Friday, December 24, 2010

On Vacation

We've been enjoying a bit of a break and will be on vacation through New Year's. To you and yours, we wish the happiest of holidays.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quick Hit Review: Bossa Nova -- Yale

Francesca Choy-Kee and Libby Woodbridge in Bossa Nova. Photo © Joan Marcus, 2010.

What: Bossa Nova, by Kirsten Greenidge, directed by Evan Yionoulis. The relationship between submissive daughter, Dee (Francesca Choy-Kee)
and controlling mother Lady (Ella Joyce) comes to a head in this well- written study of broken dreams, forgiveness and standing up for what you believe is right.

Memories of her experiences at a New England boarding school flood back when Lady announces that she's sending her other daughter, Jane (Malenky Welsh) to the mostly-white school where Dee never fit in.

When: The run concludes Saturday, Dec. 18.

Where: Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel St. at York Street).

Who Will Enjoy this?: Anyone who has had a controlling parent, a failed relationship or who has struggled with taking a stand.

Highlights:
Grace Mahoney as Dee's quirly artist roommate at the school is a hoot. She's funny and sad all at once. Michael Cabot gives an affecting performance as the jazz worshipping teacher with whom Dee becomes romantically involved.

Lowlights: Part of the plot that is supposed to come as a surprise was telegraphed by a flubbed line the night I saw the show, though things seemed pretty obvious by that point any way.

Note: Mature subject matter.

Tickets range from $10 to $85 and are available online at http://www.yalerep.org/, by phone at 203-432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office, 1120 Chapel St. at York Street). Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quick Hit Review: Cirque Dreams Holidaze -- The Palace

Performance tonight at 7:30.
What: Cirque Dreams Holidaze, where holiday dreams meet fantasy and imagination. Giant ginergbread men, snowmen and candy canes provide a backdrop for aerial, contortionist, juggling and balancing acts performed by an international cast dressed in sparkly and flowing costumes.

When: A limited engagement at the Palace Theater, Waterbury, ending tonight. For information and tickets, call 203-346-2000, visit http://www.palacetheaterct.org/, or go in person to the box office. Groups of 20 or more qualify for discounted rates and should call the Group Sales hotline at 203-346-2002.

Where: The Palace Theater, 100 East Main St. in Waterbury

Who Will Enjoy this?: Kids, mostly, but a few of the acts are very skilled and will entertain the whole family.

Highlights:
  • An audience interactive bell-ringing song that is quite funny and tonight's segment will offer an added surprise for one audience member.
  • The song "Every Child," performed by the the Ice Queen, the Angel, the Dream Engineer and company at the top of Act Two.

  • Best part of the night for me was the expression of total disbelief on the face of my companion when Elvis, playing a Christmas-tree-shaped guitar joined the action.
Lowlights:
  • Some irritating, VERY LOUD, ear-blsitering, pounding, canned music that doesn't even stop during a lengthy intermission.

  • People talking non-stop throughout the performance.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Script in Hand: Holiday Play with Music at Westport Country Playhouse

The Greatest Gift, a special family holiday playreading with music, will be presented by Westport Country Playhouse in association with Bisno Productions as part of the Playhouse’s popular Script in Hand series, on Monday, Dec.13 at 7 pm. Tickets to the one-night-only event are $15.

With book and lyrics by David Wiltse and music by Denis King, this new play tells the story of the Smith-Goldman family who celebrate the holiday season in their own way. When 8-year-old Emma bumps her head in a fall, sending her into a fantastical dream world, she and her parents discover that what really matters has nothing to do with gifts and ritual and all to do with who you love.

The cast includes Jeremy Peter Johnson as Daniel/Grandfather; Stacie Morgain Lewis as Jill/Grandmother; Howard McGillin as Oscar/Showman; Orly Salik of Westport as Emma; and Luke Sauer of Westport as Young Daniel. Actors are subject to change.

In addition to The Greatest Gift, the Playhouse’s upcoming December events include Seasons with Tracie Thoms, a concert, on Friday, Dec.10; The Clowns and Mr. Beckett, an evening with Bill Irwin and Doug Skinner, on Saturday, Dec. 11; Season’s Greetings, a family festivities afternoon, on Sunday, Dec. 12; and The Broadway Boys, a holiday concert Broadway style, on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18 and 19.

For more information or ticket purchases, call the box office at 203-227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets may be purchased online at www.westportplayhouse.org.

Bring Toys for Tots to Long Wharf Dec. 11

Long Wharf Theatre is joining forces with the US Marine Corps Reserves for a Toys for Tots drive on Saturday, Dec. 11.

The drive will take place in the Long Wharf Theatre parking lot from 1 to 6 .m. Marines will be on hand to collect new, unwrapped toys. The event coincides with Long Wharf Theatre’s production of Shirley Valentine, by Willy Russell, running on Stage II through Jan. 2.

“For more information about Toys for Tots, visit www.toysfortots.org. For more information about the show and the 2010-11 Long Wharf Theatre season, visit the new www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

Long Wharf Announces Audience Engagement Program

The process of creating a new play all comes down to an initial moment of creation – an instance, an event, a word, phrase or image that starts a playwright towards a compelling story. The quest for that creative spark is a fascinating one.

Long Wharf Theatre has put together a program to illustrate to audiences how that moment of creation is nurtured and given life on stage. The SPARK program, led by Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting, is designed to allow audiences to engage in a series of hands-on experiences that illuminate Long Wharf Theatre’s work. Participants will learn the specific skill of reading a play, meet the cast and creative team of the new play Agnes Under The Big Top, learn exactly what a director does, giving a new perspective on the work brought to life on Stage II.

“I've been given the great gift of getting to know our audiences through our post-show conversations – they've come to feel like collaborators in this making that we do. So I wanted to give back a little and invite them into our process, give them a little taste of this electric feat that we pursue all season long. I hope they'll come out for this, take part, and be inspired!” Ting said.

All of the events surround the new play Agnes Under The Big Top, written by Aditi Brennan Kapil and directed by Ting, and presented March 2 through April 3 on Stage II. The play is a magical tale of hope, identity, and reinvention, exploring the journey of immigrants in New York City.

The hope is that by endowing a group of committed audience members with insider knowledge, Long Wharf Theatre can create ambassadors for new work. Access to this unique lecture series costs $15. This nominal fee will support Long Wharf Theatre’s efforts to create new plays and support emerging playwrights. Space is limited for this unique opportunity.

All events are an hour long, unless otherwise noted.

HOW TO READ A PLAY (January 12). Learn not just how to read a play, but how to see it. Join Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting in a 90 minute seminar as we explore the different tools a playwright uses to convey rhythms and meaning. Learn how dramatic structure and text analysis can enhance your understanding of a play.

FIRST REHEARSAL (February 1). Meet the cast and creative team on their first day of rehearsal. Hear the designers present the plans for the set, costumes, lights, and sound and listen to the director’s opening remarks as we launch into our four-week investigation of the play.

THE DIRECTOR’S ROLE (February 16). Mid-way through the rehearsal process, we’ll talk about the challenges a director faces in tying together the many creative voices contributing to the production: From communicating with designers, to working with actors, to supporting the playwright’s vision.

PREVIEWS! BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER (March 7). Get a backstage tour of the production. See the play come to life on our Stage II. Learn about technical rehearsals and the work our shops do to create what you see on stage. Hear from playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil as we bring closure to what we’re sure will be a wild ride!

For more information about Long Wharf Theatre or to purchase tickets, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

Ivoryton Playhouse Stages Greatest Show on Earth

R. Bruce Connelly as Barnum and Beverley Galpin as his wife, Chairy. Photo by Anne Hudson

What? Barnum
Where? Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street
When? Dec. 9 - 19. Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2pm; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings at 7:30pm;
How? Tickets: 860-767-7318 /on-line at http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/
More: Prices: $30 adults/ $25 seniors/ $20 students/$15 children

Celebrity Autobiography Casting Announced at Long Wharf

Joe Pantoliano, best known for his role as Ralph Cifaretto on “The Sopranos,” Tony Award-winner Roger Bart, who recently played Dr. Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein on Broadway, and comedian Michael Ian Black join the cast of Celebrity Autobiography at Long Wharf Theatre.

The show runs Dec. 29-30 on the Mainstage. The performances take place at 7 and 9:30 pm. Tickets are $40.

In addition to his role on “The Sopranos,” Pantoliano has appeared in over 100 films and television programs. He is a Connecticut resident. Bart, a Norwalk native, received a Tony Award for his performance as Snoopy in the revival of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. He was nominated for another Tony Award for The Producers. Black, a writer and actor, began his career with The State, a sketch comedy troupe he co-founded at New York University in 1988, which went on to have a successful run on MTV. He then co-created the Comedy Central television series "Viva Variety," a fake European variety show and played Phil Stubbs, the quirky bowling alley manager on NBC's "Ed."

Rachel Dratch, Karen Ziemba and show co-creators Dayle Reyfel and Eugene Pack, have previously been announced as part of the cast. Further casting announcements are pending.

Celebrity Autobiography, created and developed by Emmy Award-nominated writer-performer Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel, recently won the 2009 Drama Desk Award in the category of Unique Theatrical Experience and the 2010 Bistro Awards. For more information about the show and the 2010-11 Long Wharf Theatre season, visit the new http://www.longwharf.org/ or call 203-787-4282.

Hartford Stage Announces Fräulein Maria for SummerStage 2011

Family-friendly Dance Piece Performed to The Sound of Music Soundtrack
Hartford Stage will launch its 2011 SummerStage season next June with Doug Elkins' & Friends' Fräulein Maria, the innovative and award-winning dance piece performed to the soundtrack to Rodgers & Hammerstein's movie classic, "The Sound of Music."

Fräulein Maria has a cast of 14 dancers and was conceived and choreographed by Elkins. The production is directed by Barbara Karger and Michael Preston and is presented in cooperation with The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. Tickets for Fräulein Maria are on sale now to subscribers and go on sale to the general public Dec. 10. The production will run at Hartford Stage June 15 - 26, 2011.

Fräulein Maria is Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music as re-imagined by Elkins. It began as a love letter to Elkins' children and is now a bona fide family tradition as well as a gender bending, tour-de-force comedy. Elkins' humor shines through his idiomatic tips of the hat to such dance legends as Martha Graham, Paul Taylor and Merce Cunningham. He merges modern and popular dance forms including hip-hop and "vogueing," reinventing this beloved classic into an edgy and fun cabaret romp.

Tickets range from $25 - $50. To purchase tickets, call the Hartford Stage Box Office at 860-527-5151, or visit our website at www.hartfordstage.org. Groups of 10 or more may receive discounts; call the box office for further information.
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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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