Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Connecticut Arts Connections


Kevin Bacon will star in Hartford Stage's production of Rear window, directed by Darko Tresnjak.

OCT. 22 – NOV, 15
Adapted for the Stage by Keith Reddin
Based upon the Story “Rear Window”
by Cornell Woolrich

Bacon is a Golden Globe Award winner and Emmy Award nominee, whose films include "A Few Good Men," "Apollo 13," "Footloose," and "Murder in the First." His theater credits include Forty Deuce (OBIE Award), Spike Heels, and the Broadway productions of Slab Boys and An Almost Holy Picture.


The Palace Theater in Waterbury is seeking enthusiastic and outgoing individuals to volunteer as tour guides as part of the theater’s Ambassadors program. The venue’s historical backstage tours have grown in popularity over the past year and more tour guides are needed to meet the demand. Recruitment meetings for the program will be held at the theater, 100 East Main Street in Waterbury, on Tuesday, Aug. 24 and Monday, Aug. 31, at 5:30p.m.

The Palace Theater Ambassadors are a specially trained group of engaging volunteers well versed in the theater’s history, architectural design and entertaining anecdotal information. On the first Friday of every month and on select weekend and weekdays throughout the year, the theater’s tour guides work as a team to facilitate guided tours of the historic venue to members of the public. Tours are conducted at various times throughout the week, but primarily in the daytime and afternoon hours.

Volunteers interested in participating in the program must be at least 18 years of age and have good public speaking and people skills, in addition to being physically able to move with ease on a walking tour that includes stairs. In addition to speaking in front of large groups, the ability to thinking on one’s feet is also a valuable asset. Volunteer hours are flexible based on tour schedules and the individual’s availability, but each shift requires a minimum two-hour time commitment on average.

Individuals interested in joining the Ambassadors program are asked to sign-up for one of the informational meetings on Tuesday, Aug. 24 or Monday, Aug. 31, by contacting Palace Marketing Associate Brian Kimmey at 203.346.2012 or kimmey@palacetheaterct.org. After the initial meeting, those interested in becoming a tour guide will be required to attend subsequent training sessions prior to becoming an official Palace Ambassador.


Playhouse on Park continues its adult education program with Advanced Improv class beginning Monday, Sept,  21.
Under the instruction of Claire Zick, Advanced Improv aims to hone the skills of the more experienced improviser through exploring narrative. Participants can expect to address both their strengths and areas that need improvement over the course of nine weeks. The focus will be on long-form improv, including the Harold structure made popular by Chicago’s iO Theater and the Upright Citizens Brigade.  
Prerequisites include Intermediate Improvisation, as students will be expected to sustain a more complex narrative using skills learned in previous classes, or otherwise permitted by instructor.
Adult Advanced Improv will accommodate up to 12 students, ages 18 and older. Each class meets at the Playhouse on Mondays from 7 to 10 pm. Adult Advanced Improv runs Sept. 21- Nov. 9, with a culminating class performance on Nov. 10. The fee is $200. To register, visit the Education page at www.playhouseonpark.org, and download the registration form, or call 860-523-5900 x10 for more information. Playhouse on Park is located at 244 Park Road, West Hartford.

Westport Country Playhouse Announces 2016 Season

Michael Urie in the Off-Broadway production of Buyer & Cellar. Photo: © Sandra Coudert
Westport Country Playhouse's 2016 season will feature two Tony Award-winning plays in repertory, an Off-Broadway hit, a new thriller by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, a comedy a re-imagined musical by Lerner and Loewe. 

The 2016 season will begin in what Artistic Director Mark Lamos calls “a new way for us to launch an exciting new season.”  In the first production slot, May 3 to 29, two Tony Award-winning plays will be staged in repertory, with each play alternating daily:  Art by Yasmin Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton; and Red by John Logan.  Both will be directed by Lamos.  Each of the plays is about art:  making it, owning it, the anguish of creating it, and the ache of believing in it.  

The recent Off-Broadway comedy hit Buyer and Cellar by Jonathan Tolins, which won a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show, is about a young, out-of-work actor who winds up working for Barbra Streisand in the mall she built in her Malibu mansion. It will play June 14 – July 2.

Another recent Off-Broadway piece, The Invisible Hand, is a new thriller by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar, author of Broadway’s Disgraced. When an American futures trader finds himself kidnapped and held hostage in Pakistan, he knows the only way to get home is to do what he does best:  play the market like his life depends on it.  David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, will direct. The play will run July 19 – Aug. 6. 

The comedy, What the Butler Saw, offering a little blackmail, and a lot of innuendo, will play Aug. 23 – Sept. 10.  It is written by Joe Orton, and directed by John Tillinger, who helmed a recent production in Los Angeles.

Finally, Camelot will run Oct. 4 – 22.  With book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe, and directed by Lamos, the classic love triangle of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot will be a re-imagined version with script by David Lee (TV’s “Frasier” and “Cheers”). 

For more information and to buy subscriptions: www.westportplayhouse.org; 203-227-4177; 1-888-927-7529.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Eric Ting Will Leave Long Wharf to Head California Shakespeare Theater

Long Wharf Theatre's Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting will leave to assume the role of artistic director at California Shakespeare Theater, located in Berkeley, CA

Ting arrived at Long Wharf Theatre in 2004 as an Artistic Associate under the TCG New Generations program. He became Associate Artistic Director in 2006, directing over a dozen productions during his tenure including brownsville song (b-side for tray), Clybourne Park, Agnes Under the Big Top, Sylvia, The Old Man and the Sea, The Bluest Eye, and Underneath the Lintel.

“While I’m looking forward with great anticipation to this new chapter of my life, it’s been my great honor to call Long Wharf my artistic home," Ting said.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Connecticut Arts Connections

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will once again offer fall community puppet-building workshops with acclaimed Boston puppeteer Sara Peattie, to design and build life-size and over-life-size puppets for the Celebrate Mansfield Parade in downtown Storrs, Connecticut.  These free workshops will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12 and 13 from 10 am to 5 pm each day at the Ballard Institute workshop space in Storrs Center.  

Workshop participants will be invited to parade with their puppets as part of the Celebrate Mansfield Parade on Sunday, Sept. 20 at noon (Line-up begins at 11 am at Farrell Field near the Post Office). The Parade is a part of the 12th Annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival.

This year's puppet-building workshops will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's classic tale Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by designing and creating puppets based on the colorful and fantastic figures that populate Carroll's fanciful world: the White Rabbit, the Red Queen, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, and Alice herself--which character would you like to create?

The Waterbury Palace Theater’s “Rock the Dock” outdoor concert scheduled to take place this Friday, Aug. 21, on the venue’s loading dock is being postponed. A rescheduled date for the event will be announced.

All tickets purchased for this Friday’s concert will be honored on the rescheduled performance date. For more information, call the Box Office at 203-346-2000.
To participate in these free community puppet-building workshops with Sara Peattie, register by contacting the Ballard Institute at bimp@uconn.edu or 860 486 8580.

ALSO..... The Palace Theater has been awarded the American Savings Foundation has awarded the not-for-profit performing arts center a $29,500 grant in support of an afterschool language arts and theater appreciation program titled Progressing Toward Progress: The Spirit of Ragtime.

Based on the national touring Broadway production of Ragtime, this six-week program provides high school and middle students with a unique learning opportunity that offers hands-on journalism experience. From Jan. 12, through Feb. 18, 2016.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Theater Review: Memphis -- Ivoryton

Renee Jackson and cast. Photo courtesy of Roger Williams.

Ivoryton Spins Another Hit with Memphis
By Lauren Yarger
The early days of rock and roll, racial tension in the 1950s south and a love story (put in a clear and humorous book by Joe DiPietro) along with a bouncy score written by former Bon Jovi keyboardest David Bryan drive an excellent production of Memphis at Ivoryton Playhouse.

Todd Underwood directs and choreographs the 2010 Tony-Award winning musical. (He choreographed La Cage aux Folles and Dreamgirls at the Playhouse.) Underwood has assembled an outstanding ensemble, led by Carson Higgins and Rénee Jackson, with very strong supporting performances by Teren Carter, Melodie Wolford, David Robbins and Jamal Shuriah. He puts them through their paces and neatly pulls the action together on Martin Scott Marchitto’s set.

The action takes place at the dawn of rock and roll, when Perry Como (Michael Sullivan) and others dominate the radio waves.  Huey Calhoun (Higgins) is a never-do-well department salesman who can’t find his niche. He takes refuge in the sounds of the rhythm and blues of black clubs in the city.  like the one owned by Delray (Carter), featuring the vocal talents of his sister, Felicia Farrell (Jackson). There he becomes friends with singing talent Bobbie Dupree (Robbins) and Gator (Jamal Shuriah), who hasn’t spoken since seeing his father lynched in front of him when he was a boy. Let’s just say that when he does lend a voice, it’s worth listening to both for its message and vocal quality.

When Huey realizes that he’s not the only white person who enjoys this type of music, he spins some “black” records at the department store and launches his career as a radio disc jockey. Station owner Mr. Simmons (Beau Allen) is a bit hesitant at first, but when ratings go through the roof, Huey soon finds himself number one on the Memphis dial. Shouting his trademark “huckado!,” the free- spirited man with bad taste in clothes (Elizabeth Cipollina provides the Costume and Wig Design) finally loves what he does – but something else too.

Huey loves Felicia, who dreams of making it big as a singer and urges Huey to come to New York with her where their romance might be accepted. Huey’s mother, Gladys (
Melodie Wolford) opposes the match, as does Delray. Some of the musical’s finest moments come in the interaction between him and Huey as the men take stands for what they believe in while sharing mutual respect. The couple decides to keep their interracial romance, sure to be a powder keg in the midst of civil rights unrest, a secret, though Huey believes Memphis will embrace it as they have him. Eventually, he discovers he's wrong.

An excellent nine-man orchestra, directed by Michael Morris, plays upstage and has the audience toe tapping along to tunes including “The Music of My Soul,” “Everybody Wants to Be Black on Saturday Night,” "Someday,” Love Will Stand,” Memphis Lives in Me” and “Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll.” have the audience bopping along. Memphis is one of those rare shows where each song stands on its own and there is enough variety between ballad and hop to keep it interesting before the humor-laced script by Ivoryton favorite DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, All Shook Up, The Toxic Avenger, Nice Work if You Can Get it).

This was a rare treat for me, one of the few times I put my notepad down and just enjoy. The only glitches of the evening were some consistent problems with feedback (Sound Design by Tate R. Burmeister) and costumes (design by Elizabeth Cipollina who also does wigs) that seemed to have static-electricity issues.

Memphis plays a sweet tune through Aug. 30 at Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton. Performances are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm; Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm.  There will be two additional Saturday matinees on Aug. 22 and 29 at 2 pm.  Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children. (860) 767-7318; www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tickets on Sale for New Hartford Symphony Season

Carolyn Kuan. Photo: Jane Shauck
October 1-4, 2015
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Caroline Goulding violin
Adams Shaker Loops
Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
Dvořák Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, From the New World
The season opener features composers who were inspired by diverse musical traditions and genres to create visionary new works.  John Adams’ score for string ensemble was named for both the sound of the strings “shaking” as they oscillate between notes, and the imagery of Shakers dancing to energetic music as they worship.  Bruch’s most famous composition remains one of the most frequently performed of all violin concerti. The “New World” – Dvořák’s most popular symphony (and the recording Neil Armstrong took along for the first moon landing) – was influenced by the melodies of Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the rhythms of African-American spirituals. Sponsored by the Saunders Fund for Innovative Programming and MetLife Foundation.

November 5-7, 2015
William Eddins conductor and piano
Coriolan Overture, Op. 62
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op.93
Back by popular demand, guest conductor William (Bill) Eddins returns to conduct the HSO in an all-Beethoven program.  The overture, inspired by von Collin’s play Coriolan and Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus, contrasts a warrior’s bold resolve as he is about to invade Rome with the tender pleadings of his mother to desist.  Beethoven’s third piano concerto pays homage to Mozart’s 24th in its melodies, rhythmic gestures and phrasings.  His eighth symphony is light and humorous, contradictory (and perhaps conciliatory) to the composer’s circumstances during the summer of 1812, when he ended a romantic relationship in a famous letter written to his “Immortal Beloved.” Sponsored by Cly-Del Manufacturing.

with The Hartford Chorale
December 3-6, 2015
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Hartford Chorale
Richard Coffey, music director
Higdon Blue Cathedral
Fauré Requiem in D minor, Op. 48
Handel Excerpts from Messiah
Let joyous music warm your heart and lift your holiday spirit, as the masterful musicians of the HSO are joined by the magnificent voices of The Hartford Chorale.  2010 Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon describes the muse for her composition as being “blue like the sky, where all possibilities soar…and a cathedral, a place of thought, growth and spiritual expression.”  Created almost certainly as a musical tribute to his father, Fauré’s Requiem is noted for its calm, serene and peaceful outlook.  Handel’s oratorio Messiah is the most powerful telling of the Passion story – a soaring celebration of salvation and rebirth! 

January 21-24, 2016
Three finalists will conduct the HSO as part of the selection process for the new Assistant Conductor position!
Edward Rozie double bass; Robert McEwan vibraphone; Leonid Sigal violin
Bottesini Bass Concerto No. 2 in B minor, 2nd & 3rd Movements
Sejourne Concerto for Vibraphone and Strings, 1st Movement
Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28
Mozart Overture to Die Zauberflöte. K. 620 (The Magic Flute)
Debussy Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun)
Borodin Polovtsian Dances
Here’s your opportunity to hear, see and play your part!  After the performance, you’ll have the opportunity to voice your choice for Associate Conductor, a new position that will assist Music Director Carolyn Kuan to extend the HSO’s community and educational outreach.  During the first part of the program, each candidate will conduct an orchestral show piece, featuring HSO principal musicians.  Each candidate will then conduct the full HSO in a tour-de-force, showcasing the orchestra’s might and delicacy under his or her leadership. 

February 11-14, 2016
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Wagner Tristan und Isolde, Prelude & Liebestod
Bach Concerto for Violin & Oboe in C minor
Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, "Quasi una fantasia" (“Moonlight Sonata”) Additional orchestral works to be announced
Musical love tales and beautiful choreography take center stage in this program that will include Pas de Deux selections with featured dancers. Wagner's transcendent opera will have you spellbound.  Reminiscent of many couples in love, Bach relished the challenge of writing for two dissimilar instruments, emphasizing their qualities in common and making harmony of their differences. Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” was likened to the romantic effect of the moon shining upon Switzerland’s picturesque Lake Lucerne.  Bring your loved one – and share your own love notes – for a special Valentines’ night out!  The Alexander Campbell McNally Memorial Concert

March 10-13, 2016
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Simone Porter violin
Prokofiev Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 
Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op.100
Carolyn Kuan and the HSO interpret the red-hot and icy-cool works of two iconic Russian masters!  Inspired by his conducting studies of Haydn and Mozart, Prokofiev’s first symphony is known as the “Classical” and remains one of his most popular and beloved works.  Written while in a Soviet safe haven during World War II, Prokofiev described his fifth symphony as “a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit.”  One of the best-known violin concerti in the repertoire, Tchaikovsky’s is widely considered as one of the most technically difficult works for the instrument.  The Koski Memorial Concert

April 7-10, 2016
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Gluck Orpheo ed Euridice (Orpheus & Eurydice)
The HSO transforms Gluck’s most famous opera with a dramatic concert staging of sumptuous sights and sounds.  Orpheus & Eurydice is the exhilarating account of the mythical Greek hero’s descent into the underworld to rescue his true love.  Its exceptional libretto and music – evocative choral passages, imaginative ballets, dramatic duets, and the hero’s famous lament – convey a timeless message of love’s power to triumph over all.

May 12-15, 2016
Anne Manson conductor
Alex Slobodyanik piano
Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor
Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27
Wrote Sergei Rachmaninoff, “I try to make my music speak simply and directly, that which is in my heart.”  The public was already familiar with Rachmaninoff’s second and third piano concertos before he revised his first, begun at age 18. Using an acquired knowledge of harmony, orchestration, piano technique and musical form, he transformed it into a spirited work that maintains its youthful freshness.  Rachmaninoff’s second symphony combines the intense emotions of opera with the luscious sounds of a full symphony orchestra.   Although written more than 100 years ago, its sweeping melodies still speak to the hearts of audiences today (pop singer Eric Carmen even borrowed the melody for his hit, “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again!”).

June 9-12, 2016
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Kayhan Kalhor kamancheh
David Krakauer klezmer clarinet
Christina Pato Galician bagpipe
Michael Ward-Bergeman accordion
Gershwin An American in Paris
Golijov Rose of the Winds
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
Our season finale is a “world-wind” tour of exotic international sights and sounds featuring our woodwind section!  Symphonic Dances was Rachmaninoff's last completed composition and is a stunning virtuoso showpiece for orchestra, combining energetic rhythmic sections with lush harmonies.  George Gershwin’s jazz-influenced symphonic poem evokes the energy he witnessed in Paris during the 1920s, and remains one of his best-known and most beloved compositions. Osvaldo Golijov's Rose of the Winds is a “bold yet seamless melding of musical resonances from Christian, Arabic and Jewish traditions, with ear-catching instrumental sounds and colors representing numerous points of the compass,” said theChicago Tribune.

October 24, 2015 at 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
The name is Bond…James Bond. Dashing and debonair, his movie themes evoke international intrigue, glamour and suspense. Two-time Grammy®Award-winner Sheena Easton, the featured singer on the James Bond soundtrack For Your Eyes Only, will enchant, entice and seduce you into the world of GoldfingerThe Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker, plus “spy” songs from Mission Impossible, Get Smart, Austin Powers, and more.  So, how do you like your martini?

Saturday, December 19, 2015 at 3pm and 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
Hartford’s holiday concert classic just keeps getting more “Cirque-tacular!”  Bring the entire family to enjoy your favorite seasonal music, as Carolyn Kuan conducts the HSO, while Cirque de la Symphonie performs on and above the stage. Breathtaking aerialists, mind-boggling contortionists, and jaw-dropping jugglers will have you awestruck.  Experience the magic of this ultimate holiday extravaganza!

Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
Come on along and listen to the lullabies of Broadway! Connecticut’s own Goodspeed Musicals is known the world over as the home of the American musical.  Join the HSO, Goodspeed Resident Music Director and Conductor Michael O’Flaherty, and special guests as they celebrate 70 years of Tony® Award-winning music.  This one-night-only, blockbuster performance will spotlight the best of Broadway through the years.

THE MUSIC OF THE EAGLESSaturday, March 19, 2016 at 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall 
With their ground-breaking sound, The Eagles flew up the charts with five number one singles, six number one albums, five American Music Awards®and six Grammys®, and created a legacy of timeless music.  Popular guest conductor Brent Havens returns with a full rock band to join the orchestra and “Take it to the Limit” – capturing The Eagles’ impeccable riffs and timeless vocal harmonies on the classic hits, including “Heartache Tonight,” “Desperado,” “New Kid in Town,” and “Hotel California.”

Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
In his young career, ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro has already redefined an under-the-radar instrument, been declared a musical “hero” by Rolling Stone, won accolades from the disparate likes of Eddie Vedder, Perez Hilton and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, wowed TV audiences on Kimmel and Conan, earned comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, and even played for the Queen of England!  “Uke” can’t miss this chance to catch Jake live, backed by the big-band rhythms of the HSO conducted by Carolyn Kuan!

Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 7:30pm
Mortensen Hall
The HSO’s rave-reviewed, foodie fan-favorite event returns for a fourth season!  Take a mix of great music, add some fabulous food, and blend! Special guest chefs representing a variety of global cuisines will share entertaining stories and demonstrate the cooking techniques behind their unique dishes, while Carolyn Kuan and the orchestra perform a delectable menu of music that inspires culinary creativity. Watch the whisks and the baton fly, as we whet your appetite for food tastings at intermission and after the show.  Then…enjoy…mangia…bon appétit!

Ticket Information: Single tickets for all 2015-2016 Hartford Symphony Orchestra concerts go on sale August 24. Flex passes are on sale beginning August 10.  For information on subscriptions, please call 860-987-5900.  More information about subscribing is available atwww.hartfordsymphony.org

Ticket Information:  To purchase single tickets, please call (860) 987-5900 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org. For subscriptions and additional information, please call 860-987-5900.
·         Subscriptions to the 2014-2015 Masterworks Series begin at $309; single tickets to Masterworks Series concerts begin at $33. 
·         Subscriptions to the 2015-2016 POPS! Series begin at $122; single tickets to POPS! Series concerts begin at $19.
·         A limited number of $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under at the Masterworks and Pops! Series’ Saturday performances. 
·         Student tickets are to all concerts are $10.

CT Forum Announces Panelists

The Next Big Thing

Cutting edge technology & innovations that will change our lives

Sat., October 3, 2015
Hosted by Comcast
Fareed Zakaria
Global Thinker, Respected Journalist and Author
Joi Ito
Technology Visionary, Director of the MIT Media Lab


Taking on race & racism
Thurs., Dec. 3, 2015
Hosted by Travelers
Additional panelists to be announced!
Wes Moore
Social Justice Advocate, Acclaimed Author of The Other Wes Moore
Morris Dees
Civil Rights Advocate and Co-Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center
Jessica Williams
Daily Show Correspondent, Actress and Comedian
The Science of Our Minds

Inside our amazing brains
Sat., Mar. 5, 2016

Additional panelists to be announced!
Lisa Genova
Neuroscientist, Author of Still Alice
Creative Artists

An evening with storytellers, creators & entertainers
Fri., May 13, 2016



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