Checking in on Charles – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Are you into history and legend and what might have been? Do tales of buried treasure intrigue you and do you find the possibility of ghosts fascinating? Might a musical about a piece of land only fourteen acres long just off the cost of Milford be too tempting to ignore? Pantochino Productions is happy to satisfy all your mythical cravings with a new comedy “Checking in on Charles” weekends until Sunday, May 15 at the Milford Arts Council. Credit goes to Bert Bernardi for book and lyrics, Justin Rugg for music, Jimmy Johansmeyer for costumes and Von Del Mar for the interesting inn set.

Part fact and part fiction, this new musical explores the Island House on Charles Island, circa 1905, where the notorious Captain Kidd and his pirate friends may have buried chests of treasure. Miss Bernice Britchard has just inherited the inn from her father, the Button King, and she is anxious to reopen the lovely facility to guests. Mary Mannix’s Bernice readily admits to being just the trifle bit scared and superstitious about her commanding new position, especially when she learns that curses come along at no extra charge. The previous inn keeper, one Miss Aurelia Biddle (Tracey Marble), is not happy to be demoted to housekeeper and doesn’t mind ratcheting up Bernice level of fear.

Into the inn, parade a series of personages, from the handyman Mr. Sprig (Jeremy Ajdukiewicz), the new bell hop (Rick Calvo), a strange Mrs. Purdy (Janet Zamparo), a family of treasure seekers (Jimmy Johansmeyer, Rachelle Ianniello, Ryder Blanchard, Cara Marquis), a pair who want to turn the inn into a new Coney Island (Justin Rugg, Shelley Marsh Poggio), two nuns who are seeking donations (Valerie Solli, Maria Berte) and a new admirer of Bernice (George Spelvin). At this performance Eilee Dingus played the treasure seeker’s wife.

With ghosts galore, enough slamming doors to sound like a farce, sand bars that appear and disappear, songs like “A Brand New Day” and “I’m Not Afraid,” you’ll have plenty of fun following the clues on the maps to the treasure. For tickets ($ 30), go online to Pantochino Productions, 40 Railroad Avenue, Milford at or Remember this is cabaret so bring food and drink to your table. Vaccine is recommended. Masks are not required while you are eating. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m and Sunday at 2 p.m.

The Great Give Days are May 4-5 to help support the theater at You can also contribute to the restoration of Charles Island to help purchase trees. Send checks to Charles Island Restoration LLC c/o Dolores Hannon, 110 Beach Avenue, Milford CT 06460.

Be sure you have the real treasure map and follow the clues to help Miss Bernice Britchard find the gift chest her father so kindly left her.