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.

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