"I'M CONNECTICUT" A FUNNY AND LOVING TRIBUTE TO OUR STATE


By Bonnie Goldberg

If you were born and bred in Connecticut or transplanted yourself here from other regions of the country or the world, you might take umbrage to Connecticut being labeled boring and beige. Truth to tell, Connecticut is not a square state like Kansas or North Dakota but neither does it have boasting rights to the "endowments" of a romantic nature like Massachusetts or Florida.

Thanks to playwright Mike Reiss, who proudly claims Bristol as his hometown, a spotlight is being focused on The Constitution State in his delightful new comedy "I'm Connecticut" at the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, June 23. The show had its world premiere at the University of Connecticut in December 2011 thanks to the Connecticut Repertory Theatre.

"I'm Connecticut" is the saga of a nice guy named Marc, of the Jewish persuasion, who blames his lack of success dating squarely on Connecticut's head. Clearly he is personality deprived because everything and everyone in the Nutmeg State is dull. Don't take it personally, like Samuel Clemens a.k.a Mark Twain does, when he suddenly appears on stage to challenge Marc's assumptions.

After a fiasco speed dating session at a trendy New York watering hole, Marc, an eager-to-please Harris Doran, chances to meet Diane, a peachy Georgia girl captured by Gwen Hollander. Their budding relationship seems to be a dashing slalom of a ski run until it slams head first into a snow bank. Marc is caught in an avalanche of a lie about his grandfather, a dapper Jerry Adler, and he can't extricate his head or his foot out of the white stuff.

Mike Reiss is one genuinely funny guy, as his prior writing work with "the Simpsons" in television and movies as well as such productions as "Ice Age," "Dawn of the Dinosaurs," "Horton Hears a Who!," "ALF," "It's the Gerry Shandling Show," and "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" would attest. Here in "I'm Connecticut," witty dialogue is married to great visual effects.

The love story plot line is helped along with the aid of a trusty ski patrol headed by Marc's chief buddy at work Kyle (Gino Costabile), the manager of the speed dating site (Bill Mootos), Diane's mom Polly (Rebecca Hoodwin) and Mark Twain (Norman Rutty). Assorted potential dates and I-95 work personnel are played by Dene Hill, Elizabeth Talbot, Torie Chiappa, Rebecca R. Maddy, Benjamin M. Alger, Michael Hotkowski and Casey McKeon. Jacqueline Hubbard directs this charming tale of love on two generational levels that should have you laughing out loud, long and heartily.

For tickets ($40, seniors $35, students $20, children $15), call Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Be proud of Connecticut, the land of Steady Habits and Nutmegs, the Insurance Capitol of the World, thanks to Hartford, and now the location of one uniquely happy comedy that pokes fun at ourselves and tickles our funny bones.

 

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