Monday, July 20, 2020

CT Chapter Toasts the Vote

Emma Palzere-Rae performs an excerpt of her one-woman play, The Woodhull Project, about 1872 Presidential candidate, Victoria Woodhull.

Toast the Vote!
Join the CT Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women for three online play-excerpt readings to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the vote.
July 22, 2020 -- The Woodhull Project by Emma Palzere-Rae

Aug. 12, 2020 -- Lifting As We Climb by Charlene A. Donaghy. Inspired by Mary Eliza Church Terrell. Commissioned for WomenKind 2020. Reading by Jackie Davis.

Sept. 23, 2020 -- Susan B. by Toby Armour
Each session will be held from 5 to 6 pm (Eastern). Playwrights will be on hand for Q & A following the presentations, which will be moderated by Virginia Wolf. Bring a glass of champagne or your favorite beverage to toast the pioneers who led the way to winning the vote for women. We are looking forward to seeing you online!


You must RSVP for each session you wish to attend. If you are not a member of the League, please enter BWW when prompted for the name of the memebr who invited you. Verified attendees will receive a Zoom link to attend the session closer to the date. If you register, but then find you cannot attend, please cancel your reservation here on Eventbrite so the slot may be given to someone else. Slots for each session are limited.

PLAY INFO:

The Woodhull Project by Emma Palzere-Rae*
July 22
Known as a Free Lover, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to speak before U.S. Congress, the first woman to open a stock brokerage firm, the first woman to publish a newspaper, and the first woman to run for U.S. president. You won't want to miss the chance to meet this woman who was written out of history as she visits "here and now" from 1872 to reflect on politics and women's rights through a flashback or two of her extraordinary and scandalous life.


Lifting As We Climb By Charlene A. Donaghy
Inspired by Mary Eliza Church Terrell
Aug, 12, 2020
Excerpt will be read by Jackie Davis.

Mary Eliza Church Terrell was a well-known African-American activist who championed racial equality and women's suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th century. An Oberlin College graduate, Terrell was part of the rising black middle and upper class who used their position to fight racial discrimination.

Synopsis: The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting American women the right to vote, is making 1920 a banner year for suffragists. Ratification power sits in the hands of white Tennessee legislators and, in order to appease them, white suffragists have distanced themselves from African American suffragists. Mary Church Terrell, a founding member of the National Association of Colored Women, racial equality activist, and ardent suffragist who has worked alongside her white counterparts, discovers this when she and her sisters-in-arms are asked to curb their activities. Now Mary must decide her future role in the movement and in a relationship with women she trusted, answering the question: did these women break faith for their own sakes or were they acting for the greater good?


Susan B. by Toby Armour*
Sept. 23, 2020
Why did Susan B. Anthony became a suffragist instead of a Quaker minister? Her decision is revealed in the reading of a new play titled "Susan B." by award-winning playwright Toby Armour.

Toby is the national winner of the Lewis Prize and is the playwright in residence at the Fringe Theatre in Key West, Florida. Her plays have been presented in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta as well as London, Edinburgh and Tipperary, Ireland. "Susan B." is the first part of Armour's latest work titled "Aunt Susan and Her Tennessee Waltz." The two-part play will premiere at the Theater for the New City in New York in January, 2020.

* CT Chapter member

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS
Charlene A. Donaghy's plays have been produced and awarded from New York to Los Angeles, in Great Britain and Canada. Hansen Publishing Group publishes Charlene's play collection: Bones of Home and Other Plays. Other publications include Best American Short Plays (3x), Best Ten Minute Plays 2018, 25*10-Minute Plays for Teens, and Estrogenius, a Celebration of Female Voices (2x). Charlene is Producing Director of the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival and Festival Director of the Warner International Playwrights Festival. She is co-founder of the Association of Theatre in Higher Education Judith Royer Award of Excellence in Playwriting. She teaches playwriting, fiction writing, and theater at University of Nebraska Omaha, is a founding member of Boston's Proscenium Playwrights, a core member of NYC's 9th Floor Playwrights' and Artists' Collective, a member of The Playwrights Center, and The Dramatists Guild of America where she served as a Regional Representative for six years. Ms. Donaghy is a breast cancer survivor and holds true Tennessee Williams words in "Camino Real" Make Voyages! Attempt them! There's nothing else.

Jackie Davis* is an actor, director and choreographer working primarily on the east coast. She can be seen as abolitionist, Susan Robbins in Colombia Pictures' Film, Little Women (credited as JM Davis). Jackie is a member of Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. She is currently part of the production team of From a Distance, a web-series, taking place in these days of COVID19. Notable theatrical directing credits include Race, Ruined, and For Colored Girls Who Consider Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Notable theatrical choreography projects include Dance Nation, The Wiz and Caroline or Change. She is the founding artistic director of New Urban Theater Laboratory, where she produced and directed five years of new works in Massachusetts. Ms. Davis is involved in all three disciplines, theater, television and film. She was most recently seen on stage in Trinity Repertory Company's production of A tale of two cities.

Emma Palzere-Rae Emma Palzere-Rae is an actor, playwright, director, and producer. She spent 15 years in the NYC theater community, where she began producing one-woman plays and founded Be Well Productions and the Womenkind Festival. She is dedicated to telling untold women's stories through theater and believes in the healing power of theater. Emma's plays include Aunt Hattie's House, about what compelled Harriet Beecher Stowe to pen Uncle Tom's Cabin, Live from the Milky Way... It's Gilda Radner!, A Nice Place to Visit, and The Woodhull Project. Her one-woman plays tour throughout the country. Ms. Palzere-Rae is the former Artistic Director of Plays for Living, a theater for social change repertory company formerly located in NYC, and is the current Associate Director at Artreach, Inc. (Norwich, CT), which provides arts programming to adults living with mental illness. She is a member of Actor's Equity and the Dramatists Guild, where she serves as the Regional Representative for New England - West.

Toby Armour has spent much of her life in theater- as stagehand, dancer, choreographer, dance company director, theater director, and playwright. Her plays have been done in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, elsewhere in this country, as well as London, Scotland and Ireland. She holds a doctorate in history and is a national award-winning playwright (The Lewis Prize) and Jerome Fellow, many of whose works are based on oral history and stories of community. Her plays about early New Haven are up on vimeo, as is Zebra telling the story of the famous Zebra in Stubb's painting at the Yale New Haven British Art Center. Part One of Susan B. and Her Tennessee Waltz has been live-streamed by Theater for the New City. The complete play will be presented by Theater for the New City this Fall or as soon as our new world permits.

Virginia Wolf, moderator
Ginny is a member of the Steering Committee for the CT Chapter of LPTW. She is host of “SpotLight, Radio Reveling in the Arts and Entertainment”, Thursdays at 12:30 on WLIS/WMRD (www.wliswmrd.net), covering arts and entertainment throughout Connecticut.  During this “intermission”, she is dedicating the show to storytelling, but looks forward to getting back to normal whenever it’s possible!


In addition, Virginia is founder of Herstory Theater, generally dedicated to bringing to life the unsung heroines of history, as well as producing a host of additional projects that both celebrate women and history, and a simple love of theater and performing (learn more at www.herstorytheater.com); works as a voiceover artist and audio book narrator; steps in as Katy Leary for the Living History Tours at the Mark Twain House and Museum; and can be found on stage whenever/wherever someone casts her!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Join Mark Twain House for an Evening with Jan Karon


Millions of readers have found comfort and joy in Jan Karon’s Mitford Years novels since the first one, At Home in Mitford, was published in 1994. Join us for a special evening online with the New York Times #1 best-selling author herself in conversation with writer and producer Lauren Yarger as they discuss Karon’s successful career as a writer and the wonderful books she has produced over the years.
Click here to register for the visit which will be held online at 6 om Eastern Thursday, May 7.
The talk is a fundraiser for The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, the historic house museum devoted to the life and legacy of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), who lived there from 1874 to 1891, the height of his writing career and personal life.
"My favorite benefit to come from quarantine and self-isolation," says Jan, "is the internet as a great platform for entering each other’s living spaces. I have loved seeing John Legend at home—check out that piano!—and Anthony Hopkins with his huge cat and Jim Gaffigan’s chandeliers and five red-headed kids."
"So, how great for you to sit home in your favorite chair while you see Lauren and me at home in our favorite chairs. No masks! You can even cough If you must! No need to drive anywhere and find a parking place and sit in a public venue with the a/c turned on high. We can enjoy all kinds of entertainment by the interconnection of living rooms. I think we’re on to something."

Lauren Yarger is a writer and producer in New York and Connecticut, serving in leadership for the Outer Critics Circle, the Drama Desk, and the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and owns Gracewell Productions, which produces inspiring works of theater, literature, and the arts. She is a long-time, devoted fan of the Mitford Years series!

Copies of Karon's books At Home in Mitford, To Be Where You Are, and Bathed in Prayer will be available for purchase.

We look forward to seeing you and sharing this time together!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Updates on What is Happening at CT Theaters During Covid Virus Shutdown



Here are some updates on what's happening around the state's professional theaters:

ACT (Contemporary Theater of CT)
  • Cancelled the remainder of the 2019-2010 season.
THE BUSHNELL
  • Shows and events are cancelled through May, including the Broadway tour of Dear Evan Hansen.
CT REPERTORY
  • Cancelled the 2020 Nutmeg Summer Season.
GOODSPEED
  • Candide has been cancelled and South Pacific has been moved to the fall. It will be the sole musical produced this year, instead of the usual three. The summer production of the new musical Anne of Green Gables will move to the 2021 season.
HARTFORD STAGE
  • Hartford Stage has decided to reschedule the run of Ah, Wilderness! (originally scheduled May 7-31) to Oct. 22–Nov.15, 2020 and The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) (originally scheduled June 11-21) to Oct. 1-11, 2020.
  • Hartford Stage cancelled remaining performances of Jane Eyre. the entire run of The King’s Speech and its fundraising gala for the 2019-2020 season. 
  • Positions have been eliminated and furloughed resulting in a decrease of 70 percent of operating staff
  • Four shows have been announced for 2020-2021, the first full season selected by  new Artistic Director Melia Bensussen.
IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE
  • Forbidden Broadway (tentatively re-scheduled beginning May 27) and The Great Gatsby were cancelled. 
LONG WHARF
  • Cancellation of Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady  and and Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap  along with education and community programs.  
  • with cancellation of the 2019/20 season and the  2020 Gala celebration the theater is projecting a loss of more than $750,000. STaffing positions have been eliminated and others have been furloughed and/or have had hours cut. 
MUSIC THEATER OF CT (MTC)
PALACE THEATER (Waterbury)


PLAYHOUSE ON PARK
  • Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino scheduled for April 22 - May 10, 2020 has been cancelled.
  • All Playhouse Theatre Academy classes follow their corresponding towns’ school emergency closing schedules. All classes and class showcases have been cancelled through Sunday, April 19.
  • Stop/time dance theater’s production of DIVAS originally scheduled for March 25 - April 5, 2020 and then postponed until April 29- May 10 has been postponed again. The new dates are tbd.
SEVEN ANGELS THEATRE
  • Always a Bridesmaid and The Wedding Singer were cancelled.
SHARON PLAYHOUSE
  • Summer 2020 series beginning in June still appears to be on sale.
SHUBERT THEATRE (New Haven)
  • All events are cancelled through April 30.
THEATERWORKS
  • An abbreviated 2020 season, with three plays instead of the usual five, was previously announced to begin in July, but now, the entire 2020 season has been postponed to 2021 when a five-play season will run from mid-April through mid-November, built around a re-imagining of the Tony Award-winning musical Ain’t Misbehavin’, which was originally scheduled for this season. Pending availability of artists, design teams, and licensing, other productions previously announced for 2020 may be produced next year.
  • Additional online activities are planned on Facebook Live, like tonight's Living Room Concert with David Lutken (Woody Sez).
WESTPORT COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE
  • Postponing its 2020 season until spring 2021, due to the global pandemic. All programming will move to 2021, including the season’s five main productions, Script in Hand Playreading series, Family Festivities presentations, and the New Works Initiative. This year would have marked the historic, professional theater’s 90th season. Since its founding in 1931, the Playhouse has been closed for only four seasons, from 1942 through 1945, during World War II.
YALE REPERTORY
  • Cancelled the remainder of the 2019-2020 season.


INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS & IDEAS
  • The 25th anniversary year will feature a variety of online artistic experiences, virtual food experiences, cell phone-guided walking tours, and various NEA Big Read activities. The virtual Ideas programming centered on the theme “Democracy: We the People” will feature interactive events and conversations with vital thinkers, including 2012 Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco, award-winning scholar Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, NEA Big Read Author Stephanie Burt, and renowned writer Anand Giridharadas. All programming will be free. 
  • Virtual and physically distanced programming will begin online in the coming weeks on a rolling basis. Details will be announced weekly and will be shared on the Festival’s website, www.artidea.org
O'NEILL THEATER CENTER
  • The 2020 Monte Cristo Award previously planned for Sunday, April 19, 2020 in New York City has been postponed. Ticket & table buyers will be contacted directly. Additional details will be announced at a future date.
  • At present, there are no planned changes to the 2020 Summer Season. ​​​​​

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Theater, Arts Events Cancelled Due to Corona Virus Concerns

Helen Sadler, Steve Routman, Grayson DeJesus in Jane Eyre at Hartford Stage. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Broadway will be dark until April 12 due to concerns about the Corona Virus. Connecticut theaters are affected as well. Here is a list of closings for theaters and arts events around the state. Check back as the listing will be updated:

 😷The CT Forum is postponing the Debating Immigration Forum on March 19 due to the serious public health concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19). Ticket holders have been advised to hold onto their tickets for a  reschedule of this Forum to a later date.

😷Weston Playhouse Theatre has cancelled all events through April 10, including this Saturday’s performance by Upstate at Walker Farm. 

😷Womenkind 2020 produced by Clinton Arts Council (CT) cancelled in March.

😷Ivoryton Playhouse has cancelled the opening show of its season FORBIDDEN BROADWAY COMES TO IVORYTON and hopes to open THE GREAT GATSBY on April 22 as planned.

😷TheaterWorks has cancelled all shows and events as of Monday March 16. This includes all remaining performances of EVERY BRILLIANT THING as well as the upcoming production of THE CAKE (though they hope to present both in the future). They anticipate re-opening our in early June in time to present the fourth and fifth shows of the current season as scheduled.

😷Elm Shakespeare Co. Is suspending all face-to-face programming including artist-in-residency programs, Teen Troupe, after school programs, and committee meetings until at least April 5. Look for online activities and instruction.


😷Music Theatre of Connecticut has rescheduled its production of BUDDY - THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, originally scheduled to run March 20 – April 5, 2020. The new BUDDY dates are Friday, May 15 through Sunday, May 31, 2020. Tickets will be transferred to the new dates. musictheatreofct.com

😷Westport Country Playhouse:
the following upcoming performances have been canceled:
Sunday, March 15
Family Festivities production of The Pout-Pout Fish. Ticket holders will receive a call from our box office and will be moved to one of the future Family Festivities productions in our 2020-2021 Family Festivities season.
Friday, March 20
Connecticut Dance School has canceled their 2020 benefit, Dances to Celebrate Spring and Your Passion for Ballet!, scheduled for March 20. Refunds will be issued to all ticket holders. Please contact Connecticut Dance School at (203) 384-2492 with further questions.
Saturday, March 21
Broadway Method Academy has canceled their 2019 Gala, Night of a Thousand Stars, which had been rescheduled to March 21. Please contact Broadway Method Academy at (203) 675-3526 for more information.
As of today, we have not made the decision to cancel or postpone future events after March 21, including our Script in Hand reading of Mrs. Mannerly, scheduled for Monday, March 23.

😷This Weekend’s performances of Elvis My Way at The Goodspeed are
cancelled.

😷Act of Connecticut has cancelled its production of Nickel Mines.

😷The Bushnell is closed through April 30.  They are working to reschedule performances.  Regular updates to patrons will be made via email and on the website at Bushnell.org.

😷Long Wharf has decided to discontinue its production of The Chinese Lady. "We view the prospect of pressing forward as irresponsible and are committed to prioritizing the wellbeing of our community."

😷The Palace Theatre in Waterbury has cancelled all upcoming performances through April 30.

😷The Kate in Old Saybrook  is postponing performances through April 30, 2020.


😷The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will be closed and all performances, forums, space rentals, workshops, and tours will be cancelled from March 14 through April 6, 2020.

😷Hartford Symphony Orchestra is cancelling this weekend’s performances of Dvorak’s Eighth (March 13-15), the Discovery Concert Series performance of Exploring Emotions on March 18, and the HSO Family Series event at Farmington Public Library on March 22. The Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert performances on March 28 will be rescheduled. Cancelled April performances include the Discovery Concert Series Link Up: The Orchestra Moves performance on April 8, and Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky April 17-19.

Patrons who have tickets to Dvorak’s Eighth or Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky should contact the Box Office at 860-987-5900 to exchange into any remaining HSO performance in the 2019-2020 season, receive a credit for HSO tickets, donate tickets back to the HSO, or get a refund. Patrons who have tickets to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert will be contacted shortly about a rescheduled date, and tickets for the March 28 performances will be valid on the new date.

😷Hartford Stage:
Based on recommendations from state and local government in response to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, Hartford Stage is canceling all remaining performances of Jane Eyre (March 12-14) and the run of The King’s Speech, scheduled for March 19 through April 19.
Tickets for Jane Eyre and The King’s Speech can be exchanged into performances of Ah, Wilderness! (May 7 – 31) or The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) (June 11 – 21). All exchange fees will be waived. Alternatively, tickets can be donated back to Hartford Stage, a 501(c)(3) organization, as a tax-deductible contribution at a time of increased financial challenges for the performing arts industry.

😷All on-campus events and exhibitions at Weslyan have been canceled until further notice as a preventive measure. The University will continue to update the website with the latest available information.

Anyone who purchased tickets in advance will be issued a refund from the box office starting next week and artists who were scheduled to perform this spring will be compensated. We encourage patrons to utilize their refund to re-invest in the arts through a donation, album, artwork, or ticket to a future performance. If patrons have any questions or concerns, or would like to donate their tickets to the Center for the Arts, they can email boxoffice@wesleyan.edu or call 860-685-3355 Monday through Friday from 11am to 3pm.

😷Seven at CT College March 31 has been cancelled.

😷Following updated guidance from Yale University on Tuesday evening, March 10, in response to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, James Bundy, Artistic Director of Yale Repertory Theatre, has annodra44ddzeffunced that the final two productions of the season, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, directed by Carl Cofield, and Testmatch by Kate Attwell, directed by Margot Bordelon, have been canceled.

While the University’s March 7 guidance––which states that groups of 100 or less are safe to continue provided there is ample room for individuals to spread out as they are comfortable­­––remains in effect, the additional new measures, currently in effect through April 5, seek to minimize close-proximity interaction among members of the Yale community.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Learn the Inside Scoop on Playwriting from Some Insiders

Have you ever thought about writing a play? Have you written a play, but wonder how to get it produced? Have you done some other type of writing and wonder whether you can make the switch to playwright?

Come get the scoop on writing for the stage when the CT Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women and the Dramatists Guild’s Western New England Region host Inside Playwriting, a panel between sessions of Ivoryton Playhouse’s Women’s Playwright Initiative Saturday, Feb. 22.

Panelists include TV writer and playwright Susan Cinoman, Broadway Producer and playwright Tracey Knight Narang, Director Shellen Lubin, Emmy-Award-Winning Actress and Playwright Dorothy Lyman, Director and Artist/Playwright Kato McNickle. Playwright Emma Palzere Rae, the Dramatists Guild Regional Rep, will moderate.

The panel is open to ticketholders for the initiative, which will feature four play readings in two sessions at the playhouse, 103 Main St. Ivoryton.

At 2 pm:

Savior by Sharon Goldner
Directed by Kate Katcher
Two modern moms at a yoga class dealing with an absurd yet very familiar situation, – what do you do when your five year old tells you he is the messiah?

1200 miles from Jerome by Crystal V. Rhodes
Directed by Kathryn Markey
During World War II, a mother, her two daughters, a young school teacher and a fourteen year old Japanese American fugitive from a “Relocation Camp” are forced to flee the town of Jerome, Arkansas headed to New York City. The journey is over 1200 miles of roads where African Americans aren’t allowed to sleep in most hotels, eat in most restaurants, use restroom facilities or purchase gas at many stations. It is a trip filled with danger, one that could prove to mean the difference between life and death.

At  7 pm:

Court by Holly Arsenault
Directed by Jacqueline Hubbard
An intimate look at divorce and custody battles from a child’s unique, funny and raw perspective.

Deanna and Paul by Dagney Kerr
Directed by Missy Burmeister
Deanna’s a quirky waitress with a strict no tipping policy. Paul’s a surly customer with a tight lid on his heart. Their lonely worlds collide one day in a small-town diner, where one cup of coffee can change everything.

To purchase tickets for the Women Playwrights Festival call 860-767-7318 or go to www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. League members should contact CTChapter:PTW@gmail.com to find out about discounted tickets.

Regular single ticket prices: $20 adult; $15 senior; $10 student for one performance. Buy tickets for both performances for $30 adult; $25 senior; $10 student

About the Panelists:

Susan Cinoman

Susan Cinoman is a playwright and screenwriter whose work is published and produced internationally. For television, she is the creator of the recurring character, Miss Cinoman, on ABC’s, “The Goldbergs” and a frequent writer and contributor. Her one- act play, Fitting Rooms, (Applause Books) is included in Best Short Plays and is produced internationally. Other productions are Cinoman and Rebeck and Gin and Bitters, Off Broadway. Her play Sweet Sand, produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre has been recently published. Two plays were made into award-winning independent films: “Love and Class in Connecticut” and “All Me, All the Time” have screened at film festivals throughout New England. Cinoman is the recipient of the Maxwell Anderson Playwrights Prize, The Aristos Award, Theatre Ariel Award, Best Connecticut Filmmaker of 2007, Ivoryton Playhouse Writing Award and the Guilford Prize in Drama for her new play, Guenevere.

Tracey Knight Narang

Tracey Knight Narang is a producer of the groundbreaking Broadway revival of Rogers and Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! (Tony Award), and the highly anticipated new musical Sing Street opening on Broadway in April. In addition to producing and investing, Narang’s play To Each Their Own, received critical acclaim at FringeNYC 2015. See coined the term “Subway Etiquette“ after publishing her book “Subway Etiquette: The Straphanger’s Guide to Underground Conduct.” Narang is a member of the Board of Directors of New York City Center, and the Vice President of the Board of the Actors’ Equity Foundation.

Shellen Lubin

Shellen Lubin directed Gloria Bond Clunie's Buck Naked in the first Women Playwrights Initiative at Ivoryton. As a director/dramaturg assisting in the development of new plays, she has directed across the country, recently working on projects with Lanie Robertson, Stuart Warmflash, Stephanie Satie, Susan Merson, and Amy Oestreicher at multiple venues. Her own plays have been produced and workshopped at Manhattan Class Company, Public Theatre, Pacific Resident Theatre, Hubbard Hall, West Coast Ensemble, American Jewish Theatre, and more. Her songs have been featured on radio and cable TV, in Milos Forman’s first American film, “Taking Off,” in numerous cabaret acts including her own, and in a one-hour special on WBAI-FM, Shellen Lubin - Songwriter/Singer. She also teaches and coaches actors, singers, and writers both privately and as a guest artist. Proud member of DG, SDC, AEA, Co-President - League of Professional Theatre Women, Past President - Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, chair - Women Playwrights Initiative - National Theatre Conference. www.shellenlubin.com @SHLubin

Dorothy Lyman

Emmy award -winning actress Dorothy Lyman is known for her roles on “Another World,” “All My Children,” “Generations” and “Mama's Family,” but she also is a director (75 episodes of “The Nanny” for CBS), a filmmaker and a playwright. Her first film, shot in Delaware County An Enemy of the People, “The Northern Kingdom,” is available on Netflix, as is her second film, “Split Ends.” A documentary on aging, “Janet’s Class,” is seeking distribution. Lyman produced and directed “Enemy,” her adaptation of Ibsen’s (2016), and her full-length plays A Rage In Tenure (2017) and Soft Landing (2018) at Teatro Santa Ana in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She can be seen on the HBO series “Divorce” and in guest star roles on other episodic TV shows.

Kato McNickle

Kato McNickle is a Connecticut-based playwright, director, and artist. A graduate of Brown University and holds a degree in Ancient Studies specializing in Greco-Roman and Sanskrit performance and continue to study the connection between art, perception, neuroscience, and performance. They have taught playwriting at the University of Connecticut, and writing and comic making at Artreach, Inc. in Norwich, CT. They are chair of the New London Artistic Council; Vice-President of the Mystic Paper Beasts Mask & Puppetry Company; producer of the Mayfly 24-Hour Theater in New London, and a member Dramatist Guild and the Star Wars Fan Club.

Emma Palzere-Rae, Moderator

Emma Palzere-Rae (actress, playwright, director and producer), founder of Be Well Productions which produces her original touring one-woman shows include The Woodhull Project and Aunt Hattie’s House. She is co-founder of The Way of the Labyrinth Playwrights Retreat, the former artistic director of Plays for Living (NYC), and currently associate director at Artreach, Inc. (Norwich). She is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild, where she is the regional rep for New England West. Recent stage roles include Mother Miriam in Agnes of God (Madison Lyric Stage), Essie Miller in Ah, Wilderness! (East Lynne Theater Company), Sister Aloysius in Doubt (Emerson Theater Collaborative). At Mystic Seaport she co-directs and performed in Lantern Light Tours and Nautical Nightmares.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

CT Theater Women Gather for Holiday Lunch, Play Excerpts

Brian Yarger, left, and John J. Cronin in a production of A Christmas Carol by Lauren Yarger and Dan Jessie.
Join the Little Match Girl, Scrooge, Holiday Networking Fun at CT Theater Women Lunch Friday in Westbrook


Friday, Dec. 6
noon-2 pm
Westbrook Inn 

The CT Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women will present three excerpts from plays with holiday themes by Connecticut authors at a networking lunch noon Friday at the charming Westbrook Inn.

Chapter Steering Committee member Susan Cinoman will curate the event and introduce her new play reading initiative at the Inn, Sips and Scripts. Reservations are required.
  • The Little Match Girl 
On the streets of London during the Industrial Revolution, a hungry yet loving street waif has a strange moment with a kind pub owner. By Susan Cinoman.
  • Joy Meets Girl
Addie, a journalist finds love despite her new found cynicism. By Kimberly Hill 
  • Scrooge Monologue
A new take on the classic character, it wouldn't be the holidays without a few words from our favorite misanthrope.  By Chapter Co-Founder Lauren Yarger

Make a reservation at this link by Wednesday, Dec. 4: 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/holiday-lunchplay-presentations-tickets-77838325527. Men and women are welcome to attend.

Registrants will be sent instructions about payment to confirm your seat. The lunch/play presentation event will be $25 for chapter members and $30 for non members. Lunch with a vegetarian option will be provided.

THE ACTORS JOINING US FOR THIS EVENT:

Bill Arnold of Windsor, CT is a 45-year veteran of the stage as well as a playwright and set designer/builder for the Hole in the Wall Theater in New Britain. Bill always enjoys letting the voices in his head come out to play.

Barbara Hentschel  played Mrs. Eynsford Hill in Legacy Theatre’s production of Pygmalion. Favorite roles: Queen Gertrude in Hamlet (Legacy Theatre)Lady Montague in Romeo & Juliet, directed by Mark Lamos (Westport Country Playhouse), Katharine in Love’s Labour’s Lost (Woodstock Shakespeare Festival, NY), Ride the Tiger (Long Wharf Theatre), Apple Season (Ivoryton Playhouse, WPI), Laura in The Glass Menagerie (MLS, CT) and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (MLS, CT). Barbara earned her BA in Theatre from Fordham University at Lincoln Center and has an MFA in acting from The Actors Studio Drama School, NYC. Barbara coaches privately and has worked on staff as a Resident Teaching Artist for Long Wharf Theatre. www.bhentschel.com

Emilie Roberts in NYC Emilie created leading roles in five original musicals and appeared in As You Like It, Scapin and others.  Regionally, she starred in Deathtrap, The Respectful Prostitute, She Loves Me, Oklahoma, The Robber Bridegroom, A Threepenny Opera, and played supporting roles in 8 shows at Summer Theatre of New Canaan.  A graduate of Juilliard, Emilie performed in operas and musical revues across the country, & is currently professor of voice & acting at the University of Bridgeport.

Kimberly Squires Off-Off Broadway – The Players Theatre: The Difference by Jack Rushton. Regional --  Greenwich Theatre Co: Bee Keeper/Seven Easy Pieces by Jack Rushton; The National Arts Club; Danse Macabre by Steven Otfinoski and The Girl in the Red Dress by Frederick Stoppel, music by Art Garfunkle; The Players Club The Lives of Shakespeare Trilogy by MJ Schaefe. Kim and her husband, Allan Zeller, produced/starred in their two-person show: Zeller and Squires – Delightful Differences in New Haven. Founding member, former Amarante’s Dinner Theatre. Member: AEA, SAG-AFTRA.

Allan Zeller has worked in theater, film, television and radio for more than 35 years. Theaters include the Sacramento Theatre Co, CitiArts Theatre, Theatre Artists of Marin, Roger Rocha’s Penguin Rep. Stray Kats Theatre and the Players Theatre in New York.  Recently Allan appeared at the new Greenwich Theatre Company in Greenwich, CT playing multiple roles in Seven Easy Pieces by Jack Rushton. In October, Allan was seen at the Actors’ Temple Theatre in New York as Dr. Benjamin Simon in the new play The Interrupted Journey by Elizabeth Fuller and Joe Vig and at the National Arts Club as Joseph Stalin in the new play Danse Macabre by Stephen Otfinoski. Allan has an MFA in acting from UC Davis.

THE PLAYWRIGHTS:
Susan Cinoman is a playwright and screenwriter whose work is published and produced internationally. She began as a comedy writer and performer in the all-woman comedy group, “The Soubrettes,” in Philadelphia which resulted in one of its hit songs playing on the local radio, “Bimbo Rap.” Her story “Mama Drama” was featured on the hit ABC comedy “The Goldbergs” in the 2014- 15 season. Her one act play Fitting Rooms has been called “a great American one act” and is featured in Applause Books' “Best Short Plays of 1996”. Her Off-Broadway plays include Gin and Bitters and Cinoman and Rebeck, which was hailed as “an evening of talent and promise” by The New York Times. Her plays have received numerous workshop productions at The Ensemble Studio Theatre and Naked Angels. The plays Beds and Truth and Sex were recently made into short films by Akvarious Productions in Mumbai, India. Work in development includes the screenplay My Girlfriend at the Time (directed by Susan Seidelman); the pilot, "Blackmail U." (co-written with ABC Family writer Andrea Abbate); the new play Love and Class in Connecticut (directed by Karen Carpenter of Love, Loss and What I Wore). Cinoman’s new play Guenevere is being developed as part of the Women’s Playwright Initiative at the Ivortyon Playhouse. She is the recipient of The Best Connecticut Filmmaker Award in 2009; The Best Narrative Film at New England Film and Video Festival; an Official Selection by The International Berkshire Film Festival; The Maxwell Anderson Playwrights Prize, and The Aristos Award with Theresa Rebeck. Susan lives with her husband in Connecticut. They have two daughters, a cat, a dog and a horse.
Kimberly Hill wrote for a number of TV series including “Cheers,” “Family Ties,” “One Day at a Time,” “Empty Nest,” “All is Forgiven,” “Facts of Life,” “EZ Streets,” “The Tortelli’s,” “Lateline” and “E.R.” – the comedy.  She created and wrote pilots under contract to Paramount and for NBC. Kim also produced or served as a consultant on some of these series and more, including “Due South,” before she went into rehab at Yale Divinity School – where she got a masters degree. She is currently writing plays.

Lauren Yarger As a theater critic, Lauren Yarger is a member of the Outer Critics Circle, the American Theatre Critics Association and previously served as Vice President and voting member of the Drama Desk. She is Co-Founder of the League of Professional Theater Women's Connecticut Chapter. As a producer/writer (member of the Dramatists Guild of America), Lauren has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events.  She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story," was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's Reading Room Series in New York in 2018. She is Owner/Producer at Gracewell Productions LLC and is a partner in Major Chord Productions, which is developing two musicals for touring. Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and was a Fellow at the O'Neill Theater Center's National Critics Institute. She also reviews books for Publishers Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. 
and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chita Rivera Will Honor Hal Prince at Annual Broadway Blessing

Chita Rivera. Photo: Barry Gordin
Chita Rivera is scheduled to give a special tribute to Hal Prince at the 22nd annual Broadway Blessing 7 pm Monday, Sept. 16 at St. Malachy's Church (The Actors' Chapel).

Performers from other Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, including Ain’t Too Proud, Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, Desperate Measures, and Hair are scheduled to participate as well.  The Broadway Blessing Choir and instrumentalists are under the direction of Stephen Fraser.  George Drance, SJ (La MaMa, Magis Theatre), will emcee again this year. The evening will culminate with a moving candle-lighting ceremony led by clergy from various churches and the rabbi from the Actors’ Temple.

Doors open at 6:30 pm; seating is open, first come/first served at St. Malachy's, 239 W. 49th St. NYC. A reception will follow. The event is free to the public. Past participants have included Lynn Redgrave, Marian Seldes, Frances Sternhagen, Kathleen Chalfant, Billy Porter, Tituss Burgess and Chad Kimball, just to name a few.

St. Malachy's, the Actors' Chapel, was founded in 1920. It is a spiritual oasis in New York’s heart for Broadway artists and fans alike. Chiming “There’s No Business Like Show Business” every day, a half hour before curtain, the chapel has welcomed such theater greats as George M. Cohen, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino. Florence Henderson, Elaine Stritch, Danny Thomas, Bob and Dolores Hope, Antonio Banderas, Liam Neeson,and countless others. Under the leadership of Fr. John Fraser (pastor) and Stephen Fraser (director of music) it continues to offer programming to the Broadway community and develop the talent and work of the next generation of Broadway stars.

The Broadway Blessing is produced by Tony-Award-winning Producer Pat Addiss and Kathryn Fisher. Designed as a program of song, dance and story to celebrate the spirit of the new theater season, the annual Broadway Blessing was founded by theater writer Retta Blaney in 1997.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Palace's Second Act Gets Its Own Second Act


Presenters have been selected for the second season of 2ND ACT, the Palace Theater’s acclaimed speaker’s series that features stories by people post age 50, who are doing some extraordinary things after mid-life. 

Among them are Pat Addiss, a Tony-Award-winning Broadway producer based in New York, who will kick the series off on Sept. 17 with her presentation, "Necessity is the Mother of Reinvention," and Lisa Lampanelli, a life coach formerly known for her acerbic comedic style, who will present her new show Losin’ It on the main stage of the theater on Nov.16.

The series may be purchased in its entirety, as a five-presentation option, individually or by adding on Lampanelli’s show. All presentations with the exception of Lampanelli’s include light fare pre-show and are held in the intimate space of the Poli Club on the venue’s second floor. A cash bar will be available. Tickets: www.palacetheaterct.org; 203-346-2000; Box Office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury.

Part inspirational, aspirational, experiential and comical, these after-50 life stories will ignite the audience member’s own imaginations and a desire to become part of a growing community of 2ND ACTers! As one regular attendee has commented, ‘you always leave with a nugget to ponder’. Series Creator Sheree Marcucci, marketing and public relations officer for the theater, states “we are living much longer than past generations and are expecting our later years to be as rich and vivid as possible. This series, and many like it popping up all over the country and world, attest to this- we are as a group, just not going quietly into that good night!”

The presenters, chosen by a selection committee who viewed short videos of presenter candidates, are engaging and have a personal story that will inspire others as they share how they pursued a passion, dream or championed a cause after the age of 50. 

2ND ACT SERIES PRESENTERS AND DATES:

Tuesday Sept. 17 – 6 pm
PAT ADDISS

Necessity is the Mother of Reinvention

How does a woman break into the tough world of showbiz as a Broadway Producer at an when most are looking to retire? After 30 years running her own promotions company hear Broadway producer Pat Addiss tell her gutsy story. They say that necessity is the mother of re-invention… 40 years ago putting food on the table for her children after her husband left was just the beginning of her many fascinating incarnations.


Tuesday Oct 29 – 6 pm

JILLIAN CLENTANO

The Stranger in the Mirror

Jillian is a 58-year-old transgender woman who transitioned from male to female three years ago. Growing up, the person staring back in the mirror was not her…it was a stranger. She will share her personal journey of starting life over again as her authentic self by discussing her challenges, hardships and victories. Since transitioning, she has become an advocate for the transgender community and speaks at various venues, including: conferences, universities and medical centers. She has returned to college to obtain her master's degree in psychology to become a counselor for the LGBTQ+ community, and recently finished an internship at the Yale Gender Program.


Saturday Nov 16 –8 pm

LISA LAMPANELLI’S Losin’ It!

Lisa Lampanelli’s LOSIN’ IT! is an intimate collection of humorous observations and real-life stories curated and performed by Lisa and a few of her friends. Inspired by her work with The Moth Radio Hour, Lisa has created a heartfelt theatrical evening focusing on the issues of weight, body image, and “losin’ it!” Performed in the spirit of The Vagina Monologues and Love, Loss and What I Wore, Lisa and friends enchant theatergoers with hilarious, touching anecdotes about their own weight struggles, and lively audience interaction.

“I decided stand-up comedy really wasn’t for me anymore. It wasn’t making my heart happy. So, I created LOSIN’ IT! a show using comedy to talk about weight and body issues, which are things I’ve struggled with for years," she said. "This is so much more fulfilling!”


Tuesday Dec 10 – 6pm

TANYA DETRIK

Change in the Blink of an Eye

Life can change in the blink of an eye. The secret to living life more joyously and peacefully lies in our ability to choose how we respond to situations that challenge us. Learning to shift how you view any situation is the key.

Tanya Detrik’s backstory is one of post-traumatic growth. At a moment of extreme stress she was gifted the realization that making a simple shift in her perspective catalyzed instantaneous mental and emotional relief.

That discovery more than ten years ago has transformed her life, never more so than in 2019 with the death of her husband.

Her message is that it is not necessary to experience trauma in order to be inspired to see life through different lenses, and that the ability is liberating and life enhancing. See what you may have been missing.


Saturday Jan 11 - Noon

KARENNA ALEXANDER

Listen to Your Heart

2ND ACTs typically come from the heart. Karenna Alexander should know. She's a dating and relationship expert, and former matchmaker, who helps women find love. Her 2ND ACT came about after conquering dating dilemmas of her own. If you’re looking for love in all the wrong places, come hear her share the secrets of finding love in the 21st century.


Saturday Feb 1 – Noon

KATE KATCHER

Things To Do When (They Say) You Can’t

ACTOR-WRITER-DIRECTOR-TEACHER

Shortly after her 57th birthday, Kate Katcher read an NY Times article that revealed that women over 55 who fall out of the workplace will most likely not get back in. She had just fallen. With retirement not an option and no prospects, Kate turned to the one person she could rely on: herself. Over the next eleven years, she created a blog, a theatre company, pursued and acquired two University teaching jobs, served elite clients in the luxury suites of Madison Square Garden, and returned to school for a Master’s Degree. Follow her journey over hurdles and through closed doors. Performance (script in hands) of a short playlet is part of this presentation.


Tuesday Mar 3 – 6 pm

JACK LEVINE

Laughing Out Loud

Author, actor. standup comedian and improv performer Jack Levine feared being bored in retirement. So, when he finally retired as chief financial officer of a school district at 72, he decided to try the performing arts and found the journey to be awesome. Jack will use stand-up comedy, improv, comedy sketches, personal storytelling and acting to entertain as he offers insights and inspiration to his audience to try something new, creative and fun.



Tuesday Apr 21 – 6 pm

SHARON RUCHMAN

The Gift of Rudy: A Second Chance

While Sharon Ruchman has always loved music, studying voice and piano since childhood, she felt pressure to become something that she was not ready to become. Stress and anxiety took the joy out of learning until about four years ago when her great uncle’s viola from 100 years ago found its way to her. Sharon felt compelled to learn and play it, and as a result, her creative floodgates opened. Today, she’s composing everything from chamber music to tango, believing that it is never too late to do something fabulous.



Tuesday May 19 – 6 pm

DONNA PALOMBA

BE the Change

Inspired by the famous quote by Ghandi and deeply affected by her own experience, Donna wants to empower people to fight back against injustice and become the change they want to see in the world. Donna shares her personal insights into what allowed her to make the choices she did, and how she sought guidance along the way. Using her story as a case study, she explores not only the fight against sexual assault, but draws on her experience as a business woman and the challenges she faces in that role as well, to move her audience to action on behalf of themselves and the greater good.


Tuesday June 23 – 6pm

RICH CYR

Don’t Just Dream it, Live it!

RICH Cyr was born with cerebral palsy, given the last rites three times, was told that he would never walk or talk, and encountered many obstacles during his life.

In his early 50s he became a financial advisor, actor, podcaster, author, voice actor, stand-up comedian, and motivational speaker.

He is now living the life that he always dreamed of.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Theater Review: Because of Winn Dixie -- Goodspeed

Bowdie and Josie Todd with the cast of Goodspeed Musicals Because of Winn Dixie, extended through Sept. 5 at The Goodspeed. Photo by Diane Sobolewski.
NOTE: Due to previously scheduled projects, David Poe and Kacie Sheik will exit Goodspeed Musicals’ Because of Winn Dixie. Starting August 14, Jacqueline Petroccia (Lincoln Center, Barrington Stage) will join the cast as Jeanne, single mom to two rollicking Dewberry boys. She will be joined by Jesse Lenat(The Public Theater, Signature Theatre) who will take on the role of Otis, the misunderstood pet store man in Goodspeed’s summer hit that has been extended due to popular demand. Because of Winn Dixie is now playing through Sept 5 at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, CT
Because of Winn Dixie
Book and Lyrics by: Nell Benjamin, based on the Novel by: Kate DiCamillo
Music by: Duncan Sheik
Choreographer: Chris Bailey
Animal Direction: William Berloni
Director: John Rando

By Lauren Yarger
Because of Winn Dixie at Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House restores our faith in a wholesome, fun, moving story as a viable theater offering. Can I get an "awooo!"?

This charmer, with music by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) a book by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Mean Girls), based on the popular young people's novel by Kate DiCamillo is full of kids, a dog, faith, laughter, friendship and second chances. What's not to love? Especially when you see the tons of kids in the audience. In a climate where most new theater offerings (and updated revivals) feel the need to push every political and social agenda to be "woke" and justified in the "me-too" environment, it is doggone refreshing (sorry, couldn't resist) to enjoy one that focuses on everyday people with everyday issues in a positive, uplifting way. After all, when times are trying, theater should be a happy release some of the time.

And that is just what Because of Winn Dixie is.  It follows the story of 13-year-old Opal (Josie Todd), who moves to a trailer park with her preacher father (J. Robert Spencer) when her mother leaves them. The preacher has no trouble speaking in front of his new congregation, but communicating with his daughter is tougher as he won't discuss their recent loss. Opal overcomes her loneliness by saving a stray she names after the local grocery store. "Winn Dixie" (Bowdie, trained by Connecticut's Tony-Award-winning animal trainer William Berloni) becomes her constant companion and the dog wins the hearts of the congregation and community members.

They are

  • The Dewberry boys, Dunlap and Stevie (Jamie Mann and Jay Hendrix) and their single mom, Jeanne (Kacie Sheik -- yes, she is Duncan's half sister), who starts spending time with the preacher, much to Opal's disapproval
  • Slow-witted Callie and Jiggs Thomas  (Crystal Kellogg and Brian Michael Hoffman) and their little peanut of a daughter, Sweetie Pie (Sophia Massa), for whom they want a better life.
  • Millie and Carl Wilkinson (Nicole Powell  and John Edwards), who are grieving over the death of their son and who don't know how to communicate with their bookworm daughter, Amanda (Chloë Cheers), whom Opal doesn't like at all.
  • Otis (David Poe) , a guitar-playing pet store owner who is treated as an outsider in town because of his prison record.
  • Librarian Fanny Block (Isabel Keating (Franny Block)) who entertains the kids with her story times.
  • Gloria Dump (Roz Ryan ) the witch who lives in the woods and encourages the kids to add their deepest thoughts and wishes to pages storesd in the bottles hanging from her trees and representing her drinking days of past.
All of the characters are dealing with loss of some kind and the feeling that they don't fit in. Winn Dixie changes all of that, breathes some new life into them and unites them all when he disappears during a terrible storm (Lighting and Sound Design by Jeff Croiter and Jay Hilton, respectively.) Choreographer Chris Bailey wisely keeps movement on the subtle side and coordinates nicely so the storytelling isn't overshadowed.

Even if the story weren't engaging, the show would be a hit just because of Winn Dixie, or Bowdie, rather. The pooch, described as a mix between a poodle and something larger,  receives applause on entrance (the audience  is shocked by his large size) and delights as he hits all of his marks and cues perfectly.  There were a lot of "awwwww"s from the audience and even more smiles throughout the production. Here's hoping this musical ends up on Broadway and tours for a long time around a country in need of some "aaaaw" and smiles.

A few things need to happen before that can happen. While there are some nice ballads and an opportunity for Ryan to show her vocal talents -- her "Bottle Tree Blues" is one of the more entertaining numbers -- Sheik's score needs a boost. The openings of both acts are pretty weak and a number of songs seems to offers tunes that sit on the same few notes (and even still, some of them proved a stretch for some of the younger vocalists). It's a new type of musical for the composer of Spring Awakening and American Psycho, but he's up to the challenge.

Donyale Werle's sets are simple, with easy changes between the church, the library, the trailer and other locales. Lighting needs some tweaking, however as there are some awful glares and color and scene changes are telegraphed.

But if anyone can bring it together, it's Director John Rando, who has helmed another family-friendly musical on Broadway, A Christmas Story: The Musical. (He won the Tony for Urinetown). This one is worth tweaking. Kids love DiCamillo's book and the movie on which it was based. The stage musical seems the next natural incarnation of the story and can entertain audiences for years, just like that other wholesome musical starring a dog -- also trained by Berloni -- Annie.


More information:

The run has been extended through Se[t. 5 at Goodspeed, 6 Main St., East Haddam, CT. Performances are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Thursday at 7:30 pm (with select performances at 2); Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3  and 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm (with select performances at 6:30). Tickets: 860-873-8668; goodspeed.org

Additional credits:
Costumer Designer: Emily Rebholz; Wig and Hair Designer, Mark Adam Rampmeyer; Music Supervisor / Orchestrator,  Jason Hart;  Music Director, Adam Souza


Additional casting: Ryan Halsaver (Townsperson); Mackenzie Warren (Townsperson)

Open Caption Performance: Friday, July 26, 8 pm. Open-captioning is a service that displays the text of a show simultaneously with the performance without the use of any special equipment by the patron. The words are displayed on a 4-foot by 1-foot LCD screen located near the edge of the stage and are thus “open” to anyone within view.

 

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Scottsboro Boys -- Playhouse on Park

Troy Valjean Rucker as Haywood Patterson, left center, and Trishawn Paul as Eugene Williams, right center. Photo: Meredith Long
The Scottsboro Boys
Music and Lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Directed by Sean Harris
Choreographed by Darlene Zoller
Playhouse on Park
Through Aug. 4

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The story of nine African-American men falsely accused of rape in 1930s Alabama (book by David Thompson). The case became a sensation as the Scottsboro Boys spent years in jail through multiple trials and court appeals while outrage across the north mounted at their treatment in the Jim-Crow-era South.  With original direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, the musical received 12 Tony Award nominations. The music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb (Chicago; Cabaret) are framed as a minstrel show, featuring an Interlocutor  (Dennis Holland) -- an emcee of sorts -- and Mr. Bones (Ivory McKay) and Mr. Tambor (Torrey Linderas). It was, and still is, one of the most brilliant musicals I have seen.

Troy Valjean Rucker stars as Haywood Patterson, one of the accused who becomes a sort of leader and attempts multiple escapes. While incarcerated, he learns to read and write and it's his story, written in a journal, that is told through the guise of the entertaining minstrel show. Also starring in this production are Renee J Sutherland as "The Lady," who shadows the events and whose connection becomes clear later,  and Cedric Greeneas Olen Montgomery, one of the nine.

Rounding out the cast  are current students in musical theater training programs:
Grant Reynolds (Charles Weems/ Victoria Price) is a rising senior at Carnegie Mellon University, Justin Sturgis (Roy Wright) is currently a student at NYU Tisch, Jerry Hamilton (Andy Wright) will be a sophomore at the Hartt School, Jaylan Evans (Ozie Powell/Ruby Bates) is a rising senior at ELON, Cedrick Ekra (Clarence) is a rising sophomore at Emerson College, Alex Robertson (Willie Roberson) is a rising senior at The Hartt School, and Trishawn Paul, who plays 13 year old Eugene Williams, is currently a sophomore at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.

What Are the Highlights:
It's just a pleasure to see this musical get a run. The show isn't produced often (right just became available) since the show failed to win any Tonys and was embroiled in controversy as protesters objected to the use of a minstrel show because the actual entertainment form used black face. These protests were misguided in my opinion, as the show, and the minstrel show format, are a brilliant commentary on the unjust and ignorant laws and thinking that allowed nine innocent men to be arrested and sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit. The story is one that needs to be told, and the book by David Thompson partnered with lyrics and music by Kander and Ebb, do it very well with good performances by the ensemble. The show gets a solid production helmed by Playhouse's dynamic duo of Director Sean Harris and Choreographer Darlene Zoller. Melanie Guernin (In the Heights) returns as musical director.

What Are the Lowlights?
More depth is needed for the Interlocutor to make clear his two-faced personality (representing those who would be in favor of the prejudiced laws). He is always smiling, pretending to be the Scottsboro Boys' friend, but underneath, there is a man who needs to be in control and who feels an entitled superiority. When his authority is challenged, he should become downright nasty and there should be more fear and understanding among the Scottsboro Boys as his true self is revealed. 

More information:
The Scottsboro Boys runs at Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford, through Aug. 4. Tickets are $40-$50: 860-523-5900 x10 or visitwww.playhouseonpark.org

Additional credits:
Melanie Guernin, musical director; David Lewis, scenic design; Vilinda McGregor, lighting design; Rider Q. Stanton, Sound design;

The Playhouse will partner with the Connecticut Historical Society, in conjunction with its current exhibit, Black Citizenship In The Age Of Jim Crow, for a panel discussion from 5:30 to 7 pm July 30  This event is free and open to the public. Panelists discussing the themes of racism and resistance explored in the exhibition and in the production include the Honorable Richard A. Robinson, chief justice of the CT Supreme Court, Professor Diana R. Paulin of Trinity College and Frank Mitchell, executive director of the Amistad Center for Arts and Culture. The panel will be moderated by Attorney Valerie Caldwell-Gaines. Light refreshments will be served at the event at the Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth St., Hartford. Museum galleries will be open before the programRSVP: rsvp@chs.org; 860-236-5621 ext. 238.  Questions? Contact Natalie Belanger, adult programs manager, natalie_belanger@chs.org

Talkbacks with the cast are scheduled after every performance during this run.
An interview with Director Sean Harris is available at https://playhouseonparkct.wordpress.com.

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