What Will Theater Look Like in 2021? – Karen Isaacs

As the pandemic tightened its grip on Connecticut earlier this year, many of the rest of us took the time at home to hone our bread baking skills, kill time on social media, or catch up on that Netflix series we had been hearing about. Not Marc Deaton, of Madison Lyric Stage. Instead, he sat down and wrote a searing memoir, which he then presented to a group of friends and supporters at a barn in his backyard in early fall. Deaton performed the play with three other performers to an appreciative and enthusiastic audience and has plans to present… read more

Connecticut Theaters Taking Different Approaches to Their Seasons – Karen Isaacs

Theaters are anxious to resume, and most artistic directors say that people want to see theater, but safely. Right now, several theaters in Connecticut are trying different approaches to fulfilling these needs. Those that are doing so are relying on digital streaming of productions or a combination of live performances with a limited audience and streaming. Music Theatre of Connecticut, or MTC as it is usually called, is a small established theater in Norwalk. It was one of only three theaters in the east (and maybe nationwide) to receive permission from Actor’s Equity to resume productions. According to artistic director… read more

CT Critics Circle Mentor Program

Two years ago, the Connecticut Critics Circle created a Mentor Program so that undergraduate college students could train to become theater critics. One of the 2020-2021 mentees is Sydney Reynolds of Quinnipiac University. She is a Media Studies major, Film minor, and will be pursuing her Master’s in Journalism next year. She is currently part of the Communications Honors Society with a 3.93 GPA. At just six years old, Sydney was already becoming involved in community theater as an actress and would continue this passion throughout her whole life. She is now heavily involved in Quinnipiac University’s television station, Q30,… read more

Welcome Back Live Theater

NORWALK — After six months live indoor professional theater has returned to Connecticut with Music Theatre of Connecticut’s production of Becky Mode’s “Fully Committed,” running through Sept. 27. The evening was going to be an enjoyable, if unique, experience. Music Theatre of Connecticut, or MTC, is one of three theaters in the country that has been approved by their state, the CDC, and the stage actors’ union Actors Equity Association. The other two being Weathervane Theatre in Whitefield, New Hampshire, and Northern Stage in White River Junction, Vermont. Traditionally, MTC would sit 110 people, but with current COVID-19 restrictions for… read more

CT Theaters Slowly Open

The Music Theatre of Connecticut has been designated by Equity as one of three theaters in the country to hold live, in-person productions. The show, the one-man play, “Fully Committed,” runs through September 27, 2020. There are restrictions such as only 23 in-person tickets and 78 live stream tickets. Critics from the CT Critics Circle were invited to the opening and their reviews will be posted on our website. Simply click on the “Reviews” tab. read more

David Rosenberg

David Arlen Rosenberg, 90, of 14 – Acre Pond, Norwalk, died Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at Norwalk Hospital. Born in Brooklyn, NY on April 24, 1930; he was the son of the late Joseph and Ruth Rosenberg. Covering theatre and opera productions in Connecticut, Broadway, off-Broadway and London, he was an acknowledged award-winning theatre and arts critic who wrote reviews and feature articles for The Norwalk Hour, Hearst Media of Connecticut; Back Stage in New York; as well as magazines in Greenwich, Westport and New Canaan. He was co-founder of the Connecticut Critics Circle and was an active member affiliated… read more

CT Critics Honor Artists of 2019-20 Theater Season

The Connecticut Critics Circle (CCC) announced it is honoring more than two dozen theater artists whose work was presented during the 2019-2020 season, which was shortened mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group of theater critics and writers annually salute outstanding work by artists among the state’s professional theaters. The annual ceremony, originally scheduled this year for June 29 at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre, was cancelled. An on-line ceremony is planned to be held later this summer. “We wanted to recognize outstanding productions and performers during the abbreviated season,” says Stuart Brown, president of the CCC. “Instead of… read more

‘Adversity Engenders Creativity’ – Karen Isaacs

Someday this current health related crisis will be under control. With all of the uncertainty and havoc it’s created, one of many questions that remains unclear is what Connecticut theater will look like once it’s safe to gather in crowds again. Will all our professional companies survive? No one knows. Theaters struggle for money; the ticket purchases cover a relatively small percentage of costs for productions. Theaters depend on donations and grants to pay the bills. The coronavirus crisis has jeopardized the financial health of many Connecticut theaters. Some already were facing economic difficulties, but now these are more severe… read more

CT Critics Circle Mentor Program

The Connecticut Critics Circle (CCC), a statewide organization of theater critics, is launching a Young Critics Mentor Program. The application deadline has been extended to May 1, 2020. The program will run from July 1, 2020 through June 1, 2021. Our purpose is to bring young perspectives and voices from a broad range of ethnicities and backgrounds into the CCC and mentor these young people as they learn to write professional-quality theater reviews. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: Brooks.Appelbaum@quinnipiac.edu. Most sincerely, Brooks Appelbaum Dr. Brooks C. Appelbaum Chair, Young Critics Committee Member, Connecticut… read more

Explaining Asperger’s Through “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

This column was originally posted on the blog, Stu on Broadway. A production of the show will be playing at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre in Storrs, CT from February 27 – March 8. In the new Broadway show, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a 15-year-old boy with Asperger’s is thrust into a journey of self-discovery and an examination of relationships with his mother and father, teachers, and others. Audience members are given a window into the mind of an individual with this Austism Spectrum Disorder, thanks to the brilliance of the creative team and director, Marianne… read more

With ‘Homeland’ ending, Mandy Patinkin hits the concert trail

Reprinted from Hartford Magazine with permission from Frank Rizzo. Mandy Patinkin was not allowing any length of time to be saddened by the eighth and final season of the Showtime series “Homeland,” in which he stars with Claire Danes. The 12-episode season begins Feb. 9. As soon as the filming ended last fall, the Emmy and Tony award-winning actor released his latest album of songs and launched a concert tour to 30 cities, including New Haven where he will perform at the Shubert Theatre on Jan 25. In “Homeland” Patinkin plays Saul Berenson, the no-nonsense, battle-scarred mentor and father-figure to… read more

Preview of I Am My Own Wife, Long Wharf Theatre – Donald Brown

It was an unusual gathering on Long Wharf Theatre’s Stage II last Friday. Assembled to discuss Long Wharf’s production of Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife, which started previews this week and opens next Wednesday, was the entire creative team for the show, led in discussion by Patrick J. Dunn, Executive Director of New Haven Pride Center. In addition to Rebecca Martínez, the show’s director, and its star, Mason Alexander Park, the discussion included set designer Britton Mauk, costume designer Daniel Tyler Mathews, lighting designer Jennifer Fok, sound designer and original music composer Kimberly S. O’Loughlin, assistant director Kevin… read more

Ivoryton Playhouse’s Women Playwrights Initiative – Bonnie Goldberg

Plays for and about women, written by women and starring women, will be celebrated at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Saturday February 22 at 2 p.m. and continuing at 7 p.m. For the fourth year, the Women Playwrights Initiative will serve as an incubator to foster new works that view women in a quartet of unique situations, ones that will engender laughter and tears, and stimulate conversations and networking possibilities. From 170 submitted works, four will be highlighted. The four playwrights hail from the state of Washington, California, Indiana and Maryland and will each receive the Ellie Award and a $500… read more

Connecticut Theater Offerings Will Encourage You to Get Out of Your House – Karen Isaacs

Resist the urge to hibernate during the dark, cold wintery days. If you do, you will miss many promising theater productions and events. Right now, East Haddam is buzzing with activity. In January, with Goodspeed’s spring production still months away, you might think it would be quiet on the Goodspeed campus. Yet it is alive with actors, directors, composers, lyricists and book writers. As soon as it becomes January, rehearsals start for the Festival of New Musicals, which is entering its 15th year. The purpose is let the creative people behind new musicals see their works performed in front of… read more

Theater Reviewing Workshop

Arts criticism is changing rapidly, and the internet has created more opportunities for people to get involved in the field, but success means more than just posting an opinion. Theater critic Lauren Yarger will run a five-week “Everyone’s a Critic” theater reviewing workshop at the Storyteller’s Cottage on Thursdays, starting Jan. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. The Storyteller’s Cottage is located at 750 Hopmeadow St. For more information, call 860-877-6099. The class will also attend a performance of Pride & Prejudice at Playhouse on Park on Feb. 20. Visit https://www.storytellerscottage.com/ to reserve a spot for $180, which includes admission… read more

Connecticut Production Company Launches Inaugrual Show at Ivoryton Playhouse

Brief Cameo Productions is proud to announce the upcoming opening of its inaugural production: Ragtime the Musical in Concert. Written by the award-winning composer/lyricist team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Once on This Island, Seussical and Lucky Stiff), musical direction by Jill Brunelle, directed by Connecticut native Jim Clark and based on E.L. Doctorow’s distinguished novel, Ragtime is a truly unique and powerful portrait of America that is sure to inspire actors and audiences alike. Ragtime will run for one night only on January 11, 2020 at the Ivoryton Playhouse. The performance is at 7:00 p.m. and doors open… read more

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS ABOUNDS IN AREA THEATERS – Bonnie Goldberg

“Tis the season to celebrate the holidays and area theatres are busy with jolly, entertaining and heartwarming productions. Start off visiting that energetic and enthusiastic elf Buddy who is in residence at Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre until Sunday, December 22. Jimmy Donohue plays the boy who crawls into Santa’s bag and ends up at the North Pole believing he is one of Santa’s helpers. Growing big and afraid he is a failure as a toy maker leads him to discover he is human. Buddy sets off for New York City to find his father. This musical adventure “Elf” is a… read more

Goodspeed’s Costume Warehouse Keeps Expanding, It’s Education Programs – Karen Isaacs

Glenn Close’s iconic gown from Sunset Boulevard, one of Annie’s dresses from Annie, Dolly’s famous red gown from Hello, Dolly!, Alex Baldwin’s suit from A Streetcar Named Desire and much, much more. In fact, nearly 250,000 costumes and accessories are stored at Goodspeed’s costume collection warehouse in East Haddam. It began in the 1980s when the theater began purchasing costumes from Broadway shows and tours that were closing. It has grown since then to include not just costumes from Broadway but also from Opera productions. It includes everything from hates, gloves, purses, shoes, gowns, suits, shirts and even pantaloons are… read more

CT Critics Circle Awards Set For June 29th

Save the date of Monday, June 29, 2020 for the annual Connecticut Critics Circle awards ceremony to be held at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. Long Wharf is no stranger to hosting the Connecticut Critics Circle awards, having been the locale in 2013. Previous hosts include TheaterWorks/Hartford Stage, Yale Repertory, Westport Country Playhouse, and Goodspeed Opera House. Celebrating the 30th year of the awards ceremony, the Connecticut Critics Circle has made it its goal to honor the actors, directors, designers and others who help produce outstanding professional theater in the stage. The Critic Circle’s current roster of 26 critics… read more

The Numbers Tell the Story for Fall Connecticut Theater – Karen Isaacs

One, two, three, six and 22. A math puzzle? No – just a list of what happening in Connecticut theaters through the start of the holiday season. Here’s what the numbers all mean. One – A renovated theater reopens. TheaterWorks in Hartford which has produced three shows at the Hartford Atheneum will show off its renovated home on Pearl Street in October. The lobby has been enlarged, better and more convenient restrooms, an elevator, new seating and lots of improvements backstage will greet theatergoers and performers. Two – Two new artistic directors are taking the helm at two of our… read more

Bill Berloni is champion for animal actors – Brooks Appelbaum

Bill Berloni has kind eyes, a steady presence and a calm voice. It isn’t difficult to imagine a shy or traumatized dog, large or small, trusting him at first sight. Berloni is a nationally-known humane trainer of animals used on stage, television and in film. His business, William Berloni Theatrical Animals, has been successful for 30 years, and he is the only trainer to earn a special Tony award. Berloni’s latest project is “Because of Winn Dixie,” directed by John Rando and running at Goodspeed Musicals through Sept. 5. The production stars Bowdie as the titular gentle giant (“a poodle… read more

Yale Summer Cabaret is Full “Swing” – Bonnie Goldberg

Danilo Gambini is part of a triumvirate that includes Jecamiah M. Ybanez and Estefani Castro, the three fearless leaders, the trio of Artistic Directors, who are responsible for this summer’s Yale Cabaret. Titled ”Verano,” which means summer in Spanish, they have fashioned a four part line up of shows where they encourage you, the audience, to laugh, to cry and to fall in love. Now, at the half way mark in the season, you are invited to join a playground in the park to romp on a swing with the animal characters in Brazilian writer Jorge Amado’s whimsical children’s novel… read more

The Narrative of Disabled Performers Needs to Change by Noah Golden

On June 9th, Ali Stroker won a Tony Award, making her the first wheelchair-user to win a prize at the top event for honoring Broadway talent. She is only one of a handful of disabled actors to win a major acting award in the US across any media (following Phyllis Frelich, Marlee Matlin, Harold Russell, and Christopher Reeve). She was also the first person in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway, making her debut in the 2015 “Spring Awakening” revival. Her Tony win is, of course, not just a huge personal achievement for the 32-year-old performer but a win for… read more

Great Theater Doesn’t Take a Vacation in Connecticut by Karen Isaacs

Connecticut theater doesn’t take a summer vacation. While some of the major companies – Yale Rep, Long Wharf and Hartford Stage take a summer break, others go on all year and still others present a summer only season. Long gone are the days of the “straw hat circuit” of productions that toured a variety of summer theaters in New England offering light comedies often starring B-list or aging Hollywood and TV names. Now you can see world premieres with leading performers as well as classic musicals, dramas and plays. You can sit outdoors or under a covering or in traditional… read more

Connecticut Critics Give ‘A Flea in Her Ear,’ ‘Music Man’ Top Honors

EAST HADDAM — The classic French farce “A Flea in Her Ear” at the Westport Country Playhouse and a nostalgic revival of “The Music Man” at Goodspeed Musicals took top honors at the Monday, June 3rd Connecticut Critics Circle Awards. The event, which celebrates the work from the state’s professional theaters during the ’18-’19 season, was held at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. This year the awards were spread out to many productions throughout the state, though Hartford Stage’s “The Engagement Party” earned the most taking four for outstanding director, actor, set and lighting. Awards for outstanding actor… read more

Michael Yeargan Named 2019 Tom Killen Award Recipient

Michael Yeargan, two-time Tony Award-winning set designer and co-chair of the design program at Yale School of Drama, will be the 2019 recipient of the Connecticut Critics Circle’s annual Tom Killen Award, recognizing his long service and achievement to theater in the state, New York and internationally. The award will be presented June 3 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam at the 29th annual event celebrating and honoring the state’s outstanding professional theater. The event, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. Yeargan is professor in the practice of design at the… read more

Passing of Critic David Rosenberg

Dear theater lover, David Rosenberg, our esteemed theater critic, died suddenly Wednesday night, July 15, at Norwalk Hospital. Comments below are by his friend/fellow critic Irene Backalenick: LOSS OF DAVID ROSENBERG The loss of my best friend/fellow theater critic/co-founder of the Connecticut Critics Circle is devastating, unacceptable. How shall we all go on without David? I can look back on thirty years of sharing the profession with him. With each of us covering theater for our various publications, we often traveled the field together–primarily in New York City and Connecticut, but also across the country. And our frequent trips to… read more

Arts & Ideas Festival Takes it Online – Karen Isaac

What can you do during a pandemic when you run an event that takes places all over a city and includes audiences in spaces small and large, indoors and outdoors? New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas confronted that this spring when it became clear that the normal form would not be possible; not just due to the limitations on gatherings, but also because it would have been impossible to get visas for the numerous foreign arts and speakers that usually take part of the festival. “We mourned the loss, and began to unravel a year’s work,” says Bobby… read more

Connecticut Critics To Award Excellence in Shortened Season

Due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut Critics Circle (CCC) is canceling its annual awards program and instead will honor excellence presented at the state’s professional theaters from this past season. The 30th annual awards ceremony was scheduled for June 29 at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre. The members of CCC will meet online this month to discuss ways in which excellence can be recognized in the shortened season, which ended prematurely when theaters closed in mid-March. “There was so much great theater presented in the state before the shutdown,” says Stuart Brown, President of the CCC and owner,… read more