Sunday, October 20, 2019


Once upon a time, a spunky girl named Dorothy went on a giantadventure.  Thanks to a tornado, the farmhouse she lived in with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry spun out of control and landed on a witch, wicked to her core, and placed Dorothy in the Land of Oz

In Oz, she skipped along the Yellow Brick Road with a trio of strangers who would become her friends, the Scarecrow (Jimmy Johansmeyer), the Tin Man (Justin Rugg) and the Lion (Cadence Castro).   But now our spirited heroine is back among the corn fields with her Auntie Em (George Spelvin) and her Uncle Henry (Jimmy Johansmeyer) and she is bored, bored, bored.  Be careful what you wish for, Dorothy, because trouble is right around the corner.

Gather the family and a basket of treats to share at your table and let Pantochino Productions entertain you with the delightful original spoof "The Wicked Witch of the West: Kansas or Bust!" playing weekends until Sunday, October 27 at the Milford Center for the Arts, 40 Railroad Avenue, Milford.

Use your imagination to think mean and green and before you can say "Munchkins" three times who should appear but that scary madame of malice The Wicked Witch of the West, wonderfully portrayed by Shelley Marsh Poggio. Don’t let her froggy greenness scare you. She has a specific agenda:  to get  back her magical powers, her broom and her ravishing ruby slippers.  To accomplish this, she must, at all costs and comedy, find Dorothy who stole them away from her, right under her pickled green nose.  Once the WWW meets Professor Marvel and his crystal ball, another role by George Spelvin, she is quickly on the way to her goal.

Dorothy is portrayed by the adorable pigtailed sweetheart, Mary Mannix, who is plum full of spirit and perkiness. With her trio of hearty and trusted cohorts, the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, they all set off to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz, another characterization assumed by the versatile George Spelvin.  It's rumored that the Wizard is in Wichita, in possession of all the good stuff.

That road of yellow is getting mighty crowded as the ragged Vagabelle kids, Elrod (Connor Rizzo), Faylene (Kiera Citarella) and Billie Rae Jay (Nora Simonelli) are also on the trail of the treasure.  And don't forget that big green lady who's determined to get all her goodies back, even if it means traveling in disguise.

Thankfully Dorothy remembers to ask for help from her friend from her previous escapade, 
and the Good Witch Glinda (Rachelle  Ianiello) flies in with a little comforting advice.  Bert Bernardi has outdone himself in the clever department as this show is filled to the top of the corn fields with genuine humor (most of it corny).  Justin Rugg's music, like the Wicked Witch's "I'm Back with a Vengeance," adds a delightful liveliness to the action. Jimmy Johansmeyer's costumes are a Halloween hoot.

For tickets ($22 online, $25 at the door), go to  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m.;, Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Look for the troupe’s Podcasts on iTunes and Spotify.  This ninth season is dedicated to the memory of Evan Faram, who was a valued company member who will be greatly missed.

Polish your crystal ball, practice your cackles, look for rainbows and bluebirds and bring a big glass of water for you-know-who, just in case you need her to melt!


The painful lessons of the doomed love between Juliet and her Romeo as well as the passionate climax of Tony’s devotion for Maria in “West Side Story,” what happens when you don’t “stick to your own kind,” are all too evident in the unexpected romance that blooms between Russell and Tom in Ricardo Perez Gonzalez’s world premiere drama “On the Grounds of Belonging.” Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven will unveil this forbidden coupling until Sunday, November 3.
While Houston, Texas in the late 1950’s sported a number of gay bars, the number and frequency  of lynchings was well documented.  Wilson Chin has designed one such establishment, a detailed Gold Room where men of color frequented for social connections of a sexual nature.  Presided over by bartender Hugh Williams, a judicious Thomas Silcott, it was a safe environment for meetings.  Safe that is until a white man in drag, one Thomas Aston, captured by a sensitive Jeremiah Clapp, runs in to find sanctuary when a raid in the nearby Red Room for white gays only is in progress. 
The Red Room for gay white men is owned by Mooney Fitzpatrick, a mean spirited Craig Bockhorn,  who also lays claim to the Gold Room.  He needs to be in control and he is quick to proclaim his power if anyone opposes his will. When Tom and Russell find a tender connection that has the potential to develop into something deeper and more lasting, the dye is cast for complications and possible disaster.  Also on the scene as witnesses are Russell’s long standing more than a friend Henry Stanfield, a jealously guarded Blake Anthony Morris, who enjoys playing the field as long as Russell is loyally there to come home to at the end of the day.  The powerful lounge singer Tanya Starr, a concerned Tracey Conyer Lee, spreads her influence in the maelstrom of emotions and swirls the action to a heartbreaking pitch.
These are trying times where violence is just around the corner waiting to pounce.  The story is real, the characters are sincere and the ending is anticipated to be tragic. David Mendizabel directs the action with consummate grace.
For tickets ($30-75), call the Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Be a witness to a forbidden love,  “of a homosexual persuasion,” that defies the odds and declares itself worthy of existence.

Saturday, October 19, 2019


You might think a play entitled “Girls” could be about a bevy of high schoolers debating the dating scene, or college gals weighing the benefits and obstacles of joining a sorority or sisters trying to establish a relationship with parents, classmates and the world.  How wrong you would be.  In this world premiere drama at the Yale Repertory Theatre until Saturday, October 26,  playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has taken a new look at Euripides’ ancient Greek tragedy “The Bacchae” and fashioned his own version of revenge and retribution.
On a forested woodland set lushly designed by Adam Rigg that resembles a well detailed diorama at the Peabody Museum, from which dinosaurs might emerge, we meet a disc jockey Deon, a determined Nicholas L. Ashe, who has a specific agenda in mind.  He wants to welcome the women of the community to a dance marathon where inhibitions are forsaken and madness can prevail.  As a stranger in their midst, he sets up his music to lure them into the park and watches what happens.
Formerly exiled to boarding schools, he is back with a purpose. Loudly playing his intoxicating and hypnotic songs, he encourages them to spin like whirling dervishes into a frenzy of passion.  He knows one of them is guilty of causing his mother’s brutal death and is confident he can expose the perpetrator and enact his vengeance.
Meanwhile like a voyeur above the fray we find Theo who speaks to the world from his bedroom, live streaming, and interacting with his hippie grandfather Dada, Tom Nelis, and his blind friend, Haynes Thigpen, who also plays the sheriff and the cowherd who has lost his cows. 
Also seeking and searching is Gaga, a focused and gun toting Jeanine Serralles, who wants to find her sisters but is easily seduced into malicious mischief.  Armed and dangerous, Gaga is the antithesis of Asia, one of the many women who pepper the scene with monologues. Ayesha Jordan’s Asia provides much needed comic relief as she speaks non-stop about the difficulties of finding the perfect office chair, expanding and expounding  on the theme with obvious delight and humor.
Clearly there will be no happy reunions here and the sound of gunfire is resolutely loud.  With Raja Feather Kelly’s intense choreography and Lileana Blain-Cruz’s direction,  “Girls” will echo for a long time in your questioning psyche.
For tickets, call the Yale Repertory Theatre at 203-432-1234 or online at The production will be held at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven.Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday. 

Let your imagination run wild as the passions soar and the music inspires madness .

Monday, October 14, 2019


                                                CHAZZ PALMINTERI

When actor and writer Chazz Palminteri was a nine year old boy sitting innocently on a cement stoop in front of his Bronx home, he witnessed a murder.  He saw two men fighting five feet in front of him, ostensibly over a parking space, when a third man stepped in to help his pal. He killed his friend's opponent and, thus, rescued his friend.  The police, no matter how they tried, couldn't get Chazz, who was called by his given name Calogero, to testify.

In the midst of this devastating encounter, Chazz's eyes met those of the stranger's, who turned out to be Sonny, the capo di tutti capi, or "boss of all bosses" or godfather if you prefer. The young impressionable lad soon found himself swept into a different and exciting world that Sonny commanded, into a fancy club, fetching coffee and cutting lemons and limes, rolling dice and collecting tips.  Chazz's father, a hardworking bus driver, did not approve of his son's new associates and when Sonny tried to give him a lucrative job he refused.  Soon "C" as he was called became Sonny's "penance, something good to leave behind."

Chazz was now influenced by two father figures.  His dad Lorenzo gave him a card that stated "Don't waste your talent," while Sonny taught him life lessons like "It's better to be feared than to be loved" and "Never underestimate your enemy.” You are now invited to enter Chazz’s world courtesy of Waterbury’s Palace Theater with “A Bronx Tale The Musical” comes to town from Tuesday to Thursday, October 22 to 24, with 2015 American idol winner Nick Fradiani in the role of Lorenzo, the father. the new musical features a book by Chazz Palminteri, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater.  Alec Nevin will play “C”, with Jeff Brooks as Sonny, the mob boss.
Chazz recalls his early years as an "outrageous time to grow up.  I had a great childhood in an Italian neighborhood with happy times, sports and some violence."  Writing about it has proven therapeutic, "a transference of energy from negative to positive."  He is grateful his father lived to see his success.  

Chazz Palminteri is a man of many talents, none of which he wastes, as his father had warned.  A veteran of 50 films like "Analyze This" and "The Usual Suspects," he also runs classes three or four times a year "One on One Auditions" and the website to "give back" and help young actors as well as hosts a new Baltimore restaurant "Chazz A Bronx Original."  There his cold fire oven pizza cooks in 90 seconds, "sweet and fluffy on the inside, crispy and caramelized on the outside.” 

For tickets, call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m.

 As for those life lessons, Chazz Palminteri also has learned "family is important" and "stay close to the things you value."  Come see his musical put all these lessons to good use.

Monday, October 7, 2019



The Mormons, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, are estimated to number 15 million people.   In upper New York state in the 1820’s, Joseph Smith had a vision of an angel and he saw buried books of golden plates.  Brigham Young continued Smith’s religious work and brought the new faith to Utah’s borders.  Now you are invited to learn a novel view of the religion when the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford offers up a donation plate featuring the famous and equally infamous “The Book of Mormon.”

The creators of the television cartoon series “South Park” claim the rights to this irreverent satire that has won 9 Tony Awards: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone.  Church services will be held from Tuesday, October 15 to Sunday, October 20 and the pews are sure to fill up quickly.

“The Book of Mormon” concerns a pair of young missionaries sent out from Utah to convert the world.  This is a door-to-door attempt to sell beliefs, similar to an Avon lady or a Fuller Brush man.  The goal is to bring enlightenment to the uninformed.  Their lucky assignment is Uganda, in the remote and dark regions of Africa.

Unhappily for eager to please Elder Kevin Price, he had his heart set on going to Orlando, Florida for his conversion work for his two year mission. He certainly didn’t plan on being partnered with the nerdy and nebbishy Elder Arnold Cunningham who never bothered to even learn the approved script or even to read the Book of Mormon, their sacred text.

The situation in Uganda is not welcoming.  The incongruous pair are quickly robbed and then learn that the villagers are so busy battling poverty, famine, war and AIDS they have little time for prayer meetings.

The team of two struggle to make a difference and have obstacles placed in their rocky path at every turn.  Their faith is tested repeatedly and yet, despite all odds, many miraculous things occur.  With song and dance and incredible stories, “The Book of Mormon” manages to amuse, astonish and entertain in heavenly ways.  Be forewarned the language is not always sweet and pure.

For tickets ($ and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford  at 203-987-5900 or online at 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 1 p.m and 6:30 p.m.

Answer your door bell to discover the messengers from God who are ready to offer you salvation, redemption and an angelic host of humor.



Late night comedians thrive on our political arena and the 
 antics on Capital Hill.  Way back in the 1980’s, there was a
 group that made its mark by doing the same thing and they
 are still actively engaged in that humor today.They zig. They zag. They zoom zingers. They’re the Capitol Steps and politics is easily the name of their “I can top that” game. Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, Green Party person, or otherwise affiliated, the Capitol Steps are bound to crunch a few of your sensitive toes as they sling their bipartisan barbs on the icons of Washington, D. C., those hard working and hard playing leaders of our country.
These entertainers know of what and whom they speak, for they were all former Congressional staffers who have gone legit by entering the world of show business. For one night only they will be the official speakers of the house at the Torrington's Warner Theatre. This command performance will take place on Saturday, October 19 at 8 p.m.

Calling their current show “The Lyin’ Kings” (pun definitely intended), this talented troupe, with satire and wit, will take today’s headlines and cast a new and slightly jaundiced eye on those happenings. Their highly successful stint began in the early 1980’s when three staffers for Senator Charles Percy needed to take center stage at a Congressional Christmas party. They took the stage then and haven’t yielded the floor to this day.

The original trio, Elaina Newport, Bill Strauss and Jim Aidala, continue to write the ever changing material. Newport frequently acts and is responsible for writing 95% of the humor. Don’t be surprised if you see the latest controversies from Washington D. C. paraded on the stage for your entertainment.  President #44 is sure to be front and center and singing and tweeting to his heart’s content. You might also see Bernie Saunders sing a show tune and Vladimir Putin, shirtless of course, dance a number. Don’t be surprised if the evening starts off with a rousing “76 Unknowns” to rib the Democrats for their overabundance of presidential candidates.

For tickets ($31-51) call the  Warner Theater, 68 Main Street, Torrington at 860-489-7180 or online at

Cast your vote for the former and current politicians who are sure to please the crowds when the Capitol Steps march into our Connecticut political arena with their timely skits, lyrics and parodies.



You’ve heard of the Grand Ole Opry, but have your ever encountered the Grand Ole Laundry? Country western music is intricately involved in each and you’re invited to sashay over with or without fringed shirts and cowboy boots, to make the acquaintance of the latter until Sunday, October 20 at Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre when “Honky Tonk Laundry” comes swinging into town.
Written by Roger Bean, with musical arrangements by Jon Newton, “Honky Tonk Laundry” will drop you plunk into the middle of the Wishy Washy Washateria in Tennessee for a quick wash, dry, fold and iron of your unmentionables.  The establishment owned and operated by Lana Mae Hopkins, a resilient Carlyn Connolly, knows what to do with the “dirty” aspects of life, like her no-account husband Earl who has made cheating on her an art form.
Joining her is a soul mate companion who wanders in to the Laundromat one day seeking solace and soul cleansing, an optimistic Katie Lane Murphy, courtesy of Laura Hodos, who doesn’t object to a little help from pills and alcohol to maintain her equilibrium.  The two gals commiserate over problems of the heart and take to singing like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton to help themselves survive the long days and longer nights.
Be prepared for a feast for the eyes and ears when the pair transform their workplace into a showcase for girls like Patsy Cline and Wynonna Judd who put country western music on the map.  Tunes like “Stand By Your Man,” even if he is a cheating son of a gun, “These Boots Were Made for Walkin’,”  of Nancy Sinatra fame, as well as twenty others, will set your toes atappin.’  Close your eyes and you’ll think you’re in Nashville, as these two talented and energetic gals belt out their heartache and hope, without ever losing their sense of righteous indignation and humor, thanks to the direction of Russell Garrett and musical direction of Brent Crawford Mauldin.
For tickets ($42-49.50, 30 and under $25), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at  Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., with added 2 p.m. matinees October 10 and 19.
For one night only, Saturday, October 26 at 8 p.m., Seven Angels Theatre is going Italian with “Coppa Italia 2019.”  Think of stuffing a manicotti or cannoli with “Italy’s Got Talent,” “Italian Idol,” “The Voice” and “So You Think You Can Dance” into one tasty and entertaining confection and you will have some idea of the festivities awaiting you.  Call the theater for reservations.
Feel the need for a good soul cleansing? Lana Mae and Katie Lane have all the fixings in spot remover, soap and suds to wash out all your problems.  Just best not ask Katie Lane to iron out any wrinkles.


With sunshine, a weekly watering, a pinch of plant food, an occasional sprinkle of fertilizer, a few encouraging words and most plants are in a state of nirvana. But if your philodendron or ivy could talk, it might request some special tidbit for blooming pleasure. It definitely would if it’s a unique prickly variety hand cultivated in the skid row floral establishment, Mr.Mushnik's Flower Shop, where one Seymour Krelbourn (Robb Sapp) works in the exotically entertaining “Little Shop of Horrors” by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken taking root at The ACT of Connecticut in Ridgefield until Sunday, November 3.
Love will motivate even the meekest of men to move mountains and molehills for their sweethearts, even if it means making a pact with a fiendish plant. In order for Seymour to woo and win Audrey (Laura Woyasz), the girl of his dreams who also works at Mushnik's, he must supply “the plant” with its favorite growth elixir: human blood. As “the plant,” nicknamed Audrey II, flourishes and flowers, Seymour realizes what a money making monsterpiece he has created and the potential fame it can bring to his modest establishment. He also realizes that as “the plant” grows, so does its thirsty need for the red stuff and its cries of “feed me” echo louder and louder.

This Jack-in-the-Beanstalk and Venus Fly Trap combination conundrum grows right before your eyes and has a voice provided by Kent Overshown. Also starring in the show are the theater’s Artistic Director Daniel C. Levine reprising his role from Broadway as the mad dentist Orin and assorted others and Williams Thomas Evans as Mr. Mushnik, the shop owner. A whole flowerpot of singing and dancing, like a modern Greek chorus, are provided by Kadrea Dawkins, Ashley Alexandra Seldon and Rachelle Legrand. Jason A. Sparks directs and choreographs this production that originally opened on Broadway in 2003. Songs like “Suddenly Seymour,” “Somewhere That’s Green,” “Dentist!” and “Feed Me” propel the action as the plot thickens and people start to disappear.

For tickets ($57-72, with discounts for children and seniors), call ACT, 36 Old Quarry Road, Ridgefield at 475-215-5433 or online at Performances are Thursday  at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and 2 p.m.
You don’t need a green thumb to enjoy “Little Shop of Horrors” but if Seymour offers you a Band-Aid run for the hills of Ridgefield as fast as you can.

Sunday, October 6, 2019


You are surely long familiar with elephants from literature and movie fame like Babar, Dumbo, Horton, Hathi and Jumbo and dozens of others, but now playwright Lynn Nottage desperately wants you to acknowledge the fragile existence of Mlima, an extraordinary pachyderm from Kenya, a national treasure, decades old, that is prized and protected for his perfect pair of ivory tusks.

Come cautiously enter the jungle home of this honored animal as Ms. Nottage spins “Mlima’s Tale” at Westport Country Playhouse until Saturday, October 19. By the drama’s end, you will know intimate details of Mlima’s life and tragic death.  Poaching by ivory traffickers is a serious and devastating practice that results in the deaths of 55 elephants a day, decimating the noble ranks of the populations from millions to a mere 40,000, making the species endangered.

Jermaine Rowe plays Mlima in all his proud and distinguished honor, his pleasure in listening to the night, hearing the rustle of the brush, the beating of the rain on the leaves, the trumpet cries of friends and the shifting of the earth.  His idyllic world is shattered when hunters mercilessly attack him in his native habitat, killing him tragically for his prized tusks of ivory.

A troupe of three versatile actors – Jennean Farmer, Adit Dileep and Carl Hendrick Louis- proceed to enact the stages of Mlima’s demise, as police officials, custom agents, corrupt ivory carvers and wealthy purchasers each take their bribes and allow the devious dealings to occur.

The audience as innocent witnesses to this slaughter is  now privy to actions that were previously unknown. Once informed, we are now charged with taking action, if it is only to join the World Wildlife Foundation and,  perhaps, Adopt an Elephant. For details, go to, starting at $25 and up.

This brave, memorable species will soon be gone if saviors are not diligent in their fight.  Greed drives their motives and corruption fuels their actions. Poetic sayings are illuminated as each scene changes and Mlima’s essence is continually degraded and abused.  Mark Lamos directs this probing and penetrating portrait of a vanishing species that needs protection to be saved from extinction.

For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 1-888-927-7529 or online at  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 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.  Go online to discover all the associated activities tied to this production.

Come capture the spirit of this magnificent beast  as Mlima lived and died in this moving theatrical drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage.

Saturday, October 5, 2019


. Whether you live in a hovel or a McMansion, you definitely have feelings about the walls and roof that cover your head that you call home. For the Ranevakaya family in the early 1900’s in Imperial Russia, the symbol of their wealth and prestige is captured in a strand of trees known lovingly as the cherry orchard. Yet when that copse of forest is threatened, the mistress of the estate, Madame Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya, closes her eyes to the reality that the family heritage will be sold at auction and lost forever.

Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” was first produced on his birthday, January 17, 1904, and he died at a young age a few months after that same year. Now, more than a century later, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre is offering its own updated interpretation, thanks to an adaptation by Jean-Claude van Itallie, until Sunday, October 13th.

Caralyn Kozlowski’s Madame Ranevskaya fled to Paris after the accidental death of her son and has spent five years ithere living a gay party-filled life until a shatteringly tragic love affair sends her fleeing home to her Russian estate for the comfort of familiar surroundings and people. She chooses not to see the axe that is hanging over her home, nor does she seriously consider any of the ways presented to her to avert catastrophe. God may be sending her a canoe, a boat and a helicopter so she won’t drown in the financial flood but she refuses to acknowledge them. Her daughter Anya (Abigail Hilditch), her stepdaughter Varya (Alex Campbell), her brother Leonid (Mark Light-Orr), the tutor Trofimov (Bryan Mittelstadt) and the successful businessman who was once a serf Lopakhin (Nikolai Fernandez) are powerless to stop the downfall of this respected landowning aristocracy.

The versatile cast also includes Tristan Rewald, Rob Barnes, Sierra Kane, Sebastian Nagpal, Erin Cessna, Matthew Antoci and Anthony Giovino. The grinding sound of saws at the play’s end are ominous with the progress they represent. John Miller-Stephany directs this masterpiece of modern drama on a set designed by Zach Broome with a parade of costumes of the time created by Xurui Wang.

For tickets ($10-33) call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the Jorgenson, on the campus of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, at 860-486-2113. or online at  Performances will be Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m.,  Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Watch Madame Ranevskaya who calls herself “silly old me” in her dealings with finances confess “I can’t conceive of life without my cherry orchard,” yet be ineffectual in looking the truth straight in the eye.

Monday, September 30, 2019


Growing older isn’t for sissies.  The process can be painful, as in sore joints, or difficult, as in forgotten and unfulfilled dreams and worrisome and troublesome memories.  What happens if you look back at your past and want to change your choices? Is there such an act as a “do over”?  For one poor Mexican immigrant,  Jose Quijano, the answer is easy:  he is willing to risk life and limb to right the past and correct his mistakes.

For Latino playwright Octavio Solis, the leap from the delusional but impassioned Don Quixote of Cervantes’ mind to a present day old man living in La Plancha, Texas on the Mexican border is easily accomplished.  
The Hartford Stage, in association with Huntington Theatre Company and the Alley Theatre are presenting “Quixote Nuevo” until Sunday, October 13.

Jose, a courageous Emilio Delgado, is more than ready to take up sword and shield and become a gallant knight of old.  Weary himself and suffering from the beginnings of dementia, he, nevertheless, mobilizes his “last ounce of courage” to 
“dream the impossible dream.”

When his family prepares to have him move into an assisted living facility, which he refers to as a living death facility, Jose recognizes he can postpose his glorious quest no longer.  He must right the wrongs against his one true love Dulcinea (Gisela Chipe) and reunite with her in his heart.  With the trusty and loyal aide Sancho (Juan Manuel Amador), the ice cream man, at his side, the pair set off  into the desert, stopping at castles, seeking windmills and dragons, willing to stop at nothing to find “the queen of my heart.”

Once a mere professor teaching literature at a college, Jose is now on a tricycle as a soldier of virtue willing to protect the rights of the undocumented and poor, even if it means knocking down “walls” along the way.  With colorful costuming by Rachel  Healey, spirited Tejano music and a beautiful and bittersweet story,  Jose, whom you may remember as Luis, the handyman, on “Sesame Street,” is determined to rescue his angel.  With flashbacks to his abused youth, Jose is determined to defend his love and embrace chivalry.  KJ Sanchez directs this saga of tears and laughter as we cheer on our dubious hero who rallies despite the great odds. The play may be a challenge for the non-Spanish speaking audience, although there is a glossary to help.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Enter into the mind and spirit of an old man who is plagued with good intentions and sets off on a worthy mission to finally give meaning to his life…and death.


Seth Rudetsky spent his childhood spinning vinyl platters on his record player and watching hours of non-stop television variety shows.  This master comedian and pianist, the host of “Seth’s Big Fat Broadway” program on Sirius/FM Radio, has parlayed his youthful experiences into an evening of “all those horrific variety shows from the 70s.  I’ll be dissecting them, like the ‘Brady Bunch Variety Show,’ which was called the worst TV show ever by TV Guide.”
With biting humor, Rudetsky will be skewering all his all-time favorite worst variety shows in the one night production “Seth Rudetsky’s Big Fat 70s Show” at the Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Avenue, Hartford on Thursday, October 3 at 7 p.m.  The evening is part of the Charter Oak Cultural Center’s celebration of Jewish Arts and Culture.
As a well documented analyst of the entertainment world, Rudetsky will evaluate the performances of such notables as Liza Minelli, Donny and Marie and the various members of the Brady Bunch, including Alice the maid, showing clips from their memorable and not so memorable television appearances.  Part nostalgia, part historical, part hysterical, he will provide his personal insights into this less than admirable era.
For tickets ($30, seniors $15, with no one being turned away for lack of funds), go online to
Revisit the past and laugh all the way along on this journey with the entertaining Seth Rudetsky as your genial guide. Just delicious!


Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk has risen to the challenge and created a remarkable and exhilarating show for your entertainment until Sunday, October 13 and you must see its splendor for yourself. A new music craze, an abandoned baby boy, a time of hope and promise, and an era of civil unrest are all captured in an historical pageant of America at the turn of the twentieth century in the Tony-Award winning “Ragtime.” E. L. Doctorow’s novel, with a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens focuses on three divergent families, one upper class white, one Harlem colored, and one Jewish immigrant hopeful, whose paths cross and intersect in New Rochelle, New York in the early 1900’s.
This passionate parade of Americana “Ragtime” echoes an era that reverberated with the zeal of social reformer Emma Goldman, the courageous stance of Booker T. Washington as he tried to advance his people, the progressive Henry Ford who made automobiles an economic necessity, the magical illusionism of Harry Houdini, and the sensational notoriety of chorus star Evelyn Nesbitt.
“Ragtime” is a tintype or daguerreotype come to life, a montage of people and places and events frozen in the camera’s eye, as America grows, not always wisely or well, into a new nation. When Mother (Julia Lambert Pratt) discovers an abandoned black baby and chooses to protect him and his unwed mother Sarah (Soara Joye Ross), she sets in motion a chain of incidents that are both tragic and heartfelt. Sarah’s lover Coalhouse (Ezekiel Andrew), a musician by trade of the new musical craze ragtime, seeks her out, much to the dismay of Father (Dennis Holland), who had been exploring with Admiral Peary but is now home and displeased with the decisions made by his wife who
showcases her independent spirit for the first time while he is away.

Mother’s life has also collided with that of the Jewish immigrant Tateh (Frank Mastrone), a silhouette artist, who is preoccupied keeping his motherless daughter (Ryan Ryan or Hannah Pressman) alive. In the future he will be influenced by Emma Goldman’s (Mia Scarpa) reforms for workers and realize his own American dreamCome and make the acquaintance of the sensational burlesque queen Evelyn Nesbitt (Jessica Molly Schwartz), Harry Houdini (Christian Carodozo), Henry Ford (Jeff Gurner), Booker T.

Washington (Brian Demar Jones), J. P. Morgan (Bill Nabel), Sarah’s friend (Kanova Latrice Johnson),Older brother (Jacob Sundlie) and Younger brother
Ari Frimmer.  Many actors play multiple roles and change frequently into the lovely costumes designed by Diane Vanderkroff on the set designed by Jessie Lizotte.
Songs sparkle and stimulate the heart strings throughout like “Journey On,” “Wheels of a Dream,” “Sarah Brown Eyes,” “Till We Reach That Day” and “Make Them Hear You.”
Music and choreography spell out “Ragtime’s” soul in brilliant hues, thanks to the direction by Kevin Connors and the musical accompaniment by pianists David Wolfson and Mark Ceppetelli. The richness and rightness of the voices shine with passion and power.
For tickets ($35-65) call Muisc Theatre of CT, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Nine West Shoes) at (203)454-3883 or online at www. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Let ”Ragtime’s” fever infect you as you jump on an American bandwagon for an historical and spirited ride you will long remember.

Saturday, September 28, 2019


At the age of eleven, Joanna Gleason already enjoyed a rich fantasy life, imagining herself a singer with a 1940’s big band, with a gardenia in her hair and clad in a fabulous satin gown.  She had already determined by age nine, in elementary school, that the theater was her destiny so these dreams seemed not only possible but quite realistic.  One would think that as the daughter of game show host Monty and Marilyn Hall, growing up in Toronto, Canada, her home life would have predisposed her to show business, but she declares her parents never exposed her to that life.  There were family dinners, piano lessons, going to see school plays and down to earth values. Her parents played Broadway albums and opera and took the family to museums.  Joanna learned early on, “I could have a future in the least show business family around.”

After her father co-created “Let’s Make a Deal” and hosted the game show for thirty years, he was “recognized everywhere and being the charming man he was, he loved it.”  Joanna, on the other hand, initially shrank from it.  Like all her siblings, she was proud of her parents’ extensive charity work raising a million dollars over the years and the speeches dad made, especially after moving the family to Beverly Hills for fifty five years.

Joanna Gleason is an accomplished actress, singer, acting teacher, writer and director, having established herself in television, film and theater. In times of stress, she remembers asking her father, “Oy, what is happening?”  His answer was a comforting, “Honey, we’ve seen worse. It’s a bump.  Everything is cyclical.  Keep changing.”  Joanna still listens to that advise as evidenced by new latest project, an intimate one woman show that is a love letter to her parents and
their seventy year romance, “Out of the Eclipse.” The show will enjoy its Connecticut debut at the Quick Center at Fairfield University on Friday, November 8 at 
7 p.m., followed by a private dinner with the star at 8:30 p.m. This musical evening debuted this spring at Feinstein’s/54 Below dinner club in New York City to sold out crowds, thanks to the encouragement of the venue’s producer Jennifer Tepper.

“Out of the Eclipse” was Gleason’s therapeutic and cathartic response to her parents’ deaths within weeks of each other, at 96 and 90, and the solar eclipse of 2017 that occurred in the middle.  The show takes the audience on its own individual journey of loss as it reveals Gleason’s personal dark time of care giving in their last days and how she brought herself back into the light.  With her arranger and music director Jeffrey Klitz, backed by the tight three part harmony of the Moontones and a band that consists of guitar, banjo, autoharp, cello, percussion and piano.  For tickets ($75, 65, Quick members $55, University students $5), call the Quick Center box office at 203-254-4010 or go online to or @fairfieldquick.  The dinner is $150 and includes a ticket to the performance.

Calling the show “funny and tender,” when she lost her bearings “I put my faith in other people.”  Like the song she sang in her Tony Award winning performance as the Baker’s Wife in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” she recognizes that “life is made of moments.” Looking back at the tremendous love and affection for her folks, she, with the help of most extraordinary collaborator Jeffrey Klitz, carefully selected songs and stories that illustrated their loving relationship.  She freely admits, “We mutually inspire each other.” Some songs are well known like the Rodgers and Hart standard “With a Song in My Heart” and the Cole Porter tune “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” and her parents’ personal love song “Where or When” as well as some more obscure, like the 1800’s Yiddish lullaby “Oyfn Prpestshik.”

During the evening, Joanna Gleason will share funny stories about how she landed the career changing role of the Baker’s Wife, how her role in Broadway’s “Nick and Nora” was short lived on stage but resulted in a twenty nine year long marriage to her co-star Nick, now husband actor Chris Saradon and how wonderful being a grandmother and called ”Yia Yia” has “opened chambers of my heart I didn’t know I had.” On February 9, 2020, her show will open at Los Angeles’ Renberg Theater where she hopes “school mates and friends will come.”

As if all these successes weren’t enough, Ms. Gleason is exploring writing and directing a feature film set to be made in Connecticut in December.  Having practiced on a short film first, she is now ready to tackle ”Possom,” a tender and moving tale of the last few days of her mom’s life, stating “I had to connect before I could let go.”
 With a career that has spanned such shows as “Boogie Nights,” “The Good Wife,” “Hamlet,” “The West Wing,” “I Love My Wife,” ”Murphy Brown,” “It’s Only a Play” and dozens more, Joanna Gleason admits that “life is surprisingly wonderful.” Living on a beautiful and rambling farm house in Connecticut where she and her “dashing” husband Chris Saradon grow sunflowers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, beets, radishes and herbs,greeting her newest grandchild, a boy Daniel from her son Aaron and his wife Stacy and opening new directions in the theater world, stating that “life is surprisingly wonderful” just might be an understatement.

Monday, September 23, 2019


Spike Lee has been called a legend, icon and visionary in the film world, a trailblazer, a man who stands up and does the right thing for his beliefs, unafraid of the consequences or controversy he may create. Named Spike by his mother, a teacher of art and black literature, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York with his father, a jazz musician, who composed and taught. He was born Shelton Jackson Lee on March 20, 1957 in Atlanta, Georgia.

After an absence of 24 years, he recently returned to the Quick Center at Fairfield University to give a talk  “Creating Social Change Through Film: Do the Right Thing” on Thursday, September 19.  Speaking frankly, he explained the history of his family, why he values education so highly, and the disgrace of teachers being underpaid and underappreciated. He feels everyone can point to one teacher who encouraged them to succeed. He also feels education should be free as tuition is “crazy” and, even worse, kids are being taught lies, about native Americans and about our Founding Fathers. He doesn’t believe school texts are telling our youth that George Washington owed 123 slaves as did the “first 11 or 12 Presidents of this country.”

He is proud to come from educated people and to being the first grandchild of a grandmother who saved her social security money to fund his learning. He went to Morehouse College and then Clark Atlanta University. Giving back himself, he teaches at the New York Tisch School of Arts, and has for seventeen years, where he himself learned some of his craft. He marveled that his grandmother taught art for fifty years and never had one white student. “Whether you are born black, white or brown, the wrong zip code can defeat you.”

One of his first ventures was the comedy about sexual relationships, “She’s Gotta Have It” which he filmed in two weeks for a cost of $175,000.  When it earned him over $7,000,000, he used the funds to create his company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks that has produced 35 films since 1983, including the landmark “Do the Right Thing,”  “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Malcolm X,” “4 Little Girls,” and his most recent “BlacKkKlansman.”

An advocate for change, he tackles racial inequality and civil rights, calling his films Spike Lee Joints.  He wants his audience to be challenged and angered by what they see on the screen.
Spike Lee doesn’t like labels as he “feels they are a lazy way to slap on a person.”  He admits to being a storyteller. As a child he went to films for the candy and popcorn, with no thought of making them himself.  Circumstances like one professor who encouraged him and a chance gift of a Super 8 camera and film in the summer of 1977, when he was broke without a job, turned his life in a new direction.  He calls it “one of the most important days of my life.”  It happened to coincide with a blackout that was like Christmas in July, plus the presence of David Berkowitz, that led him to make a documentary of that summer and to his declaring film making as his major.

Now as a teacher himself, with experience of three decades, he hopes “students listen to me.  I love the interactions with young minds who are excited about cinema.  I look for ‘hustle’ 
in young directors and I am hard on lazy students who are only taking up space.”  To him, they need to put forth “effort, as this here’s no joke.”  He believes “you can’t teach get up and go.  They need to be motivated.  The first day of class I hand out a list of the greatest film directors that students should view and expose themselves to.  The Ziegfeld Theater was my theater and it had a lot of premieres there. I am old school.  I don’t watch films on my phone. On the first day “The Exorcist” came out, I stood in the freezing cold for two hours to see Linda Blair’s head turn around,”

Giving vent to political issues, Spike Lee pronounced ,“we are not a colorblind society. With our 44thPresident, this might be the most important Presidential election in history. We are a divided country and there is a difference between love and hate, and good and evil.  When I see infants snatched from their mother’s arms, what the f--- country says that…Is this what we’ve become?  First we have to register to vote. We are better than what we are. The rest of the world is laughing at us but it’s no joke.”

He alluded to a New York Times article about the 1619 Project and the fact that in August of 1619 the first slaves came to Jamestown, Virginia, 400 years ago. He feels there is not a lot of truthfulness told about the land stolen, the slavery, the genocide this country is built upon. The land belonged to the natives who were already here who were demonized. He admits “I hated the Lone Ranger and had no use for Daniel Boone.” He felt we displaced them and didn’t tell the truth about it.

As a filmmaker, Spike Lee tries to tell a different story in a different way each time.  He likes to brag that the Obamas’ first date was to see “Do the Right Thing” and that it “gave a name and a face to racial issues.” He was criticized that the film gave no answers to racism and he admits that, thirty years later, “I still have no answers.”  He believes it’s not the job of artists, “we paint the picture and start the question.” 

When he was making ”Malcolm X” with Denzel Washington and Warner Brothers balked at the length of the film going over three hours, he simply raised the money himself until the studio saw the errors of its ways. He states that raising money for films “is always a struggle.”  Currently he is working on a film about Vietnam soldiers and the lack of recognition of black men in the fighting.

Spike Lee wants people to “look at my films and make an educated accessment of my work.”  Whether they comment on his father’s acoustic bass, for he refused to play electric guitar, or mention his double dolly shots that he invented for his films, where people float on the screen that is his trademark or signature motif, Spike Lee wants to be acknowledged for the voice he shares on film for the world. 



Be forewarned that the Ivoryton Playhouse is inviting its audiences to evaluate clues, question motives, examine the actions and, ultimately, to solve the crime. The Shear Madness Beauty Salon in Essex, Connecticut is the scene of the murder and one of the owners, assistants or patrons is guilty as sin but which one?

For almost four decades, the mystery comedy “Shear Madness” has been delighting fans in Boston and there is no likelihood of it stopping any time soon.  Already hailed as Guiness Book of World Records’ longest running nonmusical production, the play is based on Paul Portner’s serious German murder mystery “Scherenschnitt.” Actors Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan have successfully adapted it into what you will see on the Ivoryton Playhouse stage until Sunday, October 6th.

Continually updated and stuffed with timely, current references, and set in the town where it is playing, “Shear Madness” is a delight of comic confusion where the audience helps the police, Nick O’Brien (Patrick Noonan) and his assistant Mikey Thomas (Lev Harvey).
Working in cahoots, there is a pressing need to determine who had the most to gain if the salon’s landlord and piano virtuoso, the reclusive Isabel Czeony, fortuitously dies.
Is the guilty one the flamboyant salon owner Tony Whitcomb (Jordan Ahnquist) who hates the old lady and her continuous piano playing that is driving him mad? Or could it be his assistant the sexy and pseudo friend to Isabel Barbara DeMarco (Siobhan Fitzgerald)
who might have a lot to gain by Isabel’s untimely demise? When the socialite Mrs. Shubert (Lisa McMillan) arrives, the pool of suspects widens for she clearly has secrets she is hiding.  Or could be guilty one be the suspicious used antique dealer Eddie Lawrence (Bill Mootos) who might be blackmailing Isabel as well as having an affair with Barbara?

Guess what? You, the audience, decides whodunit and the cast changes the script to fit your decision.  With a fair amount of improvisation, the show is not the same on any given night, so many people see it again and again.  Bob Lohrmann directs and misdirects your attention in a hundred different ways as you decide who is going to jail for a very long time, and you will surely laugh your way to the guilty verdict.

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

Come and recline in an aqua salon chair, courtesy of scenic designer Daniel Nischan, as you await your cut, curl or color and determine who committed the crime



Thanks to playwright Dan Goggin, his favorite elementary school nuns are on the move again. Those engaging Little Sisters of Hoboken will be kicking up their sturdy heels until Sunday, October 13 dressed in their black and white simplicity. Mother Superior Mary Regina (Amanda Forker) and her favorite quartet of sisters want to entertain you and they are willing to pull out all the stops to showcase their talents. Believe me, you have never seen nuns with these “habits” ever before.
In “Nunsense A Musical Comedy,” the good sisters have to solve a sticky problem: how to bury the last four nuns, victims originally numbering 52, who were accidentally poisoned by the chef Sister Julia, Child of God, in a bad soup incident. When the sisters ran out of burial fees, they stuck the last four nuns in the freezer and now the New Jersey Board of Health is on the way for an inspection. Of course, if the Mother Superior hadn’t diverted funds to buy a large screen television set, this crisis could easily have been averted, or so says the second in command, Sister Mary Hubert, the Mistress of Novices (Brandi Porter).
What can the Little Sisters do, after they panic, but put on a fundraising party, a variety show, to raise the much needed funds. To that end, Mother Superior, who once was a tight rope walker in the circus, is calling upon all her theatrical skills. She is mobilizing the talents of Sister Mary Hubert to “Tackle That Temptation with a Time Step.” For the budding ballerina Sister Mary Leo (Rachel Oremland) who dedicates the dance to God, it’s the sweet and sentimental thoughts conjured up with “Lilacs Bring Back Memories.”
For Sister Mary Amnesia (Hillary Ekwall), who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head, it’s using her best friend, the puppet Sister Marionette, and giving a lesson on joining the convent for the trio of benefits: poverty, chastity and obedience. Last, but not forgotten, is Sister Robert Anne (Lily Dickinson) who grew up as a troubled kid in Brooklyn and is the perpetual understudy for the cast. Until, that is, an accident sidelines the Reverend Mother and Sister Robert Anne gets to belt out “I Just Want to Be a Star.”
Between the religious quizzes, the cooking lessons from the B. V. M. (Blessed Virgin Mary), the country singing sessions, a quick trip to the drive-in movie, the show under the fine direction of Darlene Zoller will prove that “Nunsense is (delightfully) Habit Forming.”
For tickets ($47.50-50), call the Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ext. 10, or online Performances are Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., 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.
Discover the humor of the nun, complete with clackers and rulers, to make sure you sit up straight, are respectful and, most of all, have a great time.

Saturday, September 14, 2019


A unique musical adventure awaits you if you are daring enough to travel under the sea to the fictional town of Bikini Bottom and make the acquaintance of one character known as SpongeBob  SquarePants. Do not be dismayed that he resembles a square kitchen sponge as that’s just part of his charm.  He lives in a pineapple house, in a coral reef, with nearby best friends Patrick, his neighbor Squidward and Sandy Cheeks.

Conceived and directed by Tina Landau, with book by Kyle Jarrow, orchestrations by Tom Kitt, choreography by Christopher Gattelli and songs by a number of composers, “SpongeBob SquarePants The Broadway Musical” will be making its second stop on its new national tour at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, October 1 to Sunday, October 6 and the whole family is invited.

Originally a highly successful animated series on Nickelodeon, it has now garnered 12 Tony Award nominations.  Filled with sponges, squid, starfish, snails and sardines, it quickly plunges the residents of Bikini Bottom into panic mode.  A nearby volcano at Mount Humongous will soon erupt and the town will be destroyed.

The evil doers in town, the married couple Plankton and Karen have a plan to talk the citizens into entering their escape pod, but it’s really a plot to hypnotize the unsuspected to like the chum they serve at their restaurant the Chum Bucket.  Their rival restaurant the Krusty Krab would be devastated.  A fundraising concert is planned to help the cause. 

While being only a sponge, the inventive SpongeBob has a plan of his own to save the town, calling on his friendship with Patrick and Sandy to help.  Difficulties ensure and the townspeople are soon conflicted about whom to believe and to follow.  Loyalties are tested and disaster seems inevitable.  Come discover for yourself if Bikini Bottom is doomed to disappear forever.

For tickets ($31-123), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at 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 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Can a lowly simple sponge find the courage to save his home and his friends and prove his bravery? Grab a crab, an octopus or a snail and help to save the day, turning the tide from “No Control” to “Hero Is My Middle Name” to “Best Day Ever.”