Sunday, July 31, 2011

Theater Review: Show Boat -- Goodspeed

Lenny Wolpe as Captain Andy and the cast of Show Boat. Photo by Diane Sobolewski.
 Captain Ruggiero Takes Us on a Smooth River Voyage
By Lauren Yarger
When it first was staged in 1927, Show Boat broke new ground as the first American musical play (shifting away from operas and revues) and in taking on the issues of family relations, love and hope against a backdrop of racial prejudice. The story and its characters are no less poignant today, especially in Director Rob Ruggiero’s slick revised version playing on the Goodspeed stage.

Based on Edna Ferber’s 1926 novel, the musical spans four decades in the lives of folks working on the Mississippi and on the river show boat, The Cotton Blossom between 1887 and 1927. The setting couldn’t be more fitting – after all, Goodspeed is a beautiful Victorian opera house sitting on the banks of the Connecticut River. Bringing the musical, usually staged with a big cast performing huge production numbers on a large-sized boat to the smaller Goodspeed stage  might have sunk the production without Ruggiero at the wheel. Under his skillful direction, however, this version is more compact (it’s a breezy two and a half hours) and focuses on the relationships at the heart of the story.

The plot follows affable Captain Andy Hawks  (a charming Lenny Wolpe), his uptight wife, Parthy (Karen Murphy) and their daughter, Magnolia (Sarah Uriarte Berry) who travel along the Mississippi staging shows on their boat. The star, Julie (Lesli Margherita) becomes close with Nola as well as some black folks working on the water, like Queenie (Andrea Frierson) and her husband, Joe (David Aron Damane).

Julie and her husband, Steve (Rob Richardson), are forced to flee, however, when the law finds out that Julie is half black, making her marriage to white Steve illegal. Nola steps in as Julie’s understudy and falls in love with leading man Gaylord Ravenal (Ben Davis). She leaves the boat to join him for the uncertain life of the wife of a river gambler. She is forced to sell her valuables to keep them afloat, especially after the arrival of their daughter, Kim (played as a child by a skillful Madeleine Berry and briefly as an adult by Mollie Vogt-Welch). When her life is capsized, Nola is helped by old show boat performers Ellie May and Frank (Jennifer Knox and Danny Gardner) who have found success in romance and show business.

Making this production totally enjoyable are the stellar performances across the plank. Vocally, everyone makes the beautiful Jerome Kern score (with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) an absolute pleasure to hear. Michael O’Flaherty is music director of the larger-sounding small orchestra with nice orchestrations by Dan DeLange. There are some transpositions of tunes to accommodate the range of the performers and Ruggiero, with the blessing of the Rodgers & Hammerstein organization, juggles the order of and eliminates some tunes from the original soundtrack to help focus the story. He also inserts “Til Good Luck Comes My Way” from the 1951 movie version at the top of the second act as a replacement for the fair number.

Acting is top deck as well. Murphy gives nice layers to Parthy, Damane moves us deeply with “Ol’ Man River” in a rich, room-filling baritone that I am guessing wasn’t on microphone (Jay Hilton, sound design), Frierson aptly takes us from the haunting “Misery’s Around” to joking about loving her man despite his faults in the fun “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and Margherita stirs up a river of multiple emotions in a tour-de-force “Bill.”

If satisfying our emotions and ears weren’t enough, this production is pleasing on the eye as well. Amy Clark creates costumes that convey the periods, but wisely chooses soft colors that keep the stage looking bright and uncongested (original costume design by Florence Klotz). Choreographer Noah Racey, challenged with space restriction, reins in some of the larger numbers, but goes all out when he has fewer dancers on stage giving Gardner in particular a chance to show off some of his dancing moves. Scenic designer Michael Schweikardt’s show boat fills the stage offering two levels and side staircases on which to place performers, then converts into the Ravenals’ meager rooming house accommodations and also into the Trocadero. a club where Nola ends up singing.
This production really is full steam ahead and due to demand for tickets, already has been extended. Get on board while it is docked at the Goodspeed in East Haddam until Sept. 17.  For tickets, call 860-873-8668 or visit

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hartford Children's Theatre Performers Win Awards

Timmy Perry and Hollis Long in HCT's Willy Wonka - Photo Credit Thomas Giroir
Hartford Children's Theatre won two 2010-2011 National Youth Theatre Awards and an additional three nominations. 
The sixth annual National Youth Theatre Awards honored outstanding work by young performers in the arts. More than 200 productions were considered for the awards, including shows from more
than 100 theatres in more than 50 cities spanning 12 states. A limited number of adult performers were also recognized for their performances in productions for young audiences.

Hartford Children's Theatre performers Timmy Perry and Hollis Long won for their performances in the HCT Family Main Stage fall production of Willy Wonka. Perry, an 11-year-old Plantsville resident, received the "Best Leading Actor Award - Junior Division" for his performance as
"Charlie Bucket" while Long, a 13-year-old West Hartford resident, received the "Best Supporting Actress Award - Junior Division" for her performance as gum-smacking "Violet Beauregarde."

14-year-old Emily Bordonaro ("Veruca Salt") of Avon, Sheri Zicardi ("Mrs. Teavee") of Bloomfield and Christopher Cavallo ("Willy Wonka") of Hartford received nominations.

Palace Whips Up Serving of Controversial Chef Anthony Bourdain this Fall

Chef Anthony Bourdain. Photo courtesy of the Palace Theater.
Anthony Bourdain, internationally acclaimed chef, author, and host of Travel Channel's “NoReservations,” has traveled to the farthest reaches of the globe for his career, and now the controversial cook is coming to the Palace Theater in Waterbury for an interactive live appearance on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 pm.

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. in Waterbury. 

Dubbed “the badboy of cuisine” for his rock star looks and blunt observations about the world of restaurants, chefs and cooking, Bourdain has built a reputation forbeing controversial, opinionated and always entertaining. In this rare, uncensored, live appearance, he will share the fascinating, hysterical, and sometimesshocking stories behind his life, books, travels, and his hit show. He also will take questions from the audience.

The executive chef at New  York's famed bistro Les Halles, Bourdain is theauthor of the bestselling "KitchenConfidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly," a candid andhumorous portrait of his life in restaurant kitchens that has been translated into more than 28 languages. His new book, "Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook," pulls back the curtain on all of the big-time personalities of the modern gastronomical revolution, as only Bourdain can.

Other books include "Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook," "The Nasty Bits" and No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach," an illustrated journal of Bourdain's travels. Bourdain’s widely popular Emmy-nominated TV show “No Reservations,” can be seen on the TravelChannel and is currently in its fifth season.

As a special incentive for Connecticut ‘s food aficionados, visit for a chance to win one of two VIP ticket packages to the show, as well as a $100 gift card to one of the state's most popular restaurants. Eighteen second place winners also will  receive a restaurant gift card. is the state's leading web site connecting the dining public to more than 2,000 of Connecticut's best restaurants.

Pearl Street Artistic Enhancement Continues

Two years after dramatically enhancing the multi-block section of Pearl Street from Trumbull Street to Bushnell Park, TheaterWorks’ Founder and Executive Director Steve Campo has announced an initiative to enhance the remaining portion of Pearl Street from Trumbull Street to Main Street.

The focus of the project will be a major installation of a design by local artist, Andria Alex, encompassing the exteriors of 101 and 111 Pearl Street, two vacant and underutilized properties in the downtown district.  After months of reviewing concepts and preparation, the art installation began on Tuesdayand is expected to be complete within 10 days.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra praised TheaterWorks’ initiative saying, “When Steve brought this idea  to us it was impossible not to be excited.  Andria Alex’s artistic style  seemed a perfect way to extend TheaterWorks’ enhancements to the Pearl  Street neighborhood.  This is a short-term improvement to the long-term  strategic plan for redevelopment of this block with our partners at the  State.  I was happy that my administration was able to be supportive of  this project since it directly aligns with iQuilt’s walkability vision  and our efforts to upgrade blighted properties as part of our One City,  One Plan for conservation and development.”

R-Rated Twain Hits the Bleepin' Road

The Mark Twain House & Museum turns up the heat on summer with R-Rated Twain on Aug. 5 and 6 at Hole in the Wall Theater in New Britain.

Featuring some of Mark Twain's spiciest, salacious and shocking works that span topics not fit to print (or even say in public). Included in the naughty hilarity will be a new short comedy Mark Twain: Ladies' Man by West Hartford playwright David Ryan Polgar.

The "adults-only" staged reading, performed by Sea Tea Improv and directed by museum Communications Manager Jacques Lamarre, the production was such a hit when presented in January that the museum is taking the show on the road to the Hole in the Wall Theater, 116 Main Street, New Britain. Be prepared to leave the kids at home, to blush and to wash your ears out with soap!

The show will take the audience through the naughtiest puns, poems, parodies, and passages that  Twain wrote. The material covered by Twain in these writings is not suitable for most publications, family audiences or polite society (and due to the nature of the material, all guests must be 17 or over or attend with a parent or guardian.)

There will also be hilariously biting take-downs of Twain's enemies culled from the recently published, bestselling "Autobiography of Mark Twain." As Twain said, "There are no people who are quite so vulgar as the over-refined," so the historic house is looking forward to letting its hair down and introducing the public to these hysterical and deliciously deviant lesser-known works.

Mark Twain: Ladies' Man resurrects "The Lincoln of our Literature" in a modern pick-up bar. Brought back from the dead in order to access his legendary library of one-liners, Twain acts as a "wing-man" for a socially inept single guy desperately seeking love. The comedy, featuring dozens of Twain's best-loved quips, will feature Michael Eck, Liza Pross and Dan Russell.

Polgar is the author of the short play Some Kind of Modern Love, which was premiered by the Connecticut Heritage Productions and has since been expanded to a full-length play that received a reading at the Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, Conn.

The blushing begins at 8 pm. For tickets, call 860-229-3049. Reservations are strongly recommended. Any available seats will be sold at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.

The show's performers are all members of Sea Tea Improv. The troupe of eleven players, trained by Hartford Stage Company and the Upright Citizens Brigade, dazzles Hartford and beyond on a regular basis with witty, raucous interpretations of audience suggestions a la Whose Line is it Anyway?  Besides their monthly packed houses at the Brew-Ha-Ha, Sea Tea Improv has performed in illustrious locations such as the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Connecticut Forum, the Funnybone, the Science Center, the Hartford Stage and Playhouse on Park.  Sea Tea was an official selection of the Providence Improv Festival and has been featured on WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show, ESPN, Better Connecticut, Mass Appeal, and Connecticut Style.

Mark Your Calendar:

Ring of FireBy Richard Maltby Jr andWilliam Meade
Aug. 10-Sept. 4, 2011
Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton
Tickets:  860-767-7318 or on-line at

Monday, July 18, 2011

Theater Review: Lips Together Teeth Apart-- Westport

John Ellison Conlee and Maggie Lacey. Photo by T. Charles Erickson
This is Not Your Typical Day at the Beach
By Lauren Yarger
The windsock on the back deck  might show which way the wind is blowing, literally, but for two couples spending the Fourth of July at a Fire Island beach house, there is a silent storm whipping just under the surface  in Terrence McNally’s sad, funny and probing play Lips Together Teeth Apart running at the Westport Country Playhouse.

Tightly directed by Mark Lamos, the drama takes place on a terrific set designed by Andrew Jackness complete with sound and visual effects (Robert Wierzel and John Cromada, lighting and sound design) that realistically create the atmosphere of a relaxing beach house setting, but the sand castle crumples as the crashing waves prove to be a metaphor for the emotions about to explode.

Sally Truman (Maggie Lacey) has inherited the place from her brother, who died of AIDS. She isn’t sure whether she wants to keep the place or give it to her brother’s partner even if it might bring a lot of greatly needed money at sale. After all, Sally's husband, Sam (John Ellison Conlee), his sister, Chloe Haddock (Jenn Gambatese) and her husband, John (Chris Henry Coffey), aren’t exactly comfortable on the island, known as a gay retreat. In fact, no one even wants to venture into the swimming pool (also constructed on stage) for fear of catching the disease. (The play was written in 1991).

Sally isn’t sure about a bunch of other things, either, like whether she should tell Sam she is pregnant. She says it is because she doesn’t want to disappoint him after a number of miscarriages, but like everything else here, another reason seems to lurk behind her hesitation. We know this, and other things, like the fact that John and Sally had an affair, that Chloe feels invisible and that John has been diagnosed with cancer, because the characters talk directly to the audience. They don’t know how to communicate with each other or try to address any of their concerns, fears or needs. And the breakdown in communication isn’t only the result of a lack of skill --truth be told, though it rarely is, these people don’t like each other much.

McNally uses humor, great character development and the talk-to-the audience technique to paint a picture of who these people really are. In this way, he is more skilled at his art than withdrawn painter Sally, overwhelmed with trying to convey “all of that” which she sees on the landscape to her canvas. Gambatese skillfully creates a character so anxious for attention and so annoying with her non-stop chatter, constant bursts into song and use of French phrases that you wish someone would just knock her off the deck. Coffey’s John is so smoldering with frustration that you wonder if he just might do so before it’s all over. Instead Sam receives the brunt of his anger and Conlee offers a satisfying array of emotions from a man feeling inadequate and threatened on so many levels.

Lips Together Teeth Apart is many-layered and well done here, though two intermissions unnecessarily extend the run time to about two hours and 45 minutes. It runs at the Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport, through July 30. For more information or tickets, call the box office at 203=227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit online at

See a behind-the-scenes video from the show at

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Producers -- Ivoryton

“Springtime for Hitler.” Photo courtesy of Anne Hudson
The Producers
Ivoryton Playhouse
Book By Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Directed by Julie Kiley
Choreographed by JR Brunn
Music Direction by John Sebastian DeNicola

Highlights: The Producers, which played to packed houses on Broadway and stormed the Tonys is the biggest musical in scope every produced at the playhouse (and probably broke records at budget meetings with its need for elaborate sets and lots of costumes (Vivianna Lamb, design) and wigs (Joel Silvestro, design) to stuff the huge cast of 17 into).

The silly plot follows Broadway producers Max Bialystock (R. Bruce Connelly) and Leo Bloom (Michael McDermott) who concoct a scheme to mount the biggest flop ever so they can write it off and live on the money invested by a group of sex-deprived little old ladies. They find the perfect show: "Springtime for Hitler," written by Franz Liebkind (Mark Woodard) who feels that his hero, Adolph, has gotten a bum wrap. Max and Leo hire inept director Roger DeBris (William Broderick) and his flamingly gay assistant Carmen Ghia (Guilford, CT resident Schuyler Beeman) to stage the theatrical horror and hire Swedish bombshell Ulla (Liz Clark Golson) to star in it -- and to be a piece of eye candy around the office (it's typical Mel Brooks humor -- no one is safe from stereotype or possible offense). When Leo and Ulla find romance and the show ends up being a hit, the producers find their relationship and their ability to avoid the law strained.

Connelly evokes memories of Nathan Lane (who starred as Max on Broadway), but makes the role his own. Golson, Beeman and Woodard go over the top to create their stereotypical characters and Broderick lends a more sophisticated -- if such a word can be used to describe a man dressed as the Chrysler Building -- flair to his. The vocals are good and a tap-dance number in the ridiculous "Springtime" show is well done.

Lowlights: With the huge production of The Producers, the Playhouse may have bitten off more than it can chew. The large-scale numbers look cramped on the small stage, leaving Brunn little room for choreography. Budgets for sets (Tony Andrea designs the many set changes)  and wigs look like they are stretched too far and a sound mix that allows us to hear all of the performers isn't consistently achieved. In addition, the confident, solidly built McDermott appears miscast as the frail and timid Leo (though his voice is lovely).

More information: The Producers runs through July 31 at the 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
Michael McDermott, left, Liz Clark Golson, R. Bruce Connelly. Photograph by Jacqui Hubbard

Monday, July 11, 2011

Theater Review: My Fair Lady -- CT Rep

Terrence Mann and Eileen Fulton. Photo by David Ciano
Familiar Songs, Different Henry Higgins
By Lauren Yarger
CT Repertory Theatre wraps up its 2011 Nutmeg Summer Series at UConn with the Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe classic My Fair Lady, starring Broadway veteran Terrence Mann, Alix Paige and soap opera star Eileen Fulton done in a less than classic way. 
In this adaptation from Geroeg Bernard Shaw's play and Gabrial Pascal's film "Pygmalion," Henry Higgins (Mann) is vulnerable, energetic and almost likable instead of the old crotchety, set-in-his-ways professor of language made the standard by Rex Harrison (who created the role on Broadway and went on to star in the film as well as a revival). Mann is well versed as the gruff guy who falls in love in spite of himself. After all, he created the role of the Beast in Disney’s Broadway version of Beauty & the Beast, so maybe he wanted to try for something a little different in this summer theater production choreographed by his wife, Tony-Award nominee Charlotte d’Amboise.
Director Vincent J. Cardinal, artistic director and department head, lets him. The result is a Higgins who smiles a lot and who seems to care more about the girl trying to transform herself from Cockney flower girl into a lady who can pass for a duchess at the embassy ball. Mann even left character at the performance I attended and laughed at a particularly funny line from his housekeeper Mrs. Pearce, expertly played by Lynne McNutt. Mann also manages to give Henry a lot of depth, however. His “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” is moving as he displays the depth of his feelings and surprise at what he has lost when Eliza leaves him.
Fulton, looking like a million bucks (playing bad girl Lisa on the soap "As the World Turns" for decades obviously agreed with her) is Higgins’ socialite mother. It’s rather amusing to hear her try to replace her famous southern drawl with an upper-class English accent – surely linguist professor Henry, or fellow dialect expert Col. Pickering (Timothy Gulan) who bets Higgins he can’t transform Eliza’s speech, would catch on to the deception. It all seems to be in good fun, though, with everyone on stage clearly enjoying themselves.
Paige throws herself into the role of Eliza with enthusiasm, but doesn’t quite pull off the complexities of a character who transforms from course Cockney girl to "not-quite there yet" in the Ascott scene to refined and polished duchess. She excels as streetwise Eliza and her “Wouldn’t it be Loverly,” backed up by an able harmonizing male chorus, is quite nice.
One of the highlights of this production is Richard Ruiz’ excellent turn as Arthur P. Doolittle, Eliza’s abusive stepfather who looks for ways to capitalize from Eliza’s good change in fortune. He’s very funny and lights up the stage. 

 “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” isn’t the show-stopping number here, it’s the one that takes a trip back to what we expect in My Fair Lady: great large-sounding music form the orchestra (NDavid Williams, musical director)  and fun, full-stage choreography. D'Amboise makes clever choices and utilizes a larger cast on a small stage well. Kevin Thacker costumes the cast, rounded out by Connor Monroe as Freddie Eynsford-Hill, the blue blood who falls for Eliza, and Michael Anania is the scenic designer.
My Fair Lady runs at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre at UConn in Storrs through July 17. For information and tickets, call 860-486-4226 or visit

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nat King Cole Croons at Hartford Stage

Dennis W. Spears. Photo by Michal Daniel.

Hartford Stage continues its 2011 Summer Stage season with Penumbra Theatre’s production of I Wish You Love, written by Dominic Taylor and directed by Lou Bellamy.

The play features Nat “King” Cole’s hit songs as performed on his groundbreaking 1950’s television program. Following its world premiere at Penumbra Theatre in Minneapolis and a well-received engagement at the Kennedy Center in Washington, the production runs at Hartford Stage through July 24.

I Wish You Love
captures a significant moment in the life of the legendary crooner. It’s 1957, and times are changing. President Eisenhower had the Civil Rights Act on his desk, Althea Gibson had won Wimbledon, nine children were about to integrate Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, and Cole was the first black man that many in America let into their living room. Cole believed that with enough talent and persistence he would be judged on the content of his character as opposed to the color of his skin.

Relevant to all ages, this music-filled drama features more than 20 of Cole’s timeless classics, including “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” and “Let There Be Love.”

The production features Dennis W. Spears as Cole, singing nearly two dozen of Cole’s beloved songs. Other cast members are Kevin D. West as Oliver Moore, Eric Berryman as Jeffrey Prince and Michael Tezla as Bill Henry. All performers are making their Hartford Stage debuts.

Taylor is the associate artistic director of Penumbra Theatre, head of OKRA the Penumbra new play development program, and an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. His published plays include Wedding Dance, Personal History and UpCity Service(s).

Bellamy is the founder and artistic director of Penumbra, an Obie-award-winning stage director, and an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. Most recently, he directed the Penumbra and Arizona Theatre Company co-production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom staged at Arizona Theatre Company in Phoenix and Tucson and in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theater.

The creative team includes set design by Lance Brockman, costume design by Mathew J. LeFebvre, lighting design by Don Darnutzer, sound and video design by Martin Gwinup and music direction by Sanford Moore.

Tickets for I Wish You Love are $25 to $50. A limited number of $10 “Ten Spot” tickets are also available for all performances. Discounts are available for groups of ten or more by calling 860-520-7244. Students of Capital Community College may purchase one $10 ticket to I Wish You Love upon presentation of their student ID at the Hartford Stage box office.

All discount programsare subject to availability and cannot be combined with other offers. Hartford Stage has wheelchair accessible seating, assistive listening devices and other amenities. For more
information, please call the Hartford Stage box office. Hartford Stage is located at 50 Church St. in downtown Hartford.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Terrence Mann, Eileen Fulton Star in Nutmeg Summer Series 'My Fair Lady'

Broadway legend Terrence Mann as Professor Henry Higgins sips tea with Soap Opera star Eileen Fulton as Mrs. Higgins in Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s Nutmeg Summer Series production of My Fair Lady playing July 7 – 17 in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, Storrs.  For tickets and information call 860-486-4226 or visit  Photo by David Ciano.

Show Boat Docks at Goodspeed Through September 17 -- Extended Already

Robert Lance Mooney, Mollie Vogt-Welch, Lenny Wolpe, Elizabeth Berg & Jet Thomason set sail for Showboat at the Goodspped. Photo courtesy of the theater.

Production: Show Boat
Set across four decades, Show Boat is a sweeping tale that journeys into the lives, loves, and heartbreaks of three generations of show folk on the mighty Mississippi River.
Music by: Jerome Kern
Book and Lyrics by: Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on the novel “Show Boat” by: Edna Ferber
Goodspeed Opera House. 6 Main St., East Haddam
Director: Rob Ruggiero
Choreographer: Noah Racey

Set Designer: Michael Schweikardt, Costume Designer: Amy Clark, Lighting Designer: John Lasiter, Sound Designer: Jay Hilton, Music Director: Michael O’Flaherty, Assistant Music Director: F. Wade Russo, Orchestrations: Dan DeLange.

Principals: Sarah Uriarte Berry (Magnolia), Ben Davis (Ravenal), Andrea Frierson (Queenie), Karen Murphy (Parthy), Lenny Wolpe (Cap’n Andy), Danny Gardner (Frank), Jennifer Knox (Ellie), David Aron Damane (Joe), Lesli Margherita (Julie), Madeleine Berry (Kim).

Perfromances: Wednesday at 2 pm and 7:30 pm, Thursday at 7:30 pm, (with select performances at 2 pm), Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 3 pm and 8 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm (with select performances at 6:30 pm).

Tickets: Starting at $28 Goodspeed Box Office 860-873-8668 or at The show, originally scheduled through Sept. 11, has already been extended through Sept. 17 due to demand.

Special Events:
Goodspeed Dining Cruise/Theatre Package: Enjoy summer on the Connecticut River. Includes a leisurely cruise and sumptuous buffet aboard the Lady Katharine and ticket to the show. Sunday 7/10, 4 pm cruise, 6:30 pm show; $99/person.

Teen Nights: July 6 and 7 at 7:30 pm; July 8 at 8 pm. Introduce your favorite young person to the magic of musical theatre. Each adult who buys a regular-priced ticket on the specified dates may purchase a $15 ticket for a teen age 10 to 18. Meet the cast after the July 8 performance for autographs.

Meet the Cast: Take part in a lively discussion with the cast after the Thursday evening performances on July 28 and Aug. 11 and 25. Meet the Cast events are free with a ticket to that evening’s performance.

Friday Dinner Theatre Package: Includes dinner at the Gelston House (located next door to the Opera House) and a ticket to the 8 pm performance for $69.

Friday Morning Children's Shows at Ivoryton

Pictured - Allyn Gooen. Photo courtesy of the Ivoryton Playhouse

The Ivoryton Playhouse continues the tradition of Friday morning Children’s shows with some familiar stories and some new.

July 15 -- The Love Bug’s Hug - Allynn Gooen and Annie Hickman combine their creative talents into an extraordinary theatrical experience. In his zany style, Allynn uses balloons to create helicopters, airplanes, scuba tanks, and more, to lead his audience volunteers on a search for a cure to cheer up a sad princess. Annie’s colorful creatures become their guides to the magical Love Bug. PreK-6.

July 22 -- Haiku, Hip Hop & Hot Dogs Crabgrass Puppet Theatre presents Puppets Do Poetry. Imagine a symphony composed entirely by goldfish! Thrill to the adventures of “Fearless Flying Hotdogs!” Dance with the “Funky Snowman”! This exciting new fusion of poetry and puppetry includes Jack Prelutsky’s “The Goblin” (these goblins just want to have fun!) as well as poems by Nikki Giovanni, David McCord, Calef Brown and others. Remember to “Keep a Poem in your Pocket” and above all – “Do Not Approach an Emu”!

July 29 -- Bear Tales : An original story for children produced by The Madhatters Theatre Company.

Aug. 12 -- Bubblemania! Back by popular demand. Casey Carle performs tricky undulations, manipulations and juggling with bubbles. Children of all ages, parents and grandparents will all love this performance – this is a bubble show to keep the 5 to 75 year-olds mesmerized. Check out his website at

Aug. 19 -- Class Clown Hartford Children’s Theatre comes to Ivoryton for this very special performance. Lucas is the most rambunctious pupil in Mrs. Hockaday’s fourth grade class. He races pencils and cracks jokes when things seem a bit dull, and he always forgets to raise his hand. When his teacher sends home a note, Lucas vows to behave, though most of his good intentions quickly go awry. Based on the book by Johanna Hurwitz.

Performances are at 11 am. Tickets are $12 and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting  Book early to avoid disappointment. (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main St., Ivoryton.

Note from Long Wharf Theatre

Charles Kingsley, a partner at the New Haven law firm Wiggin and Dana, has been elected as the Chair of Long Wharf Theatre’s Board of Trustees, succeeding Mary Pepe, who served two terms in the position. He began his term on July 1.

Kingsley has been a member of the Board for twenty years, joining in 1991, recently serving as a member of the board’s Executive Committee. He has been a subscriber since 1965, having been in the audience of the theatre’s inaugural production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

“The image of New Haven is largely a cultural one … when you think of that wonderful culture, Long Wharf Theatre is one of the first things you think of, and with good reason,” Kingsley said.

Kingsley is also currently president of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, and a trustee of the Florence Academy of Fine Arts. Kingsley formerly served as president of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the New Haven Museum and Historical Society, the United States Squash Racquets Association and the South Central Connecticut Regional Mental Health Planning Council. He also served as a director of the Connecticut Trails Council of Girl Scouts, the Connecticut Audubon Society, the Connecticut Trust for Historical Preservation, and High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. He’s also been inducted into the College Squash Hall of Fame.

Cabaret Performance Plays at Ivoryton

Courtesy Ivoryton Playhouse
Guilford resident Michael P. Cartwright will entertain audiences with his cabaret revue "I Hear Music" on Monday, July 18at 7 pm at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

Take a performer with a magnificent vocal range and a gift for storytelling, add a songbook filled by such composers as Joe Raposo, Frank Loesser, George/Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, as well as several contemporary composers and you get the combination for Mike Cartwright’s "I Hear Music", an entertaining evening that examines how music shapes and influences lives. Joining Mike will be pianist Paul Feyer and special guest Sheri Ziccardi.

Local audiences have enjoyed his performances at Goodspeed Musicals, River Rep, Summer Theatre of New Canaan, and Ivoryton Playhouse. Cartwright has also appeared in productions at Arden Theatre in Philadelphia and Delaware Theatre Company. He made his New York debut in 2003 at the famous cabaret landmark Don’t Tell Mama, and studied at the Cabaret Conference at Yale University.

Cartwright will be joined by pianist Paul Feyer of Manchester. Feyer was the Conductor and Pianist for the Producing Guild in Hartford for 12 years, and has worked at the Gateway Playhouse in Long Island, Monomoy Theatre in Massachusetts, Goodspeed Musicals, and the River Rep in Ivoryton. He is a faculty member at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford.

Admission is $20. For more information or tickets, contact the Ivoryton Playhouse at (860) 767-7318 or visit our website at The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Riverfest at Three Locations July 9

Courtesy Riverfront Recapture
Riverfest, produced by Riverfront Recapture, will be held on Saturday, July 9 at three locations:
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, Hartford and Founders Plaza and Great River Park, East Hartford.

Enjoy 12 bands, food, lively kids activities and spectacular fireworks shot from three barges on the Connecticut River. Rain date: Sunday, July 10

For information, visit

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