Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Living With Guns Discussion on Tap at the Mark Twain

Craig Whitney. Photo: Heidi Whitney
The Mark Twain House & Museum will present a free public discussion with former New York Times foreign correspondent and editor Craig Whitney on the subject of his book "Living with Guns: A Liberal's Case for the 2nd Amendment" 7 pm Thursday, Feb. 28.

The discussion will be moderated by Bob Margolis, COO of Farmington-based TANGO, The Alliance for Non-Profit Growth and Opportunity, which helps non-profits save money on professional service firms. Margolis, a conservative, is a pistol permit instructor and a member of the Metacon Gun Club in Simsbury.

The intent is civil discourse on a very timely and important subject, in the spirit of Mark Twain's endless curiosity and deep concern about the ills of society and humanity. The hour-long program will be followed by a booksigning.

Whitney spent his entire professional career as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor at The New York Times, where he was assistant managing editor in charge of standards and ethics when he retired in 2009.

Also coming up at the House and Museum:
On Wednesday, March 13, "The Trouble Begins at 5:30," the monthly series of free, after-work lectures at The Mark Twain House & Museum, will feature Heinrich Barth's story of his African voyage as told by Steve Kemper, the journalist, science writer and author of "A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa".

The evening starts in the Museum Center at 5 with a reception featuring wine, coffee and hors d'oeuvres, then moves to the auditorium at 5:30 for the lecture. A booksigning will follow the event. 
Then, professional storyteller (for adults) Tom Lee, who believes that stories are the creative inheritance of all Irish-Americans and of all the world, will perform a selection of Irish stories and legends -- "Celtic Echoes: Myths & Stories from Ancient Ireland" -- on Saint Patrick's Day,  2 pm Sunday, March 17. Admission is $15. This program is not suitable for children. For reservations, please call 860-280-3130.

Theater Review: American Idiot -- The Bushnell

Jenna Rubaii and Thomas Hettrick. Photo: John Daughtry
The Music Comes Through Loud and Clear; The Story, Not So Much
By Lauren Yarger
A group of friends, loud music, drugs, sex, war and rebellion against parental authority. If you’re thinking Spring Awakening or Hair, you’re close, but just a generation or two off. This one is American Idiot, a Punk Rock musical featuring songs from Green Day and making a tour stop at the Bushnell.

Green Day’s vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and Director Michael Meyer (who also directed Spring Awakening) penned the book (Armstrong also writes the lyrics) around the songs from the band's popular concept album “American Idiot” and some of its other works including “21st Century Breakdown.”

In post 9/11 America, Johnny (Alex Nee) is fed up with his parents and life in the suburbs.

"I'm the son of rage and love. The Jesus of Suburbia, from the bible of none of the above, on a steady diet of soda pop and Ritalin..." he sings.

He and friends Will (dreamy-voiced Casey O’Farrell) and Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) decide to leave, but Will stays behind when he discovers his girlfriend, Heather (Kennedy Caughell), is pregnant. Tunny joins the military and Johnny goes off to the city where he experiences sex with Whatsername (Alyssa DiPalma) and drugs with St. Jimmy (Trent Saunders), a sort of anti-Christ to Johnny’s Jesus of Suburbia.

Tunny, injured in the fighting, fantasizes about The Extraordinary Girl (Jenna Rubaii) who hovers above his hospital bed in a burka and joins him for some imaginative flying theatrics. Meanwhile, a new baby places strain on Will and Heather’s relationship ("Too Much, Too Soon"). Drugs take hold of Johnny’s life and ruin his relationship with Whatsername. The reflective “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is one of the few songs that breaks up the pounding rock beat of the music.

Disillusioned, Johnny realizes that he has proved his stepfather wrong. The boy has amounted to nothing after all. He fights his addiction and returns home to suburbia in a redemptive message that you won't really find in Hair or Spring Awakening...

While all of that story was clear in the Broadway production (which won Tony Awards for Set and lighting designers Christine Jones and Kevin Adams), it gets lost here amidst the onslaught of flashing lights, a backdrop housing many video monitors and moving video projections (Darrel Maloney, design), sharp, robust choreography that propels the large ensemble around and on top of the set and loud music arranged and orchestrated by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal). Most of the audience comments I heard on the way out were about there not being much of a story. 

The Punk Rock and subject matter (with strong language throughout) won’t be for everyone. Some people, most with younger children, left about 20 minutes into the production with a few others heading out later – probably when they realized there wasn’t going to be an intermission (it’s a 90-minute one-act.) Also offensive is the fact that the women characters all have no apparent purpose in the story except to be sexual partners of the more fully developed male characters (two of the women don’t even get real names). The vocals are strong, however, and Green Day and “American Idiot” fans will enjoy the music.

American Idiot plays through March 3at the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Performances are; Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm. Tickets $20-$82 (860) 987-5900; www.bushnell.org.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Comes Early for Waterbury

Celtic Crossroads. Photo: Courtesy of the Palace
Waterbury will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a few days early when western Ireland’s most talented export, Celtic Crossroads, bring the past, present and future of Irish music to the Palace Theater on Wednesday, March 13, at 7:30 pm. Tickets for the group’s World Fusion Tour are $45 and $35: 203-346-2000, www.palacetheaterct.org, box office, 100 East Main St.

Critically-acclaimed as “one of the most authentic and exhilarating shows to come from Ireland in decades,” Celtic Crossroads features a bold, young group of seven world-class musicians, who began their journey busking on the streets of Galway in the west of Ireland. The cast, all sons and daughters of musicians steeped in the tradition of the Emerald Isle’s most cherished, handed-down tunes, collectively play over twenty instruments and are redefining the way Celtic music is experienced and performed.

Their international World Fusion Tour offers audiences an explosion of youthful energy and dazzling musicianship that abounds with fusions of traditional Irish music, bluegrass, gypsy, and jazz. Each performance is a tribute to their relatives and their country, and each song is played with wild and raucous energy that reenergizes the soul and leaves their audiences stomping for more.

The name Celtic Crossroads originates from a time in Ireland when neighboring communities met at the crossroads between towns and villages to socialize long before the pub tradition began. With a focus on keeping the tradition of Irish music alive, each performer nurtures this bygone concept, but by virtue of their young age and raw talent, they high-kick this tradition into the twenty-first century. Info: http://www.celticcrossroads.ie.

HSO Jazz & Strings Pays Tribute to Billie Holiday

HSO JAZZ AND STRINGS: Lady in Satin: A Tribute to Billie Holidaywith Rosena Hill-Jackson, vocalist; Gene Bozzi, artistic director & drums; Edward Rozie, bass; Walter Gwardyak, piano
Friday, March 8, 2013 │ 8:00 p.m.
Theater of the Performing Arts at the Learning Corridor│359 Washington Street, Hartford│Free, Secure Parking
Ticket Information: Tickets are $40 for center orchestra seating and $20 for general orchestra seating. Student tickets are $10. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.


Good News! Goodspeed Announces Good News! Casting

Goodspeed has announced casting for Good News!, a high-spirited musical comedy running April 12 – June 22 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam.

Leading the cast as Professor Kenyon will be Beth Glover of Goodspeed’s High Button Shoes and Red, Hot & Blue joined by Mark Zimmerman of Broadway’s West Side Story, A Catered Affair, The Rainmaker, Brigadoon, and Shenandoah as well as Goodspeed’s Paper Moon who will play as Coach Bill Johnson.

The cast also incudes Ross Lekites as Tom Marlowe and Chelsea Morgan Stock as Connie Lane. She appeared in Broadway’s Baby, It’s You; Sister Act; and The Little Mermaid as well as Goodspeed’s Annie Get Your Gun. Max Perlman of Broadway’s Kiss Me, Kate and Jekyll & Hyde will play Pooch Kearney. Barry Shafrin will play Bobby Randall, Tessa Fay will play Babe O’Day, and Myles J. McHale will play Beef Saunders. Pat will be played by Lindsay O’Neil who appeared in Broadway’s A Christmas Story.

The musical is filled with Roaring '20s nostalgia, plenty of laughter and rousing dance numbers. Anticipation builds on the Tait College campus as game day approaches but the football hero must first pass a big exam in order to play. When he unexpectedly falls for his tutor, romance blooms and hijinks ensue. Songs include "You’re the Cream in My Coffee," "The Varsity Drag," and "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries."

Music and lyrics for Good News! are written by Ray Henderson, B.G. DeSylva and Lew Brown and the book is by Laurence Schwab, Frank Mandel and B.G. DeSylva. This production is newly adapted by Jeremy Desmon and will be directed and choreographed by Vince Pesce.

Tickets and info: 860-873-8668; goodspeed.org.

Connecticut Arts Connections to Make This Week!

Nicholas Sparks.
Photo: Courtesy of Sacred Heart
Don't miss these happenings at:

Sacred Heart
Weslyan
Hartford Stage
Westport Country Playhouse
and more...

Bestselling author Nicholas Sparks will speak as part of the Student Affairs Lecture Series at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield 7 pm Monday, March 11 in the Edgerton Performing Arts Center, 5151 Park Ave. The sold-out event was postponed from its original Feb. 12 date because of the blizzard.  Information: EdgertonCenter.org.

Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts will celebrate its 14th annual DanceMasters Weekend, an exciting event for choreographers, students, and dance enthusiasts, with Armitage Gone! Dance, Ballet Hispanico, and ODC/Dance. The DanceMasters Weekend Showcase Performance will take place onSaturday, March 9 at 8 pm in the CFA Theater, located on the Wesleyan University campus at 271 Washington Terrace in Middletown. Tickets: $28 for the general public; $23 for seniors citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, and non-Wesleyan students; and $8 for Wesleyan students. http://www.wesleyan.edu/dancemasters; 860-685-3355, Box Office, Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Ave., Middletown. Master Classes are taught throughout the day on bothSaturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10 from 11am to 4:30 pm. Fees: $19 per class for the general public (plus a $6 registration fee); $17 per class for four or more classes; and $13 per class for Wesleyan students. AWeekend Pass includes five Master Classes and one ticket to the Showcase Performance: $100 for the general public (plus a $6 registration fee); and $73 for Wesleyan students. More info: 860- 685-3355; http://www.wesleyan.edu/dancemasters.

The education department at Hartford Stage is launching a new MainStage Master Class series for adults beginning in March, featuring special topic workshops taught by guest artists featured in the theater's productions. First up: "Movement Scores in Theater" taught by Tymberly Canale (Man in a Case), taking place Sunday, March 3, 10 and 17 from 10 am to noon. Cost is $135 per students age 18 and up. Space is limited. Students may sign up online (www.hartfordstage.org/adult-classes) or by calling Chelsea Caplan, education sales coordinator, 860-520-7244.

After two sold-out Family Festivities presentations so far this year, Westport Country Playhouse will present the musical adventure How I Became a Pirate, as part of its Family Festivities Series, on Sunday, March 3 at 1 and 4 pm. Based on the best-selling book by Melinda Long and produced by the Omaha Theater Company, the presentation is recommended for ages 6 – 10. How I Became a Pirate is about young Jeremy Jacob, who, while digging in the sand, is recruited by Captain Braid Beard and his mates to join the pirate crew on a quest to bury their treasure. The rollicking musical adventure is about finding one's own heart - a path that can't be found on any treasure map. Tickets: (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org.

Playhouse on the Park in West Hartford will be one of the beneifciaries of this year's Mayor's Charity Ball on May 11. www.themayorscharityball.org.

Pantochino Productions Inc. will open its new musical spoof,“Glam Kitty Squad,” March 23 for a limited engagement at the Milford Center for the Arts on Railroad Ave. Featuring book and lyrics by Bert Bernardi and music by Justin Rugg, “Glam Kitty Squad” is a family friendly pop musical spoofing television serials from Charlie’s Angels to Batman. More info: www.pantochino.com.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Theater Review: Curse of the Starving Class -- Long Wharf

Judith Ivey and Peter Albrink. Photo: T. Charles Erickson
What Kind of Family is This? In truth, It’s Ours
By Lauren Yarger
The family is broke, the refrigerator is bare and no one is getting along. Sound familiar? Except for the absurdity of the disillusioned characters in Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class playing at Long Wharf Theatre, this might be our family. In a way, because of the absurdity and its revelation of the human condition, we sadly discover that they are us.

The play is the first in Shepard’s family trilogy, which includes Pulitzer-Prize winner Buried Child and True West and is as much an accurate description of American society in 2013 as it was in 1978 when it first was produced. It is a timely choice by Gordon Edelstein, who directs.

Patriarch Weston (Kevin Tighe) is out of job and spends most of his time drunk and losing money he borrows gambling or in bogus land deals for useless desert, where he wants to live in solitude. He schemes to sell his family farm in rural California without the knowledge of his wife, Ella (Judith Ivey), who tried to lock him out the last time he came home drunk. 

Amidst the fragments of the broken door, Ella dreams of relocating to a more sophisticated life in Europe and schemes to sell the farm without Weston’s knowledge, aided by lawyer friend Taylor (John Procaccino), who has his own selfish motives for being part of the deal.

Meanwhile, daughter Emma (Elvy Yost) tries to cope with her first period (the curse) and mean-spirited brother, Wesley (Peter Albrink), who sabotages her 4-H chicken project (her costuming designed by Clint Ramos, for some reason makes her look like a boy.) 

Ivey delivers a powerhouse performance rich for its mix of humor and pathos. Layers of meaning haunt the response she repeatedly uses for her family: “Don’t be ridiculous.”

But ridiculous they are and Emma finally asks, “What kind of a family is this? Wesley urinates in the kitchen (surrounded by dirt in a bare-bones design by Michael Yeargan), Weston sleeps on the kitchen table, there’s a penned lamb baaing away (so amazingly on cue that it received applause) and they all seem surprised every time they open that refrigerator door to find it empty. 

“Just once. Just one time there could be something totally surprising. Something out of the blue,” Ella laments as she finds it empty and opens it again. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It’s a miracle. Oblivion.”

Things go downhill fast when Emma gets arrested, a guy named Emerson (Clark Middleton) shows up claiming he purchased the house from a drunk Weston and then Wesley interferes with the thugs (Middleton and Ben Becher) trying to collect money from his father. Things get very scary, indeed, when Wesley proves he’s not much more than a chip off the old block.

Shepard’s gift for words and interjection of monologues, where we hear the inner feelings of the characters expressed in the midst of the dialogue and action, creates a depressing, yet moving story that stirs emotion. In the end it is a commentary on American society, on our inability to see the harm in a system that forces us to borrow money that doesn’t even exist and on our expectations that someone else will fill our refrigerator. It also is a devastatingly chilling vision of what the effect of our mismanagement will be on the next generation.

Don’t be put off, however. The darker side of the production is offset by riveting performances by Ivey and Tighe – and that really adorable scene-stealing lamb handled by William Berloni (read more about her here: http://www.longwharf.org/blog/?p=386). Also, be warned: the show includes loud noises and nudity.

Curse of the Starving Class runs through March 10 at Long Wharf's Mainstage, 222 Sargent Drive, Nw Haven. Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 pm; Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 pm; Matinees Wednesday and Sunday at 2 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm. Tickets $40-$70 (203) 787-4282; www.longwharf.org.

View a trailer for the show by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Theater Review: Say Goodnight, Gracie -- Seven Angels

R. Bruce Connelly. Photo: Paul Roth
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane with George Burns
By Lauren Yarger
Connecticut acting gem R. Bruce Connelly transforms himself into George Burns for 90 minutes of reflection about the comedian's life in Rupert Holmes' Say Goodnight, Gracie at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury.

The one-man show recalls Burns' many unsuccessful attempts to come up with a winning act in vaudeville and show business until he meets the love of his life, Gracie Allen. Realizing that Allen's acting abilities, natural timing and flair for comedy bring laughs, Burns trades his usual punch-line-delivering role for straight man to set up her dizzy-sounding punch lines and comedy history is born.

The play is as much a love letter from Burns to his comedy partner and wife and a tribute to his friendship with comedian Jack Benny as it is a memoir of his career, which spanned 90 years until he turned 100.
Connelly holds attention throughout the presentation and brings the comedy legend to life without trying to do an impersonation. Dressed in a brown suit, sporting a wig and glasses and holding the trademark cigar, he becomes Burns the man rather than a caricature of him (Jimmy Johansmeyer, costume design).

He  moves from a table at one side of the stage to a comfortable chair at the other using minimal props (Erik D. Diaz and Daniel Husvar, scenic and prop design) in a staging that depicts the comedian justifying his life before God. The presentation, directed by Semina DeLaurentis, includes some video and audio clips and photo stills of the comedy team.

It's a fascinating trip down memory lane and a fun way to experience the "illogical logic" of the humor that made Burns & Allen one of the most successful comedy teams in history.

Say Goodnight, Gracie plays through March 10 at Seven Angels, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury. Tickets: 203-757-4676;  https://www.choicesecure03.net/mainapp/eventschedule.aspx?Clientid=SevenAngels.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Timely Discussion on Living with Guns on Tap at Mark Twain House

Craig Whitney. Photo: Heidi Whitney
The Mark Twain House and Museum will present a free public discussion with former New York Times foreign correspondent and editor Craig Whitney on the subject of his book "Living with Guns: A Liberal's Case for the 2nd Amendment."

The event will take place 7 pm Thursday, Feb. 28.

"Our attitudes toward guns are utterly polarized," says the publisher's summary of the book,"leaving basic questions unasked: How can we reconcile the individual right to own and use firearms with the right to be safe from gun violence? Is keeping guns out of the hands of as many law-abiding Americans as possible really the best way to keep them out of the hands of criminals? And do 30,000 of us really have to die by gunfire every year as the price of a freedom protected by the Constitution?"
 
The discussion will be moderated by Bob Margolis, CEO of Farmington-based TANGO, The Alliance for Non-Profit Growth and Opportunity, which help non-profits save money on professional service firms. Margolis, a conservative, is a pistol permit instructor and a member of the Metacomet Gun Club.

The intent is civil discourse on a very timely and important subject, in the spirit of Mark Twain's endless curiosity and deep concern about the ills of society and humanity. The hour-long program will be followed by a book signing.

The house and museum at 351 Farmington Ave. Hartford, are open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday, noon to 5:30 pm. The Museum is closed Tuesdays January through March. For more information, call 860-247-0998 or visit www.marktwainhouse.org.

This Week's Connecticut Arts Connections

HSO Celebrates Goodspeed
Gilded Age at Mark Twain
'Script in Hand' at Westport
Arts and Science at Wesleyan . . . and More!

Celebrating The Impossible Dream - 50 Years of Goodspeed Musicals
Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 pm; Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts;  Michael O’Flaherty, conductor; Sarah Uriarte Berry, Quentin Earl Darrington, James Snyder, soloists; Performers from The Hartt School Musical Theatre Department, Class of 2013, Alan Rust, Director; Michael Morris, Director of Music. Tickets range from $20-$67.50: Student tickets are $10 and $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. Call 860-244-2999 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.


Mark Twain in 1871
by Mathew Brady
The book named an era, and it is often cited for its startling application to our contemporary world: "The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today," by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, published in 1873 is the subject of discussion on Wednesday, March 6 at The Mark Twain House and Museum in a session of the Nook Farm Book Club in collaboration with the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. The club meets at 5 pm at the Mark Twain, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford.  A reception will be followed by the 5:30 pm discussion. The event is free, but registration is encouraged at 860-522-9258, Ext. 317.

Westport Country Playhouse’s next Script in Hand playreading will be the romantic comedy, Beau Jest by James Sherman, a former actor/writer for Chicago’s Second City, 7 pm Monday, March 18. Director is Anne Keefe, Playhouse artistic advisor. Casting will be announced soon.

Tickets are $15:  “Meet the Cast” dessert reception in the Playhouse’s Sheffer Studio tickets are $50 ($15 for reading plus a $35 donation for reception.) Call 203-227-4177, 1-888-927-7529; Box Office, 25 Powers Court;  www.westportplayhouse.org.
 
 
 
 
 
Wesleyan University presents the symposium “Innovations: Intersection of Art and Science,” co-hosted by the Center for the Arts and the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences and curated by choreographer Liz Lerman, on Thursday, Feb. 28 and Friday, March 1 on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. www.wesleyan.edu/cfa/innovations.





Freckleface Strawberry Characters Come to Life in Bridgeport

Francesca McGrory/ Photo: Courtesy of Downtown Cabaret Theatre
Downtown Cabaret Children’s Theatre presents Freckleface Strawberry – The Musical on Saturdays and Sundays Feb. 23 through March 30. 

Based on the beloved book by celebrated and award-winning actress Julianne Moore and nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding new Off-Broadway musical, the musical steps inside the book’s pages with Freckleface and her friends as they confront bullying and learn to love the skin they’re in.

The Downtown Cabaret Theatre, a not-for-profit performing arts service organization, offer's the state's first Sensory Sensitive Performance Sunday, March 3 at 5:30 pm.

Francesca McGrory, who played Freckleface in New York resumes the role. Gary Kupper who wrote the music, lyrics and arrangements, directs.

Tickets are $18-$24: Call 203-576-1636; Box Office, 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport; downtowncabaret.org.

Extra!, Extra! Read All About It: CT Rep Presents His Girl Friday

Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) will present John Guare’s adaptation of His Girl Friday, Feb. 28 – March 10 in the Nafe Katter Theatre, Storrs.

His Girl Friday is an all American rat-a-tat comedy adapted from the film starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Rusell, directed by Dale AJ Rose.

It’s August 1939 in the Press Room of the Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. On the world stage Hitler is about to invade Poland, but tonight Hildy Johnson (Olivia Saccomanno) just wants to bid farewell to her old pals, get married and leave the newspaper racket behind. Her hard-boiled editor and ex-husband Walter Burns (UConn alum Christopher Hirsh) wants to keep her on the beat and in his life, however. With rapid-fire dialogue and a crackling conflict, His Girl Friday remains one of our wildest, wittiest whirlwinds of American romantic comedy.

Guest artist Kevin Crouch plays Bruce Baldwin, the bumbling insurance salesman Hildy wants to marry.

Please call 860-486-2113 for tickets or for more information. Please call or visit the box office for specific show dates and times because performance schedules vary and are subject to change. Tickets available online at www.crt.uconn.edu.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Quick Hit Theater Review: Peter Pan -- the Palace

Peter Pan (Cathy Rigby) and Tiger Lily. Photo: Michael Lamonte
Peter Pan
Starring Cathy Rigby
Original Broadway Production Conceived, Directed and Chorepgraphed by Jerome Robbins
Production Direction by Glenn Casale; Choreography by Patti Columbo
Music by Moose Charlap (additiona music by Jule Styne
Lyrcis by Carolyn Leigh (additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green)
The Palace Theater, Waterbury

Act Fast:  Remaining shows Sunday, Feb. 17 at 1 pm


What's it All About?
Cathy Rigby stars Peter Pan, the little boy who never wants to grow up. He flies into the Georgian era  London home of the Darlings (Brett Barrett and Kim Crosby) and whisks their children, Wendy (Krista Buccellato), Michael (Sophie Sooter or Hadley Belle Miller) and John (Lexy Baeza) away to Neverland, where highflying adventure awaits. There are Captain Hook (Barrett) and his pirates, Tiger Lily (Jenna Wright) and her Indians and a hungry crocodile (Clark Roberts who also plays the family's dog) leading to swashbuckling adventures.

What are the Highights?
Top notch performance from Rigby, who has been playing this role for two decades. She's a pixie-sized energy burst, doing acrobatics, belting out songs and flying through the air while spreading fairy dust (flying choreography Paul Rubin that makes that other green guy in Spider-Man Take Back the Dark turn a deeper shade with envy.) She does a terrific portrayal of a young boy.

LOTS of gigging kids delighted with the special effects spectacular lighting by Michael Gilliam -- especially for Tinkerbell -- and visually stimulating sumptuous sets by John Iocavelli).

Wright's dancing skills are an asset in Neverland and James Leo Ryan as pirate Smee adds comic relief in a script that surprising is full of genuine humor.

The drumming number "Ugg-a-Wugg" bringing the audience back in after intermission is a treat, as is the full-sounding orchestra directed by Bruce Barnes.

What are the Lowlights?
Opportunities to witness really bad parenting as children are allowed to talk loudly throughout the performance -- often with the parent conversing right along. Nearby ushers didn't address the situation or stop folks from videotaping during the performance. Also, crunchy snacks sold in crackly bags are permitted in the theater. The first part of the second act sounded like feeding time at the zoo -- thank goodness for those pounding drums.

More Information:

Since 1990, Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby has made four appearances on Broadway. The show received four Tony® Nominations including “Best Revival of a Musical” and “Best Actress in a Musical.” The production also won an Emmy Award.
 
Tickets: $70, $60, and $50; 203-346-2000; www.palacetheaterct.org; box office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Peter Pan Flies into Palace Tonight



Four Performances
Friday, Feb. 15 at 8 pm
Saturday, Feb. 16 at 2 pm and 8 pm
Sunday at 1 pm

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

Ivoryton Playhouse Announces 2013 Season

The Ivoryton Playhouse
Here is the upcoming season at Ivoryton Playhouse:

March 13– 30 the Playhouse will take you back to the 50’s with some of the classic doo wop melodies you danced to at the sock hop! Life Could Be a Dream features classic oldies "Tears on My Pillow," "Unchained Melody," "The Great Pretender" as well as the htitle song.

In Other People’s Money - April 17– ay 5, a corporate raider threatens a hostile take-over of a New England “Mom & Pop” company.What follows is a snowballing plot of financial manipulations, unlikely alliances and a surprising twist at the end.

The Playhouse opens the summer with a brand new play from Mike Reiss , one of the writers of The Simpsons. I’m Connecticut is a wacky, fast-paced, sweet romantic comedy about Marc, a Connecticut native who struggles with relationships and feelings of inadequacy. Why? Because he comes from Connecticut - land of steady habits, sanity and politeness. A must-see comedy for anybody from the Nutmeg State ! From June 5– 23.

From July 3-28, one of the most explosive movie musicals bursts onto the live stage with exhilarating results. Footloose is the heartfelt story of a father longing for the son he lost and of a young man aching for the father who walked out on him. The rockin’ rhythm of the Top 40 score includes "Let’s Hear it for the Boy," "Almost Paradise," and "Footloose."

A smash Broadway musical, Dreamgirls captures the spirit and hope of Motown when a group from Chicago makes it big. In a business controlled by men, the female trio fights for recognition, fellowship and love as superstardom challenges their musical and cultural identity. Dreamgirls sizzles with sparkling dance and R&B soul - Featuring the hit songs Dreamgirls; "And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going" and "One Night Only." Aug. 7- Sept. 1.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change – Sept. 25 – Oct. 13 - is a hilarious revue that pays tribute to those who have loved and lost and lived to try again. Smartly conceived with catchy tunes and witty lyrics, this affectionate look at love and marriage is as amusingly appropriate today as when it first opened in New York in 1996.

The season closes with a fabulously funny farce from the fifties – The Seven Year Itch – Oct. 30 – Nov. 17. The play takes a humorous look at the problems of a typical married man whose wife and son have gone to the beach for the summer when he is suddenly confronted by a stunning new upstairs neighbor.

Subscriptions and singe tickets are on sale: www.ivorytonplayhouse.org; 860-767 7318.

Earth, Wind Fire Converge at the Palace

Earth, Wind & Fire. Photo: Courtesy of the Palace
Legendary funk band Earth, Wind and Fire is set to light up the Palace Theater stage when Premier Concerts presents the band’s 2013 Guiding Lights Tour stop in Waterbury Wednesday, May 8, at 7:30 pm. Tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 22 at 10 am.

During their Waterbury tour stop, the six-time Grammy Award-winning band will perform the hits that skyrocketed them to musical superstardom, including “Shining Star,” “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Sing a Song,” “Fantasy” and many more. The band is currently touring in support of their latest release from Legacy Recordings, Now, Then & Forever, which is a compilation of the group’s greatest hits curated by some of today’s most popular artists.


Earth, Wind and Fire is one of the most musically accomplished, critically-acclaimed, and commercially popular funk bands of the ‘70s. A culmination of popular musical styles, the band developed a sound that was, and still is, uniquely its own. Considered one of the most successful bands of the twentieth century, they have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and have sold more than 90 million albums worldwide. With stellar live performances filled with energy and love, the band continues to plays to an immensely diverse and adoring fan base.

Tickets start at $66.50: 203-346-2000, www.palacetheaterct.org, box office, 100 East Main St. More info: www.earthwindandfire.com.

Casting Set for Abundance at Hartford Stage

The cast of Abundance by Beth Henley, directed by Jenn Thompson, at Hartford Stage has been announced.

The cast includes Monique Vukovic (Buddy Cop 2, Atlantic Theater Company and Housebreaking, Cherry Lane Theatre) as Bess, Brenda Withers (Cyrano, Folger Theatre and The Tempest, The Pearl Theatre Company) as Macon, Kevin Kelly (Henry V, Two River Theater Company and Richard III, The Public Theater) as William, James Knight (Measure for Measure, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and Alive and Well, The Old Globe) as Jack and John Leonard Thompson (The Pitmen Painters in Palm Beach and Crime and Punishment, Center Stage) as Elmore.

Abundance runs April 4- 28. Tickets: 860-527-5151;  hartfordstage.org.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book of Mormon, War Horse Head Bushnell's 2013-2014 Season

Tony winners The Book of Mormon and War Horse are among the shows announced for the 2013-2014 Broadway Season at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford.

Also in the lineup: Fashdance, the Musical; Miss Siagon, A Christmas Story, Peter and the Starcatcher and Gost, the Musical.

Current season ticket holders will receive their renewal packages in March, and new packages will be available in early summer. Interested patrons are encouraged to call the Box Office (860-987-5900) to have their name placed on a waiting list. Single tickets will go on sale this summer.

The 2013-2014 Broadways Series

MISS SAIGON, September 17-22, 2013

A classic love story is brought up-to-date in one of the most stunning theatrical spectacles of all time. In MISS SAIGON, Puccini's Madame Butterfly bursts into the modern world. This powerful pop opera is an emotional tale about forbidden love, the tragedies of war and the sacrifices made to achieve the American Dream. Tony Award-winning musical MISS SAIGON, created by the visionaries behind LES MISERABLES, features a touching love story told through a series of sensational musical numbers including "Why God Why?" and "The American Dream.”


FLAHSDANCE THE MUSICAL, October 15-20, 2013

Sparks will fly as FLASHDANCE THE MUSICAL explodes onto the stage! FLASHDANCE tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh welder by day and dancer by night with dreams of one day becoming a professional performer. When romance with her steel mill boss threatens to complicate her ambitions, Alex learns the meaning of love and its power to fuel the pursuit of her dream. Celebrating the film’s 30th anniversary, FLASHDANCE THE MUSICAL features all of the movie’s hit songs including, “Maniac,” “I Love Rock & Roll,” and of course “Flashdance-What a Feeling” in addition to 16 brand new songs written for the musical with music by Robbie Roth and lyrics by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth.


A CHRISTMAS STORY, November 12-17, 2013

A CHRISTMAS STORY is the hilarious account of Ralphie Parker’s desperate quest to ensure that this most perfect of gifts ends up under his tree this Christmas. Directed by Tony Award winner John Rando and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, this musical based on the classic 1983 movie, has been called “a true gift” by New York Magazine and is sure to spark some holiday wonder.


WAR HORSE, January 28-February 2, 2014

WAR HORSE, based on the beloved novel by Michael Morpurgo, is a powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music and magnificent artistry. South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company brings breathing, galloping, full-scale horses to life on the stage — their flanks, hides and sinews built of steel, leather and aircraft cables. Set during World War I in England, WAR HORSE follows a young man’s extraordinary journey to be reunited with his cherished horse. WAR HORSE has played to sold out audiences from Broadway to the West End, and was recently adapted into an Academy Award nominated film by Steven Spielberg.


PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, February 18-23, 2014

A wildly theatrical, hilarious and innovative retelling of how a miserable orphan came to be The Boy Who Never Grew Up, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER upends the century-old legend of Peter Pan. Based on the best-selling Disney-Hyperion novel, the Tony Award-winning Best Play features a dozen actors portraying more than 100 unforgettable characters and uses their enormous talent, ingenious stagecraft and the limitless possibilities of imagination. The Neverland you never knew can be discovered in this epic origin story of one of pop culture’s classic characters.


THE BOOK OF MORMON, March 18-30, 2014

Winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical! From Trey Parker and Matt Stone, four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of South Park, and Tony Award winner Robert Lopez, co-creator of the Tony Award–winning Best Musical AVENUE Q, comes THE BOOK OF MORMON. In this musical satire, two missionaries are sent on a mission trip to Uganda, but are soon over their heads in a land plagued by war, poverty and AIDS. Featuring choreography by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw, THE BOOK OF MORMON is directed by Nicholaw and Parker. Ben Brantley of The New York Times calls “the best musical of this century” and The Daily Show's Jon Stewart calls it “A crowning achievement. So good, it makes me angry.” Contains explicit language.


GHOST THE MUSICAL, June 10-15, 2014

Adapted from the hit film, GHOST THE MUSICAL follows the tragic love story of Sam and Molly, a young couple whose connection takes a shocking turn after Sam’s untimely death. Trapped between two worlds, desperate to communicate with her, Sam turns to a store front psychic who helps him protect Molly and avenge his death. The Associated Press calls GHOST THE MUSICAL, “eye-poppingly brilliant with glorious songs and Newsday exclaims, “unlike anything see onstage before.” The musical’s tale of everlasting love is captivating entertainment for audiences of all ages.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Think Summer! HSO Sets Talcott Mountain Programs

Photo: Steven Laschever.
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra has announced programming for the 2013 Talcott Mountain Music Festival, scheduled for June 28 through July 26 at the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows in Simsbury.

The summer line-up will open on June 28 with “Mozart in the Moonlight,” the HSO's classical program of the summer season featuring guest conductor and Music Director of the Boston Classical Orchestra, Steven Lipsitt.

On July 3, the HSO, led by Music Director Carolyn Kuan, will perform Connecticut's annual red, white and blue tradition – “Celebrate America,” with fireworks after the concert. The festival continues on July 12 with “Sinatra under the Stars,” a tribute to the greatest hits of Frank Sinatra, featuring the HSO and Rob Zappulla and his big band.

On July 19, the Symphony will perform John Williams’ biggest movie music hits, including music from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and more. The festival closes July 26 with a tribute to The Rolling Stones, celebrating the band's 50th year of hits including “Satisfaction,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Ruby Tuesday,” and more.

HSO President & CEO (and Farmington, CT resident) Carrie Hammond says, “From Mozart, movie music and Fourth of July marches…to Sinatra and The Rolling Stones…this season has something that everyone will enjoy!”

2013 TALCOTT MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL
The Sounds of Summer
Hartford Symphony Orchestra
Carolyn Kuan, Music Director
June 28 – July 26, 2013
The Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows

MOZART IN THE MOONLIGHT
Friday, June 28, 2013, 7:30pm
Rain Date: Saturday, June 29, 2013, 7:30pm
Fireworks after the concert
Steven Lipsitt conductor

CELEBRATE AMERICA - The Annual Red, White & Blue Tradition
Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 7:30pm
Rain Date: Friday, July 5, 7:30pm
Fireworks after the concert
Carolyn Kuan conductor

SINATRA UNDER THE STARS
Friday, July 12, 2013, 7:30pm
Rain Date: Saturday, July 13, 7:30pm
Featuring guest vocalist/trumpeter Rob Zappulla and his Big Band

THE MOVIE MUSIC OF JOHN WILLIAMS – Star Wars, E.T. & More
Friday, July 19, 2013, 7:30pm
Rain Date: Saturday, July 20, 7:30pm
James Orent conductor

THE ROLLING STONES TRIBUTE – 50 Years of Satisfaction
Friday, July 26, 2013, 7:30pm
Rain Date: Saturday, July 27, 7:30pm
Windborne Music featuring Brent Havens guest artists

Additional conductors and guests artists will be announced. Visit www.hartfordsymphony.org for further details.

TICKET INFORMATION
Advance ticket offers for GRASS PASSES and TABLE SEATS are available now through Friday, April 12, 2013. Until April 12, these tickets are available by calling 860-244-2999 or by visiting the Hartford Symphony Ticket Office at 100 Pearl Street, 2nd Floor, East Tower in Hartford, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

GRASS PASSES
Grass Passes may be used in any combination for any concerts in the 2013 Talcott Mountain Music Festival; attendees may bring Grass Passes straight to the gate for admission.
Adult Grass Pass
10 adult lawn tickets for just $180 (save $70 off gate prices)
5 adult lawn tickets for just $100 (save $25 off gate prices)
Child Grass Pass
10 child (age 12 and under) lawn tickets for $50
Family Pack
12 lawn tickets (6 adult and 6 child tickets) for $140

TABLE SEATS
Tables for eight people are located right in front of the stage.
Single Table Seats
5-Concert Subscription for $190 (save $35 off gate prices)
Full Table
5-Concert Table Subscription, 8 seats per table for $1,420 (save $380 off gate prices)

On Monday, April 15, 2013, advance ticket prices will increase to:
$200 for Adult Grass Pass 10 Pack
$150 for Family Pack

SINGLE TICKETS go on sale Monday, April 15, 2013
Adult Lawn: $20 ($25 if purchased at the gate)
Child Lawn (12 & under): $5
Single Table Seat: $40 advance ($45 if purchased at the gate)
Full Table (8 Seats): $320 advance ($360 if purchased at the gate)

All prices include $2 per adult ticket and 50¢ per child ticket fee paid to the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows. All concerts performed at the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows. All dates, programs and artists are subject to change.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bushnell's Sneak Peek at Broadway Season Cancelled

Tonight's Broadway Sneak Peek at the Bushnell Center for the Performng Arts has been cancelled.

The building is open, but the event has been cancelled due to concerns about people driving into Hartford (many roads still need to be plowed and icy conditions are reported today, resulting in the closing of Interstate 91 at exit 40).

Due to the complexity of the event, which included several special guest appearances and performances, it cannot be rexcheduled. Stay tuned for the announcement of the Bshnell's 2013-2014 Broadway expected in the next few days.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

CONCORA Cancels Modern Masters Concert

 
After careful deliberation, CONCORA has reluctantly decided to cancel the "Modern Masters" concert, originally scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10 and moved to the snow date of Monday, Feb. 11.

Many area roads remain unplowed and impassable; one-third of the singers are unable to get to New Britain for rehearsal Sunday afternoon. And Monday's weather reports call for a great deal of rain, which will cause flooding in some areas, and will most likely freeze in the evening, making travel perilousfor both performers and audience members.

The Bach concert will be on March 24 at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford. The Modern Masters concert will be presented at the American Guild of Organists Convention on July 1 in Hartford, and again during the 2013-2014 season.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday, Feb. 9 Weather Cancellations/Updates

Check back during the day for updates as they come in.
  • Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury is moving the Valentine's Comedy Night to Sunday, Feb. 10 at 6 pm. Champagne and Chocolates at 5 pm.
  • Long Wharf’s 3 pm performance of January Joiner has been cancelled due to the storm. The box office is currently closed and will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Immediate ticketing questions please email boxoffice@longwharf.org.
  • Both performances of Stones in His Pockets at Yale Rep are cancelled.
  • Tonight's performance of Breath and Imagination at Hartford Stage is cancelled. If you had tickets for tonight's performance, the box office will be in contact with you in the next two days. The box office is closed today.
  • Concora's Modern Masters concert has been postponed until 7:30 pm Monday, Feb. 11 (from 4 pm Sunday, Feb. 10)



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cancellations & Schedule Changes Due to Blizzard Nemo

Check back for updates as they become available.

New Haven Line Customers: Train Service will be Suspended until further notice after the running of the following trains. The last Eastbound train will be the 10:22 PM train from Grand Central making all stops to New Haven, with connections to New Canaan and Danbury Branches.

The last Westbound train will be the 9:17 pm train from New Haven making all stops, including Fordham, to Grand Central arriving at 11:29 pm. The last train from New Canaan departs at 9:30 PM; the last train from Danbury departs at 8:59 pm.


---  The Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport is closed tonight. The Distractions is rescheduled for Friday, March 15. All tickets will be honored and refunds issued for ticket holders who cannot attend.

---  Tonight's 8 pm performance of January Joiner at Long Wharf Theatre has been cancelled. Ticket holders call the box office 203-787-4282 for more information. The Curse of the Starving Class Working Rehearsal this Saturday morning has also been cancelled. All January Joiner performances on Saturday and Sunday are still scheduled but please check back for updates.

---  Hot Chocolate Soul at The Bushnell has been cancelled tonight and is postponed to March 1. Call the Box office at 860-987-5900 with questions.

---   Palace Theater, Waterbury has postponed both Friday and Saturday evenings’ presentations of Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show and The Pink Floyd Experience due to the predicted magnitude of this weekend’s winter storm. The Pink Floyd Experience concert date has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 pm, and Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 2, at 7:30 pm. All tickets will be valid for these new performance dates. Box Office hours may change on Friday and Saturday as well. Questions?: 203-346-2000.

---   Stones in His Pockets at Yale Rep is canceled tonight. Ticket holders will be able to reschedule for any other performance during the run of the show (which closes next Saturday, Feb. 16).

---  Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury will be closing the box office early today (Friday, February 8). We will reopen tomorrow at approximately at 3:00PM, once the roads are clear. The Valentine's Comedy Night is still scheduled for 8 PM on Saturday.

---  Music Theatre of Connecticut has cancelled the Friday, Feb. 8 evening performance of ANCESTRAL VOICES. Saturday's performances are still set to go at the moment.

--- The performance by Gallim Dance 8 pm Friday, Feb. 8  at Wesleyan been canceled due to the impending storm. Ticket holders have the following options: attend the performance on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 at 8 pm; receive a gift certificate to be used for a Breaking Ground Dance Series performance during the 2013-2014 season; return tickets for a tax deductible donation to the Center for the Arts; or receive a refund. Please call the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355 for more information.

The free, 90-minute Master Class with Andrea Miller on Saturday, Feb. 9 has been moved from 11 am in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio; to 2 pm in the CFA Dance Studio. There is limited space, so advanced registration is encouraged. Call the Wesleyan University Box Office at 860-685-3355 to register.

--- The Hartford Symphony Orchestra's Jazz and Strings Performance of Fusion: Wes Montgomery with Strings on Friday, February 8 at The Learning Corridor has been CANCELLED. Patrons who have already purchased tickets can call HSO Ticket Services at 860-244-2999 today, Feb. 7 and Friday, Feb. 8 between 10 am and 5pm to discuss exchange and refund options.

--

Nicholas Sparks Will Speak at Edgerton Center

Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts Presents Student Affairs Lecture Series with Nicholas Sparks

In 1994, rejected by both publishers and law schools, Nicholas Sparks was a job-jumping salesman who wrote in the evenings. In early 1995, and against all odds, his manuscript was discovered in the slush pile. By October, Warner Books famously paid a million dollars for an unknown story about a notebook. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Now with almost 80 million copies of his books in print, literary sensation Nicholas Sparks is the author of sixteen New York Times #1 bestselling books and is a cultural phenomenon in his own right.

Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 pm

Tickets - $20: 203-371-7908 (Mondays through Fridays from noon to 4 pm); box office located in the lobby of the Edgerton Center (open 2 hours prior to each performance); EdgertonCenter.org.

Presented on the stage of the Edgerton Center for the Performing Artson the campus of Sacred Heart University, located at 5151 Park Ave., Fairfield.

Pigs Will Fly at the Palace

Photo: Courtesy of the Palace
Adoring rock fans who thought they would see “pigs fly” before they had the chance to experience the sights and sounds of an authentic Pink Floyd concert again, will wait no more. The Pink Floyd Experience, .celebration of the music, themes and innovation that made Pink Floyd one of Rock and Roll’s greatest icons, returns to the Waterbury Palace Theater for a one-of-a-kind concert event on Saturday, Feb.9, at 8 pm complete with a 12-foot, floating pig blimp.

Much more than a flawless recreation of the band’s legendary songs, which spanned decades in their appeal,The Pink Floyd Experienceis a massive, two-hour stage production featuring a dazzling light show, high definition video projection, quadraphonic sound and six musicians that combine to bring rock fans the most authentic Floyd Experience possible.

The band, which features musicians Tom Quinn (lead guitarist),Gus Beaudoin (bass guitar) Zachary Throne (guitar and vocals), Jesse Molloy (saxophone), John Cox (keyboard) and Bob Sale (drums), performnote-for-note recreations of all of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits including "Money,” “Time,” “Comfortably Numb,” and “Wish You Were Here,”in addition to rarer tracks not often performed live.

One of the first bands to use pyrotechnics, video, and light shows in their stage acts, Pink Floyd have sold more than 200 million albums since 1967, and garnered four Grammy nominations, as well as an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ”Dark Side of the Moon,” the band’s must popular album broke all chart records when it stayed on the Billboard Top 200 Album charts for 741 weeks, from 1973 to 1988.

Tickets for the Palace Theater’s presentation ofThe Pink Floyd Experience,sponsored by Naugatuck Savings Bank,are $45, $35, and $25, and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online atwww.palacetheaterct.org, or in person at the Box Office, 100 East Main Street in Waterbury. For more information, visit thewww.thepinkfloydexperience.net.

Friday HSO Event Has Been Cancelled

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra's Jazz and Strings Performance of Fusion: Wes Montgomery with Strings on Friday, February 8 at The Learning Corridor has been CANCELLED.

Patrons who have already purchased tickets can call HSO Ticket Services at 860-244-2999 today, Feb.  7 and Friday, Feb. 8 between 10 am and 5pm to discuss exchange and refund options

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Theater Review: Ancestral Voices -- Music Theatre of CT

(First row, left to right:) Marty Bongfeldt and Jo Anne Parady (second row, left to right:) John Flaherty, John Little and Michael McGurk . Photo: Marc Porier
A Sweet Blend of Nostalgia and Contemporary Issues
By Lauren Yarger
One of A.R. Gurney's lesser known works, Ancestral Voices, is getting a run over at Music Theatre of Connecticut, where the intimate setting is just right for the nostalgic look at one family, seen through the eyes of a boy growing up in Buffalo before World War II.
 
Staged in a reading format and directed by Kevin Connors, some of the ensemble actors play multiple roles on a simple set containing a couch, some chairs and a couple of music stands in front of a proscenium backdrop (Eric Zoback, design). We almost feel as though we've pulled up a chair at a family gathering where members are sitting around saying, "remember when..."

Eddie (Michael McGurk) recalls a Sunday visit to his grandmother's house. It is the first visit since Madeline (Jo Ann Parady) and his beloved Grandpa Ed (John Little) have separated. Eddie and his mom, Jane (Marty Bongfeldt) aren't too happy about the installation Jack (also Little), Grandpa's former best friend and Grandma's new husband into the family, but Eddie's dad, Harvey (John Flaherty), tries to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Over the years, the family's ties to the community and their commitment to each other change and grow as various memories are shared and the relationships among the members play out (In a fun turn, Parady doubles as a Southern belle who dates Grandpa for a bit too). In pre-war Buffalo society, Madeline is a virtual outcast following her divorce. It's also a time when Eddie and his grandfather can get away from everything and enjoy hunting and fishing trips in peace up on Big Rock Mountain -- until news reports start feature a guy named Hitler and an attack on Pearl Harbor.

It's a blend of nostalgia and issues about family, love and acceptance that ring just as true in contemporary times.. Gurney's script is well written and contains some quiet humor. It is more like Love Letters than Sylvia (in which one of the characters is a dog) for those of you interested in levels of humor.

This gem of a production has a strong cast and able direction which allow us to bond and feel some of the ancestral voices are our own. Flaherty in particular gives a layered portrayal of a man who knows how to play "father" and keep up appearances in public, but whose cutting remarks betray an underlying disappointment and the lack of affection he feels for Eddie.

The play runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 pm and Sundays at 3 pm through Feb. 17 at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 246 Post Road, Westport (lower level). Tickets are $25-$45 with discounts for seniors and students. www.musictheatreofct.com; 203-454-3883.

Mystery, Adam & Eve, Ghosts Highlight Month at Mark Twain House

Dr. Kerry Driscoll, right, the distinguished Mark Twain scholar and English professor at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, has made a study of Twain's 1895 visit to New Zealand its influence on the author's wildly contradictory attitudes toward Native Americans. 

In the course of her research she made some surprising discoveries in the Mark Twain House & Museum collections -- including the true story of a jade pendant from the jewelry box of Olivia Langdon Clemens, the author's wife.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Driscoll will speak at The Mark Twain House & Museum on "Mark Twain, the Maori, and the Mystery of Livy's Jade Pendant." Using Twain's letters and unpublished notebooks, she will reconstruct the hidden story of those five weeks in New Zealand. 

The free talk is part of The Mark Twain House & Museum's popular monthly series, "The Trouble Begins at 5:30." The evening starts in the Museum Center at 5:00 with a reception with wine, coffee and hors d'oeuvres, then convenes to the Lincoln Financial Auditorium at 5:30 for the lecture.
 
 Scot Haney, Kara Sundlun 
In a special event, the Mark Twain House & Museum will present The Diaries of Adam and Eve in a reading by Kara Sundlun and Scot Haney, hosts of TV's Better Connecticut." The event will take place on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14 at 7 pm. The hourlong program will followed by a champagne-and-chocolate reception in the museum's Hal Holbrook Hall. Tickets benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum and the Channel 3 Kids' Camp. $45 ($40 for Mark Twain House & Museum members): 860-280-3130.

Continued reports of ghostly apparitions, mysterious bangs, cigar smoke and other unexplained phenomena have led The Mark Twain House & Museum to reprise its popular Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours for a very limited two-day run on Feb. 22 and 23.

The Mark Twain House has been featured twice by Syfy Channel's popular Ghost Hunters (most recently in its 2012 Holiday Special) and once by Ghost Hunters Academy, and is soon to be featured on the Biography Channel's My Ghost Story.  Tour times are limited: 6, 7, 8 and 9 pm by reservation only. 860-280-3130.

Tickets are $20 for adults 17 and up; $16 for members of The Mark Twain House & Museum; and $13 for children 16 and under. Tours are not recommended for children under 10. 

The house and museum at 351 Farmington Ave. are open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday, noon to 5:30 pm: 860-247-0998;  www.marktwainhouse.org.


Jazz, Love and Goodspeed on HSO's Program This Month

Wes Montgomery.
Photo: Courtesy of the HSO
 
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra's Jazz and Strings Performance of Fusion: Wes Montgomery with Strings on Friday, February 8 at The Learning Corridor has been CANCELLED. Patrons who have already purchased tickets can call HSO Ticket Services at (860)244-2999 today, February 7 and Friday, February 8 between 10AM and 5PM to discuss exchange and refund options


HSO MASTERWORKS SERIES: LOVE IS IN THE AIRFeaturing Carolyn Kuan, music director & conductor; Alexander Kobrin, piano; Alexandra Arrieche, guest conductor
Thursday, February 14, 2013 │ 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 15, 2013 │ 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 16, 2013 │ 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 17, 2013 │ 3:00 p.m.
Belding Theater │ The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
Program: Gustav Mahler: Adagietto from Symphony No. 5; Manuel de Falla Three Cornered Hat Suite No. 1; Georges Bizet: Carmen Suite; Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3
Ticket Information: Tickets to this concert range in price from $35.50-$70.50. Student tickets are $10. On Saturday, February 16, $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.

Pietro Francavilla, Venus with a Nymph and Satyr, 1600. Marble. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT. The William Arnold Healy Fund, 1933.333.

 

HSO SUNDAY SERENADES SERIES: MYTH AND FANTASY with Leonid Sigal, artistic director and violin; Michael Wheeler, viola; Margreet Francis, piano
Sunday, February 3, 2013 │ 2:00 p.m.│ Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Program: Giuseppe Tartini: Didona Abandonada - Sonata in G minor; Georges Migot: Au Bord de l’Eure – Five Aquarelles; Karol Szymanowski: Mythes, Op. 30; Robert Schumann: Märchenerzählungen – Fairy Tales, Op. 132
Ticket Information: Tickets are $30 ($25 for HSO Subscribers and Atheneum Members). Ticket price includes general admission to the Wadsworth Atheneum on the days of the concerts. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.


POPS SERIES: CELEBRATING THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM: 50 YEARS OF GOODSPEED MUSICALSwith Michael O’Flaherty, conductor; Sarah Uriarte Berry, Quentin Darrington, James Snyder, featured vocalists; Performers from The Hartt School Musical Theatre Department
Saturday, February 23, 2013│ 7:30 p.m.
Mortensen Hall│ The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
HSO and Goodspeed Musicals join to celebrate the golden anniversary of the home of the American Musical. This special collaboration features selections from Goodspeed originals that moved to Broadway, including Annie and Man of La Mancha, plus audience favorites from dozens of shows like Brigadoon, Finian’s Rainbow and No, No Nanette.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hello, Daniel! Goldstein Assumes Director's Role for Goodspeed's Dolly

Marc Bruni has withdrawn from directing Hello, Dolly! at the Goodspeed Opera House due to a schedule conflict and Daniel Goldstein, director of the Broadway revival of Godspell, returns to Goodspeed Musicals where he previously directed a developmental production of The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown at The Norma Terris Theatre in 2011.

Hello, Dolly! will begin performances at the Goodspeed Opera House on June 28 and run through Sept. 8 . Advance season subscriptions are now on sale (860-873-8668). Single tickets go on public sale beginning Feb. 17.

Connecticut Arts Connections to Make This Week

Happenings at The Kate, Wesleyan, Westport Playhouse, More

Photo: Courtesy of The Kate
Mystic Ballet unravels a story of love, betrayal and sacrifice through the lives of two brothers; one fighting for his place in life and the other for the throne as they present “Swan Lake”  7 pm Saturday, Feb. 9 at The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Old Saybrook.

Returning from its NYC debut and prior to its Japan tour, the Mystic Ballet launches its Dynamic Directions Series featuring Sergei Vanaev’s adaptation of "Swan Lake." The show underscores the deep commitment to a wide-ranging spectrum of classical and contemporary repertoire which has been central to Mystic Ballet’s mission from its inception. Combining his Bolshoi background with his own unique ingenuity, Sergei Vanaev creates a contemporary version of Swan Lake’s Act II to the dramatic score of Tchaikovsky.

Also at the Kate: Eilen Jewell 8 pm Friday, Feb. 15. Jewell is the Queen of the Minor Key. Sad songs are her wealth and finery. For more information and tickets: http://www.thekate.org ; 860-388-3286.

The 13th annual Breaking Ground Dance Series presented by Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Dance Department continues with the New England premiere of “Mama Call” (2011), a contemporary tale of border-crossing, and “Pupil Suite” (2010), set to the contagious music of Israeli band Balkan Beat Box, performed by Gallim Dance and choreographed by Artistic Director Andrea Miller (the 2011 recipient of Wesleyan’s Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award) 8pm Friday, Feb. 8 and Saturday, Feb. 9 in the CFA Theater, 271 Washington Terrace on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown.
  • The 13th annual Outside the Box Theater Series presented by Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Theater Department continues with the first Connecticut performance of the Mabou Mines masterclass workshop production “Glass Guignol: The Brother and Sister Play,” conceived and adapted by Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell, on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 8pm in the CFA Theater, located at 271 Washington Terrace on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown.
  • Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, has announced that Wesleyan's Center for the Arts is one of 20 member organizations across the country to receive $948,000 in funding in Round Two of Engaging Dance Audiences, the first national funding program for audience engagement practices focused specifically on the art form of dance. Wesleyan will receive $42,660 to increase audience engagement through two new programs that will launch later this year: the DanceLink Fellowship Program, in which Wesleyan students will intern with three professional dance companies during the summer, and then serve as ambassadors for the companies when they are presented on campus during the 2013–2014 Breaking Ground Dance Series; and Dine/Dance/Discover, a new event to take place before and after Breaking Ground Dance Series performances, incorporating dance workshops featuring movements from those performances, dinners facilitated by the DanceLink Fellows and Wesleyan faculty members, and post-show discussions. 
Westport Country Playhouse’s next Script in Hand playreading will be the award-winning play Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage 7 pm Monday, Feb. 11. All tickets are $15. The cast includes Geneva Carr, Lynda Gravátt, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Billy Eugene Jones, Paul Anthony Stewart, and Susan Kelechi Watson. Director is Anne Keefe, Playhouse artistic advisor. Infor and tickets: 203-227-4177, 1-888-927-7529,  www.westportplayhouse.org.


Coming up at the the Bijou Theater in Bridgeport:
  • Jammin' with James Jackson Jr., Singer. Songwriter. Actor. Renaissance Man Friday, Feb. 16 at 8 pm;  2/16 8:00pm; Folk. Pop. Jazz. Gospel
  • He's shared the stage with Jimmy Buffett, Linda Ronstadt, and Jethro Tull. And he's got a brother named James: legendary Livingston Taylor and his guitar are touring the nation and his single stop in Connecticut is The Bijou Theatre 8 pm Saturday, March 2.
  • Also, check out a schedule for the Oscar nominated short films for live action, animation and documentary.
 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Theater Review: Almost Maine -- TheaterWorks

Lucas Hall and Laura Esposito. Photo: Lanny Nagler
Warm Love Stories with a Touch of Frostbite
By Lauren Yarger
Four actors playing 19 characters in nine stories of people falling in and out of love make up the framework of John Cariani’s quirky play Almost Maine at TheaterWorks Hartford.

Amy Saltz ably directs a taut ensemble portraying the tales of love playing out in Almost, a never-officially-incorporated town, in northern Maine. Set against the backdrop of starry nights and the Northern lights (Michael Schweikardt designs the minimalist set; Mary Jo Dondlinger designs the lighting) couples declare love, find each other or discover love has been lost.

Each story has something just a little bizarre incorporated. A woman has a broken heart – literally carried in a paper bag; a guy in a Laundromat is unable to feel anything – literally. He has a medical condition that blocks his sensors. A woman fed up with a guy dragging his heals about marriage decides to break things off and demands the return of all of her love. She gives back what he’s given her – actually loaded into a bunch of large red sacs. A guy unexpectedly falls in love – literally, with a big thud on the floor. 

You get the idea. To give much more detail about the plot or specifics of some of the performances would be to give away much of the substance of the stories, most of which are pretty short (the whole show is comprised of two 45-minute acts). You really want to experience them yourself.

While a bunch of the plot is out there – after all, Almost is way out there – Cariani combines humor and quick character development to make the stories heartwarming and real in the face of a mystical, almost “Twilight Zone” feel. Subtle connections that link the characters of the town anchor the individual stories which otherwise might seem disjointed.

Harry Nadal’s costuming helps the actors make complete transition between characters and an extra touch of having stage crew members make scene changes in cold weather gear ads charm to the production. A sudden cold front with snow flurries in Hartford at the top of the run didn’t hurt the atmosphere either.

The play has cool charm, blustery humor and just enough frostbite to keep it from being too sweetly romantic.

Almost Maine runs through March 3; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Weekend matinees at 2:30 pm. Tickets $50; center reserve upgrade $13; student rush $17; Senior Saturday matinees $35. (860) 527-7838; www.theaterworkshartford.org.
C O N N E C T I C U T
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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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