivey (David Sirois), McMurphy’s girlfriends Candy (Athena Reddy) and Sandra (Katya Collazo) who as prostitutes liven up the midnight party on the ward as well as the staff help (Justin Henry, Lance Williams, Andrew R Cooksey, Jr. and Katya Colazo) who dance to Nurse Ratched’s tune. Ezra Barnes directs this peek into humanity’s dark and troubled souls, revealing their secrets with skill and sensitivity.
 
For tickets ($25-40), call the Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Street, West Hartford at 860- 523-5900, ext 10or online at www.PlayhouseOnPark.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m and Sunday at 2 p.m., followed by a Talk Back with the cast. For more information about mental illness, you are encouraged to reach out to NAMI Connecticut, at www.NAMICT.orgor call 860-882-0236, ext. 30.The organization provides support, education and advocacy to Connecticut citizens affected by mental illness.
 
The play’s title comes from a nursery rhyme, “one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest.” You will not soon forget Randle Patrick McMurphy and his friends and your visit to the Oregon asylum they called home in the 1960’s.

GRAPPLE WITH THE PLIGHT OF “THE PRISONER” AT YALE REP



MAVUSO (HIRAN ABEYSEKERA) AND EZEKIEL (HERVE GOFFINGS)     PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS

A prison is usually a formidable concrete structure, with steel bars and armed guards charged with keeping the inmates contained.  One can also create a prison in one’s own mind, a secluded sanctuary where you can retreat and live trapped in your own thoughts.  Neither one is easy to escape.  Most of our daily 65.000 thoughts repeat over and over again day after day.
 
The Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven is inviting you to make an intimate acquaintance with “The Prisoner” written and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne making its U.S. premiere until Saturday, November 17.  It may engage your mind and imagination, trouble you with its implications and wake up thought provoking ideas.
 
Hayley Carmichael serves as the narrator, a woman bent on adventure and discovery, on a journey with nature as her goal. On her trek, she happens upon a man sitting outside a prison, staring at the edifice as if willing himself inside its gates.  The man, Mavuso, a deeply troubled Hiran Abeysekera, has been sentenced to stay in that small space, contained by mere sticks on the ground, without walls, for twenty years until he achieves redemption.

Mavuso has committed a heinous crime:  he has killed his father.  The reasons are complicated and shrouded with guilt.  He discovered his father sleeping with Nadia, the sister he himself loves inappropriately.  Does he kill his father to save his sister or out of jealousy for his own feelings?
His sister Nadia, who may have acted out of compassion for her father’s loneliness after his wife’s death, comes to visit her brother, to console him and to tell him the news of her pregnancy.  Kalieaswari Srinivasan as Nadia is as much in a prison as her brother.  Their uncle Ezekiel, who knew what was happening and did nothing to stop the incest, is also not blameless in the crime.  It is he who takes the baby from Nadia, after having sentenced Mavuso to his fate.
 Herve Goffings as the uncle steps in to take the child and is as much in exile as his niece and nephew. Mavuso is
visited by his family and by Omar Silva in his role as guard and man, but little relieves his punishment as he thinks about his crime and faces the dire consequences of his own actions.
 For tickets ($ 26-92), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 pm. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 pm. and8 p.m.
 “The Prisoner” is very much a cerebral play, where your thoughts dictate your feelings, as you identify with a man weighing his own actions against the rituals of atonement, the burden of never forgetting and the need for truth and reconciliation.

Monday, November 5, 2018

WESTPORT COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE PRESENTS TOO TIMELY A DRAMA



JOBY EARLE, ANDREW VEENSTRA AND KELLY MCANDREW IN "THOUSAND PINES"
PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG


Thanksgiving is that universal holiday that unites us, brings us together, places gratitude in the center of the dining room table right next to the turkey.  Families gather to give thanks for all the blessings they have enjoyed in the past and hope to celebrate in the future.

What happens, however, when the family units are splintered and suffering, individually and collectively grieving over a tremendous loss. Tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary School, The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the recent tragedy at the
Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh loom large in our memories.

In Matthew Greene’s world premiere drama “Thousand Pines” at Westport Country Playhouse until Saturday, November 17, we are thrust into the aftermath of a school shooting at a middle school as a trio of  families are trying to cope with the Thanksgiving holiday.

In three different scenarios, we meet the Fosters, the Kanes and the Garrisons who are struggling with the empty chair at their table.  Forget the Norman Rockwell painting. The cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes are accompanied by anger and pain, disillusionment and a search for justice and retribution.

Six skilled actors – Katie Ailion, Kelly McAndrew, Anne Bates, William Ragsdale, Joby Earle and Andrew Veenstra- play the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, family friends and teachers who are grabbling with these issues of tragedy and terrorism.

Austin Pendleton directs this all too timely exploration of the repercussions of tragedy, the picking up the pieces of lives that will never to whole again, and the human devastations for all involved.  Since Columbine, Colorado in April, 1999, there have been an incredible 200 school shootings across the country.

For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, route 1, Westport 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., Saturday at 3 pm. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

When grief descends upon us, we look to our loved ones, family and friends, for comfort, for solace and for the will to carry on with life.

IVORYTON UNVEILS “THE QUEENS OF THE GOLDEN MASK”





Since the tragedy at Columbine in April, 1999, there have been 200 school shootings in this country, causing senseless devastation and pain for families and friends and communities.  Gun violence is an abomination that now affects innocents at churches and synagogues, theaters and concert venues, anywhere people gather to learn, pray, sing, or participate.
 
Alarmingly there are 953 registered hate groups in America and one of the first of them was the Ku Klux Klan.  Ivoryton Playhouse is allowing a glimpse into the KKK’s Southern roots in the 1960’s with the world premiere of “The Queens of the Golden Mask” by Carole Lockwood until Sunday, November 18.
 
Surely you remember the strong women of “Steel Magnolias.”  This sisterhood is quite different.  Their friendship has a secret at its base, has been bonded by devotion to a cause, on the surface social, to an organization that bombs churches and sets fire to schools, all in the guise of belief in Jesus.  It really is in the name of hatred and prejudice.
 
In the musical “South Pacific,” a song emphasizes that bigotry is “carefully taught.”  Generations instill the concept of white supremacy in the name of religion and feel justified in their anger and fear.
A finely tuned cast led by Ellen Barry as Ida, affectionately known as Moma, is grandmother to her ladies. She is at once warm and caring, but, when threatened, becomes a fierce protector.  She can morph into a monster willing to kill to protect her and her ideals.  She terrorizes Martha Nell, a frightened Sarah Jo Provost, who is married to Ida’s son and causes her to go to great lengths to guarantee she never delivers a baby who will inherit these evils.
 
Ida needs seven believers to join the secret cult so she also recruits Jean, an eager Jes Bedwineck, Ophelia, a socially sensitive Bonnie Black, a very pregnant Kathy (Two), Bethany Fitzgerald, Faith, an obedient Gerrianne Genga and the northern newcomer Rose, a newly married Anna Fagan.  These women bake cakes and buy dynamite, under a pledge of secrecy, protective of their husbands and their cause.
 
Jacqueline Hubbard embraces the risk of exposing the roots of this insidious evil as she directs this revealing and monumental work. Based on a true story, this drama tells what happens when women inside the fold stand morally upright in protest and for civil rights and humanity.
 
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 and Sunday at 2 p.m.,  Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.  There are talkbacks after the Wednesday and Thursday evening shows.
 
Look behind the hoods and the golden masks into the hearts and minds of these females who would willingly 
break the law in support of their twisted beliefs.

SQUARE ONE THEATRE IS IN THE POLITICAL ARENA





DANIELLE SULTINI, KIEL STANGO AND DAVID VICTOR TOAST SUCCESS IN "THE GOD GAME"


At the height of the political drama, with midterm elections being hotly contested, red states vying with blue for supremacy, and promises and allegations competing for top billing, how timely is Square One Theatre Company’s latest offering? The answer: extremely timely and compelling.  Weekends until Sunday, November 18, Square One will present “The God Game” by Suzanne Bradbeer at the Stratford Academy, 719 Birdseye Street, Stratford.

Tom is a well respected Senator representing the fine state of Virginia, with just enough ambition and ego to want to do a good job for his loyal constituents.  For Tom, honest politician is not an oxymoron.  He especially believes that the issue of global warming and climate change must be addressed seriously and soon.

Tom, a dedicated public servant in David Victor, is happily married to Lisa, a supportive Danielle Sultini, and today is their twentieth wedding anniversary. They are both still recovering , at different stages, from the tragic death of Tom’s brother Jay in a car accident. Jay’s shadow looms large over the couple and on Jay’s intimate ex-partner Matt, an ambitious and driven Kiel Stango. 

Matt has suddenly appeared at their home with an important issue to discuss, an item important enough to interrupt their private family celebration.

What question does Matt have to propose? Will Tom be excited by the possibilities or resistant to the demands it poses?  Can Lisa be on the bandwagon or will she fight that family comes first?  Will the circumstances of Jay’s death color the decision making process?  You will have to see for yourself as this trio of fine actors debate the issues and ponder the consequences for the country.  Tom Holehan directs this provocative political arena where the pressures and sacrifices of public life take on an unusual family toll.

For tickets ($22, seniors and students $20), call Square One Theatre 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.

The inner struggles of a politician and his family are examined as well as the costs and rewards of being a public servant and upholder of beliefs and truths.