Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Here's What's on Tap at This Year's Festival of Arts and Ideas



The 
International Festival of Arts and Ideas has announced the schedule for this year's event which runs June 3-24 in New Haven.
 
Offerings include four world premieres commissioned by the Festival among its 24 ticketed events, five unforgettable headliner bands (including the legendary Wailers, the Festival's first-ever reggae headliner), family friendly activities, as well as dozens of talks, tours, and more.
 
Grammy-nominated musician Jimmy Greene will return on the Green and this year, the Festival will introduce new programs such as ALTAR’d Spaces and the Big Read as well as new collaborations with the New Haven Documentary Film Festival and the African Literature Association Annual Conference at Yale.

Ticketed Events
 
Dance
BLACK GIRL: LINGUISTIC PLAY
Camille A. Brown and  Dancers
June 15 and 16, 8  pm
University Theatre, 222 York Street ($35/$55)
 
Award-winning choreographer Camille A. Brown uses the rhythmic play of social dance, double dutch, steppin’, tap, and live original music to represent a nuanced spectrum of black womanhood in a racially and politically charged world. From play to protest, the performers come into their identities—from childhood innocence, to girlhood self-awareness, to maturity—all the while shaped by the bonds of sisterhood.
 
Music
Co-Commission
(BE)LONGING
Byron Au Yong and  Aaron Jafferis 
Presented in Association with Long Wharf Theatre
June 17 and 18, 2 pm
Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive ($20/$35/$55)
 
Created by the award-winning team of Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis, (Be)longing is a powerful performance event reflecting our society’s collective emergence from large-scale tragedies. Locally cast singers, beatboxers, and hip-hop artists present an original, staged oratorio about belonging, isolation, healing, and community. Prompted by our collective understanding and judgments around the Virginia Tech and Newtown tragedies, (Be)longing reflects on the impact of violence and considers deeper ways to connect and build communities of safety and support.
 
Theater
Commissioned World Premiere
THE END OF TV
Manual Cinema
June 19–22, 8 pm
University Theatre, 222 York Street ($35/$55)
 
Taking the performance world by storm, Manual Cinema is one of the hottest tickets in cities around the world. The company transforms the experience of attending the cinema, combining shadow puppetry, theatricality, cinematic techniques, innovative sounds, and music to create immersive stories. Manual Cinema experienced a gigantic success with its European debut at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival including eight 5-star and eight 4-star reviews. Now Arts and Ideas premieres an original, Festival-commissioned work by Manual Cinema right here in New Haven.
 
Music
Co-Commissioned World Premiere
WHITMAN, MELVILLE, DICKINSON - THE PASSIONS OF BLOOM
By Martin Bresnick
June 20, 8 pm
Sprague Hall, 470 College Street ($35/$65)
 
Martin Bresnick's world premiere oratorio—a large-scale work for soloists, chorus and orchestra—takes the thoughts of Harold Bloom, master teacher and secular evangelist of American Literature at Yale University, on a musical journey of passion, insight, and personal revelation. Performed by Yale Choral Artists under the direction of Jeffrey Douma, this world premiere is modeled on Bach’s St. John Passion oratorio, but centers on the lives of legendary poets Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson.
 
Theatre
WE ARE CITIZENS   
Theatre of the Oppressed NYC               
June 21, 5:30 pm and  8 pm
Bregamos Theater, 491 Blatchley Avenue ($25)
 
We Are Citizens is the culmination of a three-day intensive New Haven residency with Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, a company whose mission is to partner with communities facing discrimination to inspire transformative action through theatre. New Haven residents will take the stage in this dynamic performance exploring experiences of oppression. The actors all have powerful stories to share and they’ll invite you to join them onstage to upend the old narratives and find new solutions.     
 
Music
Co-Commissioned World Premiere
WU MAN + MIRÓ QUARTET                                  
June 22, 8 pm
Sprague Hall, 471 College Street ($35/$65)
 
East meets West as Grammy-nominated musician Wu Man and the award-winning Miró Quartet perform a Festival-commissioned world premiere work by Chinese composer Xiaogang Ye. Rarely is a western audience the first to experience new music from this legendary Chinese artist. The performance marks Wu Man's return to the Festival—recognized as the world's premier pipa virtuoso—and the Festival debut of the Austin, Texas-based, internationally touring Miró Quartet.  
 
YALE-CHINA FELLOWS    
June 22–24
1156 Chapel Street ($25)                                                       
 
The International Festival of Arts and  Ideas and Yale-China Association Arts Fellowship is an 18-month experience for emerging professional Chinese artists. Fellows spend six months in residence in New Haven learning from practicing artists and professors at Yale and in the greater New Haven community, while developing a project of their own to be premiered at Arts and  Ideas. The program is made possible through a special partnership with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York (HKETO-NY).          
 
in-between: CAI Ying
Inspired by the childhood games played by CAI Ying, in-between explores the individual experiences, the relationships between the individual and the collective, and the process of change itself. It invites the audience to create a space using rubber bands, in which they can experience gravity, tension, and body motions that they are unfamiliar with.                                                               

The Chaos Project: Phoebe Hui
The Chaos Project is a series of kinetic “elements” built with electronics, music wires, and piano keys retrieved from an abandoned grand piano. Acts of performance by the acoustic sculpture and the audiences—the ever-present element of chance these acts engender—are integral for unexpected sonic outcomes.
                                                                       
Onnie Chan
What does it feel like to be contained in our chaotic world? Using elements of the ancient Chinese game, Mahjong, Never Stand Still gives audience members an opportunity to travel on a journey with people halfway around the world, in Hong Kong for a completely new experience.                                                 

Debe Sham
Working with New Haven public schools, sculptor Debe Sham will help students find their voice in their city as they design their own urban playground. Students will develop small models that will be realized as life-sized sculptures at our Pop-Up Festivals and on the New Haven Green.                                                      

Contemporary Circus
LEO    
The Anti-Gravity Show
June 23, 8 pm and  June 24, 12 pm, 3 pm
University Theatre, 222 York Street ($35/$55)          
 
A mind-bending, funny, surreal, and surprisingly touching work, LEO challenges the senses through the clever interplay of acrobatic physical theatre and video projection. Directed by the Montréal actor and director Daniel Brière, and based on an original idea by the multi-talented performer Tobias Wegner, LEO is now touring in countries all around the world, dazzling audiences and critics from New York to Berlin, from Melbourne to Hong Kong with stops in Montréal, Moscow, and London along the way.        
 
Theater
YALE INSTITUTE FOR MUSIC THEATRE
Presented in Association with Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre
June 23 and  24, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, 7 pm
Off Broadway Theater, 41 Broadway ($25)
 
Attend open rehearsal readings of exciting new work created by emerging music theatre artists. These readings are the culmination of the annual Yale Institute for Music Theatre, an intensive two-week summer lab that allows composers, book writers, and lyricists the opportunity to develop their work with a team of professional directors and music directors as well as a company of actors and singers.
 
Special Event
LUX and  GRAVITAS    
Celebratory Dinner, Performance, and Dessert Reception
June 23, 5:30 pm
Starts at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 121 Wall Street ($275/$500)
 
The Festival culminates this year with a celebratory evening and farewell to Mary Lou Aleskie, groundbreaking Executive Director of the Festival for 11 years. Your ticket includes a roaming dinner at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library with artists and special guests close to Mary Lou; a premium seat for the evening’s gravity-defying circus performance LEO; and a dessert reception and champagne toast after the show at The Study.
 
Headline Concerts on the KeyBank Stage
 
TROKER
June 17, 6 pm (Free)
 
Six musicians from all over Mexico, with different influences but the same goal of creating mesmerizing rhythms and presenting unrepeatable live experiences, Troker’s sound careens between the sublime and the dangerous. Metal riffage merges with powerhouse funk drumming and DJ scratching, and melodic horn lines are pulled from jazz and the mariachi traditions of the band’s homeland. From SXSW to the Glastonbury Festival the band has toured around the world creating music that excites the audiences’ senses, but more importantly, music that inspires the soul.     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
FULASO
June 17, 6 pm (Free)
 
Fulaso’s FUnky LAtin SOul sound creates a soul-affirming, dance floor-burning party. Their music emanates from New York City and is rooted in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Colombia, mixing the hottest boogaloo classic arrangements with bumpin' neo-soul originals. The band blends traditional music with sixties soul and funk grooves to create a powerful new sound. Headed by an unstoppably soulful songstress, Fulaso surprises and delights audiences with hefty brass and raucous rhythms.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

JIMMY GREENE QUARTET AND THE NEW HAVEN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
June 18, 7 pm (Free)  
 
Grammy-nominated saxophonist, composer, arranger, and Connecticut native Jimmy Greene wrote and recorded the album Beautiful Life three years ago to celebrate the life of Ana Márquez-Greene, his 6-year-old daughter who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Now, Greene has released a sequel, Beautiful Life, Volume 2, and is bringing his music to the New Haven Green. He’s joined by musicians of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, one of the region's premiere symphonic ensembles, for an evening of poignant, reflective music that celebrates a beautiful life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

RUSTED ROOT       
June 24, 7 pm (Free)
 
The quintessential live band, Rusted Root has honed the perfect combination of musical intuition, freedom, and virtuosity for two decades, shaping their sound into their own vision of roots music and world rock. The powerhouse ensemble’s sweat-inducing and hypnotic live performances have brought them on tour alongside everyone from Santana, Dave Matthews Band, The Allman Brothers Band, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’s reunion tour, and now The Wailers. Rusted Root transcends age, generations, and cultures.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

THE WAILERS
June 24, 7 pm (Free)  
 
The Wailers Band put reggae on the map. They brought reggae to the attention of the world outside of Jamaica, elevating Bob Marley to superstardom, and in the process, bringing the music of their home to audiences on every continent. Now steered by famed bassist and founder Aston "Familyman" Barrett, old-school members welcome the new-generation talent of drummer Aston Barrett Jr.––"Fam's" son and nephew of Wailers co-founder Carlton "Carly" Barrett––and bring their timeless, distinctive music, intricate arrangements, and lyrics to fans everywhere.
 

Ideas Programs
 
IDEAS ON FOOT: DIXWELL’S ROOTS
June 4, 5:30 pm
Goffe Street Special School/Prince Hall Masonic Temple, 106 Goffe Street
 
Explore the Dixwell neighborhood of today, recalling the importance of its historical African American sites: an 1854 school built for African American children before the New Haven schools were integrated in 1859; churches that were part of the Underground Railroad; and community institutions such as the Dixwell Community House.
 
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: YOUTH, GUNS, AND THE CULTURE OF VIOLENCE
June 8, 5:30 pm
New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm Street
 
The Arts and  Ideas high school Fellowship students are teaming up with Citywide Youth Coalition to present a Town Hall discussion as part of "Activate (Be)longing," a community-building exercise in conjunction with (Be)longing. Local hip-hop playwright Aaron Jafferis opens the discussion with the question, "Why do young people in this country shoot each other, or get shot?"
 
IDEAS ON FOOT: THE CHANGING ROLE OF DOWNTOWN
June 12, 5:30 pm
New Haven City Hall, 165 Church Street
 
Stroll through history learning about the people and institutions that shaped old New Haven: the site of the founding of the Knights of Columbus; one of the longest running St. Patrick's Day Parades in the U.S.; entertainment entrepreneurs Maurice Bailey (Shubert Theater owner) and Sylvester Poli (Loew’s Poli Theatre); New Haven’s role in the Amistad incident, and more.
 
ON TYRANNY: TWENTY LESSONS FROM THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
June 13, 5:30 pm
Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street
 
Author Timothy Snyder’s November 2016 Facebook post introducing 20 lessons on preserving our democratic freedoms went viral. His book On Tyranny is set for global publication. Join the Housum Professor of History at Yale as he talks about his guide to identifying and understanding the frightening parallels between our current reality and that of 20th century Europeans.
 
WE THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT THE ECONOMY?
Presented in Association with WNPR and New England News Collaborative
June 14, 5:30 pm
Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street
 
Since the inauguration, we've seen executive orders on immigration, controversies surrounding Russia, and tweets about crowd size and wire tapping. But hold on—wasn't it supposed to be about the economy? In 2016, 84% of voters claimed that was their number one issue. Join John Dankosky, host of NEXT on WNPR, in a lively discussion recorded for broadcast that looks at the new economic reality under Donald Trump.
 
JENNIFER NANSUBUGA MAKUMBI IN CONVERSATION WITH DR. AARON BADY
June 15, 12:30 pm
Battell Chapel, 400 College Street

Ugandan author Makumbi reads from her debut novel, Kintu. In this tale of immigration and home, a woman travels back to Uganda to organize her husband’s funeral and is stunned to discover a web of deception. Makumbi’s writing relies heavily on Ganda oral traditions, especially myths, legends, folktales, and sayings.

IMAGINING NEW HAVEN: CANDY/A GOOD AND SPACIOUS LAND
June 15, 5:30 pm
Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street
 
After a joint artist residency at the Yale Art Gallery, photographers Jim Goldberg and Donovan Wylie collaborated on a book project to explore New Haven’s urban landscape. Presented in conjunction with the newly published Candy/A Good and Spacious Land and an exhibition of Goldberg and Wylie’s work at the Yale Art Gallery.
 
AMINATTA FORNA IN CONVERSATION WITH JOYA URAIZEE
June 16, 12:30 pm
Battell Chapel, 400 College Street
 
Scottish-Sierra Leonean author Forna discusses her novel, The Hired Man, set in Croatia. This suspenseful story focuses on a local hunter and a British family that has come to live in his town. A dark and infamous history of the place bubbles to the surface with the arrival of newcomers.
 
IMAGINING NEW HAVEN: ENGAGING THE CITY
June 16, 1:30 pm
Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street
 
Join Nicholas Dawidoff, writer; Lisa Kereszi, critic, photographer, and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Yale School of Art; and Elihu Rubin, Associate Professor, Yale School of Architecture, for a discussion about the city of New Haven and how one engages with it, tries to capture it, and learns from it. Introduced and moderated by Pamela Franks, Senior Deputy Director and Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. In collaboration with the book and exhibition Candy/A Good and Spacious Land.
 
IMBOLO MBUE IN CONVERSATION WITH JOYCE ASHUTANTANG
June 16, 5:30 pm
Battell Chapel, 400 College Street
 
Cameroonian novelist Mbue talks about her 2016 debut book, Behold the Dreamers. It tells the story of a Cameroonian couple living in New York City after immigrating; the fragility of making ends meet; and the vulnerability of their relationship and their future security to the rise or fall of an employer’s fortunes.
 
OKEY NDIBE IN CONVERSATION WITH DANIEL MAGAZINER
June 17, 12:30 pm
Battell Chapel, 400 College Street
 
Nigerian-American author Ndibe discusses his 2016 memoir Never Look an American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American, which examines the differences between Nigerian and American etiquette and politics; considers American stereotypes about Africa (and vice-versa); and juxtaposes African folk tales with Wall Street trickery.
 
CITIZENSHIP: AN EXPLORATION
June 20, 5:30 pm
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Auditorium, 100 College Street
 
Citizenship has been the underlying theme of much of our national conversation in recent months. Beyond the legal sense of “membership in a particular nation state,” citizenship has broader meanings that encompass belonging, self-definition, inclusion, and exclusion. This interdisciplinary panel discussion moderated by Dr. Michael Rowe, explores the idea of citizenship: who has it, who grants it, and why?
 
IDEAS ON FOOT: WOOSTER SQUARE, THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE
June 21, 5:30 pm
Wooster Square Park, 570 Chapel Street
 
The historic buildings of Wooster Square tell stories of the diverse groups that settled in this neighborhood before the turn of the 19th century: the mutual aid societies that helped Italian immigrants; a former synagogue that dates back to 1855; an area called home by Irish immigrants in the 1820s; and more.
 
TALKING AROUND THE PORCH: STORIES ON AUGUST WILSON
A Conversation with Constanza Romero and Harry J. Elam, Jr.
June 22, 5:30 pm
Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street
 
The late American playwright August Wilson, whose Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fences premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre, chronicled the 20th Century African American experience in his epic ten-play American Century Cycle. This dialogue between Wilson's wife Constanza Romero and Wilson scholar Harry J. Elam, Jr. will discuss his life and his art, and engage his famous ten-play history cycle.

TAYLOR MAC AND BASSEM YOUSSEF IN CONVERSATION
June 24, 3 pm
Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street
 
One is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director, and producer. “A critical darling of the New York scene” (New York Magazine), Time Out New York has called Mac, “One of the most exciting theater artists of our time.” The other is a comedian, writer, producer, physician, media critic, and television host, who has been called “The Jon Stewart of Egypt.” Together they will talk about building community through humor and art during our current times.
 

ALTAR’d Spaces
 
For over 200 years, four churches on the New Haven Green have made history as sanctuaries and meeting houses for all who enter, no matter their sense of alienation. This summer they take up one more purpose: arts incubators. For two weeks, folk music, theater, spoken word, and dance will come together within their walls. These acts channel the Festival’s original essence: that there is nothing more spiritual than a community creating together.
 
Shoreline Ballet, Inc.
June 10, 3 pm
First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College Street
 
A new adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, featuring dancers from the school.
 
Alison Cook Beatty Dance
June 10, 6 pm
First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College Street
 
An award-winning dance company brings New York-premiered pieces to New Haven.
 
Taylor Ho Bynum + Friends
June 11, 6:30 pm
Center Church on the Green, 311 Temple Street
 
Creative music draws upon jazz, classical, folk, and popular music traditions.
 
Mariachi Mexico Antiguo
June 13, 6 pm
United Church on the Green, 270 Temple Street
 
An unforgettable musical adventure through Mexico.
 
Rap Guide to Climate Chaos
June 13, 7:15 pm
Center Church on the Green, 311 Temple Street
 
Canadian rapper Baba Brinkman brings science to life on stage.
 
The Survivors Swing Band
June 13, 8:30 pm
United Church on the Green, 270 Temple Street
 
A seven-piece jazz band playing the classics of a bygone era.
 
Rolie Polie Guacamole
June 14, 4:30 pm
United Church on the Green, 270 Temple Street
 
An award-winning "kindie" band with a high energy, interactive, and educational show.
 
Deborah Lifton
June 14, 6 pm
Trinity Church on the Green, 230 Temple Street
 
One of today’s most compelling sopranos performs a selection of contemporary American opera and popular song.
 
Olive Tiger
June 14, 7:15 pm
United Church on the Green, 270 Temple Street
 
Cello, violin, guitar, drums, bass, and electronics craft a unique blend of melody-driven orchestral rock sounds.
 
Happenstance Theater
June 14, 8:30 pm
Trinity Church on the Green, 230 Temple Street
 
In this devised, clown-esque piece, a troupe of eccentrics creates a “BrouHaHa!”
 
Tere Luna and  Val Ramos Duo
June 19, 7:15 pm
Trinity Church on the Green, 230 Temple Street
 
Featuring songs and colorful folkloric dances of Mexico, romantic Bolero songs, and Spanish rumba Flamenca.
 
Afro Peruvian New Trends Orquestra
June 19, 8:30 pm
Center Church on the Green, 311 Temple Street
 
Instrumental mini big band performing awesome Afro Peruvian and Pan American jazz music.
 
The Word Citywide High School Poetry Jam
June 21, 6 pm
First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College Street
 
A showcase of the Weekly Word Warriors’ original poetry.
 
LayaVinyasa 
June 21, 8:30 pm                    
First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College Street
 
SriKrishna Leelamrutham encaptures Lord Krishna's compassion, courage, and mischief.
 

Film Programs
 
NHdocs 2017: The 4th Annual New Haven Documentary Film Festival
June 1-11
Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street

Eleven days of memorable documentaries––from the best local productions to the internationally renowned. Premieres include Stephen Dest’s I Am Shakespeare: The Henry Green Story, about a New Haven high school student with a double life, and Tlaxcala Dreams, Sebi Medina-Tayac’s look at a small town in rural Mexico—many of whose residents now live in Fair Haven. Jim O'Connor’s Food Haven (2017) celebrates New Haven’s culinary scene while Jennifer Abod’s The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen (2016) celebrates the life of longtime New Haven resident and dance guru. And much, much more!
 
Second Wave Verité: The Cinema of Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker
June 9-11
Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street
 
Award-winning documentarians Pennebaker and Hegedus have played a crucial role revitalizing the cinema verité tradition in the digital era. Our selection of their recent documentaries spans twenty-five years of filmmaking from The War Room, a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign for president, to Unlocking the Cage, their animal rights feature that was first shown in 2016, but will be screened in a newly updated version. The filmmakers will be present to discuss their films over the long weekend.
 
            Startup.com (2001): June 9, 7 pm
            The War Room (1993): June 10, 1 pm
            God Spoke: Al Franken (2006): June 10, 3 pm
            Kings of Pastry (2009): June 10, 7 pm
            Unlocking the Cage (2017): June 11, 1 pm
 
            Panel discussion, Unlocking the Cage and animal rights: June 11, 3:30 pm

  
Scene on the Green
 
A wide variety of free events on the historic New Haven Green. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, join us for an eclectic and energizing mix of performances, artists, and activities from across the Northeast.
 
New Haven Dances! The City's Largest Dance Lesson
June 17
 
Shimmy your way down to the Green for a dance party you won't forget. Young, old, two left feet, dance enthusiasts, and dance professionals are all welcome to join us as we get the energy flowing through the streets of New Haven.
 
LIMITLESS 2nd Annual Teen Dance Competition
June 17, 12 pm
 
An all-style teen dance competition for a cash prize and the Limitless King or Queen titles, curated by Bryce Howard of Future Project and New Haven Academy.
 
HI Crew presents: Refacing New Haven
June 17 and  18, All Day
 
An inviting and captivating piece of temporary public art: a walk-through exhibit composed of plywood cube structures resembling a miniature city block, placed strategically throughout the Green, exploding with colorful graffiti-esque styles and design.
 
Box City
June 17 and  18, 12-4 pm
 
Calling all young thinkers and tinkerers! Come out and help construct a model city of the future made out of cardboard boxes. Local architects, makers, and city planners will assist, offering advice and distributing permits to Box City's young entrepreneurs!
 
New Haven Story Project Listening Stations
June 17, 18, and  24, 1-5 pm
 
As part of the BIG READ, New Haven Story Project has been collecting stories of Immigration and Migration. Come learn something new from your neighbors, and get some insight into their stories at The Listening Stations. Stories have the power to change the world.
 
108 Monkeys Yoga
June 17 and  24, 11AM-12 pm
 
108 Monkeys invites you to ignite connection and tune up our commitment to compassion and empathy by engaging in synchronized movement and breath in a shared space: the great urban outdoors of the New Haven Green. All levels of experience and ability are welcome. Please bring your own mat; limited number available if needed.
 
Creative Music Play-In
June 18, 5-6:30 pm
 
Internationally recognized composer/performer Taylor Ho Bynum will lead an interactive "Play-In" on the New Haven Green. Open to all levels, participants will play simply arranged folk songs, with some exciting group improvisation mixed in. Don't worry, no experience with improvisation necessary, just bring your instrument!
 
The Rejuvenary River Circus
June 20, 2:30 pm
 
Arm-of-the-Sea combines large-scale visual storytelling with live music in contemporary works of mask and puppet theater. The Rejuvenary River Circus is an allegorical tale that follows Malakai the water messenger as he travels between Mountain Peaks and the Deep Blue Sea. When the old man falls ill, his granddaughter Rachel is faced with the challenge of restoring her grandfather––the River––back to health.
 
Abbie Gardner
June 21, 12 pm
 
Abbie Gardner, the fiery Dobro player with an infectious smile, has been touring with Americana darlings Red Molly for the past eleven years. No stranger to solo performing, she has recorded three CDs, each with award-winning songs. Tales of love and loss, both gritty and sweet, ride the back of her by-now familiar, formidable slide guitar licks. She may channel Lucinda WIlliams and Bonnie Raitt, but remains pure Abbie.
 
Soro Bindi
June 21, 2:30 pm
 
Soro-Bindi is an exciting, interactive performance that incorporates traditional Ghanaian dances, songs, and stories. Artist Iddi Saaka drives his audience through Africa with various dances such as the Kpanlogo dance and the Bawa harvest dance, then invites students to learn about and play traditional Ghanaian instruments.
 
Li Liu
June 22, 2:30 pm
 
Acrobat Li Liu invites Festival audiences to learn simple movements and tricks, while teaching them about the historical significance of traditional lion and dragon dances, and encourages them to imagine what it is like growing up in both contemporary and historical China.
 
Open Ring Circus
June 22, 6:30 pm
 
Featuring giant inflatable sculptural set pieces, innovative and mesmerizing imagery, and live music by innovative music composers from Montréal, Canary's Silence by Open Ring Circus follows a group of city-dwellers caught in a black-out as they traverse a dark, unplugged, urban environment, meeting both obstacles and stunning pleasures along the way.
 
Asana and  Art: Mash-up Yoga Class
June 22, 7:30 pm
 
Join Margot Broom from downtown New Haven's Breathing Room Yoga Center for a special Asana and  Art mash-up yoga class comprised of gentle, beginner-friendly movement and a hands-on, civic and personal mindfulness practice through group abstract painting.
 
The Bossa Nova Project
June 23, 12 pm
 
The Bossa Nova Project was founded by Brazilian native singer-songwriter/pianist Isabella Mendes to share happiness and love through music. The Project was inspired by the original Bossa Nova movement which took place in Brazil in the 60’s. With elements of classical, samba, and jazz, Bossa Nova brought people together through songs about love, the beach and life.
 
Ginga Brasileira
June 23, 2:30 pm
 
This professional ensemble performs a colorful, crowd-pleasing repertoire of Afro-Brazilian dances that fuse rhythmic music with high-energy gymnastics and martial arts.
 
Gospel Fest: Made in New Haven
June 23, 6:30 pm
 
Curated by Mae Gibson Brown, GospelFest will showcase a 100-voice mass choir, spoken word artists, and dancers, celebrating local talent as well as honoring New Haven's Mary Atkinson Joyner, a Gospel promoter for over 50 years.
 
Exchange
June 24, 1-5 pm
 
A Broken Umbrella Theatre, New Haven’s own theater company specializing in original work based on New Haven history, celebrates local telegraph operator George Coy’s groundbreaking 1878 invention: the world's first telephone exchange. Broken Umbrella will examine the public’s relationship with the telephone, communication, and personal exchange by recording and sharing first-person stories and incorporating some of the content into dialogue, song lyrics, or soundscapes for performances of Exchange during New Haven’s “City Wide Open Studios” in October, 2017.

Sea of No Plastic
June 24, 12-4 pm
 
Sea of No Plastic is a visual art installation in response to how our culture of disposable plastics has caused severe harm to our oceans and planet.
 
Trashion Fashion
June 24, 5:30-7 pm
 
Trashion Fashion supports local artists of all ages and backgrounds, encouraging creative solutions to the world’s waste problems with a unique runway experience that features wearable art made from materials that have been diverted from the waste stream.
 
The Human Library: Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover
June 24, 12-4 pm
 
The Human Library™ is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and answered.
 
New Haven Photo Day
June 24
 
What would a day in the Elm City look like in photographs? Join photographer Chris Randall in an exploration of New Haven during the Festival. Photo Day images will be sorted, printed, judged, and delivered to the Green for exhibition and awards. This free event is in partnership with Creative Arts Workshop.
 

Trex
 
Yale’s hulking Beinecke Library. Common Ground School’s mighty farm. The sun-dappled Mill River. The Farmington Canal, stretching from New Haven to Northampton. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum. Criss-crossing New Haven, this year’s Trex are designed to open up the city, inviting newcomers to experience its cultural mosaic for the first time, and longtime residents to savor its gems anew. From kayaking to culinary pilgrimages, the programs form a single directive: explore. You never know what you might find.
 
Bike Tours (12 events)
June 18-24, Free
 
Explore the New Haven area and Southern Connecticut coastline with Elm City Cycling. Complete list at 
artidea.org/biketours.
 
Boat Tours (4 events)
June 16 and  17, $30
 
Kayak tours of Lighthouse Point Park and canoe tours of Mill River with the City of New Haven's Department of Parks, Recreation, and Trees. Schedule available at 
artidea.org/boattours.
 
Exhibition Tours (18 events)
June 13-24, Free
 
Guided tours of various exhibits at the Beinecke Rare Book and  Manuscript Library, New Haven Museum, Yale Center for British Art, and Yale University Art Gallery. Complete list available at 
artidea.org/gallerytalkstours.
 
Food Experiences (5 events)
June 15-23, $20-$40
 
Five experiences at local foodie locations. Complete list available at 
artidea.org/foodexperiences.
 
Walking Tours (22 events)
June 13-24, Free
 
Nearly two dozens tours and talks at sites, buildings, and neighborhoods throughout New Haven. Complete list available at 
http://artidea.org/walkingtours.
 
Master Classes and Workshops (8 events)
June 18-23, Free
 
For a complete list of titles and schedule, go to 
http://artidea.org/masterclasses.
 
Additional Programming
 
THE BIG READ
April 11-June 17
 
Broadening our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book, the NEA Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery. The 2017 Big Read centers on Luis Alberto Urrea's book, Into the Beautiful North, with related free events offered throughout Greater New Haven.
 
POP-UP FESTIVALS
Lively one-day neighborhood Festivals take place each year just prior to Arts and  Ideas in downtown New Haven. Community Steering Committees, local arts and business partners, and Festival volunteers and staff host local talent, family activities, and vendors in New Haven’s historic and culturally rich neighborhoods
 
Fair Haven Pop-Up Festival: Diversity and  Unity
June 3, 2-7 pm
 
Enjoy the rich multicultural cuisine, music, dance, and activities from our very own neighborhood, highlighting our local talent. Latinos, Immigrants, Refugees, Muslims, Blacks, and Queers: making Fair Haven great! Mi gente!
 
Dixwell Pop-Up Festival: It Takes a Village
June 4, 2-6  pm
 
An old-school block party; including an open-air market, free hamburgers and hotdogs for the children, and music and activities highlighting our local talent and showcasing our African American culture.
 
Hill Pop-Up Festival: Discover Our Hill
June 10, 1-5 pm
 
Come and discover all that the Hill has to offer––from parks and schools to health centers and art museums. This one-day celebration will include live music, crafts projects, local vendors and artists, a climbing wall, and even free hamburgers and hotdogs for our young people!
 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

CT Theater Review: Smart People -- Long Wharf

Peter O’Connor. Photo: T. Charles Erickson.
Smart People
By Lydia Diamond
Directed by Desdemona Chiang
Long Wharf Theatre
Through April 9

By Lauren Yarger
Smart People is a smart play about smart people and how relationships can be complicated despite your intelligence. Set against a backdrop (designed by Patrick Lynch) displaying X-rays of human skulls, questions of race and prejudice are at the forefront of this scathingly honest play by Lydia Diamond (Stick Fly).

Brian (Peter O’Connor) is worried about getting tenure at Harvard, where up until recently, he's been the darling bad boy of neuro-psychiatry, spouting theories about how racial responses are pre-programmed in the brain. When research proves that the university is prejudiced, however, he suddenly is on the outs and accused of being racist himself. He denies it. After all, doesn't he use African-Americans, like struggling actress Valerie (Tiffany Nichole Greene ), who cleans his office, as controls in his research?

"I’m just a White guy who wanted to know what it meant, in my brain, to be a white guy. I just wanted to compare what your crazy public-minister people are always screaming about with what’s happening in my head… and when I started to look, into the heads of people who look like me, even I was shocked… so then I wanted to know what people who looked like you saw… when they see the things that I see. And that we see two different worlds, is blowin’ my mind. And I’m wrong to want to explore that? It’s E=MC squared. It’s Darwin, and Galileo, and Newton, and Copernicus…. And what do I get? Shut down by someone like you? What the hell do black anthropologists and economists know about science? What do you know about science? Life is so hard for you why? You’re beautiful? You clean houses ‘cause you think it’s cute and it pisses off your mother? And you’re gonna criticize me for trying to make tangible that which your people are accused of making up?"

And besides, he is dating Asian American, Ginny (Ka-Ling Cheung), so how can he be prejudiced? Ginny is a psychologist who conducts research about Asian identity. She is career-driven and always busy with her research and seeing patients when she isn't feeding a shopping habit and giving store clerks a hard time. Cheung is amusing as she effortlessly counsels a suicidal patient on the phone while returning merchandise). Brian tries to get her to chill out a bit (so maybe he's a bit sexist as well as prejudiced....).

"Relax? Relax into you? Are you kidding me?, she asks. "It was preordained that I be the docile diminutive person in the room. But I worked my ass off, and the planets aligned, and now I have to show up and represent. Do you know how many people are lined up behind me to take that shit away. You’re supposed to know that, but you don’t because it’s … untenable."

Ginny begs a doctor, Jackson (Sullivan Jones) to read her research and improve care to Asians at the clinic he runs. That's where he gets to practice real medicine -- not at the hospital where, as an African-American, he deals with being under the instruction of a bunch of White doctors who want to make it difficult for him to succeed. He hooks up with Valerie after she visits the clinic, but he doesn't appear to be committed more than for easy sex. That compounds Valerie's own issues of self worth: she doesn't usually get the successful and handsome guys -- and Jones definitely fits the handsome role. She throws the relationship into jeopardy when she unwittingly admits that marrying a rich doctor would solve her starving-artist problems.

The sharply written dialogue contains a lot of humor -- and a lot of thoughts that make us uncomfortable. The script is timely and conversation-prompting.

Chaing does a good job of keeping the pace moving in this two-hour (with an intermission) presentation, but some techniques, like lights up and down on characters as they speak dialogue not connected to each other, can be tedious.

Smart People runs through April 9 at Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Road, New Haven. Information and tickets: longwharf.org; 203-787-4282.

Additional credits:
Mary Readinger (costumes), Stephen Strawbridge (lights), Greg McGuire (sound).

Sunday, March 26, 2017

CT Theater Review: Assassins -- Yale Rep



Lauren Molina and Julia Murney. Photo: Carol Rosegg.

Assassins
Book By John Weidman
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by James Bundy
Yale Repertory
Through April 8

By Lauren Yarger
Who'd have thought spending the night with some mentally unhinged presidential Assassins could be so much fun?

That's exactly what Yale Repertory's production of Stephen Sondheim's unlikely musical with a cast of characters like John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and Squeaky Fromme is: pure fun as expertly directed by James Bundy.

The book by John Weidman has Oswald (Dylan Frederick) as a sort of coach for the other presidential assassins, or would-be assassins who sometimes transverse time to communicate. There's a Proprietor (Austin Durant) , a sort of barker in tribute to the carnival atmosphere that accompanies a presidential assassination and the fascination that develops about the ones who carry them out. He has different types of guns for sale, and there is a balladeer (also Frederick) who serves as a sort of narrator.

The assassins hoping to take there place in history, and spouting very warped views of reality, are many:

  • John Hinckley (Lucas Dixon) who shot Ronald Reagan to prove his love for actress Jodi Foster.
  • Charles Guiteau (a humorous Stephen DeRosa) who shot James Garfield (Brian Ray Norris) when the president ignored his somewhat outrageous plea to be made the ambassador of France.
  • Leon Czolgosz (P.J. Griffith), who assassinated William McKinley.
  • Giuseppe Zangara (Stanley Bahorek), who killed the mayor of Chicago when he attemoted to kill Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Samuel Byck (a very funny Richard R. Henry), who dreams of assassinating Richard M. Nixon.
  • Linette "Squeaky" Fromme (a riotous Lauren Molina), a girlfriend of murderer Charles Manson who shot President Gerald Ford (Fred Inkley)
  • Sarah Jane Moore (a delightfully awkward Julia Murney) a messed up housewife who also wanted to take out Ford.
  • John Wilkes Booth (Robert Lenzi), who shot Abraham Lincoln, and his accomplice David Herold (Brian Ray Norris).
  • and Oswald who at first is reluctant to take out John F. Kennedy,  but is seduced by the others to take his lace in history.
There also are some other characters in the mix: Emma Goldman (Liz Wisan), a political activist and anarchist, and Garfield's Secretary of State James Blaine (Fred Inkley) as well as an ensemble of bystanders.

It's a bizarre premise for a musical, but somehow it works on a spectacular set designed by Riccardo Hernandez. It  features diamond patterns and spot lights (Yi Zhao, lighting design) as well as projections (designed by Michael Commendatore) looming over the action (the technical elements are so complex, there were issues the nigh I attended and the show had to be restarted. It was worth the wait.)

Sondheim''s score, with musical direction by Andrea Grody (assisted by Daniel Schlosberg), is understated. The clever lyrics help tell the story, with songs titled "How I Saved Roosevelt," "Unworthy of Your Love" "Something Just Broke," but the score, with ballads for some of the assassins, isn't really memorable.

The script manages not to glorify the crimes, but to explore what might have motivated the individuals to commit them. Awkward moments abound: do we really want to applaud an execution, even if it is the end of a song?

The highlight for me, and some of the most fun I have had in a theater seat for some time, were the scenes between Squeaky and Sarah Jane. Molina and Murney individually cause us to guffaw with their portrayals of these wacky women -- hippy-type Squeaky obsessed with Manson and Moore who makes us think it is perfectly normal for a mother to pull a gun on her small son (Sana "Prince" Sarr) -- but when they get together, they have a chemistry that explodes on stage. So, so funny. 


Don't miss this one. Assassins do their thing at Yale's Rep's University Theatre (222 York St., New Haven, through April 8. Performance  times vary. Tickets are $12–$99: yalerep.org;  203-432-1234,  Box Office,  1120 Chapel St.

Additional credits:
David Dorfman (Musical Staging), Riccardo Hernandez (Scenic Designer), Ilona Somogyi (Costume Designer), Nathan A. Roberts and Charles Coes (Sound Designers), Steph Waaser (Technical Director), Ron Carlos (Dialect Coach), Rick Sordelet (Fight Director).





Tickets for Assassins range from $12–99 and are available online at yalerep.org, by phone at (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office (1120 Chapel Street




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Finding Neverland, Something Rotten! Among Bushnell Broadway Offerings Next Season

Matthew Morrison (center) and Kelsey Grammer (Captain Hook, front right) with the Broadway production of Finding Neverland. Photo: Carol Rosegg
Hamilton's Coming in the 2018-2019 Season

The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts has announced its 2017-2018 Broadway Series season including the hit musicals Finding Neverland, School of Rock, Something Rotten! The Color Purple and On Your Feet!.

Musicals that haven't hit the Great White Way also are coming, including The Bodyguard and Love Never Dies.  So what about Broadway's biggest hit? Hamilton is scheduled take its shot here in Hartford during the 2018-2019 season, it was announced.

Also on the slate are some returning favorites: Les Miserables, Stomp, The Illusionists and A Christmas Story.  The Wizard of Oz and Disenchanted also will be presented as well as the stage version of the holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Current season ticket holders will receive their renewal packages in the coming weeks, and new subscription packages will be available in early summer; new patrons interested in season tickets may call the box office now to have their name placed on a waiting list. Single tickets will go on sale this summer. All dates, titles, and artists are subject to change.

The 2017-2018 Broadway Series

FINDING NEVERLAND, Aug. 1-6

The winner of Broadway.com’s Audience Choice Award for Best Musical. Directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus and based on the critically-acclaimed Academy Award winning film, FINDING NEVERLAND tells the incredible story behind one of the world’s most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes this monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland, where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever. The magic of Barrie’s classic tale springs spectacularly to life in this heartwarming theatrical event.

Note from Lauren -- this was one of my favorite musicals on Broadway in 2015. Read the review here.

SCHOOL OF ROCK The Musical, Oct. 24-29

Based on the hit film, this musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane smash features 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber, all the original songs from the movie and musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage.

Note from Lauren -- Another favorite, this one is still rocking them out at Broadway's Winter Garden. Read the review.

THE COLOR PURPLE, Dec, 5-10

The 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival -- it was really good and Cynthia Erivo blew my socks off. This re-conceived production, directed by Tony winner John Doyle, has a score that features jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning story about a young woman’s journey through abuse and devastation to love and triumph in the American South. Read the review.

SOMETHING ROTTEN!, Jan. 30 – Feb. 4, 2018

Something's rotten in the '90s – the 1590s, that is. Nick and Nigel Bottom are two brothers who are desperate to write their own hit play while the "rock star" Shakespeare keeps getting all the hits. When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theater involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical.

Note from Lauren -- Laughed myself silly in the Broadway theater. It is a hoot for theater buffs. Read the review.


THE BODYGUARD The Musical, Feb. 20 – 25, 2018

Based on the smash hit film, the award-winning musical will star Grammy Award-nominee superstar Deborah Cox. Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love. Songs include "Queen of the Night," "So Emotional," "One Moment in Time," "Saving All My Love," "Run to You," "I Have Nothing," and "I Will Always Love You." Based on Lawrence Kasdan’s film and adapted by Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris, THE BODYGUARD had its world premiere in London’s West End where it was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and won Best New Musical at the Whatsonstage Awards.

Note from Lauren Haven't seen it. Looking forward to this first look.

LOVE NEVER DIES – The Phantom Returns May 29 – June 3, 2018

The ultimate love story continues in LOVE NEVER DIES, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spell-binding sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. LOVE NEVER DIES is a dazzling new production, which takes audiences on a thrilling rollercoaster ride of intrigue, obsession and romance. Be seduced by the beautiful, sometimes magical and poetic, sometimes joyful, and occasionally melancholic score in this magnificent continuation of one of the world’s greatest love stories.

Note from Lauren -- have been waiting to see this for years!

Ana Villafañe in the Broadway production of On Your Feet! Photo: Matthew Murphy
ON YOUR FEET! – The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, June 19-24, 2018

From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. From international superstardom to life-threatening tragedy, ON YOUR FEET takes you behind the music and inside the real story of this record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to end up on their feet.

The audience can't help but join the conga line through the house.... Read the review.


Ticket Information

Current season ticket holders will receive their renewal packages in the mail by the end of March. New subscriptions: 860-987-5900. In early May, new season ticket orders will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis after all renewing patrons have been accommodated.· On-sale dates for individual tickets will be announced soon.


New Parking:
Effective immediately, the UPPER PARKING LOT, adjacent to the State Office Building (165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford) is closed and NO LONGER available to patrons when parking for Bushnell events. Lower State lots with entrances off Capitol Avenue and Buckingham Street will continue to be available. Bushnell.org.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bill Berloni to Receive Special Recognition from Drama League

The Drama League will honor Connecticut's Bill Berloni as one of two outstanding stage luminaries at this year’s 83rd annual Drama League Awards Friday May 19 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square.

Berloni will receive the Unique Contribution to the Theater Award and Michael Greif, represented this season on Broadway by Dear Evan Hansen and War Paint, will receive The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing. A third honoree for Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater will be announced shortly.

These Special Recognition Honors are in addition to the five competitive categories. The 2017 Drama League Nominees for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and the much-coveted Distinguished Performance Award will be announced on Wednesday, April 19 at 11 am (watch the live stream via BroadwayWorld.com). 

Berloni, trainer to many of theater's pet stars, received a 2011 Tony® for Excellence in Theatre and 2014 Outer Critics Circle award for Special Achievement. For more information, visit www.theatricalanimals.com. For a feature on Bill on the CT Arts Connection, click here.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

CT Theater Review: Napoli, Brooklyn -- Long Wharf

Christina Pumariega, Carolyn Braver and Jordyn DiNatale. Photo: T. Charles Erickson
Napoli, Brooklyn
By Meghan Kennedy
Directed by Gordon Edelstein
Long Wharf Theatre
Through March 12
Then at Roundabout Theatre Company in New York June 9-Sept. 3

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The world premiere of Meghan Kennedy's drama about family relations in 1960 Brooklyn (the house and neighborhood are one in Eugene Lee's set design, which also includes props to create a church on either side of it. It's a little crammed up there, but Director Gordon Edelstein makes it work).

Three sisters grow up in the dysfunctional Muscolino family where displeasing patriarch Nic (Jason Kolotouros) means physical consequences. Rebellious Vita (Carolyn Braver) has been sent away to a convent where the nuns are charged with correcting a disposition that would allow her to attack her father. Boyish Francesa (Jordyn DiNatale) is wise enough to hide her romantic feelings for bubbly Irish friend Connie Duffy (Ryann Shane), but the two make plans to run away to France where they believe their lifestyle won't raise eyebrows. Francesca enlists the help of her awkward and "stupid" -- because she dropped out of school to work -- sister, Tina (Christina Pumariega), to make her get-away. Trying to hold the family together while making her delicious Italian menus and expressing her frustrations to an onion instead of God is their mother, Luda (Alyssa Bresnahan)

Everything changes, however, when a plane crashes in the neighborhood.  Feeling that God has given him a second chance, Nic apparently turns over a new leaf. Vita returns home and he even allows Tina's African-American friend Celia Jones (Shirine Babb) to move in after her home is destroyed in the crash which also claimed her husband. When Connie's father, Albert (Graham Winton), is invited to dinner, his obvious caring for Luda is a contrast to the type of relationship she has had with Nic and emotions crash, maybe with more casualty than the plane.

What Are the Highlights?
Pumariega's performance stands out as she works wonders with a simple line or an expressed emotion. The quiet sister in the background suddenly becomes the one from whom we want to hear. Babb creates Celia as a nice complement to Tina and the friendship between the two women is the highlight of the play.

The plane crash is effectively portrayed with effects from lighting and sound designers Ben Stanton and Fitz Patton

What Are the Lowlights?
The script isn't always clear. We spend a great deal of time wondering why Vita has been sent away and why she is injured before that becomes apparent. We can't quite understand why Luda allows abuse of her children and herself (depicted in rather brutal fashion) and then suddenly has a change of heart. For some reason Albert thinks it is a good idea to leave his daughter alone for the holidays to visit the Muscolinos even though she just lost a brother in the plane crash? There are too many head scratchers and most of the characters are so flawed that we find it hard to warm up to them.

Most of the characters adopt one tone: yelling.

More information:
Napoli, Brooklyn runs through March 12 at Long Wharf, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven. Tickets start at $29: longwharf.org; 203-787-4282. For information about the run at Roundabout in New York, click here.
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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