Thursday, March 29, 2012


Sacred Sounds’ Mighty Austin Organ Series:
Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 7:30pm

Palace Adds Menopause Performance

In response to popular demand, the Palace Theater in Waterbury has added a third performance of the hilarious musical comedy,Menopause the Musical, on Thursday, April 19, at 7:30p.m. Tickets are go on sale Saturday, March 31, at 10a.m, and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2002, online, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, located at100 East Main Street inWaterbury, CT.  Groups of 10 or more qualify for discounted rates and should call the Group Sales hotline at 203-346-2011.

Inspired by a hot flash and a bottle of wine,Menopause The Musical writer and producer Jeanie Linders created the show as a celebration of women who are on the brink of, in the middle of, or have survived “The Change.” Produced by GFour Productions, the laughter-filled 90-minute production includes parodies of classic songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s and revolves aroundfour women at a lingerie sale with nothing in common but a black lace bra, memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, not enough sex, too much sex, and a little thing called menopause.

Menopause The Musical has entertained audiences across the country in more than 450 U.S. cities, 300 international cities and nearly 15 countries, and it is estimated that nearly 11 million women have attended a performance since the 2001 opening performance inOrlando, FL.  For more information, visit

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Winter's Tale -- Yale

Members of the company of The Winter's Tale.
© Joan Marcus, 2012
The Winter's Tale
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Liz Diamond
Mistakingly convinced that his wife, Hermione (Susannah Schulman) has been unfaithful with Polixenes, King of Bohemia (Hoon Lee), King Leontes of Sicilia (Rob Campbell) imprisons the pregnant queen and orders her lover's death. Polixenes flees back to Bohemia with the help of Camillo (Tyron Mitchell Henderson) and when her older son, Mamillius (Remsen Welsh), dies, Hermione dies of grief. Her friend, Paulina (an excellent Felicity Jones) takes the newborn babe to the king, hoping he will be moved by the sight of his daughter, but instead, he orders Paulina's husband, Antigonus (Brian Keane), to put her the child to death. He can't do it and leaves the babe in Bohemia, where she is raised as the daughter of a shepherd. Years later, the princess Perdita (Lupita Nyong'o) falls in love with Polixenes' son Florizel (Tim Brown) and the past catches up with present.

Diamond's production is as entertainingly and sharply directed a Winter's Tale as I have ever seen. The "exit, chased by a bear" scene is amazingly executed thanks in large part to lighting designer Matt Frey, who deserves kudos for a breath taking statue-comes-to-life scene as well.

Three musicians sit on stage (with simple, but breathtaking sets designed by Michael Yeargan) and add to the atmosphere by playing music composed by Matthew Suttor. Choreography is by Randy Duncan.

The performances all are strong and Campbell and Lee are particularly compelling. Very enjoyable production.

OK, this might be controversial, but this is one show that poses some difficulties for diversity in casting. Leontes is concerned that his children aren't his -- one look at his son, who is obviously of a different race from him and his wife, gives a quick (and wrong) answer. If a glance at the new-born babe couldn't quickly tell him whether she is his daughter for the same reasons, certainly the older Perdita couldn't be his (but is). I am all for cross-cultural casting and think it can be done much more than it is, but when the plot and dialogue so distinctly bring attention to it, it interferes with the storytelling. Imagine, for example, Othello played by a white actor. Doable, of course, but perhaps not the best casting choice in presenting that play.

Dance numbers go a bit too far in Bohemia. One really is enough.

The Winter's Tale runs through April 7 at the University Theatre, 222 York St., New Haven. Tickets range from $20-$88, are available online at or by calling 203-432-1234. For a  behind-the-scenes look at the show with director Liz Diamond and dramaturg Catherine Sheehy; and a production trailer visit

TheaterWorks Changes Season

TheaterWorks has changed two of the last three shows this season.

Red by John Logan, directed by Tazewell Thompson will play as scheduled March 23 through May 6.

Added to the lineup (and replacing Times Stands Still and Reasons to Be Pretty) are the world premiere of the unforgettable and deliciously entertaining memoir, I loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Guilia Melucci, adapted for the stage by Jacques Lamarre.  TheaterWorks’ Interim Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero directs.

I loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti runs June I through July 8.

The fifth and final play of the 2011-2012 Season, Tryst by Karoline Leach runs Aug. 3 through Sept. 9.  Director Joe Brancato brings this riveting psychological thriller to TheaterWorks from his acclaimed New York production.  At its core, Tryst deals with dark issues, betrayal and broken dreams yet somehow manages to remain decidedly light-footed.  This deftly written, taut period thriller is a modern mind bender with a startling climax.

For ticket information and a sneak peak at the list of possible plays for the 2012 -2013 season visit

Palace Features Work of CT Artists

Art Forms, the Palace Theater’s third annual Gallery Viewing that highlights artwork from award-winning Connecticut artists, premieres its 2012 showcase at the Fine Line Art Gallery, 319 Main St. South in Woodbury, on Saturday, April 28, from 4 to 8 pm.
The showcase will highlight a variety of local artwork from 17 award-winning artists and will consist of oil, watercolor and pastel painting, as well as photography, pottery, jewelry and several other types of creative expression.  Hosted by Fine Line Art Gallery owner Mally DeSomma, along with Barbara Morcey and Palace Board Member Dr. Lisa Veiga, the event serves as a benefit for the non-profit theater’s Annual Campaign.

Featured artists include DeSomma, Debbie Altschwager, Sal Barracca, Carolyn Bucha, Adelita Chirino, Bonny Current, John Houle, Chris Ivers, Carla Koch, Adele Moros, Nadine Newell, Rita Paradis, June Pierpoint Webster, Judith Secco, Peter Seltzer, Toni Sills, Lorrain Skelskey Chapin, and Judith Taylor.

The suggested donation for Art Forms is $25 per person, which includes an hors d’oeuvres and wine reception. To purchase tickets, call the Palace Theater Box Office at 203-346-2000, or visit online at

Final Chance to Play with Your Food

The final performances of this season's Play with Your Food Series are coming up:

Tuesday, April 3
Fairfield Theatre Company
70 Sanford Street, Fairfield

Tues, Apr 10; Wed Apr 11 (sold out!); Thu Apr 12
Westport, Toquet Hall
62 Post Road East

noon to 12:30 lunch; 12:30 - 1:30 plays and discussion.

Pygmalion (excerpt) by George Bernard Shaw 
The 100th anniversary of this classic romantic comedy on which My Fair Lady was based, but still a contemporary, riotous lampooning of the class system in England.

Misreadings  by Neena Beber
Situations are not always as simple as they appear, as a college English professor eventually realizes....

Bottom of the Ninth by Tony Sportiello
It's the seventh game of the World Series.. Manesco's at bat, Wolford is catching. What really goes on 'behind the scenes' in major leagues while the spectators are holding their breath? 
Lunch will be catered by:
The Pantry in Fairfield
Garelick & Herbs* in Westport   
*Passover meal available
Tickets $43; Advanced reservations required. For tickets, click here or call 203-293-8831 weekdays 10 am to 4 pm.

The Winter's Tale Continues at CT Rep

King Leontes, played by Brad Brinkley, in Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale playing in the Studio Theatre  through April 1.  For tickets and information call 860-486-4226 and visit  Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

Chunky Moves Get Connected at Wesleyan

Jeff Busby_Pictured Harriet Ritchie, Stephanie Lake, Marnie Palomares, Alisdair Macindoe and Joseph Simons. Photo: Jeff Busby
The 12th annual Breaking Ground Dance Series presented by WesleyanUniversity’s Center for the Arts and Dance Department concludes with two performances by the Australian dance company Chunky Move, featuring the Connecticut premiere of the work "Connected" on Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31 at 8pm in the CFA Theater, located at 271 Washington Terrace on the Wesleyan campus inMiddletown.

"Connected" is directed and choreographed by Chunky Move’s Gideon Obarzanek and features a kinetic sculpture by California-based artist Reuben Margolin.

There will be a pre-performance talk with dance scholar Debra Cash on Friday, March 30 at 7:15pm in CFA Hall, located at 287 Washington Terrace. Ms. Cash is a Scholar in Residence at both the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and the Bates Dance Festival. She was the dance critic for the Boston Globe for seventeen years.

Click here to watch a preview video of Chunky Move's "Connected" on YouTube:!

Admission for the performance of "Connected" by Chunky Move is $21 for the general public; $18 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, and non-Wesleyan students; and $6 for Wesleyan students. Tickets are available online at, by phone at (860) 685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown.

Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the performance, subject to availability. The Center for the Arts accepts cash, checks written to “Wesleyan University”, and all major credit cards. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount – please call (860) 685-3355 for details. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Activities, Tours, Discounts Highlight Playhouse Community Day

At last year’s “Playhouse Community Day,” patrons enjoyed tours which included viewing set models and sketches and trying on costumes.
Photos by Kat Gloor
Westport Country Playhouse will host its third annual open house, “Playhouse Community Day,” on Saturday, April 14 from 10 am to 3 pm with  a wide variety of family activities, backstage tours, displays and historic artifacts, insight on the upcoming 2012 season and ticket discounts throughout the day.

Admission is free and open to the public. There will be complimentary snacks and beverages, including food available for purchase.

“Playhouse Community Day is truly one of the most exciting events of the year here, and a personal favorite of mine,” said Michael Ross, Playhouse managing director. “It is a chance for us to not only show our audiences a side of the Playhouse they don’t normally experience, but also to give a little something back to the wonderful community that supports us.”

Guests will have an opportunity to take a peek backstage at the Playhouse with tours led every hour beginning at 10:15 a.m. in the Jason Robards Theatre. Production materials, including set models and sketches, as well as theatrical costumes, will be on display.

Partnering with the Playhouse for “Community Day” are several local organizations. Westport Public Library will offer a story time with fairy tales related to the Playhouse’s upcoming production of the musical “Into the Woods.” Westport/Weston YMCA will help kids make crafts. Earthplace will bring some animals for kids to play with, including Zeke, the box turtle, and a craft for kids to make their own turtles. In addition, the Playhouse will provide an activity for children to make paper bag puppets and a puppet theater to put on a show. Neighborhood Studios and FCBuzz Goes Live also will be present. 

Complimentary samplings will be available from Rizutto’s and Hilton Garden Inn Norwalk. Da Pietro’s will present a cooking demonstration.

At various points through the day, David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, will host a conversation about the upcoming 2012 season offering insight on the five productions: Into the Woods, a beguiling take on timeless fairy tales, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, directed by Mark Lamos, May 1 - 26; The Year of Magical Thinking, based on the National Book Award Winner by Joan Didion, directed by Nicholas Martin and featuring Maureen Anderman, June 12 - 30; Molière’s Tartuffe, a funny and wise farce, translated by Richard Wilbur, directed by David Kennedy, July 17 – Aug. 4; the world premiere of Harbor, a comedy about a dysfunctional, loving family, by Chad Beguelin, directed by Mark Lamos, Aug. 28 – Sept. 15; A Raisin in the Sun, the timeless classic about a black family in 1950s Southside Chicago and their quest for a piece of the American Dream, by Lorraine Hansberry, directed by Phylicia Rashad, Oct. 9 – Nov. 3.

Special offers on “Playhouse Community Day”include 20-percent discounts on single tickets to any of the 2012 season’s five productions. In addition, all subscription purchases that day will include a complimentary copy of the book, “An American Theatre: The Story of Westport Country Playhouse” by Richard Somerset-Ward, and subscription handling fees will be waived. The offers are for one-day-only, in-person purchases.

Brunches Jazz Up spring at Mark Twain House

A Cat in the Hat Bonnet Brunch with Karen Frisk, whose five-octave vocal range covers breathy ballads to heart-wrenching blues, sexy Latin rhythms to up-tempo swing, is April's event in the popular Sunday Jazz Brunch series at The Mark Twain House & Museum, presented as always by Japanalia Music.
Don't pack away your Easter bonnet!  Frisk, who calls herself the "Jazz Cat in the Hat," will have your chapeau bob-bob-bobbin' along to her swinging melodies at the event on Sunday, April 15, complete with four-star Japanese cuisine and American breakfast favorites in the museum's famed Murasaki Cafe.

Along with the hot sounds and heatwarming foods in the coolest place in town, there will be prizes for -- among others -- the biggest hat, the smallest hat, and (of course) the jazziest hat.

In her late teens the "jazz bug" bit Frisk, she says: Swing, latin jazz and R&B filled her soul, and she counts Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, and Rosemary Clooney as influences.

Frisk has shared the stage with many premier jazz artists including world-renowned pianist Dave McKenna, Artie Shaw Orchestra band leader Dick Johnson, Tony Bennett's guitarist Gray Sargent and legendary drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie.

Originally from Cromwell, Conn., Frisk says she was singing before she was speaking. She studied jazz piano with Merrill Doucette at the Hartford Conservatory and then moved on to study jazz/pop vocals and performance with Roberta Peck-Vater, the renowned music educator and Capitol Records recording artist.

Seatings for the Jazz Brunch are at 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. The $35 admission includes the performance, full brunch, soft drinks and hot beverages. Alcoholic beverages are available at an additional charge. Call 860-280-3130 for reservations.

The Mark Twain House & Museum's acclaimed Sunday Jazz Brunches, held in the museum's Murasaki Cafe, presented by Japanalia Music and curated by Dan Blow, are part of a jazz renaissance in the city.

Japanalia Music is famed for its "classy" and "red-hot" concerts (as Hartford Courant

jazz critic Owen McNally describes them). Each season Blow, Japanalia's musical tastemaker and  fashion designer, creates a powerful series of musical programs to delight and entertain.

The Murasaki Cafe brunch includes American favorites such as scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, tossed salad, Danish pastries, fruit, coffee, tea, juice and water; and Japanese treats to add flair to the mid-day: vegetable yakisoba (sautéed noodles with vegetables); tatsuta age (spicy chicken bits); edamame (lightly salted soybeans); curried rice pilaf; and vegetable sushi rolls with avocado, cucumber and sweet potato.
Future Sunday Jazz Brunches include offerings for both Mom and Dad:

May 13 - A Mother's Day Brunch with vocalist Napua Davoy. Born in Texas, and with a background in theater and avant-garde opera, whose has been heard on concert stages and major jazz venues in New York City and around the world, where she has toured extensively throughout Russia with her longtime collaborator, Russia's famed pianist/composer Andrei Kondakov. She was selected to open the 2002 Hartford Jazz Series.

June 17 - A Blues for Father's Day Brunch with the XY Eli Band. The music started for Eli when he was a little boy in his grandfather's church. After his move to Hartford in 1967 he joined Tony Bowens and the Soul Choppers, and he has played guitar for many years since. His music style ranges from R&B and rock to blues and gospel, and he even joined the punk world in the 1980s with The Repels.

The Mark Twain House & Museum ( has restored the author's Hartford, Connecticut, home, where Samuel L. Clemens and his family lived from 1874 to 1891.

Twain wrote his most important works during the years he lived there, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
In addition to providing tours of Twain's restored home, a National Historic Landmark, the institution offers activities and educational programs that illuminate Twain's literary legacy and provide information about his life and times.

The house and museum at 351 Farmington Ave. are open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday, noon-5:30 pm. (Closed Tuesdays through the end of March.) For more information, call 860-247-0998 or visit

HSO Pops Music of John Williams

Hartford Symphony Orchestra with Oscar Bustillo, guest conductor
Saturday, April 28, 2012 │ 8:00 pm
Mortensen Hall │ The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
Program: Excerpts from John Williams’ film soundtracks, including Jaws, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Star Wars, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Schindler’s List, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark plus fan favorites including Olympic Fanfare and Theme.
Ticket Information: Tickets range in price from $20-$67.50. Student and children tickets are $10. $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit

Darko Tresnjak Picks First Season at Hartford stage

Darko Tresnjak, artistic director,  has announced his first lineup at Hartford Stage.

The 2012-13 season kicks off with the Hartford Stage debut of Dora Award-winning Canadian director Jennifer Tarver helming Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Hartford Stage’s new musical initiative brings Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays starring in the world premiere musical comedy, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, directed by Tresnjak. 

Returning is Obie Award-winner Daniel Beaty with his world-premiere play Breath & Imagination-The Story of Roland Hayes, also directed by Tresnjak. Beaty’s play was commissioned by Hartford Stage, and presented in 2008 as part of Hartford Stage’s Brand: NewFestival.

From Beth Henley, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Crimes of the Heart, comes a rare revival of her wickedly funny 1990 comedy Abundance, directed by Co-Artistic Director of The Actors Company Theatre, Jenn Thompson.

Kate MacCluggage, currently charming audiences in Hartford Stage’s Bell, Book and Candle, will star in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, directed by Tresnjak.  The season will also include a new play to be announced.

"I look forward to a year of extraordinary artists who will bring these wildly eclectic and boldly theatrical pieces to life at Hartford Stage, in a season brimming with song and dance, sorrows and rejoicing, profound insight and sheer delight," Tresnjak said.

Hartford Stage subscription packages range from $120-$390.  For more information, call 860-527-5151 or visit  Single tickets go on sale this summer.  

In addition, Hartford Stage will present the 15th Anniversary Production of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Storyof Christmas Nov. 23 – Dec. 29.

Quick Center Celebrates Spirit of Uganda

Spirit of Uganda's Betty Nakato performing in Bale.
Photo by Dan Ozminkowski.

Spirit of Uganda: A Project of Empower African Children
1 pm, Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts,  Fairfield, CT

(203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396

Ivoryton Schedules Summer Auditions

The Ivoryton Playhouse will be holding local auditions for Equity and non union actors for their summer shows the week of April 9. Schedule is as follows:

THE LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS – auditions on April 9 from noon – 8 pm – looking for three women ages 20 – 50. Scenes will be available on the Playhouse website –

OLIVER – auditions on Tuesday, April 10 from noon to 8 pm – looking for singers of all ages OVER 12 ; and on Saturday, April 21 from 1 pm – 4 pm – auditions for children under 12.

HAIRSPRAY- auditions on Wednesday, April 11 from noon to 8 pm – looking for singers and dancers over 16. 

All auditions are by appointment and actors should bring a picture and resume, prepare a song in the style of the show and be prepared to move. Check website for more details.

All auditions will be held at the Playhouse Rehearsal Studio, 24 Main St., Centerbrook, CT.

For audition appointments, call 860-767-9520.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Theater Review: Bell, Book & Candle -- Long Wharf

Michael Keyloun, Ruth Williamson and Kate MacCluggage. Photo: T. Charles Erickson
Bewitching Tale of Romance, Magic in 1950s Manhattan
By Lauren Yarger
Snap your fingers and you'll see Samantha, a witch married to mortal Darrin Stevens and trying to live life without witchcraft in the popular 1960s television sitcom "Betwitched." Twitch your nose, and travel back in time, and you'll see the inspiration for that: "Bell, Book and Candle," the 1958 motion picture starring Kim Novak, James Stewart and Jack Lemmon.

But before all that was the original 1950 stage play by John Van Druten that inspired it all. Directed by Hartford Stage's new Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, the comedy gets a modern-day run at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, then moves on to co-producer Hartford Stage.

A bewitchingly beautiful Kate MacCluggage plays Gillian Holroyd, a witch who sets her sights on mortal Shepherd Henderson (Robert Eli) who lives upstairs from her red-swathed, moonlit New York apartment (Alexander Dodge's set evokes a modern look for 1950, complete with a rotating circle won the floor onderfully lighted by Matthew Richards). Shep hardly notices Gillian, though, and after she discovers that he is engaged to her former college rival, she uses some magic to make him hers.

With the help of her cat (a statue with some sound effects), her warlock brother, Nicky (Michael Keyloun), and her witchy aunt Queenie (Ruth Williamson), Gillian casts a romantic spell that brings the two together romantically. How can he resist? MacCluggage exudes a sexy, cat-like charm and Fabio Toblini's classic period costumes (and an evening wrap that is to die for) create a breathtaking vision and Shep is bewitched.

In a further effort to please her editor lover, Gillian uses her powers to summon Sidney Redlitch (Gregor Paslawsky), an author who writes about closeted witches who live right under everyone's noses in New York City. Shep might just publlish his work, until Nicky's interference starts an otherwordly clash affecting everyone.

The dark comedy delves into subtle questions of family, loyalty and even homosexuality, a taboo topic for 1950, as Gillian decides whether she wants to be with Shep even if that isn't what he really wants.

Tresnjak does a good job of keeping the action interesting despite a fairly week three-act play that runs way too long at two and a half hours.

Catch this engaging production at Long Wharf's Stage I through April 1. Tickets at Long Wharf Theatre are $40-$70 and can be purchased by visiting

The show moves to Hartford Stage April 5-29. Info at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Theater Review: Always Patsy Cline -- Ivoryton Playhouse

Jacqueline Petroccia

Touching Trip Down Memory Lane Might Make You Fall to Pieces
By Lauren Yarger
Patsy Cline touched the hearts of many with her soulful tunes like “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “She’s Got You” and “I Fall to Pieces,” thanks in part to her ability to make her listeners feel like she was a friend talking to them personally, expressing their own thoughts.

It wasn’t a performance. All accounts paint Cline as a warm and generous person. Always Patsy Cline, playing at the Ivoryton Playhouse brings to life the true friendship between Patsy (Jacqueline Petroccia) and one of her biggest fans, Louise (Laurie Dawn). Penned and originally directed by Ted Swindley, the show packs almost 30 tunes around the story of how the women met and continued their friendship through letters in the late 1950s and early ’60s until Cline’s death in a plane crash at the age of 30. 

Louise , the divorced mother of two, first hears Patsy on the Alfred Godfrey television show. She can’t hear enough of Cline’s music and soon is calling the local country radio station in Houston every day to request her favorite crooner. One day the DJ tells her Cline will be appearing right there in town at the Esquire Ballroom and Louise recruits a group to attend. She’s so excited, she insists they arrive hours before the program starts. 

As a result, she meets Patsy who is scoping out the room prior to the performance. The two strike up a fast friendship and Louise ends up acting as Cline’s manager for the engagement, negotiating better terms for the singer and conducting the band (played here by the six-man Bodacious Bobcats Band directed by John Sebastian DeNicola.) 

Swindley’s narrative is tedious and needlessly repetitive at times, but Dawn infuses Louise with enough charm and humor to overcome it and Director Jacqueline Hubbard allows Dawn enough creative freedom to make the character stand out on her own, instead of having the character serve only as a springboard for Cline’s songs. With the exception of reaching for some lower notes, Petroccia sounds (and looks) a lot like Cline and effortlessly belts out tunes with which the audience, encouraged during one number, sings along. She gives a solid portrayal of a kind, genuine woman who seems unaffected by fame and is quite at home donning an apron and pitching in with dinner when she accepts Louise’s invitation to bypass a lengthy trip to her hotel and spend the night at the home of her new friend instead.

At one point, a member of the audience was tapped by Louise to dance with her through one of the numbers and the real treat was the delightful laughter of his wife as she watched.

William Russell Stark’s set creates Louise’s humble home and serves as a backdrop for performances at The Grand Ole Opry and other locations. Doug Harry’s lighting design and Lisa Marie Harry’s period and country-music style costumes for Cline, define the era. 

It’s a sweet, nostalgic story nicely done.

Always Patsy Cline plays at the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., through April 1. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm with 2 pm matinees at 2 on Wednesday and Sunday. Tickets range from $15 to 40 and are available by calling 860-767-7318 or by visiting

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tracy Letts, Parker Posey on Board for Yale's Realistic Jonses

The cast of  Yale Rep's The Realistic Jonses features Pulitzer prize winner Tracy Letts (August Osage County) and TV and film actress Parker Posey. Also in the cast are Johanna Day and Glenn Fitzgerald.

Commissioned by Yale Repertory Theatre, The Realistic Jonses is written by Will Eno and will be directed by Sam Gold. The show runs April 20-May 12.

The story: Meet Bob and Jennifer (Letts and Day), and their new neighbors John and Pony ( Fitzgerald and  Posey), two suburban couples who have more in common than their identical homes and the same last name on their mailboxes.

Tickets range from $20 to $88, are available online at, by phone at 203-432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office (1120 Chapel Street, at York St., New Haven).  Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Long Wharf Announces $3.8-Million Renovation

New roomier seats, updated lobby and exterior part of the project 
When Long Wharf Theatre was founded in 1965, the Food Terminal was intended as a temporary stop on the way to a different, permanent home.

“However, as time has gone on, we have realized that charm alone can only go so far," said Josh Borenstein, managing director. "Everyone knows that our seats are cramped and our bathroom lines are long. Our artists know that the lighting grid is inadequate for modern lighting instruments. We know that the heating and air conditioning system is inefficient and antiquated,”

After recently signing a lease that will keep the theatre in its historic home until at least 2022, Long Wharf Theatre, is getting a much needed makeover. With designs by Gregg, Wies & Gardner Architects in New Haven, the renovation makes improvements to the facility that will focus on the newly christened Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage Theatre.

“Claire spent most of her time dedicated to issues related to social justice, children’s needs, medical research and the arts. Claire is a warm and wise soul. She has been a key part of Long Wharf Theatre for many years,” said Gordon Edelstein, artistic director.

To address these important issues, the theatre launched a $3.8 million renovation campaign in Fall 2011 to fund improvements. Long Wharf Theatre has currently raised approximately $2.56 million – close to 70 percent of the goal, which includes The Tow Foundation’s generous leadership gift of $1.25 million.

“Long Wharf Theatre is an essential and vital part of New Haven’s cultural arts community. The Tow Foundation is pleased to support the launch of this exciting moment in the theatre’s history,” said Emily Tow Jackson, executive director of The Tow Foundation.

In addition to recognition on the lobby donor wall for donors of $10,000 and up, there will be numerous opportunities for Long Wharf Theatre supporters to make an impact, including naming a seat on the Mainstage.

Theatre leaders and Trustees believe the theatrical experience begins the moment an audience member exits their car to walk up to the theatre. There is also the belief that the Theatre’s appearance should, at long last, reflect the caliber of the artistic works it presents while embracing the industrial nature of its surroundings.

“These renovations will create a more inviting and welcoming atmosphere for our wonderful patrons. In addition, the world class artists who work here will do so in a more comfortable and favorable environment,” said Edelstein.

To that end, the renovations will create a new and more inviting entrance to the facility. New dramatic lighting and signage will invite audiences into the space and contribute to the experience of attending a Long Wharf Theatre performance. The streamlined glass and steel entryway will embrace the industrial aesthetic of the site.

One of the biggest complaints about Long Wharf Theatre will finally be addressed – ­ the cramped Mainstage seating will be replaced with new, roomier seats, each with significantly increased legroom between rows, making Long Wharf Theatre comfortable for all patrons, no matter how tall. This will decrease the number of seats from 486 to just over 400.

The Mainstage lobby will be renovated and expanded to create an open, inviting area. The addition of a new concessions bar and increased restroom capacity will allow for a more pleasant experience for patrons. The lobby will be decorated in warm wood panels, with projections and exhibitions providing context and information about the current play and upcoming events.

Another significant improvement is new heating and air-conditioning units, allowing for more comfort on the Mainstage and throughout the entire theatre.

Also original to the Theatre’s founding, the Mainstage lighting system consists of cumbersome, labor-intensive, and woefully out of date theatrical lighting grid. It restricts designers’ creativity, impedes the Theatre’s ability to co-produce with other theatres, and limits the nuance and atmosphere that great lighting can add to a production. A new lighting grid will allow designers and staff to work with modern lighting equipment and technology, adding to the theatre’s creative capacity and reducing operating costs.

For more information about the theatre’s renovation project and to find out how to help, visit

Michael Douglas Will Receive Monte Cristo Award April 16

Individual tickets and table reservations are now available for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 12th Annual Monte Cristo Award honoring Michael Douglas.
Individual tickets are $750 and $1,000 (including event program listing), and are available online at The award will be presented during a gala dinner at the Edison Ballroom in New York City on Monday, April 16 at 6:30 pm.

The Monte Cristo Award is given to a prominent theater artist in recognition of a distinguished career exemplifying Eugene O’Neill’s “pioneering spirit, unceasing artistic commitment, and excellence.”  Past recipients of the Award include James Earl Jones, Harold Prince, Kevin Spacey and Wendy Wasserstein.

The Honorary Committee, co-chaired by Danny DeVito, Steven Soderbergh, and Barbara Walters , includes: Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Glenn Close, Pat Daily, Mr. & Mrs. Leo A. Daly III, MattDamon,  Jamie deRoy, Kirk & Anne Douglas, Robert Downey, Jr., Jennifer Garner, Jim Gianopulos, Bill Irwin, Cecelia Joyce & Seward Johnson, Marie-Josee & Henry Kravis, Doug Mercer, Ron Meyer, Lorne & Alice Michaels, Bette Midler, Rob & Michele Reiner, Tom Rothman, Joel Schumacher, Gerald Schwartz, Ridley Scott, Kathleen Turner, Jann Wenner, and Brian Williams; O’Neill Chairman Thomas Viertel; O’Neill Founder George C. White; and O’Neill Trustees Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Harold Prince, Sara Mercer, and Betsy White.  Program detail swill be announced shortly.

Sponsorship opportunities and program ads are available for the event. For more information about the 12th Annual Monte Cristo Award dinner, please contact Suzanne Hendrix at860-443-5378 x217 or

Founded in 1964, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center honors the work of Eugene O’Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America’s only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and is the recipient of two Tony Awards, in 2010 for Regional Theatre, and in 1979 for Theatrical Excellence.
The O’Neill is the country’s preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for American theater.  It has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and to more than 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O’Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway,Off-Broadway, and major regional theaters.

O’Neill programs include the NationalPlaywrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, Cabaret & Performance Conference,and National Theater Institute which conducts semester-long intensive theater training and includes Theatermakers, a six-week summer program; academic credits are awarded for all NTI programs.
The O’Neill owns and operates the Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. Childhood summer home of EugeneO’Neill, the Cottage is a National Historic Landmark.

Young Frankenstein is Alive at the Palace

Courtesy of the Palace
The national Broadway tour of the classic Mel Brooks’ musical comedy Young Frankenstein is alive, and coming to the Palace Theater in Waterbury for three monstrously entertaining performances, April 13 and 14. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at or at the box office,100 East Main St. Groups of 15 or more qualify for discounted ticket prices and should call the group sales hotline at 203-346-2011.

Based on the Oscar-nominated smash hit 1974 film,Young Frankenstein is the wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic from the comic genius of Mel Brooks. When Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, inherits a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his grandfather, deranged genius Victor Von Frankenstein, he faces a dilemma.  Does he continue to run from his family’s tortured past, or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather’s mad experiments, and in the process,  fall in love with his sexy lab assistant Inga?

Unfolding in the forbidding Castle Frankenstein and the foggy moors ofTransylvania Heights, the show’s raucous score includes “The Transylvania Mania,” “He Vas My Boyfriend” and the unforgettable treatment of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On the Ritz.”

Released in 1974 to unanimous critical acclaim, the film version of Young Frankenstein received two Academy Award nominations, including one for Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder’s script, which was also nominated for a Writer’s Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Since its release, the film has become part of the national consciousness, and in 2000, was selected as #13 on AFI’s 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time.

Young Frankenstein opened on Broadway November 8, 2007, at the Hilton Theatre and began its first national tour in September 2009. Young Frankenstein was named “Best Broadway Musical” in 2008 by the Outer Critics Circle.

As a special promotion, the Palace Theater is offering a 50-percent discount on family four packs of tickets purchased in the upper mezzanine for the Friday night and Saturday matinee performances. The discount is only available by phone at 203-346-2000, or in person at the Box Office.

Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein is the fourth presentation in the Palace’s 2011-2012 Webster Broadway Series, and is sponsored in part by WTNH/MyTV9.

HSO Announces Programs for Talcott, Pops!, Masterworks

Carolyn Kuan. Photo: Charlie Schuck
Highlights of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra's 2012-2013 Season (full schedule follows):
•    Bringing multiple cultures and generations together, the season will open on October 11-14, 2012 with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Xian’s Yellow River Cantata performed by the HSO, Hartford Chorale, Kang Hua Singers of Greater Hartford, Farmington High School Choir, and Chinese guest soloists.
•    Carolyn Kuan will conduct the HSO in Life- A Journey Through Time, a special, one-time multi-media event on Saturday, April 27, 2013.  A dynamic fusion of photography, music and scientific discovery, this event will feature music by Philip Glass and images by famed National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting.
•    In addition to world class guest artists including violinist Alexander Kerr, the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo, cellist Clancy Newman, and Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist Alexander Kobrin, the Masterworks Series also will turn the spotlight to several HSO Principal musicians, including clarinetist Curt Blood, violist Michael Wheeler, and concertmaster Leonid Sigal.
•    The 2012-2013 Pops! Series will feature a unique Holiday Cirque Spectacular on December 22, 2012.
•    The HSO Pops! Series will present a special event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Goodspeed Musicals with a night of Broadway hits on February 23, 2013.
•    Playing with Food! on May 18, 2013 will pair live orchestral music with dishes prepared by the finest chefs from around Greater Hartford.
•    Handel’s Messiah is back on December 14 and 15 in special performances at Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

Summer Begins with Carolyn Kuan
Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Leonid Sigal, violin; Sirena Huang, violin
Friday, June 22, 2012, 7:30pm
Fireworks after the concert
Rain date: Saturday, June 23
Vivaldi Four Seasons will be presented in combination with Piazzolla Quattro Estaciones (Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) for a concert of the sounds of winter, spring, summer and fall from two of the most creative composers in classical music.

CELEBRATE AMERICA! - The Annual Red, White & Blue Tradition
Oscar Bustillo, conductor
Friday, June 29, 7:30pm
Fireworks after the concert
Rain date: Saturday, June 30
Bring your picnic and wave your flag the HSO performs American classics and thundering marches with fantastic fireworks.   

DANCING UNDER THE STARS – Put On Your Dancing Shoes!
Carolyn Kuan, conductor
Friday, July 6, 7:30pm
Rain date: Saturday, July 7
Bring your dance partner, your kids and all your best moves for a non-stop medley of waltz, swing, and big band tunes – from Johann Strauss to Glenn Miller – starring Carolyn Kuan and the HSO.

ROCKET MAN - The Music of Elton John
Friday, July 13, 7:30pm
Rain date: Saturday, July 14
Playing all of Sir Elton’s greatest hits, this tribute from the HSO will feature the exceptional vocals of Jean Meilleur and the amazing piano work of John Regan.

BIG COUNTRY- Nashville Meets Simsbury
Music City Hitmakers, guest artists
Friday, July 20, 7:30pm
Rain date: Saturday, July 21
The HSO will perform the chart-topping hits of today’s hottest country music stars – scored for symphony orchestra. Nashville singer-songwriters Hillary Lindsey, Brett James, Gordie Sampson and their band have worked with such luminaries as Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and Martina McBride.
Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Hartford Chorale, Richard Coffey, music director; Kang Hua Singers of Greater Hartford, Chai-lun Yueh, artistic director; Farmington High School Choir, Leslie Imse, director; Soloists to be announced
Thursday, October 11, 2012, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, October 12 & 13, 2012, 8pm
Sunday, October 14, 2012, 3pm
Belding Theater
Xian Yellow River Cantata
Beethoven Symphony No. 9
The HSO begins its 69th season with two choral masterpieces: Symphony No. 9 is Beethoven at his most revolutionary and philosophical – including its exuberant finale, the “Ode to Joy” chorus. Xian’s Yellow River Cantata is one of China's best known and unique choral works, with its vivid descriptions of battling wind and waves and its inventive pairing of Chinese and Western instruments.

Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Tony Spada, electric guitar
Thursday, November 8, 2012, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, November 9 & 10, 2012, 8pm
Sunday, November 11, 2012, 3pm
Belding Theater
Copland Appalachian Spring (Original Orchestration)
Daugherty Gee’s Bend
Dvořák Symphony No. 8
Appalachian Spring has endured as one of America’s most beloved orchestral suites, with its memorable conclusion based on the Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.” Carolyn Kuan will conduct the beautiful original orchestration, along with Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, drawn from Bohemian folk music, and Daugherty’s
Gee’s Bend, which takes its bluesy inspiration from the spirituals, quilts and quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

Joel Smirnoff, conductor; Michael Wheeler, viola
Thursday, November 29, 2012, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, November 30 & December 1, 2012, 8pm
Sunday, December 2, 2012, 3pm
Belding Theater
Pachelbel Canon in D Major
Telemann Concerto for Viola
Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 1, “Winter Daydreams”
Eminent Julliard String Quartet violinist and conductor Joel Smirnoff will make his HSO debut leading some of the most memorable string compositions in the world as well as Tchaikovsky’s rich and evocative Symphony No. 1, “Winter Daydreams.”

Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Alexander Kerr, violin
Thursday, January 10, 2013, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, January 11 & 12, 2013, 8pm
Sunday, January 13, 2013, 3pm
Belding Theater
Rachmaninoff Vocalise
Barber Concerto for Violin
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique changed the musical world and will take audiences to a place just as vivid, obsessive and passionate as it was in Berlioz’s day. This adventurous program also will feature Rachmaninoff ’s Vocalise and Barber’s Violin Concerto as performed by world-renowned violinist Alexander Kerr.

Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Alexander Kobrin, piano
Thursday, February 14, 2013, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, February 15 & 16, 2013, 8pm
Sunday, February 17, 2013, 3pm
Belding Theater
Mahler Adagietto from Symphony No. 5
Falla Three Cornered Hat Suite No. 1
Bizet Carmen Suite
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3
This second program of romantic themes will feature Mahler’s tender musical love letter to his beloved Alma, alongside the seductress Carmen’s warning of the perils of romance and Rachmaninoff’s compelling and complex Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring Russian pianist Alexander Kobrin, gold medalist of the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Leonid Sigal, conductor and violin; Curt Blood, clarinet
Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, March 15 & 16, 2013, 8pm
Sunday, March 17, 2013, 3pm
Belding Theater
Mozart Symphony No. 1
Mozart Concerto for Violin No. 3
Mozart Concerto for Clarinet
Mozart Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter”
This concert will explore the genius of Mozart – from his very first symphony written at the age of eight – to his last, composed at 32, along with concerti performed by HSO Principal musicians.

Rossen Milanov, conductor; Clancy Newman, cello
Thursday, April 18, 2013, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, April 19 & 20, 2013, 8pm
Sunday, April 21, 2013, 3pm
Belding Theater
Rossini Overture to Semiramide
Elgar Concerto for Violincello
Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4, “Italian”
German composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote to his parents while on European tour, “This is Italy! And now has begun what I have always thought to be the supreme joy in life.” This inspired and tantalizing musical feast will feature guest conductor Rossen Milanov, recognized for his “strong interpretive concept” by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Anderson & Roe Piano Duo - Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe
Thursday, May 9, 2013, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, May 10 & 11, 2013, 8pm
Sunday, May 12, 2013, 3pm
Belding Theater
Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 6
Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue (Roe)
Gershwin I’ve Got Rhythm Variations (Anderson)
Four-hand piano encores from Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
The dynamic Anderson & Roe Piano Duo will join the HSO in a Gershwin revue that also will feature the duo’s original arrangement of Piazzolla’s Libertango and other four-hand piano encores. Other concert highlights will include the HSO premiere of Vaughan Williams’ Sixth Symphony.

Carolyn Kuan, conductor
Thursday, May 30, 2013, 7:30pm
Friday & Saturday, May 31 & June 1, 2013, 8pm
Sunday, June 2, 2013, 3pm
Belding Theater
Williams Suite from Harry Potter
Huang The Color Yellow Concerto for Sheng
Stravinsky The Rite of Spring
For the season finale, the HSO will perform music of composers who dismissed convention to create vivid new sounds colors. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring – which will be performed exactly 100 years after the premiere– caused riots, John Williams’ film scores for Harry Potter brought to life the awe-inspiring story that nurtured an entire new generation of readers, and contemporary composer Huang Ruo created a new concerto for Sheng, an ancient Chinese mouth organ known for its exotic sound.


Richard Coffey, conductor; CONCORA, Richard Coffey artistic director
December 14 & 15, 2012, 7:30pm
Asylum Hill Congregational Church
The HSO and CONCORA come together in an intimate and inspirational setting to perform Handel’s holiday classic, including the Hallelujah Chorus in the beautiful acoustics of Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Frans Lanting, photography
Saturday, April 27, 2013, 7:30pm
7:30pm Performance followed by Panel Discussion
Mortensen Hall

LIFE – A Journey Through Time bridges the gap between art and nature through a dynamic fusion of photography, music and scientific discovery. Carolyn Kuan will conduct the HSO in this special, one-time multi-media event featuring music by Philip Glass and images by famed National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting. This concert is the encore of an evening which also includes an onstage conversation about new research into the origins and future of life on Earth.
HSO’S 2012-2013 POPS! SERIES:

Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Lyn Dillies, illusionist
Saturday, October 20, 2012, 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
The HSO brings out all its musical tricks in this magical evening of Halloween family fun.  Magic at the Symphony will meld the majesty of symphonic music with the mystery and grace of master illusionist Lyn Dillies to create a truly unique entertainment experience. 

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, guest artists
Saturday, November 17, 2012, 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
Grab your “King of Swing” and “Go Daddy O” to see the HSO and guest artists Big Bad Voodoo Daddy take a New Orleans-style twist on the legendary big bands and swing orchestras.

Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Cirque de la Symphonie, guest artists
Saturday, December 22, 2012, 3pm and 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
Seasonal favorites accompany spectacular aerialist and acrobatic artists performing on the same stage as the HSO for a program that will rediscover the magic and music of the season.

THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM: 50 Years of Goodspeed Musicals
Michael O’Flaherty, conductor; Special guest artists to be announced
Saturday, February 23, 2013, 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
The HSO and Goodspeed Musicals join to celebrate the golden anniversary of the home of the American Musical.  This special collaboration features selections from Goodspeed originals that moved to Broadway including Annie and Man of La Mancha, plus audience favorites from dozens of shows like 1776, Show Boat, and Brigadoon.

Robert Thompson, conductor
Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
It’s opening day and a great way to treat the family to a baseball-inspired musical match-up. This World Series symphonic event will include more than 2,000 archival images and video from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, all synchronized to the greatest music about the greatest sport.

PLAYING WITH FOOD! -- An HSO Musical Menu featuring Greater Hartford’s Fine Restaurants
Carolyn Kuan, conductor
Saturday, May 18, 2013, 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
Chefs of Greater Hartford to be announced
Fine music and fantastic cuisine connect to create a satisfying symphony of flavor in this special event.  Several of Greater Hartford’s great chefs will prepare and show you their unique dishes.  Then, Carolyn Kuan will interpret each one with a musical selection. 

Yale Announces New Season; Paul Giamatti to Star in Hamlet

Yale Repertory Theatre announced its 2012-2013 Season, which will include Academy Award-nominated actor Paul Giamatti in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet; three world premieres: Marie Antoinette by David Adjmi, Dear Elizabeth by Sarah Ruhl, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s In a Year with 13 Moons adapted by Bill Camp and Robert Woodruff; American Night: The Ballad of Juan José, a new play byRichard Montoya; and Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones.
Written byRichard Montoya
Developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney

September 21-October 13, 2012
Opening Night: September 27
University Theatre (222 York Street)

As Juan José feverishly studies for his citizenship exam, his obsession to pass takes him on a fantastical odyssey through U.S. history guided by a handful of unsung citizens who made courageous choices in some of the country’s toughest times. American Night: The Ballad of Juan Joséis a provocative, irreverent, and hilarious mix of past and present, stereotype and truth.

World Premiere
By David Adjmi
Directed by Rebecca Taichman
A Co-Production with American Repertory Theater

October 26-November 17, 2012
Opening Night: November 1
Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel Street)

The young queen Marie Antoinette delights and inspires her French subjects with her three-foot tall wigs and extravaganthaute couture. But times change and even the most fashionable queens go out of style. In David Adjmi’s humorous and hauntingMarie Antoinette, idle gossip turns more insidious as the country revolts, demandingliberté, égalité, fraternité!

The world premiere of Marie Antoinette is a co-production with American Repertory Theater, where it will play in September 2012.

World Premiere
By Sarah Ruhl
A play in letters
from Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell
and back again
Directed by Les Waters

November 30-December 22, 2012
Opening Night: December 6
Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel Street)

Sarah Ruhl, one of the most celebrated and honored playwrights of her generation, returns to Yale Rep with the world premiere ofDear Elizabeth, chronicling the remarkable thirty-year friendship between two of the most celebrated and honored American poets of the 20th century: Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. With postmarks from Maine to Key West, and as far away as London and South America, Dear Elizabeth is a lyrical and moving portrait of two lives that unfold in letters.

Sarah Ruhl made her Yale Rep debut in 2004 with the world premiere of The Clean House, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Her collaborations with director Les Waters include the acclaimed productions ofEurydice at Yale Rep in 2006 and the Pulitzer and Tony Award-nominated In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) on Broadway.

By Marie Jones
Directed by Evan Yionoulis

January 25-February 16, 2013
Opening Night: January 31
Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel Street)

A rural Irish village is turned upside down by the arrival of an American film crew. When Charlie and Jake are cast as extras in the movie, they discover that Hollywood’s romanticized Ireland stands in stark contrast to the reality of their daily lives.

Winner of London’s Olivier Award for Best Comedy, Stones in His Pockets is staged by OBIE Award-winning resident director Evan Yionoulis and features two actors playing more than a dozen eccentric characters—from the film’s spoiled American starlet to the star-struck locals.

Paul Giamatti
By William Shakespeare
Directed by James Bundy

March 15-April 13, 2013
Opening Night: March 21
University Theatre (222 York Street)

Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti returns to the Yale Rep stage as the Prince of Denmark inHamlet, Shakespeare’s harrowing tragedy of corruption, betrayal, and madness. Haunted by a ghostly revelation that his father, the King, was murdered, Hamlet puts into motion a vengeful plan that will have devastating consequences for his family and the kingdom.

Staged by Artistic Director James Bundy,Hamlet marks the first Yale Rep appearance for Paul Giamatti since Shakespeare’s As You Like It in 1994. His critically-acclaimed body of work includes the films Cinderella Man and Sideways; HBO’s John Adams, for which he received Emmy and Golden Globe Awards; and The Iceman Cometh on Broadway.

Hamlet is Yale Rep’s 2012-2013 WILL POWER! production. The run includes four 10:15AM performances available only to 8th-12th grade school groups. For information on WILL POWER! performances, please contact Ruth M. Feldman at (203) 432-8425 or

World Premiere
By Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Adapted by Bill Camp and Robert Woodruff
Directed by Robert Woodruff
Featuring Bill Camp

April 26-May 18, 2013
Opening Night: May 2
Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel Street)

When the object of his affection off-handedly commented, “too bad you’re not a girl,” Erwin disappeared to Casablanca and returned as Elvira. Now, adrift and alone, Elvira revisits the people and places of the past, desperately searching for the identity and love she’s never known.

The world premiere of In a Year with 13 Moons—a new adaptation of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s melodramatic, darkly comic, and unsettling New German Cinema masterpiece—is staged by Robert Woodruff.


Yale Repertory Theatre offers a variety of subscription packages for audiences to enjoy the entire season, starting at $30 per ticket for the general public and $10 for students. 

Subscriptions are available now online, by phone at (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office (1120 Chapel Street) during regular business hours (Monday through Friday 10AM-5PM, Saturday 12-5PM, and until 8PM on all performance evenings).

Individual tickets for the entire season will go on sale on September 4. Group Sales will be available as well on September 4 by calling (203) 432-1572.

HSO Presents African American Sketches

Kate Mangiameli. Photo courtesy of HSO
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra will present African American Sketches, the final concert of the 2011-2012 Sunday Serenades Chamber Music series 2 pm Sunday, April 22 in the Courtyard of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

This program is inspired by the Wadsworth’s exhibit, Collective Memories: Selections from The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, and will feature performances of works by Ravel, Bernstein, Burleigh, Foss, and more.  Guest soprano Kate Mangiameli will join Sunday Serenades Artistic Director and HSO Concertmaster (principal violinist) Leonid Sigal, HSO Assistant Principal cellist Eric Dahlin, and HSO pianist Margreet Francis for this intimate chamber program.

Collective Memories: Selections from The Amistad Center for Art & Culture is the first of two exhibitions to commemorate twenty-five years dedicated to telling the story of people of African descent.

Opening on April 22 and on view through Sept. 23, Collective Memories  features works from the permanent collection dating from the 17th to early 20th century to show the breath of the collection on the topic of African American enslavement.  Inspired by these works of art, Sunday Serenades Artistic Director Leonid Sigal has programmed a concert comprised of music spanning more than 100 years of the African American musical tradition, including traditional African American Spirituals, Ravel’s Madagascan Songs, Burleigh’s Southland Sketches for Violin and Piano, and Bernstein’s “Simple Song” from Mass and Dream with Me.
Tickets are $30 ($25 for HSO Subscribers and Atheneum Members). Ticket price includes general admission to the Wadsworth Atheneum on the days of the concerts. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Louise Pitre Will Play Mame at Goodspeed

Louise Pitre, the Tony-nominated star of Broadway’s Mamma Mia!, will lead the cast as Mame in Goodspeed Musical's production of the Jerry Herman musical playing at the opera house April 20-July 1

Known as Canada’s “first lady of musical theatre,” Pitre also headlined the Toronto and US touring company casts of Mamma Mia!and is known for her signature performances as Fantine in Les Misérables(Toronto, Montreal, and Paris) and the title character in Edith Piaf.
Mame will be directed by Ray Roderick, who helmed Goodspeed’s recent hits, My One And Only, 42nd Street, and Singin’in the Rain as well as Hello! My Baby and Double Trouble at The Norma Terris Theatre.

Tickets are available at 860-873-8668 or

More Than 400 Musicians Join Forces for Verdi's Requiem

Photo courtesy of the HSO
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the construction of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, the Sacred Sounds Concert Series will present Verdi’s Requiem on Friday, March 16 at 8 pm at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford.

Led by conductor Edward Bolkovac, this monumental performance will feature the collaborative sounds of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Chorale, New Haven Chorale, The Hartt School Choruses, Cathedral Choirs, soprano Amanda Hall, mezzo-soprano Lucille Beer, tenor Raffaele Sepe, bass Ryan Green, and organist and Sacred Sounds Music Director, Dr. Ezequiel Menéndez.

“This concert undoubtedly will be the largest scale production that has ever been performed in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, " Menendez said. "We are bringing together the greatest musical forces in Connecticut for this epic piece of music…this is going to be the concert of the year.”

Admission: $20 Suggested Donation. All proceeds from the concert to benefit the musical efforts of the Sacred Sounds Concert Series. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Free parking will be available in the Cathedral’s parking lot on Asylum Avenue and at Asylum Hill Congregational Church. For more information, visit or call (860) 578-1433.

CT Arts Connection Calendar

At The HSO
Hartford Symphony Orchestra with Robert White, tenor; Gerald Steichen, guest conductor; Jeanne Freeman, Irish fiddle; Dancers from The Shamrock School of Irish Dance- Sheila Stevens, director
Saturday, March 17 at 8 pm
Mortensen Hall │ The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
Ticket Information: Tickets range in price from $20-$67.50. Student and children tickets are $10. $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit

At Long Wharf
Long Wharf Theatre will be holding a press conference Wednesday, March 14 at 11 am to announce its Mainstage renovation project. Board Chair Charles Kingsley, Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein, Managing Director Joshua Borenstein and Mayor John DeStefano will be speaking.

At The Quick Center
The Acting Company in association with The Guthrie Theater presents
William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”
6 p.m., Sunday, March 25, 2012
Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts
Tickets: $40, $35, $30
Sarah Vowell, "Author's Liberty as a Voice of Patriotic Radicalism"
Open VISIONS Forum Lecture Series
8 pm, Wednesday, March 28
Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield
Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396. (1-877-278-7396). Tickets can also be purchased online at
At the Edgerton Center
“Arrival from Sweden” and its The Music of ABBA, one of the world's most popular and bestselling ABBA tribute shows, on Wednesday, March 28 at 8pm Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

General Public: $55 and $35; Student/Faculty/Staff/Senior Citizens: $50 and $30
Tickets may be reserved by phone: 203-371-7908; online at

Get a Clue at the Mark Twain House

'Get A Clue' Tour: A Live-Action Mystery Adventure at The Mark Twain House & Museum Unfolds March 22 and 23.

Someone has killed "Pap" Finn!  Was it Tom Sawyer in the Library with the Wrench?  Could it be the Connecticut Yankee in the Billiard Room with the Knife? Or was it the Pauper in the Kitchen with the Rope? 
In a parody inspired by the classic Parker Brothers/Hasbro game CLUE, a full-fledged murder mystery is laid out for visitors to solve during The Mark Twain House & Museum's new "Get a Clue" Tour, Thursday, March 22, and Friday, March 23. 
The game's organizers noticed that many of the rooms in the Mark Twain House are the same as the ones on the iconic board game: The Hall, the Dining Room and other opulent chambers become possible murder scenes in this classic challenge of deductive reasoning and detective skill. 

In a special one-hour tour, participants will be able to make accusations and figure out who sent Pap -- Huckleberry Finn's drunken, abusive father -- to his doom, where he was dispatched, and what was used to dispose of the scoundrel.  Visitors will solve the mystery, laugh a lot, and save the day.

Members of Hartford's beloved, hilarious Sea Tea Improv comedy troupe portray the suspects, who are based on famous literary characters Twain created in the very house where the mystery unfolds.

The "Get a Clue" tours will be held March 22 and 23 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tours depart every twenty minutes and must be reserved in advance.

Tickets are $22; $20 for members. Reservations are required! Call 860-280-3130.

'Hateful Things' Opens March 29, Joins Exhibit on Mark Twain's Attitudes Toward Race; Films, Lectures, Plays Planned
"Mammy" tobacco tins, a sign reading "No Niggers No Jews No Dogs," comic books pushing black stereotypes -- and everywhere grinning black faces, their features distorted and exaggerated.

Such is the brutal imagery of the racism that permeated American popular culture for many decades -- and which is portrayed in "Hateful Things," a new exhibit at The Mark Twain House & Museum. It's part of "Race, Rage and Redemption," a series of exhibitions and films, lectures and plays on the racial divide in America.

The "Hateful Things" exhibit is made up of artifacts and imagery from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan, augmented by other items borrowed from private owners and the museum's collections. The items explore one of the most brutal chapters of American history and the effect of slavery on our national consciousness.

The opening reception for "Race, Rage and Redemption" will be held Thursday, March 29, from 5:30 to 7 pm. The event, which is free, will be followed by a performance of Harriet Tubman's Dream, a one-woman show dramatizing the life of Tubman, a heroine of the Underground Railroad.  Though the reception is free, RSVPs are requested.  Please call Nancy Honore at 860-280-3112.

The exhibits run through Sept. 3.

Please note: These exhibitions contain inflammatory and upsetting imagery and language. Parental discretion is advised.
The Connecticut Freedom Trail Planning Committee has voted to include the Mark Twain House in its prestigious list of sites deeply important to the history of African Americans in Connecticut.The Mark Twain House & Museum (

Mood Swings Over at the Palace

Photo courtesy of the Palace Theater.
Women across Connecticut are invited to join the sisterhood and celebrate “The Change” when Menopause The Musical comes to the Palace Theater in Waterbury for two nights of musical fun, April 17 and 18 at 7:30. 

Inspired by a hot flash and a bottle of wine, Menopause The Musical was created by writer and producer Jeanie Linders as a celebration of women who are on the brink of, in the middle of, or who have survived “The Change.” Produced by GFour Productions, the laughter-filled 90-minute production includes parodies of classic songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s and revolves around four women at a lingerie sale with nothing in common but a black lace bra, memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, not enough sex, too much sex, and a little thing called menopause.

Tickets are $49.50, $39.50 and $28.50, and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2002, online, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, located at100 East Main Street inWaterbury, CT. Groups of 15 or more qualify for discounted rates and should call the Group Sales hotline at 203-346-2011.

Pre-show events start at 6 pm.  On opening night,WFSB personality Scot Haney will take on the evening’s hosting duties and give patrons a meet-and-greet opportunity in the lobby before the show begins. As an added bonus, the Waterbury Fire Department’s calendar guys will be on hand to “heat-up” both performances, and for $5, will pose for pictures with women in attendance.  Proceeds from the photos will benefit the Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp in Union, CT, an outdoor camp for kids from around the world who have survived life-altering burn injuries. The camp provides burn victims with a variety of social and physical activities designed to help campers overcome anxieties, develop their physical skills and move beyond their scars and injuries.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Theater Review: Les Miserables -- The Bushnell

Mark McVey as Jean Valjean. Photo by Paul Kolnik
Energized Tour Brings it Home
By Lauren Yarger
The adage “practice makes perfect” finds its proof in the portrayal of Jean Valjean in the tour of Les Miserables stopping this week at the Bushnell in Hartford. J. Mark McVey has played the title role more than 2,900 times and you won’t find a better performance or a more moving rendition of “Bring Him Home.”

This energized 25th anniversary tour recreates the excitement of the original Broadway production with stunning new video projections (Fifty-Nine Productions)  and in every way, brings the musical home. (Can it really been that long since this stage version of Victor Hugo’s classic with music by Claude-Michel Schoberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer took Broadway by storm?) For those of you who are fans (and this review assumes most of you are and doesn’t attempt to recount the story), don’t miss McVey. For those who never have seen Les Mis, this is the production to see. 

Other members of the cast also stand out (including McVey’s real life daughter Kylie who alternates the roles of young Cosette (the night I attended) and young Eponine with Julianna Simone). Shawna M. Hamic is one of the funniest -- and scariest -- Madame Thenardiers I have ever seen (and yes, I’m a big Les Mis fan, so I have seen a lot of them.) Kudos for taking a much-played role and making it her own. She’s paired with talented Richard Vida as the other half of the morally corrupt couple who provide an unhappy home for little Cosette and interact with Valjean over the years in post Revolution France. 

Relentlessly pursuing former convict Valjean is religious zealot Javert (Andrew Varella) who brings a lovely baritone to his songs, nailing “The Stars.” In turning his life around, Valjean helps down-and-out factory worker/prostitute Fantine (Betsy Morgan), who belts out a lovely “I Dreamed a Dream." He raises her daughter, Cosette (Julie Benko) as his own. Cosette falls in love with activist student Marius (Max Quinlan, who also has a terrific voice), but the couple’s happiness means a broken heart for the Thenardiers’ daughter, Eponine (Chasten Harmon) who is in love with Marius. 

The saga of love, war, forgiveness and redemption, directed in this new Cameron Macintosh production by Laurence Connor and James Powell, bursts to life on a wonderful set (Matt Kinley, design) enhanced by images inspired by Hugo’s own paintings. The video projections create a three-dimensional world, particularly of the sewers, and give a new option for depicting Javert’s plunge into their depths (on Broadway, this effect never could be seen unless you were seated in the mezz). 
Also standing out is Jeremy Hays, who as student Enjolras, leads his compatriots to battle with a strong, splendid tenor that sounds a lot like the original recording. 
I noted only a few criticisms. Some of the movement, particularly physical confrontation scenes, appear staged. This production has a small orchestra and it sounds small against the large ensemble. The tempo is  a bit too fast at times as well (perhaps part of a plan to shorten the show's original running time of more than three hours to the current two and a half hours). Robert Billing conducts. 
And since another drop won't hurt me now, I also miss the revolving stage. It really was a part of the look and feel of this show. This can’t really be lodged as a complaint, however, since it would be impossible for a touring production to require this, but parts of the show look like they are missing this part.

All of these are minor complaints, however. They pale in comparison to the engaging production, particularly McVey’s compelling performance. It’s a wonderful revisit to a favorite and in many ways, is more satisfying (and goose-bump generating) than some performances I saw during the show’s Broadway run between 1987 and 2003. Don’t miss it.
Les Mis plays at the Bushnell through Sunday. The run is close to being sold out. For ticket information, call the box office at 860-987-5900 or visit
For information on the tour, visit

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Theater Review: The Whipping Man -- Hartford Stage

Josh Landay, Che Ayende and Leon Addison Brown. Photo T. Charles Erickson
The Line Between Family, Freedom is a Scar on the Back
By Lauren Yarger
Superb set design by Andromache Chalfant, skillful direction by Hana S. Sharif and strong performances enhance a sharp script by Matthew Lopez to create one of the best performances on a Connecticut Stage this year.

It's Hartford Stage's The Whipping Man, a tale of family and freedom set in the days right after the Civil War. A wounded Caleb (Josh Landay) arrives at the burned-out remains of his family estate following the surrender of his army at Appomattox. Former slave Simon (Leon Addison Brown) guards the property, awaiting the return of his wife and daughter, who left with Caleb's father.

John (Che Ayende), another former slave and boyhood chum of Caleb's arrives bringing much needed food and supplies "discovered" at nearby estates. John is on the run, but takes refuge at his former home. When Caleb refuses to go to an army hospital, Simon amputates his gangrenes leg. Unable to care for himself, the former master's son now has to remember to ask nicely when he needs something instead of barking orders.

A twist to the story is the family's Jewish beliefs. Caleb abandoned God and prayer in a fox hole, but Simon holds on to his faith and decides to celebrate a Seder dinner, improvised like the first one, with what they scrounge. Faith, friendship and family roots all are pulled up as the truth about what has taken place at the house, and John's periodic trips to see the plantation's "whipping man" for punishment are revealed.

The writing in this 90-minute, intermissionless play is taut and Lopez develops compelling characters while building an atmosphere of tension and suspense. This production, particularly the massive house, in ruins like the family and the hopes of the South,  closely mirrors the stellar version which played at the Manhattan Theatre Club and took home the Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Award for Lopez. Marcus Doshi's lighting design and Broken Chord Collective's original music and sound design greatly enhance the dramatic presentation. Don't miss it.

The Whipping Man plays through March 18 at Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford. Evening performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 pm and  Friday and Saturday at 8 pm.  Matinee performances are Sundays and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 pm.  For tickets call the box office at 860-527-5151 or visit

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