Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: Jim Henson's Emmet Otter at Goodspeed

Meg Guzulescu and her squirrel friends.
Photo by Diane Sobolewski.
Read the review for Goodspeed's second production of Jim Henson's Emmet Otter for CurtainUp at

Review: A Christmas Carol at Hartford Stage

Bill Raymond and Michelle Hendrick.
Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Read the review of the 12th annual production of A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas at Hartford Stage on CurtainUp at

Thursday, December 24, 2009

HSO Waltzes in the New Year

Tito Muñoz
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra will toast the New Year with a sparkling concert of Strauss, Chopin, Mendelssohn, and more at “The New Year Begins!”

Led by guest conductor and music director candidate Tito Muñoz, this program will feature Strauss’ On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltzes, Mendelssohn’s Third “Scottish” Symphony, Chopin’s Variations on La ci darem la mano for piano and orchestra, and Yale composition faculty Christopher Theofanidis’ 2006 Piano Concerto as performed by pianist Donald Berman.

The concerts will be held Thursday, Jan. 7, Saturday, Jan,9 at 8 pm and Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3 pm. A pre-concert lecture with Maestro Muñoz (and Mr. Theofanidis on Friday and Saturday) will begin one hour prior to each performance in the Belding Theater at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts .

Tickets range in price from $32.50-$72.50. Student tickets are $12.50 Thursday- Saturday, or only $7.50 on Sunday. Tickets are available in person Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm at Hartford Symphony Orchestra Ticket Services, 99 Pratt St., Suite 500 in Hartford, or by calling (860) 244-2999, or visiting

Hairspray, Cirque Dreams Get New Year Rolling at Palace

Cirque Dreams Illumination

The Palace Theater’s January line-up offers a variety of entertaining presentations to help ring in the New Year with excitement.

Thursday, Jan. 7 – 7:30pm
It's 1962, and pleasantly plump Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad has just been transformed from social outcast to sudden star. Now, she must use her newfound power to vanquish the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin and integrate a TV network - all without denting her 'do! Sponsored by Naugatuck Savings Bank and WTNH/MyTv9.
Tickets: $60/ $50/ $45

Cirque Dreams Illumination
Friday, Jan. 15 at 8 pm and Saturday, Jan. 16 at 2 pm and 8 pm.
Audiences of all ages will marvel as an international cast of world-class acrobats, athletes, and musicians reinvent everyday objects, balance beyond belief, dangle from wires, and redefine the risks of flight in an array of astounding occurrences that transform the ordinary into extraordinary. Sponsored by Webster Bank, WTNH/MyTV9and Brass Mill Center.
TICKETS: $59/ $54/ $49

Mamma’s Night Out
Friday, Jan. 29 at 8 pm
Featuring contestants from Nick at Nite’s “Search for the Funniest Mom in America,” MNO stars a southerner, a sassy Brit and a native New Yorker in an eclectic blend of stand up. With more than 25 years of collective experience, they are sharing their comedy and friendship with theatre audiences throughout the country. Sponsored by Waterbury Hospital.
TICKETS: $50/ $35

Mad Science Presents “CSI: LIVE!” (Best for Grades: 4-8)Thursday, Jan. 28 – 9:30 and 11:30 am
The world’s number-one television franchise is about to hit the stage! Mad Science presents CSI: LIVE!, an exciting, interactive journey through the fascinating world of crime scene investigations. Audiences will jump up on stage and become part of the action as witnesses, suspects and CSI recruits, and will help solve the crime before it’s too late. Part of the ShopRite Education Series.

Tickets and gift certificates can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at, or in person at the Palace Box Office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury. Groups of 20 or more qualify for discounted rates and should call the Group Sales hotline at 203-346-2002

Saturday, December 19, 2009

HSO Concert Cancelled

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Spectacular Concert tonight in Middletown has been cancelled due to the weather. There is no rescuedule date.

For information on exchanging your ticket(s) for an HSO POPS! series concert, email

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Long Wharf Collects Clothing/Blankets for IRIS

Long Wharf Theatre is partnering with IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services to collect clothing and blankets for refugees settling in Connecticut this holiday season.

Donations can be dropped off at Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, Monday through Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday-Sunday noon to 5 pm or the evening of any performance, Tuesday through Sunday. The drive will run through Jan. 3, 2010.

“The play currently playing on our stage, Have You Seen Us?, is at its core a story of displaced and souls seeking solace and comfort, and sometimes finding it through the good graces of strangers. Long Wharf Theatre supports IRIS and their outstanding work bringing solace and comfort to those who need it most,” said Ray Cullom, Long Wharf Theatre’s managing director.

IRIS — Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services welcomes and resettles approximately 150 refugees each year. IRIS also provides legal services to asylum seekers and other immigrants. Currently, over half of IRIS’s refugee clients come from Iraq. Others come from Afghanistan, Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and other countries.

IRIS is seeking gently used clothing, blankets and quilts for donation to the many refugees – children, women, and men – who have been invited by our government to start new lives in the United States. Some of the most needed items include gloves, hats, scarves, warm socks, long underwear, winter boots, work shoes, and clothing that could be used to go on a job interview.

“Most refugees come from warm climate countries and don’t have appropriate cold weather clothing. For example, a family from the Congo came to us a month ago carrying only small bags, and wearing flip-flops and summer clothing. Many people had to leave most of their clothing behind and may not have the appropriate clothing for the jobs that they may get here,” said Chris George, executive director of IRIS.

Any clothing not used by refugees will be placed in IRIS’s soon-to-open thrift shop. All proceeds from purchase of the clothes will go towards funding IRIS’s services. “The donations have a double use for us,” George said.

For more information about IRIS, visit or call 203-562-2095. For more information about Long Wharf Theatre’s programming, visit or call 203-787-4282.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Galileo Opens at UConn

Dudley Knight as Galileo Galilei and Gretchen Goode
as his daughter, Virginia. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.
Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) will present Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo, Dec. 3 -12 in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre on the Storrs campus featuring Dudley Knight as Galileo, Bonnie Black as Mrs. Sarti and Kurt Zischke as Cardinal Barberini/Pope Urban VIII.
The dramatic team includes Gary English, Director, Rachel Levy, Scenic Designer; David Smith, Lighting Designer; Marti Simmons, Costume Designer, Ed Weingart, Sound Design; Joe Therrien, Puppet Designer; and Dassia Posner, Dramaturg.
Evening performances are 7:30 pm Wednesdays and Thursdays and 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Matinee performances also are scheduled. Ticket prices range from $11- $29.For tickets and information, call 860-486-4226 or visit

CT Virtuosi, CT Lyric Opera Present Elixir of Love at Palace

The CT Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra announces its first production at Waterbury's Palace Theater, a fully staged co-production with the Connecticut Lyric Opera, of Geatano Donizetti’s L'elisir d'amore (Elixir of Love). The production will take place on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 pm.

L’Elisir d’Amore has not been performed anywhere in Connecticut in a number of years, so this production provides a rare performance opportunity for audiences eager to see the opera which features one of the most recognized arias of all-time, “Una furtiva lagrima,” sung by Connecticut Lyric Opera star soprano from Lithuania, Jurate Svedaite-Waller.

New York-based tenor Sean Fallen will be Nemorino. Dulcamara will be sung by bass-baritone Laurentiu Rotaru, soprano Elizabeth Kinder, a Connecticut College student, will sing the supporting role of “Giannetta.”

Debuting as a stage director for the Virtuosi/CLO opera production is an internationally acclaimed American stage director Michael Philip Davis. Set for the show is designed by a polish-American painter Chistopher Podkowiak. The performances will be conducted by the Virtuosi’s and CLO’s Artistic Director, maestro Adrian Sylveen.

The opera will be fully staged, with orchestra, chorus, performed in Italian with English super-titles projected above the stage. For more information, visit visit the Connecticut Virtuosi web site at

Tickets for L’Elisir d’Amore are $60, $46, and $35 and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at

Holiday Happenings at the Mark Twain House

In Mark Twain’s house, his three daughters not only wrote letters to Santa – they got letters back, too.

“If my boot should leave a stain on the marble” near the fireplace, the servants shouldn’t wipe it away, Santa wrote daughter Susy, 3 years old in 1875. “Leave it there always in memory of my visit; and whenever you look at it or show it to anybody you must let it remind you to be a good little girl.”

The boot-print is there now, along with roping, wreaths, a “kissing ball” in the front hall and numerous other signs of the season and the way Sam Clemens and his family celebrated it.

All during the holidays, visitors to the Mark Twain House & Museum travel back to a 19th-century Christmas, with gifts laid out on tables and chairs, a popcorn popper near the library fireplace, and presents and wrapping spread all over the girls’ schoolroom. Even in Twain’s own study, there’s a red jacket tossed on a chair – a clue to who was really writing those letters to the girls.

And the second-floor guest suite, where Livy Clemens’ mother, Olivia Langdon, and Sam Clemens’ mother, Jane Clemens, stayed when they visited, is not only made ready for the holiday but also newly reopened for the public to view.

The guest suite, closed for several years, was described as a “luxury” room by various visitors of Twain’s time. It featured wall-to-wall Brussels carpet, a small cozy fireplace, and an adjacent bathroom. Many of the furnishings there now came from Olivia’s parents’ home in Elmira, NY. A secretary, a pair of peach tufted side chairs, and a sewing box in the room also belonged to the Langdons.

Twain plays The Ghost of Holidays Past in a local adaptation of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. The play, Ebeneeza: A Hartford Holiday Carol, will be traveling through four Hartford locations, including The Mark Twain House & Museum for three performances: Friday, Dec. 11, at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 pm and Sunday, Dec. 13, at 2 pm. All performances are free and open to the public.

Also, on two Saturdays this December, The Mark Twain House & Museum will join with The Kitchen at Billings Forge (which runs the famed Firebox restaurant) to present a new holiday tradition: The Connecticut Yankee Christmas Dinner Tour. The two-hour, by-reservation-only package includes a savory buffet dinner in The Mark Twain Museum Center café followed by a Christmas-themed evening tour of the house on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19. Reservations are required: Call 860-280-3128. Tickets, which include the buffet dinner, soft drinks and tour, are $50 for adults and $35 for children 12 and under. Seatings begin at 5 pm.

For the Holidays, “This Wonderful Life” on Stage at Westport

Mark Setlock in “This Wonderful Life”
This Wonderful Life, a one-man, live version of Frank Capra’s classic Christmas film, will be staged 8pm Thursday, Dec. 10, at Westport Country Playhouse, as part of the theater's holiday series of stage, music, dance and film events.

Based on the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the stage adaptation features Mark Setlock portraying George Bailey, Clarence the Angel, Mary, Old Man Potter and 20 more of Bedford Falls’ finest citizens. Setlock won the 2000 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Solo Performance, and received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his multi-character portrayals in Fully Committed, which he helped create with playwright Becky Mode. He was in the original Broadway cast of Rent.

This Wonderful Life is written by Steve Murray, conceived by Mark Setlock and directed by Martha Banta. Tickets are $25.
Holidays films, shown at 8pm, will include
--“A Christmas Story,” a film about growing up in the 1940s with appetizers and specialty drinks served in the lobby beginning at 6:30
--Sing-a-long “White Christmas,” a film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney.
--“Miracle on 34th Street,” a comedy-fantasy film about believing in Santa Claus
Click here for details.
Also on tap are:
--The Klezmatics with music steeped in Jewish tradition and spirituality on Thursday, Dec. 17
--Rondi Charleston, jazz vocalist and Westport resident, in a holiday concert on Saturday, Dec. 9
--The Broadway Boys, a collection of male voices from the NY stage, with a concert of Broadway and holiday favorites, on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 3 pm.

For more information or ticket purchases, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets may be purchased online at

Enjoy Historic Yuletide at Storrowton

Eastern States Exposition's Storrowton Village Museum will present "Yuletide at Storrowton," Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5 and 6 from 11 am to 4 pm. This free winter holiday festival is a chance for the community to come together to enjoy traditional Yuletide activities and celebrations for the entire family as well as musical presentations, entertainment and shopping, all in the historic Village in West Springfield, MA.

Decorated through the generosity of area garden clubs, florists and designers, the village is brimming with innovative and original ideas to make your house a holiday home. Walk through the buildings to find wreaths, swags, garlands, fresh evergreens and all natural materials dripping from every imaginable nook and cranny.

The master gardeners of Storrowton will oversee the decorating project, and participating clubs and florists will participate. Storrowton Village volunteers will serve as costumed guides for the event.

Tours also take place during Yuletide week and admission is $5 per person, children under 6 free: Yuletide Open House Tours - Monday, Dec. 7 - Saturday, Dec. 12, 11 am to 3 pm; Yuletide Lantern Light Tours Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 6 to 8 pm.

All activities are weather permitting. For more information, call the village at (413) 205-5051, the Info Line at 413-205-5115 or visit

'Band Geeks! 'Will Drum Up Audiences at Norma Terris

Goodspeed Musicals will present Band Geeks!, a new musical, this spring at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. A smash hit from Goodspeed’s 2009 Festival of New Artists, this feel-good musical comedy will run from May 13 through June 6, 2010.

It's a high-stepping tribute to high school marching bands and misfits everywhere! With just nine members and dwindling funds, the Cuyahoga High Marching Beavers are close to extinction. When a troubled athlete is relegated to their ranks, Elliott, the tuba-playing band captain, and Laura, his best friend, must find a way to unite the band, embrace their inner geek and save the Marching Beavers.

Band Geeks! features Music by Mark Allen, Gaby Alter, and Tommy Newman with lyrics by Gaby Alter and Tommy Newman, and Book by Tommy Newman and Gordon Greenberg, who directs. Concept by Tommy Newman.

Tickets will go on sale in early 2010. For more information call the Box Office at 860.873.8668 or visit

Westport Playhouse Gala Held

Westport Country Playhouse held its 2009 Gala “An Enchanted Evening: The Music of Richard Rodgers." Pictured from left are Ann Sheffer, trustee and gala co-chair; Joanne Woodward, trustee and former Playhouse artistic director; Elisabeth Morten, chairman of the board of trustees; Cindy Vaccaro, gala co-chair; Anne Keefe, trustee and former Playhouse artistic director. Photo by Kathleen O’Rourke

Jim Henson's Emmet Otter Returns to Goodspeed

Jim Henson's Emmet Otter, the delightful holiday program with music and lyrics by Paul Williams returns to the Godspeed Opera House Dec. 5-Jan. 3.

Timothy A. McDonald and Christopher Gattelli's book, based on the children's classic by Russell and Lillian Hoban and on the HBO special produced and directed by Jim Henson and written by Jerry Juhl, features live actors and puppets directed and choreographed by Gattelli. Connecticut native Meg Guzulescu, who recently delighted audiences in the Broadway hit Billy Elliot and appeared in Gypsy with Patti LuPone, will play Jane.

Here are the fast facts:

As Christmas approaches the world of Frogtown Hollow, Emmet Otter and his Ma can only dream of buying each other gifts. So when a Christmas Eve talent contest is announced, both secretly enter hoping to win the prize money. In a heartwarming twist on “The Gift of the Magi,” Emmet and Ma risk all they have and end up with the greatest grand prize of all.

Set Designer: Anna Louizos
Costume Designer:Gregg Barnes
Lighting Designer: Brian MacDevitt
Music Director: Larry Pressgrove
Assistant Music Director: Ian Schugel
Resident Music Director: Michael O’Flaherty
Music Arranger: Gregory M. Brown
Orchestrations:Dan DeLange

Tickets start at $39 for children and $49 for adults.

Performances are Wednesdays, Dec. 9 and 16 at 12 pm and 7 pm; Wednesdays, Dec. 23 and 30 at 2 pm and 7 pm; Thursdays, Dec. 10 and 17 at 7 pm; Fridays, Dec. 11 and 18 at 7 pm; Saturdays, Dec. 5 at 8 pm, Dec. 12 at 12 pm and 4 pm, and Dec. 19, 26 and Jan. 2 at 2 pm and 7 pm; Sundays at 12 pm and 4 pm; with special performances on Christmas Eve at 12 pm, New Year’s Eve at 12 pm and New Year’s Day at 2 pm Tickets start at $39 for children under 12 and $49 - $59 for adults. A limited number of $26 Second Row Side Mezzanine (restricted view) seats are available for each performance. For more information call the Box Office at 860.873.8668 or visit

Special Events:
--Breakfast with Santa: Buffet Breakfast at the Gelston House followed by the noon performance. Sundays Dec. 6, 13, 20, and 24 at 10 am. Package is $60 for children and $70 for adults.

--Bonus Days for Kids: Child ticket only $25 with purchase of adult ticket for performances on Wednesday, Dec. 9, and Thursday, Dec. 10.

--Meet the Puppeteers immediately following the December 10, 7 pm performance. Discover first hand the secrets to making puppet magic. Take part in a lively post-show audience discussion with the puppeteers who help bring the world of Emmet Otter to life.

--Backstage at Goodspeed: Take part in a lively post-show discussion with the cast. Immediately following the Thursday evening performance on Dec. 17.

Meet the Puppeteers and Backstage at Goodspeed events are free with a ticket to that evening’s performance.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is the Mark Twain House Haunted?

"Ghost Hunters," the Syfy channel’s top-rated show with 3 million viewers nationally, may provide the answer to the question when a special episode on the historic home of America’s great author airs on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 9 pm on Syfy.

The famed Ghost Hunters team conducted a paranormal investigation of The Mark Twain House in Hartford back in September. The Dec. 2 episode will reveal the results of the investigation.

To celebrate the event, The Mark Twain House & Museum is partnering with the new Connecticut Science Center for a special event. On Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 pm there will be a lecture program in the Connecticut Science Center’s Theater entitled “The Science of the Supernatural” hosted by the Smoking Gun Research Agency.

Connecticut-based Smoking Gun also recently carried on an investigation of the Twain House. They will share the scientific equipment and spiritual techniques they have used at the Twain House and other sites across the state.

During a break after the lecture, guests can visit the bar/concession stand for a drink or snack before the 9 p.m. screening of the Ghost Hunters on the theater’s big screen. There is a suggested donation of $10 for the program that will benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum.

Seating is first-come, first-served. The Connecticut Science Center is located at 250 Columbus Boulevard. Regular parking rates will apply for the event.

In addition, TAPS recently returned to Hartford and conducted a paranormal investigation of The Harriet Beecher Stowe House for an episode that will be broadcast in early 2010.

Happy Thanksgiving

We'll be on break for the holiday until Tuesday, Dec. 1. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Feature: Monette McKay of Mamma Mia at The Bushnell

Monette McKay, at left.
Fans Know it by Heart, but Mamma Mia Was All New for Cast Member
By Lauren Yarger
Fans flock back year after year when their favorite musical featuring the songs of Abba makes a stop at The Bushnell, but for one person at The Bushnell next week, Mamma Mia is a fairly new experience.

She’s cast member Monette McKay, a recent college graduate who has been a member of the touring cast for a little over a year. Playing Ali, a bridesmaid to Sophie, whose wedding and quest to find her real father form the basis for the show’s plot, gave McKay one of her first professional gigs and her Equity card, but prior to getting the part, she hadn’t even seen the show.

“I saw the show when I got the job,” she confessed, feeling that she ought to experience the phenomenon that fans can get enough of before she joined the tour. She also only knew a couple of Abba’s songs previously, but now tunes like “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All” have become part of her every-day life.

Life on the road has been a new experience for the New Jersey native as well, who spoke to Connecticut Arts Connection from Alabama where the tour stopped before heading to Hartford. Living out of a suitcase and having a readymade “family” of 28 with whom you work, play and live around the clock is definitely a change for the Staten Island Wagner College graduate and dance major who was named the recipient of the Paper Mill Playhouse’s Rising Star Award two years in a row.

“I miss taking (dance) classes,” she said, but does enjoy some of the opportunities life on the road offers. “We get to see some pretty amazing places,” though she lamented that not all of them have a Starbucks.

McKay has tapped into her dance talents a little by teaching master classes in various locations and by helping with dance auditions for the show. She particularly enjoys parts of the choreography for Mamma Mia which call for improvisation by the performers.

Her character, Ali, is mischievous, but also serious, she said, and she’s fun to play, especially in the opening number, “Honey, Honey,” which gets the show off to an energized start.

“People just love this show,” she said, and some of the most die-hards who see it again and again have told her that the current cast is their favorite.

“It’s so fun,” she said. “This cast is so tight.”

Next week in Connecticut, the road will seem a little less lonely as a close friend of McKay’s who is studying at UConn will come see the performance.

The show plays its fourth run at The Bushnell Dec. 1-6, 2009 with performances Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm and Sunday at 7:30pm. For tickets or other information, visit

Friday, November 13, 2009

Feature: Jeff Still of 'August:Osage County' at The Bushnell

Shannon Cochran, Jeff Still and Estelle Parsons. Photo: Robert J. Saferstein.
Finding Function in a Play About Dysfunction
By Lauren Yarger
Any other member of a clan so dysfunctional that death and incest play second fiddle to the abuse heaped on everyone by its drug-addicted matriarch might find ways to avoid attending family gatherings, but Jeff Still loves it so much, he keeps coming back for more.

He comes back eight times a week, in fact, playing Bill Fordham, the matriarch’s son-in-law in Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer and Tony Award winning play August: Osage County stopping here next week at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford.

“What’s not to like?” quipped Still in an interview last week from Toronto where the tour is playing prior to coming to Connecticut. “It’s about family. Everybody’s got one and can relate,” he said.

Well, let’s hope we can’t relate on all of the dysfunctional levels of hell this family faces. The Westons gather when their father, Beverly, an alcoholic poet, disappears and is found dead. Revising the role she played on Broadway from June 2008-May 2009 is Estelle Parsons as his shrew of a wife, Violet, who is addicted to prescription drugs and, apparently, to hurling the worst kind of verbal abuse on her family, particularly eldest daughter Barbara (Shannon Cochran). Still plays the part of Bill, Barbara’s husband, who is having an affair with one of his students and planning to leave his wife, but who joins the family in their time of need, realizing this isn’t the time to announce the breakup of his marriage.

“He’s basically a good guy,” Still says of his alter ego. The character’s biggest flaw is the lax part he’s had in the bringing up of their teenage daughter, Jean, who is terribly neglected and quite a dysfunctional mess herself. Interestingly, the neglect on Bill’s part is so bad that during rehearsals, Still instinctively reached out to comfort Jean, but director Anna D. Shapiro (who directed the Broadway show too) stopped him. Bill would be unaware of Jean’s need, he realized.

The character analysis comes from an expert. Still, after all, has played Bill more than 100 times, having brought him to life in Chicago workshops where the play got its start at Steppenwolf, and having understudied the role on Broadway (as well as most of the male parts) before stepping into Bill’s persona for the national tour. A close friendship with Letts, whom Still met when the playwright was a teenage student at the college where Still’s father taught, gives him a personal appreciation for the work a well.

He has appeared in several others of Letts’ works including the world premiere of Bug in London and has nothing but admiration for his friend’s ability to write about the complexities of life and relationships, often with humor.

There is a surprising amount of humor in August: Osage County, despite its dark and difficult plot. “Some of it is laughing because they are uncomfortable,” he said, “and some comes from commentary on the world that we live in.” The humor and drama come together to form one of the most compelling family sagas to hit the stage since Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey into Night, to which it often is compared. Plays of this caliber just don’t come around that often, Still said.

“It’s a very enriching and enriched play full of great characters who are fully developed.”

It is taxing to deal with such intense emotions eight shows a week, Still confessed, but he takes one performance at a time, putting himself into the moment. This allows him to view the play as exciting and real each time, rather than as depressing.

“Everybody knows what it’s like to have a family and what it’s like when they come together. You begin with the gloves on, then they come off and you can talk to your family and be nakedly honest with no sugar coating because your family always has to take you in.” he said. And the definition of “dysfunctional” might need to be adjusted since almost every family can be classified this way, he added. In fact, dysfunctional may be the norm, Still said, based on the number of audience members from whom he has heard, “that’s my mother,” or “I’ve been at that dinner table.”

The healthy part of this dysfunction, Still said, is that by the end of the play, the characters all are moving forward. Some may not return to the house again, "but the air has been cleared.”

People continue to be amazed at how quickly the three-and-a-half-hour saga unfolds, Still said (it is presented with two intermissions).

“It’s a full night of theater.”

August: Osage County plays The Bushnell Nov. 17-22. Performances are 7:30 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 8 pm Friday, 2 pm and 8 pm Saturday and 2 pm and 7:30 pm Sunday. Tickets are $15-$65 and may be purchased by calling (860) 987-5900, in person at the box office at 166 Capitol Ave., or online at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jazz Prodigy Opens for Dave Koz at Palace

Connecticut’s own up-and-coming Jazz prodigy Vincent Ingala will have the opportunity to wow local audiences, as well as one of the industries all-time greats, when he opens for multi-Grammy® nominee and saxophonist Dave Koz during the "Dave Koz & Friends: A Smooth Jazz Christmas" tour stop at the Palace Theater in Waterbury on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

The 16-year-old virtuoso and Holy Cross High School honor student will kick off an evening of jazz and holiday favorites, with a 6:50 pm opening act that showcases his high energy and crowd pleasing entertainment. Koz and friends will then take the stage at 7:30 pm.

A Prospect native, Ingala excels in playing saxophone, guitar, drums and keyboard. He began developing his musical abilities at the age of 4, and now possesses the unique ability to write and produce original songs, as well as the power to deliver a hard driving rock beat all the way to a sensual saxophone solo. In addition to his solo show, he performs with two other Connecticut bands, “Just for Kicks” and “Twist of Lime.” This past summer, he was invited to perform his solo show at the Las Vegas Hilton in Nevada.

"Dave Koz & Friends A Smooth Jazz Christmas" will feature a reunion of the original cast, including Koz, Rick Braun, David Benoit, Peter White and Brenda Russell. The quintet will perform hits from their respective catalogues and join together on a variety of holiday favorites, including many from their album, "A Smooth Jazz Christmas."

Tickets can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury. Groups of 20 or more qualify for special discounts and should call the Group Sales Hotline at 203-346-2002.

HSO Musicians Present Informal MusicLincs

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2009-2010 MusicLincs Series brings classical music to unexpected places.

Musicians will travel to different locations around the state to present four diverse and interactive programs combining music with other artistic disciplines, often for little to no admission charge.

Cello Quartet Open Rehearsal at Real Art Ways
HSO Cellists Jeffrey Krieger, Eric Dahlin, Peter Zay, and Jennifer Combs will open one of their rehearsals to the public at Real Art Ways on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 pm. The audience will witness the speed bumps and errors that are all part of a real rehearsal and will be able to ask questions, offer suggestions, and make comments as the rehearsal progresses. The program will feature an original piece of music by Michael Gatonska.

A Piacere String Quartet “Tells A Story” at the CT Science CenterOn Saturday, Nov.21 at 11 am “A Piacere” String Quartet comprised of HSO violinists Jaroslaw Lis and Karin Fagerburg, violist Michael Wheeler and cellist Eric Dahlin – will travel to the Connecticut Science Center for an entertaining look at how music can tell a story. This program will invite the audience to interact with the musicians as well as use its imagination to create scenes and characters as the ensemble performs music from Vivaldi to Shostakovich.

Music and Poetry with the HSO Piano Quartet at NBMAA
Poetry has long been an inspiration for composers. On Saturday, Nov. 28 at 3pm at the New Britain Museum of American Art, HSO musicians Anhared Stowe, Michael Wheeler, Peter Zay and Ruriko Wheeler will explore music that has a direct connection to the spoken word. This program will feature “Letters to the World,” a piece based on five poems by Emily Dickenson as musically interpreted by Connecticut born, Vermont-based composer Gwyneth Walker.

Home for the Holidays with the Chimera String Quartet
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra Chimera String Quartet featuring violinists Martha Kayser and Deborah Tyler, violist Sharon Dennison and cellist Jeffrey Krieger will “deck the halls” of the New Britain Museum of American Art on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 1 pm as they perform holiday carols and seasonal favorites.

The 2009-2010 MusicLincs Series is presented by Lincoln Financial. For information, call (860) 246-8742 or visit www.HartfordSymphony.Org.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

HSO Offers Sunday Serenades at Wadsworth

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra will open the third season of its chamber music series, “Sunday Serenades,” on Sunday, Nov.22 at 2 pm in the Morgan Great Hall at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

This first program, entitled “Music in the Age of Rembrandt,” is inspired by the Wadsworth’s new exhibition, Rembrandt’s People, and will feature performances of popular music from the painter’s lifetime, including works by Handel, Telemann, and Bach. Sunday Serenades Artistic Director and HSO Concertmaster Leonid Sigal (pictures at left) will lead HSO musicians Jaroslaw Lis, Michael Wheeler, Eric Dahlin, Robert Groff, Greig Shearer, and Margreet Francis in this intimate chamber program.

Rembrandt’s People includes seven of Rembrandt’s most powerful figure paintings, which are hailed as his greatest artistic achievement. Borrowed from leading museums in both America and Canada and two private collections, Rembrandt’s People brings the first authentic Rembrandt paintings to Hartford in almost 70 years. The exhibition showcases works from throughout the artist’s career, including his iconic Self Portrait from 1659. Rembrandt’s People is on view through Jan. 24, 2010.

This first Sunday Serenades program will feature some of the most well-known composers from Rembrandt’s day: Handel, Purcell, Telemann, Couperin, and, of course, Bach. These composers influenced not only each other, but other visual and performing artists of the day. The beautiful structure of this music is reflected in the composition and tone of Rembrandt’s paintings. Likewise, the humanistic elements of Rembrandt’s paintings can be heard in the music.

The 2009-2010 Sunday Serenades Series will continue this season with two more performances at the Wadsworth:
· Reunited Masterpieces: From Adam and Eve to George and Martha Feb. 21, 2010 at 2pm in the Morgan Great Hall
· Music Inspired by the museum’s collection of 20th Century Art May 2, 2010 at 2 pm in Avery Court

Sigal has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestra leader. Born in Moscow, Russia, he began violin studies at age five. He moved to the US in 1995 when he was invited by to a prestigious fellowship at the New World Symphony. A devoted chamber musician, "Lenny" frequently appears with the Miami Friends of Chamber Music and the Avery Ensemble, and has served as Artistic Director of the Miami Chamber Symphony.

Ticket Prices: A three-concert subscription to the 2009-2010 Sunday Serenades Series is $60. Single tickets to this performance are $30; $25 for Atheneum Members or HSO Subscribers. Ticket price includes general admission to the Wadsworth Atheneum on the days of the concerts. Brunch at The Russell at the Wadsworth is also available.
Tickets are available in person Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm at Hartford Symphony Orchestra Ticket Services, 99 Pratt St., Suite 50 in Hartford, by calling (860) 244-2999, or online at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bells Will Be Ringing, Choirs Will Be Singing

HSO’s Holiday POPS! Spectacular and Edward Cumming
with Santa Claus. (Photo Steve Laschever)
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra will celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year” at the 2009 Holiday POPS! Spectacular at The Bushnell on Friday, Dec. 11 at 8 pm and on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 3 pm and 8 pm at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

Joining in the wintry celebration will be singers from the Hartford Chorale and Connecticut Children’s Chorus, as well as ballet dancers from the Hartt Community Division. The 2009-2010 POPS! Series is presented by United Technologies Corporation.

Festive carols and seasonal favorites will be performed by the HSO and the Hartford Chorale and ballerinas from the Hartt Community Division will twirl onto the stage for selections from The Nutcracker. The Connecticut Children’s Chorus will join in the festivities for a holiday sing-along, as arranged by Hartt School Musical Theater Director Michael Morris. There will even be a special guest appearance from one of the world’s biggest celebrities – Santa Claus – in his musical debut with the HSO.

“We are excited to bring our annual Holiday POPS! Spectacular to the Belding Theater this year,” said HSO Executive Director Kristen Phillips. “The intimate setting of this theater will surround our audience with the sights and sounds of this holiday winter wonderland.”

Ticket Prices range from $12.50 to $72.50 and are available in person Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm at Hartford Symphony Orchestra Ticket Services, 99 Pratt St., Suite 500 in Hartford, or by calling (860) 244-2999, or online at

Will You Be the Palace's Singular Sensation?

This holiday season, the Palace Theater wants to know: Could you be the one singular sensation they are looking for?

As part of the theater’s year-long Fifth Anniversary celebration, and as a nod to the Webster Broadway Series’ upcoming presentation of A Chorus Line in February, the Palace is hosting a contest to acknowledge its 500,000th ticket buyer. From now until the lucky customer is announced, the Box Office will track Internet, phone, and in-person ticket sales in search of the grand prize winner. Along the way to reaching number 500,000, the Box Office will also award three additional prizes to the 490,000th; 495,000th; and 499,500th customers to sustain momentum until the milestone sale is made.

The Grand Prize winner will walk away with an overnight stay for four at the Holiday Inn/Coco Key Water Resort in Waterbury, inclusive of free passes to the indoor water park; two subscriptions to the Palace’s 2010-2011 Broadway Series; a gourmet dinner for two in the theater’s exclusive Poli Club; a $100 gift certificate to one of the G.R.E.A.T. (Gimme a Reason to Eat Around Town) restaurants; ten Palace Theater drink chits; and a Palace Theater goodie bag. Additionally, the three runner ups at the previously mentioned sales increments will also receive a Palace Theater gift certificate valid for a pair of tickets to a select upcoming performance; a $50 G.R.E.A.T. Restaurant gift certificate, two Palace drink chits, and a Palace Theater goodie bag.

Since the Palace’s reopening in 2004, more than 480,000 tickets have been purchased to date. Based on Box Office sales, the theater expects to make its 500,000th ticket sale sometime between mid-November and the first week of February. Customers should note that the contest only applies to paid ticket purchases. Palace gift certificates are excluded from this promotion.

Tickets to all Palace Theater presentation can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, 100 East Main Street in Waterbury.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bob Newhart Kicks Off November Events at the Palace

The Palace Theater in Waterbury offers number of one-night events this month starting with a performance by comedian Bob Newhart this sunday at 7:30pm.

Newhart’s career has spanned two successful television shows, 14 feature films, and millions of albums sold worldwide. Fans flock to his live performances to hear such Newhart standards as The Driving Instructor, Sir Walter Raleigh, and The Submarine Commander. Sponsored by Naugatuck Savings Bank and WTNH/MyTV9.
TICKETS: $67.75/ $57.75/ $47.75/ $37.75 presents THE QUEEN PROJECT
Friday, Nov. 20 at 8 pm

Grammy Award-winners Tamia, Kelly Price and Deborah Cox unite their three dynamic voices to celebrate women empowerment. These trend setting women are some of the industry's most talented vocalists in the genres of R&B, Soul and Pop, and are currently promoting their new single "QUEEN.” The concert will feature a compilation of R&B and soul sounds, featuring original compositions, as well as standards. Tickets: $82/ $72/ $46

Jammins Entertainment presents Soul Legends Concert
Friday, Nov. 27 at 8 pm

A memorable night of soul music starring Russell Thompkins, Jr. and The New Stylistics (“Stone in Love with You,” and “Stop, Look & Listen”) the Original Manhattans ("Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "I Wanna Be Your Everything”) featuring Gerald Alston & Blue Lovett; and Rose Royce (“Car Wash” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”).
TICKETS: $88/ $78/ $68/ $58

Sunday, Nov. 29 at 4pm

The Spirit of Christmas takes you on a magical journey to a winter wonderland of fun and festive cheer. Enjoy all your favorite Christmas songs and meet Santa Claus and his merry helpers, tap-dancing penguins, singing mice, elephants in pink tutus, naughty elves, and the highest kicking chorus girls this side of the North Pole!
Tickets: $55/ $45/ $35

For all events, visit or call 203-346-2000.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jobs in Connecticut Arts

The job market is tough, but some of Connecticut's arts institutions are looking to hire. Here are some of the opportunities available:

Long Wharf:
Manager of Institutional Relations
Part time IT Manager

Westport Country Playhouse:
Director of Development

Goodspeed Musicals:
Part time telemarketing

Hartford Stage:
Run crew positions for A Christmas Carol
Education Assistant

Greater Hartford Arts Council:
Assistant Director of Development

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art:
Part time Driver
Part time Information Desk Attendant

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Westport Offers Holiday Special Events

The Broadway Boys
In celebration of the holiday season, Westport Country Playhouse announces a festival of eight special events, including concerts, dance, theater and films, beginning Dec. 5 and continuing on selected Thursdays through Sundays until Dec.20.

“What’s better than one holiday show? How about eight! This December, we’re delighted to present a wide array of holiday fare for our community,” said Michael Ross, Playhouse managing director. “There’s something for everyone and all affordably priced. I look forward to one and all visiting the Playhouse for their holiday entertainment.”

Ballet Etudes will present the seasonal family favorite, “The Nutcracker,” on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5 and 6, at 1 and 4 pm. With music by Tchaikovsky, the magical story features American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Michele Wiles and New York City Ballet soloist Arch Higgins. Tickets are $30 adults; $18 children.

This Wonderful Life, a one-man re-imagining of Frank Capra’s classic Christmas film, will be staged on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 8 pm. Mark Setlock, who starred in Rent and Fully Committed, will portray George Bailey, Clarence the Angel, Mary, Old Man Potter and 20 more of Bedford Falls’ finest citizens. The production is written by Steve Murray, conceived by Mark Setlock and directed by Martha Banta. Tickets are $25.

“A Christmas Story,” a delightful film about growing up in the 1940s and wanting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, will be screened on Friday, Dec. 11 at 8 pm. The movie stars Peter Billingsley and Melinda Dillon. Prior to the film at 6:30 pm., appetizers and specialty drinks will be served in the lobby, and guests will have a chance to win a campy Leg Lamp, as featured in the film. Tickets are $15.

Sing-a-long “White Christmas,” starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney---and for this special sing-a-long event, the audience!---will be screened on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 pm. The movie’s marvelous Irving Berlin score includes “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “Mandy,” “Sisters,” “Snow,” “Gee I Wish I Was Back in the Army” and, of course, “White Christmas.” Tickets are $10.

“Miracle on 34th Street,” a comedy-fantasy film starring Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood, is set for Sunday, Dec. 13 at 3 pm. When Kris Kringle encounters an unbelieving child while working in Macy’s, he goes on trial to prove he’s truly Santa Claus. Prior to the film, there will be cookie decorating for kids in the lobby. Audience members are encouraged to bring a toy donation for charity and receive a free cookie. Tickets are $10

The Klezmatics, globally renowned world music superstars, will offer music steeped in Jewish tradition and spirituality on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 8 pm. Their album, “Wonder Wheel,” won the 2006 Grammy Award as the Best Contemporary World Music Album. In a career spanning over 20 years and nine albums, The Klezmatics’ holiday and non-holiday music is wild, mystical, provocative, reflective and ecstatically danceable. Tickets are $35.

Rondi Charleston, jazz vocalist, songwriter and Westport resident, will perform selections from her CD/DVD, “In My Life,” a melodic tapestry of jazz, pop, Brazilian and Great American Songbook influences, on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 8 pm. Ms. Charleston has performed at Lincoln Center, The Blue Note, Birdland and many other national venues. Ms. Charleston will present exciting new material from her forthcoming release as well as standards and jazz-themed holiday tunes. Tickets are $30.

The Broadway Boys, a collection of the hottest male voices currently working on the New York stage, will present a concert of Broadway and holiday favorites, on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 3 pm. Through their dynamic vocal prowess and redefining arrangements, The Broadway Boys add elements of pop, funk, gospel, jazz and folk to show tunes and classic pop songs. Tickets are $35.

Holiday events’ board of trustees partner is Darlene Krenz; production partners are Bank of America and Sun Products Corporation.

For more information or ticket purchases, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets may be purchased online at

Choirs Needed to Sing with Sister

Ever wanted to sing Christmas carols on stage? Long Wharf Theatre can make that holiday wish a reality during the run of the hit interactive comedy Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold from Dec. 1 through Dec. 20.

Long Wharf Theatre is looking for choirs of four people to sing at the top of show, and again in the second act. Choirs would need to be at the theatre an hour and a half before the show in order to rehearse prior to the performance. They will be allowed to choose three songs they want to sing, but will be asked to sing specific songs for most of the show. Choirs will be needed for most performances during the run.

For more information, contact Production Assistant Meghan Kane at at 203-787-4284, ext. 286.

It’s "Forensic Files” goes to Bethlehem in Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold, a holiday mystery extravaganza by the author of the summer hit Late Nite Catechism. Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages – whatever happened to the Magi’s gold? Retelling the story of the nativity, as only Sister can, employing her own scientific tools, and assisted by local choirs as well as a gaggle of audience members, Sister creates a living nativity unlike any ever seen.

Sister’s Christmas Catechism
• Dec.1-20, 2009
• Stage II
• Tickets: $28
• Box office phone number: 203-787-4282
• Website:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Goodspeed Will Break Ground on Major Actors' Housing Expansion

Goodspeed Musicals will build a $5.5 million project with 17 new homes to be used for actor housing on the Goodspeed Campus in East Haddam.

The New Actor Housing initiative represents the largest capital project in Goodspeed history. Construction is set to begin this Fall with a target completion date of Fall 2010.

“With this project, Goodspeed is building not only homes, but an artistic village that will come alive with actors and artisans,” said Michael Price, Goodspeed’s executive director. “No other theatre in the country can offer such a campus and all of us at Goodspeed are grateful to so many of our members and supporters who have made this a reality. During this uncertain economic climate, it is also encouraging to spur employment for dozens of construction workers, carpenters, electricians, painters and more."

Goodspeed owns nine old houses in the East Haddam Village where its actors, directors, designers and technical staff stay during rehearsals and performances. These houses become their home away from home since most live permanently in New York City. Unfortunately these old houses were not designed for this style of living. Seasoned professionals live in cramped, boarding house-style quarters where they are frequently asked to share a living space with as many as thirteen other people or a bathroom with three or four strangers.

Several years ago, Goodspeed determined that it was essential to build attractive housing that provides comfort, privacy, and proximity to the Goodspeed Opera House. By expanding housing availability, Goodspeed will also have the ability to produce more shows and run them for a longer period of time.

Patrick Pinnell, a local architect and noted urban planner from Haddam, CT, worked with the Goodspeed team to create the concept for integrating the new homes into the existing Goodspeed campus and designing them to fit within the historic East Haddam Village. Throughout the planning process, the team’s charge was to meet Goodspeed’s challenging needs while combining modern sensibility with a keen appreciation for the historic aspect of Goodspeed’s home in East Haddam.

The plan, which includes a nmber of "green" elements, includes building 17 new homes with a total of 65 new bedrooms, all within walking distance to the Goodspeed Opera House. The homes will contain three or six bedrooms with shared kitchens and living rooms. Each bedroom will have a private bathroom. One house will have two one-bedroom “star apartments” for the leading actors.

Several of the existing houses will be retained for continued use by Goodspeed while others will be sold for retail/residential use and one will be torn down.

More than half of the required funds for th porject already have been raised through private and public sources, including a $2.5 million grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

"The Goodspeed New Actor Housing project is a smart investment and very good news for our state," Governor Rell said. "It creates new jobs for Connecticut workers right now, causes economic development in a rural community and promotes Connecticut culture and tourism for many years to come. This is a project where everybody wins, especially our residents."

The official ground breaking will occur in November and construction will follow immediately. Those interested in bidding on construction contracts may contact Signature Construction Services International, LLC at or 860-963-8905. All construction bids must be received by 5 pm, Nov. 2, 2009.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Music Direction Program to Launch at Goodspeed

Goodspeed Musicals’ Max Showalter Center for Education in the Musical Theater announces the Music Direction Intensive a brand new program from the Goodspeed Musical Theatre Institute which creates a bridge between emerging artists and seasoned professional artists.

This highly selective program will take place on the Goodspeed Musicals campus Jan. 18-23 and it will provide a limited number of individuals with practical training in all aspects of music direction. The six-day intensive will offer participants the opportunity to work with internationally renowned experts in music direction while networking with industry professionals.

Participants will use the latest technology to receive hands-on training in the management and implementation of the audition, rehearsal, and orchestration process. Participants will also attend nightly lectures given by industry experts on pertinent subjects relating to real world success in the field.

Goodspeed pioneered the practice of rethinking, restoring, and revitalizing America’s musical theatre heritage. This new program will be the first intensive music direction training program in the country. As students, young artists are not taught how to be a music director, most people gain experiential knowledge and skills as an assistant. This course of study is aimed at giving future music directors the tools they need to become leaders in the industry.

The one-of-a-kind intensive curriculum features lectures and practicum including innovative programs like

  • “So You Want to be a Music Director?”, where participants will have an opportunity to join in a discussion on the principles of music direction and to share their personal stories and goals
  • The Audition Process, including a discussion of the elements that create a positive and successful audition process for the creative team and for those auditioning
  • The Rehearsal Process, during which students learn how to create a productive rehearsal environment
  • Working with the Director, a look at the relationship between the MD and the director, creating incidental music to suit the needs of the director, and adjusting the vocal and orchestral score to accommodate the vision of the director
  • The Rehearsal, when participants will sit in on a rehearsal for a new musical in production.

Additional programs include Orchestrating for the Musical Theatre, Use of Electronic Sound in Musical Theatre, Conducting for the Musical Theatre, Working with the Choreographer, Vocal Arranging, and The Business of the Business, an informative discussion of the business elements involved in a career as a musical director, ownership of intellectual property and the typical responsibilities assigned to various job titles.

“This new program will help Goodspeed strengthen our commitment to developing new artists,” said Michael P. Price, executive director of Goodspeed Musicals. “It’s exciting for us to see the Goodspeed education program grow and foster new relationships with the best and brightest new music directors as they work together to create the future of musical theatre,” he added.

While at Goodspeed, the MDI participants will work with several industry leaders including Michael O’Flaherty, the only resident music director for musical theatre in the country; Line Producer Donna Cooper Hilton; Orchestrator Dan DeLange; and award-winning Director Rob Ruggiero.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bob Newhart to Appear at Palace

Comedy and television icon Bob Newhart will perform his classic comedy standards "The Driving Instructor," "Sir Walter Raleigh," "The Submarine Commander" and many more, during his one-night-only performance 7:30pm Sunday, Nov. 8 at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.

Before the performance, the Palace will be offering patrons a 5:30pm pre-show dinner in the Poli Club, located on the theater’s mezzanine level. Dinner is $40 per member or $50 per non-member (includes tax, gratuity, coffee, tea) and is limited to 30 people. Cash bar is also available. To make reservations, call the Box Office at 203-346-2000.

Tickets for Bob Newhart are $37.75-67.75, and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, 100 East Main St. Groups of 20 or more qualify for special discounts and should call the Group Sales Hotline at 203-346-2002.

Holiday Shows Set at Long Wharf

Long Wharf Theatre will offer a pair of holiday events, Sister’s Christmas Catechism, by Maripat Donovan, from Dec. 1-20, and Steve Solomon’s one-man show My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m Home for the Holidays, from Dec. 28-31 and Jan. 2-3.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at (203) 787-4282 or visit the theatre’s website at

Carnival-Themed Discovery Day Lets Kids Explore Theater

Families are invted to discover the fantastick world of theater at Long Wharf Saturday Nov. 7 for its third annual Discovery Day.

This year's community outreach event features a carnival theme and is appropriate for kids, age 2 to 16. Backstage tours and hands-on workshops in mask making, audio-visual experiments, juggling, prop making, and story-telling will be offered from 10 am to 1 pm. To enhance the carnival themed Discovery Day, there will be face painting, food and music.

Through these creative activities, kids will have the opportunity to collaborate in putting on a play of their own. This year, families will tell the story of the Forgotten Clown, an original skit performed by the Next Stage Residents and the children.

“It is my wish that all who attend will leave with a greater understanding and enjoyment of theater," said Annie DiMartino, director of education and Next Stage administrator for Long Wharf. "Hopefully this day will begin the development of a lifelong interest in the arts."

There is a suggested donation of $5 per family.

Fantasticks' Creator Tom Jones At Long Wharf Symposium Sunday

Tom Jones, the co-creator of the iconic musical theatre classic The Fantasticks, currently playing on Long Wharf Theatre’s Mainstage, will be the featured guest at the theatre’s Sunday Symposium Sunday, Oct. 25 after the 2 pm matinee.

Long Wharf Theatre Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting will host a discussion with Jones who, along with his longtime collaborator Harvey Schmidt, have created some of the theatre’s most enduring musicals, including 110 in the Shade and I Do, I Do!, (which plays next summer at Westport)in addition to The Fantasticks, which ran for 42 years at the Sullivan Street Playhouse and is currently being revived in New York.

When the show was first produced in 1960, Jones was pleased with the piece and hoped that critics would connect with its themes, and that an audience would follow. Indeed, the opposite occurred, with audiences gradually getting behind the show despite middle of the road reviews. “I didn’t think it was going to run for 42 years,” he said with a laugh.

The other turn of events Jones didn’t anticipate was acting in the piece. The role of Henry, the Old Actor, was written with a classical actor in mind. When that particular performer was unavailable, Jones, Schmidt and the rest of the show’s production team kept having auditions. Jones, as a matter of expediency, kept reading in the part. “I wound up reading it in the rehearsal process and I was good,” he said.

Every so often he returns to the role, even receiving fine reviews from the New York Times in the recent New York revival at the Jerry Orbach Theatre, a production he described as “fun, sprightly and honest.”

He believes it is the musical’s mythic and classical underpinnings that give the story a resonant texture, enhancing the story’s take on love and growing up.

“It is funny and romantic and has some beautiful numbers and some comedic numbers,” Jones said. “It is very much a celebration of the theatre itself and the possibilities of what you can do within the theatre.”

For more information about the show, or to purchase tickets, visit or call 203-787-4282.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dennehy Hosts Westport's 'Letters Home'

Paul Kaiser photo

Award-winning actor Brian Dennehy will host Westport Country Playhouse’s presentation of Letters Home, a dramatic production of actual letters written by U.S. troops serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11. Produced by the Griffin Theatre Company of Chicago, the initial production last winter was critically acclaimed and nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for “Outstanding New Play.”

In conjunction with Letters Home, the Westport Arts Center (WAC) will install an exhibition in the Playhouse lobby, “Daily Exchanges: U.S. Soldiers in Iraq - The Ordinary in Images.” Curated by WAC's Director of Visual Arts Terri C. Smith, with the guidance and input of artist and "Operation Enduring Freedom" veteran Paul Kaiser, "Daily Exchanges" will feature photographs and videos depicting the everyday lives of troops serving in war.

A reception and guided tour of the art exhibit will begin at 6 pm, followed by the performance of Letters Home at 7. A panel discussion moderated by Lisa Chedekel, an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 20 years experience writing for Connecticut newspapers, will follow. After the discussion, Smith and Kaiser will be available for comment on the exhibition.
Tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for veterans. For more information or tickets call the Westport Country Playhouse box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit the box office at 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport, or For more information about the exhibition, call the Westport Arts Center at (203) 222-7070 or visit

Friday, October 16, 2009

Casting Announced for Yale's Pop!

YALE REPERTORY THEATRE (James Bundy, Artistic Director; Victoria Nolan, Managing Yale Repertory theatre has announced casting and the creative team for the world premiere of POP!, a new musical with book and lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman and music by Anna K. Jacobs, directed by Mark Brokaw.

The cast of POP! includes Danny Binstock (Gerard), Randy Harrison (Andy Warhol), Doug Kreeger (Ondine), Leslie Kritzer (Valerie), Cristen Paige (Edie), Brian Charles Rooney (Candy), and Emily Swallow (Viva).

Choreography will be by Denis Jones, musical direction and vocal arrangements by Lynne Shankel, sets by Valérie Thérèse Bart, costumes by Ying Song, lighting by Kevin Adams, sound by David Budries, projections by Tal Yarden, orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin, dramaturgy by Catherine Sheehy, and stage management by Jenna Woods.

Pop! is a whodunit about who shot andy Warhol. It will play Nov. 27-Dec. 19.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mandy Patinkin Makes Yale Debut in Compulsion

Mandy Patinkin.
Photo by Newspix.
Tony and Emmy Award winner Mandy Patinkin will make his Yale Rep debut in the world premiere of Compulsion by Rinne Groff, directed by Oskar Eustis, co-produced with The Public Theater and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

The performance schedule has been adjusted so that Patinkin may fulfill previously scheduled concert engagements. Compulsion will begin on Friday, Jan. 29 and play through Feb. 28 at Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel Street, at York Street). The new Opening Night is Thursday, Feb. 4.

Additional casting and creative team members will be announced.

About the play: Sid Silver (Patinkin) wants nothing more than to bring Anne Frank’s story to an American audience, and he believes he’s the right man to translate the young girl’s diary and adapt it for the stage. But his passion spirals into a lifelong obsession when a New York publishing house reveals its own plans for what would become one of the most powerful and enduring documents of the 20th century.

Inspired by the story of Meyer Levin, Compulsion marks the Yale Rep debuts of Rinne Groff, whose plays have been praised for their “kaleidoscope style” (The Village Voice), and Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of The Public Theater.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Young Frankenstein is Alive at The Bushnell

Shuler Hensley and Roger Bart in
Young Frankenstein
(Photo: Paul Kolnick)

Read my review of the tour playing this week at

Long Wharf seeks Next Generation of Theater Directors

Long Wharf Theatre is accepting applications for its 2009/2010 directing internships.

These are production-based opportunities for early-career theatre artists to gain experience working in a professional theatre environment. Interns will act as assistant to the director, duties to be determined with individual directors. Commitment is for the length of the production rehearsal process and previews (often four to five weeks, six days a week, 6-8 hours a day). This is an unpaid position.

Applicants should have access to local housing and transportation. Several internships are currently available for the season, and will be assigned at the discretion of the theatre.

Interested individuals should contact Eric Ting, associate artistic director, at 203-772-8267, or email resume and letter of interest to:

LONG WHARF THEATRE (Gordon Edelstein, Artistic Director, Ray Cullom, Managing Director), in its 45th season, is recognized as a leader in American theatre, producing fresh and imaginative revivals of classics and modern plays, rediscoveries of neglected works and a variety of world and American premieres. More than 30 Long Wharf Theatre productions have transferred virtually intact to Broadway or Off-Broadway, some of which include Durango by Julia Cho, the Pulitzer Prize-winning plays Wit by Margaret Edson, The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer and The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn. Last season’s production of The Glass Menagerie will move to New York in the spring of 2010. The theatre is an incubator of new works, including last season’s Coming Home by Athol Fugard and A Civil War Christmas by Paula Vogel. Long Wharf Theatre has received New York Drama Critics Awards, Obie Awards, the Margo Jefferson Award for Production of New Works, a Special Citation from the Outer Critics Circle and the Tony® Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beauty & the Beast Marks Hartford Children's Theater's 20th

Meagan MacLeod as “Belle” in Hartford Children’s Theatre’s
Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Thomas Giroir
Hartford Children’s Theatre will celebrate its 20th anniversary year with the family musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Under the direction of newly appointed Artistic Director Ryan Ratelle with musical direction and choreography by Lisa Foss, Beauty and the Beast opens on Friday, Oct. 30 at the Carol Autorino Center for Arts and Humanities on the campus of Saint Joseph College (1678 Asylum Avenue in West Hartford) where the show will run through Saturday, Nov. 7.

Adapted from the Academy Award-winning animated film by its original screenwriter Linda Woolverton, the show is the classic love story of Belle, a young woman in a “small, provincial town,” and the Beast, who is really a prince trapped in a spell. If the Beast can learn to love and to be loved, the spell will be broken and he will be transformed back to his former self, but time is running out, and if the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he will be doomed for all eternity. The unforgettable score with music by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors) and lyrics by Howard Ashman (Aladdin) and Tim Rice (Evita) includes the Academy Award-winning title song and the show-stopping "Be Our Guest," plus additional songs written especially for the stage.

The cast of BEAUTY IN THE BEAST includes Meagan MacLeod as Belle, Matthew Berry as the Beast, Greg Ludovici as Gaston, Marcus Janetatos as“Lumiere, Emely Burns Larsen as Mrs. Potts, Andrew LaPlante as Cogsworth, Bruce Terrill as Maurice, Caitlin Sailer as Babette, Katie Harden as Madame de la Grande Bouche, Josiah Rowe as Lefou, Nick D’Angelo as Monsieur D’Arque and Timothy Perry as Chip.

Featured in the ensemble are Lorraine Blatt, Victoria Mooney, Melissa Anne Pilarski, Thomas Beebe, Jean Della Rocca, Michael Dikegoros, Sophia Foss, Scott MacDonald, Amaris Montoya, Anthony Piccione, Katrina Schwartz, Mary Terrill, Katie Woelfel, Arnie Woelfel.

Beauty and the Beastfeatures Scenic Designs by Greg Brock, Costume Designs by Melissa Richards and Hair Design by Linda Stanhope.

The performance schedule is Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 pm; Saturday, Oct. 31 at 2 pm; Sunday, Nov. 1 at 2 pm; Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 7 pm; Friday, Nov. 6 at 7 pm and Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10 am and 2 pm.

Tickets are $18 for Adults, $13 for Children (13 and under) & senior citizens and are available by calling the box office at 860-429-7970 ext. 12. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.

For more information visit

Broadway Stars to Perform at Westport's Gala

Westport Country Playhouse’s Gala 2009 will feature a star-studded evening of entertainment Monday, Nov. 2, highlighted by special salutes to Mary Rodgers Guettel, composer, and Elisabeth Morten, Playhouse board of trustees chairman.

Honorary gala co-chairs are Anne Keefe and Joanne Woodward, former Playhouse artistic directors. Proceeds, in part, will support the Woodward Intern and Apprentice program, recently named in recognition of Ms. Woodward’s interest in training the next generation of theater artists. The Playhouse’s intern and apprentice program has been in existence since 1946.

A special tribute will be made to Ms. Rodgers Guettel, who began her theatrical career as a Playhouse intern in 1950, and went on to write the music for the Broadway hit, “Once Upon a Mattress.” She is the daughter of composer Richard Rodgers. Stephen Sondheim, who also was in the 1950 Playhouse intern class, and Christopher Plummer, will be present to honor Ms. Rodgers Guettel.

Ms. Morten will be honored for spearheading the Playhouse’s successful, multi-million dollar renovation in 2005. She has served as chairman and president of the Playhouse board of trustees since 1999, having joined the board in 1996. Ms. Morten is a Tony Award voter and theatrical producer.

A musical performance, entitled “An Enchanted Evening---The Music of Richard Rodgers,” will feature Broadway stars James Naughton, Tony Award winner for “Chicago” and “City of Angels”; Kelli O’Hara, Tony Award nominee for “South Pacific,” “The Pajama Game” and “The Light in the Piazza”; Steven Pasquale, who created the role of Fabrizio in Adam Guettel's “The Light in the Piazza” and appears on FX's "Rescue Me.”; Karen Ziemba, Tony Award winner for “Contact”; and others.

A cocktail reception and silent auction will begin at 5:45 pm, followed by the performance and tributes at 7:30 pm with dinner at 9.

Gala co-chairs are Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler and Cindy and John Vaccaro. The performance is produced by Kevin Duncan with musical direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

Benefit tickets start at $500. Reservations are limited by the size of the theatre. For more information or ticket purchases, call Kim Maresca, special events associate, at (203) 227-5137, ext. 138, or email

Yale Performances Have 'No Boundaries'

No Boundaries, a series of global performances presented by Yale Repertory Theatre and World Performance Project at Yale has announced the 2009-2010 season, which includes Wormwood by Theatre of the Eighth Day (Teatr Ósmego Dnia); The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac written and performed by Taylor Mac; and Baby-Q’s MESs by Yoko Higashino and Toshio Kajiwara.

No Boundaries celebrates the diversity of voices and experiences in today’s world and explores—and explodes—the frontiers of theatrical invention through cutting-edge, thought-provoking dance, music, and theatre. Tearing down cultural, linguistic, and geographic barriers, No Boundaries extends and enhances the educational mission of Yale University through a series of performances by artistic innovators from around the globe.

Here's the lineup:
by Theatre of the Eighth Day (Teatr Ósmego Dnia)
Nov. 5-7 at 8 pm Iseman Theater (1156 Chapel Street)

Like a diary from a journey across a country plunging into the night, or a letter written by shipwrecked people who entrust it to the sea, Wormwood blurs the line between fantasy and reality in its portrayal of life in Poland under martial law. At once heartbreaking, humorous, and brutally physical, Wormwood—performed by the original Polish cast—is a rare remounting of the landmark 1985 production that prompted Theatre of the Eighth Day’s exile from Poland.

For mature audiences. Performed in Polish with English supertitles. Approximate running time: 60 minutes. Wormwood is presented in association with the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.

, written and performed by Taylor Mac, directed by David Drake

Jan. 28-30 at 8pm, University Theatre (222 York Street)

New York solo performance art legend Taylor Mac sings about love, mermaids, subway safety, and revolution in The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac, a wild—and wildly funny—gender-bending fusion of cabaret, politics, and stark raving fabulousness.

Contains strong language. Approximate running time: 90 minutes.

Baby-Q’s MESs
by Yoko Higashino and Toshio Kajiwara

March 25-27 at 8 pm, Iseman Theater (1156 Chapel Street)

Piercing lasers, flashing LEDs, and a pulsing techno beat illuminate choreographer and performer Yoko Higashino’s exploration of gender and transformation in a world of constant loss and confusion.

For mature audiences. Approximate running time: 45 minutes.

Each performance is followed by a talk back with the artists. In addition, No Boundaries offers a variety of related workshops and lectures (TBA) that allow audiences to engage with its diverse group of artists before and after the performances. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, please visit and

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dinner Cruise Followed by Fun at the Forum

Goodspeed Musicals is partnering with Lady Katharine Cruises to create a special two-hour dinner cruise and theatre ticket package.

Menu offerings may include the Lady Katharine Signature salad and choice of entrée and a side, including pork loin with port sauce, beef tips, breast of chicken marsala, baked filet of sole or salmon, or chef’s pasta choice and a dessert special of the day.

After dinner, guests disembark at the Goodspeed dock for the evening’s performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Comedy reigns when a thoroughly disarming slave named Pseudolus schemes to gain his freedom by helping his master’s son get the girl he desires. It’s an accelerating whirl of mixed identities, swinging doors, double takes, double entendres, outrageous puns and gags that will keep you laughing all the way home. Winner of tons of Tony Awards including Best Musical.

On Sunday, Oct. 18, the collaborative will offer a 4 pm cruise and tickets to the 6:30 pm performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum. The second package will be offered for Friday, Oct. 30, with a 5:30 pm cruise and tickets to the 8 pm performance. Tickets for dinner cruise and show are now on sale at the Goodspeed Box Office, (860) 873-8668.

Patrons will be able to park at the Goodspeed lot and board the boat from the Goodspeed dock. Plan your arrival for one half hour before sailing. There is a cash bar on the boat. Dress on the boat is the same as for the theatre.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Avenue Q Invites Singles to Party

Attention singles! Avenue Q, the Tony award-winning Broadway musical and quintessential ode to the plight of twenty-somethings finding their way in life and love, invites area singles to the Avenue Q Endless Summer Party at the Coco Key Indoor Water Resort, at the Holiday Inn, 3580 East Main St. in Waterbury, from 6 to 9pm Thursday Oct. 1.

The party will be hosted by 96.5TIC FM personalities Damon Scott and Gina J and is a prelude to the national tour of Avenue Q’s three performance engagement at Waterbury’s Palace Theater on Oct. 16 and 17.

Endless Summer Party attendees will have the chance to mix and mingle, while enjoying refreshments, dancing, a speed-dating session conducted by Scott, and other contests to win tickets to see Avenue Q at the Palace, as well as a variety of other prizes. The Coco Key Water Resort attractions also will be available to party guests, who want to make a bigger splash.

Tickets, which are $20 and include two wine or beers per guest, are available at the door on the night of the party or in advance at the Palace Theater Box Office. Tickets may also be purchased on line at and will include a small handling fee. Part of the proceeds from the event will benefit the non-profit theater’s Annual Fund.

For more details about the party or to purchase tickets for the party or Avenue Q, visit, call the box office 203-755-4700, or listen to 96.5 TIC FM beginning September 21.

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