Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We have Always Lived in the Castle -- Yale Rep

Alexandra Socha as Merricat in Yale Rep's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Photo © Joan Marcus, 2010.

Watch a video clip from the show below.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spamalot -- The Palace

Spamalot photo from prior production
Monty Python Silliness Kicks Off National Tour After Retooling in Waterbury
By Lauren Yarger
If you’re not a Monty Python fan, stop reading now and just stay at home, because you won’t understand anything mentioned here, but if you are, grab your coconut shells and trot on over to the Palace Theater in Waterbury where the newest national tour of Spamalot is kicking off this weekend (catch the show tonight at 8 pm. Visit http://www.palacetheaterct.org/ for tickets and information).

The zany show, which won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, features a book and lyrics by Monty Python’s Eric Idle, who teamed with John Du Prez to write the music. The show is restaged by director BT McNicholl and choreographer Scott Taylor closely following the original concept helmed by Mike Nichols and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. It follows King Arthur (Steve McCoy) and his round-table mates on their quest for the holy grail.

Among those making their way with him through the perils of killer rabbits, catapulting cows, the Knights Who Say Ni and a lot of other tacky, but funny situations are the noblest -- and wackiest of sirs: Robin (Martin Glyer), Galahad (Jacob L. Smith) and Lancelot (Adam Grabau). Guided by The Lady of the Lake (Caroline Bowman) and God (the recorded voice of Idle), they sing, twirl parasols, and tap dance their way through songs and re-enact classic bits from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the popular motion picture from which it was “ripped off.”

Fans in the audience Friday guffawed -- many times in advance of the actual lines since die-hard fans know what’s coming -- and at a local reference thrown in about the Waterbury mayor. A six-member band, conducted by Kevin Casey, accompanies the show, scaled back from the original and this time, non Equity.

The show is satisfying for the Spamalot fan. For the most part, the acting is fine and Smith lends a particularly nice voice to Galahad. Bowman, who has a nice high soprano voice and high belt, is miscast, however, as The Lady of Lake. She lacks the lower register and stage experience to pull off the character’s more humorous moments easily.

For list of where the tour will play, including a stop at the Shubert in New Haven, visit http://www.montypythonsspamalot.com/spamalot_tickets_info.php.

Spamalot Trivia Quiz

Test your knowledge of the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail," the inspiration for the stage musical Spamalot now playing at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.

1 . Members of three famous bands were original investors in the film. Name one of the
Answer: Genesis, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin. Each contributed 20,000 pounds.

2 . How much did each Python receive for writing and starring in the film?
Answer: Each received 4,000 pounds.

3 . Who directed the film?
Answer: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. Though the opening title credits also give credit
to several fictional directors including, “40 specially trained Ecuadorian Mountain Llamas,
6 Venezuelan Red Llamas, 148 Mexican Whooping Llamas, 14 North Chilean Guanacos
(closely related to the llama), Reg Llama of Brixton, and 76000 Battery Llamas from ‘Llama
Fresh Farms Ltd’ near Paraguay.”

4 . Who played Sir Lancelot the Brave, Taunting French Guard and Tim the Enchanter in the
Answer: John Cleese.

5 . What knight did Eric Idle play in the film?
Answer: Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Lancelot.

6 . King Arthur and the voice of God were played by what Python in the film?
Answer: Graham Chapman.

7 . The film was mainly filmed in what country?
Answer: Scotland.

8 . What happened to King Arthur that abruptly ended the climatic battle scene of the film?
Note: This is not the ending to Monty Python’s Spamalot.
Answer: A group of policemen arrested King Arthur for the murder of a “famous historian”
earlier in the film.

9 . What is the largest animal thrown from the castle at King Arthur and his Knights?
Answer: A cow.

Dressed for the Occasion

Stephen Jacovich, Marissa Jacovich, Lisa Collins and Meredith Engratt
Marissa Jacovich brought a special surprise to the opening of the show Spamalot last night at the Palace --her father, Stephen, dressed in knightly chain mail, which she created by hand in the theater's logo design. She and friends Lisa Collins and Meredith Engratt also wore clothing and jewelry designs that Marissa had crafted by weaving together rings formed from aluminum wire. Marissa began making chain mail after Lisa introduced her to the craft at a Renaissance fair. She started work on the custom costume Stephen is wearing last June when she heard the stage show, based on the Monty Python films, was coming to the Palace where she is a volunteer. For information about her designs, contact Marissa at renrealm@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

HSO Finalist Conducts Masterworks Concerts in October

Opening to Feature Brahms, Beethoven & Shostakovich
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s search for a new music director continues as guest conductor and music director candidate Kevin Rhodes (left) leads a concert of Brahms, Beethoven & Shostakovich on Thursday, Oct. 14- Sunday, Oct. 17 in the Belding Theater at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

This opening concert of the 2010-2011 Masterworks series will feature Brahms’ Academic Festive Overture, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano concerto, as performed by guest pianist Jeffrey Biegel.

Pianist Jeffrey Biegel (left) will join the HSO to play the rich melodies and energetic passages of Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, allegedly nicknamed “Emperor” for its grandiose character. He shares a unique connection to Beethoven, having been unable to hear until he was 3 years old. Biegel explains this ‘reverse Beethoven’ phenomenon as the inspiration for his musical career, having heard only vibrations in his formative years.

After intermission, Rhodes will lead the HSO in Shostakovich’s politically charged Symphony No. 5. This symphony was written at the height of the Stalin regime; Shostakovich’s use of patriotic hymns and folk tunes led Stalin to believe the symphony was a masterpiece of Soviet propaganda. The work carried a subtext which was invisible to Stalin and his devotees, however: a musical representation of Stalin’s oppression of the Soviet people. Since its 1937 debut, this symphony has brought audiences to tears with its complex expression of the human condition.

The HSO began its search for a new music director in the 2009-2010 season, introducing four of seven candidates to the Hartford community. The search continues this season with the three final candidates’ guest conducting the HSO this fall. HSO Music Director Edward Cumming will continue to lead the orchestra through the conclusion of the 2010-11 season in June of 2011. His successor is expected to be announced by January 2011, and will lead an inaugural HSO performance March 17-20, 2011. For more information on the music director search, including video interviews, full biographies, and audience feedback for each candidate, visit hsomusicdirectorsearch.wordpress.com.

Emanuel Ax Opens Season Sept. 25
Meanwhile, the HSO will celebrate the opening of its 67th season with a performance by the legendary pianist Emanuel Ax next Saturday, Sept. 25, led by Cumming. The concert will feature Beethoven’s passionate Piano Concerto No. 4, as well as Mozart’s Symphony No. 23 and Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 1.

In addition, Ax’s wife, Yoko Nozaki, will join him to play the rarely performed Mozart “Double” Piano Concerto No. 10 in E-flat Major. As the major annual fundraising event for the HSO, this festive evening will provide critical support for the Symphony’s school-based music education and community engagement programs, along with the HSO’s core music programs.

HS Juniors, Seniors Can Get Audition Training at Goodspeed

Goodspeed Musicals’ Max Showalter Center for Education in the Musical Theater announces the Goodspeed Audition Intensive, a new program from the Goodspeed Musical Theatre Institute, which creates a bridge between emerging artists and seasoned professional artists. The program will be conducted Dec. 4 and 5 on the Goodspeed campus in East Haddam.

Goodspeed’s Audition Intensive is a unique and comprehensive program offering training and insider tips for the aspiring Broadway star. This highly selective two-day program will prepare high school juniors and seniors for college musical theatre entrance auditions. Students will have the opportunity to work with Equity actors who have experience in New York, on national tours and at Goodspeed Musicals. They will provide individualized monologue and song coaching, facilitate group exercises, and lead discussions covering all aspects of the audition process.

Students also will participate in mock auditions and a panel discussion, exposing them to industry professionals including a faculty member from a top university musical theatre program, Goodspeed’s Music Director and a choreographer.

Space is limited. For more information and to apply, visit http://www.goodspeed.org or contact Goodspeed’s Education Department at 860-873-8664, ext. 745. Deadline for applicants is Nov. 1, 2010.

2 Scripts in Hand at Westport

Westport Country Playhouse’s popular Script in Hand Series will feature two autumn playreadings, Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce on Monday, Oct.4 at 7 pm and Noël Coward’s A Song at Twilight on Monday, Nov. 15 at 7 pm. Tickets to the one-night-only events are $15.

Bedroom Farce will reunite Playhouse audience favorites Geneva Carr, Carson Elrod, Cecilia Hart, Karen Walsh, James Waterston and Paxton Whitehead who have starred in one or more of the three Ayckbourn comedies on the Playhouse stage: Relatively Speaking, Time of My Life and How the Other Half Loves. Mark Shanahan, another popular Playhouse regular, will also be in the cast. More casting for both readings will be announced soon.

Both readings will be directed by Anne Keefe, Playhouse artistic advisor, who co-directed with Joanne Woodward the Playhouse production of David Copperfield. She is a former Westport Country Playhouse artistic director.

The Script in Hand Series, bringing together professional actors to read works by master playwrights, started earlier this year as a continuation of the highly successful “Funny Mondays” and “The Classical Series,” produced by the Playhouse from 2005 through 2008. The Script in Hand Series is supported, in part, by the White Barn Program of the Lucille Lortel Foundation and the Newman’s Own Foundation.

Kids Discover the Stars at Long Wharf

Kids will be able to reach for the stars and beyond at Long Wharf Theatre’s fourth annual Discovery Day, an annual community outreach event that introduces area children and families to the fantastic world of theatre.

This fun, family event, will take place on Saturday, Oct.9, with registration beginning at 9:30 am on the Mainstage, located at 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven. The adventure begins at 10. There is a suggested donation of $5 per family or $2 per person. All donations from this event will go towards funding a family friendly spring production entirely adapted, produced, designed, and built by the Next Stage residents, early career professionals working in a specific field of theatre.

Discovery Day has grown in popularity over the past four years with over 200 people attending last year. This year’s theme is “Out of This World,” and is appropriate for kids ages 3-15.

“I was inspired by watching my young son’s love for Star Wars, with all of its sounds, costumes, sets and cool props, and thought, what better way to introduce children to theatre then by exploring the theatrical possibilities of outer space,” said Annie DiMartino, director of education and administrator of the Next Stage program.

Children and families will embark on a journey to become “theatre artists of the future,” experiencing fun and innovative workshops in set design, costume construction, props-making and sound experimentation, all while experiencing creative dramatics. Students will also participate in an acting workshop, where they will learn about character creation, stage movement and more.

After they have completed their “training,” children and families will blast off to an out of this world theatre, showing off all of the interesting theatrical tricks they’ve just learned. “They are not only learning how to create something within the workshops, they see how their work gets implemented onstage,” DiMartino said.

Everyone working during Discovery Day will be playing a character, immersing children in a cool, improvisational atmosphere. Mallory Morris, a resident in the education department, has been helping to put together the script for the day’s event. “It is very neat and something new within the structure of this year’s event,” Morris said. “It will be exciting for the people working Discovery Day and the people coming to Discovery Day.”

The residents, who represent a host of theatrical disciplines, including lighting, sound, and scenic design, have been in the process of preparing the event’s final countdown. It is the first project the residents will be working on – the preface to their work together on the children’s show later in the season.

For more information, call at 203-787-4282 or visit the new www.longwharf.org.

Talkback, Discussion Events on Tap During Westport's 'Anne Frank'

Speakers, panel discussions, talkbacks, workshops, films, family events and art exhibits will enhance Westport Country Playhouse's presentation of The Diary of Anne Frank.

The program, titled “Window onto History: Perspectives on The Diary of Anne Frank” is a partnership with 16 community organizations. The series runs through Oct. 30 to provide a wider context in which to access the life of Anne Frank, the Holocaust, genocide and issues of social justice. This initiative will feature scholars, artists, advocates for human rights, educators, documentarians and eyewitnesses as they shed light on a broad spectrum of fascinating subjects. Many events are free and open to the public.
"Window onto History" is an exciting and unprecedented venture for the Playhouse," said David Kennedy, associate artistic director. "For months we've been consulting experts, pulling together the best ideas, contacting the most interesting speakers, all to create this constellation of events surrounding the production of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’

The Diary of Anne Frank, helmed by award-winning director Gerald Freedman, will be staged at Westport Country Playhouse from September 28 through October 30, as part of its 80th Anniversary Season.

Partner organizations for the series are Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut, Anne Frank Center USA, Barnes & Noble of Westport, Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University, Connecticut Coalition to Save Darfur, Facing History and Ourselves, The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University, Holocaust Child Survivors of Connecticut, Neighborhood Studios of Bridgeport, PROOF: Media for Social Justice, UJA/Federation Westport Weston Wilton Norwalk, Voices of Rwanda, Westport Arts Center, Westport/Weston Chapter of Hadassah, Westport Public Library and Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism.

“Author Talk with Francine Prose (left),” produced in collaboration with Westport Public Library, will be on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 3 pm in the Playhouse’s Jason Robards Theatre. Prose will discuss her book “Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife.” Making an impassioned argument for Anne Frank’s literary genius, Prose tells the story of Frank’s refuge, the discovery of her diary after her death and the global phenomenon that it eventually became. The talk is free and open to the public.

“Symposium: Anne Frank and the Americanization of the Holocaust” will be on Sunday, Oct. 3, after the matinee performance. Lawrence L. Langer, author of the critically acclaimed collections of essays, “Using and Abusing the Holocaust,” “Admitting the Holocaust,” “Preempting the Holocaust” and “Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory," will discuss the evolution of Anne Frank’s story over the last half century and the history behind its cooption as a “universal” story of hope and redemption. Free and open to the public.

“A Conversation with Molly Ephraim,” who plays “Anne” in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” will be on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Barnes & Noble of Westport, 1076 Post Road East. Ephraim will read selections from Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” after which she will be interviewed by Kennedy about her work on this famous role. Ten percent of proceeds from all purchases this day will be donated to the Playhouse. Free and open to the public.

“Resurgence: The Face of Contemporary Anti-Semitism” will be on Wednesday, Oct. 6, after the 8 pm performance. Charles Small, director of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism and founder of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy, will give a talk on the history of anti-Semitism from the early 20th century to today, with a particular emphasis on its contemporary manifestations. This will be followed by a Q&A with the audience. Free and open to the public.

“From Outrage to Advocacy: Raising Public Awareness of Genocide” will be on Thursday, Oct. 7 after the 8 pm performance. The history of genocide in the 20th century has a parallel history of of men and women who made it their mission to raise awareness of these crimes. The audience will learn about the history of advocacy and what today’s advocates are doing to avert tomorrow’s next human rights catastrophe. Free and open to the public.

“A Brief Life Illuminated: The Power of Anne Frank’s Words,” will be on Sunday, Oct. 10, after the matinee performance. Peter Nelson, director of the New York Regional Office of Facing History and Ourselves, will lead a post-show discussion addressing the question, "Why does Anne Frank continue to speak to us with such power?" Free and open to the public.

“Words of Defiance: Writing as Resistance during the Holocaust,” will be on Wednesday, Oct. 13, after the 8 pm performance. Ellen M. Umansky, director of the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University, will explore diary writing as a form of non-violent resistance during the Holocaust, contrasting Holocaust diaries, including Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” with memoirs and other forms of literature. Free and open to the public.

“Talkback with the Actors” will be on Thursday, Oct. 14, after the evening performance. Members of the cast will discuss the creative process, the historical research required of them as actors and the responsibility inherent in bringing this story to life on the stage. Free and open to the public.

“Living to Tell: A Discussion with Child Survivors of Genocide” will be on Sunday, Oct. 17 after the matinee. This panel discussion will focus on the individual experience of genocide, featuring the remarkable stories of several people who survived it as children. Discounted student ticket price to the show of $15. Discussion is free and open to the public.

“So the World Will Know: Attempts to Document Genocide,” on Thursday, Oct. 28, after the 8 pm show will feature a panel, including Taylor Krauss from Voices of Rwanda and Joanne Rudoff from The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University. They will address the unique challenges of methodology, access and preservation in collecting and archiving the voices of survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides. Free and open to the public.

Other programs also are available. For more information, visit http://www.westportplayhouse.org/.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Theater Review: Gray Matters – Emerson Theater Collaborative

Kathryn Kates and Stephen Sherman
When All the World Really is a Stage -- and You Can't Remember Your Lines
By Lauren Yarger
Sarah Gray is experiencing an actor’s worst nightmare: she can’t remember her lines. No amount of memorization, rehearsal or prompting will help in this case, however, since the lines aren’t dialogue from a script, but the keys to her very real, everyday life, forgotten after a stroke.

This is the intriguing premise for Jacques Lamarre’s play Gray Matters getting a Hartford run this weekend at the Charter Oak Cultural Center by the Emerson Theater Collaborative (think very minimal set). The play arrives fresh from its award-nominated production at New York’s International Music Festival, complete with three members of the cast who join Connecticut resident Debi Freund taking over the role of Sarah.

Freund, directed by Joshua Lee Ramos, gives a moving performance as the actress who suffers a stroke onstage, then tries to cope with losing her fiancé, her daughter, her health insurance, her career, her privacy and last, but not least, her memory. Sarah valiantly tries to joke and convince those around her that she’s getting better all while grasping at threads of memory for their names and other knowledge that used to be easily accessible from her brain like her daughter’s phone number, the code for her voice mail, the location of her mailbox key and lines from – and sometimes even the titles of – the plays that brought her fame on the stage.

Her agent, Miriam Berger (a delightful Kathryn Kates, adorned in perfect flashy, wealthy agent attire) breaks through her “battle axe of Broadway” exterior to help her longtime client and friend by paying some of her medical bills and trying to get her to focus on getting back on the stage (and earning Miriam a commission). When the recovery process takes longer than she’d like, Miriam tricks Sarah into thinking she agreed to go on an audition. The actress isn’t ready and series of humorous-but-sad failed attempts to resume her career follow.

Meanwhile, her desperate financial situation forces Sarah to take in a roommate, Deja Smith (Jan Anaya), a young actress at the start of her career who talks incessantly about herself while insisting she’s a good listener. The girl is so flighty that she gives pause as to just how much gray matter she herself is packing. She becomes involved with Scott Leads (Stephen Sherman), the young actor who was on stage with Sarah when she had her stroke. They find they have something in common – they’re both self absorbed – and their “concern” for Sarah gives new meaning to the word shallow.

Anaya is humorous as the insensitive wannabe actress, but she and Sherman have a tendency to rush some of their lines, making them inaudible in the already acoustically-challenged space. Sherman never seems comfortable in the skin of his character.

The Connecticut playwright’s work is thought provoking, offers some hope and contains a nice balance of humor and drama, though it could use some tightening in places. Most notably, the final scene, though containing some humorous and moving lines, should be cut as it is superfluous and extends the hour-and-45-minute play with no intermission beyond its natural conclusion.

Catch the last two performances in this limited run of the play, inspired in part by a real-life story, tonight at 8 or tomorrow afternoon at 4 (read more about Jacques and the play at http://ctcritics.org/). Tickets are $25 ($23 for students and seniors) and can be obtained at www.emersontheatercollaborative.org. For additional information, call 860-705-9711.

Monday, September 6, 2010

'Willy Wonka' is the Ticket at Hartford Children's Theatre

Timothy Perry is Charlie Bucket. Photo Credit: Thomas Giroir
Marking the beginning of its 2010-2011Family Main Stage Series "Pure Imagination," Hartford Children's Theatre (HCT) announces a sweet new production of Wiliy Wonka,directed by HCT Artistic Director Ryan Ratelle with musical direction byLouise Fauteux and choreography by Keri Danner.
A scrumptious treat forthe entire family, the show opens Friday, Sept. 24, 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 Sunday, Oct. 3.
Roald Dahl's timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life on the Hartford Children's Theatre stage in this delicious new musical adaptation of "Charlie and the ChocolateFactory." Willy Wonka features music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
The cast includes Christopher Cavallo as "Willy Wonka,"Nick D'Angelo as "Candy Man / Phineous Trout," Timmy Perry as "CharlieBucket," Arnie Woelfel as "Grandpa Joe," Amaris Montoya as "Mrs.Bucket," Thomas Beebe as "Augustus Gloop," Emely Larson as "Mrs. Gloop,"Emily Bordonaro as "Veruca Salt," Charles DellaRocco as "Mr. Salt," BenScanlon as "Mike Teavee," Sheri Ziccardi as "Mrs. Teavee," Hollis Longas "Violet Beauregarde" and Christina Dzenyuy as "Mrs. Beauregarde."
Featured in the ensemble are Mandy Reynolds, Nicole Rodriguez, BruceTerrill, Caleb Reynolds, Lauren Cassot, Clare Meehan, Sophie Atler,Stefan Izydorczak, Patrick Beebe, Olivia Clyne, Jerome Walker, MadisonBluth, Robbie Wilbur, Lauren Popillo, Ginny Van Zandt, Taylor Paydos andMcKayla Morrison.
Scenic Designs are by Magge Gagliardi, Costume Designs by Pam Puente, Lighting Design by Ric Lucero and Hair Design by Linda Stanhope.
The performance schedule is as follows: Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 pm; Saturday, Sept. 25 at 10 am; Sunday, Sept. 26 at 2 pm; Friday, Oct. 1 at 7 pm; Saturday, Oct. 2 at 10 am and 2 pm; Sunday, Oct. 3 at 2 pm. Student Matinee Performances will be offeredat 10 am on Wednesday, Sept. 29 and Thursday, Sept. 30. Tickets are $18 for adults, $13 for children (13 and under) and senior citizens and are available online at http://www.hartfordchildrenstheatre.org/. For more information, please call the HCT Box Office at 860-429-7970 ext. 12. Discounts are available forgroups of 15 or more.
Special events:
Attend the Opening Night performance and receive your very own GoldenTicket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Extravaganza where you'll be treated to scrumptious chocolate dishes from the city of Hartford & WestHartford's finest restaurants during a delectable pre-show reception. Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompas will be on-hand to guide you through the irresistible chocolate buffet. Meet KISS 95.7 FM DJ Prolifik as he broadcasts live from The Winifred E. Coleman Lobby. Participating restaurants include J Restaurant Bar, Wood N Tap, Salute, SugarlyCrimbles & Marquee Events and Catering.
BREAKFAST WITH WILLY WONKA Saturday, Oct. 2 at 9 am.
Guests of the factory will enjoy a scrumptious chocolate-filled breakfast with Willy Wonka and friends. Families areinvited to participate in photo opportunities with the cast and children will enjoy a "make your own candy" activity with the Oompa Loompas.

Sheila's Day -- Hartford Stage

Archive Review:

In Sheila‘s Day, written by Duma Ndlovu and co-created with Mbongeni Ngema with additional material by Ebony Jo-Ann, A strong vocal ensemble sings, drums, dances and tells the stories of "Sheilas," domestic workers in the US South and in South Africa during the 1960s, This play about their struggles during the turbulent civil rights activitie sat the time opens the season for Hartford Stage at Kingswood Oxford, where the theater has moved until renovations at the Hartford location are finished this fall. The cast features Ruby Lee (Ann Duquesnay) and Qedusizi (Thuli Dumakude). Ruby Lee comically finds herself at key Civil Rights events in the South while Qedusizi is jailed, then works illegally for a white woman she hopes will help her. Their story explores not only the positive side of the quest for civil rights in both countries, but how some blacks didn’t always embrace the movements.

Director Ricardo Khan breaks the fourth wall by having the women enter the house from time to time and interact with the audience. This production, presented in collaboration with Crossroads Theatre Company and the CT Theater Festival, is a stirring tribute to perseverance, determination and the sisterhood of women. Other cast members: : Natalie Venetia Belcon (Annelen), Carla Brothers (Carla), Ashley Bryant (Stephanie), Erin Cherry (Valerie), Thuli Dumakude (Qedusiz), Anna Duquesne (Ruby Lee), Chantal Jean-Pierre (Torres), Taifa Harris (Breedlove), Julia Lema (Irene), Tu Nokwe (Tu). Running time is 90 minutes without intermission and performances (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday) at 7:30 and weekends (Friday and Saturday) at 8., Sundays and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 pm cntinue through August 15th.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fall Mark Twain House Events Scheduled

New Theatrical Version of Twain's 'The Gilded Age' Gets Reading at Mark Twain House Sept. 16
"There's millions in it!" became one of the catchwords of 19th century America in 1873 after Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner published their novel "The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today." The phrase was uttered by the eternally naïve, eternally broke Colonel Beriah Sellers, one of Twain's most famous characters, who was always on the lookout for a get-rich-quick deal.

It's a tale of Washington corruption and crooked Western land dealing, -- and is thus still "A Tale of Today."And of course, in the book's title, Twain and Warner provided a perfect name for the explosive era in which they were living.

Now Ellen Faith Brodie and David Pellegrini of Eastern Connecticut State University have created a stage version of this sprawling work - written by Twain and his Hartford neighbor Warner in response to a challenge from their wives to write a first novel.

The Gilded Age - A Play will be presented in a free reading on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 pm at The Mark Twain House & Museum. The one-night-only reading of the world premiere stage adaptation, directed by Brodie, will be performed by a cast of ECSU theater students. The event is free, with no reservations required.

Note: The Gilded Age - A Play will be performed onstage at ECSU's Henry Hope Theater on Nov. 9-14. For information and tickets for those performances, call the Box Office at 860-465-5123.

Ghost Investigator Visits
Legendary paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren visits the Mark Twain House Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 pm to answer questions about her career as a ghost hunter.

Tickets to "A Conversation with Lorraine Warren" are $25 ($20 for members of The Mark Twain House & Museum") and can be ordered by calling 860-280-3130. The Mark Twain House & Museum is located at 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT. For more information, visit http://www.marktwainhouse.org/.

Author, Journalist Susan Campbell to Teach Writing Class This Fall
Susan Campbell, the feisty, eloquent Hartford Courant columnist, and author of the acclaimed memoir Dating Jesus, will lead a workshop on Creative Non-Fiction at The Mark Twain House & Museum this fall.

The class continues the new Writing at the Mark Twain House program, established last year to further the museum's stated mission of carrying forward the legacy of Mark Twain by serving as a literary center.

Creative Non-Fiction uses the literary techniques of fiction to create its effects - while remaining rigorously factual. Campbell's classes will treat all manner of such work, from opinion writing to autobiography to essay writing to general truth-telling, guided by the spirits of E. B. White, Jessica Mitford, Tracy Kidder and Joan Didion, among others.

The six sessions will run from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday evenings, beginning Nov. 10 and running to Dec. 22 (no class Nov. 24). There is a fee of $500. Call Steve Courtney at 860-247-0998, Ext. 243, or email steve.courtney@marktwainhouse.org to register.

Deadline for registration and full payment is Oct. 15. (Last spring's memoir session was quickly oversubscribed, so be sure to act quickly.)

Campbell, like Twain, hails from Missouri, but the connection is more than geographical. She counts Twain among the writers who inspire her work, and her mixture of wild humor, deep insight and a hunger for social justice is deeply reminiscence of Twain's.

Writing at the Mark Twain House began this past spring with a course in memoir writing by Lary Bloom and Suzanne Levine.

Spamalot Heads Palace Season with Launch of National Tour

Audiences everywhere will be eating up Spamalot when the Tony Award-winning musical embarks on the fair city of Waterbury for three performances at the Palace Theater on Sept. 24 and 25. The national Broadway tour will kick off the theater’s 2010-2011 Webster Broadway Series, sponsored in part by WTNH/MyTV9.

Lovingly "ripped-off" from the internationally famous comedy team's most popular motion picture, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” Spamalot tells the legendary tale of the quest by King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table for the Holy Grail. The mucial features a chorus line of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits, flying cows, one legless knight and show-stopping musical numbers.

In a unique opportunity for the Palace Theater, the tour’s cast and crew will take up residency at the performing arts center for three weeks prior to the scheduled performances to re-tool and tech the production before it embarks on its 2010 national tour. This residency will present local students and patrons alike with exciting behind the scenes opportunities as well as ‘meet and greets’ with the director and cast members.

Tickets can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at http://www.palacetheaterct.org/, or in person at the Palace Theater 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. For more information on becoming an EPASS member, contact the Box Office at 203-346-2000.

Other shows rounding out the theater season at the Palace are:

Tuesday, Dec. 7 – 7:30 pm
Wednesday, Dec. 8 – 7:30 pm
Thursday, Dec. 9 – 7:30 pm
Created and directed by Neil Goldberg, CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE is an original new musical extravaganza filled with spectacle, imagination and whimsical dreams. Ornaments come to life as costumed characters perform astonishing feats that celebrate the holiday season and showcase pageantry, ingenuity and breathtaking artistry. An international cast of acrobats, aerialists, singers, dancers and musicians fill this Cirque Dream on stage and in the air and while dangling from a 24 foot tall magical tree.

Friday, Jan. 28 – 8 pm
Saturday, Jan. 29 – 2 pm & 8 pm
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, the Tony Award® winning musical that has captured the hearts of people all over the world with its universal appeal, embarks on its North American Tour. Filled with a rousing, heartwarming score, which includes “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is a timeless classic.

Friday, March 18 – 8 pm
Saturday, March 19 – 2 pm & 8 pm
The one that you want is back! GREASE, Time Magazine’s 2007 pick for “#1 musical of the year,” is rockin’ across the country in this new production direct from Broadway. Now starring Laverne & Shirley’s Eddie Mekka (Carmine “the big ragu” Ragusa) as DJ Vince Fontaine. Take a trip to a simpler time of poodle skirts, drive-ins, and T-birds. “Bad boy” Danny and “the girl next door” Sandy fall in love all over again to the tune of your favorite songs: “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’” and “We Go Together,” as well as additional songs from the hit movie: “Grease,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want.”
We also have two “one night only” presentations:

Saturday, Feb. 19 – 8 pm
A touching and hilarious 'tell-it-like-it-is' look at the lives of a group of female friends, follows five friends as they re-live their past, celebrate their present and look to the future on a wild and hilarious karaoke night out.

Wednesday, March 2 - 7:30 pm

RIVERDANCE, the thunderous celebration of Irish music, song and dance that has tapped its way onto the world stage thrilling millions of people around the globe, will play one Farewell Performance at the Palace Theater.

Business Writing Panel Highlights CT Press Event

Dan Fisher of Forbes Magazine, David Schutt of Barron's, Gabriel Sherman of New York and David Lidskey of FastCompany will tell you how to cover the business beat at the next meeting of the CT Press Club.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 7 at Tuscan Oven, 544 Main Ave. (Route 7), Norwalk.
6:00 - 6:30 - Registration, networking, cash bar
6:30 - 7:15 - Three course dinner
7:15 - 8:15 - Program, Q&A

Admission is $35 for members of the CPC/FCC/NYPC. Non-memberd are $40. Students (with valid ID) are $30. Admission includes the program and three-course dinner.

Reservations recommended, but walk-ins always welcome. Call (203) 968-8600 or e-mail ctpressclub@gmail.com.

Yale Announces No Boundaries Programs

NO BOUNDARIES, a series of global performances presented by Yale Repertory Theatre and World Performance Project at Yale announces its 2010-11 season, which includes the American premiere of The Case of the Spectator, by Spanish performance artist María Jerez; The Method Gun, by the American ensemble-based company Rude Mechs; and a special preview engagement of Nameless forest, a collaboration by American choreographer and video artist Dean Moss and South Korean sculptor Sungmyung Chun.

NO BOUNDARIES celebrates the diversity of voices and experiences in today’s world. NO BOUNDARIES explores—and explodes—the frontiers of theatrical invention through cutting-edge, thought-provoking dance, music, and theatre.

Created and Performed by María Jerez
September 23-24 at 8PM
September 25 at 7PM and 9PM
Iseman Theater (1156 Chapel Street)

Solo performer María Jerez is both sleuth and video artist in The Case of the Spectator, a surreal thriller tinged with subversive humor. Equipped with a television and video camera, Jerez plays an armchair femme fatale who unravels the mysterious murders of a series of blonde bombshells. Over the course of the evening, Jerez deconstructs and reimagines iconic mid-twentieth-century crime fiction.

Performed in English.
For mature audiences.
The running time for The Case of the Spectator is approximately 1 hour.

Written by Kirk Lynn
Directed by Shawn Sides
Created by Rude Mechs

February 23-February 26 at 8PM
Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel Street)

Acting guru Stella Burden suddenly and mysteriously moves to South America, leaving behind her devoted company members in the midst of a nine-year rehearsal process for A Streetcar Named Desire. In The Method Gun, the diaries and letters of Burden’s followers are pieced together to recreate the company’s final months of rehearsal. With biting wit and surprising tenderness, The Method Gun reveals the ecstasy and excesses of performance, the incompatibility of truth on stage and sanity in real life, and the indelible impact of mentors.

For mature audiences.
The running time for The Method Gun is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

Nameless forest

Conceived and directed by Dean Moss
in collaboration with Sungmyung Chun
Co-produced by Gametophyte, Inc. and MAPP International Productions

Special Preview Engagement
March 31-April 2 at 8PM
Iseman Theater (1156 Chapel Street)

American video artist and choreographer Dean Moss and acclaimed South Korean sculptor Sungmyung Chun fuse theatre, dance, video, and sculpture in Nameless forest. Layers of diary fragments, war zone imagery, mirror and neon effects, and an original environmental score combine to explore the relationship between performer and viewer. This special preview engagement gives New Haven audiences an exclusive sneak peek into the cross-cultural, multidisciplinary process behind an innovative collaboration.

The running time for Nameless forest is approximately one hour.

TICKETSTickets for The Case of the Spectator and Nameless forest are $35. Tickets for The Method Gun are $25-$45. Student, senior and group rates are also available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased online at www.yalerep.org/noboundaries, by phone (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office (1120 Chapel Street, at York Street).


No Boundaries offers a variety of programs 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. No reservations are necessary.

Audiences are invited to participate in interactive studio sessions with No Boundaries artists in their areas of expertise.

Prominent scholars in the fields of art history, dance, and performance studies contextualize and draw forth themes relating to the No Boundaries artists and their work.

Urgent topics raised by the No Boundaries performances are discussed by the artists and prominent scholars.

Yale’s residential colleges host informal talks with No Boundaries artists on everything from career paths to meaningful life choices.

Q&A sessions with the No Boundaries artists are held immediately following the performances.

A schedule of related programs for each No Boundaries presentation will be announced. For more information, please visit www.yale.edu/wpp and www.yalerep.org/noboundaries.

Broadway Stars Honor Schwartz at Westport Gala

Some of Broadway’s best and brightest talents will perform in a one-night-only salute to theater and film composer Stephen Schwartz at Westport Country Playhouse’s 2010 Annual Gala on Monday, Sept. 13.

Taking the stage in “The Magical Music of Stephen Schwartz” will be, in alphabetical order, Kate Baldwin, Darius de Haas, Andrew Lippa, Julia Murney, Christiane Noll, Steven Pasquale, Max Von Essen and Ben Vereen. In addition, Schwartz himself will perform. More artists will be announced soon. Many of the performers have a close affiliation with the Playhouse and are alumni of previous productions or galas there.

A book about Schwartz’s career, “Defying Gravity,” has recently been released by Applause Books. He was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Other awards include three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, and a tiny handful of tennis trophies. http://www.stephenschwartz.com.

Joe Calarco will helm the 2010 Gala production. Music director is Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

The fundraising evening, beginning at 6 pm, will include pre-show cocktails and sumptuous fare in the Playhouse garden to the sounds of Brazilian Jazz by the Joe Carter Quartet, performance and post-show champagne and dessert celebration. In addition, there will be a silent auction of unique and one-of-a-kind items throughout the evening.

Honorary gala chairs are Kate and Bob Devlin of Southport; gala chairs are Kim and Niv Harizman of Westport.

For more information or ticket purchases, call Kathryn Gloor at (203) 227-5137, ext. 122, or kgloor@westportplayhouse.org.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Jacques Lamarre's 'Gray Matters' Gets Hartford Production

Kathryn Kates and Stephen Sherman
Recently nominated for five awards by the Midtown International Theater Festival in New York City, Gray Matters, by Connecticut native Jacques Lamarre will be presented in Hartford Sept. 9-12 by Emerson Theatre Collaborative (ETC).

The New York City cast will be joined by Hartford-area native Debi Freund in performances at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, directed by ETC's Joshua Lee Ramos.

Gray Matters, produced by ETC’s Camilla Ross, is a comedy that focuses on what happens to an uninsured, unemployed actor when she loses her memory. Jen Anaya, Kathryn Kates and Steve Sherman star. Performance information and tickets for Gray Matters be can be obtained by visiting http://www.emersontheatercollaborative.org/. Tickets are $25 ($23 for students and seniors).

In the play, acclaimed actress Sarah Gray finds herself with no insurance, no job and no prospects. Worse, she has a faulty memory. Surrounded by a well-meaning but tough agent and two self-centered young upstarts, Sarah must discover if it is possible for an actor with an Etch-a-Sketch for a brain to get back to what matters.

Gray Matters was selected as one of the 30 plays for inclusion in the 11th Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival. Lamarre is the director of communications for The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. read more about this Manchester, CT native here.

Ramos is a native of Hartford and a graduate of University of Hartford where he received a BA degree in drama and film.

Ella Fitzgerald Comes to Life on Long Wharf Stage

Tina Fabrique as Ella. Photo by Ed Krieger
Long Wharf Theatre presents Ella by Jeffrey Hatcher, directed by Rob Ruggiero, conceived by Ruggiero and Dyke Garrison, from Sept. 22-Oct. 17 on the Mainstage.
Featuring more than two-dozen hit songs, Ella The Musical weaves myth, memory, and music into a stylish and sophisticated journey through the life of Ella Fitzgerald (portrayed by Tina Fabrique), one of the greatest jazz singers of the 20th-century.
Curtain times are Tuesdays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 2 and 7 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm and Sundays at and 7 pm. Tickets are $45-$70 with special discounts available. Info: 203 787-4282 and www.longwharf.org.

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