Monday, January 28, 2013

Stefanie Powers Replaces Valerie Harper in Looped Tour

Stefanie Powers
Emmy Award® nominee Stefanie Powers will play the role of legendary actress Tallulah Bankhead in the national tour of Looped, scheduled to stop at the Bushnell this spring. She replaces Valerie Harper, who was advised by doctors to take an immediate medical leave after having recently been hospitalized.

“It is with deep sadness and regret that I will be unable to honor my commitment to the tour of Looped,” Harper said. “This play has been such a gift and it was my hope and intention to play this role again in the upcoming tour. But given my doctor’s recent recommendations, I must now put all my energy into getting well and renewing my strength.”

“Matthew and I are obviously very sad that Val won't be able to continue,” director Rob Ruggiero said speaking for himself and playwright Matthew Lombardo. “Working with her on this project has been a delight and has brought us both so much joy and laughter. Right now Val needs to focus on her health and the future. We love and respect her immensely and support her during this challenging time. We are very grateful to Stefanie for stepping in so quickly.”

Harper, who has flown back to Los Angeles to continue medical care, praised Powers stating, “In my opinion, Stefanie is the perfect choice to take over this role. She is extraordinarily talented and will make one terrific Tallulah! I have called to give her my blessing and I urge everyone to go out and see this hysterically funny play and support Stefanie’s participation.”

Powers is no stranger to Tallulah Bankhead, having co-starred with her in the 1965 motion picture "Die, Die, My Darling," playing Bankhead’s daughter. It was during post-production of the film that Bankhead had trouble re-recording the infamous line, “And so Patricia, as I was telling you, that deluded rector has in literal effect closed the church to me,” that is the incident on which the play Looped is based. Powers is best known for starring in the television series "Hart to Hart" with Robert Wagner and has received two Emmy Award and five Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress.

The Looped tour launches in Fort Lauderdale at The Parker Playhouse (Feb. 26 – March 3) followed by a Baltimore run at The Hippodrome Theatre (March 5-17) then to Boston at The Majestic Theatre (April 30-May 5) before coming to The Bushnell (May 7-12) where the tour had been scheduled to start this month. The Hartford leg was postponed when Harper was hospitalized. 

Goodspeed Will Produce New Musical Filled with Tunes by Stephen Schwartz

Goodspeed Musicals will produce Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook featuring more than 20 songs by Stephen Schwartz, composer of Wicked, Pippin and Godspell.

With Book by David Stern and music and lyrics by Schwartz, the production will run this fall at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Goodspeed’s home for new musicals.

This romantic comedy blends Schwatrz's best-loved music with some of his lesser known gems. Snapshots takes place in the attic of Sue and Dan, a couple whose 30 year marriage has begun to fall apart. Together they discover a box of photographs which leads them to relive the memories of their past selves captured in the snapshots. Featuring fresh lyrics and orchestrations, Snapshots reveals the humorous twists of how love united them and why life has pushed them apart. Songs include: "Popular" (Wicked), "Corner of the Sky" (Pippin), "Endless Delight" (Baker’s Wife), "That’s How You Know" (from the film “Enchanted”), "All Good Gifts" (Godspell), "Fathers and Sons" (Working) and many more.

This six character musical is different from any other compilation piece in that some of the lyrics are new, rewritten in order to stay true to the story and characters.

"As happens when you're writing an original musical from scratch, the story and the characters made the demands of what the material should be," Schwartz said. "This marriage of story and song lovingly addresses life’s rites of passage, creating characters each audience member can identify with."

The Norma Terris Theatre is located at 33 North Main St., Chester. Tickets will be available through the Goodspeed Box Office later this spring. For more information: 860-873-8668; www.goodspeed.org.

Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby Flies into the Palace

PeterPan and TigerLilly. Photo: Michael Lamonte
The Palace Theater will become home to a band of pirates, fairies and Lost Boys when the national touring Broadway production of Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby flies into Waterbury for four performances, Feb. 15-17.

Peter Pan is a timeless musical full of magical moments, high-flying stunts and action-packed sword fights sure to “hook” audiences of all ages. Join Wendy, her brothers and Peter Pan as they seek adventure on the enchanted island of Neverland while battling Captain Hook and his band of pirates.

An adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic story, this all-new stage production brings Peter Pan to new heights with a fantastic cast that includes Tony® Nominated actress Rigby in the title role. Rigby, who first played Peter Pan in 1990, continues to bring joy to the role 23 years later. Before playing “the boy who won’t grow up,” Rigby was an Olympic gymnast. In 2002, she also starred in the Broadway production of Seussical the Musical as “Cat-In-The-Hat.”  

Before the Friday evening performance on Feb.15, the Palace Theater will host a 6 pm dinner in the Poli Club, located on the theater’s mezzanine level. The three-course dinner, catered by Emily’s Catering Group, is $62.50 per person, which includes tax, service fees, coffee and tea. A cash bar is also available. Seating is limited and reservations can be made when buying tickets through the box office.

Tickets for Peter Pan are $70, $60 and $50: 203-346-2000, www.palacetheaterct.org, box office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury.

Connecticut Arts Connections You Won't Want to Miss

Families with children on the autism spectrum or other sensory challenges ar invited to Downtown Cabaret's first sensory sensitive performance of Freckleface Strawberry, the Musical. Based on the beloved book by celebrated and award-winning actress Julianne Moore. Freckleface and her friends confront bullying and learn to love the skin they’re in. The Downtown Cabaret Theatre is the first professional performing arts organization in the State of Connecticut to offer a Sensory Sensitive Performance of one of its own productions. For more information contact Rosemary Martin Hayduk at 203-576-1634 x 102. Tickets: Sunday, March 3 at 5:30 pm are $15. Other performances for the general public are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays Feb. 23 through March 30. Tickets $18-$24: 203-576-1636; downtowncabaret.org.

The free Nook Farm Book Club series at the Stowe Center continues with a discussion of "The Souls of Black Folk" by W.E.B. Du Bois on Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 5 to 6:30 pm at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. The book is available for purchase in the Stowe Visitor Center. Refreshments will be served at 5 followed by a one-hour discussion beginning at 5:30 pm. Registration is suggested: Call 860-522-9258 ext. 317 or e-mail Info@StoweCenter.org. Free, secure parking is available at the Stowe Center (77 Forest St.) and The Mark Twain House and Museum (351 Farmington Ave.) parking lots.
Yale Opera presents I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues) Feb. 15–17: Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm. Based on the tale of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, this production of Bellini’s opera is sung in Italian with projected English translations. Shubert Theater and Box Office, 247 College Street, New Haven; shubert.com; 800-228-6622;  

The Mattatuck Museum transports you back to the era of the Great Depression with Stars and Bars, a 1938 living newspaper play by Ward Courtney and the Negro Unit of the Connecticut Federal Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7 pm. The reading is performed by the Working Actors Collective and directed by Ed Wierzbicki with music by Elizabeth Drevits and Jeff McQuillan, and stage managed by Geoffrey Ault. Written in 1938, the play attempts to enlighten a “Yankee” character about the true plight of African Americans in Connecticut. This is the first living newspaper about racial issues to get past a first draft, and there is no record of any performance of the play during the New Deal Era. Stars and Bars is specifically based on the history and status of Blacks in the Hartford in the 1930s. The title refers both to the flag of the Confederacy, and to the impediments - "bars"- to freedom implicit in American society. Stars and Bars is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Art for Everyone: The Federal Art Project in Connecticut on view through Feb. 3, 2013. Admission to this program is $7 for members (and students/seniors) and $12 for non-members. Cash bar and light hors d’oeuvres are available at 6:30 pm and the reading will conclude with a short panel discussion with the actors and director. Register in advance at www.mattatuckmuseum.org or call 203-753-0381, ext. 10. Located at 144 West Main St., Waterbury, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday noon to 5 pm. Free parking is located behind the building on Park Place.

Westport Country Playhouse has received a $20,000 grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation for general operating support of the non-profit organization’s 2013 season. The Foundation has awarded over $151 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. For more information, visit www.fccfoundation.org.

The Northwest Connecticut Arts Council is a great place to find out about the latest performances, workshops and opportunities in that part o the state. http://www.artsnwct.org/index.php.

Casting Complete for Yale's Hamlet With Paul Giamatti

Casting is complete for Yale Rep's production of Hamlet, starring Paul Giamatti.

The cast also includes Mamoudou Athie, Gerry Bamman, Chris Bannow, Jarlath Conroy, Austin Durant, Lisa Emery, Robert David Grant, Felicity Jones, Patrick Kerr, Marc Kudisch, Erik Lochtefeld, Michael Manuel, Brooke Parks, Paul Pryce, Tommy Schrider, Mickey Theis, Charlie Tirrell, Nicholas Tucci, Harriet Weaver, and Remsen Welsh. The musicians are Michael Compitello, Brian Ellingsen, Christopher Scanlon, Bill Solomon, and Maura Valenti.

Hanlet will be directed by James Bundy. and features original music composed by Sarah Pickett, set design by Meredith B. Ries, costumes by Jayoung Yoon, lighting by Stephen Strawbridge, sound by Keri Klick, fight direction by Rick Sordelet, vocal coaching by Grace Zandarski and movement coaching by Erica Fae.

The run is scheduled for March 15-April 13 at the University Theatre, 222 York St., New Haven. Tickets range from $20-$96: ww.yalerep.org, 203-432-1234, Box Office, 1120 Chapel St. Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

Julie Andrews, Daughter To Sign Books at Fairfield Bookstore

Emma Walton Hamilton and Julie Andrews. Photo: David Rodgers
Julie Andrews, and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, will make a special appearance at the Fairfield University Bookstore  3 pm Thursday, Feb. 7 to autograph copies of their latest children’s book, “The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart” (Little Brown).

There will be a limited number of books available for signing. Beginning at 9 am on Friday, Feb. 1 the bookstore will begin issuing tickets to the event for those purchasing “The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart.” One ticket per book will be issued.

The Fairfield University Bookstore is located at 1499 Post Road, Fairfield. Store hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 am  to 9 pm.; Friday and Saturday, 9 am to 10 pm; Sunday, noon to 6 pm. More info: 203-255-7756; www.fairfieldbooks.bkstr.com.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Emmy Award Winning Director Teams with the Warner

Rob Schiller and John Bonanni
Emmy Award Winning TV Director Rob Schiller (‘The King of Queens," "Happily Divorced’)  has teamed with John Bonannis, executive director at the Warner's Theatre, to help direct a community theater production of  Curtains running through Feb. 3. For info, visit http://www.warnertheatre.org.

Theater Review: January Joiner -- Long Wharf

Anthony Bowden and Meredith Holzman. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

It’s a Weight-Loss Spa from Hell – Maybe Literally, but We’re Not Sure…
By Lauren Yarger
Billed as a horror comedy, Laura Jacqmin’s January Joiner at Long Wharf Theatre follows two sisters who attend a high-end, weight-loss spa in Florida. It’s a premise that’s promising, but a meandering script that verges on bizarre doesn’t satiate our appetite for a cohesive plot and message.

Most of us feel like we can pull up a chair at the table of having made New Year’s resolutions about losing weight (it is January and the timing couldn’t be better for this world premiere, after all), but after a few yummy appetizers like the cool set and lighting design by Narelle Sissons and Stephen Strawbridge, enhanced by Leah Gelpe’s sound effects, Jacqmin fails to serve up the main dish. The idea of a weight-loss regiment being hell is taken way too far with a seemingly demon-possessed vending machine that becomes a character itself and inexplicably interferes with the action (though to explain how would involve too many spoilers).

At the heart of the story are sisters Terry (Ashlie Atkinson), who needs to lose weight after a health scare, and Myrtle (Meredith Holman), herself a bit on the hefty side, but who comes primarily to support Terry. Oddly, there is only one other participant: Darnell (Daniel Stewart Sherman), back for the eighth time to suit up in the green-and-white gear worn at “Evolve, where the obese man obviously benefits more from social interaction than from the weight- loss program. 

Instructors Brian (Anthony Bowden) and April (Tonya Glanz) look intimidatingly perfect in the same matching warmup suits the overweight participants must don (Dana Botez does the costume design). Brian admires April’s toned gluts while she encourages the students to visualize a knife with which to cut away their excess fat. They can get rid of that pile of carved-off fat on the floor by staying with the program – and away from the vending machine – she coaches.

All isn’t what it appears to be, however. Brian and April’s relationship got complicated during the last session, and she wants it to continue, but now he’s attracted to Myrtle. That’s a problem, for Terry, who has her own romantic hopes for Brian while harboring resentment toward her sister who always seems to best her at everything. And meanwhile, Darnell’s interest in Terry is goes unnoticed.

After a while, Myrtle is pretty sure that vending machine is behind the look alike (played by Maria-Christina Oliveras) claiming to be Terry, but she doubts herself when no one else seems to notice. After all, Myrtle wonders, how well does she really know Terry? How well do we really know anyone deeper than what’s on the surface, including ourselves, seems to be the question not fully explored here. Because there is little character development – with some backstory coming way too late in the play – we really don’t care. After two hours, we head out from the theater is search of a sugary dessert to fill the hunger left by this less-than-fulfilling main course.

Eric Ting helms the production and gets what he can from the actors, but a lack of a theme and a murky message prove too much to overcome, especially with the jog over to the dark side with that outlandish and unexplained vending machine.

January Joiner plays a Long Wharf's Stage II through Feb. 10. Performance times vary. Tickets are $45-$65. (203) 787-4282; www.longwharf.org.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Theater Review: Breath & Imagination -- Hartford Stage

Jubilant Sykes and Kecia Lewis. Photo: T. Charles Erickson
 A Symphony Composed of Music Sung with a Jubilant Heart
By Lauren Yarger
“Jubilant” is a word I could use often when reviewing Daniel Beaty’s new play, Breath & Imagination, receiving its world premiere at Hartford Stage.

It’s the name of star Jubilant Sykes, Sacred Music’s USA Vocalist of the Year, whose portrayal of the first world-renowned African-American classical vocalist really is a jubilant symphony of the movements that make up the career and life of Roland Hayes. “Jubilant” also describes the emotion this rich, moving and satisfying work evokes. It’s a joyful melody all on its own.

History, music and souls harmonize as Hayes is flooded with memories in 1942 Georgia when he dedicates his music school, named in honor of his mother, Angel Mo’ (Kecia Lewis), on the site of the plantation where she had been born a slave.

When he was just a boy, (Sykes makes a stunning transition to the 8-year-old under the skillful direction of Darko Tresnjak) Angel Mo’ encouraged Roland, who sang spirituals in church, to pursue his gift of preaching. It does come naturally – even when he’s talking to the poor, bind horse the family uses to plow their plot of land. All that gets put on hold – including Roland’s schooling – when his father dies in an industrial accident and mother and son are forced to move to Tennessee, however (with Tresnjak’s clever staging bringing to life the horse, the plowing and the trip in the horse-drawn wagon). When Roland’s own life is spared in another accident, Angel Mo’ dedicates him to God’s service and insists the boy become a preacher.

Preaching doesn’t call him as strongly as music does, however and over Angel Mo’s objections, Roland offers his father’s treasured pocket watch to take voice lessons from Mr. Calhoun, who transforms him into an artist who uses his breath and imagination to discover the song of his soul. The instructor and a host of other characters are adroitly played by Thomas Fey (2 Pianos/Four Hands) who accompanies on a piano set center stage. More than 20 musical numbers help tell the play’s story (traditional spirituals and classical music mix with original songs composed by playwright Beaty. Music Direction and Arrangement are by Mike Ruckles.)

Roland wins a college scholarship as a vocal soloist with the Fisk College Jubilee singers, a traveling concert group (in a humorous turn, Fey also portrays the group’s director, Miss Robinson.) Hayes overcomes discrimination on his way to becoming the first African American to solo at Boston Symphony Hall. Concerts before crowned heads in Europe follow and ultimately, he is credited with “creating space in the classical repertoire for the Negro spiritual” according to program notes.

Lewis’s pitch-perfect voice and commanding portrayal of Roland’s no-nonsense, determined and loving mother is perfect harmony with Sykes’ soulful portrayal fueled by a beautiful, rich baritone (he’s classically trained and has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and at Carnegie Hall). Beaty’s uncompromising research (he packs an amazing amount of information into an entertaining hour and 40 minutes) is neatly tucked into what obviously is a tribute and labor of love.

Humor, drama, history and passion are keys used to play a lovely chord as Roland hears music in everything he does and Tresnjak is the conductor who puts visual artistry to the emotions and plot. One scene, where Roland’s feelings and longings are revealed while he walks on top of the chairs at the music school with a revolving stage (David P. Gordon, scenic design) depicting the passage of time is particularly masterful.

This one is a must see (and I’m hoping the show will find its way onto a New York stage so I will have the pleasure of seeing it again. Lewis already has Broadway chops with turns in Leap of Faith and Chicago). A recording certainly would be welcome as well. Just Jubilant.

Breath & Imaginaton plays through Feb. 9 at Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford. Performances: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sundays and select Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 pm. Tickets $26.50-$93.50. (860) 527-5151; www.hartfordstage.org.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Non-Equity Auditions Slated for Shakespeare on the Sound

Shakespeare on the Sound will be holding CT non-union auditions at the end of January by appointment for summer production of As You Like It.

All roles are currently available. Headshots and resumes will be accepted electronically at casting@22qentertainment. An audition time will be given after submission. Visit www.shakespeareonthesound.org for more information. Claire Shannon Kelly of New Canaan will direct.

Now in its 18th season, Shakespeare on the Sounddraws audiences to the waterfront, under the stars in Greenwich and Norwalk each summer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cool Hand Luke Benefits Hole in the Wall Kids


Courtesy of Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
"Celebrating Cool Hand Luke and the Gang" will gather new and longtime Hole in the Wall Camp friends for some big screen fun 7pm Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport.

A portion of each $100 ticket is tax dedeuctible. Sponsorship packages are also available and include a pre-screening reception.

The festivities will kick-off with highlights of Camp's growing services followed by a viewing of "Cool Hand Luke" starring Paul Newman, who opened The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut in 1988 so that children coping with serious illnesses could have a special hideout where they could simply be kids. The Camp, which served 288 campers its first year, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012-13 with 20,000 children and family members now experiencing "a different kind of healing" annually.

Each year, 2,500 are served onsite and 19,000 visits by the Hospital Outreach Program bring the fun and friendship of Camp into more than 20 sites throughout the Northeast - all free of charge. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is celebrating this milestone with events and initiatives that will gather the Camp family together and invite new friends to support Paul Newman's dream.To purchase tickets visit the camp's website or contact Jennifer Weeks, director of special events, at 203-772-0522 x19 or jennifer.weeks@holeinthewallgang.org.

Should inclement weather prevent the event from taking place on Jan. 24, "Celebrating Cool Hand Luke & the Gang" will be held on March 7.

Valerie Harper Hospitalized; Looped Postpones Bushnell Engagement



The Bushnell has postponed its engagment of Looped by Matthew Lombardo, following the hospitalization last week of star Valerie Harper, who is expected to make a full recovery.

Looped, which was to launch its national tour at The Bushnell’s Belding Theater Jan. 24 – Feb. 6 now will be performed in Mortensen Hall May 7-12. All Bushnell patrons who have purchased tickets to Looped will receive new tickets. For the May run, season ticket holders will now have their regular seats on their scheduled performance night or matinee in the Mortensen. Single-ticket buyers will be contacted by the Bushnell box office in the next several weeks and re-ticketed from their Belding seats to comparably-priced seats in Mortensen Hall.
The tour will launch in Fort Lauderdale followed by Baltimore and Boston before the Hartford stop.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mark Twain House Gets New Executive Director

Gregory Boyko, President of the Board of Trustees of The Mark Twain House and Museum, announced today the appointment of Dr. Cindy Lovell as the museum's executive director.

Lovell is executive director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, MO. Lovell was chosen after a six-month national search,with a Search Committee of the Board of Trustees considering nearly 50 applicants for the position. The museum was aided in its efforts by PBR Executive Search,a New York-based firm,and the position was advertised in museum publications nationwide.

"We are delighted to have been able to find someone with Dr. Lovell's unique combination of strengths," said Boyko. "She has a strong track record in fundraising,proven leadership,passion,energy -- and most important,she has a deep devotion to Mark Twain. We look forward to working with her to create a greater presence for The Mark Twain House and Museum by building on Mark Twain as an international icon through an increased focus on writing and literature."
 
"To have served in Hannibal and now in Hartford at the two homes where Sam Clemens resided the longest is the highest honor I could know," Lovell said. "I'm excited and eager to continue the collaboration between the two homes in our shared vision of preserving Mark Twain's legacy."
 
Lovell succeeds Jeffrey L. Nichols,who left the museum in July to take a position as President and CEO of Poplar Forest,a historic home owned by Thomas Jefferson in Lynchburg, VA. She will begin her new position on March 4. Interim Executive Director Patti Philippon, the museum's Beatrice Fox Auerbach Chief Curator, will continue to direct the museum until that date.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Theater Review: Million Dollar Quartet -- The Bushnell

The Natinal Tour of Million Dollar Quartet. Photo: Photo: Jeremy Daniel
It’s Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins Jammin' Live – Or Pretty Close
By Lauren Yarger
It’s 1956 and Carl Perkins (Connecticut native James Barry) is trying to record “Matchbox,” the song he hopes will put him back at the top of the charts. Providing some distraction during the recording session (and adding to the music), however, are showoff Jerry Lee Lewis (Benjamin Goddard) and legends Johnny Cash (David Elkins) and Elvis Presley (Billy Woodward).

Such is the setting for Million Dollar Quartet, the 2010 Tony-Award-nominated musical based on a real-life meeting of the four legends in the Memphis storefront studio of Sun Records on Dec. 4, 1956. It makes a tour stop at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford through Jan. 13.

Conceived, and originally directed by Floyd Mutrux, the musical offers a minimal book by Colin Escott and Mutrux around the events of that evening, with history interspersed with tunes. It’s really about getting to hear the music, though. More than 20 songs cram in a brisk 90-minute format without intermission.

“Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Fever,” “Down By the Riverside,” “Hound Dog,” and “Great Balls of Fire” have the audience bopping and foot-tapping. The actors play their own instruments and are assisted by backup band members Corey Kaiser and Billy Shaffer on bass and drums. Also adding some variety is Kelly Lamont as Dyanne, a singer Elvis has brought along with him on his way to introduce her to his mother.

The four recording artists have been brought together by Sam Phillips (Vince Nappo), the “Father of Rock and Roll,” who hopes to sign Johnny to a new three-year contract. What he doesn’t know is that the country music star already has signed with another label, and so has Perkins, tired of being neglected in favor of the newest music sensation Phillips discovers (and it looks like cocky Jerry Lee is the heir apparent to that title).

Fans of the music will enjoy the entertainment, but don’t look for impersonations. Elkins sounds a lot like Cash, but the others don’t sound or look like the legends they portray (and those dazzled by B-roll video of Tony-Award winner Levi Kreis’ acrobatic piano acumen as Broadway’s Jerry Lee Lewis shouldn’t expect the same here, though Goddard performs the songs well enough.) Sound (Kai Harada, design) is a problem: It’s difficult to hear/understand Goddard and there’s too much electric guitar and too little piano in the mix).

One nice surprise is Nappo’s portrayal of Phillips. Directed here by Eric Schaeffer, Nappo manages to take a minor role (he doesn’t sing, so can get lost in all the music) and turn it into a layered portrayal of a man trying to keep his company afloat while fighting feelings of betrayal by the legends who never would have made it to the top without him.

Stick around at the end for a prolonged curtain-call jam session which arguably is the most entertaining part of the evening with its own set (Derek McLane, design) and costume (Jane Greenwood, design) changes.

Million Dollar Quartet plays The Bushnell Through Jan. 13; Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2 pm and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 pm and 6:30 pm. Tickets $20-$65 (860) 860-987-5900; www.bushnell.org.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Classes for Youth, Adults on Calendar at Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage announces the schedule for youth and adult theatre classes for 2013:

Children's Theatre classes beginning in January take place on Saturdays from Jan. 19 to March 23, and Tuesdays from Jan. 22 to March 26. Classes for ages 5 to 8 include Story Theatre, Let's Act, Musical Theatre Cabaret, Jr., Mini-Production: "We Come From Everywhere," and Production Class: DISNEY'S DALMATION KIDS. Classes for ages 9 and up include Acting Out!, Youth Acting, Acting for the Camera & Beyond!, Theatre Sports Comedy Improvisation Troupe, and Production Class: Myth Adventures: Five Greek Classics. 

Hartford Stage also offers full-week theatre programs for youth ages 7-14 Feb. 18-22 and April 15-19 (school vacations). A free spring break program is available for Hartford residents in grades 6-8 during the Hartford Public Schools spring break April 1-5.

Classes for adults ages 18 and up include Scene Study and Actor Showcase. Scene Study is a six-week course on Mondays, January 21 to February 25 from 7 to 9 pm. Actor Showcase auditions will be held on Monday, Jan. 14 from 6 to 9 pm by appointment only. Rehearsals will be held weeknights during March, April and early May for a performance on Monday, May 13.

Other adult classes include Next Step: Improv (Feb. 5-March 26) and Acting Shakespeare (April 29-June 3). Private coaching in Acting and Voice are also available by appointment. For more information and to register for a class, call 860-520-7244 or visit www.hartfordstage.org/education.

CT Arts Connections You'll Want to Make

The Palace Theater in Waterbury is throwing a “Tupperware Sale” on tickets to the opening night performances of the interactive, Off-Broadway stage show Dixie's Tupperware Party. For a limited time only, today through January 14, regularly priced $40 tickets to the 7:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night performances of the show (January 15 – 17) will be available for $20. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at www.palacetheaterct.org, or in person at the Box Office, 100 East Main Street in Waterbury.


Yale School of Drama presents Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill, directed by Margot Bordelon, Jan. 22-26 at the Iseman Theater, 156 Chapel St. The cast includes Chris Bannow, Timothy Hassler, Gabe Levey, Brenda Meaney, Hannah Leigh Sorenson, and Mickey Theis. Tickets, $10-$25, are available online at drama.yale.edu, by phone at (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Box Office, 1120 Chapel St. at York Street. 

Westport Country Playhouse has launched a new mobile website with information especially tailored for quick viewing anytime, anywhere on a mobile device, such as a smart phone or tablet. The mobile site makes it easy for Playhouse patrons on the go to purchase tickets, get directions, check out events, and browse videos and social media, all from a mobile device. Additionally, a free-of-charge Westport Country Playhouse App can also be downloaded.The mobile site and App may be accessed from any mobile device using the same URL as the Playhouse’s website, www.westportplayhouse.org.

Hartford Stage will host a post-show Clergy Panel discussion about faith with members of the Greater Hartford religious community after the performance of Breath & Imagination on Tuesday, Jan. 15.  Before Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson, there was Roland Hayes - the first world-renowned African-American classical vocalist. Born the son of a slave, Roland discovered his voice as a young boy singing spirituals in church. A world premiere, Breath & Imagination, chronicles his amazing journey from a plantation in Georgia, to singing before kings and queens in Europe. At the heart of the story is Roland's loving, yet complex relationship with his mother - his Angel Mo'. Breath & Imagination explores the life of an American pioneer through traditional spirituals and classical music, as well as original songs by Daniel Beaty.

Breath & Imagination is a new play by Beaty, directed by Darko Tresnjak. The cast includes international classical music vocalist and gospel singer Jubilant Sykes, Broadway veteran Kecia Lewis-Evans (Once on This Island and Chicago), and pianist Tom Frey ("2 Pianos/4 Hands"). For more information, visit www.hartfordstage.org.

At the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport, the upcoming schedule of Opera in Cinema incudes:

Le Nozze di Figaro (Royal Opera House)
Sun 1/27 1:00pm
Don Carlo (La Scala)
Sun 2/10 1:00pm
Lohengrin (La Scala)
Sun 3/10 1:00pm
La Bohème (Royal Opera House)
Sun 3/24 1:00pm
Tosca (Royal Opera House)
Sun 4/7 1:00pm
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Palace Hosts Concert to Benefit Newtown; Linda Eder, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Stephen Schwartz Among Celebrities Participating

Linda Eder, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Stephen Schwartz are among celebrities participating in a benefit for Newtown: “From Broadway with Love: A Benefit Concert For Sandy Hook” 7 pm Jan. 28 at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, just 20 minutes from the town where 26 were killed in a school shooting Dec. 14, 2012. All proceeds and donations will go to United Way of Western Connecticut’s Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

“From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Sandy Hook” will feature song, dance, and other appearances from some of the biggest names on Broadway, together with select students from various Newtown choirs and dance groups.

Renowned Broadway performers scheduled to appear include Mitchell (Tony Award winner: Kiss Me Kate, Linda Eder (Jekyll & Hyde), Stephen Schwartz (6-time Tony Award nominee, Wicked, Godspell), Micky Dolenz (Aida, member of The Monkees), Marc Shaiman (Tony Award winner: Hairspray, TV’s "SMASH"), Michael Cerveris (Tony Award winner for Assassins) Christine Ebersole (Tony Award winner: Grey Gardens), Frank Wildhorn (Bonnie & Clyde, Civil War, Jekyll & Hyde), Philip Boykin (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess), Richard Kind (The Producers, TV’s "Mad About You"), Andrea McArdle (Annie, Les Miserables), Nikki Blonsky (Hairspray movie), Alan Muraoka (Pacific Overtures, TV’s "Sesame Street"), Jan Maxwell (Follies), Robin de Jesus (La Cage Aux Folles and In The Heights), Seth Rudetsky (The Ritz), Julia Murney (Wicked, Lennon), Isabela Moner (Evita), as well as members from various casts of Million Dollar Quartet: Lance Guest, Erik Hayden, Randy Redd, Dan Mills, and Victoria Matlock. More performers will be announced soon and artists are subject to change.

Brett Boles, author of the musical Foreverman, and Broadway producer Van Dean, both from the Newtown area, are the original conceivers of the benefit concert.

The benefit concert will be directed by Michael Unger with certain segments directed by Jeff Calhoun, Stephen Nachamie, David Lee and Daisy Prince and is produced by Van Dean and Kenny Howard of the Broadway Consortium, Jennifer Isaacson, Ken Mahoney, Sarahbeth Grossman, Bethney Ruggiero, Michael A. Alden, Rob Hinderliter and Yvette Kojic. Jeffrey Saver (End Of The Rainbow) is music directing and conducting an orchestra consisting of many top Broadway musicians. Librettist David Thompson (The Scottsboro Boys, Steel Pier, Chicago) is helping the creative team shape the show. Cindi Rush Casting is on board as Casting Consultant. Tom Bussey is Technical Supervisor, John Petrafesa is Sound Designer, David Agress is Lighting Designer and Tom McPhillips is Scenic Designer. Zoya Kachadurian is Production Stage Manager.

Tickets range from $50 to $250. To purchase tickets or make a tax-deductible donation, please visit www.FromBroadwayWithLove.org. Contact Ken Mahoney at 914-419-3762 or sponsorship@frombroadwaywithlove.org for information on how be become a corporate sponsor.

This benefit event is made possible, in part, by the generous donations from many companies and individuals including Bermuda Limousine International, One Dream Sound, the Palace Theater of Waterbury, CT, Atomic Rental, Consulting for a Cause, The Silent Orchestra and more. Please see www.FromBroadwayWithLove.org for a full list.

If you are unable to attend, but wish to contribute, dontions may be sent to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

Westport Playhouse's Harbor Will Get a New York Dock

Paul Anthony Stewart and Bobby Steggert. Photo:T. Charles Erickson
Harbor, which had its world premiere at the Westport Country Playhouse last summer, will be presented by New ork's Primary Stages July through September 2013.

Written by two-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), the play will be directed by Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director, who also helmed the Playhouse production. The original designers will be attached to the New York production: Andrew Jackness, scenic design; Candice Donnelly, costume design; Japhy Weideman, lighting design; and John Gromada, sound design.

Harbor centers on Ted and Kevin, who have been together for 10 years in their picture perfect Sag Harbor home. When Kevin's ne'er-do-well sister Donna, whom he hasn’t seen in years, and her 15-year-old daughter arrive out of the blue, the pair's life changes and tensions quickly bubble to the surface. For a review of the Westport production, click here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christopher Plummer To Receive O'Neill's Monte Cristo Award

Christopher Plummer will receive the O'Neill Theater Center's 13th Monte Cristo Award April 15 in recognition of "his monumental achievements and contributions to the American and international theater community."

The award will be presented at a gala dinner held in his honor at the Edison Ballroom in New York City at 6:30 pm. Details on the program and presenter will follow at a later date. For sponsorship opportunities, table and ticket reservations, or more information about the O’Neill’s Monte Cristo Award, please contact Ainslie Seeber at 860-443-5378 x285 or events@theoneill.org.

The Monte Cristo Award is presented to a prominent theater artist in recognition of a distinguished career exemplifying Eugene O’Neill’s “pioneering spirit, unceasing artistic commitment, and excellence.” Past recipients of the Award include Michael Douglas, James Earl Jones, Harold Prince, Kevin Spacey, Neil Simon, Jason Robards, Jr., Edward Albee, August Wilson, Zoe Caldwell, Brian Dennehy, Karl Malden, Arthur & Barbara Gelb and Wendy Wasserstein.

Looped Tour Launches in New York -- and at The Bushnell

Playwright and Connecticut native Matthew Lombardo, Brian Hutchison, Valerie Harper, Matthew Montelongo and Director Rob Ruggiero. Photo: Lauren Yarger
The launch for national Tour of Looped by Matthew Lombardo and starring Valerie Harper as film legend Tallulah Bankhead was held Monday, Jan. 7 at Pearl Studios in New York.
 
Brian Hutchison, who played Danny, the beliguered film editor trying to get one line of dialogue recorded for Bankhead's last film 1965's last film, "Die! Die! My Darling!," reprises the role for the tour which launches at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford Jan. 24-Feb. 6.
 
Matthew Montelongo joins the production, directed by TheaterWorks Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero, as Steve, the sound technician. Additional tour dates are scheduled for Fort Lauderdale and Baltimore with more locations expected to be announced soon.
 
The tour launches shortly after Harper's new memoir, "I Rhoda," (Gallery Books) releases Jan 15 (look for her on Good Morning America and the other morning shows starting Jan, 14). Harper received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the short 2010 Broadway production of Looped (also directed by Ruggiero).
Looped is produced by Tony Cacciotti, Ann Cady Scott & The Tallulah Organization in association with The Pasadena Playhouse. The design team includes Adrian Jones (sets), William Ivey Long (costumes) Michael Gilliam (lighting) and Michael Hooker (sound).

Tickets at the Bushnell range from $35 to $60. The extended run of this production will be held in the Belding Theater. Visit http://www.bushnell.org/index.cgi/56622.

Bushnell donors were onhand at the New York launch Monday. Photo: Paul Marte.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Top Picks for 2012

Tracy Letts and Parker Posey in Yale Rep's The Realstic Jonses. Photo: © Joan Marcus, 2012
Here are my top picks -- along with my BroadwayWorld.com colleagues -- for 2012. Read the article at http://ct.broadwayworld.com/article/Connecticut-Best-of-2012-Theater-Picks-20121226.
C O N N E C T I C U T
--- A R T S ---
C O N N E C T I O N

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

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