JOHN & JEN:” A BITTERSWEET MUSICAL OF SIBLINGS GROWING UP

By Bonnie Goldberg

When a big sister promises her baby brother that she will always take care of him, she forgets to factor in that life changes occur over time.  Jen is the loving older sibling who already has learned the harsh lesson that their father is abusive and unkind and she wants John, who is still a baby, to know that she will wrap him in a protective blanket to keep him safe.

Weekends until Saturday, May 7, Berlin’s Connecticut Cabaret Theatre will be rocking the cradle to tell this bittersweet tale of two siblings “john & jen,”  a musical by Tom Greenwald and Andrew Lippa, that got its first birth cries at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre before heading to Broadway.

The relationship between Anne Robichaud Collin’s Jen and Matthew Collin Marrero’s John begins with her guarding his crib, perpetuating the myth of Santa Claus, playing teacher so he learns about great Americans like George Washington and his trusty dog Martha, to being his top fan and head cheerleader at baseball games.  She is always ready with excuses for why there are no Christmas toys, why their parents fight all the time, why she’ll be his guardian angel forever and ever.

But times change and so do relationships.  By the time Jen escapes the household to go off to college, John is asserting his independence and shedding himself of her protective skin.  He is still the hopeful son who believes Santa will come with presents and his father will change and view him with pride.

Songs such as “Think Big,” “Talk Show,” “Out of My Sight,” “The Road Ends Here” and “Every Goodbye is Hello” are sweetly sentimental. Act II takes on the next generation and repeating the mistakes we’ve already made. Kris McMurray directs this musical saga, of holding on too tight and then the trauma of ultimately letting go, with a skillful hand.

For tickets ($30), call CT. Cabaret Theatre 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com.  Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.  Bring your own goodies to eat and drink or buy dessert on site. 

On Thursdays, June 2 and 9, the cabaret will repeat its sell-out performances of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” which grew out of 200 interviews she conducted with girls and women about empowerment, sex, violence against women and femininity.

This Obie Award winning show will begin at 8 p.m., tickets are $30 and can be reserved by calling 860-829-1248.

Walk hand-in-hand through history with John and Jen as they discover how important and complex relationships in a family truly are.

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