Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder Leads Outer Critics Circle Nominations with 11

The cast with Bryce Pinkham as Monty Navarro (standing center), Jefferson Mays as Lord Adalbert D'Ysquith (red), and Jane Carr as Miss Shingle (seated) in a scene from "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" at the Walter Kerr Theater. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.
A Gentleman's Guild to Love & Murder, which premiered at Hartford Stage, has received 11 Outer Critics Circle nominations for the Broadway production directed by Darko Tresnjak.

For a full listing of the Outer Critics nominations, click here.

For a review of Gentlemen's Guide at Hartford Stage, click here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

O'Neill's Cabaret Slate Includes Betty Buckley

The lineup for the O’Neill Theater Center’s 2014 Cabaret & Performance Conference has been announced and includes headliners Betty Buckley, Mimi Hines, The Skivvies, & Barb Jungr. The conference runs July 23 with nightly performances through Au.g 2.

The conference brings some of the biggest names in Cabaret Theater to perform at the O’Neill each summer, providing valuable development and performance training for select Cabaret Fellows – up-and-coming performers on the cabaret scene. Applications for the Fellows are accepted through May 9. It is directed by John McDaniel.

The Skivvies – July 24
Original, stripped down musical arrangements performed while stripped down to their underwear. This evening of song and sights features the acoustic duo of Broadway veterans Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, with distinctive mash-ups and eccentric, original work. Joined by a special Broadway guest star to be announced!
Mimi Hines – July 25
Best known for replacing Barbra Streisand on Broadway in Funny Girl, and running the show on her own steam for 18 months, Mimi also starred coast to coast in I Do! I Do!Sugar BabiesHello, Dolly!NunsensePippinAnything GoesThe Full Monty, and many more. This show business legend is widely known to television audiences for her appearances on "The Jack Paar Show" and "The Ed Sullivan Show," dating back to 1958!
Susie Mosher and the New Faces of 2014 – July 26
Known throughout New York for her ability to find and showcase the best new talent, Susie will bring a fabulous lineup of new faces to the O’Neill stage for this special night. “Susan Mosher is one of those talents you need to see to believe; on second thought, let's just say you need to see her, and stop there." - Adam Feldman, TimeOut NY.
The Man in the Long Black Coat: Barb Jungr sings Bob Dylan – July 27
Back by popular demand, this amazing, unique talent from the UK is sure to bring down the house! Tracy Stark, Conference music director and a frequent collaborator of Barb’s, will be at the piano. "An exhilarating and revelatory evening, in which Dylan's songs are ravishingly illuminated, revealing heretofore unheard joys and sorrows. I came away in a trance, which lasted until the following week when I returned and my mind was blown even further. The best show in New York hands down, in forever." - Jon Robin Baitz
Betty Buckley – August 1
An evening with “The Voice of Broadway.” A Tony Award winning actress and singer whose career spans theater, film, television and concert halls around the world, Buckley is one of theater’s most respected and legendary leading ladies. She makes her debut at the O’Neill this summer.

A full season announcement will come later in May.

Conference Fellows & Junior Fellows hone their presentational skills, learning the art of stage performance and training under the guidance Conference special guests and headliners. Barb Jungr will serve as Master Teacher for the 2014 Cabaret Fellows
For information on applications and auditions for the Fellows and Junior Fellows programs, visit Tickets available June 11 by visiting or calling the O’Neill Box Office at 860-443-1238.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Single Day, Single Session Tickets Available for Twain Writers Weekend

Excited about the 3rd Annual Writers' Weekend (April 25-27), but can't make all the sessions?

Register for as few or as many sessions as you'd like. Single day and single session tickets are now available.

Come see the keynote speaker Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Interestings, enjoy the opening reception, and get your book signed--for only $25.  Click here.

The all-Saturday pass includes lunch, all workshops and lectures, book signings, and admission to the three big events this day: the Critics' Panel, the Playwrighting Panel, and Literary Death Match. Sessions on Saturday range from "Conflict in Fiction and Memoir" to "Pitching for Publicity" to "What's Funny," a session led by National Book Award Winner John Casey. With an equal number of sessions on Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and publishing, there's something for everyone that day. $75. Click here.  

See three of America's best working literary critics--John Freeman, David Bromwich, and Carole Goldberg--in conversation with Je Banach of the Yale Writers' Conference. They'll discuss the history of criticism, critics they love, what makes a fair review, and much more. For any serious writer or academic, this is an event not to be missed! $25.  Click here

For the third year in a row, a stunning lineup of playwrights is presented in conversation with Frank Rizzo of the Hartford Courant. This year we bring youDouglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Lauged), Edwin Sanchez (Unmerciful Good Fortune), and Matthew Lopez (Hartford Stage's current production, Somewhere). Playwrights will also sign their work after the panel. $25.  Click here.

Watch famous writers get judged by other famous writers in a contest of literary skill, wit, and nerd-ery! Contestants (including Iris Smyles, Dan Wilbur, Jon Sands andJulia Pistell) read their most exciting work before moving on to a final round of something vaguely literary (past events include "Pin the Moustache on Hemingway). Guaranteed fun! $25.  Click here

Sunday there will be a book fair of local authors, here to meet & greet you and tell you their publishing secrets; small sessions on social media for writers, writing biography, collaborative writing, mystery writing, what authors need to know about the law, poetry, memoir, and more! The day ends with an open reading opportunity for all workshop participants. Lunch included on Sunday! Meet writers, learn about craft and publishing, and present your work. $75. Click here

You can only make it for an hour or two? No problem! Stop by any single session for just $15. These tickets are only available if the all-weekend and all-day passes aren't sold out, so just walk up to the ticket desk on those days and purchase at the door! For the full schedule, click here.

Doesn't it all sound great? Attend every single session of the writers weekend, plus the opening reception and two lunches, for only $160.  Click here.  

All-weekend discounts available for students and members of the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association--just call and ask!  

For any and all questions, email Director of Writing Julia Pistell or call (860) 280-3130 (tickets can also be purchased over the phone).   

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Theater Review: The Fantasticks -- Music Theatre of CT

Jack Doyle, Lou Ursone and Shanna Ossi. Photo: Joe Landry
The Fantasticks
Book and Lyrics by Tom Jones
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Musical Direction: David Wolfson
Directed by Kevin Connors

What's It All About:
The classic 1960s show, which is the longest running musical in the world (you still can find it in New York Off-Broadway at the Snapple Theatre Center It's about two fathers, Bellomy (Jack Doyle) and Hucklebee (Lou Ursone) who pretend to feud in a bit of reverse psychology to bring their daughter, Luisa (Carissa Massaro), and son, Matt (Jacob Heimer), together romantically. The stage directions for the musical don't say that it should be performed at Music Theatre of Connecticut's 45-seat theater in Westport, but maybe they should. The intimate space and wonderful circus-tent-themed backdrop by scenic designer Carl Tallent are the perfect setting for the one-piano musical (Music Direction by David Wolfson). The cast is vocally up to the well-known songs like "Soon It's Gonna Rain," "They were You" and the iconic "Try to Remember," sung by El Gallo (Tony Lawson). The role of the mute, who also doubles as the wall between the feuding families, is played by Shanna Ossi, making her professional debut. She wears a Harlequin-type costume designed by Diane Vanderkroef to continue the circus motif. Kathy Calahan choreographs.

What Are the Highlights?
Nicely directed by Kevin Connors, with exceptional lighting, both creative and decorative, by designer Michael Megliol. Comic relief is provided by Mortimer (Jim Schilling) and Henry (played by John Flaherty, who stepped into the role with just two hours of rehearsal when he was tapped to replace a hospitalized Bill Nabel. The transition is seamless. Without the notice of the replacement, we would never have known. Flaherty  is expected to continue through the run (and Nabel is doing well according to MTC's press representative Joe Landry.)

What are the Lowlights?
None. A great show to wrap up the company's residency at the back box site. Next season, its 28th, MTC moves to its new theater space down the road (with The Word Goes Around, Driving Miss Daisy and Little Shop of Horrors announced).

More Information:
The Fantasticks runs at MTC, 246 Post Rd., Westport, through May 4. Performances are Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 4 and 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.; 203-454-3883.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tough Weekend for Connecticut Show Actors

Jessica Naimy, Zachary Infante, Priscilla Lopez, Cary Tedder from the cast of Somewhere. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Hartford Stage canceled the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon performances of Somewhere by Matthew Lopez when an actor sustained an injury.

"We cannot release the name of the actor and we do not employ understudies at Hartford Stage,
said Audra Tanguay Mailhot, public relations manager at Hartford Stage. "We expect the show to go on as planned for Tuesday."

Ticketholders may exchange for another performance of Somewhere, playing through May 4. Contact the Box Office at (860) 527-5151. The Box Office opens daily at noon.

Meanwhile, down at Music Theatre of Connecticut in Westport, John Flaherty stepped into the role of Henry in The Fantasticks with two hours of rehearsal before opening night Friday after Bill Nabel was hospitalized. Nabel is doing well, Joe Landry, public relations representative for MTC said, but it is likely Flaherty will play the role through the show's run through May 4.

PS: If the notice of the replacement hadn't been made, we wouldn't have noticed. Flaherty's shortly rehearsed performance was top notice (look for the review up tomorrow).

--- A R T S ---

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.

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