Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Break

Theater News and Reviews will resume Dec. 3. Happy Thanksgiving!

Theater Review: The Three Musketeers -- CT Repertory



Marisa Desa and Anthony Goes. Photo: Gerry Goodstein 
By Lauren Yarger
It’s the age-old story: young D’Artagnan (Will Haden) arrives in Paris looking for adventure and to pursue his father’s place as one of the king’s special guard. He is befriended by The Three Musketeers, Athos (Thomas Brazzle), Porthos (Anthony J. Goes) and Aramis (James Jelkin) and soon finds himself in the middle of swashbuckling swordfights, treason and romance.

It lends itself to super staging and exciting theater, but the adaptation by Linda Alper, Douglas Langworthy and Penny Metropulos, from the novel by Alexandre Dumas and getting a run over at CT Repertory at UConn’s Jorgensen Theatre, gets bogged down in details. Except for exciting fight scenes staged by Director Tony Simotes and Greg Webster, its pace is too slow and its focus too disjointed for us to start yelling, “One for All and All for One!”

The very large cast is made up mostly of acting students. Three Equity actors lend their talents to the production: “triple threat” Alexander Sovronsky who plays Captain de Treville, the Duke of Buckingham and composes original music for the production, Goes as Porthos and Rocco Sisto, who seems often to be reaching for his lines, as the evil and conniving Cardinal Richelieu.

Haden offers an exuberant D’Artagnan who falls in love lady-in-waiting Constance Bonacieux (Sarah Wintermeyer), who unfortunately already has a husband (a humorous Darak Burkowski). They have a nice chemistry, but the camaraderie among the musketeers never seems to gel. The scenes where D’Artagnan wins the loyalty of the other three don’t ring true.

Meanwhile, King Louis XVIII (Coles Prince) is portrayed as an effeminate buffoon. We fully understand the disgust of his queen, Anne (Khetanya Henderson), and her continued liaison with her former beau, the Duke of Buckingham (also well played by Sovronsky).

Unfortunately, in this tale, we’re not supposed to be on the same side as Cardinal Richelieu and his accomplice in treason, Milady de Winter (Olivia Saccomanno), when it comes to our thoughts about the king. More often than not the king in The Three Musketeers is portrayed as a shy, young boy, who is manipulated by Richelieu and we root for the Musketeers to protect him and the throne. Vive La France!! But this interpretation of the king doesn’t even inspire an “en guarde!.” Prince does a fine job delivering the character as he has been directed to, as a neglectful, self -indulgent fool, however. His comic talent causes us to laugh while we are hoping he will be deposed when he ballet dances to make an exit….. It’s not the performance, but the role as written that disappoints.

For me this tale seemed more about details of plot and trying to be historically accurate and my interest waned. The beautifully detailed, plush costumes designed by Fan Zhang accomplish this, as do the nicely styled wigs and hair, but a very dull, grey-black skeleton frame set with unfinished arches against a grey background (designed by Posy Knight) takes its cue from a dull script rather than from the splendors of the Parisian court which might have helped light up this production. Lighting Designer Sean Nicholl does create a red hue for scenes when the cardinal is plotting away at his devilish schemes to add a bit of color.

Noteworthy among the performances is Harry Eifenbaum as D’Artagnan’s servant Planchet. He takes a small part and makes it memorable with each flip of his feather duster. Similarly, Susanna Resnikoff, as a jeweler named Reilly, gets some of the biggest laughs with a few well delivered “Hmmmms.”


Performance times vary for this run because of the Thanksgiving holiday, so check with the box office to schedule your visit. I did leave before the full two-hour-and-45-minute run was done, because my theater companion was feeling unwell and needed to get home. Stick it out and let me know whether your allegiance for the king shifted and you left the theater yelling, “all for one!” at the end after all.

The show runs through Dec. 8 at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre. Tickets $7-$37: 860-486-4799; www.crt.uconn.edu; box office in the Nafe Katter Theatre, 820 Bolton Rd.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Discover Life on the Mississippi in Hartford

The Mark Twain House and Museum and the Workshop Theater Company present the exciting new musical play Life on the Mississippi for two performances only--on Friday, Dec. 13 at 7 pm and Saturday, Dec. 14 at 2 pm in the Mark Twain House Museum Center.

Currently running Off-Broadway at Workshop Theater Company, this new production comes direct to Hartford! It's a musical version of Mark Twain's classic memoir Life on the Mississippi. Hair-raising, hilarious, life-changing and violent are just some of the currents that steamboat pilot Sam Clemens has to navigate in this musical journey. 

Young Sam Clemens and his brother Henry step onto a Mississippi steamboat and aboard the chance of a lifetime. As a cub apprentice, his burning ambition propels him to become a steamboat pilot, but he soon discovers that learning the great, relentless river will be harder than he ever imagined. Now Sam must plot a course through the dangerous currents, as mysterious as the Mississippi itself. Book, Music and Lyrics by Philip W. Hall. Directed by Susanna Frazer. Presented by the Workshop Theater Company.

Seating is first-come/first-served. Free-will offering accepted. This special presentation is a benefit for The Mark Twain House & Museum.

Connecticut Arts Connections

The 2013 Heida Hermanns International Piano Competition will be presented by the Connecticut Alliance for Music (CAM) with the support of the Westport Arts Center, on Saturday and Sunday, November 23 and 24, at Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue. The media sponsor is WSHU.

Now celebrating its 42nd year, the bi-annual event is named for the late Heida Hermanns, an acclaimed concert pianist who lived in Westport with her husband Arthur for more than 40 years. 

The goal of the competition is to give support to young musicians, aged 19 through 35, in the early stages of their professional careers. Past winners include pianists Frederic Chiu and Christopher O’Reilly.

From audition CDs submitted by university and conservatory music students and alumni world-wide, 16 semi-finalists have been chosen to compete on Saturday, November 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Admission to the semi-finals is free-of-charge and open to the public. Competitors will perform throughout the day for 20 minutes each. Audience members are free to come and go.

At the end of the day, judges will select six pianists to move on to the Sunday finals, November 24, 2 to 5 p.m. The contestants will vie for cash prizes of more than $10,000 – first prize, $5,000; second prize, $2,500; third prize, $1,500; and three honorable mentions, $500 each.

The finalists will each perform a program selected by the judges to demonstrate musical virtuosity and skill. At the conclusion of the performances, the audience will be invited to a reception while the judges determine the winners. Tickets to Sunday’s finals are $20 for adults; free for ages 18 and younger.

The Honorary Chair of the competition is Yue Chu, who was the first prize winner of the 2011 Heida Hermanns International Piano Competition. He attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston on a full scholarship, and was the first undergraduate student to receive the Presidential Scholarship in two consecutive school years. Yue Chu has been in worldwide competitions and music festivals. He is currently attending the Artist Diploma program at Yale University of Music. 

For more information, visit http://camusic.org/cam-programs/heida-hermanns-international-competition/ For tickets, call the Westport Arts Center at 203-222-7070, M – F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or purchase online at westportartscenter.org.

AT THE PALACE
Show savings and discounts are taking center stage this Black Friday through Cyber Monday at the Palace Theater in Waterbury. Tickets, Palace gift certificates, and gift certificates to a variety of local restaurants participating in the theater’s Entrées & Encores program are available for everyone’s one-stop holiday shopping needs and 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.

On Black Friday, November 29, the Box Office will open from 10a.m. to 10p.m. and will offer a twenty-percent discount on remaining seats to the Webster Broadway Series presentations of American Idiot (February 16), Rock of Ages (March 21 & 21), Hair (May 2-4), and Million Dollar Quartet (June 6-8). The limited time discount is available through Cyber Monday, December 2, and does not include processing fees. Some restrictions may apply.

The Box Office is also offering an exclusive one-day-only sale on Black Friday for the theater’s holiday presentation of Tony Orlando’s Great American Christmas on Thursday, December 5. A limited number of $20 orchestra tickets will be available for the first 20 people, who purchase tickets to the show by phone or in person at the Box Office. After the first 20 seats are sold, the Palace will offer a twenty-percent discount on all remaining orchestra seats throughout the day.

For more information, contact the Box Office at 203-346-2000.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Courtney's Book Focuses on Ghosts of Mark Twain House

The Mark Twain House and Museum announces the publication of an exciting new book, "We Shall Have Them with Us Always": The Ghosts of the Mark Twain House, written by Twain historian Steve Courtney and now on sale at the Mark Twain Museum Store.

And a celebration of the book's publication will be held 7 pm Wednesday, Dec. 11 in the Mark Twain House Museum Center. Courtney will discuss his book, and various members of the Mark Twain House and Museum staff who have experienced unexplained happenings in the Mark Twain House will be present to relay their stories. The results of a recent investigation of the house by Blue Moon Paranormal Investigations will also be announced.

A book sale and signing will follow.

Samuel L. Clemens--Mark Twain--and his family lived in an elegant Gothic home in Hartford for seventeen years, 1874-1891. It was his most productive time--The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and many other works flowed from his pen -- and his family life was the happiest it would ever be.

In recent years, there have been accounts of presences in the house - a woman in white, odd noises, even a whiff of cigar smoke (Clemens smoked 20 to 40 a day). Television shows such as Ghost Hunters have paid a visit.

Other doubt the alleged phenomena -- our age, like Twain's, being an era of credulity and hype -- and Twain himself wrote of his youth, "In these days it seems incredible that people believed in ghosts so short a time ago." But he loved ghost tales and sampled seances.

In "We Shall Have Them with Us Always": The Ghosts of the Mark Twain House, Courtney recounts tales of hauntings and investigations -- and the tale of the iconic American author's own interest in the occult and spiritualism.

Courtney was the Publicist and Publications Editor at The Mark Twain House and Museum from 2009 to 2013, and is the author of several books, including "The Loveliest Home That Ever Was": The Story of the Mark Twain House in Hartford (Dover Publications, 2011); Joseph Hopkins Twichell, Mark Twain's Closest Friend (University of Georgia Press, 2008); and The Civil War Letters of Joseph Hopkins Twichell: A Chaplain's Story (co-edited with Peter Messent, University of Georgia Press, 2006).

"We Shall Have Them with Us Always": The Ghosts of the Mark Twain House is published by The Paige Compositor Press, The Mark Twain House and Museum's new imprint. It retails for $14.95 and is available at the Mark Twain House Museum Store or via this link.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Connecticut Arts Connections

More than 20 stars from Broadway and Fairfield County will perform in A NIGHT OF STARS IN CONCERT Dec. 7 to benefit the Summer Theatre of New Canaan and support their successful arts education programs. 

Broadway, Regional and local professional artists will be performing popular Broadway show tunes including Broadway and Disney composer/song writer/Music Director David Friedman (Beauty & The Beast, Scandalous). Also on board: Jodi Bryce Stevens (Jekyll & Hyde), Gary Harger (Shenandoah), Janelle Roberts (Mary Poppins), Kate Bodenheimer (Charlie Brown), Chris De Rosa, Corinne Curtis & Grace Hardin (“Joseph”), Christina Farruggia (Grease), Allison Gray (Sound of Music), Melody Meitrott Libonati (Grease) Sharon Mallane (Hair Spray), Andrew Serks (Rock of Ages); New York Performers include: Tiffan Borelli (South Pacific), Jason Michael Evans (Miss Saigon), Joshua Heggie (Big River), Daniel Kline (South Pacific), Malika Petty (Charlie Brown), Brian Silliman (My Fair Lady). 

Featured child artists are Sadie Seelert (Mary Poppins), Christian Camporin (Little Mermaid) & Noah Ayer (South Pacific).Also sharing the stage and backing up some of the singing artists will be a student choir from the Performing Arts Conservatory of New Canaan whose students performed as the children choir in the Summer Theatre company’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream coat.A Night of Stars in Concert will be presented by the Summer Theatre of New Canaan in the New Canaan Country School Theatre located at 695 Frog Town Road. Evening begins at 7:30 pm with a pre-show wine reception (open to all ticket holders), Concert begins at 8 pm (includes live-auction) and is followed by a post-show reception with the evening’s stars and Board of Trustees. More information and tickets for A Night of STARS in Concert and the Summer Theatre of New Canaan is at www.stonc.org.

Newsies, the Tony Award-winning “critics’ pick” Broadway musical smash, will play an exclusive premiere engagement at Palace Theater in Waterbury during the 2014-15 season.

Information regarding engagement dates and how to purchase groups and single tickets will be announced at a later time. For information or to register for advance ticket access notifications, visit NewsiesTheMusical.com.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, adapted and directed by Dustin Wills, will be presented by the Yale School of Drama Dec. 13-19 at the University Theatre, 222 York St., New Haven.

Peter Pan features compositions by Dan Schlosberg, scenic design by Mariana Sanchez Hernandez, costume design by Grier Coleman, lighting design by Joey Moro, sound design by Tyler Kieffer, dramaturgy by Dana Tanner-Kennedy, and stage management by Anita Shastri.

The cast includes Chris Bannow, Aaron Bartz, Prema Cruz, Hugh Farrell, Maura Hooper, Gabe Levey, Matthew McCollum, Michelle McGregor, Mariko Nakasone, Tom Pecinka, Aaron Luis Profumo, Mickey Theis, and Sophie von Haselberg.

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 Street at York Street).Please note: Peter Pan may not be suitable for all children. Please contact the Box Office at 203-432-1234 if you have further questions about the themes or content of this production.

Goodspeed Musicals will be holding local adult Equity auditions for its 2014 season, on Saturday, December 7 from 10 am to 5 pm. in East Haddam. Goodspeed is seeking adult male and female Equity actors.

All auditions are by appointment only. Appointments may be made starting immediately. Call 860- 873-8664, ext. 387, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm.

Goodspeed Musicals 2014 season will be Damn Yankees (3/11-6/21), Fiddler on the Roof (5/27-9/13) and Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn (8/19-11/30). The Norma Terris Theatre 2014 season will be announced shortly. Candidates must be available for four weeks of rehearsal and a 4 to 14-week performance run.

Interested performers should bring a resume, photo and sheet music and be prepared to sing two short numbers: an up-tempo song and a ballad. Music must be legible and in the proper key (No lead sheets please). An accompanist will be provided.

Performers of all ethnicities are strongly encouraged to audition.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

HSO Pays Tribute to Stephen Sondheim with Pops Concert

Ron Raines
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra Pops! will pay tribute to one of Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim at Symphonic Sondheim 7:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 23 in Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. 

Led by Phantom of the Opera Broadway conductor and Farmington, CT resident Tim Stella, the program will feature selections from Sondheim’s most beloved musicals, including Sweeney Todd, Follies, Into the Woods, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, A Little Night Music, and Sunday in the Park with George. 
For this performance, the HSO will be joined by Broadway stars Florence Lacey, best known as Eva Peron in Evita on Broadway; Hugh Panaro, known for his performances as the Phantom in Broadway’s Phantom of the OperaLisa Vroman, renowned for her portrayal of Christine Daee in Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera; and Ron Raines, who will begin a run as Daddy Warbucks in Annie on Broadway in December. Raines is best known for his three- time Emmy award nominated portrayal of villain Alan Spaulding in the long running CBS soap opera, "Guiding Light."

Winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer), eight Grammy Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize, Sondheim rose to stardom with the debut of West Side Story, for which he wrote the lyrics. Sondheim went on to write the lyrics for Gypsy, followed by his first Broadway musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Five decades later, several Sondheim’s musicals have been turned into major motion pictures, including the upcoming feature film production of Into the Woods starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, among others.

Stella can currently be seen on Broadway conducting The Phantom Of The Opera. He served as vocal coach to Emmy Rossum as Christine and Gerard Butler as the Phantom in the movie version of Phantom. Other Broadway shows conducted include Jesus Christ Superstar,  A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,  Guys And Dolls,  The Most Happy Fella,  Hello Dolly!  and Legs Diamond. In addition to his Broadway work, Stella currently is Music Director at Saint Peter Claver Church in West Hartford, as well as the Church Of Saint Patrick in Farmington.


Lacey was last seen on Broadway in the critically acclaimed Kennedy Center production of Sondheim's Follies.  She made her Broadway debut as Irene Malloy in Hello Dolly! for which she won the Theatre World Award.  Her biggest role was Eva Peron in Evita, a role she played on Broadway and on tour around the world.  Lacey’s other Broadway credits include Fantine in Les Miserables; Marianne in The Grand Tour; and An Evening With Jerry Herman (Mac Award).  She is married to Stella.

Panaro originated the role of Marius Pontmercy in the first national touring production of Les Misérables, moving up to the Broadway company several months later. Subsequent Broadway roles have included Raoul de Chagny in The Phantom of the Opera, Julian Craster in The Red Shoes, Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat, Buddy Foster in Side Show, and the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, which has been Panaro’s landmark role.  

Vroman, who starred on Broadway as Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera. Lisa recently starred as Marian Paroo in The Music Man  at The Bushnell alongside Shirley Jones, Patrick Cassidy and the HSO. On PBS, she played Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Hey! Mr. Producer (London Royal Gala). She played Laurey in Oklahoma (BBC PROMS festival), Mary Turner inOf Thee I Sing (San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas), and sang and danced opposite Dick Van Dyke as Mary Poppins at the Hollywood Bowl (Disney 75th Anniversary).

Born and raised in Texas, Raines most recently appeared as Ben in the critically acclaimed revival of Follies at the Kennedy Center and Broadway, for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.  He has starred on Broadway in shows such as Chicago and Show Boat, and originated the role of Nick Longworth in Teddy and Alice.  He was a three-time Emmy and Soap Opera Digest Award nominee for his role as the villain Alan Spaulding.  
Tickets to this concert range in price from $35.50-$70.50. Student tickets are $10. A limited number of $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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life for HerStory Theater



Herstory Theater, in partnership with The Mark Twain House & Museum, presents the holiday classic It's A Wonderful Life performed in the style of old-time radio theater, including a sound effects artist.

The fun and exciting holiday event takes place on Saturday, Dec. 7 in the Mark Twain House Museum Center with two performances at 2 and 7 pm. The play is written by Joe Landry and is directed by Virginia Wolf.

George Bailey, Zuzu, Clarence the Angel, and grumpy old Mr. Potter are turning Hartford into Bedford Falls this year! Come relive the story of a man who gets to see what life would have been like if he had never been born. (And there's even a Twain connection--when Clarence is pulled out of the water, he dries off his copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer!)

When the film "It's A Wonderful Life" was released in 1946, it was not an immediate popular or financial success, but its reputation grew over the years, and a clerical error resulting in the loss of copyright protection resulted in it being shown widely during the Christmas season every year. It has become a phenomenon, and many don't feel that their holiday season is complete without watching it.

Now, there's a very unique opportunity to revisit this wonderful story--in a fun, live radio-show performance, complete with a foley (sound effects) artist!

The cast and crew include: Betsey Maguire, Chris Berrien, Susan Saks, Patrick Spadaccino, Bob Muscatel,
Jomarie Pipolo, Marty Moran, Ann Baldwin, Mark Englehart, John Swanson, Ian Galligan (foley artist), Kathryn Lewis (stage manager).

The performance is 90 minutes with no intermission.Tickets are $10: 860- 280-3130;  itsawonderfullife.brownpapertickets.com.

Herstory Theater is a non-union, professional theater company based in Connecticut providing educational performances that are suitable (and inspirational) for schools, museums, historic societies, libraries, and any groups who are interested in history.

The Mark Twain House and Musuem at 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, are open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday, noon to 5:30 pm.

Coming Up at The Bushnell: A Christmas Story, Jerry Seinfeld, Mannheim Steamroller

Dan Lauria in A Christmas Story. Photo: Carol Rosegg
This holiday season, one of America’s most beloved Christmas movies comes to life as a hilarious holiday musical, making its Connecticut premiere at Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell tomorrow, Nov. 12.

A Christmas Story, the musical, features a bright holiday score by composer/lyricist team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and a book by Joseph Robinette based on the writings of radio humorist Jean Shepherd and the 1983 holiday film favorite. Tony Award-winning director John Rando helms the production, joined by acclaimed choreographer Warren Carlyle and dance arranger Glen Kelly.

A Christmas Story runs at The Bushnell through Nov. 17. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6 pm. Tickets start at $29: www.bushnell.org; 860-987-5900; box office, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. 

The show chronicles young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker as he schemes his way towards the holiday gift of his dreams: a Red Ryder Action Air Rifle BB Gun (“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”). A kooky leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a maniacal department store Santa, and a double-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the distractions that stand between young Ralphie and his Christmas wish. Produced by the film’s original Ralphie, Peter Billingsley, it’s a perennial holiday classic that will entertain the whole family.

The 30-member cast  is lead by theatre and television star Dan Lauria as Jean Shepherd and Broadway veterans John Bolton as The Old Man and Erin Dilly as Mother. Jake Lucas plays Ralphie and Noah Baird is little brother Randy; Eli Tokash plays Ralphie at certain performances. In addition, New York and West End favorite Caroline O’Connor plays school teacher Miss Shields. 

 The ensemble includes Charlie Babo, Gabriella Baldacchino, Hannah Isabel Bautista, Charissa Bertels, Tanya Birl, Beada Briglia, Judae’a Brown, Michael Crispi, Andrew Cristi, Mathew deGuzman, Thay Floyd, Nick Gaswirth, Lizzie Klemperer, Jose Luaces, Mara Newbery, Alexa Niziak, Lindsay O’Neil, David Scott Purdy, Keven Quillon, Lucas Schultz, Mitchell Sink, Luke Spring, Jenny Lee Stern, and Nicky Torchia. 

The creatives: scenic design by Walt Spangler, costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy, lighting design by Tony Award-winner Howell Binkley, sound design by Ken Travis, orchestrations by 2011 Tony nominee Larry Blank, and musical supervision by Ian Eisendrath.
Jerry Seinfeld. Photo courtesy of The Bushnell


America’s premier comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, will be performing his signature stand-up routine at Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at 7 pm. Seinfeld has been hailed for his uncanny ability to joke about the little things in life that relate to audiences everywhere. He now sets his sights on performing both nationally and internationally in 2014.

Tickets: www.bushnell.org; 860-987-5900; box office, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford.

Mannheim Steamroller  will perform live in Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 pm.

Grammy Award winner Chip Davis has created a show that features the beloved Christmas music of Mannheim Steamroller along with dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting. The spirit of the season comes alive with the signature sound of Mannheim Steamroller. Davis will direct and co-produce the performances with MagicSpace Entertainment.

Mannheim Steamroller is the #1-selling Christmas artist of all time. With more than 40 million total records sold, 28 million have been Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums. The group’s annual Christmas tour has consistently ranked among top national tours. More info: www.mannheimsteamroller.com.

Tickets: www.bushnell.org; 860-987-5900; box office, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford.

Tony Orlando's Christmas Show Plays the Palace

Tony Orlando’s Great American Christmas show plays the Palace in Waterbury Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 pm. 

Orlando lends his smooth vocals to a wide range of holiday classics including “White Christmas,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” “Silent Night,” and more.

Orlando has sold millions of records, including five number-one hits such as “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree,” “Knock Three Times,” and “He Don’t Love You (Like I Do).” He also starred in the renowned Tony Orlando and Dawn variety show that aired on CBS from 1974-1976.

Before the concert, Riverhouse Catering will prepare a 5:30 p.m. three-course dinner in the Palace’s Poli Club, located on the mezzanine level of the theater. The dinner is $40 per member/ $50 per non-member, which includes tax, service fees, coffee, and tea. A cash bar is also available. Seating is limited, and reservations can be made when purchasing tickets through the Box Office.

Tickets for the concert are $75 and $45: 203-346-2000; www.palacetheaterct.org; Box Office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury.

In the spirit of holiday giving, the Palace is donating a portion of ticket sales from the show to WATR’s Sunshine Fund to help those in need during the holiday season. Patrons also are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to the theater on the night of the performance to benefit New Opportunities Inc.’s annual holiday toy drive.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meet Malcolm Gladwell at CT Forum Event


Meet the bestselling author of Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers at a special post-Forum VIP reception on Thursday, Nov. 21, immediately following the Big Thinkers Forum at The Bushnell.

Meet Malcolm Gladwell, get a photo taken, and receive an autographed copy of his most recent book, David and Goliath.

Reception tickets are $175 per person and can be purchased online or by calling 860.509.0909. Limited availability so act quickly! First come first served. 

Big Thinkers also features historian Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and the author of a number of award-winning and best-selling books, including The Great Deluge, Tour of Duty, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, Parish Priest, and most recently, Cronkite.

Tickets: www.ctforum.org; 860-509-0909.

Friday, November 8, 2013

TheaterWorks Will Present Christmas on the Rocks

TheaterWorks' Holiday World Premiere 
Christmas on the Rocks
An offbeat collection of twisted holiday tales  
by multiple nationally known playwrights.
 These darkly humorous stories run December 3 through 22, 2013. 
What:
CHRISTMAS ON THE ROCKS by John Cariani, Jeffrey Hatcher, Jacques Lamarre, Matthew Lombardo, Theresa Rebeck, Edwin Sanchez and Jonathan Tolins.
                          
Just in time for the holidays, something fresh, funny, smart and surprisingly touching. Remember watching holiday specials as a kid? Fast-forward to this Christmas Eve. In a rundown local bar, unexpectedly, chance brings us face to face with a parade of beloved characters from favorite Christmas tales - only now they have all grown up! Tiny Tim, Charlie Brown, Cindy Lou Who and a host of other favorites pour out their Christmas woes. Inspired by our collective holiday memories, CHRISTMAS ON THE ROCKSis sure to become a new holiday tradition.  
                                       
Conceived and directed by TheaterWorks' Producing Artistic Director, Rob Ruggiero, this exciting new production features 7 nationally known playwrights each adding their own spin to the canon of holiday traditions past.    

Rob is also thrilled to welcome a tremendously talented cast to TheaterWorks. Audiences will remember Harry Bouvy (the man) from SnakebitChesapeake and Fully CommittedChristine Pedi (the woman) most recently seen in Broadway's hilariousNEWSical The Musical, makes her TheaterWorks' debut as does Broadway veteran, Ronn Carroll (Goodspeed's Carousel) as the bartender.

Rob said "I couldn't be more excited about collaborating with this amazing group of  playwrights and actors. What began as a fun idea for a new and very 'TheaterWorks' holiday event is quickly taking form. I look forward to sharing it with our audiences. I think they are in for a real treat."
                                   
CHRISTMAS ON THE ROCKS runs December 3 through December 22, 2013.
            
The production design team includes Michael Schweikardt(Sets), Alejo Vieti (Costumes), Mary Jo Dondlinger (Lights) and Michael Miceli (Sound).Production Manager is Michael Lenaghan.
When:
December 3 through 22, 2013
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday:
Friday        
Saturday 
Sunday    

7:30 pm
8:00 pm
2:30 pm and 6:30 pm 
4:00 pm and 8:00 pm   

The lobby and the gallery sponsored by The Hartford Financial Services Group, opens 90 minutes prior to curtain; seating starts 60 minutes prior.
Where:
TheaterWorks
City Arts on Pearl - 233 Pearl Street in Downtown Hartford

Admission:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 
Friday, Saturday
Subscribers       
Center Reserved 
Student Rush w/ID (subject to availability)  
Group Rates    
$35
$40
$10 off
$15 addt'l
$15   
Call
For seats call 860.527.7838.

Christmas on the Rocks is NOT a part of the subscription season,
but you can still subscribe.

4 Plays for as low as $99. Call for details.

2013 - 2014 SEASON

FREUD'S LAST SESSION by Mark St. Germain 
January 17 through February 23, 2014
Press: January 24, 2014
                                                     
THE OTHER PLACE by Sharr White
March 14 through April 19, 2014
Press: March 21, 2014
      
LOVE / SICK by John Cariani
 May 16 through June 22, 2014
Press: May 23, 2014 

WOODY SEZ The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie 
August 8 through September 14, 2014
Press: August 15, 2014
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Connecticut Arts Connections

The O’Neill Theater Center marks the historic expansion of its Waterford, CT theater campus with a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, November 13 at 11am, rain or shine. Members of the community are invited to join and celebrate the occasion, which marks a substantial artistic and capital expansion for the two time Tony Award-winning organization.

The expansion, the largest in the Center’s history, includes seven new dormitory cottages accommodating living space for 65 artists and faculty, a laundry facility, a new rehearsal hall, and the renovation of existing buildings into additional production and rehearsal space.

The National Theater Institute, founded in 1970, is proud to offer the National Music Theater Institute Semester (NMTI), a sister program to the successful National Theater Institute Semester (NTI) program. NMTI will offer credit-earning intensive training in all areas of musical theater—acting, singing, directing, writing, dance, composition, choreography—to undergraduates from the U.S. and abroad. Construction is scheduled to be completed in conjunction with enrollment of the NMTI Fall 2014 class.

A short presentation will be held following the groundbreaking ceremony at the Rose Theater Barn. Details and timeline of the expansion will be shared, as well as the new program’s profound impact on the O’Neill’s mission—to discover, develop, and nurture new work and new artists.

Space is limited. For more information on this event, please contact Special Events Manager Ainslie Seeber at (860) 443-5378 ext. 285 or at events@theoneill.org. The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center is located at 305 Great Neck Road, Waterford, CT 06385.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, with book by Robert L. Freedman, lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, music by Steven Lutvak, and directed by Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, will open on Broadway November 17 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder first premiered at Hartford Stage in October 2012. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is the story of Monty Navarro, a long-lost relative of the D’Ysquith family. He finds out he isninth in line to become the next Earl of Highhurst, he decides to eliminate the other eight heirs standing in his way, all while juggling his mistress and his fiancée. The cast is led by Tony award-winner Jefferson Mays, who plays all eight ill-fated D’Ysquith family members, and Bryce Pinkham as Monty Navarro.

Author of Orange Coming in December
Piper Kerman
December 12 
7 pm Hartford Stage

Get your tickets now for an author talk and book signing with Piper Kerman, who as a young woman with a promising New York career, was forced to reckon with her past, a brief, careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking. Kerman's memoir of her year in a federal corrections facility for women has been adapted into a popular Netflix series.

Special performance by Women on Our Own, an artistic outreach program from Judy Dworin Performance Project.

Tickets: piperkerman.brownpapertickets.com.



The Yale Institute for Music Theatre is a program of Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre that bridges the gap between training and the professional world for emerging composers, book writers, and lyricists. The Institute seeks distinctive and original music theatre works by emerging composers and writers to be developed in an intensive lab setting. During a two-week summer residency at Yale School of Drama, the Institute matches the authors of the selected works with collaborators, including professional directors and music directors, as well as a company of actors and singers that includes professionals and current Yale students. The residency culminates with open rehearsal readings of each project, presented as part of New Haven’s International Festival of Arts andIdeas.

ELIGIBILITY
The Yale Institute for Music Theatre accepts applications for projects at various stages of development but focuses on work that is ready to be explored musically and dramatically with performers and directors. Submissions cannot have had a professional production.Mark Brokaw, Artistic Director) will select two original music theater works to be developed in an intensive lab setting in New Haven June 2-15, 2014. Online applications will be accepted from October 28, 2013, through January 7, 2014.

Book musicals and other imaginative music theatre projects are welcome. Only composers, book writers, or lyricists who are current graduate students; or who have graduated from an accredited degree-granting institution (undergraduate or graduate) within the past five years; or who are current Yale students (undergraduate or graduate) are eligible to apply.

Applicants may only submit one work for consideration. Composers and writers may apply as individuals or as part of a team. Participants must be available for the full duration of the residency. Each member of the writing team will receive an honorarium of $1,000, as well as round-trip transportation and accommodation.

GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSION
Online applications will be accepted beginning October 28, 2013, through 11:59 PM (EST) on January 7, 2014. All submissions must include each of the following, and all documents (with the exception of music recordings) must be uploaded as PDFs:

1- APPLICANT BIO: a BIOGRAPHY or resume of no more than one page, for each creative artist;
2- SYNOPSIS/SCRIPT/SHEET MUSIC
a. a SYNOPSIS of no more than one page, with a list of characters and instrumentation;    
b. a SCRIPT with lyrics or a full libretto;                                                  
c. SHEET MUSIC for a minimum of five songs;
3- MUSIC RECORDINGS: a sample of at least 20 minutes of music. The sample must include the five songs for which sheet music is submitted. Piano and vocals are sufficient, and a composer’s demo is acceptable though not preferred. Studio demos are not necessary. Music recording files must be clearly labeled and uploaded in sequence. All submitted recordings must be clearly noted in script.
4- DEVELOPMENT HISTORY AND GOALS: a brief description of the work’s history and what the creative team hopes to achieve from the development process at the Institute;
5- RIGHTS STATEMENT: proof of fully secured rights if the proposed project is an adaptation of an existing work that is not in the public domain;
6- SIGNATURE: an electronic signature from the Lead Applicant on behalf of all Co-Applicants (composer, book writer, lyricist).
Note: all 2014 applications must be submitted electronically. The Institute does not accept video recordings or photographs. 

For more information about the Yale Institute for Music Theatre or the application process email yimt@yale.edu or call (203) 432-5348. All applicants will be notified of selection by March 28, 2014.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Theaters Plan Food Drives

Michael Connor Barth (Michael) and Matt Kopec (Buddy) in “Elf The Musical.” Photo: Joan Marcus
AT THE PALACE
In the spirit of spreading holiday cheer, the Palace Theater is partnering with the United Way of Greater Waterbury to launch a holiday food drive during the theater’s Webster Broadway Series presentation of ELF THE MUSICAL, Nov. 19-21.

The Palace is asking both patrons and local residents to discover their inner “elf” by donating non-perishable food items – including stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy - to families fighting hunger in the Greater Waterbury area. Food donations can be dropped off at the Box Office, 100 East Main Street in Waterbury, during regular business hours the week of November 18 -22, or can be brought in by patrons attending one of the week’s three performances of ELF THE MUSICAL. All donations will be collected by the United Way of Greater Waterbury and distributed locally to nearby food pantries.

In Connecticut alone, more than 400,000 residents struggle with hunger and food insecurity, and nearly one in five children do not know where their next meal is coming from. From Waterbury to Cheshire to Bethlehem, real families are facing real challenges and the United Way of Greater Waterbury is dedicated to providing these residents with food assistance and peace of mind.

Tickets for the Palace Theater’s presentations of ELF THE MUSICAL are on sale now and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at www.palacetheaterct.org, or in person at the Box Office.

AT GOODSPEED
On Monday, Nov, 25 Goodspeed Musicals will hold its Annual Food Drive to benefit the East Haddam Food Bank. Goodspeed will be collecting donations in the hopes for another record-breaking year for participation. The need is even greater this year as the number of households served by the East Haddam Food Bank has grown once again to record levels.

Goodspeed Musicals is offering a special buy one ticket, get one free to patrons who bring a generous donation of non-perishable foods to the Nov. 25performance of The Most Happy Fella 7:30 pm at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn. The East Haddam Food Bank is in need of many non-perishable food items, especially “the basics” such as soups, pastas, canned fruits and vegetables, and cereals, as well as paper goods and personal toiletries.

During Thanksgiving week, performances will take place on Monday, November 25, at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm; Friday, November 29, at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm; Saturday, November 30, at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm; and Sunday, December 1, at 2:00 pm and 6:30 pm. Donations will be accepted at the Goodspeed Opera House November 25th through December 1st. Tickets for The Most Happy Fella are available through the Goodspeed Box Office at 860-873-8668 or at www.goodspeed.org. Advance reservations are recommended. This offer is subject to availability, with no adjustments for prior sale.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Theater Review: The Seven Year Itch -- Ivoryton Playhouse

David Conaway and Holly Holcomb. Photo: Anne Hudson
This Farce Gets Stuck Somewhere in the 1950s
By Lauren Yarger
Ivoryton Playhouse concludes its 2012-2013 season with The Seven Year Itch by George Axelrod.

The play isn’t produced that often and after seeing this production, we know why. The theme of a husband going through a mid-life crisis and considering a fling is still just as contemporary as when it was written in 1952 and when Marilyn Monroe’s white dress poofs up over a subway grate in the Billy Wilder movie version, but the play’s structure anchors it firmly in the 1950s.

Publisher Richard Sherman (David Conaway) is left on his own at their Gramercy Park apartment when his wife, Helen (Emma O’Donnell) and son, Ricky (Carson Waldron) leave for to the summer at the beach. His fantasizes about some of the women who might have been attracted to him in the past: Miss Morris (Carolyn Cumming), Elaine (Elizabeth Talbot) and Marie Whatever-Her-Name-Was (Caitlin McInerney).

He doesn’t have fantasize any more, however, when he encounters his new upstairs neighbor, a very buxom and attractive younger model, known only as The Girl (Holly Holcomb). When her tomato plant tumbles onto his terrace (the nicely appointed apartment is designed by Daniel Nischan), Richard has the perfect excuse to invite her over for a drink.

He feels guilty and confesses his temptation to an expert on the subject, psychiatrist Dr. Brubaker (John Little), who comes over to discuss his manuscript for “Of Sex and Violence.” The Shermans have been married for seven years – a common point when husbands stray, Brubaker says – and especially understandable when Richard produces a book featuring a nude photo of the girl.

Richard starts fantasizing that his wife really has left him for the summer to have a torrid affair with Tom MacKenzie (Jason Naylor), a friend who has made no secret his attraction for Helen – especially when she wears a cocktail frock with no back and not-too-much in the front (Kari Crowther designs the costumes). The fantasy segments are lighted in red tones (Marcus Abbott, design) where Richard talks with a devilish version of the voice on his shoulder urging him on. For Richard, it comes down to a choice of doing something and regretting it or not doing something and regretting it.

Feeling justified because of his wife’s imagined infidelity, Richard goes out with the girl and they end up in bed. He then fantasizes that the girl will a) fall in love with him b) blackmail him and c) embarrass him and tell his wife. He also fantasizes about what Helen will do if she ever finds out. The smile on Helen’s face as she takes pleasure in dealing with her husband’s betrayal was the highlight of this not-really-a-farce for me. Just brilliant, Emma O’Donnell.

The play is just too creaky to make traction in 2013. The publishing field has changed so much, for example, that Richard’s comments about publishing a new version of “The Scarlett Letter” with a cigarette-smoking Hester Prynne wearing a dress cut so low that there’s no room for the “A” and the book’s costing a couple of quarters, send us right back to another era.

The structure is annoying – all this fantasizing and talking to voices. At one point The Girl also talks to a disembodied voice. Her conscience? Who knows? And the kiss of death here, is that Director Lawrence Thelan allows a creeping pace where the two-hour run time with an intermission makes us itch and feel like it’s been more like seven years. There are a few laughs, but that doesn’t equal farce.

The Seven Year Itch continues at Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton, through Nov, 17. Performances are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. Tickets: $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children: (860)-767-7318; www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

Theater Review Owners -- Yale Rep

Brenda Meaney, Joby Earle, and Anthony Cochrane in Owners
Photo © Joan Marcus, 2013.
Dark Play That Houses Unlikable Characters, Plot Makes Us Want to Move 
By Lauren Yarger
What a bunch of unhappy, unlikable people headed toward a predictable, dark conclusion.

That was the thought running through my head through most of the almost two and a half hours of Owners, the first stage work by groundbreaking English playwright Caryl Churchill (Cloud Nine and Top Girls), getting a run at Yale Rep.

Trying to see what I had missed – like why Director Evan Yionoulis, whose work I respect, chose such a horrible play to produce, and what it was supposed to be about -- I eagerly read production Dramaturg Hugh Farrell’s notes in the program before sitting down to write this review. His take boils down to this: the conflict of two perspectives on ownership: the “western imperative to own everything: meets the “Eastern acceptance of owning nothing.”

OK, let’s say I kind of got that, minus the “eastern” and “western” tags, but more like socialism versus capitalism. I still didn’t care. The characters in this unrealistic 1972 play are so odd and unlikable that it is hard to engage. To top it off, the pay is listed as a comedy and I don’t recall laughing once.

Clegg (Anthony Cochrane) is a repulsive guy, a second generation butcher, who is angry that he doesn’t have a son to whom he can pass on his northern London business “Clegg and Son.” Lack of fertility is, no doubt, the fault of his wife, Marion (Brenda Meaney), whom Clegg loathes mostly because she is one of the most disgusting things in the word to him – a woman. Wives are property in his mind, something to be owned and ordered about. At best they are like dogs to be trained. He spends a lot of time plotting how to kill her. But she’s the one who has spent some time in a mental institution?

Marion has been keeping herself amused by buying up houses and flipping them for profit. She is particularly happy to become the owner of a home in which her former lover, Alec (Tommy Schrider) and his fiancée, Lisa (Sarah Manton) live. The couple, with a third child on the way and Alec’s demented, elderly mother (Alex Trow) in residence, has fallen on hard times, especially after Alec seems to stop caring about everything. He is socialism personified. When the flat is robbed, he wonders why they should call the police – after all, if the burglar really wanted the stuff, who are they to insist they owned it?

When he isn’t trying new ways to kill himself, Worsely (Joby Earle) acts as Marion’s agent and intimidates Lisa with threats of higher rent or removing the roof of their home to get the family to move out. Lisa turns to Marion, the only person she knows with some knowledge about housing issues, for help. Marion strings her along for a while before revealing that she is, in fact, the owner causing her problems.

A couple of things might alleviate the couples’ struggles, however: Alec can agree to reignite his affair with Marion and Lisa can agree to give up her new baby so Clegg can finally have the “and son” part for his business. This fits right in with the idea that those with money are “owners” able to buy and sell whatever they choose at the expense of those without money…. Meanwhile, Worsely extends his suicidal thoughts to plotting to doing away with Marion and the whole bunch of them. We can see where this is all headed and it isn’t going to be good. Though an end to these folks might not be such a bad idea….

Driving me to more dark thoughts were the costumes (Seth Bodie, design) and wallpaper patterns (Carmen Martinez, design) with their 1970s patterns and mismatched colors. When the building’s new owner, Mrs. Arlington (also Trow), showed up in an orange/red wig, purple dress and magenta shoes, I secretly hoped Worsely would take her out before finding a way to commit suicide.

I also must admit that I simply didn’t get the mannequins. There are a few placed throughout the set. Clegg waits on one at the beginning of the play. Yionoulis has the actors freeze frame like mannequins at the end of scenes. Why? Got me.

So, if all of this sounds like a fun time at the theater, Owners is the play for you. Me, I think I might have preferred to stay home, where yes, I own.

Owners continues through Nov. 16 at Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street. New Haven. Performance times vary. Tickets: $20-98: yalerep.org; 203-432-1234, Box Office, 1120 Chapel St., at York Street.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mark Russell Slated for Laughter in Politics at Mark Twain House and More...

The Mark Twain House and Museum presents an evening with political humorist Mark Russell on the Laughter of Politics Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Long before Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, there was Mark Russell, daring to joke and sing of the often absurd political process. He started in a little piano bar on Capitol Hill - right across from the lawmakers themselves. He began knowing little about politics, but was an immediate hit because he could find humor in anything.

Russell continues to play off the day's headlines, performing stand-up comedy while accompanying himself on the piano. Reading three or four newspapers a day allows him to constantly update his material. The result is that no two shows are ever identical. "I thrive on newspapers." he frequently states. "And it looks like I'll be thriving longer than them."

A native of Buffalo, NY, Russell's first heroes were entertainers. Radio comedians like Fred Allen and Jack Benny had audiences screaming for satire. It seems that everyone was making fun of self-important people. Groucho Marx was Dr. Quackenbush. Bugs Bunny was Toscanini. Charlie Chaplin was Hitler.

Russell spent 30 years on public television as host of the "Mark Russell Comedy Specials," where it was consistently among the top-rated shows on that network.
Tickets are $45 ($40 for Mark Twain House & Museum Members). Please call (860) 280-3130 for reservations.

Also coming u at the Mark Twain House:

The Mark Twain House and Museum presents a new art exhibition Botanical Tyranny: Drawings By Jane Rainwater. The exhibition will run from Nov. 4 to Jan. 17 in the Mark Twain House Museum Center.

There will be an free opening reception for the exhibition on Sunday, Nov. 10 from 2 to 4 pm.

Botanical Tyranny features pen and ink drawings of beautiful flowers, birds, and insects that, when looked at closely, are made of weapons, bomb, swords, guns, etc. Jane Rainwater's work engages the viewer with its seemingly innocent decorative delight; yet upon closer examination the work challenges and questions our attraction by revealing darker truths. Her drawings explore the paradox of "horrible beauty," illuminating her concerns regarding wealth, greed, violence and cultural traditions.

Rainwater grew up in Westport and lives in Andover. She teaches art and design at several colleges and universities in Connecticut. She is also the owner of Rainwater Design. She holds a MFA from The Art Institute of Boston, and a BFA from The Hartford Art School. She received a Radius Emerging Artist Fellowship from The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield. Jane has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the country.

Botanical Tryanny also ties in with the major fall exhibition at the Mark Twain House Museum Center: An Inglorious Peace or a Dishonorable War: Mark Twain's Views on Conflict which opened last month. Both exhibitions are open during regular museum hours for a special $5 museum-only admission -- or free with a ticket to tour the Mark Twain House.

This Thursday, Nov. 7
Dan Lauria in Conversation with Scot Haney
You loved him as the father on TV’s “The Wonder Years.” Now meet him in a new role: The Godfather.

Actor Dan Lauria, in conversation with Channel 3’s Scot Haney, will discuss his career and the collection of children’s stories he created for his godson, Julian, at a special event Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Mark Twain House and Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford.

The star of A Christmas Story, the musical, playing at The Bushnell Nov. 12-17, will sign copies of his book, “The Blue Hair Club and Other Stories,” the first in the Godfather Tales Series, following the program with Haney, which begins at 6 pm. Proceeds from the books’ sales benefit Evolution, a charity assisting single moms. Books (geared toward kids aged 5-10) may be pre-ordered at http://shop.marktwainhouse.org/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=67&products_id=484 or 860-280-3136.

A Christmas Story’s famous “leg lamp” will be on hand, along with “Ralphie’s” pink bunny suit from the show for photo ops with the kids. Drawings will be held for tickets to the show at The Bushnell and for CDs of the musical’s soundtrack. Refreshments, including some “Oh, fudge!,” courtesy of the show, will be served and kids from the cast of A Christmas Story will be on hand to read excerpts from the book.

The event is being presented free of charge. Questions or more information: bookauthorpub@yahoo.com.

Full disclosure: I am totally connected as the planner of this event -- but you should know about it! -- Lauren

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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