Thursday, May 31, 2018

CT Critics Circle Announces Award Nominations


For information about the awards, which will be held Monday, June 11 at Westport Country Playhouse, visit ctcritics.org/awards/
Outstanding Production – Musical
Oklahoma! – Goodspeed Musicals
Million Dollar Quartet – Seven Angels
Rags – Goodspeed Musicals
1776 – Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Fun Home – Music Theatre of Connecticut

Outstanding Production – Play
An Enemy of the People – Yale Repertory Theatre
The Diary of Anne Frank – Playhouse on Park
The Chosen – Long Wharf Theatre
Fireflies – Long Wharf Theatre
Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3 – Yale Repertory Theatre
The Age of Innocence – Hartford Stage

Outstanding Debut
Shannon Keegan (The Wolves) – TheaterWorks
Megan O’Callaghan (The Bridges of Madison County and Fun Home) – Music Theatre of Connecticut
Noah Kierserman (Newsies) – Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Outstanding Ensemble
Cast of Avenue Q – Playhouse on Park
Cast of The Wolves – TheaterWorks
Cast of The Chosen – Long Wharf Theatre
Cast of The Game’s Afoot – Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Projections
Yana Birykova (Grounded) – Westport Country Playhouse
Luke Cantarella (Rags) – Goodspeed Musicals
Lucas Clopton & Darron Alley (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) – Hartford Stage
Wladimiro A. Woyno R. (Kiss) – Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Sound
Frederick Kennedy (Native Son) – Repertory Theatre
Kate Marvin (Grounded) – Westport Country Playhouse
Fitz Patton (Appropriate) – Westport Country Playhouse
Jane Shaw (A Lesson from Aloes) – Hartford Stage
Robert Kaplowitz (Office Hour) – Long Wharf Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design
Linda Cho (Rags) – Goodspeed Musicals
Linda Cho (The Age of Innocence) – Hartford Stage
Joshua Pearson (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) – Hartford Stage
Fabian Fidel Aguilar (Romeo & Juliet) – Westport Country Playhouse
Leon Dobkowski (The Legend of Georgia McBride) – TheaterWorks

Outstanding Lighting
Ben Stanton (The Age of Innocence) – Hartford Stage
Michael Chybowski (1776) – Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Stephen Strawbridge (Native Son) – Yale Repertory Theatre
Matthew Richards (Appropriate) – Westport Country Playhouse
Yi Zhao (Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 and 3) – Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Set Design
Emona Stoykova (An Enemy of the People) – Yale Repertory Theatre
Alexander Dodge (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) – Hartford Stage
Andrew Boyce (Appropriate) – Westport Country Playhouse
David Lewis (The Diary of Anne Frank) – Playhouse on Park
Martin Scott Marchitto (The Fantasticks) – Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Choreography
Katie Spelman (Oklahoma!) – Goodspeed Musicals
Christopher d’Amboise (Newsies) – Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Kelli Barclay (The Will Rogers Follies) – Goodspeed Musicals
Todd L. Underwood (Saturday Night Fever) – Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Featured Actor – Musical
Matt Faucher (Oklahoma) – Goodspeed Musicals
Joe Callahan (Million Dollar Quartet) Ivoryton Playhouse
Sean MacLaughlin (Rags) – Goodspeed Musicals
David Garrison (The Will Rogers Follies) – Goodspeed Musicals
Cory Candelet (The Fantasticks) – Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Featured Actress – Musical
Jodi Stevens (Singin’ in the Rain) – Summer Theater of New Canaan
Gizel Jimenez (Oklahoma!) – Goodspeed Musicals
Nora Fox (Saturday Night Fever) – Ivoryton Playhouse
Megan O’Callaghan (Fun Home) – Music Theatre of Connecticut
Kimberly Immanuel (The Fantasticks) – Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Featured Actress – Play
Judith Ivy (Fireflies) – Long Wharf Theatre
Darrie Lawrence (The Age of Innocence) – Hartford Stage
Carly Polistina (The Crucible) – Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Sierra Boggess (The Age of Innocence) – Hartford Stage
Helen Cespedes (The Age of Innocence) – Hartford Stage

Outstanding Featured Actor – Play
James Cusati-Moyer (Kiss) – Yale Repertory Theatre
Peter Francis James (Romeo & Juliet) – Westport Country Playhouse
Tom Pecinka (Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3) – Yale Repertory
David Hiatt (Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3) – Yale Repertory
Jason Bowen (Native Son) – Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Director – Musical
Terrence Mann (1776 ) – Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Jenn Thompson (Oklahoma!) – Goodspeed Musicals
Kevin Connors (Fun Home) – Music Theatre of Connecticut
Rob Ruggiero (Rags) – Goodspeed Musicals
Brian Feehan (The Fantasticks) – Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Director – Play
James Bundy (An Enemy of the People) – Yale Repertory Theatre
Seret Scott (Native Son ) – Yale Repertory Theatre
Ezra Barnes (The Diary of Anne Frank) – Playhouse on Park
Eric Ort (The Wolves) – TheaterWorks
Doug Hughes (The Age of Innocence) – Hartford Stage

Outstanding Actor – Musical
Jamie LaVerdiere (1776) – Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Rhett Guter (Oklahoma!) – Goodspeed Musicals
Jim Schubin (Newsies) – Connecticut Repertory Theatre
David Pittsinger (The Fantasticks) – Ivoryton Playhouse
Michael Notardonato (Saturday Night Fever) – Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Actress – Musical
Samantha Massell (Rags) – Goodspeed Musicals
Mia Pinero (West Side Story) – Ivoryton Playhouse
Juliet Lambert Pratt (The Bridges of Madison County) – Music Theatre of Connecticut
Samantha Bruce (Oklahoma!) – Goodspeed Musicals
Annabelle Fox (Singin’ in the Rain) – Summer Theatre of New Canaan

Outstanding Actor – Play
Reg Rogers (An Enemy of the People) – Yale Repertory Theatre
Jerod Haynes (Native Son) – Yale Repertory Theatre
Jamison Stern (The Legend of Georgia McBride) – TheaterWorks
Boyd Gaines (The Age of Innocence) – Hartford Stage
Daniel Chung (Office Hour) – Long Wharf Theatre

Outstanding Actress – Play
Jackie Chung (Office Hour) – Long Wharf Theatre
Isabelle Barbier (The Diary of Anne Frank) – Playhouse on Park
Mia Dillon (Seder) – Hartford Stage
Jane Alexander (Fireflies) – Long Wharf Theatre
Cecelia Riddett (The Revisionist) – Playhouse on Park

Tom Killen Award
Michael O’Flaherty

Outstanding Solo Performance
Elizabeth Stahlmann (Grounded) – Westport Country Playhouse

Special Awards
To Be Announced

CT Theater Review: The Will Rogers Follies -- Goodspeed

David M. Lutken. Photo: Diane Sobolewski
The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Review
Book by Peter Stone
Music Composed and Arranged by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Directed by Don Stephenson
Choreographed by Kelli Barclay
Goodspeed Opera House
Through June 21

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
It's a light-hearted romp through the thoughts and musings of Will Rogers (the multi-talented David M Lutken, who delighted here in Connecticut and Off-Broadway in Woody Sez.)

This show, which offers some insight in to the entertainer's life, including his marriage to Betty Blake (Catherine Walker) opened on Broadway in 1991 and features music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and a book by Peter Stone. The Zigfeld Follies provide the backdrop (designed by Walt Spangler) for the story as well as costuming by Ilona Somogyi and Choreography by Kelli Barclay, who provides lots of tap dancing..

What Are the Highlights?
Lutken is always a delight. He's completely likable and entertains with his soft, comforting voice, often accompanying himself on any number of instruments. He and Walker have good rapport. Rogers quotes are projected (design by Michael Clark) and the Lighting Design by Rob Denton is superb.One number with moonlight and starlight also offers spotlights on characters and colors to help set the mood. Well done!

What Are the Lowlights?
Besides a draggy pace, the material seems dated. Even though Will comments on newspaper headlines and tell s us "nothing can hurt more than telling the truth," somehow the dialogue doesn't feel contemporary and jokes fall flat. Political digs don't rally the audience. Lutken manages to carry the show, however, sometimes chiding the audience for not getting a joke right away. Don Stephenson's staging seems to want to over compensate.

More Information:
The Will Rogers Follies plays at Goodspeed's Opera House,  6 Main Street, East Haddam, CT, through June 21. Performances are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Thursday at 7:30 pm (with select performances at 2pm); Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm (with select performances at 6:30 pm). Tickets: goodspeed.org; 860.873.8668.

Additional casting:
David Garrison (Clem Rogers), Brooke Lacy (Ziegfeld’s Favorite), Dewey Caddell (Wiley Post),
Ben Stone-Zelman (Will Rogers Jr.), Riley Briggs (Mary Rogers), Brendan Reilly Harris (Jimmy Rogers), Nathan Horne (Freddy Rogers), James Naughton (Voice of Ziegfeld)
Ensemble: Michael Biren; Aaron Burr; Sarah Fagan; Kaitlyn Frank; Brad Frenette; Emily Jeanne Phillips; Kelly Sheehan; Karilyn Ashley Surratt; Caitlin Wilayto; Borris York; Mallory Davis;
Patrick Heffernan

Additional Credits:
Sound Designer: Jay Hilton; Music Director: Michael O’Flaherty; Assistant Music Director: William J. Thomas; Orchestrations: Dan DeLange



CT Theater Review: Love Never Dies -- The Bushnell

Meghan Picerno and Gardar Thor Cortes, Photo: Joan Marcus

Love Never Dies
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Additional Lyrics by Charles Hart
Choreography by Graeme Murphy AO
Directed by Simon Phillips

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The sequel to Andrew Lloyd-Webber's long running, multi-award winning Phantom of the Opera (still playing in New York after more than 30 years). It's 1907, 10 years after the tragic events in the labyrinth beneath the Paris Opera House when the Phantom (Gardar Thor Cortes) vanished. The young soprano, Chritine Daae (Meghan Picerno) was finally free of the mentor who tormented her soul with operatic compositions and she married her childhood sweetheart, Raoul, vicomte de Chagny (Christian Harmston). But all is not as it seems. The phantom escaped, thanks to his ally, Madame Giry (Karen Mason) and her daughter, Meg (Mary Michael Batterson), and has relocated to New York's Coney Island, where he blends in with a bunch of circus freaks as part of a vaudevillian circus show. 

In need of money, because an unhappy Raoul has hit hard times (after hitting the bottle pretty hard), Christine accepts an invitation from Oscar Hammerstein to sing in New York. When the couple and their young son, Gustave (Jake Heston Miller) arrive in the USA, however, they discover that the phantom has re-entered their lives. He uses threats against her son to get Christine to agree to sing his music and his attention for his old flame sets off thoughts of jealousy and revenge for Madame Giry and Meg.

What Are the Highlights?
Very strong vocals and a pleasing score from Sir Webber, even if it doesn't come close to matching the original. Still, some songs contain exquisite melodies and odd and haunting notes (the title song will create an ear worm). The stand-out performance comes from young Miller, who is about as perfect a child actor as I ever have seen. He has an angelic voice and an easy, natural way on stage. I kind of wish this story could have been all about him.

The sound (Mick Potter, design), notoriously a problem at the Bushnell, this time is perfection.

What Are the Lowlights?
The book. What a poor sequel. What a poor form of storytelling. If the first act has you feeling dissatisfied (and weak, predictable lyrics by Glenn Slater contribute to this state), the second act is min=blowingly bad. I felt like my brain exploded from all of the re-write possibilities that filled it. Any one of them would have created a more satisfying story and given characters more development. As it is, we have no idea why anyone does anything. Some action is so ridiculous (and looks so with Simon Phillip's direction) that it is laughable, including what is supposed to be a very dramatic ending. Gaston Leroux (who wrote the novel on which the original was based), we're wishing you were somehow here again.

To avoid spoilers, I don't feel I can fill in details, but if you are a fan of Phantom, which I definitely am, having seen it numerous times since it took Broadway by storm in 1988, I can't help but warn you that you probably will be disappointed. One mystery can be revealed, however: why this show has toured nationally and internationally, but never come to Broadway. The answer: because in its present state it would be massacred by the critics. Instead, the show can benefit from fans (there are more than 40 million who have seen Phantom) who will venture out to see a sequel to a favorite. Just remember. You have been warmed.

More Information:
Love Never Dies (but maybe it should. . . ) at the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm. Tickets; bushnell.org.

Additional casting:
Katarina Kemp (Fleck), Steven Petrovich (Gangle), Richard Koons (Squelch)
Ensemble: Chelsey Arce, Erin Chupinsky, Diana DiMarzio, Tyler Donahue, Yesy Garcia, Alyssa Giannetti, Michael Gillis, Tamar Greene, Natalia Lepore Hagan, Lauren Lukacek, Alyssa McAnany, Rachel Anne Moore, Bronson Norris Murphy, Dave Schoonover, Adam Soniak, John Swapshire IV, Kelly Swint, Lucas John Thompson, Correy West and Arthur Wise. 

The new touring production reflects an extensive re-working of the material by an Australian creative team for the original Australian premiere in 2011. New set and costume designs by Gabriela Tylesova, choreography by Graeme Murphy, lighting design by Nick Schlieper.
C O N N E C T I C U T
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C O N N E C T I O N

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

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