Monday, September 15, 2014

Theaters Join for Play! in CT Fall Festival of Theater

Six of Connecticut's producing theaters will host a weekend festival of plays, musicals and theater events across the state Oct. 23-26. From classics to new works, to conferences and talks, theatregoers can attend one show or six while enjoying special overnight packages and dining discounts.

The participating theaters are the Westport Country Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Hartford Stage, the O'Neill Theater Center, Long Wharf Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre 
Prior to the 1950s, most people experienced theater through touring companies or vaudeville performances. Access to professional theatre outside of New York was limited. Artists began to chafe at the centralization of their work in New York City, and felt they needed to move away from what they believed was the commercialization of Broadway. The not-for-profit residential theatres could afford to take risks that commercial theatres could not. This idea caught fire in Connecticut. 

As a reaction to the lack of innovation coming out of commercial theatres, five of the six producing theaters were founded by Yale alumni and funded by organizations like the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Many individuals, corporations and foundations in the state also backed them.

Connecticut theatres like Hartford Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, and Goodspeed Opera House (all Tony Award-winners) were part of the regional theatre boom. Westport Country Playhouse took a slightly different route, starting as a summer stock theatre and evolving into a major player in the regional theatre scene. The O'Neill Theater Center holds a special place in the Connecticut theatrical landscape for its unwavering commitment to new works, launching the careers of some of our nation's most important playwrights, composers, actors, and directors (it also has received a Regional Tony Award).

The "Play! in Connecticut Fall Theatre Festival" offers a chance to enjoy the state and all it has to offer during one of its most beautiful seasons. Check out the website at

Schedule of performances at each of the participating theatres:

Goodspeed Opera House
Featured Performance: Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn
Run Dates: September 19 - December 7

Festival Show Times:
Thu, 10/23: 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/24: 8:00 p.m.
Sat, 10/25: 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sun, 10/26: 2:00 p.m.

Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre
Featured Performance: The Circus in Winter
Run Dates: October 23 - November 16

Festival Show Times:
Thu, 10/23: 8:00 p.m.
Fri, 10/24: 8:00 p.m.
Sat, 10/25: 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sun, 10/26: 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. 

Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
Run Dates: October 24-25

Event on Saturday, 10/25:
Welcome Reception: 10:00 a.m.
Readings & Discussion Panels: 10:30 a.m.
Lunch and Q&A: 12:00 p.m.
Tour Monte Cristo Cottage: 3:00-4:00 p.m.

Yale Repertory Theatre
Featured Performance: Arcadia
Run Dates: October 3-25

Festival Show Times:
Thu, 10/23: 8:00 p.m.
Fri, 10/24: 8:00 p.m.
Sat, 10/25: 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Long Wharf Theatre
Featured Performance: Our Town
Run Dates: October 8 – November 2

Festival Show Times:
Fri, 10/24: 8:00 p.m.
Sat, 10/25: 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sun, 10/26: 2:00 p.m.

Westport Country Playhouse
Featured Performance: Intimate Apparel
Run Dates: October 7- November 1

Festival Show Times:
Thu, 10/23: 8:00 p.m.
Sat, 10/25: 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sun, 10/26: 3:00 p.m.

Hartford Stage
Featured Performance: Hamlet
Run Dates: October 16 - November 16

Festival Show Times:
Thu, 10/23: 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/24: 8:00 p.m.
Sat, 10/25: 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sun, 10/26: 2:00 p.m.

Weekly itineraries will also be available on the site for travelers to make the most of their weekend. Individual tickets are on sale with an Early Bird 20-percent discount available until Sept. 21. Special events related to each production will be promoted throughout the weekend.

Schedule of special events for each of the participating theatres:

Thursday, October 23
Talkback with the cast of Holiday Inn
Talkback with the cast of Intimate Apparel


Goodspeed Opera House
Westport Country Playhouse

Friday, October 24
Friday Dinner Theatre Package     
The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions
Of Eugene O'Neill Vol.2
O'Neill Post Show Reception



Goodspeed Opera House/
Gelston House

Connecticut College
Dutch Tavern, New London

Saturday, October 25
Free Tours of Monte Cristo Cottage


Eugene O'Neill Theater

Sunday, October 26
Talkback with the cast of Hamlet
Sunday Symposium
Wine Tasting at The Circus in Winter


Hartford Stage
Long Wharf Theatre
Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Anne Rice and Son Will Chill Your Blood at Mark Twain House

 The Mark Twain House and Museum will present a hair-raising visit with gothic novelist Anne Rice and her son Christopher Rice, a New York Times-bestselling author in his own right. 
The evening will celebrate Anne's return to the scene of her greatest success, Interview with a Vampire, with her new novel Prince Lestat.  Christopher will share his thoughts about his new paranormal thrillers, The Heavens Rise and The Vines.  Of course, everyone will learn more than a little about their shared bond as writers and family. 
The event takes place Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 7 pm at Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford.  
Tickets for this event are $35 ($30 for Mark Twain House members and Hartford Stage subscribers).  Please call the Hartford Stage Box Office at (860) 527-5151 or
Anne Rice was born and raised in New Orleans, whose French Quarter provided the setting for her first novel, Interview with the Vampire. And her ante-bellum house in the Garden District was the fictional home of her imaginary Mayfair Witches. She is the author of more than 30 books, most recently her new book Prince Lestat.  Interview with the Vampire was published in 1976 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling novels of all time. She continued her saga of the Vampire Lestat in a series of books, collectively known as The Vampire Chronicles, which have had both great mainstream and cult followings. 

By the age of 30, Christopher Rice had published four New York Times bestselling thrillers, received a Lambda Literary Award and been declared one of People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive. His latest novels are The Heavens Rise, a supernatural thriller about a young woman who is exposed to a mysterious parasite in the Louisiana swamp that gives her the power to control minds and unleash living nightmares, and The Vines, a paranormal story of Spring House, a beautifully restored plantation mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans where something sinister lurks beneath the soil of the old estate. 
Christopher's first novel, A Density Of Souls, was published when he was just 22. The controversial bestseller was greeted with a landslide of media attention, much of it due to who his mother is. He served as a contributing columnist to The Advocate for many years and his additional criticisms and witticisms have been featured in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and more. He recently served on the board of directors of the West Hollywood Library Fund, which was instrumental in securing private funds to build a brand new state-of-the-art library in the heart of the city he now calls home.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Foxwoods Presents A Bronx Tale

Chazz Palminteri grew up in a tough area of the Bronx which gave him the life lessons that would later prove very useful to his career. Well known for A Bronx Tale, Palminteri originally wrote the script for the stage and performed it as a one-man show in Los Angeles. One night Robert DeNiro walked in to see the show and as they say ”the rest is history.” He then moved the production to New York, where it played for four sold-out months and earned him nominations for the New York Outer Critics Circle for both acting and writing. While in New York he completed the screenplay of A Bronx Tale and soon found himself starring opposite DeNiro, who chose the script for his directorial debut.

Saturday, Sept. 6 at 8 pm

Foxwoods Resort Casino
Fox Theater
350 Trolley Line Boulevard
Mashantucket, CT

More Info:        
Tickets are $75:; 800-200-2882.

Theater Review: Things We Do for Love -- Westport

Sarah Manton, Geneva Carr, and Matthew Greer in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Things We Do for Love,” directed by John Tillinger, at Westport Country Playhouse, now playing through September 7.  (203) 227-4177.      Photo by Carol Rosegg
Things We Do for Love
By Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by John Tilliinger
Westport Country Playhouse

What's it All About?
Best school chums Barbara (Geneva Carr) and Nikki (Sarah Manton) are reunited after years apart when Nikki and her yummy new fiance, Hamish (Matthew Greer) rent a room in Barbara's house while work is completed on their new home. Nikki, just out of an abusive relationship, can hardly believe that she has landed Hamish who calls her his "porcelain princess."

She so wants Babs to like him. Prickly, opinionated Barbara who earned the nickname of "Spike" at the all-girls school where Nikki and her classmates all had crushes on the formidable woman, isn't taken with Hamish, however, at least at first. When personality sparks lead to sexual tension, however, Hamish and Barbara begin an affair. They have to come to grips with being the kind of people who would do such a thing. They aren't the only ones who get hurt. Also needing a self-evaluation is tenant Gilbert (Michael Mastro) who has been keeping evidence of his  odd devotion to Barbara hidden in his downstairs flat.

What Are the Highlights?
Nice performances from all the players, directed by John Tillinger, who previously has directed Ayckbourn's How the Other Half Loves and Relatively Speaking at Westport Country Playhouse (next season he will helm Bedroom Farce.) Carr is entertaining as the judgmental, uptight, but suddenly out-of-control Barbara (she also starred in Relatively Speaking as well as two other Ayckbourns at WCP . Manton, who showed her comedy prowess on Broadway in One Man, Two Guvnors, shines again as the innocent, if odd, Nikki.

"I'm pathetic," Nikki says. "No wonder why people punch me."

Broadway vet Mastro brings humor to a somewhat underdeveloped character and Greer is just right in his offense at being seen at the end of Barbara's nose.

What Are the Lowlights?
-- James Noone designs a frustrating three-level set. At stage level, Barbara's flat is nicely appointed with a long staircase stage right leading to the other flats. Nikki and Hamish's place is shown only in abbreviated shadow box form, allowing us to see action from about the waist down. Gilbert's basement flat, set in the orchestra pit area, was totally unviewable from the balcony level. Every time action centered there, the balcony leaned forward en masse to try to see what was happening. I suspect the view isn't much better from rear parts of the orchestra level.

-- Some of the dialogue is very difficult to hear (sound design by Scott Killian, who also designs original music -- the tune "The Things We Do for Love" during scene changes.) People near me at intermission were complaining that they couldn't hear and during the show, often were supplying missed lines for each other.

--I am not crazy about this story. There are some funny lines and moments to be sure, but two people physically and emotionally abusing each other doesn't equate to love for me. Perhaps a better title would be "Things We Do for Lust, Loneliness, Longing, or Low Self Esteem," but not "love."

-- The first act, at 90 mintes, is very long. A total run time of almost three hours with an intermission is way too long for what is supposed to  be a fast-moving comedy. (That lengthy first act results in an full theater exodus for the rest rooms with the longest lines for the men's room I have ever seen.)

More Information:
Things We Do for Love plays through Sept. 7 at the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport.  Performance are Tuesday at 8 pm, Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm, Thursday and Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 3 and 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets and info: 203-227-4177, 1-888-927-7529;

Friday, August 22, 2014

Midtown Men Play the Palace

They took Broadway by storm in one of the biggest hits of all-time, and now on their fifth national tour, THE MIDTOWN MEN perform their favorite "Sixties Hits" from The Beatles, The Rascals, The Four Seasons and more at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, on Friday, Sept. 26, at 8 pm. 

Tickets for the one-of-a-kind concert experience are $65, $55, $45 and $35: 203-346-2000;; box office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury.

Before the performance, Riverhouse Catering will prepare a 6 pm three-course dinner in the Palace’s Poli Club, located on the mezzanine level of the theater. Dinner is $40 per member/ $50 per non-member, which includes tax, service fees, coffee, and tea. A cash bar is also available. Seating is limited, and reservations can be made when purchasing tickets through the Box Office.

Formed in 2007, THE MIDTOWN MEN reunites four stars from the Original Cast of Broadway’s Jersey Boys. Following their storied run on BroadwayTony Award-winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony Award-nominee J. Robert Spencer have been selling out venues coast to coast by celebrating the music that defined the '60s with top-shelf choreography, incredible vocal performances and legendary onstage chemistry.

These talented entertainers shared the Broadway stage for over a thousand performances, and now, as THE MIDTOWN MENthey have thrilled crowds on concert stages and symphony halls across the continent. Their album, THE MIDTOWN MEN: SIXTIES HITS, was met with critical acclaim and garnered five-star album reviews across iTunes. The album was recorded in New York City and features the group performing such iconic ‘60s hits as, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Up On The Roof,” “Time Of The Season,” “Candy Girl” and more. More information:;

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced
numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont
Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.”

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway
League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill
Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at She
is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, CT Press Club's award winner of first place for web editing and second place in feature writing for the web in 2012.

She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor
for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web. Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented
by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle (awards committee).

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts,
the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents are copyrighted © Lauren Yarger 2009, 2010, 2011,2012, 2013, 2014. All rights reserved.