Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ivoryton Announces 100th Season

In June, 2011, The Ivoryton Playhouse reaches its 100th birthday. 100 years of hosting dances and town meetings, producing great theatre, discovering movie stars and great directors and perhaps even the stars of tomorrow quite an achievement for a hidden gem tucked away in a corner of a little town.

The 2011 season – the theater's Centennial Celebration – will provide audiences with musicals and plays that reflect its unique history.

The Irish and How They Got That Way by Frank McCourt
Irish blarney and the songs you know and love by the master storyteller Frank McCourt - including "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Danny Boy"
March 16 - April 3

How the Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn
Ingenious, funny and brilliant British comedy
April 13 – May 1

Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon
Neil Simon's hilarious comedy about young love
June 8 – June 26

The Producers by Mel Brooks & Tom Meehan Winner of 12 Tony Awards - transcendent comedy with a show stopping song book
July 6 – July 31

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash created and directed by Richard Maltby Jr. conceived by William MeadeA tribute to the legendary Man in Black - includes some of his greatest songs - "Folsom Prison Blues", "I Walk the Line" and " A Boy Named Sue"
Aug. 10– Sept. 4

The Marvelous Wonderettes by Roger Bean
A cotton-candy colored, non-stop pop musical blast from the past!
Featuring your favorite songs from the '50s and '60s -
Sept. 28–Oct. 16

The Woman in Black adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt
A good, old fashioned ghost story that has played to sold out houses in London's West End for 20 years!
Nov. 2– 20

For tickets and information, call the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or visit

Riverdance Thunders into the Palace

Riverdance, the thunderous celebration of Irish music, song and dance that has tapped its way onto the world stage, returns to the Palace Theater in Waterbury for one night only on Wednesday, March 2, at 7:30.

Composed by Bill Whelan and directed by John McColgan, Riverdance first premiered at the Point Theatre, in Dublin, in February 1995, where it opened to unanimous critical acclaim. Now in its 16th year, Riverdance has played more than 10,000 performances in more than 350 venues throughout 40 countries across four continents. The tour has traveled 600,000 plus miles, played to a worldwide television audience of 2 billion; sold more than 3 million copies of the Grammy Award-winning CD and more than 10 million videos.

An innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song, Riverdance draws on Irish traditions and the combined talents of the performers to propel Irish dancing and music to present day, capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures. This extraordinarily unique show features an international company performing in unison to the magic of Bill Whelan’s music.

Before the performance, a 5:30pm pre-show dinner will be held in the Palace’s Poli Club, located on the Mezzanine Level of the theater. Dinner is $40 per member and $50 for non-members, which includes tax, service fee, coffee and tea. A cash bar is also available. Seating is limited and reservations may be made when purchasing tickets through the Box Office.

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 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.

HSO Pops Celebrates the '60s

with Matt Catingub, guest conductor; Anita Hall, vocals
Saturday, Feb. 26 at 8 pm
Mortensen Hall, The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts

Program: The greatest hits from radio, TV, and movies of the 1960s
Ticket Information: Tickets range in price from $30-$62. Student tickets are $10. $20 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. Prices do not include applicable fees. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit

Idina Menzel Will Play the Bushnell

Broadway powerhouse Idina Menzel – the Tony Award-winning "Elphaba" from international blockbuster Wicked – will perform with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra for one night only on Friday, May 6 at 8 in Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell.

Her diverse repertoire of musical theater favorites (including hits from Wicked and Rent), classic pop songs from her album “I Stand,” and her appearances on the popular Fox television series Glee, make her one of the most popular vocal performers today. Hartford Symphony Orchestra musicians are donating their services for this concert to benefit the HSO's cultural, educational and community engagement programs. The concert is sponsored by Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP.

HSO and Bushnell subscribers, recipients of both organizations’ e-newsletters, and Idina Menzel Fan Club members will have advance opportunity to purchase tickets beginning Monday, Feb. 28 at 10 am. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, March 2 at 10 am. Tickets range in price from $35-$125 (plus applicable service charges). Please note that The Bushnell is handling ticket sales for this concert. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit or call The Bushnell Box Office at 860- 987-5900 or

Festival of Arts & Ideas Preview is March 14

Blazing stars of the performing arts and bright minds convene in New Haven for more than two weeks in June during the New Haven's International Festival of Arts & Ideas.

You can attend as a member or purchase a membership to the Festival at a preview party featuring video clips of highlights in the upcoming 16th annual Festival on Monday, March 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at The Study at Yale Hotel, 1157 Chapel St., New Haven.

Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be provided, and you can ask Festival staff questions or engage in conversation about the programs taking place June 11-25.

International Festival of Arts & Ideas membership costs $125. Members never pay more than $25 per ticket (savings up to $15 per ticket) to Festival performances during the advance sale period, before the box office opens to the general public. Members receive exclusive benefits, including personal, priority ticket purchasing privileges; waiver of ticket surcharges; VIP access to nearly every event on the New Haven Green; and discounts from the Broadway and Chapel Merchants’ Association. Membership at the $250 level brings additional benefits.

For more information about membership and to RSVP, contact Laura Folker at or call 203-498-3758.

March Mark Twain House Hapennings

"Mark Twain's Autobiography, Volume I", took the country by storm last year, putting an author dead for a century on the bestseller list.

Mark Twain frequently stated his desire that his autobiography not be published for 100 years, wanting to be able to discuss personalities and issues of politics and religion freely.

The book issued in November at last follows the formula Twain prescribed for writing a perfect autobiography: "Start it at no particular time of your life; talk only about the thing that interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and turn your talk upon the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your mind meantime."

As a result, you hear the man himself as he paced back and forth before a stenographer, dictating as it came to him, subject by subject, with some editing afterward. Some have described the work as "Mark Twain's blog."

On Thursday, March 3, Dr. Kerry Driscoll of St. Joseph College in West Hartford, a nationally known Twain scholar, will lead a discussion of the classic autobiography at The Mark Twain Museum Center.

And lest readers be put off by the length of the book, be assured that the work has a good deal of pre- and post- scholarly material: The meat of Twain's acerbic recounting of his life and thoughts that intruded themselves into his mind runs 284 pages (pages 203-467 of the work). The book is available at the Mark Twain Museum Store.

A reception at 5 pm will open the event, with the book discussion starting at 5:30. Admission is free.

The event is the second in the series of Nook Farm Book Talks (formerly the Nook Farm Book Club), a collaboration of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and The Mark Twain House & Museum. Talks are held on the first Thursdays of each month, except for August and will alternate between the two museums.

The popular book club-style talks drew groups large and small last year as they explored Twain's and Stowe's works - along with the issues that captivated the two authors celebrated in the Nook Farm neighborhood. This year, selections range from Twain's little-known masterpiece of racial identity "The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson," to a present-day bestseller with a message: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".

A list of books to be read over the year follows. Receptions are at 5; discussions are at 5:30. Reservations are recommended: Call Kate Rounds at 860-522-9258, Ext. 317, or email Books discussed are available at the museums' gift shops.

April 7 at The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center:
"Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

May 5 at The Mark Twain House & Museum:
"The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic & Madness at the Fair That Changed America" by Erik Larson

June 2 at The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center:
"The Minister's Wooing" by Harriet Beecher Stowe

July 7 at The Mark Twain House & Museum:
"Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life & Times Of Mark Twain's Closest Friend"
by Steve Courtney (author present)

September 1 at The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center:
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson

October 6 at The Mark Twain House & Museum:
"The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James

November 3 at The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center:
The Lincoln and Douglass Papers

December 1 at The Mark Twain House & Museum:
"The Tragedy Of Pudd'nhead Wilson" by Mark Twain

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Theater Review: Shrek The Musical -- The Bushnell

Movie-to-Stage Fun for the Family
By Lauren Yarger
He’s green, mean and so scary he makes people scream, but underneath that ogre exterior hides a sensitive guy who helps rescue a princess, befriends a talking donkey and helps various characters from fairytales who has been evicted from their homes.

He’s Shrek, an animated commercial success starring to voices of Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy made into a stage musical playing through Sunday at The Bushnell. The theater adaptation adds songs by Jeanine Tesori with book and lyrics by Pulitzer-Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire.

When Lord Farquaad (David F.M. Vaughn) evicts the three little pigs, the gingerbread man, the wicked witch, Pinocchio (Blakely Slaybaugh) and a host of other storybook characters from his kingdom, they relocate to Shrek’s swamp. Farquaad agrees to let them return if Shrek (Eric Peterson) will rescue Princess Fiona (Haven Burton) from her dragon-guarded tower to be his bride.

On his journey, the ogre is befriended by a talking donkey (an engaging Alan Mingo, Jr.) who wins the heart of the dragon (a large puppet designed by Tim Hatley, with phenomenal singing voice supplied by Carrie Compere), Shrek rescues Fiona and they set off for Farquaad;s castle. Along the way, Fiona hides a secret about why she doesn’t like the dark, but what is apparent is the affection growing between her and the ogre. Will she find true love? And can true love be blind to hideous looks?

The tale is fun and certainly entertaining for children, who filled the audience, talking and bouncing throughout. They particularly like a crass number called “I Think I Got You Beat,” in which Shrek and Fiona try to out perform each other while passing gas and belching. Lindsay-Abaire’s book and lyrics are filled with humor, though sometimes they depend on our knowing the movie, especially the part about the curse which haunts Fiona -- it’s not very clear at first.

Hatley also designs the fun costumes and sets, which for this road tour, are scaled down from the sumptuous Broadway renditions. I also don’t remember being so aware of the puppetry or being able to see the mechanics of the trick used to have a tall actor play the “height-challenged” Faquaad, but it all still is entertaining.

The cast is one of the strongest vocally we have seen at The Bushnell in a while (though the tempo is off at times). Burton has a great voice and actually sounds a lot like Sutton Foster who originated the role in New York. Both Burton and Peterson were members of the Broadway cast. Standing out with terrific singing voice is Danielle Soibelman who plays young Fiona.

The tour plays through Sunday. For tickets and information, visit

Monday, February 14, 2011

Theater Review: THIS -- TheaterWorks

Tijuana T. Ricks, Beth Wittig and Andrew Rein. Photo: Lanny Nagler

Finding a Way Through, Around and Past THIS
By Lauren Yarger
A guessing game hits a little too close to home for a group of friends trying to come to terms with their lives in Melissa James Gibson’s delightfully dark comedy THIS playing at TheaterWorks.

Feeling a little down, still grieving for her husband who died almost a year ago, Jane (Beth Wittig) is sent out of the room while her well meaning friends hope to cheer her up with a fun new parlor game: They make up a story, which Jane has to try to guess by asking them only “yes” and “no” questions, only there is no story, really. The game actually is to make up the story based on the question Jane asks. The rules suddenly change, however, when the resulting story hits a little too close to the truth and Jane thinks the friends are micking her.

Filled with remorse, Tom (Clark Carmichael) goes to Jane’s home the next day to apologize, but a mutual attraction erupts and their act of adultery is a double betrayal, because Tom’s wife, Marrell (Tijuana T. Ricks), also is Jane’s best friend. Meanwhile, Marrell, growing increasingly aggravated with everything Tom does (even how he refills and pronounces the Brita pitcher in their fridge creates tension), tries to cope with postpartum depression and caring for the couple’s new son while sensing a feeling of growing distance with her husband.

Marrell finds some solace in working on her music (she’s a jazz singer at a club) and setting up Jane with good looking Jean Pierre (Maxime DeToledo), a doctor without borders. Jane’s not very interested, but Alan (Andrew Rein) their gay friend, a celebrity who remembers conversation verbatim, is. As the friends try to muddle through the complexities of life, their friendships are tested and Jane, in particular, is forced to face the loss of her husband, her best friend, and maybe even her young daughter if she doesn’t get her act together. For all of them, the time for playing games seems to be over.

Gibson writes an entertaining script filled with insight and humor and Director Amy Saltz coaxes out some moving and funny performances. Rein is responsible for a lot of the laughs with his very amusing portrayal of Alan as an engaging, sarcasm-slinging guy who you’d like to invite to your next dinner party.

Jean Pierre isn’t the only one without borders. Gibson’s plot verges on the convenient and bizarre a few times, but never crosses the line too far that it starts to feel alien. Luke Hegel-Cantarella designs the sets that slide around to portray various locations. Peter Eldridge composes the original music.

THIS continues at TheaterWorks, City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl St., Hartford, through Feb. 27. For ticket information, call 86-527-7838 or visit

Theater Review: The Piano Lesson -- Yale Rep

The cast of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. Photo © Joan Marcus, 2011.
A Hymn Played About Family Bonds and Bondage
By Lauren Yarger
An old piano, with carvings of the images of family members once owned in slavery, binds a family to their past and prevents them from finding the key to a new future in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, enjoying a run through Feb. 19 at Yale Rep, where the Pulitzer-Prize-winning play made its debut 24 years ago.

A fine ensemble cast does the play justice as the 1936 Pittsburgh home of the Charles family, comes to life in the fourth in the playwright’s Pittsburgh cycle, 10 plays examining the African-American experience, primarily in Pittsburgh. The set is interestingly designed by Dede M. Ayite so that we see the interior living room and kitchen as well as an exterior backdrop of the neighborhood beyond a stairway leading to the second floor, where people start seeing a ghost of Sutter, a man who owned the land the family once worked as slaves and who possibly was murdered over a dispute about the piano.

Bernice (Elisa Davis, who also provides original music for Wilson’s lyrics) lives in the home with daughter Maretha (Melenky Welsh) and her Uncle Doaker (a delightful Keith Randolph Smith). Though want-to-be preacher Avery (Tyrone Mitchell Henderson) is courting Bernice, she’s not ready to commit to the relationship and play the piano to lead the choir in congregation. In fact, the widow, still grieving the loss of her husband who died in an incident related to the piano, hasn’t played the instrument in years.

Seeing an opportunity to sell the collectible folk-art piece and use the money to purchase the land is Bernice’s brother Boy Willie (LeRoy McClain), who shows up with his friend, Lymon (Charlie Hudson III) to cart it away despite Bernice’s constant assurances that she won’t sell. Rounding out the cast is a capable Charles Weldon as Wining Boy, Doaker’s brother.

The ensuing story is moving and gives us that wonderful glimpse into the lives of people for which Wilson is known. Director Liesl Tommy lets the pace slag a little on this production, however, with some scenes feeling like they grind to a halt. It feels even longer with full renditions of songs, repetitive dialogue in the story and an incredibly generous intermission (full run time was nearly three and a half hours).

The play, with its ghostly special effects (Junghoon Pi, sound design; Alec C. Edwards, lighting design), is a nice glimpse into the lives and values of these family members. Watch a video trailer by clicking here.

Tickets range from $10 to $85 and are available at, by phone at 203-432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office, 1120 Chapel St. at York Street, New Haven. Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

Grease, Riverdance Headline March Events at Palace

Riverdance. Photo Credit Richard McLaren
From Greasers to galas and games shows, the Palace Theater has a show for everyone this March. 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.

Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30 pm
The thunderous celebration of Irish music, song and dance that has tapped its way onto the world stage, returns to Waterbury for one night only.
Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12 at 8 pm
Comedy phenomenon Jeff Dunham and his rogue troupe of comedic sidekicks, including Walter, the grumpy retiree; Bubba J the redneck; and Achmed the Dead Terrorist; return to Waterbury in a cutting edge new comedy tour.

Friday, March 18 at 8 pm
Saturday, March 19 at 2 and 8 pm
“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,’” “We Go Together,” and more. Sponsored by Webster Bank, WTNH/MyTV9, and Brass Mill Center.

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Thursday, March 24 at 7:30 pm
Test your news knowledge at a live taping of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, a fast-paced, irreverent look at the news of the world —and the weird!

Saturday, March 26 at 6:30 pm
The gala evening of dance includes Brass City Ballet’s original production of Snow White, featuring an eclectic mix of pop, opera and rock music, as well as a silent auction and champagne reception.

Jigsaw Jones Solves Mystery at Westport Country Playhouse

Westport Country Playhouse will present A Jigsaw Jones Mystery – The Case of the Class Clown, as part of its Family Festivities Series on Sunday, March 6, at 1 and 4 pm. Recommended for grades 1-4, the production is a mystery with music, based on the book by renowned author James Preller, produced by ArtsPower. Tickets are $15.

The mystery begins with an unknown class clown playing practical jokes in school. Athena Lorenzo has been slimed and she doesn't think it's very funny. Theodore “Jigsaw” Jones claims to be the very first detective in the whole school. It's up to Jigsaw and his friend Mila to investigate the sliming and track down the class clown. This could be their stickiest case yet!

Pre-show activities begin one hour before the performances at noon and 3 pm. Birthday party facilities may be scheduled in advance. Everyone in the audience requires a ticket. Groups of 10 or more save up to 30percent off the regular ticket price. For group sales information call (203) 227-5137, x120.

An upcoming Family Festivities presentation is Click, Clack, Moo, Sunday, March 27, 1 and 4 pm., a hilarious musical based on the Caldecott Honor Book by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, produced by TheatreWorks USA.

In conjunction with its spring Family Festivities Series, the Playhouse is hosting a book collection for Read to Grow, Inc. Bins will be located in the Playhouse lobby for audience donations of gently used and new children’s books which will be given to families and programs in the greater Fairfield County area through the Read to Grow organization.

For more information or tickets to Family Festivities shows, call the box office at 203-227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets also are available at

Selected Shorts at Long Wharf

Sonia Manzano and David Rakoff will join host Isaiah Sheffer for Selected Shorts, a celebration of the short story, performed live on Long Wharf Theatre’s Mainstage March 14.

Each week on local public radio stations, great actors from stage, screen and television bring short stories to life. Selected Shorts is an award-winning, one-hour program featuring readings of classic and new short fiction. One of the most popular series on the airwaves, this unique show is hosted by Sheffer and produced for radio by Symphony Space and WNYC Radio.

Manzano is known to millions of children and parents through her role as Maria on “Sesame Street,” a character she has played since 1971. Her theatre credits include The Vagina Monologues, The Exonerated and the original production of Godspell. She has won 15 Emmy Awards as a writer for “Sesame Street,” received the 2003 Hispanic Heritage Award, and in 2005 was awarded an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Notre Dame University. Closer to home, she is proud to have been inducted into the Bronx Hall of Fame. She has written for the Peabody Award-winning Nickelodeon series “Little Bill,” is the author of the picture books "No Dogs Allowed," which has been turned into a musical,and "A Box Full of Kittens." She is working on two new books.

Rakoff is the author of the books "Half Empty," "Don't Get Too Comfortable" and "Fraud," and is a regular contributor to Public Radio International's “This American Life.” His writing has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Outside, GQ and Salon, among others. As an actor and director, he has worked with Amy and David Sedaris on the plays Stiches, One Woman Shoe, The Little Frieda Mysteries, and The Book of Liz, and can be seen in the films Capote (fleetingly), Strangers with Candy, and, most recently, the short film "The New Tenants," winner of a 2010 Academy Award.

Tickets are $25. For more information, visit or call 203-787-4282. For more information about R.J. Julia Booksellers, a co-sponsor of the series.

Mark Twain House Event Features Authors Balducci, Picoult, Grisham

In an unprecedented event that unites three number-one New York Times bestselling authors, The Mark Twain House & Museum will present Mark My Words: An Evening with David Baldacci, Jodi Picoult and John Grisham 8 pm Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Yale University's Woolsey Hall in New Haven. In a wide-ranging conversation moderated by community activist Malaak Compton-Rock, the three will tell of their writing lives and convey the influence Twain had upon their work.

The discussion could offer additional intrigue this year, with the recent publication of Twain's own bestselling blockbuster, Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume I: the book the famed author didn't want published until 100 years after his death. Twain's Autobiography currently sits on the New York Times Bestseller List for hardcover non-fiction, while Baldacci's "Hell's Corner" and Grisham's "The Confession" hold spots on the hardcover fiction list. Baldacci's "Deliver Us from Evil" and Picoult's "House Rules," both 2010 bestsellers, are currently bestseller paperbacks.

"We are thrilled to bring this evening of conversation to Yale's historic Woolsey Hall," said Mark Twain House & Museum Executive Director Jeffrey Nichols. "A centuries-old destination for writers and thinkers, Yale is the perfect setting for this once-in-a-lifetime evening. It is particularly ideal as the University gave Twain not one, but two honorary degrees. I look forward to joining these amazing authors for an unforgettable night for book-lovers."

Tickets are priced at $25, $45, and $65. All proceeds support the programs of The Mark Twain House & Museum. Tickets can be obtained by going to (beginning in March) or by calling 800-228-6622. Woolsey Hall is at 500 College St. (at Grove), New Haven. Additional information is available at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Water Lilies Brought to Life Through Music at Wadsworth

Featuring Sunday Serenades Artistic Director and HSO Concertmaster Leonid Sigal; Guest Pianist Andrius Zlabys; HSO Violist Patricia Daly Vance; HSO Cellist Peter Zay
Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2 pm, Avery Court, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Program to include: Claude Debussy: Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor; Eric Satie: Things Seen from the Right and Left (without Glasses); Gabriel Faure: Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor; Lili Boulanger: Deux Morceaux (Two Pieces) for Violin and Piano; Albert Rousseau: String Trio, Op. 58
Featured Artist: Claude Monet
Ticket Information: 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. For more ticketing information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860)244-2999 or visit

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2010-2011 season is sponsored

Pride & Prejudice Takes the Stage at UConn

Alexandra Perlwitz as Elizabeth Bennet and Kevin Coubal
as Mr. Darcy. Photo by Bob Copley, Jr.
Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) will present Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, adapted by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan, Feb. 24 – Mar. 6 in the Nafe Katter Theatre on the Storrs campus. For tickets and information, call 860-486-4226 or visit

Special Events:
  • A free class in dance from Jane Austen's period – learn about the mood, music and moves, and practice a few steps!
    Sunday, Feb. 27 at 12:30 pm. (finish in time for the 2 pm matinee)
    Tuesday, March 1 at 6 pm. (will finish in time for the 7:30 pm performance)
    Room 128, Drama Building (just down the hall from the Nafe Katter Theatre)
    Who's Who: The dance workshop will be led by Math Professor, Q Center Director, and Austen fan Tom Roby, who teaches “Jane Austen Dances” at UConn. Call 860-486-1629 to reserve space – space is limited.
  • Enjoy a traditional high tea “meal” featuring a menu specially prepared by the Nathan Hale Inn and including music and a celebration of the tradition of Tea in British culture.
    Sunday, Feb. 27 immediately following the 2 pm. matinee, Blue Oak Café, Nathan Hale Inn.
    Who’s Who: Director Helene Kvale, Dramaturg Dassia Posner, guest scholars and musicians. The cost is $25 per person, payable in advance by calling the Nathan Hale Inn at 860-427-7888 and requesting “High Tea” reservations. Advance reservations required.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bundy Gets Third 5-Year Term at Yale

James Bundy, who has served as dean of Yale School of Drama and artistic director of Yale Repertory Theatre since July 2002, has been appointed to a third five-year term by Yale University President Richard C. Levin, effective July 1, 2012.

“James Bundy is valued for his clear and inspirational vision and his willingness to listen. He sets goals and works tirelessly to achieve them,” Levin said. “James has brought positive new perspectives to the curriculum and activities at the School of Drama. One of his signal accomplishments has been improved financial aid, which has attracted the most talented students and has further increased the competitiveness of the School.”

Mad Science Meets Star Trek at the Palace; Tracy Morgan Cancelled

Students and children are invited to partake in an out -of-this-world, interactive and educational adventure when Mad Science presents "Star Trek Live" at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, on Feb. 23, at 9:30 and11:30 am.

Based on the most popular science fiction franchise of all time, "Star Trek Live" combines cutting-edge special effects, unmatched audience interaction and cool science to create an exhilarating and unforgettable theatrical experience. When the USS Enterprise and Earth come under the attack of alien forces, the fate of the Federation is in the hands the audience. Serving as members of the Starfleet Academy, audience members will quickly learn the intricacies of living in space and the latest in communication and technology as they draw on the achievements of science in the 21st century to set things right before it is too late.

Part of the theater’s Education Series, "Star Trek Live" is recommended for children grades 4-8 and focuses on lessons pertaining to Life Science, Physical Science, Earth and Space Science and Technology.

Endorsed by the Connecticut Association of Schools, the Palace Education Series invites students to reflect on their academic lessons in a venue that encourages thought and imagination. All presentations and programs are selected for students, grades K-9, and include in and after school SmART Initiatives, designed to enhance the theater experience while addressing state curriculum standards.

Tickets for Star Trek Live are $8 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. Administrators and teachers interested in booking a field trip can call the Group Sales Hotline at 203-346-2002.

The Tracy Morgan “Black and Blue Tour” stand-up performance scheduled to take place at the Palace Theater in Waterbury on Friday, Feb. 18, has been cancelled due to last minute scheduling conflicts cited by the tour’s promoter.

All ticket holders have been contacted by the box office and will receive a full refund. For more information, call 203-346-2000.

February Happenings at the Mark Twain House

Enjoy a Valentine treat as Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker perform a one-time-only reading of Mark Twain's humorous and touching "Diaries of Adam & Eve" Saturday, Feb. 12.

The performance, which begins at 8 pm at The Mark Twain Museum Center, will be followed by a romantic champagne and chocolate reception and a book signing.

With extensive stage and screen credits, including an eight-year stint as married law partners Ann Kelsey and Stuart Markowitz on the popular television series "L.A. Law,"Eikenberry and Tucker are one of the best-loved couples in the entertainment industry. Between them they have won a Golden Globe and two Obie awards, as well as three more Golden Globe nominations and seven Emmy Award nominations. Michael has published three books: "I Never Forget a Meal," "Living in a Foreign Language" and "Family Meals - Coming Together to Care for an Aging Parent."

Tickets are $50 ($40 for members) and can be purchased by calling 860-280-3130. The ticket price includes the post-performance champagne and chocolate reception, as well as the book signing. More information can be found at

Other happenings:

  • An appearance by Roy Blount Jr, author, humorist and star of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" was postponed because of the weather and has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 6:30 pm.
  • A new exhibition at The Mark Twain House & Museum, American Storytellers: Norman Rockwell & Mark Twain, will open March 11 and unites their work with a wealth of artistic images and rare items brought together for the first time.
  • Ghost Hunters and investigator Adam Berry return to the Twain House Feb. 19 at 4 pm in museum store. In conjunction with Berry's visit, The Mark Twain House & Museum is offering a series of early 2011 dates for the popular Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours. This "Winter Chills Edition" of the Graveyard Shift tours offers the opportunity for intrepid souls to take a nocturnal journey into the home of the Clemens Family. Highlights of the tour include Victorian traditions surrounding Spiritualist séances and death, some of the darker chapters of Mark Twain's history, information on paranormal investigations of the house and stories of run-ins with the unexplained.

Hour-long Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours are offered at 6, 7, 8 and 9 pm on the
final weekend of each month now through August. Upcoming "Winter Chills" dates
for tours (which include the Main House, Servants' Wing and the basement, which
is normally off-limits to visitors) are as follows: Friday, Feb. 25:; Saturday,
Feb. 26; Friday, March 25; Saturday, March 26; Friday, April 29; and Saturday,
April 30. Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours are by reservation only. Tickets are $18
for adults 17 and up; $15 for members of The Mark Twain House & Museum; and
$13 for children 16 and under. Tickets can be purchased by calling 860-280-3130
or visiting the ticket desk at The Mark Twain Museum Center, 351 Farmington
Ave., Hartford. Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours are not recommended for children
under the age of 10.

  • For one night only, The Mark Twain House & Museum meets Sundance when the museum screens the rough-cut of the new Hartford-based independent feature film "Rising Star." Written and directed by Connecticut filmmaker Marty Lang, Rising Star is a romantic dramedy that follows a young insurance executive as he pursues the object of his affections through Hartford over the course of a day. On Friday, Feb. 25, The Mark Twain Museum Center will offer local cineastes the opportunity to get a first look at this work-in-progress. There will be a reception with the filmmakers at 6:30 pm. The screening will occur at 7:30 followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew where audience members can ask about the process of making the film and share their thoughts on how the "Rising Star" team can continue to develop the film.
  • Direct from the heart of Broadway, Cabaret Lulu invites audiences to celebrate Black History Month at The Mark Twain Museum Center with their musical program "I Feel the Spirit!" Featuring a cast of Broadway stars and R&B recording artists, this special event will be a fun afternoon spent delighting in the spectrum of contemporary, inspirational and traditional African-American music.Hosted by the Northend Agent's newspaper, the museum will offer a family-friendly Splendid Afternoon package on Saturday, Feb. 26 that will include a delicious catered lunch by T&J Catering at noon (soft drinks and hot beverages, included) followed by a 2 pm. Cabaret Lulu performance of "I Feel the Spirit!" in the Museum Center's elegant Lincoln Financial Auditorium. Tickets for the lunch and show Splendid Afternoons package are $40 and can be ordered by calling 860-280-3130. Included in the cost is a coupon good for a discounted tour of the Mark Twain House that can be used that day or on a later date. Groups of 10 or more and bus tours are being offered a $42.50 all-inclusive package exclusively through Cabaret Lulu. This package includes lunch, show and a tour of The Mark Twain House and can be reserved by calling 1-866-LULU-USA (585-8872) or 212-308-8050. For more information about Cabaret Lulu, visit

HSO Pays Tribute to Coltrane, Hartman

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents Jazz and Strings: A Tribte to John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman Friday, March 11 at 8 pm at Theater for the Performing Arts at the Learning Corridor (359 Washington St., Hartford).

The program features Wayne Escoffery, left, alto saxophone; Giacomo Gates, vocals Gene Bozzi, artistic director & drums; Rick Rozie, bass; and Walter Gwardyak, music arranger.

Program: “You Are Too Beautiful,” “Lush Life,” “Autumn Serenade,” “My One And Only Love,” and additional tracks made famous by Coltrane including “My Favorite Things” and “Giant Steps”

Ticket Information: Advance Tickets are $40 and $20. Tickets at the door are $45 and $25. Student tickets are $10. Prices do not include applicable fees. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 860-244-2999 or visit

Free Parking will be available in the Learning Corridor Parking Garage; post-concert happy hour to be held at J Restaurant & Bar

Westport Receives Grant

Westport Country Playhouse has received $20,000 from the Fairfield County Community Foundation in support of the nonprofit theater’s 2011 season and for the development of a strategic plan. The Playhouse serves an estimated annual audience of 60,000, including 4,000 students.

Westport Country Playhouse’s 2011 season will include five productions: Beyond Therapy, a wicked, and wickedly funny, look at the days and nights of the young and single, written by Christopher Durang and directed by Playhouse Associate Artistic Director (John Rando, previously announced, had to withdraw) , April 26–May 14,; The Circle, the scintillating comedy of manners, written by W. Somerset Maugham and directed by Nicholas Martin, June 7-25; Lips Together, Teeth Apart, a perceptive comedy about people struggling against their limitations, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director, July 12–30; Suddenly Last Summer, the poetic, sensual and evocative drama, written by Tennessee Williams and directed by David Kennedy Aug. 23–Sept. 10; and Twelfth Night or What You Will, the beguiling comedy/romance, written by William Shakespeare and directed by Lamos, Oct. 11–Oct. 29.

In addition, the Playhouse offers family presentations, play readings, holiday performances, arts education and the Woodward Internship Program. In keeping with the theater’s commitment to deepening the theater experience, the season is infused with symposiums, talk backs and community partnerships with organizations and other non-profits.

For more information or tickets, call the box office at 203-227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available at

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Critique for Theater Reviewers

The National Critics Institute has announced the dates for the 2011 season: Monday July 4-Monday July 18. This is an intensive training for those who write reviews of the theater.

It includes musicals from the O'Neill Music Theater Conference as well as dramas from the O'Neill Playwrights Conference. plus field trips to the Goodspeed Opera House, the Ivoryton Playhouse. Theatermania's Andy Propst will conduct sessions on keeping neck-and-neck wih the technology that's transforming arts journalism into--but that's the question, isn't it? What won't change are the midnight deadlines and morning skull sessions that remain NCI's most valuable "platform."

Cost covers room, board, tuition, tickets, etc. Some financial aid might be available. For more information and to apply, visit

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Cancellation

Hartford Stage is cancelling this afternoon's 2:00 matinee of Snow Falling on Cedars due to the snow (and ice) falling on CTers (cleverness credit to Hartford Stages Facebook person...).

Contact the box office at 860-527-5151 to exchange your tickets for another performance.

Theater Review: Snow Falling on Cedars -- Hartford Stage

Kimiye Corwin and Mia Tagano. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

David Guterson's best-selling novel "Snow Falling on Cedars" is adapted into a stage version that's less satisfying than the book or film. The show plays its East Coast premiere at Hartford Stage through Feb. 13. Read the review at

Studio Classes Set at Long Wharf

Long Wharf Theatre announces an exciting slate of winter Studio School classes, beginning in February.

Students, from elementary through high school, will have the opportunity to learn improvisation, hone their language skills and tackle the beautiful language of William Shakespeare. Classes run from Feb. 21 through the 25th. Classes cost between $150-$195.

“Any parent looking for a fun and creative activity for their students during that week away from school should check us out! We’ll be expanding upon the series of classes we offered in the fall, though you did not necessary need to take those classes to participate in our winter series. Our classes are fun, safe and an easy way for students of all ages to explore and tap into their hidden acting talents,” said Annie DiMartino, director of education.

Classes are limited to 10 students per session.

Myth, Magic and Monsters (Grades 1-3)
3 to 4:15 pm $150
Go exploring with us as we dive deep into the mystical world of Myth, Magic and Monsters as we spend the week in the lost city of Atlantis. Using their imaginations, students will enter a world of magic & intrigue. This class allows students to live in a world of their creation & face many challenges that build to a dramatic outcome.

Actor’s Toolbox II: Shakespeare’s Slam (Grades 6-8)
10 to 11:30am $195
Continuing in the Actors’ Toolbox series, learn the intricacies of performing and developing your actor’s instrument & skill. Students work on monologues from Shakespeare’s sonnets and other poems to fine-tune their craft.

Shakespeare (Grades 9-12)
1 to 2:30pm $195
To act or not to act, that is the question. Join us as we delve into some of the best duet scenes from Shakespeare’s plays – examining development of character through voice and movement and script analysis. Great for brushing up on your classical monologues for college auditions.

For more information, call Corey Morrison at 203-772-8262 or visit

Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)
--- A R T S ---

Blog Archive

Copyright Notice

All contents are copyrighted © Lauren Yarger 2009-2016. All rights reserved.