Sunday, April 22, 2018

YOU’LL LOVE “AS YOU LIKE IT” AT UCONN



BRALEY DEGENHARDT AS CELIA AND ALEX CAMPBELL AS ROSALIND
PHOTO BY GERRY GOODSTEIN


Are you an outdoor person? Are you fearless and daring?  Do you like adventure and are you a sucker for a good love story complete with complications?  Is Will Shakespeare one of your favorite playwrights? If you answered yes to all of the above, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the University of Connecticut has the perfect vehicle for your entertainment pleasure, but only until Sunday, April 29 at the Jorgensen Theatre, so hop right on it.


The merry woods of Arden Forest are welcoming you to forgo caution and run straight in for an amazing experience.  No need to pack camping equipment because everything is already there waiting for you to partake.  Here’s the deal.  Two pretty and sweet cousins Rosalind, an outstandingly gifted Alex Campbell, and Celia, a devoted Braley Degenhardt, find themselves unjustly banished to the forest by a mean spirited Duke Frederick (Jonathan Croy), Celia’s unreasonable papa.  He has already sent Rosalind’s father, his brother, off to ‘Arden after taking his estates and unfairly punishing him.  The court jester Touchstone, a versatile Nikolai Fernandez, accompanies them on their quest.

Once in the forest of Arden, Rosalind disguises herself as a lad Ganymede for protection. In that guise, she rediscovers a comely dude Orlando, a manly Nick Nudler, a youth she fell in love with while in Frederick’s court when he fought and defeated the Duke’s favorite fighter Charles (Anthony Giovino).  Not recognizing her, Orlando uses Ganymede  to practice on with his poems of love for Rosalind, which he prints on every tree. Meanwhile Touchstone gets giddy with the shepherd girl Audrey (Gillian Rae Pardi), she of the adorable lambs and goats, the maiden Phebe (Sierra Kane) is actively pursued by Silvius (Sebastian Nagpal) and even Celia finds romance in the unlikely arms of Oliver (Bryan Mittelstadt), Orlando’s not-so-nice brother.

Thanks to director Kristin Wold, the production is stuffed with imaginative and musical touches that make the Bard’s comedy especially memorable. For tickets ($31-35, student $10), call 860-486-2113 or go online at wwwcrt.uconn.edu. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

In the pastoral pleasure fields of Arden Forest, you’re sure to discover the madness of love in all its varied complexions as traitors and teasers and poets and fools roam freely in merriment and mayhem that is sure to delight.


Monday, April 16, 2018

A STORY WITHIN A STORY IN “THE REVISIONIST” AT PLAYHOUSE ON PARK



CECILIA RIDDETT'S MARIA AND CARL HOWELL'S DAVID
PHOTO BY CURT HENDERSON
If you earn your living composing poetry, penning prose or dispensing literature, experiencing a writer’s block can be a crippling concern.  If your muse is gone and you’ve hit the wall, you might be desperate enough to try anything to coax the words back.  If you are a young American man named David, you might pack a bag, hop a plane and seek the inspiration of a complete change of scenery in the company of a relative even if you haven’t see her in decades,  That is what desperation can feel like.

West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park is encouraging you to climb into David’s head as you watch Jesse Eisenberg’s unusual journey “The Revisionist,” the New England premiere of a puzzling drama being offered until Sunday, April 29.  Carl Howell’s David has a deadline to meet and he’s already six weeks late.  He has rejected a cabin in the woods and writing retreats as possible solutions to his dilemma.  He must revise a science fiction book he has written, “Mindreader,” that comments on society and the real world. An escape , at a cousin’s small apartment in Poland, seems  to be the answer he seeks.

Cecilia Riddett’s Maria is ready to welcome David with open arms.  A little sprite of a woman, she craves family and can’t wait to spoil him with a roasted chicken dinner (he’s a vegetarian), a tour of the city (he’s too busy) and stories about all the family portraits that grace her walls (he knows none of their shared relatives).

To say David is ungrateful, selfish and rude and unappreciative of her efforts is an understatement, yet Maria cheerfully keeps trying.  She even invites her friend Zenon (Sebastian Buczyk) to come and help her in her desire to make David feel loved.  For a lady who holds family so dear, Maria finds it hard to understand David’s apathy.  She is delighted he has “come to bring blood back into the house,” and she is even kind to the telemarketers who continually call on the phone,

Sasha Bratt directs this intriguing encounter that reveals who the true revisionist is in the stories being told.  For tickets ($25-40), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-623-5900 ext 10 or online at www.PlayhouseOnPark.org.  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Upcoming events include a Play Reading on Tuesday, April 24 ($10),  the 19th Annual Mayor’s Charity Ball on Saturday, May 12, a cool kids musical “Polkadots” May 12-20, a Comedy Night on Saturday, May 19 ($15) and a Young Professionals Night Out onThursday, June 28 from 6-7 p.m. ($20) during the running of “In the Heights” (June 13-July 29). 

You may find yourself revising the whole meaning of your family members after a visit with David and Maria and Zenon.  A stiff glass of vodka may help.

TIME IS TICKING FOR THE LEONARDO CHALLENGE APRIL 26


    

                SUSAN CLINARD'S INTERNAL CALENDAR
   


DELARI JOHNSTON AND KEITH MURRAY'S THE TIME WARP CREW
Alice in Wonderland’s friend the White Rabbit  was often heard muttering “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date.” In this case, the date in question is Thursday, April 26 and the time to arrive is 5:30 p.m.  The occasion is the 24th Annual Leonardo Challenge which this year is the intriguing query “Capturing Time.”

Time is an elusive quantity, but how would our world and our lives operate without it? We wear watches, we wake to alarm clocks, we measure moments and minutes practically 24/7, we refer to the sun and the moon to distinguish day from night.  We even manipulate sunlight and darkness twice a year with Daylight Saving Time.

The Eli Whitney Museum and Workshops, 915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden is encouraging one hundred artists from across the country to explore the fascinating dimensions of time in a myriad of creative ways by designing a piece of jewelry, a mobile, a toy, a painting, an article of clothing, a chair or table, all to honor that greatest of inventors Leonardo da Vinci and, at the same time, raise valuable funds for children’s scholarships and year round educational activities to hopefully produce the inventive and spirited minds of the future.

According to Sally Hill, the museum’s Associate Director and designer of each year’s invitation and exhibit displays,  "We realized early on, that artists almost always 'solved' the Challenge in their own 'language.'Painters painted, sculptors worked 3 dimensionally, photographers used their cameras...etc.This theme of time, it's tricky. It's just gigantic if you try to look at it in general. But if you  think of it in terms of how you personally experience time, we hoped it would be manageable. And people will come up with all kinds of things you'd might not consider –  perhaps ever – in your own experience.''

She has already received a few entries to this year’s program,  a sublime piece from Susn Clinard, Internal Calendar and four Dolls from the Rocky Horror Show, The Time Warp, a pure joyous piece contributed by Delari Johnston and Keith Murray.  According to Sally Hill, these two pieces accurately describe the whimsical nature of the evening.  Sally, herself always submits a lamp and another contribution to the event, one she usually collaborates with another artist to complete.

While single tickets are $75, categories exist for more generous supporters from Galileo at $250 to the Doctor at $5000, each with appropriate incentives to participate.  For more information, call the museum at 203-777-1833 or go online at www,eliwhitney,.org.

Culinary delights will be courtesy of Doug Coffin’s Kitchen and the Big Green Truck Pizza, the delicious cheeses from the fromagerie Caseas, the old world creations of Whole G’s artisan bakers, the organic fare of Small Kitchen, Big Taste, and the libations from Caseus’s Blackhog Brewery and Koffee and special Koffee cocktails.

These can all be enjoyed while you explore all the timeless creations by the artists that you can bid on and, hopefully, taken home.  All the entries will be on display for the public for two weeks after the fundraising party.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

CT GAY MEN’S CHORUS MUSICALLY SALUTES MEN AND BOYS




It’s not just Rice Krispies that snap, crackle and pop. The Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus has the same grooves, sparkle and sizzle and its upcoming spring concert is no exception. The Theater of the CoOp located in the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School at 177 College Street in New Haven will be the exuberant site of its latest and greatest, a tribute to the iconic and favorite boy bands of recent momentum and memory.

On Saturday, April 28 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 29 at 4 p.m., this delightful guy group will salute “Oh Boy!: The Best of the Boy Bands.” Whether you swoon over The Five Satins or The Jackson Five, Boys ii Men or The Back Street Boys, NSYNC or One Direction, The Jonas Brothers or The Beatles, the CGMC’s dance card is sure to be filled with some if not all of your greatest hits.

According to Artistic Director Greg McMahan, “Our boy band theme has allowed us to explore an incredible variety of musical genres - a gorgeous, heartbreaking ballad one minute followed by an infectious pop song that you grew up with  that you can’t get out of your head!  I know our audiences will gasp with delight to hear their favorites being recreated live on stage by our performers.  I mean, what other chance do you get to hear a Monkees favorite on the same bill with one of Ricky Martin’s megabits?  There’s definitely something for everyone!”

For tickets ($25-30), call the CGMC at 203-777-2923 or online at www.ctgmc.org.

Imagine a three or five member boy band magically expand in volume to a chorus of 30 members strong as these guys croon their hearts and souls out to bring you pleasure. With the moves and the music and the male mojo, this creative reunion of the best of the best is sure to be “one sweet day” with “no strings attached” that will go “step by step” to guarantee “they’ll make it beautiful."


OPERA THEATER OF CT PRESENTS LOVE TRIANGLE



The stage is set for murder, fueled by jealousy and infidelity, in a dramatic opera narrated by a clown.  Opera Theater of Connecticut will present Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci,” originally performed in Milan in 1892.  Now set in the Little Italy section of a large American city, it will be 
filled with passion and problems of the heart at the Andrews Memorial Theater, 54 East Main Street, Clinton on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 21 at 3 p.m.

Opera Theater of CT is now expanding its programming to the spring.  Kyle Swann will conduct with Jill Brunelle on piano. Sung in Italian with English supertitles projected overhead, prepared by Artistic Director Alan Mann, Mann will also offer a special half hour Opera Talk before each performance at 60 minutes before curtain that is sure to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the piece.

Daniel Juarez, tenor, will play the jealous husband Canio who suspects his wife Nedda, performed by soprano Rachele Schmiege, of being unfaithful to him.  Luke Scott will sing the role of Tonio, a baritone, the clown an unsuccessful lover who seeks revenge and plots murder while Silvio will be Nedda’s consummate love interest in the hands of Zachary Johnson, baritone. Tenor Jorge Prego takes the role of Beppe, the manager of this group of clowns.

Come and be caught up in the intrigue of the traveling group of performers  and the real life traumas that weave themselves in their theatrical stories.  For tickets ($30, under 18 $10 and $5 for the Opera Talk), call Opera Theater of CT at 860-669-8999 or fax the office at 860-669-6616 or go online and complete the ticket order form at www. operatheaterofct.org and fax it in to the office.

Let yourself enjoy this commanding work that features a dynamic “verismo” repertoire, with pieces like the Bell Chorus, the melodic Intermezzo and the moving “Vesti la giubba” or “Laugh, Clown, Laugh.” 

Monday, April 9, 2018

LINGERIE ON DISPLAY IN “NANA’S NAUGHTY KNICKERS”




LORI FELDMAN,  KAREN GAGLIARDI AND ASHLEY AYALA

Very few things are as private as your underwear.  What you put on under your clothes is basically your business.  But to senior citizen Sylvia Charles her business is getting to the bottom of things, from your knickers to your knockers, in silk or feathers, satin or lace, and she is proud to be so intimately involved in your life.  This feisty and innovative lady doesn’t want to play bridge or take a walk in the park.  Now widowed, she wants to raise a few eyebrows and a few bucks and have a little frisky fun in the process.

To make Sylvia’s acquaintance, head over to the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin for an intimate introduction to Katherine DiSavino’s comic “Nana’s Naughty Knickers” playing weekends  until Saturday, May 5th.  Lori Feldman’s innovative Sylvia has managed to keep her enterprising activities private, away from the prying eyes of her best friend Vera, a nosy but hard of hearing Karen Gagliardi, her good friend Police Officer Tom, a helpful Josh Luszczak, and her landlord Mr Schmidt, an interferring Dave Wall who would like nothing better than to find a good cause to evict her
 from her rent controlled apartment.

Everything is under control and working well until the arrival of her granddaughter Bridget, a questioning Ashley Ayala, who gets quickly suspicious of her nana’s unusual activities. As a law school student, Bridget quickly suspects that Nana is hiding a big secret, one that is kinky as well asillegal and she wants it to stop.  When the UPS men, Chase Fish and Russell Fish, start delivering packages of sex objects and a model Heather, a scantily clad Melissa Pelletier, arrives at the door, Bridget realizes she must act quickly before Officer Tom hauls Nana off to jail for tax evasion and Mr Schmidt discovers the perfect excuse to evict her for breaking her lease.

Luckily the arrival of Nana’s best customer Claire, a commanding Linda Kelly, arrives in the knick of time to save the day.  Kris McMurray has a lot of fun frolicking among the intimate apparel to great comic relief.  For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret  Theatre, 31 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaretct.com.  Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy them at the concession stand onsite.

Wear your fancy inner wear and your red or pink boas so you’ll feet right at home at Nana’s  ingenious take on the old fashioned Tupperware parties of old.  

SEVEN ANGELS THEATRE OFFERING UP “SECOND CHANCE”


MARINA RE'S VIOLET FLIRTS WITH PAUL D'AMATO''S JACK IN "SECOND CHANCE"

Parents spend a lifetime helping to guide and nourish their offspring from new born baby to fully grown adults.  They never stop caring and insinuating their advice, whether welcomed or not.  What happens, however, when the bassinet is turned and the child becomes the keeper of the reins, the one who wants and needs to call the shots, when the parent is in need of help.  How resistant or accepting will the parent be to receiving advice from the child.  If the parent is a cantankerous and opinionated Jack Korman, the ruler of his own destiny for seventy seven years, he will be resentful of any guidance his son Larry has to offer.

To witness the contretemps that blossom between the two men, mosey on over to the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury to see whose side you’ll take in Mike Vogel’s comedy “Second Chance” until Sunday, April 29.  Larry feels his dad needs to make changes in his living arrangements.  After living for fifty years in the same apartment and being widowed for some time, Jack is set in his ways.  He lives for the Yankees and resents Larry interfering in his life style.  Paul D’Amato’s Jack has no desire to change any thing, especially not to move into an assisted living facility.  Jack Lafferty’s Larry is equally determined that his dad will change his residence and tricks him into agreeing to try out the new facility for a week.

Enter Marina Re’s Violet a spunky and sassy Welcoming Committee who literally sweeps Jack onto the dance floor and agreeing to move over in bed.  With a ratio of 4 to 1, Jack is quickly in hot demand, much to the dismay of Warren Kelley’s Chet who deeply resents the new competition. Amanda Kristin Nichols’ Malka is a young nurse in the building who also has unique services to offer the newly arrived resident.  Soon Jack is ready to admit he might have been wrong about relocating but lots of complications arise to make this a rocky road of decisions. Russell Treyz directs this foray into retirement life that ventures onto rough seas before it can level off into smooth sailing.

For tickets ($42-58), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org.  Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Watch how a feeding frenzy of women setting their sights on newcomer Jack help him adjust to his new surroundings and make his transition to retirement life all the easier and more fun.  Soon Jack is hitting his own homeruns, without any help from his beloved Yankees.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

“THE CAPITOL STEPS:” PARADING POLITICAL PUNS WITH APLOMB




What a year to be a comedian who delights in dishing out zingers on the political arena. The material is all there for the taking. They’re the Capitol Steps and politics, with heapings of parody and satire, are easily the name of their “I can top that” game. Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, Green Party person, Tea Party candidate or otherwise affiliated, the Capitol Steps are bound to crunch a few of your sensitive toes as they sling their bipartisan barbs on the icons of Washington, D. C., those hard working and hard playing leaders of our country. And they sing and dance all their satire.

These entertainers know of what and whom they speak, for they began as former Congressional staffers who have gone legit by entering the world of show business. For one night only they will be the official speakers of the house at the Warner Theatre in Torrington. This command performance will take place on Saturday, April 21 at 8 p.m. The troupe brags about putting the MOCK in Democracy.  Hillary and Bill are still fair game as are Vladimir Putin, Rex Tillerson, Mike Pence and, of course, The Donald and all his clan and legion of lawyers.

With savagery and wit, these talented troupers will take today’s headlines and tweets and cast a new and slightly jaundiced eye on those happenings. Their highly successful stint began in the early 1980’s when three staffers for Senator Charles Percy needed to take center stage at a Congressional Christmas party. They took the stage then and haven’t yielded the floor to this day. Talk about filibustering power for a purpose. This year’s show is titled “Orange is The New Black” and encourages you to examine the Obama years as they are overshadowed by the Trump White House and Mar-A-Lago. 
The original trio, Elaina Newport, Bill Strauss and Jim Aidala, began writing the material  for the ever changing scene. Newport often shows up to lead the band and is responsible for writing 95% of the humor, according to another cast member and original home town boy Michael Thornton who grew up in Windsor. Thornton considers himself a rogue classical musician turned jazz singer who now “enjoys thinking on my feet which provides a wonderful opportunity to combine topical humor with music that keeps my job interesting and fresh.”

For tickets ($31-51) call the Warner, 68 Main Street,Torrington at 860-489-7180 or go online to www.warnertheatre.org. 

With a campaign slogan that states Lampoon through Laughter, you are encouraged to poke fun at the follies in our nation’s headquarters.Cast your vote for the former and current politicians who are sure to please the crowds when the Capitol Steps march into our Connecticut political arena. Come laugh, hoot and make merry over Washington’s latest schenigans and scandals.

Monday, April 2, 2018

A LOT OF “FANTASTICK" THEATER ABOUNDS THIS WEEK


THE  CAST OF "THE WIZARD OF OZ" AT THE BUSHNELL APRIL 6-8

First up is a suggestion to follow the yellow brick road with that intrepid teen Dorothy, her frisky dog Toto and her newly acquired pals the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man as they skip into the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts for a short sojourn.  From Friday, April 6 to Sunday, April 8, you’ll have the unique opportunity to travel to the Emerald City and make the acquaintance of the great Wizard of Oz.

Be prepared for adventures galore with the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch, flying monkeys and a host of obstacles that Dorothy and friends must encounter and overcome on their quest. This production is a new, reimagined and enhanced version of the original 1939 classic movie and one that you and the whole family won’t want to miss.  

For tickets ($22.50-103.50). call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org.  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Join Dorothy as she leaves the safety of Kansas and the comfort of Aunt Em to venture into unknown territory with her ruby red slippers firmly on her feet.

A timeless classic of musical lore, “The Fantasticks” by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones is swinging into the Ivoryton Playhouse to celebrate young love until Sunday, April 8.  Enjoyed in over 82 countries worldwide, this universal tale tells the story of two parents who try to manipulate the emotions of their children with unexpected and largely unwelcome results.   Reverse physchology can backfire.
This longest running musical centers on teenagers Matt (Ryan Bloomquist) and Luisa (Kimberly Immanuel) who are kept separate and forbidden to converse by their interfering mothers Hucklebee (Patricia Schuman) and Bellomy (Carly Callahan) who secretly want them to fall in love.  By creating an imaginary feud between these neighbors and erecting a wall (Cory Candelet) to divide them, the two parents hope to magically bring them together.
Narrating the action and playing a major role in the plot is the mysteriously gallant El Gallo, embodied by David Pittsinger who  takes on the role of a bandit, so Matt can rescue his princess Luisa and prove his love.  When El Gallo is unveiled as part of a plot to deceive and impress Luisa, the pair of lovers, much like Romeo and Juliet, face the harsh realities of their mothers’ machinations.  Matt rides off to the big city and encounters a bevy of difficulties, while Luisa fancies herself in love with El Gallo.  A pair of cohorts of El Gallo’s arrive, Will Clark’s Mortimer and R. Bruce Connelly’s Henry, to advance the plot with comic complications, playing pirates and Indians and other characters..
Throughout the tale, the glorious music like “Try to Remember, “ “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” “Round and Round” and the parents’ lament “Plant a Radish” are delightful.  Directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan with a magical hand, the music is conducted by Jill Brunelle.  For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22 and children $17), 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.
Come see sixteen year old Luisa have her illusions about love shattered but, ultimately, restored so she can marry her prince Matt.  All the while she learns the valuable lesson that “without a hurt the heart is hollow.”


For a distinct change of pace consider venturing to Old Saybrook. Legends swirl around the meteoric career of a rock and roll singer who rose to stardom in a mysterious galaxy and then crashed to earth unceremoniously in an airplane disaster. The rise of Buddy Holly from Lubbock, Texas was spectacular and worthy of note.  His musical style lives on even if he doesn’t.  In tribute to the star, the Katharine Hepburn Center for the Performing Arts will proudly present Johnny Rogers in “Buddy and Beyond” on Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m. at their unique Old Saybrook theater.

With the endorsement of Buddy’s own brother, Larry, Johnny Rogers has created the perfect platform to acknowledge this beloved star who shone too brightly and burned out too quickly.  Buddy, born Charles Hardin Holley, on September 7, 1936 died February 3, 1959, but his influence lives on, inspiring the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Elton John.  Rolling Stones Magazine has ranked him #13 in its list of “100 Greatest Artists.”

With original songs like “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “It’s So Easy,” “Heartbeat,” “Raining in My Heart” and “Oh, Boy,” Buddy Holly led rock and roll through the 1950’s.  With his trademark heavy black framed glasses, he created a new sound that combined country, western, rockabilly, rock and roll and pop.  With Johnny Rogers on guitar, the music of Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ricky Nelson, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley could also come to life.

Having wowed audiences in England, Germany, the Netherlands and all over the United States, from coast to coast, now its Connecticut’s turn to go back in time with this sterling performer and revisit the great hits of the 1950’s. 1960’s and 1970’s.  For tickets ($35-38), call The Kate, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook at 877-503-1286 or online at http://www.katharinehepburntheater.org/events-tickets/.

Let Johnny Rogers literally set the stage at The Kate on fire as he inhabits the skin and style of Buddy Holly and friends and illuminates them all.
Whether you want to accompany Dorothy, Matt and Luisa or Buddy Holly, we are sure to have an excellent and exciting time in the theater. Enjoy the musical adventure.


Monday, March 26, 2018

GEORGIA MCBRIDE TRANSFORMATIVE AT HTW


MISS TRACY MILLS  (JAMISON STERN)     PHOTO BY LANNY NAGLER


In the world of entertainment, an actor can transform from one character or persona to another with a change in voice, a wig or a costume.  With skill and talent, a complete metamorphosis can occur right before the audience’s eyes. When Casey, a struggling Elvis impersonator, finds he is overwhelmed with financial issues, from unpaid rent to buying a pizza on the installment plan, he has a moment of revelation:  he must change, his name, his dress and his act.

Hartford TheaterWorks is inviting you to that moment of epiphany in Matthew Lopez’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride” stripping down to its essentials until Sunday, April 29.  In the hands and other body parts by Austin Thomas, we see Casey struggle to support his wife Jo, an understanding and newly pregnant Samaria Nixon-Fleming, with an optimistic outlook and a new wardrobe.  With the encouragement and mama mentoring of Miss Tracy Mills,  a fantastic Jamison Stern, Casey finds himself on stage at a bar/club run by Eddie, an enterprising J. Tucker Smith, as a drag queen.

Enter Georgia McBride and learn that Elvis has, indeed, left the building.  With bows to Liza, Pink and Lady Gaga, Casey emerges in full feathers and flamboyant fashion.  The drag queens strut triumphantly, with the addition of Rexy, an outspoken and sassy Nik Alexander, who doubles as Casey and Jo’s understanding landlord Jason.  So what’s the problem with this picture?  Casey forgets to tell Jo of his new career choice.

While Jo is responsible and realistic, Casey is optimistic and full of potential. With the green light from Eddie, and the encouragement and assistance of Miss Tracy, Casey sees the future through his rose colored glasses.  Being kind, wise and dependable, Casey discovers that tolerance and diversity and being open to change and opportunity can be life altering. When he lip syncs “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,”  he is
just hitting his stride. Rob Ruggiero directs this peek under the wig and inside the dress of a drag queen, with help from Leon Dobkowski’s
fascinating costumes, Paul Tate dePoo III’s behind and before the stage set design, John Lasiter’s sparkling lighting, Ralph Perkins’ perky choreography and Ed Chapman’s sultry sound.

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

For lessons in makeup, wig styling and drag queen dress, look no further than Casey and Tracy’s dressing room for a behind the curtain peek at a unique area of show business. 

CIVIL WAR DRAMA SHINES AT YALE REP IN NEW HAVEN




              HERO (JAMES UDOM) AND PENNY (EBONI FLOWERS)
              PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS


Being christened with the name Hero as a baby is both a blessing and a curse, ladened as it is with expectations and responsibilities. How do you live up to a name that conjures ancient warriors like Hannibal and Ulysses?  Where do the burdens and disappointments lie?  For a young black slave living in a corrugated metal hut on his master’s plantation during the Civil War, the potential for disaster is evident every time someone calls out his name.  Now Hero is at a crossroads.  He must make a difficult choice, one that will make some people happy and another group of his family and friends devastated.  The two sides are even betting on the outcome.

Suzan-Lori Parks has fashioned an epic saga in the first triptych of her historical drama “Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts 1, 2 & 3” marching into the Yale Repertory Theatre’s University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven until Saturday, April 7.  James Udom is commanding and conflicted as Hero who is asked by his boss master the Colonel, Tom Hiatt, to accompany him to war against the Union Army.  For this dangerous deed, the Colonel will reward Hero’s courage with the gift of his freedom. It will be Hero’s responsibility to care for his master and for the master’s horse.

For Hero, his choice is a field of cotton or the field of battle and he must decide which direction to take.  Hero’s dog, an engagingly vital Gregory Wallace,  has run off which Hero interprets as a bad sign.  To his friend Homer, a disabled Julian Elijah Martinez, the choice is further complicated by the fact that he doesn’t believe the boss master can be trusted to honor his pledge of freedom.  Homer and Hero have a complicated relationship that involves a lack of trust with serious consequences.

If Hero gains his freedom, he will have the opportunity to live in glory and belong to himself, and even to marry Penny, Eboni Flowers, the faithful woman who loves him.  The illusions to Homer’s "The Odyssey," Ulysses, Penelope and the faithful dog are evident. Hero’s decision to go or to stay weighs heavily on his heart and has the potential to change the course of his life.  Liz Diamond directs this involving and intriguing tale of life altering choices of which road to travel.

For tickets ($44-90 ), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

How will Hero act when asked to help defend a country that does not value him, except in terms of the sweat of his brow and the strength of his muscles, but not of his humanity.

Monday, March 19, 2018

TIME STOPS AT STOP/TIME DANCE AT PLAYHOUSE ON PARK






THE STOP/TIME DANCE  COMPANY   PHOTO BY CURT HENDERSON

Whether you measure time in moments, minutes or months, with an alarm clock, a cuckoo clock, a fob watch on a chain, a grandfather clock, an hourglass, a Rolex or Timex, a sundial or bejewelled time piece, you must agree on one thing:  time is precarious and precious.  We all come with an expiration date, one we cannot avoid or out run.  Playhouse on Park in West Hartford is exploring the concept of time passages in a most creative and delightfully energetic way with dance by the stop/time dance theater as it celebrates achieving fifteen years of the playhouse’s resident dance troupe.  Come experience “15."

What was to have been a three day run of a dance program fifteen years ago, is still going strong today.  Until Sunday, March 25, Artistic Director Darlene Zoller will lead her passionate and joy filled “family” of performers in a montage of more than twenty sparkling numbers that swirl around time and a confused creature named Victoria who is searching for the right directions for her life.  Her choices have virtually paralyzed her and she doesn’t know which map or road sign to travel.

Luckily for Victoria, an adventurous Victoria Mooney, she has two helpers Eon, an accommodating Rick Fountain and Millenia, a supportive Amanda Forker, to sing and guide her on her way.  Unfortunately, they aren’t sure themselves. Do they need a GPS or a yellow brick road?

With spirited and enthusiastic dance moves, tap and jazz and nods to popular shows like “Hairspray,” “Funny Girl,” “Damn Yankees,” “West Side Story” and ”Mary Poppins,” this troupe owns the stage.  Come experience the dancing prowess of Meredith Atkinson, Ali Barney, Lisa Caffyn, Lynsey Chartier, Jennifer Checovetes, Beckie Correale, Shannon DelGuidice, Amelia Flater, Constance Gobeille, Erica Misenti, Laurie Misenti, Erica O’Keefe, Spencer Pond, Sheri Righi, Melissa B. Shannon, Alicia Voukides and Courtney Woods, in a bevy of beautiful costumes designed by Lisa Steier, bathed in lighting designed by Aaron Hochheiser, spectacular sound by Lucas Clopton  and lively musical direction by Colin Britt. Darlene Zoller deserves triple credit for conceiving, directing and choreographing this perfect blending of community and audience symmetry.

By day these talented hoofers assume roles as elementary and high school teachers, dance and music instructors, business administrators, physician assistants, physical therapists and parents.  They all devote their tons of energy and enthusiasm to making stop/time dance company a shining example of neighborhood theater at its best.

For tickets ($25-40), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900 ext.10 or online at www.PlayhouseOnPark.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Watch for the next two Comedy Nights ($15) on Saturdays March 31 and May 19 at 8 p.m.

Come learn the life lessons that you need to make the most of every day, remember to live in the moment  and enjoy the time that is allotted you.  Get your jazz hands ready to applaud all this joyous effort of “15.".

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

“JERSEY BOYS” OH, WHAT A NIGHT AT THE PALACE!




THE JERSEY BOYS: CHRIS STEVENS AS NICK MASSI, TOMMASO ANTICO AS BOB GAUDIO. JONNY WEXLER AS FRANKIE VALLI AND COREY GREENAN AS TOMMY DEVITO
PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS


Rarely has a musical the ability to raise the rafters quite like “Jersey Boys,”  the show about a quartet of young guys, blue-collar workers, from the Garden State.  With  book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, “Jersey Boys” tells the tale of how Frankie Valli becomes lead singer of The Four Seasons. The transformation is not an easy one, and the four have some hard choices to make along the way, but that "rocky road” is a spectacular journey you won’t want to miss.

Waterbury’s Palace Theater will be rolling out the red carpet for these sensational, harmony driven lads on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 and you definitely want to cheer on this smash 2006 tony Award winning show. With a sweet, honey-dipped sound and a dazzling dream, these young kids flirt with crime and the wrong side of the law but, ultimately, set their careers straight towards stardom.  Finding members who fit their sound was the first hurdle.  Claiming a name that suited their voices was the second.  Avoiding arrest by the cops, reconciling family life with long stints on the road, a gambling addiction and burden of debt all conspire to almost bring them down.

 But Frank Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi  persevere and go on to sell 175 million records worldwide, all before they hit thirty, with Gaudio and Bob Crewe, their producer/lyricist writing many of the show’s thirty three songs, including five #1 hits and 11 that made the Billboard’s top ten. Come snap your fingers and hum along to “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Oh, What a Night,” “My Eyes Adore You,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and “Working My Way Back to You.”

For tickets ($57.50 and up), call the Palace Theater, 100 East Main Street, Waterbury or go online to www.palacetheaterct.com. Performances are  Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. 

 Let a quartet of talented guys from Jersey adore you with their eyes and serenade you with their great voices as they work their way into your heart. Oh, what a night! Join the 24 million who have loved this shows they enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and deservedly so.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

HUMOR AND MYSTERY COMBINE WITH SHERLOCK HOLMES IN “BASKERVILLE” AT LWT








One cannot dispute that in fictional literature Sherlock Holmes reigns as one of the genre’s foremost
detectives.  Thanks to the great storytelling skills of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes will forever be
acknowledged for his powerful investigative prowess, along with his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson.

New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre is inviting you to witness those incredible deductive traits in its
latest offering Ken Ludwig’s "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” sure to be entertaining 
you until Sunday, March 25.  This case is purported to be Holmes’ most difficult and intriguing
ever.  Can Holmes with his reliance on science, facts and evidence be able to solve it?

Holmes is back, stronger and more brilliant than ever after his creator mistakenly killed him off in
his novel “The Final Solution.”  The public, however, screamed and protested indignation, forcing 
Doyle to resurrect him, claiming the great investigator had faked his own death and, thus, “The 
Hound of the Baskervilles” was born.

Now, thanks to Ken Ludwig, the king of farce and humor has put his own delightful spin on the tale
where Holmes, a suave and savvy Alex Moggridge, and his cohort Watson, an accommodating 
Daniel Pearce, are aided by a trio of flexible associates playing three dozen zany parts, 
Kelly Hutchinson, Christopher Livingston and Brian Owen. Nowhere have you likely seen faster
costume changes courtesy of Lex Liang, aided by sharp lighting designed by Robert Wierzel, and
sound effects engineered by Victoria Deiorio with original music.

Sir Charles Baskerville has mysteriously died, from a heart attack or was he frightened to death by 
a ferocious and fierce beast, a hound? Is this a continuation of a curse placed on the family 
generations ago when a Sir Hugo Baskerville kidnapped a young maiden and traded his soul to the devil
when she escaped in order to get her back.

Now Sir Henry Baskerville has left his Texas home to claim his inheritance as the only known living heir
but warnings keep popping up.  Holmes and Watson had been employed to keep him alive and to 
solve the mystery. The chase lands on the moors of Devonshire where director Brendon Fox keeps
 the action and suspense moving in a swirl of fog with the haunting howl of the hounds ever present.

For tickets ($ 46-91.50 ), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org/baskerville.  Performances are Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and
 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m on
the Claire Tow Stage.

Discover who you can trust and who is patently dishonest as you watch Holmes direct Watson
across the mysterious moors where anything can happen and danger looms large.




Saturday, March 10, 2018

JOE BIDEN TO SPEAK AT SCSU MARCH 23




     FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN TO SPEAK AT SCSU


The Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series is celebrating twenty years of bringing leaders from the worlds of politics, athletics, entertainment and science to Southern Connecticut State University.  These intellectual discussions
have, over the years, brought people like NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Tonight Show host Jay Leno, Astronaut Mark Kelly, political analyst Tim Russet, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and a star list of others to the stage of the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts.

This year top billing will be for Joe Biden, former Vice President to Barack Obama, who will reflect on his two terms in that position and his contributions to secure peace domestically and on foreign soil.  Using his position as the creator of the Biden
Foundation, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania and the Biden Institute for Domestic Policy at the University of Delaware, Mr. Biden continues his important work to better our country's
world standing.

With his wife Dr. Jill Biden, he has also founded the Biden Cancer Institute for vital medical research and the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children in memory of their son. This engaging conversation with Vice President Biden 
will take place Friday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lyman Center.  Tickets are $75 for premium seating, $65 for regular seating and $25 for SCSU students with a valid ID.  For $175 a pre-lecture reception and photo opportunity, premium
lecture seats and an autographed copy of Biden's "Promise Me. Dad," a memoir about his last year as Vice President and the incalculable loss of his son Beau, will be available in VIP form.

Note to come early for parking with no bags or backpacks allowed. Proceeds from this event will fund scholarships for SCSU students, Endowed Awards of Excellence, to recognize academically talented youth.

Come hear the philosophy and ideals of the 47th Vice President of the United States, his thoughts and his hopes and his promises for America's future                                                                                                                    .

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

FOLLOW “THE 39 STEPS” TO FUN AND MYSTERY AT MTC







Did you ever desire to be a clandestine secret spy?  Have you ever envied Sherlock Holmes or Jessica Fletcher? Would examining clues and dusting for fingerprints be a glorious hoot of fun?  Are you addicted, even a little, to all the crime solving stories on television?  If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then Music Theatre of Connecticut has the perfect entertainment evening for you.  John Buchan’s “The 39 Steps” is ready to intrigue you, confuse you, confound you and delight you until Sunday, March 18 at MTC’s intimate Norwalk studio.

Four talented actors are prepared to change hats, don a mustache, put on a wig, change clothes, adapt a new accent and generally become an entirely new persona as the comic mystery unfolds.  Gary Lindemann presents himself as Richard Hannay, a Brit who is bored and tired of his humdrum life. He yearns for change.  This is a perfect example of being careful what you wish for as before you can say “Life is dull” three times, Hannay is concealing a woman of dubious character who has a message of doom for the country of England and quickly dies in his arms.

Now suspected of her murder, Hannay is off and running…for his life and to find the solution to the puzzle of the man with a missing little finger who is plotting to destroy the country.  Think of a game of CLUE that has run amok. In a humorous homage to Alfred Hitchcock, Hannay and a trio of cohorts:  Laura Cable, Matt Densky and Jim Schilling set off at a brisk pace, leaping off bridges and on to trains, across the moors to Scotland, stopping at farms and grand houses along the way, catching a plane, escaping from windows, all the time trying to evade the police and arrest.

This fast paced suspenseful and silly slapstick ride is an adaptation by Patrick Barlow, based on an original concept by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble, from the novel by John Buchan and the 1935 movie of the same name. Starting from the time Hannay attends a performance at the London Palladium, where he witnesses a performance by Mr. Memory until the moment all the evidence falls neatly into place, you will be rooting for Hannay to succeed in his quest and secure the love of Pamela along the adventurous way.

Come witness the split timing schedule as a trio of actors play dozens of roles, from milkmen to motormen, mothers to Mr. Memory, as they romp across the countryside. Pamela Hill directs this merry go round of murder and mayhem with aplomb.

For tickets ($30-55), call Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue, (behind Nine West Shoes) Norwalk at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com.  Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come discover for yourself how biscuits and bagpipes, haddock and handcuffs, underwear salesmen and undercover agents, play a significant role in this whistle-while-you-work theatrical tour de force event. Be sure to have your ears tuned to pick up all the references to Hitchcock hits sprinkled liberally throughout this wild and wooly whodunit.