The hottest ticket in town has to be Judith Ivey as “Shirley Valentine” igniting Stage II at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre until Sunday, January 2, 2011. Hot because the play travels to sunny Greece, by the sea, with a plate of olives and a glass of white wine and hot because Ms. Ivey is marvelous as the impetuously adventurous fifty-two year old Liverpool, England housewife who tires of talking to the wall and sets off to grab life.

Shirley Valentine is worn out.  Her children no longer need her and her husband has never appreciated her.  As long as she meets and fulfills his demands, life is peaceful, boring, predictable and downright dull.  Shirley has more stimulating conversations with the kitchen wall than she has with hubby Joe.  Her dreams as a young girl have long ago dried up like a sheaf of lettuce left too long in the crisper of the refrigerator.  It defies rehydration and so does Shirley.  She is parched.

Shirley is a desert until her best friend Jane hands her a ticket to Greece for a fortnight.  Can she really leave home?  Can Joe survive without her attentions?  Will he “allow” her to go?

Follow the delightful Ms. Ivey as she embodies Shirley with charm and wit and encourages her wry philosophy to fly free and soar.  You will cheer her on as she finds the courage and bravery to seek adventure, even if it proves to be a frivolous folly.

Ms. Ivey is adorable and sweet, whether she is fixing her hubby chips and egg or packing sexy lingerie for her grand escape.  Gordon Edelstein directs this lovely comedy by Willy Russell with a light and vibrant hand.

 For tickets ($45-65), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Let Ms. Shirley Valentine give you a lesson in forsaking the mediocrity and seizing the spectacular.  You’ll love the ride.

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