BY BONNIE GOLDBERG If the thought of snow boarding, skiing and skating are just chilly reminders of winter, ones you might prefer to ignore, then plan to warm up the winter month of January with a toasty and inviting weekend of theatrical magic. This year for the luckiest 13th time, Goodspeed Musicals is offering its annual Festival of New Musicals, produced by the Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre, and you are invited to unwrap your plaid scarves and take off your fuzzy mittens to enjoy all the fun and festivities. From Friday, January 12 to Sunday, January… read more

Frank Rizzo: My Top Connecticut Musicals Of The Past 40 Years

As with the plays I wrote about last month, I’ve often been asked to reveal my favorite musical among the thousands of shows I’ve seen over 40-plus years of theater-going in Connecticut. (Add another decade when I was a theater-obsessed boy catching musicals in New York.) The answer was always easy: A Chorus Line, only recently supplanted — or supplemented, as I prefer to say — by Hamilton. But when it comes to specifically Connecticut-produced musicals, it gets trickier to come up with a singular sensation. Or even 10 of them. Yes, I missed a few of the great ones… read more

Conversation with: Michael Preston

by Tim Leininger After 19 years, with Bill Raymond stepping down from the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Hartford Stage’s production of “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas,” running through Dec. 30, the company has looked inward, to the show’s own Mr. Marvel, Michael Preston, 59, of Hartford, as its new Christmas curmudgeon. I had the opportunity to sit down with the Ohio native who also is an acting teacher at Trinity College, and discuss his life, training, career, and taking over the role of Scrooge. Q: Where are you originally from? A: I was born in Granville,… read more

Jerod Haynes Switches From Ball to Plays With ‘Native Son’ At Yale Rep

by Frank Rizzo Growing up in Chicago, Jerod Haynes—who is starring as Bigger Thomas in the stage adaptation of Native Son at Yale Repertory Theatre—had no interest whatsoever in becoming an actor. Haynes’s dream centered on the basketball court and, for a while, it looked like that dream had a good chance of becoming true. “I dreamt of going to the NBA and I worked extremely hard at it,” says the young actor over lunch at New Haven’s Atticus Bookstore Café, during a break in rehearsals. A star athlete in a state championship high school team, Haynes received a scholarship… read more

Audiobooks’ George Guidall Talks About Talking

by Frank Rizzo The Chosen, a coming-of-age story set in the 1940s, is now playing at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre through Dec. 17. Adapted by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok from the novel by Potok, the show centers on two young friends from rival yeshivas — both with demanding fathers — who learn to question their place in a fast-changing world. I asked one of the show’s stars, George Guidall, what makes an actor right to narrate audiobooks. Guidall should know. After all, his voice is the one you hear on more than 1,300 audiobooks. His narrations of classics such as Crime and… read more

Hartford Stage Introduces a New Scrooge

By Karen Isaacs, Two on the Aisle How do you take over a part that for 20 years has been play almost exclusively by one actor? Michael Preston is facing that dilemma as the new Scrooge in the Hartford Stage production of A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas, which runs through Sunday, Dec. 30.  Preston admitted that Bill Raymond, the former Scrooge who retired from the role last year, had been a hero of his. “It was great to work with him,” Preston said, referring to playing Mr. Marvel for several years in the production. But he… read more

The Musical Holiday — Carols, Pop Holiday Songs and Classical – Something for Everyone

By Karen Isaacs, Two on the Aisle  It’s a long standing tradition – the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Orchestra New England starts the holiday season with its Colonial Concert. Audience members are transported back to the colonial era where maestro James Sinclair will introduce them to the “latest” European music. This year’s concert, held at United Church on the Green, New Haven is on Saturday, Nov. 25. It will feature a “recent” symphony by Mr. Hayden, as well as a popular French song by Jean-Paul-Egide Maitini. Organist Walden Moor of Trinity Church on the Green is a guest artist. The audience… read more

This Year’s Holiday Offerings Include Classics and Contemporary Twists

By Karen Isaacs Two new Scrooges are gracing Connecticut stages this holiday season. Each will bring a new take on the classic character of Scrooge, and the story of A Christmas Carol. A new musical version of the story is at Goodspeed Musicals through Sunday, Dec. 24. A Connecticut Christmas Carol is the brainchild of LJ Fecho and Michael O’Flaherty, Goodspeed’s longtime music director. “We had the idea about two years ago,” O’Flaherty said. “We had done a very silly and fun Pennsylvania Dutch version a few years ago. Larry (the book is written by him) suggested setting it in… read more


THE JUKEBOX EXPLODES IN “GOIN’ TO THE CHAPEL” BONNIE GOLDBERG 203-397-5433 Teenagers are often preoccupied with bouts of puppy love, going steady, getting their hearts broken, pledging eternal devotion, wearing varsity pins, and all the other diversions that make these adolescent years so dramatic and traumatic.  To get a glimpse into your past, no matter how many years ago your high school years were, hop and bop over to the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin for Valerie Fagan’s world premiere musical “Goin’ to the Chapel” with arrangements and orchestrations by Bryan Crook playing weekends until Saturday, December 16. If you can… read more


BONNIE GOLDBERG 203-397-5433 Every good little girl and boy, and even the ones not so good, have a long and involved Christmas list for Santa.  If your name is Ralph and you are nine years old, live in Indiana and are growing up in the 1940’s, you only have one item written in bright red on your wish list.  Ralphie desires above all else one genuine, official, Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle, with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time.  What he does not want are a pair of pink bunny pajamas.  You… read more