Friday, May 31, 2019

COME TO THE FESTIVAL NOW, JUNE 8-22, IN NEW HAVEN






SCENES TO TEMPT YOU TO ATTEND THE FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND IDEAS


For the 24thyear, New Haven is offering the community a grand event to celebrate artists around the globe with a 15 day salute:  the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Encouraging you to stimulate your mind, engage your spirit, expand your senses, the Festival will run from Saturday, June 8 to Saturday, June 22 and you’re invited to take a front seat for the exciting activities.

Grab your calendars and make plans to attend free concerts on Saturday and Sunday nights on the New Haven Green under the stars with acts like Thabisa (June 8), Marion Meadows and Rohn Lawrence (June 8), Garba 360 (June 9(, Force MDs (June 15), Vivian Green (June 15), The Carrie Ashton Band (June 16), Gina Chavez (June 16) and Tiempe Libre with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (June 22).

Looking for something more cerebral?  A plethora of lectures and conversations abound, like “Confronting Identity: An Arts and Ideas Fellows Town Hall” (June 8), “Cities of Peace: Healing the Trauma of Conflict Through Art” (Jine 11) and “Stonewall at 50” June 13), among many others.

Sign up for a walking or bike tour, a class or workshop, or relax on the water.  If you’re a foodie, many gourmet experiences await your palate like a State Street Wine Walk (June 11), a tour of Gastronomy on Grand Avenue (June 15 and 21) and a Friday Night Beer Garden (June 21).  Explore the Hill, Fair Haven and Dixwell Avenue for Neighborhood Festivals, a Wordfest: Citywide High School Jam (June13),  “I Am” Slam Poetry Competition (June 16) and a Two Night Gala Harbor Bash at the new Canal Dock Boatworks on the water with food at night with plenty of atmosphere (June 10 and 11).

While 85% of the exciting events are free for the taking, you are encouraged to buy tickets for the troupe Dorrance Dance (June 11), the theatrical conversation No Kids (June 12-15), Circa (June 12-15), Quantum Sound (June14), Knonos Quartet (June 18), HOME (June 19-22), Tanya Tagaq (June 20) and the Yale Choral Artists (June 21).

Don’t forget the grand number of Documentary Films, many with lectures, that will be screened, the gospel music, the jazz, the circus tricks, the children’s activities, the Elm Shakespeare Company Teen Troupe production of “Twelfth Night,” stories of India and Africa and dozens of activities from morning to night all over the city.

Make a list of your favorites and go to artidea.org or call 203-498-3772. Ideas Fast Pass is available and volunteers are needed.

Identity and diversity earmark the more than 200 performances, conversations and special events that are
yours for the taking.  ENJOY!


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

‘Twelfth Night,’ ‘The Music Man’ Top Connecticut Critics Circle Nominations

SPECIAL RELEASE

Yale Repertory Theatre’s Afro-futuristic “Twelfth Night” and Goodspeed Musical’s nostalgic “The Music Man” lead the shows nominated for the 29th annual Connecticut Critics Circle Awards.

The awards event, which celebrates the best in professional theater in the state, will be held Monday, June 3 at 7 p.m. at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. Jennifer Cody, who stars in “Mamma Mia!” at Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Series next month, will preside over the show which is free and open to the public. 

“Twelfth Night” earned nine nominations, including outstanding play production, projections, sound, lighting, costumes, director, two featured actresses and another for featured actor. “The Music Man” received eight nods, including outstanding musical production, leading actor and actress, director, choreographer, set, lights and costumes.

Other outstanding play nominees are Westport Country Playhouse’s “A Flea in Her Ear;’ “Yale Rep’s “el Huracan;” Hartford Stage’s “The Engagement Party” and Hartford Stage’s “Make Believe.”

Also earning outstanding musical nods are Playhouse on Park’s “In the Heights;” Westport Country Playhouse’s “Man of La Mancha;” Ivoryton Playhouse’s “Once;” and Westport Country Playhouse’s “In the Heights.”

In an unusual situation, two productions of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In the Heights” — one at Westport Country Playhouse and the other at West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park — both received multiple nominations, including outstanding musical.

Receiving the annual Tom Killen Award for lifetime achievement in Connecticut theater is Tony Award-winning set designer Michael Yeargan.

Two actors will be receiving acting awards out of competition. Rachel Christopher will receive an award for her outstanding solo performance as The Poet in “An Iliad” at Long Wharf Theatre. Kenneth Galm will receive an award for outstanding debut for his role as Tobias in Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Series production of “Sweeney Todd.”

Other nominees are:

Actor in a play:Zach Appelman for Hartford Stage’s “The Engagement Party;” Brad Heberlee for Hartford Stage’s “Make Believe;” Jordan Sobel for Playhouse on Park’s “My Name Is Asher Lev;”: Michael Raver for MTC’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof;” Marc D. Lyons for Ivoryton Playhouse’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”

Actress in a play:Megan Byrne for Hartford Stage’s “Make Believe;” Peggy Cosgrave for Seven Angels’ “Ripchord;” Linda Powell for Long Wharf Theatre’s “The Roommate;” Marina Re in Seven Angels’ “Ripchord;” Andrea Lynn Green for MTC’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” 

Actor in a musical:Philip Hernandez for Westport Country Playhouse’s “Man of La Mancha;” Terrence Mann for CRT’s “Sweeney Todd;” Niko Touros for Playhouse on Park’s “In the Heights;” Rodolfo Soto for Westport Country Playhouse’s “In the Heights;” Donald Corren in Goodspeed Musicals’ “Oliver!”; Edward Watts for Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Music Man.”

Actress in a musical:Gisela Adisa for Westport Country Playhouse’s “Man of La Mancha;” Liz Larsen in CRT’s “Sweeney Todd;” Emily Ferranti for CRT’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood;” Ellie Fishman for Goodspeed Musical’s “The Music Man;” Christina Carlucci in Seven Angels’ “First Date.” 

Director of a play:Mark Lamos for Westport Country Playhouse’s “A Flea in Her Ear;’ Darko Tresnjak for “The Engagement Party;” Laurie Woolery for Yale Rep’s “el Huracan;” Carl Cofield for Yale Rep’s “Twelfth Night;” Jackson Gay for Hartford Stage’s “Make Believe.”

Director of a musical:Sean Harris for Playhouse on Park’s “In the Heights;” Ben Hope for Ivoryton Playhouse’s “Once;” Mark Lamos for Westport Country Playhouse’s “Man of La Mancha;” Marcos Santana for Westport Country Playhouse’s “In the Heights;” Jenn Thompson for Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Music Man.” 

Choreography:  Patricia Wilcox for Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Music Man;” Darlene Zoller for Playhouse on Park’s “In the Heights;” Chris Bailey for Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Drowsy Chaperone;” Charlie Sutton for ACT of CT’s “Evita;” Marcos Santana for Westport Country Playhouse’s “In the Heights.”

Featured actor in a play: Leon Addison Brown in Long Wharf Theatre’s “Paradise Blue;” Brian Patrick Murphy in Hartford Stage’s “The Engagement Party;” Dan Shor in Playhouse on Park’s “My Name Is Asher Lev;” Mic Matarrese in Westport Playhouse’s “A Flea in Her Ear;” Allen Gilmore in Yale Rep’s “Twelfth Night.”

Featured actress in a play: Jennifer Paredes in Yale Rep’s “el Huracan;” Tiffany Denise Hobbs in Yale Rep’s “Twelfth Night;” Ilia Isorelys Paulino in Yale Rep’s “Twelfth Night;” Adriana Sevahn Nichols in Yale Rep’s “el Huracan;”Brenda Pressley in Westport Country Playhouse’s “Flyin’ West.” 

Featured actor in a musical: Brandon Andrus in Goodspeed Musicals’ “Oliver!”; Blakely and Parker Slaybaugh in Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Drowsy Chaperone;” Ed Dixon for CRT’s “Sweeney Todd;” Jim Schilling in MTC’s “Cabaret; and James Donohue in Seven Angels’ “First Date.”

Featured actress in a musical:Amy Jo Phillips for Playhouse on Park’s “In the Heights;” Rachel MacIsaac for Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s “Kiss Me, Kate;” Stephanie Pope in Westport Country Playhouse’s “In the Heights;” Alexa Racioppi in Ivoryton Playhouse’s “A Chorus Line;” Anne Kanengeiser in MTC’s “Cabaret.”
Ensemble: Casts of Hartford Stage’s “Jeeves & Wooster in ‘PerfectNonsense’ ” (Arnie Burton, Eddie Korbich, Chandler Williams);Playhouse on Park’s “The Revolutionists;”” (Rebecca Hart, Olivia Jampol, Jennifer Holcombe, Erin Roche);Seven Angels’ “Altar Boyz’ (Maclain Dassatti, Louis Griffin, Jeff Jordan, Spiro Marcos, Andrew Poston, and Justin Henry);Westport Country Playhouse’s “Thousand Pines” (Katie Ailion, Anne Bates, Joby Earle, Kelly McAndrew, William Ragsdale, Andrew Veenstra);and Yale Repertory Theatre’s “Cadillac Crew” (Dria Brown, Ashley Bryant, Bronte England-Nelson, Chalia La Tour). 
Projection design: Brittany Bland for Yale Rep’s “Twelfth Night;” Yaara Bar for Yale Rep’s “el Huracan;” Caite Hevner for ACT of CT’s “Working;” Rasean Davonte Johnson for Yale Rep’s “Cadillac Crew.”

Set design: Alexander Dodge for Hartford Stage’s “The Engagement Party;” Wilson Chin for Westport Country Playhouse’s “Man of La Mancha;” Adam Koch for Westport Country Playhouse’s “In the Heights;” Paul Tate dePoo III for Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Music Man;” Kristen Robinson for Westport Country Playhouse’s “A Flea in Her Ear”

Costume design: Mika H. Eubank’s for Yale Rep’s “Twelfth Night;” Gregg Barnes’ for Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Drowsy Chaperone;” Brittny Mahan for CRT’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood;” David Toser for Goodspeed Musicals’ “The Music Man;” Herin Kaputkin for Yale Rep’s “el Huracan.” 

Lighting design:Matthew Richards for Hartford Stage’s “The Engagement Party;” John Lasiter for Goodspeed Musicals’ “Oliver!”; Samuel Kwan Chi Chan for Yale Rep’s “Twelfth Night;” Alan C. Edwards for Westport Country Playhouse’s “Man of La Mancha;” Paul Miller for “The Music Man.”

Sound design:Joshua D. Reid for TheaterWorks’ “Girlfriend;” Frederick Kennedy for Yale Rep’s “Twelfth Night;” Lee Kinney for Long Wharf Theatre’s “An Iliad;” Michael Vincent Skinner for CRT’s “Sweeney Todd;” Megumi Katayama for Yale Rep’s “el Huracan.”

Because of the necessity to hold the annual awards ceremony slightly earlier this year, several productions in May — including Hartford Stage’s “The Flamingo Kid,” TheaterWorks’ “Actually” and Long Wharf Theatre’s “A Doll’s Life, Part Two” will be eligible for next year’s awards.

DIRECTIONS: Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam is located off exit 7 of Route 9. goodspeed.org.



Monday, May 27, 2019

START YOUR SUMMER FUN WITH HARTFORD STAGE’S “THE FLAMINGO KID”



Graduating high school does not guarantee your future will be chiseled in stone or even written on a page of lined notebook paper. Lots of changes and choices can be offered that fateful summer as one officially comes of age. In 1963, one teenage boy Jeffrey Winnick discovers a surprising number of realizations about who he is and who he wants to be in the world premiere of “The Flamingo Kid,” with book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and music by Scott Frankel, will dance its way into the Hartford Stage until Sunday, June 9 and reveal Jeffrey’s boyhood to adulthood adventures.

Jimmy Brewer’s Jeffrey hails from Brooklyn, a well grounded teen who is yearning to break free from his middle class parents, especially his dad, a plumber (AdamHeller) and his supportive mom (Liz Larsen). When his pals Hawk (Alex Wyse) and Steve (Ben Fankhauser) rescue him from tedium and transport him to another world, the glamour of the El Flamingo Beach Club, he quickly jumps into the middle of the fun and sun.

First up is his total fascination with Karla (Samantha Massell), his angel, who is visiting from California and staying with her relatives, the Brodys, Phyllis (Lesli Margherita), Phil (Marc Kudisch) and daughter Joyce( Lindsey Brett Carothers), while her parents work on their divorce. Before you can say ”Lady Luck” three times, Jeff has a job parking cars that is quickly upgraded to a cabana boy and has been tutored in this new life style by Phil, an ace gin rummy player, auto empire tycoon and over all slick operator.

Jeffrey’s dad was never happy about his son’s choices and now is beyond angry, causing a deep riff between father and son. When the tensions explode,Jeffrey finds himself out of Brooklyn and on his own. When he gets initiated into the truths of adulthood, he quickly learns life lessons that put him back on track, heading to a future he fashioned for himself.

Based on a 1984 Garry Marshall movie, “The Flamingo Kid” is stuffed with lively tunes like”The El Flamingo,” “The World According to Phil,” “Rockaway Rhumba,” “Under the Stars.” “The Cookie Crumbles,” “Never Met a Boy Like You” and “Fathers and Sons.” Energetic choreography by Denis Jones hops with joy on a stage designed by Alexander Dodge while Darko Tresnjak’s direction sparkles and splashes with summer.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-529-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.. Friday andSaturday at 8 p.m.,with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come along for the ride as Jeffrey engages with life, trying to secure a winning hand to declare a ”full house” for his future.





“GODSPELL” AT IVORYTON OFFERS MUSICAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT



THE CAST OF "GODSPELL" AT THE IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE

If your parables need polishing and your morals need motivation and your acts as a good samaritan need stimulation, then the Ivoryton Playhouse has just the musical to get you moving: ”Godspell.” With book by John-Michael Tebelak and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, this exuberant show is perpetual motion with this talented cast of ten (a minyan, but who is counting).

Until Sunday, June 16, this lively troupe performs a series of skits, sketches and songs that are wrapped in a cloak of the gospel of St. Matthew, all the while dancing and cavorting with joy.  Like a rock concert and revival meeting combined, these ten performers take the audience along as they provide lessons on how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and how to guarantee you never get to the Pearly Gates.  A dynamic Jesus, captured by Sam Sherwood,  is amazing as the humble son of God who has much to teach and only a short time to make his message heard.

 To Jesus, “the message is one of peace and love.  Religion is only the platform from which the gospel of truth and love is heard.”  Helping Jesus spread his message are Jerica Exum, Kedrick Faulk, Sam Given, Kaileah Hankerson, Morgan Morse, Gabriella Saramago, Lilly Tobin, Josh Walker and Carson Higgins as John the Baptist and Judas. This almost 50 year old show is still meaningful, showing how to learn to live together.  Come and be uplifted in a contemporary style.

Under the able leadership of director Jacqueline Hubbard, the troupe forms a community that performs "like a freight train” to light up the world and prepare the way for the Lord, with special thanks to Todd Underwood’s energetic choreography, Martin Scott Marchitto’s set design and Michael Morris’ enthusiastic musical direction.  The glorious words of “Day By Day” that pray for one to see and love and follow God was the high point of the show.  

For tickets ($55, seniors $50, students $25 and children $20), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or go online to www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.   Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. with two special Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. June 1 and June 15.

 If you enjoyed Sam Given in “Godspell,” come back on Monday, June 10 at 7 p.m. for an evening with Millie Grams, “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” where parodies of songs stylists of the 1960’s will be woven into her own unique life story. Tickets are $25, students $20.

The spirit will definitely move you as you rejoice in the words and the deeds that are sprinkled like seeds in a fertile field, for you to gather andenjoy.


Monday, May 13, 2019

“I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE” HAS A LOT TO OFFER LOVE BIRDS



NICK D'ANGELO AND CRISTIN MARSHALL   KRISTIN IOVENE AND JON ESCOBAR STAR IN
"I LOVE, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE"



Problems began as soon as God created Adam and Eve and mixed in an apple and a snake. In the beginning, God peopled the earth, which was then confined to the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, and that is the precise moment when complicated romantic relationships began.  Fast forward a few millenniums and playwright Joe DiPietro, with music by Jimmy Roberts,  continues the story in his fascinating and funny musical series of vignettes “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”

For an intimate, charming and revealing look at dating, courtship, marriage, divorce, birth and death, the whole enchilotta, head directly to the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin weekends until June 15.  In almost two dozen tales, you will be privy to the anxiety and angst, the preparation and the preening, the fuss and the futility of all the love drenched situations that have forever made the world go round and round and round. Youve probably experienced a goodly number of them yourself.

Hop aboard the bus with Kristen Iovene and Jon Escobar, Cristin Marshall and Nick D'Angelo as your trusty  tour guides on the often rocky path to true wedded bliss.  From those awkward first dates when you want to skip right to the good stuff all the way to providing great pick-up lines at funerals, DiPitro doesn’t leave any possibility for romance stuck under any rocks. This quartet is worthy of venturing down all the bumpy paths for maximum humor and delight in the laughter department.

DiPietro deals with such pressing issues as “Men Who Talk and the Women Who Pretend They’re Listening,” a visit with new parents who are fixated on their recent arrival, lawyers who guarantee sexual satisfaction, a family drive in the car where everyone arrives alive and how not to make a dating video.

This talented quartet plays studs and babes, men who cry at chick-flicks, women who offer to cook lasagna but really want to give themselves as the main dish, what happens when a man who promises to call actually does and the complicated tango dance of a married couple with children always under foot.  Kris McMurray directs this engaging courtship cha-cha-cha with finesse. C J Janis on piano and Jean Connors on violin keep the pace moving forward with spirit.

For tickets ($35), call the CT Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m.  Come early and enjoy refreshments at your table when doors open at 7:15 p.m.  Desserts and drinks are available for purchase.

No matter what stage of the romance meter you measure yourself on, you’ll find a lot to enjoy on this highway of love. Come and abandon yourself to the varied parameters of romance and all the charms and chaos trapped within.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

“HI, MY NAME IS BEN” OPENING HEARTS AT TERRIS THEATRE IN CHESTER


CLAIRE MCKENZIE AND SCOTT GILMOUR


Bernhardt Wichmann III, better known as Ben, had an incredibly sad life and a miraculous one at the same time.  Born in Davenport, Iowa, his parents suffered from mental illness and committed suicide.  Ben had dreamed of becoming an architectural draftsman and fought in Korea to earn a college degree. He moved to New York City to make it happen and never looked back. 
 
An operation on his larynx left him without the ability to speak, a condition that lasted more than three decades. Living without speech in a tiny one room apartment at 74th Street and 3rd Avenue, above J. G. Melon Restaurant, one would imagine Ben becoming a recluse, angry at his fate and at life.  Yet, armed with a notepad and a pen, Ben ventured into a cruel and impersonal city and turned strangers into friends.
 
Some of those friends were two doormen at a nearby hotel, Jorge Grisales and Juan Arias, who learned to speak English thanks to Ben’s writing efforts and a news reporter Joan, who with her dog Clementine, often treated Ben to a ticket to the opera, a pastime he loved, even getting him a tuxedo once so he could go in style.
 
On the indifferent streets of the city, Ben and his notebook reached out to passersby and started a conversation.  Before long, he had forged a community, one that chipped in to pay for his funeral when he died
from cancer. Only one year before his death, Ben experienced a miracle.  During an M.R.I. procedure,
Ben’s voice was restored and, in gratitude, he started talking and never wanted to stop.
 
In 2016, a Scottish writing team of Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie were visiting New York and chanced upon the obituary of  Bernhardt Wichmann III and saw the germs of a musical.  Invited to the Writer’s Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, they used their time there to craft the story of a simple man who lived his life in capital letters.  With the cooperation of Noisemaker, in collaboration with Dundee Rep, one of Scotland’s leading theatres, you are invited from May 17 to June 9 to experience “Hi, My Name is Ben” at the Terris Theatre, 33 North Main Street, Chester. 
 
For tickets ($49-54), call the box office at Goodspeed at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org.  Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
 
The team interviewed the many people who viewed Ben as a trusted friend to recreate his life and explore his “unique character.” From his tiny window above the restaurant, Ben used his time to learn about the cab drivers and waitresses who lived and worked around the corner.  The walls of his small living space were filled with a collage of thousands of photos of his new friends. He asked for so little, but he gave of his time and of his heart, to listen to people’s stories and show he genuinely cared. Using folk infused music, with Ben’s “friends” speaking his words, they give voice to how Ben lived his life on his special terms.
 
Gilmour and McKenzie want audiences to hear this quiet story of a man who “found happiness through strangers, using a notebook, and poetic language.”
They want you to “take a walk through his brain” and discover a chunk of his life in this amazingly true story.
Their message is to “make time for others” and they feel Ben would have loved their musical efforts, maybe dressing up in a tuxedo as if he were going once again to an opera at the Metropolitan.
 

“GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER” STILL RELEVANT IN 2019





More than fifty years ago, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn played 
the liberal white parents to a precocious daughter whom they had raised to 
be independent minded.  When she brings home her new fiancĂ©e, a highly
educated and dedicated African-American doctor, the spouted beliefs of 
her parents are clearly put to the test. This classic film is now a play and 
Ivoryton Playhouse is giving it a loving airing of William Rose’s screenplay,
 with Todd Kreidler’s probing play “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” until
May  12.

Times have certainly changed over the years, but inter-racial marriage
can still be cause for a pause in the conversation.  Interestingly neither 
Joanna‘s (Katelyn Nichols) parents Matt (Gordon Clapp) and Christina 
(Kaia Monroe) nor John’s (Marc D Lyons) parents John Sr.(Cedric Cannon)
 and Mary (Kimberlee Monroe) are accepting the decision of their offspring to wed 
lightly.  The confrontation escalates quickly when Joanna invites his 
parents to dinner and John announces he will not marry her without  her 
father’s express blessing.

Adding their voices to the controversy are the family’s black maid Tillie 
(Richarda Abrahms), the long time friend Monsignor Ryan (R. Bruce
Connelly) and a business associate Krista Lucas.  Joanna’s father is quick
 to have John investigated by the police as all four parents recover from the 
unexpected shock of the announcement.  Overt discrimination will
certainly affect the young couple and cause obstacles to their feelings.
As liberals, each is coming face to face with their principles.

As in the musical “South Pacific,” prejudice has to be carefully taught, from
childhood on to adulthood.  Soon the mothers are taking a stand on the side
of the young lovers, while the fathers are vehemently opposed.  Keeping 
an open mind and caring heart  are the ultimate winners, thanks to the 
fine acting and the strong direction by Kathryn Markey, on an awesome set 
designed by Daniel Nischan.

For tickets ($55, seniors $50, student $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 Thursday at 
7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and 
Sunday at 2 p.m.

To heal the differences among the famiiies, they need much more than a 
leaf from an aloe plant. We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet.




The Hills of Hartford Are Alive with Music



To Captain Von Trapp marching is in, music is out, work is in, play is out,
 whistles are in, laughter is out, discipline is in, singing is out. All that changes when a novice nun named Maria plays governess to the Captain's seven motherless children in Rodgers and Hammerstein's wonderful family musical classic "The Sound of Music".


 Three days from Friday, May 17 to Sunday, May 19, the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford will be resounding with joy for the whole family.


 1938 Austria presents profound changes for the earnest and solemn Captain Georg Von Trapp when both the Nazis and a young impetuous girl named Maria enter his life. He is powerless to defy either as one hardens his heart and the other captures his soul.The captain has been running his household as he did his naval ships: strictly and decorously. Instead of names, he uses whistle sounds to summon his seven children: Liesl, Kurt Friederich, Louisa, Marta, Brigitta and Gretl.

 When the irrepressible Maria skips into their lives, the hills of Austria and Hartford suddenly are alive with the sounds of music.Whether Maria is teaching the children how to sing, in the fun song "Do-Re-Mi," dressing them in play clothes cut from old curtains, helping them yodel their way through a thunderstorm, or preparing them to star in the Carlsbad Festival, she opens windows to love and laughter in their lives.With the Captain and Maria, the Captain's almost fiance, the manipulating Max, and Mother Abbess, each have their individual moments in the spotlight. 
 For tickets ($22-104) call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 pm. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

If girls in white dresses, packages tied up in string, crisp apple strudel, and
 bright copper kettles are among your favorite things, then plan a visit to the Bushnell where they are all delightfully awaiting you.

“IN THE HEIGHTS” SOARS WITH SALSA AND SPIRIT AT WESTPORT COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE



DIDI ROMERO AS NINA AND GERALD CAESAR AS BENNY IN "IN THE HEIGHTS"
PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG

Long before his stunning success with “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda crafted a musical tale of a community thriving in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge, in New York City.

Written while he was a student at Middletown’s Wesleyan University, with book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, “In the Heights” speaks to diversity and cooperation in the Washington Heights section of the city, where people from 
the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba and other Latino nations live together and prepare for change.

At Westport Country Playhouse, extended  until Sunday, May 19, this musical speaks to people helping people and the common goals of improving the way of life for everyone. At the center of the community is the bodega, or grocery store, run by Usnavi, a caring but unsatisfied Rodolfo Soto.
He has dreams but they are unfulfilled.  Will he win the heart of Vanessa (Nina Victoria Negron)?  How can he best protect Abuela Claudia (Blanca Camacho) who is like a grandmother to him?  Should he return to his homeland to find what his present life is missing?

Around Usnavi swirl the stories of Nina (Didi Romero) whose parents (Tony Chiroldes and Doreen Montalvo) will sacrifice everything to guarantee their daughter get a college education, Benny (Gerald Caesar) who works for her parents and loves Nina, his cousin Sonny (Ezequiel Pujols)
who helps in the bodega but wants more, Piragua Guy (Paul Aguirre) who sells iced drinks to the neighborhood and the sweet grandmother who has good fortune enough to change lives.

On the fourth of July when a blackout occurs, change is poised on the horizon.  With energized dancing choreographed by Marcos Santana, who is also the gifted director, as well as songs like “In the Heights,” “Breathe,” “Sunrise,” and “Alabanza,”  the heartfelt message of the people speaks to their joy. The colorful set by Adam Koch is the launchpad for the story.

For tickets ($30 and up), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport at 888-927-7529 or 203-227-4177 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 p.m.and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Come celebrate the vibrant life of a community where preserving the past is equally as important as laying the groundwork for the future.

”A DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2" OPENING ITS DOOR AT LONG WHARF




Thanks to Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, an outspoken and liberated woman named Nora Helmer asserted her rights as a wife, in 1879, and stormed out of her home,  The echo of that door shutting, with her husband and children abandoned, was monumental. What has happened to Nora since that fateful day?  Does she regret her decision to leave? Did she achieve her victory for womanhood or was her act premature and unfulfilled?

Today a modern playwright Lucas Hnath has inserted a new chapter into the scenario with ”A Doll’s House Part 2.” It's fifteen years later and Nora knocks on that same door and demands admittance to her home. Why has she returned?

New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre is staging this dramatic “second act” until Sunday, May 26.   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? The answers are awaiting you on an interesting outdoor inspired set designed by Arnulfo Maldonado.

Maggie Bofill’s Nora makes a slightly less dramatic entrance in 1894 than she did leaving years earlier when she felt her marriage was suffocating her.  Anne Marie (Mia Katigbak), the housekeeper, seems pleased to see her mistress but wonders what it means and soon regrets her reappearance.  When Torvald (Jorge Cordova) unexpectedly arrives home to fetch a forgotten set of papers, at first he does not even recognize Nora. When he does, he is not pleased.

Her reappearance is soon explained.  A judge has uncovered her identity as 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 Torvald never divorced her, the judge is threatening to have her arrested if she does not publicly confess her sins. What effect will this deception have on all involved? 

Will Torvald agree to divorce her, a fact that will expose his deceit in letting the community believe she died?  What influence will Emmy (Sasha Diamond), the youngest child she deserted, feel about her mother’s reappearance?  Will Davis 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, with many unexpected signs of humor peeking through the door.

For tickets ($30 and up), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Is Nora the emancipated woman she claims to be and the achiever of all her goals or is she in danger of losing everything? Here is a gambler capable of rolling the dice, no matter what the consequences.

Monday, May 6, 2019

CGMC HONORS “STONEWALL 50” ON MAY 18 AND 19 IN NEW HAVEN




MEMBERS OF THE CONNECTICUT GAY MEN'S CHORUS



The year 2019 is memorable for marking the largest international LGBTQ pride celebration ever held and the Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus is standing ready to honor the occasion.  In New York City’s Greenwich Village in the early hours of June 28, 1969, a series of police raids on the Stonewall Inn started a rebellion for recognition and demonstration by the members of the gay community.  It is considered the most important single event leading to the establishment of the gay liberation movement.

Now five decades later, New York state is organizing Stonewall 50/World Pride and the local Ct Gay Men’s Chorus will launch its personal tribute with “As You Are: 50 Years After Stonewall” at the CoOp, the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, 177 College Street, in New Haven on Saturday, May 18 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 19 at 4 p. m. You are invited to the celebration.

Artistic Director Greg McMahan asked his membership, who range in age from 20 to 70, to contribute “songs that made an impact on their lives:  growing up, coming out, and simply becoming who they are today.” The result is surprising, “beloved gay anthems, as well as songs that pay tribute to the themes of strength, perseverance, inclusion and acceptance.”
Come hear diversity at its best, from Elton John to Cyndi Lauper, Madonna to Lady Gaga, Melissa Manchester to David Bowie.  Movies and musicals will be represented from “Wicked,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Fame,” “Dreamgirls” and ”Kinky Boots.” According to McMahan, the concert reflects a wide variety of musical genres and some of the men never heard them before but are embracing them. “From the passion of heartfelt ballads reflecting past struggles to celebratory songs of hope and joy, this concert will be a reflection of the journey we’re all on together.”

For tickets ($25-30), call the CTGMC box office at 203-777-2923 or 800-644-2462 or online at www.ctgmc.org.  All seats are reserved.  This is the final performance of the 34th season by this group that was the first organization in the state, leading as a choral group and agent of social change. Don’t forget the monthly Bingomania fundraiser where 10% of ticket sales go to support LGBT youth, AIDS outreach and other worthwhile programs.

Come take part in honoring  this milestone and celebrating  the bravery of the ones who began the fight for public recognition. Come stand proud.

76 TROMBONES LEAD TO GOODSPEED’S MARVELOUS “MUSIC MAN"



PROFESSOR HILL ( EDWARD WATTS) AND HIS BOYS' BAND
PHOTO BY DIANE SOBOLEWSKI


The sixtieth anniversary celebration of Meredith Willson’s family classic “The Music Man” will be om-pahing its way triumphantly to Goodspeed Musicals in fine style until Thursday, June 20 in East Haddam. March yourself right over for tickets to this wonderful, joyful tale of a swindler, the fast talking traveling salesman, Professor Harold Hill, played by a smooth and suave Edward Watts, who convinces the town of River City, Iowa that the only way to save their youth from the evils of pool and billiards is to create a boys' band.

The high stepping shenanigans are off and running as soon as the dubious Professor, in cahoots with his old partner (Juson Williams),enter River City and try to hoodwink the Mayor (D. C. Anderson) and his wife, (Stephanie Pope), the sweet librarian Marian, a delightful Ellie Fishman, and her mother, Amelia White.

The choreography by Patricia Wilcox is top notch and the musical score is packed with gems, like “Ya Got Trouble,” “ Goodnight, My Someone,” “Seventy-Six Trombones,” "Shipoopi,” “Gary, Indiana” and ”Till There Was You." The Wells Fargo Wagon is depositing the goods and you’d best be ready to accept delivery. 

Grab the family and introduce them to a cute miss Amaryllis (Katie Wylie) as she courts her shy beau Winthrop (Alexander O'Brien). A forbidden affection is also carried out by the town’s bad boy Raynor Rubel and the mayor’s daughter Shawn Alynda Fisher so the creation of a band for boys cannot come any too quickly.

The sly professor also manages to put together a barber shop quartet with the school board (Branch Woodman, C. Mingo Long, Jeff Gurner and Kent Overshown) as well as a ladies dance troupe led by the mayor’s wife with her friends (Kelly Berman, Cicily Daniels, Victoria Huston-Elem).Meanwhile the hardest citizen for Hill to hoodwink is the town’s piano teacher, Miss Marian, who knows he is a fraud and falls in love with him any way. Even the interference and evidence of another traveling man (Danny Lindgren) fails to derail the shyster for long.
The old-fashioned fun is nonstop, the dancing is infectious, the songs are classics and the cast gives it their all. As a tribute goes, this one is the tops, under the fine direction of Jenn Thompson.

For tickets ($29 and up), call Goodspeed Musicals, on the Connecticut River in East Haddam at 860-873-8668 or online atwww.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., some Thursdays at 2 p,m, and 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. 

Watch a spellbinder, who doesn’t know the territory and doesn’t have any credentials, win over a town and give it and you an outstanding production of theater. Don’t miss it! You’re sure to be in TROUBLE, with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for POOL if you do!

JOIN THE “CADILLAC CREW” ON ITS IMPORTANT MISSION AT YALE REP




ASHLEY BRYANT, DRIA BROWN AND BRONTE ENGLAND-NELSON
PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS


For a quartet of women in a Virginia civil rights office in the early 1960’s, this is a momentous red letter “new dawn and new day.” Rosa Parks, the strong black activist who stood up for her rights, is coming to town to speak. Until Saturday, May 18, the Yale Repertory Theatre is serving up a fascinating living and breathing history lesson that still needs to be learned in the world premiere of Tori Sampson’s “Cadillac Crew.”
The crushing disappointment that a group of men have disallowed Mrs. Parks to speak at the last moment forces this female foursome to make a startling decision. Rachel (Chalia Le Tour) Abby (Dria Brown), Dee (Ashley Bryant), all black women, with Sarah (Bronte England-Nelson), a white woman, are determined to make a difference in the struggle for desegregation and equality for all women, not just women of color.
They want their message and mission to be recorded and remembered. They elect to go on the road and drive through the South as a “Cadillac crew,” speaking and advocating for positive change. Along the way, they will document their experiences so, hopefully, the future activists can stand on their shoulders to reach their goals.
Their road trip is fraught with small victories and huge risks, as they travel to make a difference. Each woman faces her own individual obstacles and challenges, Dee has sent her daughter Deborah to a white school on the first day of class with a knife, Abby has just learned she is pregnant with a white man’s baby, Sarah has issues with “passing” as a white woman despite her heritage and Rachel is the spiritual leader determined to cause change even if it means sacrificing her life in the process.
These ladies are dedicated to securing the vote and to being treated as people who are no longer invisible. They are crusaders and pioneers, even revolutionaries, bent on succeeding, black women speaking out for all their sex, come hear them roar. In Act II, the transition is made to the present day, in a Podcast, highlighting the stories of the past and the continual struggle to be heard and recognized.
The fight is far from over, but the hope and strength of the mission are real, even if the voices of Rachel, Abby, Dee and Sarah are trapped in the stories of the past. Rasean Davonte Johnson’s stream of projections helps the story progress while Jesse Rasmussen’s direction keeps the tale vital, real and powerful.
For tickets ($60-92), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 and online atwww.yalerep.org.Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.
Hop aboard the car with this strong battalion of “Cadillac crew” as they fight to make a difference, to secure equality for women, and direct themselves to a better destination. They are the GPS to the future.

THE VERBAL GLOVES ARE OFF IN STRATFORD WITH “TRYING"


CELINE MONTAUDY AS SARAH AND AL KULCSAR AS JUDGE BIDDLE SQUARE OFF FOR BATTLE


When a prestigious judge with a long history of service to his country acknowledges that his time on this earth is nearly at its expiration point, he reluctantly admits he needs help to organize his office and his memoirs. 25-81 could be a lopsided basketball score, but it’s the ages of the characters in an absorbing personal drama “Trying” that is earning standing ovations at Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company weekends until May 19. Penned by Joanna McClelland Glass, it tells the true story of her relationship with Judge Francis Biddle from 1967-68 when she served as his secretary.

Judge Biddle is so cantankerous he makes Scrooge look like a pussy cat. That certainly does not make him one iota more reasonable about having a stranger invade his space. Here is a man who has served as Attorney General under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and presided as Chief Judge at the Nuremberg trials.
Thankfully his new secretary Sarah, a newlywed from Canada, comes with a required supply of fortitude, spine, grit and stamina, all of which she will need in abundance. The honorable Judge Biddle with his long list of political appointments and legal degrees is also irascible, disagreeable, stubborn and difficult to impossible to please. He is a stickler for punctuality and grammar, has enough physical ailments to fill an encyclopedia, quotes Shakespeare and e. e. cummings admirably but forgets who he calls on the phone before they answer.

The two wage a powerful battle of words as each “tries” to understand the other. This dramatic character study speaks to generation gaps and the need to find ways to bridge the hills and valleys that separate us as humans. Artistic director Tom Holehan has assembled a truly fine pair of actors Al Kulcsar and Celine Montaudy in this excellent production.

For tickets ($22 and 20), call Square One Theatre at 203-375-8778 or online at www.squareonetheatre.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. All productions take place at the Stratford Academy, 719 Birdseye Street, Stratford.

Discover the humanity as a young naive girl with a steel magnolia backbone tackles a renown but crusty elder statesman and they come out at the other end the better for the battle. Beware of initially entering the lion’s den, but you will soon delight in the battle of brains and war of wits and words you will encounter.