Sunday, October 24, 2021

"THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW" COMES TO MILFORD

It is a dark and stormy night, a veritable storm, and an unfortunate time for a car to break down. Where is AAA when you need it? Brad (Jack Saleeby) and his sweetheart Janet (Elise Sullivan) are mere innocents when they stumble upon a mansion that conjures up nightmares of Halloween in its wildest and most wicked state. They naively knock on the uninviting door, merely seeking a telephone to get mechanical help. Unhappily for the hapless pair, the mansion is the home of Dr. Frank ’N’ Furter, a commanding and flamboyant Jimmy Johansmeyer, a mad scientist and a transvestite, not necessarily in that order of importance. The unusual home is already occupied by a bevy of creative customers, who range from the colorful house servants Riff Raff (Justin Rugg) and his sister Magenta (Shelley Marsh Poggio), a cute flower child with rainbow hair Columbia (Mary Mannix), a narrator who tries to make sense of the goings on (Don Poggio), a doctor who has more questions than answers (Steve Autore), a trio of phantoms who assist the action (Sherri Alfonso, Maria Berta and Michael Cavone) and the good doctor’s latest creation, a muscle man named Rocky, a spectacular specimen (Everton Ricketts). It’s clearly too late for Brad and Janet to escape the mad house so just start praying for their survival. Batten down the hatches as Pantochino Productions of Milford unleashes “The Rocky Horror Show” as a Halloween happening until Friday, October 29. This cult favorite from 1975 is a musical stuffed with songs and dances, such as “The Time Warp," “Over at the Frankenstein Place,” “I Can Make You a Man,” "Hot Patootie,” "Science Fiction,” and “Superheroes.” Audiences frequently dress in costumes and shout out dialogue with the performers. Credit for the play goes to Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien, with clever direction by Bert Bernardi and costumes extraordinaire by Jimmy Johansmeyer. For tickets ($30), go online to pantochino.com. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., and Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Milford Arts Council, 40 Railroad Avenue, Milford. Please bring your fully vaccinated card and a mask. No food is allowed and there is no intermission. Get on your black leather jackets and fish net stockings and be prepared for the unique form of hospitality waiting for you when the playmates at the asylum invite you in to party. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

ROB BARTLETT IS "MR. BIG SHOT" AT WATERBURY'S SEVEN ANGELS THEATRE

Rob Bartlett, actor, writer, comedian and Emmy and Drama Desk Award Winner, is taking his colorful multi-faceted act on the road. For a man who began his comic career in kindergarten, his autobiographical story is sure to engender laughter and fun with its honesty and candor. Let Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury introduce you to “Mr. Big Shot” from Thursday, November 3 to Saturday, November 13 for the true story, the unvarnished truth, the whole megillah, the essence of the man. A virtual barrel of laughs, Rob Bartlett tells it like it is as he sees the world. If you didn’t catch his act in elementary school, maybe you were privileged to see him in his thirty year adventure on the “Imus in the Morning” radio show from 1987 to 2018. He appeared as a regular writer and performer doing his classic shtick as such personalities as Tom Carvel Artonio Noriega, Shacky Bhula and Buddy Miyagi as well as The Godfather, Andrew Dice Clay, Dr. Phil McGraw, Rush Linbaugh, Larry King, Bill Clinton, Gary Busey, Hulk Hogan, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan and even Yoko Ono and Paula Dean. In addition to his long list of celebrity impressions, Bartlett has added a thirty year favorite Sal Monella whose Brooklyn accent injects a unique flavor into his “Night Before Christmas in Brooklyn” poem. Bartlett, who writes his own material, began his career as a stand-up comic at Richard M. Dixon’s White House Inn, a talent showcase on Long Island. There he fortuitously met Eddie Murphy and he was off and running. Appearing on stage, film and on television and writing television specials, this established professional has succeeded in all aspects of the entertainment world, as his on stage stories will tell in detail. The versatile Mr. Bartlett has done everything from being the voice of Marty the dog in the hit animated children’s show "Kenny the Shark" to being on Broadway in the dual roles of Twimble and Wally Womper in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” starring Daniel Radcliffe. For tickets ($30-35), call Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4575 or online at SevenAngelsTheatre.org or https://www.sevenangelstheatre.org/event/mr-big-shot/ Performances are Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Remember to bring your proof of vaccination and your mask. This multi-media “Robio Remembers” program covers Rob Bartlett’s professional career, the heights and the low points, and everything in-between. Prepare your funny bone and all the 205 other bones for laughter.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

"THE CHINESE LADY" ON DISPLAY AT LONG WHARF THEATRE

Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven is proud to be offering live theatre once again, after such a long hiatus, with the intriguing true tale of a fourteen year old girl from the Guangzhou Province in China who comes to America in 1834. Afong Moy, the youngest of seven children, has no say in this momentous decision and soon finds herself a sideshow attraction. What was to be a two year commitment ultimately lasts for decades, more than five. Until October 31, you are invited into her intimate world as penned by Lloyd Suh and lyrically directed by Ralph B. Pena as you make the acquaintance of a luminous Shannon Tyo as Afong Moy. Living in a virtual box, she soon finds herself satisfying the curiosities of white visitors who have never seen a woman from China before. Afong May is thought to be the first person of Chinese origin to come here. She shows them how she dresses, what she eats, and, most especially, how she is able to walk on feet that have been crippled and bound with silken cord. Afong Moy is regarded as a curiosity, a figure to be studied, an object to be examined. The decades she is put on display as a celebrity take a toll on her image of herself and her exotic ways. In the beginning, she is delighted to share her uniqueness, her chopsticks instead of a fork, her distinctive and colorful clothing, all the vestiges of a life that is rich and culturally different. At her side over the years is her guardian and translator Atung played by Jon Norman Schneider, who cares for her and protects her, especially when she goes on a many city tour, even meeting President Andrew Jackson. She is never asked if this is what she wants with her new life, if she has ambitions that are never realized, whether she wishes to go home to see her family, that she is being exploited and never even paid. This is no grand mission of worldly understanding, This is not a joyful honor of which Afong should feel pride. The playwright skillfully inserts Chinese history into the story as more Chinese come to this country and are abused and mistreated. For tickets ($59), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-693-1486 or online at longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Patrons must show a fully vaccinated card and wear a mask. Follow the fascinating journey of a young Chinese girl as she brings her culture and homeland to our shores.

Monday, October 11, 2021

"ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE" BRINGS FUN AND FROLIC TO THE BUSHNELL

Caribbean casual, coconuts, cheeseburgers, chilling out, charm, comedy, clever catchy tunes and cheer are all characterized in the newest national tour to populate the Bushnell Theater in Hartford. Grab your flip-flops, an island flowered shirt and a frothy frozen drink to get in the leisure mood, from Tuesday, October 12 to Sunday, October 17, as Jimmy Buffett’s “Escape to Margaritaville” lures you to forsake work and play, play, play. Punctuating Buffett’s chatty tunes, the musical comedy is by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley and is semi-auto-biographical in nature. Buffett started out playing for drinks at a bar in Key West, Florida. Now the story is island-bound and revolves around Tully, successfully singing and playing the guitar part-time while he pursues women full-time, whether they want to be caught or not. His latest target is Rachel who is focused on her potato and volcano project and her career and is resistant to his charms. A lack of romantic chemistry and Rachel’s uptight manner do nothing to dissuade Tully from his goal. Meanwhile Rachel’s best friend Tammy is about to be married back home in Ohio and is using her island time to have a last fling and escape her culinary restrictions. She discovers Brick, the bartender, may be the salty rim to her drinking glass. Get your frozen drink, a beach ball, a comfy lounge chair and a Parrothead hat, if you dare, and you’ll be ready for some island time relaxation. Tunes like “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” “License to Chill,” "It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Margaritaville,” “It’s My Job,” “Fins” and “Son of a Son of a Sailor”are sure to have your juices flowing. Kelly Devine designed the fun choreography while Christopher Ashley directs the romantic action. For tickets ($31 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-6000 or online at https://bushnell.org/Shows-Concerts/Escape-to-Margaritaville. 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. Your ticket to fun in the sun in the tropics awaits you.

"A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING" AT GOODSPEED UNTIL NOVEMBER 28

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were a well respected and successful team writing American musical theater, especially during the 1940’s and 1950’s, the “golden age” of that particular genre. They are credited with penning such glorious hits as “Oklahoma,” "Carousel,” “South Pacific,” “The King and I" and “The Sound of Music” as well as the television broadcast of “Cinderella.” Amassing thirty four Tony Awards, fifteen Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes and two Grammy Awards, Rodgers and Hammerstein created a partnership labelled the greatest of the twentieth century. Although Rodgers originally worked with Lorenz Hart and Hammerstein partnered with Jerome Kern, they began collaborating on “Oklahoma,” based on Lynn Riggs' “Green Grow the Lilacs” in 1943, creating what has been termed "a revolution in musical drama.” To be caught up in the magical moments musically created by this popular pair, plan to go to Goodspeed Opera House on the Connecticut River in East Haddam until Sunday, November 28 as the delightful and delicious cabaret “A Grand Night for Singing: A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein” is being offered under a giant multi-colored moon, in a palette of colors to match the mood of the music. These timeless tunes are being reinvented, refreshed and reimagined for this moment, with a new spin and a novel perspective that is sure to engage the audience, one that is so anxious to be enjoying live theater once again. Thanks to director Rob Ruggiero, these old favorites are being redressed in new costumes and attitudes, with romance clearly in the air. The majesty of “This Nearly Was Mine” from “South Pacific” follows the new born joy of “Something Wonderful” from “The King and I” while the dilemma of “I Cain’t Say No” from "Oklahoma” is paired with “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” from “The Sound of Music.” More than thirty grand songs are presented by Jasmine Forsberg, Mauricio Martinez, Mamie Parris, Jesse Nager and Diane Phelan, with Kathryn Boswell and Kevin Schuering as standbys. Tunes like “Hello, Young Lovers” from “The King and I” and “That’s the Way It Happens” from “Me and Juliet” and “All at Once You Love Her” from “Pipe Dream” will introduce you to some of the pairs’ best known and lesser known creations. Favorites like “Honey Bun” from “South Pacific,” "Kansas City” from “Oklahoma,” “Shall We Dance” from “The King and I” and “My Little Girl” from “Carousel” are sure to please. Adam Souza directs the orchestra while Lainie Sakakura is the mistress of choreography. For tickets ($29 and up), call the box office at 860-873-8668 or go online to 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.(with select performances at 6:30 p.m.). Patrons must show their fully vaccinated card and wear a mask. Seating will be socially distanced. Come visualize in your mind pumpkins becoming golden carriages, women washing annoying men out of their hair and surreys sailing by with fringe on top as the imaginative cast brings you into the incredible musical world of Rodgers and Hammerstein. You may want to dance all night.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

DISCOVER AN AWESOME MUSICAL ADVENTURE IN “ANASTASIA”

Princess or pauper is the central puzzle swirling around an orphan girl known as Anya. Adventure, romance and mystery surround a penniless young girl who may just have a secret identity or does she? Is she the perfect and poised princess or the fanciful figment of a fruitful imagination? Come meet Anastasia, the lass whose family is assassinated in a revolt in czarist Russia at the turn of the twentieth century in a glorious musical at the Palace Theater in Waterbury Tuesday, October 19 until Thursday, October 21. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this splendid spectacle of a show. It is magical and momentous and marvelous. Anastasia, better known as Anya, is the delightfully spunky and devoted daughter whose story book childhood is disturbed violently when the peasants revolt and everyone in her family is killed, save for her and her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, who had fortunately traveled to Paris in advance of the siege. Anya is wonderfully charming as the young girl thrust out of her aristocratic upbringing to find herself suddenly sweeping streets, with an empty purse, all alone. Think Eliza Doolittle without the flowers. Two men, Dmitry, and Vlad come upon Anya in her reduced state and determine she would be an excellent candidate to pose as the lost princess, to learn the appropriate facts and pass herself off as The Dowager Empress’s missing heir. Think Professor Higgins and his mate Pickering without the language lessons. While the gentlemen are working to perfect their scheme, the ruthless Russians want to suppress any rumors that Anastasia survived the coup and proceed to plot her death. The Dowager in Paris is protected by her guardian Lily, who dismisses all the imposters who claim to be ready to assume the legacy. Lily’s past relationship with Vlad helps to open the door for Anya to make her claim, and the renewing of that courtship is a delight to witness…one of millions in the musical. One quickly runs out of superlatives to describe the elegant costuming, the elaborate scenic design, with amazing projections and video, the enchanting choreography and the exceptional direction. All the moving parts of this magical musical fit together in a masterful jigsaw puzzle of perfection. This musical boasts a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and the result is joyful. Tunes like “Once Upon a December,” “We’ll Go From There,” “In a Crowd of Thousands,” “Land of Yesterday” and “Everything to Win” swell with meaning. There is even a scene from the ballet “Swan Lake “ to admire and applaud. For tickets ($49 and up), call the Palace, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury at 203-346-2000 or online at www.palacetheaterct.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The show will move to the Shubert Theater in New Haven Friday, October 22 to Sunday, October 24. Call 203-562-5666 or https://my.shubert.com. Hop aboard for the white gloved elegant hit of the season as Anastasia takes you on a journey of adventure and romance that bridges decades and destiny.

"NUNSENSE WITH A TWIST" AT SEVEN ANGELS THEATRE

Are you ready for a little Catholic comedy and habit humor, served in heavenly happiness, then playwright Dan Goggin and Seven Angels Theatre have the perfect fare for you. Until Sunday, October 10, the Little Sisters of Hoboken are offering “Nunsense with a Twist!” and your favorite nuns are quickly off and running for every joke and laugh in the prayer book. The good Little Sisters of Hoboken are being forced to hold a talent show fundraiser as an emergency measure to stave off the imminent visit by the New Jersey Board of Health. As you may or may not remember, their dedicated Chef Sister Julia, Child of God, made an unfortunate soup that caused fifty two nuns to go to God prematurely. Only forty eight were buried properly and, because funds ran out, the last four were stored in the convent freezer. Actually the Reverend Mother bought a giant television and squandered the remaining funds. Hence, the need to quickly raise funds for burial plots. If this hooky and humorous plot line tickles your fancy, then you are prime candidates for Daniel Goggin's highly successful comedy "Nunsense" being irreverently presented at Waterbury's Seven Angels Theatre. He has called upon his memories of elementary religious school, clickers and rulers and all, to fashion his offerings. Come meet the Mother Superior who jealously guards all her chicks and her coterie which includes Sister Robert Anne who is Brooklyn street smart and the driver of the convent van, Sister Mary Leo who is literally always "on her toes" as a wannabe ballerina, the second-in-command Sister Mary Hubert who like Avis keeps trying harder, and, last but not least, Sister Amnesia who lost her marbles and memory when a crucifix fell on her head. These devoted ladies of the cloth will move heaven and earth to provide you with an angelic performance as they sing, dance, tell jokes, provide cooking lessons and even bring out Sister Marionette, all in the service of the Lord to entertain you. No doubt you might identify with this easily "habit forming" pastime. Come see Tom Chute as the esteemed Reverend Mother, Jimmy Donohue as the waiting to be head honcho Sister Mary Hubert, Marissa Follo Perry as the dancing Sister Mary Leo,, Mandy Leigh Thompson as the Brooklyn born Sister Robert Anne and Artistic Director Semina DeLaurentis as Sister Amnesia. Be prepared for a religious quiz or three, with appropriate prizes if you are correct, the perpetual understudy Sister Robert Anne vying for her turn in the spotlight, a country western singing session, a turn of fleet feet doing "Tackle That Temptation with a Time Step" and much much more. For tickets ($30), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org. Performances are Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Prepare to be thoroughly engaged as the Little Sisters of Hoboken kick up their heels and pull out all the stops (and corks from the sacramental wine) to entertain you in heavenly splendor. Be careful, you might be tempted to convert.