Monday, September 17, 2018

“THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG” IS DELICIOUSLY RIGHT









The old adage the “The play must go on,” meaning despite disasters and unforeseen catastrophes, must have had the
new comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong” clearly in mind. Here is slapstick at its best, and worst, with calamities making a mountain of mishaps and it only gets funnier as each predicament occurs.

Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts will be airing this series of seriously hysterical scenes in this Olivier Award for Best Comedy show written by Jonathan Sayer, Henry Lewis and Henry Shields from Tuesday, September 25 to Sunday, September 30.

Turn your clocks back to the 1920’s and watch in disbelief as the Cornley Drama Society attempts to stage a production of “The Murder at Haversham Manor.” Attempt is the operative word as the unpredictable and unanticipated keep occurring. What do you do when your leading lady suffers a concussion? How do you handle a corpse who refuses to stay dead? Why do the sets keep malfunctioning and are in danger of total collapse? Where do the fortifying drinks go as they disappear from sight?

Think what might happen if the stars of “Spamalot" and The Three Stooges conceived a troupe of children. While patently and biologically unthinkable, the end result might be this fall-over funny laugh riot. Mischief is in every one of the delectable details as they go deliciously down the tube.

For tickets ($23-90), call the Bushnell, 166 Capital Avenue, Hartford, at 860-987-5900 or online atwww.bushnell.org. Performances are Tuesday to 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.

While murder is serious business, “The Play That Goes Wrong” definitely is not. Come discover the magic mania for yourself.

CHILDHOOD THROUGH JAUNDICED EYES: "MAKE BELIEVE”




In an ideal world, childhood is a precious commodity where parents protect and cherish their young ones, guaranteeing their safety and growth as they journey toward adulthood. What happens, however, when the parents are derailed and shirk their responsibilities, allowing the kids in their care to flounder on their own and find a balance, if at all possible. Such is the milieu of Bess Wohl’s “Make Believe” holding 
its world premiere at the Hartford Stage until Sunday, September 30.

The inviting 1980’s playroom set created by Antje Ellermann, complete with Cabbage Patch doll, poster of E.T., and toys and games galore, does not even hint at the demons lurking under the curtained fort. Here we find a quartet of children who are without supervision, with nary an adult in sight. There is no after school snack. There is no note of explanation. There is no phone call of reassurance that all is well.

The children Chris (Roman Malenda), Addie (Alexa Skye Swinton), Kate (Sloane Wolfe) and baby Carl (RJ Vercellone), who thinks he is a dog, are abandoned to fend for themselves, playing grown ups, in adisturbing version of what they must hear from their absentee parents. The words are caustic and crude, their actions abusive, their reality terrible to envision. These interactions color the memories they carry into adulthood when, in the second part, they gather in that same room to lay to rest, permanently, one of their own.

You will meet Kate (Megan Byrne), Addie (Molly Ward), Carl (Brad Heberlee) and Chris (Chris Ghaffari) and some of the issues of their youth will be addressed. These children were clearly cheated of the carefree and love enriched promises that should have been theirs to enjoy. As adults, they are still not whole and are still struggling for answers. Now twenty years later, they have returned to “the scene of the crime” to determine where the blame lies, and who the perpetrators and victims are. Jackson Gay directs this involving and difficult
scenario of blame and distrust. Please enter this playroom armed with a strong constitution.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Live and relive the childhoods of these four siblings as they struggle to understand what went wrong in what should have been an idyllic world.

Monday, September 3, 2018

MOVING 9/11 DRAMA, “THE GUYS," COMING TO SCSU



                                                         DAN LAURIA
The date 9/11/2001 is etched in our psyches and never to be erased. Each of us knows where we where that morning when our lives were devastated and permanently impacted by a series of unfathomable tragedies. Playwright Anne Nelson has taken that singular sensation and unthinkable occurrence and humanized it with one story of its overwhelming consequences. On Saturday, September 8 at 8 p.m., John Lyman Center at Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent Street, in New Haven will reveal “The Guys,” a personal reflection on one aspect of grief.

As a fire captain who has lost eight of his colleagues and friends to the tragedy, Nick is paralyzed by the personal trauma, and unable to find the words to eulogize his men, “The Guys.” He turns to Joan, a writer and editor, to help him meet this challenge. Together they discover each man’s remarkable spirit and individual strengths and weaknesses, his talents, his personality, his contributions. The humanity of this small firehouse community is uncovered.

In the process, Nick and Joan learn the intricacies of their own lives, and unlock ways to heal their own heartaches. Being brought together by extraordinary circumstances, they form a bridge of communication. Come meet Dan Laurie as Nick and Wendie Malick as Joan as they struggle to find answers to their grief. This play, a hit off-off Broadway, is soon to be released as a movie starring Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia.

For tickets ($35, students $10), call SCSU box office at 203-392-6154 or online at lymancenter@southernct.edu. A special VIP package for $100 is also available that includes premium seating, post-performance reception on stage, Meet and Greet, photo opportunity and autograph. Proceeds will support SCSU scholarships. Lauria is a graduate of the school.

This true story will touch your heart, with laughter and tears, in its honesty and courage to stand up to a tragedy and call upon the human spirit to overcome all obstacles. Dan Lauria and Wendie Malick will summon their inner strengths to bring this tale of compassion to a triumphant resolution.

THE EDWARDS TWINS: MUCH MORE THAN DOUBLE THE PLEASURE



Imagine a galaxy of stars sparkling and strutting their stuff, under one roof, Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, for two 
shining shows. Imagine all these singing icons wrapped up in the brilliant impersonations, by two men, the Edwards twins.
Legendary showstoppers like Cher, Bette, Dolly, and Barbra will magically appear in front of your eyes and you will be hard 
pressed to tell them from the genuine article.

Saturday, September 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 9 at 2 p.m., a glittering array of your favorite singing sensations 
will be coiffed and costumed to their pearly whites as these two brothers command the stage. Eddie and Anthony Edwards are a unique talent. From the time they were young, born in Burbank, California in 1965, they were fascinated by celebrities. Fortuiously they lived close to the NBC television studios and would sneak into the sets of TV shows being taped and then run home to act out the skits, mimicking the stars. Shows like “Laugh In,” “The Carol Burnett Show” and “The Sonny and Cher Show” became their challenging self-imposed homework assignments.

Now you have the outstanding opportunity to see these personas live and up close and personal. It is credited to Carol Burnett that the two siblings combined their skills on stage, creating so many super stars. With his higher pitched voice, Eddie has assumed the myriad female roles, stunning audiences with his artistic makeup “illusions” while Anthony is the pianist, concentrating on the male side of the show, with Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Elton John and Neil Diamond among his famous faux.

Performing all over the world to great acclaim, the Edwards twins are coming to Waterbury with their beautifully perfected theatrical giftsFor tickets ($50), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Hamilton Park, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online atwww.sevenangelstheatre.org.

Where can you see and enjoy a bevy of your favorite personalities gathered all in one place, thanks to two men who clearly love their idols and want to share them - spectacularly - with you, direct from Las Vegas.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

ROMANCE IS ON HOLD IN “LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST"




JAMES ANDREASSI'S DON ADRIANO WITH HIS PAGE MOTH, BRIANNA BAUCH
PHOTO BY MIKE FRANZMAN


In the Christian faith, Lent is a time, of forty days, to prepare for Easter by forsaking a special desired item as a sign of self-denial.  Forty days is a long time for abstinence.  Imagine, therefore, when King Ferdinand of Navarre and his loyal friends Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville sign a pledge to devote three years to serious study and to abandon the company of women. The ink is barely dry before their vow is severely tested. Into the court of the King come the pretty princess of France and her lovely ladies in waiting and the challenge is clearly afoot.

No one but Will Shakespeare could conjure up such a delightful and humorous premise and he does so with delicious wit in “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” The Elm Shakespeare Company has assembled a handsome production on a palatial set, in the forest of Edgerton Park, on the border of New Haven and Hamden, until Sunday, September 2.  The show begins at 8 p.m. but come early to picnic, with your chairs or blankets, and enjoy the festive music at 7:30 provided by Greasy Jones and the Dirty Pots.

You’ll think you’ve fallen into the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald with Elivia Bovenzi’s colorfully couple coordinated costumes, Izmir Ickbal's imaginative palace set, with a  band on stage, creative choreography by Kaia Monroe Rarick and the innovative direction by Rebecca Goodheart.

This admirable production features Martin Lewis as the ambitious King who pledges with his lords played by Aaron Bartz, Kingston Farady  and Michael Hinton to forsake the feminine form in favor of contemplative studies, to sleep but three hours a night, to eat one meal every other day and to stick to these strict decrees for a mere 1095 days or three years, whichever comes first.
Their lofty goals fly out the window when the winsome women of France arrive, led by Rachel Clausen, and accompanied by Lori Vega, Sasha Mahmoud and Betzabeth Castro. A capable chaperone, Gracy Brown, accompanies and advises the ladies. 

A comic romance also ensues between James Andreassi's love obsessed Don Adriano and Sarah Bowles’ dairy maid Jaquenetta. A special shout out to Brianna Bauch as Moth, who is in service to the overly amorous Don, Benjamin Curns as the poet spouting school teacher and Martin Jason Asprey as the mischievious messenger man. The entire cast provides an exceptional visit into the Bard’s world, especially as it is set in the 1920’s.

 Donations are welcome at the performances, collected by the eager Elm Shakespeare Interns who are learning theater arts. A special fundraiser PUT ON THE RITZ will take place on Thursday, August 30 at Edgerton Park, starting at 5 p.m. with cocktails, buffet and auction.  Tickets start at $75. Call 203-392-8882 or online at www.ElmShakespeare.org.

Enter merrily into the romantic world created by Cupid where the pursuits of education are quickly abandoned as Love 101 is studied and many tests are failed in this comic war of wits. The elegant resolution proves that the Bard knew that “all’s well that ends well."

Monday, August 20, 2018

AN HILARIOUS LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN:“THE UNDERSTUDY”




BRETT DALTON'S JAKE CONFRONTS HIS UNDERSTUDY ERIC BRYANT'S HARRY

PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG

  A spotlight, often harsh and unflattering, is being directed at the angst and agonies of acting, the trials and the triumphs, by playwright Theresa Rebeck in her intimate offering “The Understudy” being showcased at Westport Country Playhouse until Saturday, September 1. “The Understudy” provides a comic look at what it means to be permanently in the wings, word perfect and primed, for a chance at the big time.  For that is the fate of the understudy, ready and willing but unlikely to ever get his chance on stage.

German/Jewish novelist Franz Kafka, whose works were mainly ignored in his lifetime, would seem a strange source of material for a current play on Broadway.  Known for his themes of hopelessness and absurdity, however, one might see the method that playwright Theresa Rebeck found in making a newly discovered Kafka play the skeleton upon which she fleshes out her new comedy. 
Enter from stage left, Harry, not your most eager and grateful actor, so capably neurotic in the hands of Eric Bryant. He doesn’t have a lot of respect for the muscle bound actor he is “covering” for, an action star who commands big bucks but has little legitimate stage quality. Harry, in his opening monologue, manages to disparage the man, Jake, his megabucks movie and the acting profession in general.
Bryant calls the role “theatrical therapy” as it reveals the real struggles and anxieties of actors as they go on stage. He feels there is a supreme powerlessness in acting, as one is constantly begging for a job. His co-stars Brett Dalton who plays Jake and Andrea Syglewski who inhabits the stage manager Roxanne agreed that it is great to be employed, but each role has a beginning and an end. It’s not an easy business. All three agreed that Rebeck depicts their passion, their soul and their bitterness and how saying the lines, on stage, with an audience, is its own reward. Whereas in most plays, actors escape themselves in their characters, this is different. Here they bring their personal neuroses to the job, and have to live in the logic of the lines, and live in the moment. Still they all stated the play offers a window into the actor’s world, why they love it, and the absurdity of it all.

For his part, Jake, a manly Brett Dalton, is also waiting for his major break-through role but is willing to pay his dues and give Kafka a fighting chance. As the two men meet on stage for the first time, it is all stage manager Roxanne can do to prevent them from coming to blows. Yet by the play’s end, they share a significant moment that makes all the struggle supremely worthwhile.

Poor Roxanne, a wonderfully exasperated Andrea Syglowski, has a lot to contend with on her theatrical plate: her star and his understudy have an instant dislike for each other, the understudy is presuming to rewrite the script, both men are eating the props, an unseen light, sound and scenery tech Laura is stoned on drugs, the unseen star Bruce is casting his huge shadow over the rehearsal process and Roxanne quickly discovers the understudy has changed his name and is really her ex-fiancee who jilted her at the altar. What is a girl to do for an encore? David Kennedy mines the play for maximum laughter at the expense of the art of show business.

For tickets ($30 and up), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport, off route 1 at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online atwww.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. 

The show must go on, unless it doesn’t, in this comic behind the curtains look at theater, passions, egos, wounded hearts, warts and all.
ANDREA SYGLOWSKI'S ROXANNE COMES FACE TO FACE WITH HER EX-FIANCEE
ERIC BRYANT'S HARRY    PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG

“SOCIAL SECURITY” IS A REAL LAUGHING MATTER



RUSSELL FISH, LORI FELDMAN, CHRIS BROOKS AND RACHEL WEST-BALLING
IN "SOCIAL SECURITY"
 Ernest Ackerman, a retired motorman from Cleveland, Ohio, became the first person ever to receive a check, on August 16, 1935 for Social Security. He was lucky enough to retire one day after the Social Security program began and he received a check for a whopping 17 cents. Today millions of Americans rely on this monthly check to live on, for food, rent and sundries.

One of those women is Sophie Greengrass who is fortunate enough to live with her daughter Trudy and her accountant husband Martin on Long Island. She also is lucky enough to have another daughter Barbara and her successful art gallery owning husband David who are more than willing to write a check for mama’s care and comfort…as long as she doesn’t invade their luxurious Manhattan apartment and disturb their lovely life style.

The Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin is inviting you to get up close and personal with these families as critical issues are discussed and radical changes are being made, weekends until Saturday, September 22 when Andrew Bergman’s frantic family comedy “Social Security” comes to call. The Avon Lady or the Fuller Brush Man would have been more welcomed.
With an ominous phone call that there is “something to discuss,” sophisticated art gallery owners David (Chris Brooks) and Barbara Kahn(Rachel West-Balling) have the disconcerting sense that their smooth, witty, and well ordered lives are about to irrevocably change. How different they are from the Mineola, Long Island branch, her uptight sister Trudy (Carleigh Cappetta Schultz) and her staid accountant husband Martin (Tony Galli) who are content to be suburbanites, happily overprotecting their daughter Sarah and care taking of mama Sophie (Lori Feldman) at the same time.
So what could be so urgent as to make the stay-at-home Heymans leave their secure nest and venture into the big, bad Big Apple? The couple are the epitome of the “sandwich generation.” Not only do they have to handle all the capricious whims of Sophie, who is hard of hearing, leaves half eaten sour balls everywhere like in the toaster, and needs be catered to, they also have to contend with their only daughter Sarah who seemed to be off to college and becoming sexually active in a menage a trois off campus. What are concerned parents to do? Dump Sophie in Manhattan and fly to Buffalo to rescue Sarah, of course. The plan goes quickly awry when Barbara and David’s best artist client Maurice Koenig (Russell Fish) comes to dinner and meets Sophie in the flesh.

For tickets ($34) 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., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Bring your own goodies or plan to buy treats at the concession stand onsite.

Come discover what half eaten sour balls and gefilte fish have to do with the price of art and sanity when Sophie Greengrass invades Manhattan. Oy Vey!

GO COUNTRY WESTERN WITH PATSY CLINE




                             CARTER CALVERT AS PATSY CLINE

 From the moment Louise Seger first heard the magical voice of Patsy Cline on The Arthur Godfrey Show on the radio way back in 1957, she recognized a soul mate and began a life long worship of this country western singer. If you share even a modicum of Louise’s affection and joy, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to hog heaven when you experience the fine production of ”Always…Patsy Cline” created by Ted Swindley at the Sharon Playhouse in Sharon, CT until Sunday, September 2. You are guaranteed to find a lot to love about this energetic and warm hearted romp into Grand Ole Oprey Land.
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. Louise is being brought to enthusiastic life by Alison Arngrim. Four years later, when Cline comes to Louise’s hometown of 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 Carter Calvert 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.” Alison Arngrim is a smart talking, adoring Louise and the friendship between the two is a joy to behold. The band rocks the rafters, including Eric Thomas Johnson as musical director with Bruce Carlson, Roger Cohen, Elizabeth Handyman, Mike Lee and Steve Siktberg. Alan M-L Wager directs all the country western doings in fine style. 
For tickets ($15 and up), call the Sharon Playhouse, 49 Amenia Road, Sharon at 860-364-7469 or online atwww.Sharonplayhouse.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 3 p.m. Mark your calendars for a special Spotlight Gala on Saturday, September 8 when the Sharon Playhouse features Broadway stars Andrea McArdle and Donna McKechnie in a celebration of the music of Marvin Hamlisch and Stephen Sondheim. Cocktails and a light supper at 6 p.m. in the Book Gallery, followed at 7:30 p.m. with a performance in the Playhouse and culminating at 8:45 p.m. with a Meet and Greet Champagne Reception on the patio,
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.

Monday, August 13, 2018

WONDERFUL MUSICALS OFFERED FOR SUMMER FUN



THE BEEHIVE STARS SINGING THEIR 60'S SONGS AT SEVEN ANGELS

If your hair is shellacked to an inch of an Egyptian pyramid and piled high like a Dairy Queen ice cream cone, you are clearly sporting a beehive hairdo. No need to visit your stylist because Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury is offering a grand musical tour of the 1960’s, with historical commentary, until Sunday, August 19, “Beehive The 60’s Musical."

 Come swing and sing with Amy Bentley, Brittany Mulcahy, Chelsea Dacey, Samantha Rae Bass, Erin West Reed and Patricia Paganucci as they play teenyboppers in a swirl of pastel prettiness. All your favorites from the past, like Brenda Lee to Petula to Connie Francis and Tina Turner, the beat goes merrily along. These gals move with enthusiasm and energy as they deliver tunes like an exploding jukebox for your listening pleasure. 

  Favorites such as “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Respect,” “It’s My Party,” “Where the Boys Are,” and “You Don’t Own Me “ are vocally energized as the platters spin. With almost three dozen tunes in all, you are sure to hear all the ones you treasure from the past and maybe learn a new line or three. As they sing, Erin keeps up a running monologue about current events, from JFK’s assassination to the civil rights movement to the invasion by the Beatles and women advancing their cause. 

 For tickets ($30) to this creation by Larry Gallagher, directed and choreographed by Foster Reese, call the Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Hamilton Park, Waterbury at (203)757-4676 (off I-84). Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Come rock one fine day and discover where the boys are downtown when you make your own kind of music
 If you are into the 60’s scene, then Seven Angels has another special night for you as “The Sixties Show” comes to the stage on Saturday, August 25 at 8 p.m.. Billed as the Greatest 1960’s Re Creation Show in the World,” it is sure to transport you on a magical journey back in time to the hottest hits of the era, complete with narration and film clips. The members of the band are all rock ’n roll royalty and have played with all the greatest like Sir Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, The Bee Gees, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen, to name drop just a few. Tickets are $47.50. Don’t miss it!

  If you are still ready to groove, bop on over to Ivoryton Playhouse for a few great dance lessons as that singular sensation “A Chorus Line” struts its fancy footwork, revealing true stories of dancers as they audition for a new Broadway musical and perfect their talents. Michael Bennett gets full credit for the original idea, direction and choreography, with book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban. “A Chorus Line” takes you into the hearts, minds and bodies of Broadway wannabes who are at a cattle call to find eight dancers for a brand new musical. The hopefuls are soon pared down to seventeen in number, all praying “I Hope I Get It.” 

 You will feel their angst and anxiety, their trepidation and terror, their enthusiasm and energy, their joy and jubilation as they open up their inner soul to convince the director that they deserve a chance. Dancing is their life and they cannot conceive of a world without it. This production showcases Schuyler Beeman, Grant Benedict, Ronnie Bowman Jr., Andee Buccheri, Cory Candelet, James Falcon, Stephanie Genito, Sam Given, Joey Lucherini, Amanda Lupacchino, Natalie Madlon, Alexa Racioppi, Jared Starkey, Max Weinstein, Kayla Starr Bryan, Matthew Carp, Dakota Hoar, Liv Kurtz, Lina Lee, Jennifer Roberts, Edward Stanley, Cassidy Terracciano, Lili Thomas, Sarah Warrick and Carl Zurhorst. 

The production is directed and choreographed by Todd L. Underwood and musical directed by Michael Morris, with set design by Martin Scott Marchitto, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Kate Bunce. On August 20, Sam Given will show off his alter ego in a cabaret special as Millie Grams: “Don’t Make Me Over.” Tickets are $25, 7:30 p.m., for ages 18 and over.

"A Chorus Line" runs through September 2. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Additional matinee performances are on Saturday, August 18 and Saturday, September 1. 

Tickets are $55 for adults; $50 for seniors; $25 for students and $20 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website atwww.ivorytonplayhouse.com.

Stand in a line next to each hopeful as they try to prove they deserve their chance in the spotlight and explain poignantly or humorously what each did for love..

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A TRIBUTE TO MARVIN HAMLISCH “MARVIN AND ME” AT MTC




                                             MARVIN HAMLISCH

When it came to racking up awards, nobody quite did it better than composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch.  To his credit
are Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tonys as well as a Puitizer Prize for Drama for “A Chorus Line.” His magical musical touch can be heard in the tunes sung by Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli who all sang at his memorial service in September 2012.  At the 2013 Academy Awards, Streisand shared “The Way We Were” in his memory.

A tribute to the man and his music is slated for one special evening on Saturday, August 18 at 8 p.m. at Music Theatre of Connecticut  and you are invited to join the celebration.  Part of MTC’s Hot Summer Night Cabaret Series, “Marvin and Me” will feature Valerie Lemon, his signature singer for a dozen years.  She will expand her one-woman show especially for this unique event, a production written for her by Hamlisch himself.

Marvin’s widow Terri Blair Hamlisch will add her personal treasure trove of stories about her husband’s career, his musical journey and their special life together.  These intimate tales will be enhanced by a series of film clips, a quartet of Broadway stars including Raissa Katona Bennett, Patrick Ludt and Shana Farr, featured guest appearances by pianist Phil Hall and musical director J. Ernest Green, and a 16-voice chidren's choir of MTC students.

The evening may include such hits as “The Way We Were,” “Nobody Does It Better,” “The Sting,” "Through the Eyes of Love,”
“What I Did For Love,” "Surprise, Surprise “ and “I Finally Found Someone.”  For tickets ($65, 75), call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk, behind 9 West Shoes, at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com.

Let the music and the man fill an evening with joy as MTC salutes Marvin Hamlisch and his contributions.  Nobody did it better.


Monday, August 6, 2018

FOLLOW THE PARADE OF AFRICAN ANIMALS TO THE BUSHNELL








For more than two decades," Disney’s The Lion King” has fascinated children and adults alike and now it is coming to Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Arts for three weeks until Sunday, August 19, Don’t miss this spectacular theatrical event that follows the story of a baby lion cub Simba as he learns about life on the African savannah from his parents as he prepares to be King of the Jungle.The intriguing role of the young lion prince is shared by Joziyah Jean-Felix and Salahedin Safi, rambunctious as a young pup as each tries on the mantle of leadership and tests his limitations.

The role of Simba’s best friend Nala is shared by Danielle W. Jalade and Gloria Manning, as each investigate their own adventure into forbidden territory, the land in the dark shadows in the elephant graveyard, lured there by Simba’s menacing and jealous uncle Scar, a diabolical Mark Campbell. As brother of the King Mufasa, a caring Gerald Ramsey, Scar is on a mission to destroy Mufasa, and also Simba, so he can ascend Pride Rock as ruler.

This incredible musical extravaganza is stuffed with color and creativity. The masks, costumes and puppetry have to be seen to be believed as the aisles and the stage are filled with elephants, giraffes, gazelles, ostriches, flying birds, a rhinoceros, hyenas, lions and even a lovable warthog named Pumbaa created by Ben Lipitz or William John Austin and his best pal Timon created by Robbie Swift. A lot of the humor can be found in the opinionated Zazu, a bird feathered well in the hands of Greg Jackson.

After a frightening incident orchestrated by Scar, the young Simba runs away, meets Pumbaa and Timon, and returns as a fully grown adult lion, strongly created by Jared Dixon. He is reunited with his childhood pal Nala, now grown into the lovely Nia Holloway who convinces Simba to challenge Scar for his rightful place as monarch. Elton John and Tim Rice deserve credit for music and lyrics, with book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi. Julie Taymor is responsible for much of the costume and puppetry magic as well as directing this feast of fur and feathers. The incredible choreography is due to the talents of Garth Fagan.

For tickets ($30 and up ), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell,.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and8 p.m. and sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

You will feel the love tonight as you join the circle of life and let Mukelisiwe Goba’s Rafiki guide you into this mysterious and magical world where the kingdom of magnificent African animals roam free.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

NEW TALE (TAIL) AT THROWN STONE THEATRE COMPANY



SCENES FROM  "WHERE ALL GOOD RABBITS GO"



Everyone knows rabbits have long fluffy ears and enjoy munching on carrots.  They like to hop and visit Mr. MacGregor’s garden and even deliver Easter eggs on occasion.  What you may not realize that in the fantasy
world created by playwright Karina Cochran, rabbits are also what a human can transform into in her intriguing play “Where All Good Rabbits Go” that recently, from July 20 to August 4, was aired for interesting exploration at
Ridgefield’s new and innovative Thrown Stone Theatre Company.  The company is housed at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance at 444 Main Street.

We all struggle with death and watching helplessly as a loved one or friend copes with an illness like cancer or Alzheimer’s or a sudden accident. How much more comforting it might be to know we never die but hop into
 another world, a nether world, known as the Sacred Green Space, and possibly wile away our eternal days residing in a cabbage patch?

Fashion designer Julia, a loving Alexandra Bazan, has been married for a trio of happy years to Walter, a hard working lettuce farmer played by Jason Peck.  One morning their comfortable life stye is dramatically interrupted when Walter discovers he has grown a bushy rabbit’s tail overnight.  Since his father has transformed into a bunny years before, the inevitable seems to be written on the hutch’s door.

Fortunately Julis’s brother Dorn, a good doctor played by Mike Boland, can be consulted for help with treatment. He orders tests and offers advice, but, ultimately can provide no more consolation than a homemade casserole.
We witness Walter’s complete change and the coping methods both husband and wife employ to soften the outcome, When Julia cuddles a live bunny, her new Walter, it is tragically sincere.

Brittany Bland’s water color projections and Fufan Zhang’s black and white scenic designs offer a unique perspective to this process of loss in this bittersweet fable.  Cyrus Newitt directs this  comedy/drama with sensitive hands and heart 
for its East Coast premiere.

While it is too late to catch the rabbit trail, watch Thrown Stone Theatre Company for another innovative and thought provoking evening of theater in Ridgefield,

Monday, July 30, 2018

“HAND TO GOD” A DARK COMEDY THAT TESTS THE FAITHFUL









There’s a new play about puppets in town and you’re invited. If you are thinking the mild mannered Kermit and Miss Piggy, think again seriously. Don’t even give a thought to Princeton, the college educated puppet who resides on 
“Avenue Q.” This is a different breed entirely. Come meet Tyrone, if you dare, the possessed alter ego of a young, confused teenage boy named Jason who is still in
 the grips of dealing with his father’s sudden death a mere six months ago.

TheaterWorks of Hartford is offering an extremely up close and personal introduction to Jason’s world in Robert Askins’s dark comedy “Hand to God” until Sunday, August 26. Set in a church basement, in rural Texas, “Hand to God” is like no
 biblical tale or sermon you’ve ever heard before. Irreverent is putting it mildly.

Nick LaMedica’s Jason masterfully commands and controls his own role as well as that of his out-of-control puppet Tyrone and is not happy to be stuck in the church
 puppet club run by his mother. While he enjoys being geographically close to Maggie Carr’s Jessica, a girl he fantasizes about, he is equally unhappy to be in the 
same room with Timmy, a sarcastic and overbearing Miles G. Jackson.

Jason’s mom Margery, a frustrated and conflicted Lise Velten Smith, tries her best to lead the group but is clearly drowning in the attempt. The amorous and unwanted
advances of Pastor Greg, an ingratiating Peter Benson, are not helping. As Tyrone takes over Jason’s troubled soul, becoming obsessed with sin, sex and Satan, and 
developing a hunger for human flesh, (think of the carnivorous plant in “Little Shop of Horrors”), the church becomes the site for ungodlike behavior. There is humor 
tucked neatly into the shocking occurrences.

Tracy Brigden directs this foray into religion’s darker sides, where evil tries hard to triumph over good. Luke Cantarella is responsible for designing a variety of revolving and intriguing sets that showcase Stephanie Shaw’s collection of puppets.

For tickets ($45-70), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.twhartford.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 
at 7:30 p.m, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and matinees weekends at 2:30 pm.

Hold on to your rosary beads as Tyrone with a little help from Jason takes you on a bumpy ride to limbo and beyond.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

“TOSCA” HIGHLIGHTING OPERA THEATER OF CT’S 33RD SEASON





Kyle Swann leads Zhiguang Hong (Scarpia) and the Tosca ensemble in the Act I finale, Te Deum.
 
Murder, suicide and torture are not the likeliest subject matter for an opera, but for Giacomo Puccini they were the perfect trio for his dramatic and fascinating “Tosca.” Add to those themes jealousy, romance and passion and you have a complete recipe for drama. Debuting on the first days the twentieth century, and set a hundred years earlier, “Tosca” was not an immediate success although it was soon viewed as powerful and inventive. 

You have the opportunity to get reacquainted with its masterful themes, or to encounter it for the first time, as Opera Theater of Connecticut celebrates its 33rd season with this Puccini favorite on Tuesday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. (followed by a traditional opening night reception), Thursday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m, Saturday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 12 at 6 p.m. Sung in Italian, with supertitles in English, the performances will be held at Andrews Memorial Theater, 54 East Main Street in Clinton.

The epitome of dramatic art, “Tosca” tells the tale of a renowned female opera singer, Tosca, who is in love with the painter Cavaradossi, but consumed with jealousy. While painting a portrait of a famous lady in a Roman church, Tosca accused her lover of having an affair with his model. He denies it. Meanwhile a fugitive Angelotti has escaped prison and appeals to the painter, his old friend, to hide him from the police, headed by the despicable Scarpia and his henchmen Spoletta and Sciarrone.

As Napoleon is defeated, Cavaradossi helps Angelotti hide in a well at his villa. Soon after Scarpia appears and confronts Tosca, convincing her that a woman’s fan he has found belongs to Cavaradossi’s new lover. His men follow Tosca to find Cavaradossi and torture him, hoping to discover Angelotti’s hiding place. Scarpia bargains with Tosca to give herself to him to save her painter’s life. To prevent being captured, Angelotti has killed himself. Tosca in turn kills Scarpia to save herself and Cavaradossi. The promised fake execution becomes all too real and Tosca flings herself over the parapet once she realizes her lover is dead. Heroes, heroines and villains, no one survives this epic tale of romance and politics and ill fated dreams.

Production Director Alan Mann is excited to bring back this thrilling production that hasn’t been performed for a decade here. “Tosca” has a “big appeal and when we realized that three principals from our production of “Carmen” two years ago were available, Rochelle Bard our bel canto soprano to play the beautiful Tosca, tenor Daniel Juarez as her lover Cavaradossi and Chinese baritone Zhiguang Hong as the powerful and ominous head of the secret police Scarpia, we were all set.” Mann explained that these are mature roles for the singers to embrace. “The singers are deep in their roles and will debut them here and be able to add them their repertoire.”

The rehearsals are going well and Mann is busy selecting projections and videos to use as background to establish the settings and support the performance. One circumstance that he is proud to confide is that this is a multi-ethnic cast, international in its scope. While not deliberate, the fact that it just happened is great, with two singers from China, a few of Mexican descent, and one from Romania. According to General Director Kate Ford, “This is like the United Nations. We even have one singer who is a native of Madison, Connecticut and two girls in the chorus whose dad is a Cardinal in the show for a family connection. Our Cavaradossi, Daniel Juarez, even has his two sons in the chorus.”

Also in this amazingly talented cast are Ricky Feng Nan as the menacing Spoletta, Michael McAvoy as the henchman Sciarrone, Luke Scott as the escaped prisoner Angelotti and Laurentiu Rotaru as the comic Sacristan. Kate Ford describes it as “a memorable opera, illuminating the conflicts between purity of heart, love of country and lust for power.” Extra enhancements include a large and rousing chorus, incredible period costumes and a 26 piece orchestra under the direction of Kyle Swann.

Tickets are $55, $50.00 for seniors and $30.00 for students. Call 860-669-8999 and inquire about out special price of $40 per ticket for a group of 8 or more people with the organizer of the group attending the show for free! Once again boxed suppers al fresco style from Chips Pub III are available through the Opera Theater of Connecticut office for $15.00 and must be ordered in advance. .A pre-opera talk by the Artistic Director, Alan Mann is $5.00 and will take place before the production to enhance your understanding..For more information or to order your tickets, visit the web sitewww.operatheaterofct.org.

Pucciniand passion unite to make this production truly memorable. 

SACRED HEART UNIV. THEATRE ARTS DOES GREAT “GODSPELL"




Sunday school was never like this but maybe it should be.  Thanks to Stephen Schwartz for music and lyrics and John-Michael Tebelak  for the book, “Godspell” is an exuberant musical about Jesus and his followers. To polish your parables, motivate your morals and stimulate your acts as a good samaritan, then the Sacred Heart University Theatre Arts Program had  just the musical to get you moving this past weekend. 
This lively troupe performed a series of skits, sketches, stories, songs and dances that were wrapped in a cloak of the gospel of St. Matthew, all the while  energetically cavorting with joy.  Like a rock concert and revival meeting combined, these eleven performers took the audience along as they provided lessons on how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and how to guarantee you get through the Pearly Gates.  A dynamic Jesus, captured by Zachary Thomson Lane, was amazing as the humble son of God who has much to teach and only a short time to make his message heard.
On a playground set complete with a see-saw, the cast was in perpetual motion as they demonstrated the good and the bad ways to worship the Lord and to behave to one’s fellow man and one’s family.Thanks to director Jim Schilling and his creative touches, they performed all the lessons that Jesus wanted to teach, like making peace with your brother, judging not lest you be judged, treating peopleas you want to be treated, doing good deeds in secret and lighting up the world.  
 The glorious words of “Day By Day” that pray for one to see and love and follow God was one of the high points of the show.  These musical gifts were presented by Jake Doble, Hannah Jones, Delaney Lynch, Jordan Norkus, Courtney O’Shea, Stachakay Silvers, Tori Vacca, Serge Valcourt, Mike Villanueva and Justin Weigel.
The spirit  definitely moved you as you rejoiced in the words and the deeds that were sprinkled like seeds in a fertile field, for you to gather and enjoy.

Monday, July 23, 2018

BE CAREFUL OPENING THE DOOR TO “OUR HOUSE”




                                          THE CAST OF "OUR HOUSE"


Since the average American household could afford it after World War II, the television has steadily increased its influence on its viewers, whether it is Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, the Ed Sullivan Show, 60 Minutes, Sunday Morning or American Idol. The viewing public makesits decisions based on what appears on the screen from morning to night. We watch avidly the drama of political tweets unfolding as well as the fate of a dozen boys and their soccer coach in a Thailand cave.

With her own personal stash of experience in the world of television, playwright Theresa Rebeck has fashioned a play that examines the obsession some, like couch potato Merv, have with “the tube,” the active dislike others like the purist Alice have with the “instrument of the devil,” the producers like Wes who want to control the air waves at his station and his star news correspondent Jennifer who is the face of his station. The Hole in the Wall Theater in New Britain is airing this controversial reflection on our culture, the good or evil of TV, weekends until Sunday, August 4.

Michael Serignese’s Wes runs his network like a dictator, often out of control, vitriolic with four letter words, but incredibly protective of the weapon he views as his key to the top, Suomia Dode’s Jennifer Ramirez. He demands her loyalty, even as he entertains a sexual relationship with her, making her the lead anchor of the morning news. While his second in command of the news William Moro’s Stu raises objections, Wes decides to share Jennifer with his novel idea, making her the voice of a reality show. He even wants her to share the interactions of the faces of the reality show on the morning news.

Meanwhile in St. Louis, the obsessive Merv drinks up Jennifer’s new role. He can’t put down the remote long enough to do his share of the chores at the house he shares with Alice (Dina Addorisio), Vince (Alan Burkholder) or Grigsby (Shawna Pelletier) or pay his overdue four months of rent or even replace the food he eats that belongs to the other roommates. 

Before you can say Walt Disney three times fast, the two stories collide and the news room meets Merv’s living room in an unexpected turn that is alarming and dangerous to all participants. Can Merv be talked down from the tower of terror he has created by his savior Jennifer? Will there be casualties from this confrontation? Ryan Wantroba directs this current debate over our air waves and the influences it exerts on our opinions and beliefs with a steady hand.

For tickets ($20, senior and student $15), call The Hole in the Wall Theater, 116 Main Street, New Britain at 860-229-3049 or online at www.hitw.org. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 22 at 2 p.m.

Come witness how a television remote control and a container of Greek yogurt ignite a firestorm of protest.

GLORIOUS "OLIVER!” AT GOODSPEED MUSICALS






THE CAST OF "OLIVER!" SINGING "FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD"
PHOTO BY DIANE SOBOLEWSKI



A humble, sincere and polite request from a poor orphan boy for a second helping of gruel, “please, sir, I want some more,” starts a series of events that affect the lad in question, one hungry Oliver Twist. Those adventures, that speed along like a roller coaster ride, are captured in their entirety by Lionel Bart’s wonderful family musical ”Oliver!” taking center stage at Goodspeed Musicals, now extended by popular demand until Thursday, September 13. Based on the Charles Dickens story, it is set in England in the 1830’s and Dickens wanted to highlight the deplorable conditions children faced when they were forced to earn a living, as he hoped to change child labor laws.




When Oliver has the audacity to ask, politely, for another bowl of gruel, his reward is to be booted out of his pitiful workhouse home and sold by Mr. Bumble (Richard R. Henry) and his soon-to-be wife the Widow Corney (Joy Hermalyn). The lad soon finds himself in the employ of a Mr. Sowerberry (Jamie LaVerdiere) and his sour wife (Karen Murphy), the owners of a funeral parlor and made to be a child mourner following the caskets through the streets.

Have no fear, for the lad in question, one resourceful Oliver Twist, a heart stealing Elijah Rayman, soon runs away and lands, for better or worse, in a den of enterprising thieves. He has been rescued off the streets by a resourceful Artful Dodger, Gavin Swartz, who introduces Oliver to the art of pick pocketing and the gang of thieves headed by a genial Donald Corren as Fagin, a kind hearted Nancy, a nurturing EJ Zimmerman, and a terrifying Brandon Andrus as Bill Sikes who is proud to have fear as his middle name. 


  The troupe of young thieves takes Oliver in but he is soon caught in the act and his fate bounces around like a ping-pong ball in a fast game of table tennis. A compassionate Mr. Brownlow (James Young), Oliver’s first victim, gives Oliver a second chance but the long dark shadow of Bill Sikes looms large.

Thanks to an energetic and talented cast our spunky hero overcomes all obstacles, buying himself a beautiful morning and a wonderful life. Fagin does a fine job “Reviewing the Situation,” Oliver sings a soulful “Where is Love?” and Nancy declares her faithfulness to Bill in “As Long As He Needs Me." Be aware that there are many dark moments that may be inappropriate for young children. Rob Ruggiero directs this adventurous tale with skill and compassion, with spirited musical direction by Michael O’Flaherty and lively choreography by James Gray.

For tickets ($29 and up ), call Goodspeed Musicals at 860-873-8668 or visit the website atwww.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday 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.

Join Oliver Twist in a London of more than a century and a half ago as he learns the fine art of being a thief from the master himself, Fagin, and his right hand boy The Artful Dodger. Witness that despite the dark shadows, Oliver finds hope and love and happiness. Consider yourself part of the family!