Monday, June 27, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Tonight's HSO Talcott Concert Cancelled

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been postponed due to a forecast of severe storms for this evening. Friday concert tickets will be honored tomorrow evening at the Saturday, June 25, 7:30 pm Rain Date performance.

If you decide not to attend this concert, call the box office at 860-244-2999 prior to the concert start time, in order to exchange your tickets for an upcoming 2011 Talcott Mountain Music Festival concert on a space-available basis. Please note: there is a $3 charge per ticket for the exchange.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quick Hit Review: The Cripple of Inishmaan -- International festival of Arts & Ideas

Tadhg Murphy. Photo Credit: Ros Kavanagh
 The Cripple of Inishmaan
By Martin McDonagh
Directed by Garry Hynes

Not much happens in on the 1934 island of Inishmaan on the West Coast of Ireland. The inhabitants pay for juicy bits of news and gossip from JohnnyPateenMike (Dermot Crowley). A goose might be missing, a sheep born without ears, or on a good day, a guy with a funny-looking moustache who has come into prominence in Germany. Johnny uses any money he gets his hand son to buy liquor -- for his alcoholic mother, Mammy O'Dougal (Nancy E. Carroll), whom he hopes will soon die of the drink. And he has no problem telling her that as he and the bed-ridden woman trade unbelievably hurtful insults.

One day, Johnny has big news: a Hollywood company has come to island to film and might offer a way off the island to anyone who gets cast in the move, "Man of Aran." Slippy Helen (Clare Dunne), who is rough and cruel, but who fancies herself the prettiest and most desirable woman on the island, devises a scheme for Babby Bobby (Liam Carney) to take her and her brother, Bartley (Laurence Kinlan), over to the film location in his boat.

The chance to make something of his life appeals also to Billy Claven (Tadhg Murphy), known as Cripple Billy, born with a deformed arm and foot and considered totally pitiful and undesirable as a man by everyone, especially sadistic Helen, who captures the boy's heart. BabbyBobby's fears a cripple will bring bad luck aboard the boat., but yields when Billy produces a letter from his doctor (Paul Vincent O'Connor) indicating that this might be the unfortunate man's last chance at happiness.

Billy's decision to leave doesn't go over well with Eileen (Dearbhla Molloy) and Kate (Ingrid Craigie), the two women who adopted him when when his parents died shortly after his birth and who spend most of their time worrying about him when he is a few minutes late returning to their general goods store. Kate worries so, she's been known to talk to stones.

McDonagh (Pillowman; A Behanding in Spokane; The Lietenant of InishoreThe Neauty Queen of Leenane) is an acquired taste, but once you allow yourself to enjoy the dark humor, you're swept into a world of rich characters and skilled storytelling. All of the performances are strong with each character standing out as unique -- a tip of the hat to the fine direction by Hynes.

The second act is disjointed and doesn't flow like the first. Two hours and 40 minutes feels like it. The Irish accents can be very thick and hard to understand at times. In fact, the comment I heard most often as the audience exited was that they had missed a lot of the lines. Too bad, because some of them are painfully funny.

The Cripple of Inishmaan plays at the University Theatre, 222 York St., New Haven Friday, June 17 at 8 pm; Saturday, June 18, at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday, June 19 at 3 pm as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, which runs through June 25. Tickets are available at or by caling 203-562-5666 or 888-736-2663 or by going to the Shubert Theater box office at 247 College St. Click here for a complete listing of events and activities. This production by the Druid and Atlantic theater companies concludes a US tour which began in February.
--Lauren Yarger

Balloons -- and Free Tickets-- Celebrate Westport Country Playhouse 80th

Marking its 80th birthday on Wednesday, June 29, Westport Country Playhouse will offer special opportunities and a ceremony to celebrate the significant milestone. The historic theater opened on June 29, 1931 with its first production, “The Streets of New York,” starring Dorothy Gish.

“We invite the community to share this historic day with us,” said Michael Ross, Playhouse managing director. “From free ticket vouchers to fabulous birthday cake and champagne, we will be giving presents away to our patrons and friends! Please join us.”

The Playhouse will distribute 80 balloons to 80 different locations in Westport, Weston, Fairfield, Norwalk, Wilton and beyond, on the morning of June 29. The balloons will be printed with the Playhouse logo, web address and “Happy 80th Birthday!” Affixed to each balloon string will be a voucher for a pair of complimentary tickets to a preview performance of Terrence McNally’s comedy, Lips Together, Teeth Apart (Wednesday through Friday, July 13, 14 or 15 at 8 pm.), directed by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. Those who find a balloon will be invited to enjoy the balloon and a show - the Playhouse’s birthday gift for the community.

An 11 am a ceremony will take place in the Playhouse garden to which the public is invited. Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff will issue a proclamation declaring June 29th “Westport Country Playhouse Day” in Westport. Connecticut State Representative Jonathan Steinberg will present a proclamation by Governor Dannel P. Malloy. Following remarks by Lamos and Ross, there will be a champagne toast and cutting of a birthday cake resembling the Playhouse, donated by CakeSuite of Westport.

As another birthday special, patrons will receive 20-percent discounts on single tickets purchased on June 29 for any 2011 mainstage performances. The offer is good for one-day-only purchases, in-person, online or by phone from 10 am to 6 pm.

For more information, 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 online at Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider’s peek on The Playhouse Blog (

Mark Twain Stamp to be Unveiled in Hartford

Gov. Dannel Malloy will unveil a new commemorative 44-cent "Forever" stamp, issued by the US Postal Service to honor Mark Twain, on Saturday, June 25, at 11 am -- the first day of issue and first day of sale.

The free event, to be held at The Mark Twain House & Museum at 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, also will include Hartford Postmaster Judith Martin and honored guests. A special hand cancellation of the stamp on specially designed envelopes commemorating the event -- also known as "first day covers" -- will be available for sale to the public and stamp collectors.

"We are delighted to be able to mark the release of this important national honor for America's great author here at the home that he loved, and where he created so many wise and funny works," said Jeffrey Nichols, Executive Director of The Mark Twain House & Museum.

The Postal Service has not issued a stamp honoring Mark Twain himself since 1940 -- when the issuing agency was still called the United States Post Office.

The official release of the stamp will be from the town where Samuel L. Clemens lived as a child: Hannibal, Missouri. But the Hartford ceremony will include the unique hand cancellation from "Mark Twain House &; Museum Station," a temporary, one-day-only designation courtesy of the USPS and the Hartford Post Office. Andy Doback, a member of The Connecticut Cover Club, designed the cancellation artwork for the USPS.

The cancellation will be done on a printed envelope portraying Twain and the Mark Twain House. Anthony Dewey, also a member of The Connecticut Cover Club, created the design. The Connecticut Cover Club, an affiliate of the American First Day Cover Society, has provided generous assistance for this event.

The "unofficial" first day covers thus produced will be available for purchase for $3 after the unveiling ceremony, and then at the Mark Twain Museum Store. The stamps themselves will also be available for sale in the store.

Postal Service art director and designer Phil Jordan collaborated with artist Gregory Manchess on the Mark Twain stamp. Manchess based his portrait of Twain on a photograph taken around 1907. The stamp's background evokes several of Twain's works set along the Mississippi River of his youth.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Courtyard Concert Moves to Yale Rep

Tonight’s concert by Emeline Michel, originally scheduled to conclude the International Festival’s Courtyard Concert Series at the Yale Law School Courtyard, will be performed indoors instead at Yale Repertory Theatre, 120 Chapel Street, at York St.,  due to predicted weather conditions for this evening.

The Courtyard Concert by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, which was to kick off this year’s series, was also moved indoors earlier this week.

Discounted Arts & Ideas parking is available across the street from Yale Rep at the Chapel-York Garage (on York Street between Crown and Chapel streets).

Quick Hit Review: Fraulein Maria -- Hartford Stage

Photo Courtesy Hartford Stage
Fraulein Maria
Conceived and choreographed by Doug Elkins
Directed by Barbara Karger and Michael Preston, both professors at Hartford's Trinity College

Modern dance piece performed to the soundtrack from Rodgers & Hammerstein's movie "The Sound of Music." Lots of humor, puppets, clever costumes and props like sheets becoming Austrian mountains bring the classic to life amidst dance interpretations of the songs (where Maria or other female characters often are danced by males).

It's a lot of fun. Fans of the film will recognize characters and scenarios quickly and enjoy some of the tongue-in-cheek interpretations. It's always great to hear that Julie Andrews soundtrack. Nice interpretations of "The Sound of Music," "My Favorite Things," and in particular, "Edelweiss," which features two males on a bench in an outwardly comic piece involving a hat, but which has more sinister overtones depicting the encroachment of Nazism on the Austrian homeland. It's a breezy 65 minutes with no intermission.

The use of sexual movements and innuendo, especially in the "16 Going on 17" number hits a sour note in a show interpreting such a wholesome movie. I'm surprised the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, so protective of its properties that it won't even let you use dialogue from their movies in their plays when you are producing them, approved of this. In fairness, the audience did  seem to enjoy it, so call me a prude.

The production runs through June 26.  Evening performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 pm.  Matinee performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm.  For a more specific schedule of performances, call the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151 or visit

Along with Elkins and Preston, the Hartford cast of Fraulein Maria includes Hilary Brown, Daniel Charon, Therman Christopher, Krista Jansen, Deborah Lohse, Kellie Ann Lynch, Cori Marquis, Meghan Merrill, Donnell Oakley, Joshua Palmer, and John Sorensen-Jolink, each making his or her Hartford Stage debut.
--Lauren Yarger

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quick Hit Theater Review: Race -- TheaterWorks

Taneisha Duggan, Jack Koenig, Ward Duffy, and Avery Glymph. Photo by Lanny Nagler

By David Mamet
Directed by Tazewell Thompson

Rich and white Charles Strickland (Jack Koenig) is accused of raping a black woman. Lawyers Jack Lawson (R. Ward Duffy) and Henry Brown (Avery Glymph) aren't sure they want to take his case, especially after the victim talks to the press and a preacher who was in the hotel room next door issues a statement swearing that he heard a racial slur during the commotion that Strickland swears was consensual sex. The men don't have a choice, however, after their law associate, Susan (Taneisha Duggan) makes an error forcing them to declare themselves attorneys of record. Lawson fortunately discovers a viable hole in the accuser's story, and he and Brown set off to mount a defense. It isn't easy. Strickland is white, after all, and that in itself is enough to make him guilty. At least that's the way African-American Susan sees it who says Strickland  "looked" guilty the minute she saw him. And race isn't far away from dealings in the office, either, as Brown, also African-American, seems to hold Susan in contempt after Lawson hired her even though she lied on her employment application, because he was afraid the firm would be sued for racial prejudice if he didn't.

One of Mamet's most engaging works to date. The plot twists with surprising turns and the woman, unlike in a slew of Mamet's other works, actually has a fairly decent and pivotal part in the drama.

There isn't any bounce among the performers as an ensemble, and that's what is needed to make Mamet's dialog pop. An unnecessary intermission feels as long as the first act and interferes with the flow.

Race runs through July 10 at TheaterWorks, City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl St., Hartford.

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Circle -- Westport Country Playhouse

John Horton, Paxton Whitehead and Marsha Mason. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The Circle
By Somerset Maugham
Directed by Nicholas Martin

30 years ago, Lady Catherine Champion-Cheny (Marsha Mason) left her MP husband, Clive (Paxton Whitehead), and her 5-year-old son, Arnold (Marc Vietor), to live in scandalous exile in Italy with her lover, Lord Porteous (John Horton). Now, in the late 1920s, "Kitty" returns to her former home in Dorset, England, to find that things have come full circle. Her son's wife, Elizabeth (Gretchen Hall), unable to conform to the life of the wife of a fastidious MP who is more interested in politics and arranging his elegant furniture (the lovely blue-and-white upper crust set is by Alexander Dodge) than romancing her, is about to leave him for houseguest Edward Luton (Bryce Pinkham). Even more surprising, Kitty finds that the laid-back, forgiving Clive might just be preferable now to the priggish, critical Porteous, whose good humor and chance at being prime minister seem to have left simultaneously once he hooked up with his best friend's wife. Is passion more important than responsibility? Is it all worth it in the end?

Paxton Whitehead. Lights up the stage and makes us laugh. A lot. So does Horton. His disgruntled mumbling and put downs of Catherine are quite amusing. Mason creates a Kitty who on the one hand, is so shallow that hunting for a lost lipstick seems the most important thing in the world, but who on the other is capable of reaching deep down inside to try to try to help Elizabeth.

 Some characters seem a little one-dimensional and one, a houseguest by the name of Mrs. Shenstone (Christina Rouner), seems superfluous. There's also a butler in there for a few lines (James Joseph O'Neil). The action is exposition heavy and slow-paced before the arrival of Porteous and Kitty.

The Circle runs through June 25. 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 also are available at

For a behind-the-scenes video from the show, visit

Theater Review: Barefoot in the Park -- Ivoryton Playhouse

Sean Patrick Hopkins and Kathleen Mulready. Photo by Anne Hudson
An Old Favorite with New Energy
By Lauren Yarger
If you feel like you have seen enough productions of Neil Simon’s oft-produced comedy Barefoot in the Park , think again. Newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter and the zany folks visiting their tiny five-flights-up brownstone apartment get a fresh new treatment in the production currently being staged at Ivoryton Playhouse, mostly thanks to Kathleen Mulready, starring as the vivacious and charming Corrie.

Mulready lights up the stage with an enthusiasm and charm that makes it impossible for us not to sit up and take notice. She’s the quintessential Corrie – an eternally optimist, always-smiling free spirit who is the polar opposite of her more uptight lawyer husband, Paul (Sean Patrick Hopkins), who never would think of doing something so uninhibited as to walk barefoot in the park, for example.

He has more in common with his mother-in-law, Mrs. Banks (Katrina Ferguson), who doesn’t understand Corrie’s free-spirited nature either, but who tries to be a good sport when Corrie sets her up on a blind date with the couple’s Bohemian neighbor, Victor Velasco (Buzz Roddy), who accesses his own place by climbing out the Bratter’s bedroom window and edging along a ledge to his attic dwelling. (The apartment and the nice skylight window is designed by Rachel Reynolds and makes such a dramatic change from unfinished room to homey apartment at intermission that it receives applause).

Ivoryton veteran R. Bruce Connelly directs this performance, which is a lot of fun, helped by nice comedic turns by Ferguson, a riotously out-of-breath Tom Libonate as the telephone repairman and Dan Coyle as a wheezing delivery man. Costume designer Vivian Lamb puts them all in 1960 character-appropriate garb.

Mulready is the treat, though. Whether she’s thoroughly enjoying the memories of foreign cuisine, trying to seduce Paul or convinced that her short marriage is over, Corrie approaches every situation with unbridled enthusiasm and never stops smiling. And neither can we.

Barefoot in the Park runs through June 28 at Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Elizabeth Ashley, Betty Buckley, Hallie Foote Among Stars Honoring Michael Wilson

Hartford Stage's departing Artistic Director Michael Wilson will be honored on Monday, June 20 for his 13 years of artistic leadership of the Tony Award-winning theatre. The Michael Wilson Tribute Celebration, held at Hartford Stage,  50 Church St., will include performances by an array of artists who have worked at the theatre under Wilson's direction.

Scheduled to perform Monday evening are a host of Hartford Stage favorites including Elizabeth Ashley (8 by Tenn, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Zerline's Tale); Betty Buckley (Camino Real, Broadway by Request); Hallie Foote (To Kill a Mockingbird, Dividing the Estate, The Orphans' Home Cycle); Penny Fuller (Dividing the Estate); Annalee Jefferies (Bad Dates, The Orphans' Home Cycle, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Night of the Iguana, 8 by Tenn, A Streetcar Named Desire); Alyssa Bresnahan and James Colby (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Moon for the Misbegotten, A Streetcar Named Desire); and Bill Heck and Maggie Lacey (The Orphans' Home Cycle). Bresnahan and Colby and Heck and Lacey are real-life couples who met while working at Hartford Stage. In addition, a number of surprise appearances, both live and recorded, await Wilson and the audience at the event.

The evening begins with a reception at 6:30 featuring beer, wine, and food from local restaurants. The performances begin at 7:30, and the evening will conclude with a dessert reception and champagne toast to Wilson. Food is provided by Dish, Grant's, Max Restaurant Group, and Salute.

Tickets to the event are $75 and include an open beer and wine bar and food stations at the reception, entry to the performances, dessert reception, and champagne toast. To purchase tickets, or for more information, contact the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151.

Nutmeg Summer Series Continues at UConn

Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

Bird Girl (Lindsay Andretta) and The Cat in the Hat (Bradford Scobie) pictured above will magically appear, along with original puppets from UConn’s famous Puppet Arts program, in Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Series production of Seussical the Musical, playing June 16-26 in the Nafe Katter Theatre, Storrs.

Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT), the professional producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, continues its 2011 Nutmeg Summer Series with Seussical The Musical. Plus, visit the free Dr. Seuss art exhibit at the Benton Museum, also located on the UConn Storrs campus. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday, 1 pm to 4:30 pm.

Music by Stephen Flaherty, Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens Book by Stephen Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens Based on the works of Dr. Seuss Set to a gumbo of musical styles, ranging from Latin to pop, swing to gospel, and R&B to funk, all ages will enjoy this unforgettable madcap celebration of music, spectacle, and laughter. Master comedian Steve Hayes and international performance artist Bradford Scobie lead a cast of vibrant comic and musical performers in this 80-minute family musical that is sure to delight kids and kids at heart.
June 16-26, 2011
Nafe Katter Theatre
University of Connecticut, Storrs
Evening performances start at 7:30 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Matinee performances start at 2 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Single ticket prices range from $10 to $39. Tickets for children and students are just $10! The Nafe Katter Theatre offers air-conditioned comfort and ample nearby free parking. Call 860-486-4226 or visit for tickets and additional information.

The Nutmeg Summer Series continues with My Fair Lady, starring Broadway legend Terrence Mann as Professor Henry Higgins and TV soap star Eileen Fulton as Mrs. Higgins, playing July 7-17 in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre (lower Jorgensen, also located on the Storrs campus).

Juneteenth Celebrated; Gala Friday

The 20th anniversary Jubilation Gala to highlight the month of Juneteenth celebrations will be held Friday, June 17, hosted by The Amistad Center for Art and Culture at  the Wadsworth Atheneum.

The Juneteenth Celebration in Hartford, Connecticut will be one of the largest and longest celebrations in the country, and will mark the 20th year that The Amistad Center for Arts and Culture has hosted the event:

Special Awards will be presented to the Juneteenth inaugural committee and The Spirit of Juneteenth Award will be presented to Aetna, the anniversary presenting sponsor.

The gala will be held from 8 pm to midnight. For tickets or more information visit or call 860 833-4133.

Long Story Short -- Colin Quinn's Coming to Long Wharf

Colin Quinn in the Broadway production of  Long Story Short. Carol Rosegg photo.
Comedian Colin Quinn will bring his incisive one-man exploration of world history, Long Story Short from Broadway to Long Wharf Theatre.

The show will take place on the Mainstage from Aug. 9-21. Performances will be Tuesday through Friday at 8 pm Saturday at 3 and 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. and 7 pm.

The production, directed by Jerry Seinfeld, has played to sellout houses on Broadway and received critical acclaim.
In Colin Quinn Long Story Short, Quinn focuses his articulate brand of comedy on the demise of empires, including our own. More than standup comedy, Long Story Short is a hilarious blend of incisive observation, sharp commentary, and Colin’s channeling of the personalities of the past. From Socrates to Snooki, Quinn is at his satirical best, taking on the attitudes, appetites and bad habits that toppled the world’s most powerful nations. Colin Quinn Long Story Short proves that throughout human history, the joke has always been on us.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by visiting or by calling 203-787-4282.

Local Celebs Perform with Second City

Geoff Fox, the longtime meteorologist currently on the air with Fox 61 News, knows quite a bit about the history of the Second City. He can tell you a bit about one of Second City’s founders, Del Close, an improvisational innovator. He can tell you that you are never ever supposed to decline an offering from a fellow performer.

“Wait, aren’t you supposed to be telling me these things?” Fox quipped to a member of the theatre staff.

Fox 61 News meteorologist Geoff Fox, WTNH’s host of “Good Morning Connecticut” Chris Velardi, and 960 WELI’s Vinnie Penn, will perform along with the company of The Best of the Second City during its run at Long Wharf Theatre June 15-19. Penn will perform on Wednesday, June 15, Velardi will take his turn on Thursday, June 16 and Fox will get his chance on Saturday, June 18.

For Penn, a published author, a standup comic and a long time beloved radio personality, performing with Second City is something he’s always wanted to do. “It is the realization of a lifelong dream not only to perform with this revered troupe but as a New Haven native to stand on the very stage I grew up watching so many wonderful productions on. I look forward to making an ass of myself on stage now, as opposed to simply on-air,” Penn said.

Velardi, a Branford native, is going to have to tap into his old high school theatre days from 20 years ago to get himself ready. “I’m looking forward to this. It’ll be fun to be in front of a live audience!” Velardi said.

The performance schedule is Wednesday, June 15 through Saturday, June 18 at 8 p.m., with additional performances at on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19 at 4 p.m. The production sponsor is First Niagara.

The Second City Touring Company is a mind explosion of political and social satire cropping up in every delicious nook and cranny of this great nation. Armed from Chicago with a battery of the most hilarious sketch comedy and improvisation on any continent, they’ve loaded up the tour bus to mock the millennial generation and beyond. Belushi, Colbert, Carell, Murray, Radner, Myers, Fey, Meadows, Farley, Aykroyd all came through Second City.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by going to

Festival Venue Changes Tonight Due to Weather

Tonight’s concert by Bang on a Can All-Stars, originally scheduled to kick-off the International Festival’s Courtyard Concert Series at the Yale Law School Courtyard, will be performed indoors at Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel Street, at York Street) due to predicted weather conditions throughout the day.

Shake it Up Auditions Set at Long Wharf

Long Wharf Theatre’s education department is holding auditions for this summer’s Shake It Up Shakespeare Youth Ensemble productions of Hamlet and the original musical Threads of a Spider Web.

The general auditions for Non-Equity performers age 14 to 20 will be from June 20-24 from noon to 4 p.m. The performances take place August 24-27. Hamlet will be performed on August 24 and 26 and Threads of a Spider Web will take place on August 25 and 27. All performances take place on Stage II. Both shows will be directed by Annie DiMartino, Long Wharf Theatre’s director of education, with musical direction by Carol Taubl. “We are looking for students who are willing to take risks, people who understand how to be ensemble players,” said DiMartino.

Auditioners will be expected to perform a Shakespearean of no more than 90 seconds, a poem one minute in length and a power ballad or alternative rock song (chorus and verse). Suggested poets are Edna St. Vincent Millay, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Frost, William Wordsworth (no original poetry accepted.) Some suggested musical artists to explore would be Death Cab for Cutie, Jeff Buckley, Evanescence, Celine Dion and Johnny Cash.

DiMartino is seeking young performers with musical theatre experience and some classic training. If performers are proficient in a musical instrument (guitar, bass, piano, violin, cello) they should bring the instrument to the audition.

Invited call backs will take place June 27-30, with actors performing physical work, learning music and rehearsing scenes and monologues from both shows.

Rehearsals for the show will begin on July 11, taking place on Mondays through Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Shakespeare’s classic Hamlet will be performed in repertory with DiMartino’s Threads of a Spider Web, with original music by Carol Taubl. In Threads, a mother tells a stranger on a plane about the loss of her two children to a drunk driver. From this horrific tragedy comes an exploration of several interlocking lives, all considering love, loss, acceptance and the poignant question of what might have been. The characters are lightly influenced by the poetry of Coleridge, Wordsworth, St. Vincent Millay, Plath and Dickinson. Original music – a mix of pop, power ballads and rock – complete the experience.

For more information about the show, or to make an appointment to audition, call DiMartino at 203-772-8271 or visit

Go to the Inner Circle at Westport

Marsha Mason, John Horton, Bryce Pinkham and Gretchen Hall in “The Circle”
at Westport Country Playhouse, now playing through June 25.
Westport Country Playhouse has released a video, taped in rehearsal, offering a look at the production  of The Circle, a stylish comedy by W. Somerset Maugham, with insight from Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director; Nicholas Martin, director of “The Circle”; and cast members including Golden Globe Award winner and Academy Award nominee Marsha Mason and Drama Desk Award winner and Tony Award nominee Paxton Whitehead.
The video link:

Many years ago, Lord Champion-Cheney was abandoned by his wife, Lady Catherine, who ran off to Italy with her lover. Bringing matters full circle, his stuffy son Arnold is now involved in a love triangle of his own as his bored wife is smitten with a handsome house guest. The Circle explores how history often is destined to repeat itself. The play is the second production in the Playhouse’s 80th birthday year, is considered Maugham’s wittiest play, a seamless blend of romance and repartee.

The show runs through June 25. 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 online 24/7 at

New Canaan Summer Theater Festival, Programs Gear Up

Summer Theatre Festival & Events at Summer Theater of New Canaan

June 19 - Fathers Free on Fathers Day- plus
Gelato, Kite decorating & flying

June 24 - Opening Night "Suppertime" Benefit with Charlie Brown & Cast

June 26 & July 24
Senior's Sunday - tickets just $25

June 29
An evening of Ballet!
The Ballet Etudes Dance Company
Evening proceeds to support our Special Needs Program!

June 30
Frog & Toad
Special Needs Family Performance
Sponsored by Young Women's League

July 17
Carousel Clambake Dinner & Show!
July 25
Broadway & Summer Theatre Stars in Concert!

July 29
STONC Jr Company Performance
Camp Rock 3:30 pm

3-Week Performance Progam with the Summer Theatre of New Canaan! Students going into 5th -9th grades. Rehearsals July 11-22 from 2-4:30 Monday through Friday. Rehearsals July 26-29 from 1 to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Show July 29 at 3 pm.

High School Apprentice Theatre Intensive
June 27 - July 24
Hands on professional training

For information about the shows and programs, visit

Create a Pilot Episode at Qunnipiac

Emmy-award winner and veteran comedy writer/producer Alan Zweibel will guide a group of participants who will conceive an original idea, develop the script, cast it, rehearse it, re-write it and tape it in the school's HDTV studio.

"Creating the Sitcom" will be held July 25-29 in the Ed McMahon Mass Communications Center on the Mount Carmel Avenue campus in Hamden, CT.

On the last day of the workshop, Zweibel will help the group edit the final master to a broadcast-standard 22 minutes. The program is open to writers, actors, aspiring directors and producers and those who want to try their hand at creating entertaining television.

For more information, call 203-582-3414 or email Enrollment is limited.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mark Twain House News for June

The Mark Twain House & Museum has become a Blue Star Museum, one of more than 1,000 museums nationwide offering free admission for active military personnel and their immediate families now through Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2011.
The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card, or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard), National Guard and Reserve members and up to five immediate family members. Immediate family members include the spouses and children of active duty military.

Spouses of military who are deployed are eligible for free admission with their children, up to a total of five visitors. To receive free admission, spouses should bring a DD Form 1173 ID Card or DD Form 1173-1 ID Card for active duty military family members.

Blue Star Museums is a partnership among Blue Star Families, the National Endowment for the Arts and participating museums. For details on the program, including a complete list of museums, visit
Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours resume in June. They run on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, at 6, 7, 8 and 9 pm. Tickets are $18 for adults 17 and up; $15 for members of The Mark Twain House & Museum; and $13 for children 16 and under. Tours are not recommended for children under 10. Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours are by reservation only, and sell out quickly. Call early: 860-280-3130.
Bring Dad to the Murasaki Cafe for a Father's Day Jazz Brunch June 19 with Jimmy Roberts, composer of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. There will be two seatings, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.. Be sure to reserve ahead of time, as the Father's Day Brunch is likely to sell out. The price of $30 includes performance and brunch, and alcoholic beverages will be available for an additional charge. For reservations, call 860-280-3130.
Judith Martin (Miss Manners) comes to The Mark Twain House & Museum for an elegant evening on Wednesday, June 29, in an event sponsored by The Friends of The Mark Twain House & Museum. She will be discussing her career, her affection for Mark Twain -- and, of course, the importance of good manners in an age when all civility seems to have gone by the boards. A 5 pm reception will followed by the 6 pm lecture. A dessert reception and signing of Miss Manners' books follows the lecture.Tickets are $40 and include both receptions and lecture. Call 860-280-3130.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Connecticut Critics Announce Theater Awards

(winners are starred and in bold)
Awards will be presented Sunday, June 12 at Ivoryton Playhouse.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” (Westport Country Playhouse)
“Gem of the Ocean” (Hartford Stage)
*“The Piano Lesson” (Yale Rep)
“A Steady Rain” (TheaterWorks)
“The Train Driver” (Long Wharf Theatre)

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Ivoryton Playhouse)
“Everything the Traffic Will Allow” (Music Theatre of Connecticut)
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (Goodspeed Musicals)
“I Do! I Do!” (Westport Country Playhouse)
*“My One and Only” (Goodspeed Musicals)
“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” (Yale Rep)

*Francesca Choy-Kee (“Agnes Under the Big Top,” Long Wharf Theatre
Eisa Davis (“The Piano Lesson,” Yale Rep)Laura Esterman (“Agnes Under the Big Top,” Long Wharf)Dana Ivey (“Happy Days,” Westport Country Playhouse)
Judith Ivey (“Shirley Valentine,” Long Wharf Theatre)
Novella Nelson (“Gem of the Ocean,” Hartford Stage)

Anthony Chisholm (“The Train Driver,” Long Wharf Theatre)
Harry Groener (“The Train Driver,” Long Wharf Theatre
Edward Herrmann (“A Delicate Balance,” Yale Rep)*LeRoy McClain (“The Piano Lesson,” Yale Rep)
Brian Murray (“The Old Masters,” Long Wharf Theatre
Roger Robinson (“Gem of the Ocean,” Hartford Stage)

Kate Baldwin (“I Do! I Do!,” Westport Country Playhouse)
*Klea Blackhurst (Everything the Traffic Will Allow, Music Theatre of Conn.)
Jenn Gambatese (“We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Yale Rep)
Jodi Langel (“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Downtown Cabaret)
Alexandra Socha (“We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Yale Rep)

ACTOR/MUSICALLewis Cleale (“I Do! I Do!,” Westport Country Playhouse)
Sean Palmer (“We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Yale Rep)
Brian Sears (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Goodspeed)
Kris Stock (“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Downtown Cabaret)
*Tony Yazbeck (“My One and Only,” Goodspeed Musicals)

Gordon Edelstein (“The Train Driver,” Long Wharf)
Gerald Freedman (“The Diary of Anne Frank,” Westport)
*Peter Lockyer (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” Ivoryton)
Eric Ting (“Agnes Under the Big Top,” Long Wharf)
Liesl Tommy (“The Piano Lesson,” Yale Rep

DIRECTOR/MUSICALGreg Ganakas (“How to Succeed in Business . . . , Goodspeed)
Jacqueline Hubbard (“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” Ivoryton)
Anne Kauffman (“We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Yale Rep)
Ray Roderick (“My One and Only, Goodspeed
*Scott Thompson (“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Downtown Cabaret)Darko Tresnjak (“Carnival,” Goodspeed)

Kelli Barclay (“How to Succeed in Business . . . , Goodspeed))
*Kelli Barclay (“My One and Only,” Goodspeed)
Peggy Hickey (“Carnival,” Goodspeed)

Frank Alberino (“Agnes Under the Big Top,” Long Wharf))
Frank Alberino (“Shirley Valentine,” Long Wharf)
Scott Bradley (“Gem of the Ocean, Hartford Stage)
*John Ezell (“The Diary of Anne Frank,” Westport)
Eugene Lee (“The Train Driver,” Long Wharf)
Chien-Yu Peng (“A Delicate Balance,” Yale Rep)

Christopher Akerlind (“The Train Driver,” Long Wharf)
*Travis McHale (“The Diary of Anne Frank,” Westport)
Stephen Strawbridge (“We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Yale Rep)
Jennifer Tipton (“Autumn Sonata,” Yale Rep

Elicia Lord (“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” Connecticut Rep)
*Robin L. McGee (“My One and Only,” Goodspeed)
Devon Painter (“I Do! I Do,” Westport)
Ilona Somogyi (“Gem of the Ocean,” Hartford Stage)David C. Woolard (“Divine Rivalry,” Hartford Stage)

Broken Chord (“Gem of the Ocean,” Hartford Stage)
*Katie Down (“Agnes Under the Big Top,” Long Wharf)
Chad Raines (“Autumn Sonata,” Yale Rep)

“God of Carnage” (TheaterWorks)
“Divine Rivalry” (Hartford Stage)
*Robert Eli, Steven French, Christina Pumariega, Noble Shropshire in “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps” (Hartford Stage)
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Downtown Cabaret)
*Eshan Bay (Agnes Under the Big Top,” Long Wharf)
*Evan Jonigkeit (“High,” TheaterWorks)
*Aaron Moss (“The Winter’s Tale,” Elm Shakespeare)

THE TOM KILLEN MEMORIAL AWARDMusic Theatre of Connecticut

SPECIAL RECOGNITIONThe 100th Anniversary of the Ivoryton Playhouse

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