Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Palace Offers Eveything from Doo-wop to Perlman

From doo-wop to Itzak Perlman, the Palace Theater’s April line-up has a little something for everyone.

Here's the schedule:
Waterbury Arts Magnet School presents
Rhythm Griots: Traditions and Innovations
Thursday, April 1 – 10:30am
Join Rhythm Griots (story tellers) Tony Vacca (pictured, left) and friends as they perform their West African and American rhythm-driven music and dance alongside the Waterbury Arts Magnet School chorus and dancers. Part of the ShopRite Education Series.

LAR presents “Oh What a Night of Doo-wop & Rock n' Roll”
Saturday, April 10 – 8 pm
Fred Parris (“In the Still of the Night”) and original Shirelles lead singer Shirley Alston Reeves (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”) take audiences back to a better era, when they perform alongside Emil Stucchio & The Classics, The Cleftones, John Kuse & The Excellents, and 14-year-old singing sensation, Kid Kyle. Sponsored in part by WATR Radio 1320AM.
TICKETS: $50/ $45/ $35

Saturday, April 17 – 4 pm
This second annual mixed media show includes original paintings, photography, jewelry and sculpture by more than 20 Connecticut artists from Central and Northwestern Connecticut. Ticket includes a champagne and hors d’oeuves reception by Hen of the Woods catering with music by the Tom Devino Quartet. All artwork is for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Palace's Annual Fund. Sponsored by Connecticut Community Foundation and Universal Copy.

Kol Ami Congregation presents Itzhak Perlman (right)
Sunday, April 18 – 4:00pm
Undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Itzhak Perlman, accompanied on piano by Rohan DeSilva, brings his impeccable artistry to Waterbury. Sponsored by the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven and Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.
TICKETS: $125/ $75/ $65/ $55

CT Dance Theater and the Arts presents Annual Spring Recital
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Owner/Director Nefra Wihbey and the Connecticut Dance Theatre & The Arts students present their annual Recital. Enjoy an evening full of song, dance, and musical entertainment.

Tickets and gift certificates can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at www.palacetheaterct.org, 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 203-345-2002.

Music Theater Workshops Set at Yale

The Yale Institute for Music Theatre will present two-week workshops this summer in New Haven, June 13-27: The Daughters by Shaina Taub and Stuck Elevator by Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis.

Additional staff for the workshops and details about free open-rehearsal readings of each musical will be announced.

Established by Yale School of Drama (James Bundy, Dean) and Yale School of Music (Robert Blocker, Dean), the institute seeks to identify distinctive and original music theatre works by emerging writers and composers, and to serve those writers by matching them with collaborators such as directors, music directors, and actors/singers who can help them further develop their work. By limiting production resources and values, the workshop will keep the focus on the creative process of the artistic team.

Othello to Star Under the Stars on the Sound

Shakespeare on the Sound will present Othello, under the direction of Joanna Settle this summer with Tony Award-winning singer-songwriter Stew returning to provide original music and songs for the production.

Currently in its 15th season, Shakespeare on the Sound will present Settle’s site-specific production at two locations on the Long Island Sound in Pinkney Park, Rowayton and Baldwin Park, Greenwich. Performance dates in June and July, 2010 will be announced shortly.
Shakespeare on the Sound has established itself as one of the most popular summer theater companies on the east coast, drawing large audiences to each performance in the unique under-the-stars settings of its venues.

Audiences are invited to arrive early and picnic in the park before the performance. There is no admission fee, but a donation of $20 ($10 for students and seniors) is suggested. In Rowayton, parking is limited and early arrival is suggested. In Greenwich, the production is a five-minute walk from the Greenwich Metro-North stop. Ample parking is available.

For information and rail and road directions, visit www.shakespeareonthesound.org.

Epp Brings Down the Curtain -- Literally -- at Yale Rep

Steven Epp as Truffaldino in The Servant of Two Masters;
photo © Richard Termine, 2010.

Steven Epp brings down the curtain, literally, with a terrific comedic performance in Carlo Goldoni’s commedia dell’arte The Servant of Two Masters, adapted by Constance Congdon from a translation by Christina Sibul, and ably directed by Christopher Bayes at Yale Rep through April 13.

Identities are mistaken, engagements are broken, butterflies flutter, lovers are reunited and there’s even some opera thrown in for fun in the story of the hungry servant Truffaldino’s disastrous plot to serve two masters and secure two sets of meals. Epp is so funny at Truffaldino that his cast mates and the on-stage musicians can’t help but laugh at his antics throughout the show too.

He is supported by a strong cast: Sarah Agnew (Beatrice), Will Cobbs (Waiter), Liam Craig (Brighella/Porter), John Treacy Egan (Il Dottore), Steven Epp (Truffaldino), Allen Gilmore (Pantalone), Andy Grotelueschen (Silvio), Chris Henry (Waiter), Jesse J. Perez (Florindo), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Clarice), and Liz Wisan (Smeraldina). The production features original musical by Chris Curtis and Aaron Halva, sets by Katherine Akiko Day, bright and comical costumes by Valérie Thérèse Bart, lighting by Chuan-Chi Chan and sound by Nathan Roberts.

It’s a different form of theater, somewhere between mime and slapstick and if you haven’t experienced it before, don’t miss it. Tickets range from $35-67 and are available online at www.yalerep.org, by phone at (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office, 1120 Chapel St. at York, New Haven. The performances are at the University Theatre, 222 York St.

Dynamic Performance Highlights 'No Child' at Long Wharf

Nilaja Sun
Nilaja Sun gives a dynamic performance in her one-woman story, based on her personal experiences as a teaching artist in the New York public schools, in No Child, through April 18 on Long Wharf Theatre’s Stage II.

Sun faces an ambivalent student body, a constant stream of new teachers and impending Regents exams while struggling to put on a play about prison inmates at fictional Malcolm X High in the Bronx. Directed by Hal Brooks, Sun plays all the various characters in this funny, poignant look at one woman’s attempt to make a difference.

The 70-minute piece contains some language. Curtain times are Tuesdays at 7 pm., Wednesdays at 2 and 7 pm., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm and 7 pm. Tickets are $30-$65. For more information about the show or to purchase tickets, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back from Vacation

We're back....
Check here regularly for daily news about Connecticut's professional theaters and arts organizations.

Monday, March 15, 2010

CT Residents Get Looped on Broadway; Kathleen Turner stars in 'High' at TheaterWorks

Looped, starring Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead, opened on Broadway yesterday. The play is written by CT resident Matthew Lombardo and directed by TheaterWorks Hartford's Senior Artistic Associate Rob Ruggiero. For a review, click here.

Meanwhile, Lombardo's next play High will receive its world premiere here at TheaterWorks July 9-Aug. 22 and will star Kathleen Turner with Ruggiero directing. The play will be presented in conjunction with Cincinnati Playhouse and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and replaces Reasons To Be Pretty as the fourth offering in TheaterWorks' five-play 2009- 2010 season.

In High, when Sister Jamison Connelly (Turner, right) agrees to sponsor a 19-year-old drug user in an effort to help him combat his addiction, her own faith is ultimately tested. Struggling between the knowledge she possesses as a rehabilitation counselor and a woman of religious conviction, she begins to question the belief in miracles and whether people can find the courage to change. High explores the universal themes of truth, forgiveness, redemption and human fallibility.

Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm with weekend matinees at 2:30 pm.

Seats are $39 for weeknights and matinees; $49 for Friday and Saturday evenings. Seating is general admission. Center reserved seats are $12 extra. College-age student rush seats are $12 at show time with valid school ID (subject to availability). Discounts are available for groups of 12 or more. A three-play subscription package for TheaterWorks' current 2009-2010 Season, including Souvenir, High, and Broke-ology is available for $89. In addition, subscriptions for TheaterWorks' upcoming five-play 2010-2011 Season have just gone on sale for $129.

For complete information and reservations, call TheaterWorks at (860) 527-7838. Visit TheaterWorks at theaterworkshartford.org.

'Are You My Mother?' Comes Alive at Westport

Westport Country Playhouse’s Family Festivities Series will present the musical adventure, Are You My Mother?, based on P. D. Eastman’s whimsical and well-loved picture book, Sunday, March 28, at 1 and 4 pm. Recommended for grades K and up, the show is produced by ArtsPower and is approximately one hour in length.

At long last, Baby Bird emerges from her shell and expects to be greeted by her mother’s song. But her mother is not there. Where is she? Why isn’t she home? With the help of Dog, Cat and Hen, Baby Bird sets out in search of Mother Bird.

Pre-show activities, for which reservations are required, begin one hour before the performances at noon and 3 pm. Pre-show activities for Are You My Mother? will be based on theater games that encourage cooperation and teamwork.

Tickets are $16. Birthday party facilities may be scheduled in advance. Everyone in the audience requires a ticket regardless of age. For tickets or to receive a Family Festivities brochure, call the 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 visit online at http://www.westportplayhouse.org./

Groups of 10 or more save up to 30 percent off the regular ticket price. For group sales information call (203) 227-5137, x120.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Leads Cast for Shakespeare on the Sound's 'Othello'

Victor Williams will play the title role and Jesse J. Perez will play ‘Iago’ in Shakespeare on th Sound's production Othello this summer under the direction of Joanna Settle.

Perez returns following his acclaimed ‘Puck’ in last year’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Williams will be making his Shakespeare on the Sound debut. He was a series regular for nine years on “The King of Queens,” among many other theater, television and film credits. Complete casting will be announced shortly.

Currently in its 15th Season, Shakespeare on the Sound will present Settle’s all-new production at two beautiful locations on the Long Island Sound. The show will play Pinkney Park, Rowayton June 15 – 26, 2010 and Baldwin Park, Greenwich July 2 – 11, 2010.

Tony Award-winning singer-songwriter Stew will provide original music and songs for the production and set designer Andrew Lieberman will return for this season’s production.

Audiences are invited to arrive early and picnic in the park before the performance. There is no admission fee, but a donation of $20 ($10 for students and seniors) is suggested. In Rowayton, parking is limited and early arrival is suggested. In Greenwich, the production is a five minute walk from the Greenwich Metro-North stop. Ample parking is available.

For rail and road directions, visit www.shakespeareonthesound.org.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Casting Set for Goodspeed's 'Annie Get Your Gun'

Casting has been announced for the Rob Ruggiero-helmed Goodspeed Musicals production of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun April 16 – June 27.

Broadway sensation Jenn Gambatese will return to Goodspeed as sharp-shooter Annie Oakley. Previously she performed in The Norma Terris production of All Shook Up. Her Broadway credits include Tarzan, All Shook Up, A Year With Frog and Toad, Hairspray and Footloose. Leading man Frank Butler will be played by Broadway’s Kevin Earley. His Broadway credits include A Tale of Two Cities, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Les Misérables.

Buffalo Bill Cody will be played by David McDonald whose Broadway credits include the revival of Bye, Bye, Birdie; Mamma Mia; Side Show and Les Misérables. Dolly Tate will be played by Rebecca Watson who performed in Goodspeed Musicals’ 1776 and Me & My Girl. The role of Tommy Keeler will be played by Andrew Cao.

Chelsea Morgan Stock from Broadway’s The Little Mermaid will play Winnie Tate. James Beaman will play Charlie Davenport, and Michael Nichols will play Chief Sitting Bull whose Broadway credits include November and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Three Connecticut natives will join the cast; Joy Rachel Del Valle of Farmington will play Jessie, Marissa Smoker of Branford will play Nellie and Griffin Birney, also of Branford, will play Little Jake.

Ruggiero, director of Looped currently playing on Broadway, returns to Goodspeed where he directed 1776, Big River and last year’s sensation Camelot. Choreography will be by Noah Racey.

For performance times and ticket information, call 860-873-8668 or visit http://www.goodspeed.org/.

Happy Prince is 'Next Stage' Offering at Long Wharf

The "Next Stage Program", Long Wharf Theatre’s program for early-career theatre professionals, will present The Happy Prince, a devised adaptation of the beloved children’s story by Oscar Wilde, on Saturday, April 3 at 11 am and 1 pm on the Mainstage.

Admission is free and donations are encouraged, but seating is limited. To make general admission reservations, please call the box office at 203-787-4282.

"The Happy Prince" is one of Oscar Wilde’s best-loved fairy tales. It tells the story of a magnificent golden statue who, with the help of a kind young swallow, spreads goodwill throughout his kingdom. But as winter approaches, the swallow must decide whether to join his flock in Egypt or to risk his life by staying behind to help his new friend. A sense of theatrical magic and wonder abounds in this tale about charity, friendship, and hope, told with Wilde’s trademark grace and wit.

The Happy Prince will be directed by Long Wharf’s Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting. In his sixth season at Long Wharf, Ting’s recent directing credits include this season’s Sylvia, the world premiere of The Old Man And The Sea (which he also co-adapted), The Bluest Eye (a co-production with Hartford Stage), and Underneath the Lintel.

The show will be stage managed by Jamie Steffen, of Brookfield, CT. The ensemble cast features Bethany Fitzgerald, of Stafford Springs, CT; Jesse Gabbard, of North Haven, CT; Sarah Kronenberg, of Cranston, RI; Corey Morrison, of Bowling Green, KY; and Joshua Wills, of Ansonia, CT.

The creative team includes Next Stage residents Christal Boyd (lighting design) of Dallas, TX; Maureen Hill (properties master) of Hutchinson, KS; Tracey Lattimer (scenic design, technical direction), of Roselle, NJ; Catherine Mason (costume design), of Brasher Falls, NY; Corey Morrison (marketing) of Bowling Green, KY; Erin Treat (dramaturg, publicity), of Tucson, AZ; and Heather Walker (sound design), of Donegal, Ireland. Bill Ruth will provide original music and live Foley for the production.

For more information, visit www.longwharf.org.

'Harvey' is the Script in Hand at Westport

The Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy, “Harvey,” will be read by Westport Country Playhouse actor alumni and audience favorites Jayne Atkinson, Bill Buell, Brian Carter, Donald Corren, Andrea Maulella, Sarah Peterson and Mark Shanahan, and others to be announced, 7 pm Monday, March 22 at Westport Country Playhouse. Tickets to the one-night-only event are $15.

Directed by Anne Keefe, Playhouse artistic advisor, the reading is the second in the Script in Hand Series that brings together professional actors to read works by master playwrights. The new playreading series is a continuation of the highly successful “Funny Mondays” and “The Classical Series,” produced by the Playhouse from 2005 through 2008.

“Harvey” is the story of the affable Elwood P. Dowd and his presumably imaginary friend Harvey, a 6-foot-tall rabbit. When Elwood introduces Harvey to guests at a society party, his society-obsessed sister, Veta, has seen enough of his eccentric behavior. She decides to have Elwood committed to a sanitarium to spare the family from future embarrassment.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scotch Tasting Event Helps Westport Celebration

“High Spirits, A Scotch Tasting Event” will be presented at Westport Country Playhouse, Thursday, March 25, 6 to 8:30 pm as one of a series of special events celebrating the historic Playhouse’s 80th anniversary season.

The Scotch Tasting Event is sponsored by Diageo. The event will be led by their Master of Whisky who will share the pleasures and complexities of their premier blended brands, Johnnie Walker Black, Johnnie Walker Gold and Johnnie Walker Blue, as well as their single malts, Oban, Talisker and Lagavulin. Hors d'oeuvres will be served to complement the particular profile of each whisky.

In the spirit of Scotland traditions, the Scotch Tasting Event will also feature a putting green set up by the Sports Center of Connecticut where guests can try out Callaway's new 2010 season putters.
For tickets at $65 each, contact Kimberly Maresca, Special Events Associate, at 203-227-5137 x138/kmaresca@westportplayhouse.org, or visit westportplayhouse.org.

Beauty & Beast Waltz into the Palace

Tale as old as time, true as it can be. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the award-winning worldwide smash hit Broadway musical, is waltzing its way to the Palace Theater in Waterbury as part of the Webster Broadway Series, sponsored in part by WTNH/MvTV9 and the Brass Mill Center. Produced by NETworks Presentations, the all-new National Touring Broadway production of this enchanting love story comes to life on the Palace stage March 12-14.

Based on the Academy Award®-winning animated feature film, this eye-popping spectacle recounts the story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved in return, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity. This classic musical love story is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish costumes, and dazzling production numbers featuring music from Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman’s original Academy Award®-winning score, including “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song.

The original creators of the Broadway presentation are together again for this new touring production. The play is directed by Rob Roth and choreographed by Matt West, with Costume Design by Ann Hould-Ward (Tony Award® winner for her work on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), Lighting Design by Natasha Katz, Scenic Design by Stanley A. Meyer, Sound Design by John Petrafesa Jr. and Music Supervision by Michael Kosarin.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has become an international sensation, playing to over 35 million people worldwide in 21 countries.

All Palace Theater Webster Broadway Series subscribers and Sunday matinee ticket holders are invited to participate in a special post show “Mat & Chat” with members of the show, following the 1:00pm performance on March 14. This new interactive offering allows patrons to go behind-the-scenes and engage in creative conversations with some of the incredible talent behind the Palace's Broadway Series. The session is $10 with the purchase of a matinee ticket and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 203-346-2000.

Tickets for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast are $66, $51 and $41, and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at www.palacetheaterct.org, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, 100 East Main Street in Waterbury. Groups of 20 or more may qualify for special discounts and are encouraged to call the Group Sales Hotline at 203-346-2002. Girl Scout troops of 20 or more members can take advantage of the theater’s Beauty and the Beast “Scout Special” and purchase upper mezzanine tickets to the 6:00pm Sunday evening performance of the show on March 14, for only $25.

CRT has Too Much Memory

Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) will present Keith Reddin’s and Meg Gibson’s Too Much Memory, a modern take on Antigone March 25 – April 3 in the Studio Theatre on the Storrs campus.

Antigone won't take no for an answer – and it's going to cost her. She's the daughter of Oedipus and his own mother, now defying Creon, leader of Thebes, by insisting that her traitorous brother be given an honorable funeral. Despite being engaged to Creon's son, she'll face death if she won't back down. This smart retelling of the 5th-century classic is set firmly in the present and doesn't take itself too seriously, with a wise-cracking chorus that describes the play as an “adaptation of an adaptation of a re-translation."

It's directed by Helene Kvale. For tickets and information, call 860-486-4226 or visit http://www.crt.uconn.edu/.

Pens Warmed in Hell Flare Things Up at Mark Twain House

Mark Twain had just finished a novel of violent social satire, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court," when he wrote to a friend:

“Well, my book is written--let it go. But if it were only to write over again there wouldn't be so many things left out. They burn in me; and they keep multiplying; but now they can't ever be said. And besides, they would require a library--and a pen warmed up in hell.”

Today two pens similarly scorched in the infernal regions, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi and Charles P. Pierce ("Idiot America"), are coming to the Mark Twain House & Museum.

On Saturday, March 13, at 7:30 pm, The Mark Twain House & Museum will present
"A Pen Warmed Up in Hell Lecture" with Taibbi and Pierce. Both have been guests on some of today’s hottest current events shows, including "Real Time with Bill Maher," "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report," "Rachel Maddow" and "Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me." WNPR radio personality and Hartford Courant columnist Colin McEnroe will moderate. Tickets are $25 ($20 for members) and can be purchased by calling 860-280-3130.

Taibbi (left) wields one of the warmer pens among young journalists today. He’s a political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, writing a monthly column, “Road Rage,” and an online column, “The Low Post.” He’s also a sports columnist for Men's Journal, and has written several books, including "The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire."

Charles Pierce (right)also combines the work of sports writer and political writer. He appears weekly on NPR’s "Only a Game." His current book, "Idiot America," examines ignorance in today’s USA, another of Mark Twain’s themes.
The event is one in the museum’s continuing series marking the Mark Twain Centennial Celebration.

New World Symphony at HSO

Led by guest conductor and Music Director candidate Tania Miller, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will explore Dvořák’s Ode to America, his “New World Symphony,” Thursday, March 18 through Saturday, March 20 at 8 pm and Sunday, March 21 at 3 pm in the Belding Theater at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to the “New World Symphony, this program will feature violinist Jinjoo Cho performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Canadian composer Rodney Sharman’s musical homage to the music of Scarlatti, in Scarlattiana.

The 2009-10 season will mark Tania Miller's seventh as music director of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the first Canadian woman to be appointed to such a position in Canada. Her new programming innovations include the New Currents Festival of New Music, the contemporary Odyssey series of collaborative arts and genres, and the Victoria Mozart Festival. Prior to her appointment in Victoria, Ms. Miller was Assistant and then Associate conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival, Assistant conductor of the Banff Festival of the Arts, and a frequent guest conductor with the Toronto contemporary ensemble ERGO.

The search for a new music director for Hartford Symphony Orchestra will include a total of seven guest conductor appearances, four this season and three in the 2010-11season. HSO Music Director Edward Cumming will continue to lead the orchestra through the conclusion of the 2010-11 season in May of 2011. His successor is expected to be announced by January 2011.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Long Wharf's 'Menagerie' Transfers Off Broadway

Keira Keeley and Judith Ivey. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
Long Wharf's 2009 production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie transfers to Roundabout Theatre Company's Off Broadway stage at the Laura Pels Theatre through May 30. Previews begin today with an official opening set for March 24.

The drama stars Judith Ivey, Patch Darragh, Keira Keeley and Michael Mosley directed by Long Wharf Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein.

For my review of the New Haven production, click here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

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