For Irene – by Marlene S. Gaylinn

Irene Backalenick — a nationally known journalist, theater critic, and a founding member of the Connecticut Critics Circle, passed away at home on December 16, 2023. She was 102 years old. Longtime friend and colleague Marlene Gaylinn remembers Irene. I met Irene when I began writing theatre reviews for “The Darien News-Review.” My editor, Virginia Bates, knew Irene from the CT Press Club and informed me that we may have something in common. It was at the Press Club that we first met. Soon afterwards, Irene became one of the founders of The Connecticut Critics Circle and I became one… read more

Looking Back on My 2023 Favorites in New York and Connecticut – by Karen Isaacs

I don’t do a ten-best list; instead, I like to recall some of my favorite shows of the past year. My NYC City Favorites: Other critics loved some of these and didn’t like some. But I am glad I saw them. I thoroughly enjoyed: Merrily We Roll Along – this Sondheim musical had a rocky original run, but the score is so good that productions keep popping up. This revival (now on Broadway, but I saw it off-Broadway) makes a strong case for its worth. Parade ­­– Another show that had a disappointing initial run; it got a stellar revival… read more

Goodspeed’s New Musical Festival – by Bonnie Goldberg

For some people, winter signals a time for sledding, skating, snowboarding and snowman making. For others, like me, the highlight of the cold weather months is a special weekend, this year Friday to Sunday, January 12-14, when music theater lovers gather in East Haddam for the 2024 Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals. Come join this magical celebration. Hopefully the weatherman will cooperate and there will be no need for snow shoes or skis, just for open hearts and minds to the wonders that musical theater offers in abundance. For the 18th year, Goodspeed is presenting a weekend with a trio… read more

Holiday Shows Plays, Concerts and More for the Holiday Season – Karen Isaac

Ivoryton Playhouse is rockin’. Getting a head start on the holiday season, Million Dollar Quartet Christmas is running through Sunday, Dec. 17. Since the original legendary recording session with Elvis, John Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins occurred on Dec. 4, 1956, it isn’t a stretch to imagine that some holiday songs were included. You’ll hear everything from “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree,” and more, including some traditional carols. Several Ivoryton favorites are in the cast. For tickets, visit IT’S BACK! After a three-year absence, A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story… read more

CT’s Theaters Face Multiple Challenges – by Karen Isaac

Los Angeles’ Geffen Theatre reduced staff and shuttered one of its theatres, its Mark Taper Forum will “pause” this year. Williamstown Theatre Festival (MA) produced no full productions this summer with the exception of a production in conjunction with the Berkshire Theatre Festival. The well-known and well-respected Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville was discontinued. The Brooklyn Academy of Music laid off 13 percent of its staff; The Dallas Theatre Center cut its full-time staff nearly in half. In Connecticut, we have seen Long Wharf Theatre vacate its longtime home in New Haven; with no home, it is presenting… read more

West Hartford Community Theater – by Stuart Brown

In our continuing series on spotlighting community theaters in Connecticut, I recently spoke with Roxanne Drolet, a Board member of the West Hartford Community Theater – Their upcoming production of The Drowsy Chaperone begins on November 4, 2023. Tell me about West Hartford Community Theater. Why was the company started? • West Hartford Community Theater was started in 2007 by Bruce LaRoche and Maria Librio Judge, two West Hartford residents who were both alumni of Conard High School. They saw the need and the room for a true community theater in West Hartford, one that would open the stage… read more

The 12 – A Different Goodspeed Musical – by Stuart Brown

The musical The 12, currently playing at the Goodspeed Opera House through October 29, is a very different show that audience members have come to expect from the venerable regional theater. The show, a new production, is not a comedy, but a serious, dramatic musical presentation that centers around the 12 Apostles of Christ and their reactions and actions after his death. “There is part of our audience that wants serious, more in-depth material,” according to Dan McMahon, Director of Marketing at the theater. “This is a show that addresses that segment while at the same time helping us appeal… read more

The Flying DeLorean & Other Notable Automobiles on Broadway – by Stuart Brown

Back to the Future – the Musical has been a big hit in London. The show opened last month in New York to mixed reviews. However, everyone – from critics to audience members – agrees that the star of the show is the flying DeLorean. That got me thinking about other shows where an automobile was one of the stars. Here are a few. How many have you seen? Which musicals would you add? Grease – opened on February 14, 1972 My first Broadway show without parental accompaniment. Grease is still one of my all-time favorite shows and cast recordings.… read more

On Cedar Street – a New Musical at Berkshire Theatre Co. – Review by Karen Isaacs

Maybe I’m just a pushover for a gentle romance., but I was delighted with On Cedar Street. You will hear more of the new musical On Cedar Street, which is having its world premiere at the Berkshire Theatre Company through Sept. 2 Why? First of all, because it has top-notch people involved, the book is by Emily Mann, a Tony Award winner; music by composers Lucy Simon (The Secret Garden), co-composer Carmel Dean (music director for multiple Broadway shows); and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead (Jelly’s Last Jam, Working). It’s directed by Susan H. Schulman, whose list of Broadway musical credits… read more

Bandstand – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

War is never easy or, in many opinions, a necessary solution to problems. Fighting over a little red truck in a sand box is a far cry from countries amassing guns, tanks and weapons of mass destruction. Yet at this moment in time there are conflicts from drug wars in Mexico and Columbia to terrorist attacks from Algeria and Nigeria to Chad and Sudan to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And when war is finally over, the returning soldiers find life has changed irrevocably since they left. To enter the minds and hearts of the soldiers returning home from World War… read more