Thursday, February 21, 2019

“TINY, BEAUTIFUL THINGS” CONCENTRATES ON HELP AND HEALING



If you were struggling with debts, it might be wonderful if you were offered a new job. But what if the opportunity was something you had never done before and were not suited for and, more importantly, offered no compensation. Why would you rise to the challenge and accept? Ask Cheryl Strayed who suddenly found herself answering to the title “Sugar” as a new advice columnist. Think Ann Landers meets Dear Abby with a lot of frank, honest, gritty, in-your-face responses.

Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven is serving up a multitude of questions and clever answers until Sunday, March 10 as “Tiny Beautiful Things,” based on the book by Cheryl Strayed, adapted to the stage by Nia Vardalos and co-conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail and Nia Vardalos entertains the mind.
 
Cindy Cheung’s Sugar is a no-nonsense, shooting from the hip, part psychologist, part heartfelt confessor who relishes solving conundrums with friendly advice and personal reflections. Having a colorful past that involved heroin addiction, a complicated relationship with her mother, and various love interests, she can identify with a woman who suffered a miscarriage, understands loneliness and needing to reach out to others to find a support group and who acknowledges her own unwhole parts.
 
Sugar is beseeched by questioners Paul Pontrelli, Elizabeth Ramos and Brian Sgambati who want to know how to cure any number of personal issues, from wanting to escape a bad marriage, how to resolve parental problems when you reveal transgender decisions, how to handle addictions like alcoholism and drugs, what to do when a relative continually abuses you and, most poignantly, how to recover from the loss of your only child and learn to live again.
 
With a bottle of beer in one hand and a computer in the other, on a New England Cape Cod house designed by Kimie Nishikawa, Sugar does her best to respond with an open and caring heart. Ken Rus Schmoll directs this unusually revealing conversation between strangers who desperately want to fix their broken psyches.
 
For tickets ($35.50-75.00), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online atwww.longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
 
As letter writers articulate their problems and Sugar digs deep in her own soul to respond, healing takes place on both sides of the answers.
 

“WORKING:” A MUSICAL CELEBRATION OF AMERICANS AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS







To poet Walt Whitman, the stories of mechanics and masons, women and wood-cutters were captured in his poem “Hear America Singing” in 1966. Less than ten years later, the oral historian and radio broadcaster Studs Terkel wrote about people talking about what they do all day and how it affects them. Soon after that composer Stephen Schwartz and collaborator Nina Faso created a musical “ Working” celebrating the talents and daily toil of the millions of men and women who make this country great, from the firemen to the forest rangers, the chefs to the cashiers, the teachers to the taxidermists, the dishwashers to the delivery men.
Now, a new revision of “Working"is being offered by Daniel C. Levine, with the permission of Stephen Schwartz, at A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) in Ridgefield in a world premiere until Sunday, March 10. It devotes itself to how people feel about what they do all day, and how it defines and describes who they are. Using Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” as its opening lines, the musical joyfully explores the routines that day in and day out provide a paycheck and a sense of self. Are we not defined by what we do for a living?

Levine bases his new version on dozens of interviews made with residents of Ridgefield, marrying their stories with a wonderful series of projections by Caite Hevner. Whether one is an iron worker walking on narrow beams high in the sky, following in a tradition from father to son, or a mason proud of every stone he puts into place in a wall, or a waitress at Dimitri’s Diner who dances through her day with smooth moves, or a migrant worker trying to better himself by cutting branches from mighty trees , a variety of occupations are spotlighted with humor and poignancy. 

One can feel the disillusionment of the third grade teacher whose students now consider English as a second language and no longer match her concept of literate and learn of the cleaning women who despite long hours on their feet take such pride in their job that they consider themselves self-styled artists. With insightful vignettes and lively songs composed by Craig Carnella, Micki Grant, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Rodgers and Susan Birkenhead, Steven Schwartz and James Taylor, this entertaining cast includes Brad Greer, Andre Jordan, Cooper Grodin, Monica Ramirez, Zuri Washington and Laura Woyasz. The enthusiastic direction of Daniel C. Levine brings honor to a myriad of professions.

For tickets ($56-72) call ACT, 36 Old Quarry Road, Ridgefield at 475-215-5433 or online at www.actofct.org. Performances are Thursdays at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m.,Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Forget for a moment the good works of the entrepreneurs, attorneys and doctors and concentrate on the unsung heroes who labor to keep the economy of America vital and strong. “Working” sings their praises loud and long, the extraordinary words of ordinary workers.

Monday, February 18, 2019

“THE BIKINIS” SHOWING OFF THEIR STUFF IN BERLIN




In the middle of the cold, snow and ice of February, how nice of the Connecticut Cabaret in Berlin to usher in some warmth and sunshine. You might not want to don a bathing suitunless you plan totake a Polar Bear Plunge for charity, but youare encouraged to come and enjoy songs of the 1960s and 1970’s in The Bikinisweekends courtesy of co-writers Ray Roderick and James Hindman and composer and musical arranger Joe Baker. As a fun and festive beach party musical, it will be putting down the plaid blankets, playing beach ball bingo and rubbing on the suntan lotion until Saturday, March 16.

Remember your good friends the “Jersey Boys,” now it’s time to make room on stage for the Jersey Girls. In 1964, four B.F. F.’s (best friends forever) on a lark enter a talent contest wearing (you guessed it) bikinis and win the Belmar Beach boardwalk banners. Two teenage sisters from Paramus, Jodi (Maria Soaft) and Annie (Erin Liddell), join forces with their impetuous cousin Karla (Emily Gray) from Philadelphia and their best bud Barbara (Erica Whitfield) from Staten Island to make their summer fun memorable and you’re invited along for the musical roller coaster ride.
With a parade of over thirty favorite tunes like “It’s Raining Men,” “Dedicated to the One I Love,” “It’s in His Kiss,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Under the Boardwalk” and “Chapel of Love” as well as brand new songs like “In My Bikini” and “Sandy Shores,” you’ll find yourself dancing in your seat and humming right along. The girls’ obsession with the opposite sex fuels their choice of tunes.

This spirited quartet of ladies are packed with joy and energy and are thrilled to be together for a twenty year reunion, recreating their teenage pleasures and conjuring up Frankie and Annette, Elvis and Nancy Sinatra along the way.

 They are a talent pool that delivers and has fun in the process. According to Ray Roderick, the creator and writer, the musical’s title is a metaphor for the struggle for equality women face. He feels they are empowered by it, even as they are still vulnerable. The quartet of females in the show relive their past but focus, decades later when they reunite, on the here and now.
The great rock and roll music of the 60’s and 70’s is wrapped around the original talent contest where the goal of the girls was to pay for a 45 record to get on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Now fast forward to their gathering when they meet to save the Sandy Shores Mobile Home Beach Resort, a favorite landmark on the Jersey beach that is being threatened by a land developer who wants to take over and build condos.
Back in 2007, at the Briny Breezes Trailer Park in Florida, the owners were each offered a million dollars to move and “The Bikinis” is loosely based on that true story. In addition, it touches on the innocent fun of that era as well as the Vietnam War, the Woodstock event, flower children and the rise of women’s voices. “The Bikinis” is “a coming of age story that views the world through their eyes,” according to Roderick.
For tickets ($35), call CT. Cabaret 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at860-829-1248or online atwww.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m.and Saturday 8 p.m. Remember to pack goodies to share at your table or plan to buy them at the concession stand on site.

 Come rediscover the great songs of the 60’s and 70’s as this one hit wonder girls’ group reunites as women. Come hear them roar.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

THE KATE CELEBRATES OSCAR NIGHT WITH A GRAND PARTY FEBRUARY 24


The long red carpet and an evening of star power are awaiting you on Sunday, February 24 at 7 p.m. when The Kate in Old Saybrook welcomes Hollywood’s finest. The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center will be ready for glitz and glamour and festooned with party hats and steamers as the 91stAnnual Academy Awards are celebrated in style. Forget the long distance travel to Los Angeles and let The Kate make the evening a spectacular success.
The theater’s namesake and Old Saybrook’s favorite daughter Katharine Hepburn, herself the recipient of twelve Oscar nominations and four wins, will be there in spirit to welcome you to the gala festivities. Plan to dress in your Sunday best for this grand fundraiser that benefits the quality events presented all year long.
A long menu of A list presenters will announce the winners as this year there is no headliner emcee. The evening will feature a giant screen with surround sound for viewing, elegant food deliciously prepared by Fresh Salt, great Oscar inspired desserts and a cash bar. Devin Carney, state representative and grandson of Art Carney, will emcee and share the Oscar Art won for photo memories. Ann Nyberg will also send greetings from her television desk. 
As if that weren’t enough, there will be a Silent Auction with such special treats as a deep sea fishing trip for an adult and child on the Black Hawk and a gift certificate for Lenny and Joe’s as well as four tickets to 54 Below in New York City with food and beverages included. The Live Auction with feature a package to see Kelly Clarkson on Thursday, March 14 at the Mohegan Sun with a gift certificate as well as many other treats. The raffle has a grand prize of a giant flat screen television set and a movie basket of goodies to eat. Once again Becker’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook with offer a “Mystery Red Box” where sixty jewelry boxes wrapped in red can be purchased, each containing a Becker’s gift certificate and one grand prize of a beautiful and valuable piece of jewelry.

According to executive director Brett Elliott, “We always look forward to this event to celebrate Katharine Hepburn’s achievements. This year is extra special as we’ll be rooting for our friend and 2017 Spirit of Katharine Hepburn Award recipient, Glenn Close, who is nominated for Best Actress for ‘The Wife.’ "

Sponsors to date include H & R Block Old Saybrook, Secor Volvo, Becker’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry of Old Saybrook, Comcast, Pough Interiors, Gulick & Company and Saybrook Point Marina and Spa. Please call Robin Andreoli, Director of Development and Community Relations at860-510-0473, ex. 213, orrobin.andreoli@thekate.org. to discuss sponsorship opportunities.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will tally the ballots for their favorites. Selections will be made in categories like Best Picture with candidates such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” about Eddie Mercury and Queens, “Vice” about Vice President Dick Cheney and “Green Book” about a black pianist who wants to perform in the South.
 Other candidates for Best Actress include Lady Gaga for “A Star is Born” and Melissa McCarthy for “Can You Forgive Me?” Lead actors include Christian Bale for “Vice,” William Dafore for “At Eternity’s Gate,” and Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Supporting actors include Adam Driver for “Blackklansman,” Sam Elliott for “A Star is Born” and Sam Rockwell for “Vice” while supporting actress candidates include Marina Tavira for “Roma,” Emma Stone for “The Favourite” and Regina King for “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Other categories include animated films, adapted screenplays, editing, costuming, original score, best song and many more.

Mark your calendars in RED for The Kate, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook, at 7 p.m.. Call 860-510-0453 for tickets $75, members $65 to be there when the 91STAnnual Oscars’ celebration showcases Hollywood.

Monday, February 11, 2019

INDULGE YOUR SWEET TOOTH WITH ”CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY” AT THE BUSHNELL





THE CAST OF "CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY"
Move over Nestles and Hersheys. The most imaginative and intriguing chocolate candy is coming to town, to the Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. From Tuesday, February 19 to Sunday, February 24, you’re invited to lick your lips and take a big bite from Roald Dahl’s delightfully devilish “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” that has been melted and reformed into a musical adventure, with book by David Greig, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Charlie Bucket has known poverty his whole short life, existing on cabbage soup as he lives on the tales his grandparents tell him about an amazing man named Willy Wonka who owns a chocolate factory. Charlie’s experience with chocolate is confined to the one bar he gets once a year on his birthday.
The news that Willie Wonka is holding a big contest where five lucky participants will find a Golden Ticket in a Wonka bar makes Charlie excited. One by one, the Golden Tickets are discovered: by an overweight boy from Bavaria called Augustus Gloop, a spoiled British girl named Veruca Salt, a gum-smacking Violet Beauregarde from Hollywood and finally a bully who is addicted to television, Mike Teavee. Who will find the last Golden Ticket?
When Charlie finds coins dropped by a wealthy couple, he gets the last chance at the prize, a lifetime supply of candy. His grandfather, who has spent decades in bed, leaps up to take Charlie to the famous factory.One by one, the contestants encounter major problems causing them to lose their chance of winning. Adventures exist at every turn and twist until only Charlie remains.What will Grandpa Joe and Charlie discover?How will they survive a ride in the Great Glass Elevator? What is the real prize that Willy Wonka has in mind for the ultimate winner of the game?
For tickets, golden or otherwise, ($23-119), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online atwww.bushnell.org. 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.
Come indulge and delight your imagination with a colorful tour with the Oompa-Loompas, experience invention heaven, take a joyride in the amazing Great Glass Elevator and help Charlie achieve the most delicious dream come true ever.

WATERBURY’S SEVEN ANGELS WELCOMES “GEORGE AND GRACIE” BACK



Are you into nostalgia?  Do you welcome a gentler, kinder world?  Do you love a good guffaw, laugh and giggle? Well, do I have an evening’s entertainment for you. Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury wants you to sit back in their new audience seats for a friendly visit with that special comedy duo, beloved for forty years in Vaudeville, film, radio and television George Burns and Gracie Allen.

A second edition to “George and Gracie: The Early Years,” this new version is “George and Gracie: Part II” and will feature R. Bruce Connelly as the cigar smoking straight man and the theatre’s Artistic Director Semina De Laurentis  as his zany and hilarious wife, playing until Sunday, February 24. They are perfectly suited the parts and play George and Gracie in delightful style.

In a series of vignettes, we meet the couple with their best friends and next door neighbors Blanche (Sarah Knapp) and Harry Morton (John Swanson), George’s business associate (Tom Chute) and their son Ronny (Reid Sinclair).  In the process, they also encounter a series of comic characters all portrayed by Josh Powell, Anna Laura Strider, and Ben McCormack.

When Blanche has a disturbing dream five nights in a row, it’s Gracie who goes to the psychiatrist to determine what it means. When Harry’s college alma mater comes to town to play in a big football game, it’s Gracie who gets arrested for selling the four extra tickets.  The arrival of Blanche’s mother causes Gracie to hide her in her house so Harry does not see her and it's George who gives son Ronny advice on how to woo and win the girl of his dreams, an exchange student from France.

It’s only when Gracie exaggerates  a story about their life for Look Magazine, that sets off a visit from that dangerous bank robber Silky Thompson, that  the comic complications totally get out of control.  The evening ends with a vaudeville show by the entire cast, “I Love Her, That’s Why” that harkens back to their earlier days on the show business circuit. Julia Kiley directs this sweetheart of a show that is guaranteed to make you smile with happy memories.

For tickets ($42-49.50), call Seven Angels Theatre, ! Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.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. Also watch for “’Til Death Do Us Part…You First!” by Peter Fogel, an eternal bachelor who makes true confessions about marriage, sex and other things on Saturday, March 2 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m.

Come revisit this beloved couple from an earlier era and relive the fun and joy that Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen and her partner Nathan Birnbaum brought to the world.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

MTC PRESENTING COUNTRY WESTERN MAGIC WITH “ALWAYS... PATSY CLINE"






MIA SCARPA AS PATSY CLINE IN MTC'S "ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE"



If you’re into fiddles, fringe and fans, then Music Theatre of Connecticut has a humdinger of a show to set your heart a twangin’.If you’re a country western music fan, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to hog heaven when you experience  “Always...Patsy Cline” by Ted Swindley weekends until Sunday, February 24.  Even those rare among you who don’t two step or dance the “Achy Breaky” will find a lot to love about this energetic and warm hearted romp into Grand Ole Oprey Land. 

MTC’s intimate stage is perfect for this musical showcase.
Put on your fringed western shirts and cowboy boots and help Louise Seger, the queen of Patsy Cline’s fan club, pay tribute to her favorite lady. A simple Houston housewife, Louise discovered Cline on the Arthur Godfrey Show in 1957. Four years later, when Cline comes to Houston to perform, the two women meet and an instant friendship is cemented. Like secret-sharing sisters, Patsy and Louise exchange phone calls and letters for the next two years until a plane crash robs the world of Patsy Cline at age 30.

The play showcases Mia Scarpa as perfection itself as the  magnetically musical Patsy Cline and provides a string of pearl hits like “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Stupid Cupid,” “Crazy,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “You Belong To Me,” and “True Love.” Becky Barta is a smart talking, adoring Louise and the friendship between the two is a joy to behold. Together they present a delightful country concert that fills the room with love. 

Scarpa admitted before she got the role, she was only familiar with Patsy’s pop songs, but not her country music. She found herself quickly “hooked” and loved that she was playing a real person and soon was obsessed with her musical style. She says it is “a joy” and loves her close connections with Becky’s Louise.

For tickets ($30-55) call the Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Nine West Shoes) at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com. Performances are Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 4pm and 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Pamela Hill directs this soul inflating song fest with musicians Thomas Martin Conroy, Mike Tosca, David Sonneborn and Chris Johnson providing rip roaring musical backup. MTC is busy preparing for Fairfield County’s Giving Day 2019 on Thursday, February 28 so call the theatre to see how to participate and donate.

Even though Patsy Cline has been dead over five decades, her record sales have gone gold and platinum in the 1980’s, with her recording of “Crazy” as the most popular juke box single to date and her “Walkin’ After Midnight” on the top ten hit list worldwide. So whether you’re a diehard fan like Louise or a brand new devotee,”Always...Patsy Cline” is sure to swing your fringe.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

“GOOD FAITH” CENTERS ON THE LEGAL ACTIONS OF THE NEW HAVEN FIRE DEPARTMENT




ROB DEMERY, LAURA HEISLER, BILLY EUGENE JONES AND IAN BEDFORD IN "GOOD FAITH"
PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG



How many little boys, and possibly even little girls, grew up dreaming of becoming a fire fighter. To save buildings and property, to rescue families and pets, and to risk your own life in the dangerous process, is the true definition of a hero.  What happens when that life affirming water coming from the fireman’s hose is muddied by controversy and race becomes an issue?  
Take the case of twenty men, nineteen white men and one Hispanic, who sue the city of New Haven over discrimination.  A test for promotion in 2003 was thrown out by the city when no blacks scored high enough to earn the ranks of Lieutenant or Captain.
The Yale Repertory Theatre commissioned a powerful and fascinating imaginative retelling of the disturbing situation as a world premiere play by Karen Hartman, “GOOD FAITH Four Chats about Race and the New Haven Fire Department” lighting fires of conversation until Saturday, February 23.
Laura Heisler is the narrator and writer of the tale who takes the audience along as she conducts interviews with many of the major participants in the landmark lawsuit.  She reflects back from the years 2015 and 2017 to the pertinent issues that divided the firemen and the city.
We meet a trio of firemen, Mike (Billy Eugene Jones), Tyrone (Rob Demery) and Frank (Ian Bedford) who  defined the issues and stated their cases for what happened.  Frank, with dyslexia, was named in the suit while Mike and Tyrone were two of the black men who also claimed discrimination for the way the exam was scored, making it harder for them to qualify for advancement. Mike later filed a lawsuit but subsequently dropped it. Frank Ricci felt his good scores should have earned him a promotion but didn’t because the city threw out the test and its results.
With Rene Augusen’s portrayal of Attorney Karen Torre fighting for the firemen, the case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The play looks back, years after the suit was settled, through interviews and conversations with the principals involved, the "four chats" in the Greek Olive Diner, a classroom, on a boat at the Thimble Islands and in Frank's office. Follow the action as director Kenny Leon oversees the long term effects of merit and promotion.

For tickets ($31-96), 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 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Based on true events, come review, years later, the momentous decisions about our country’s first responders as they were decided and history was changed forever.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

INDULGE YOUR SWEET TOOTH WITH ”CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY” AT THE BUSHNELL



Move over Nestle’s and Hersheys.  The most imaginative and intriguing chocolate candy is coming to town, to the Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.  From Tuesday, February 19 to Sunday, February 24, you’re invited to lick your lips and take a big bite from Roald Dahl’s delightfully devilish “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” that has been melted and reformed into a musical adventure, with book by David Greig, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Charlie Bucket has known poverty his whole short life, existing on cabbage soup as he lives on the tales his grandparents tell him about an amazing man named Willy Wonka who owns a chocolate factory. Charlie’s experience with chocolate is confined to the one bar he gets once a year on his birthday.

The news that Willie Wonka is holding a big contest where five lucky participants will find a Golden Ticket in a Wonka bar makes Charlie excited. One by one, the Golden Tickets are discovered:  by an overweight boy from Bavaria called Augustus Gloop, a spoiled British girl named Veruca Salt, a gum-smacking Violet Beauregarde from Hollywood and finally a bully who is addicted to television, Mike Teavee. Who will find the last Golden Ticket?
When Charlie finds coins dropped by a wealthy couple,
he gets the last chance at the prize, a lifetime supply of candy. His grandfather, who has spent decades in bed, leaps up to take Charlie to the famous factory.  One by one, the contestants encounter major problems causing them to lose their chance of winning. Adventures exist at every turn and twist until only Charlie remains.  What will Grandpa Joe and Charlie discover?  How will they survive a ride in the Great Glass Elevator? What is the real prize that Willy Wonka has in mind for the ultimate winner of the game?

For tickets, golden or otherwise, ($23-119), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  Performances areTuesday, 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.

Come indulge and delight your imagination with a colorful tour with the Oompa-Loompas, experience invention heaven, take a joyride in the amazing Great Glass Elevator and help Charlie achieve the most delicious dream come true ever.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

‘”A DOLL’S HOUSE” REVISITED AT HARTFORD THEATERWORKS


AMELIA WHITE AS ANNE MARIE AND TASHA LAWRENCE AS NORA
PHOTO BY LARRY NAGLER
Nora Helmer epitomizes the modern emancipated woman when she storms out of her home, abandoning husband and children, in Henrik Ibsen’s classic ”A Doll’s House.” The fact that the year is 1879 and the country is Norway make her exit all the more shocking. Now a modern playwright Lucas Hnath has inserted a second chapter into the scenario with ”A Doll’s House Part 2,” fifteen years later when Nora knocks on that same door and demands admittance.

Hartford TheaterWorks is staging this dramatic “second act” until Sunday, February 24. Why has Nora returned? Does she seek a reconciliation with her husband Torvald? Where has she been during her time of escape? Has the world changed so much that she feels free to come home?

Tasha Lawrence’s Nora makes a slightly less dramatic entrance in 1894 than she did leaving fifteen years earlier. Anne Marie (Amelia White), the housekeeper, seems pleased to see her mistress but wonders what it means. When Torvald (Sam Gregory) unexpectedly arrives home, at first he does not even recognize Nora.

Her reappearance is soon explained. A judge has uncovered her identity, a novelist who has been writing under a pseudonym, encouraging women to abandon their husbands and be independent, and even never to marry in the first place. Having learned Nora never divorced, the judge is threatening to have her arrested if she does not publicly confess her sins.

Will Torvald agree to divorce her, a fact that will expose his deceit in letting the community believe she died? What influence will Emmy (Kira Player), the youngest child she deserted, feel about her mother’s reappearance? Jenn Thompson keeps the tension tight as each character makes their own plea. The acting is forceful and succeeds in keeping the audience guessing its dramatic resolution, on a sparse polished set by Alexander Dodge, where the door through which Nora has exited and reentered stands guard.

For tickets ($35-70), call Hartford TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or go online atwww.hartfordtheaterworks.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Come discover if Nora is the emancipated woman she claims to be and the achiever of all her goals.