Lend Me a Tenor, the side splitting comedy now at the Music Theatre of Connecticut

A hilarious zany  comedy is now on stage at the Music Theater of Connecticut.  Lend me a Tenor was first produced on the  West End (London) in 1986 and on Broadway in 1989. The play was nominated for nine Tony awards, and won two.    It also was nominated for six Drama Desk awards and won four.  Now this comedy is on stage until November 20th. It is truly in the style of modern British comedy with exaggerated acting, physical comedy, over the top characters and a clever set that is a vital part of the story.

Hold on to your armrests as you may just fall out of your seat from laughing too hard!   The play is set in a hotel suite in Cleveland Ohio in 1934.  An internationally famous opera tenor, Tito Merelli is coming to Cleveland to perform the famous role of Pagliacci the clown.   His anticipated arrival is a huge event for the local theater which is betting their season on this performance.  Merelli is quite the ladies man and when he arrives we discover that all the women in the play are all trying to seduce him with the exception of his wife who storms out of the hotel after she suspects him of an affair.   Act One soon gets turned on his head as Merelli mixes too many sleeping pills and wine.  The theater manager fearing that his star is dead asks his assistant Max to don the make up and costume of Pagliacci and assume his role that very evening on stage. If the play is cancelled it could spell disaster for the theater.

The stage design is an integral and very important part of the comedy.  The stage is one large hotel suite with a partial wall that divides the bedroom from the sitting area.  The audience can see all the action in both rooms but the characters cannot.   There are also 5 doors that exit the room, two to closets, one to the bathroom and two to the corridor.  These doors are part of this very over the top physical comedy as the actors race in and out of the doors.   Act Two turns the whole story on its head.  Is Merelli the word famous tenor really dead?  Or just in a deep sleep? Is there room for two operatic clowns in this comedy?  Will Max overcome his fears and appear on stage as Pagliacci and save the day?  You will have to see to find out.

Direction of this witty, fast moving comedy is essential for its success. Timing in comedy is everything and director Pamela Hill brings out the comedic best in this ensemble of fine actors. From rapid fire delivery to exaggerated facial expressions, the delivery is right on target.

Lend Me A Tenorstars Frank Mastrone (B’way- Phantom, Jekyll & Hyde, BIG) as Tito Merelli, Jeff Gurner(B’way- The Lion King, MTC- Sunset Boulevard) as The Bellboy, Michael Damian Fasano (Tour of Jersey Boys, Summer Theatre of New Canaan- West Side Story) as Max, Cynthia Hannah (TV- The Guiding Light, All My Children) as Maria, Jim Schilling(Hamlet with Tony Roberts, South Pacific with Jamie Farr) as Henry Saunders, Jo Anne Parady (Players Club- The Life of Shakespeare, Stratford Shakespeare Festival– Othello) as Julia, Emily Solo (Charlottesville Opera- Sound of Music, New Camerata Opera- Infinite Energy) as Diana, andAlexandra Fortin (Red Monkey Group- HeddaGabler, Gallery Players- Steel Magnolias) as Maggie Saunders.

Lend Me A Tenor is stage managed by Abbey Murray. The creative team includes fight and intimacy choreography by Dan O’Driscoll, scenic and prop design by Sean Sanford, lighting design by RJ Romeo, costume design by Diane Vanderkroef, and sound design by Will Atkin.

Ticket prices range from $40-$65 plus fees and can be purchased online.  Support local theater!

Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC)

509 Westport Ave Norwalk Ct

http://www.musictheatreofct.com

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From The Mississippi Delta: a powerful drama now at the Westport Country Playhouse

The Westport Country Playhouse is now presenting on stage the drama “From the Mississippi Delta”.  This tale is based on the true life story of the author, Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Ph.D.  It follows her incredible struggles from a poor black girl living  in segregated  Mississippi in the 1950s to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, to her relocation to Minnesota where she attends college and graduate school.  It is a tale of the human spirit and the ability to finally overcome the seemingly impossible  challenges of poverty and a  cruel racist society.  The play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and has been produced in theaters across the country including Off-Broadway.

There are three actors in the play, all who play multiple roles. The main characters are the mother and daughter, with the third actor also taking on the role as narrator.   They weave the true story of the author and her family.  The main character, Phelia  is inspired by her mother Ida (also called Aint Baby), to work hard and strive for a better life.  Her mother has left the long days of the cotton fields behind as has become a midwife in her rural community.  Her talents and dedication earn her the name,  “Second Doctor Lady”.   She owns her own modest home and rents out rooms to support her children.   The play turns dark when her daughter, Phelia at age 11 is raped by a local white man.  Soon Phelia is caught up the seediness of a local carnival and becomes a prostitute at age 12.  She eventually will drop out of school. 

Fate will change the life of young Phelia when she meets with a civil rights group that comes to town, the  Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.   They convince her to join their movement .   Her mother is against her involvement, and in time their house is firebombed.  Her mother, Aint Baby perishes is the fire which is blamed on Klansmen.    Despite this tragedy, Phelia struggles onward and we follow her remarkable journey as she  moves north to Minnesota and attends college.   It is an incredible story of the human spirit that will remind you of the struggles so many have endured on the road to equality.  The play has all the elements of a compelling drama:  struggle, tragedy, hope, inspiration and finally redemption. 

Westport Country Playhouse will stage from October 18 – 30th. So make plans to see this fascinating drama.

The three-member cast includes Claudia Logan as Woman 1. She is from Detroit, a graduate of SUNY Purchase, and now lives in Brooklyn. Credits include Westport Country Playhouse’s “Don Juan” (2019), Dallas Theater Center’s “Penny Candy,” HBO’s “Random Acts of Flyness” and “The Deuce,” and Netflix’s “Tales of the City.” Tameishia Peterson portrays Woman 2. Born in Dayton and raised in Memphis, she is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Michael Howard Studios, and Fiasco Conservatory. She now lives in New York. Credits include Starz’s ““Power Book II: Ghost,” Hulu’s “WuTang: An American Saga,” and Netflix’s “The Perfect Find.” Erin Margaret Pettigrew plays Woman 3. She is a first generation Los Angeles native after having roots in Belize and the American South. Her artist-journey has been shaped with many communities and creators such as Manhattan Theatre Club, Page 73 Productions, JAG Productions, and more, while facilitating and learning alongside institutions such as UCSB, NYU, and CUNY.

Playwright Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Ph.D. was born in Green­wood, Mississippi. During the 1940s and 1950s, Greenwood was an impoverished Delta community where Black people lived in fear of their lives. It is her life story that is the basis for this play.

Goldie E. Patrick. is the director of this production. The Detroit native is an proud alumna of Howard University where she is currently a professor of hip-hop theater. Based in New York City, for over 20 years she has passionately worked in and built artistic collaborations in Black theater as a playwright, director, and producer.

The creative team includes Jason Ardizzone-West, scenic design; Heidi Hanson, costume design; John Alexander, lighting design; Michael Keck, sound design; Ann James, intimacy coach; Dawn-Elin Fraser, voice and speech coach; Sean Sanford, props supervisor; Melissa Sparks, production stage manager; and Tré Wheeler, assistant stage manager.

The play is recommended for age 15 and up. Running time is approximately 90 minutes with one intermission. For the Playhouse’s 2022 season only, plays are consolidated to a two-week performance schedule instead of the usual three-week run.  Please support great local theater, and come see professional performance at the Westport Country Playhouse.

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court Westport Ct

http://www.westportportpayhouse.org

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The perfect Newport escape awaits at the Hamilton Hoppin House

Newport Rhode Island is a famous and desirable destination.  With its rich history of sailing and tennis, to its Gilded Age Mansions that line Bellevue Avenue, Newport has been a sought after vacation location for generations.   Though the stately mansions of the Gilded Age are now museums, we have found an inn where you can experience the elegance of Newport without having to be a Vanderbilt.

The Hamilton Hoppin House also known as Villa 120 is a beautifully restored Italianate villa style mansion.  Built in 1856, the house which is built in the wooden “stick style” is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Designed by Richard Upjohn, a famous 19th Century architect who helped popularize the Italianate design in the United States.   He was the founder of the American Institute of Architects, and designed many houses of worship and did extensive work in the Northeast including in the Hudson Valley.   Italianate style is known for its square or rectangular design, a flat roof with an overhang supported by corbels, and large oversized first floor windows. All of those details are here, as well as a beautiful large covered front porch supported by arched columns.

As lovely as the grounds and exterior of the house are, when the front door swings open, you know immediately you are in a special place.  The wide front hall runs from the front door to the back of the house.  You have to stop and take in the high ceilings, the complex wood floor, and the beautiful staircase lined with rich millwork.

Beautiful details and stain glass illuminate the stairway

Three large rooms are found on the main floor including a dining room, the breakfast room and the music room.  All are connected to the main hall by tall, grand hardwood double doors.  The 8 bedrooms are located on the second and third floor of the mansion.  As you ascend the stairs you will notice the stain glass window that illuminates the stair and hall.  The second floor hall is wide and nearly as grand as the first floor.

The Music Room

 We stayed in the Aquidneck room, which is named for the island on which Newport is located. The room is large and painted a soft relaxing shade of blue. Though renovated, the room still  retains its historic charm with hardwood floors, and large windows with wooden shutters. The king size bed is lined with crisp white sheets and comfortable pillows that ensured a restful sleep.  Modern touches included a renovated bath with shower, wi-fi, and a large screen tv with cable.  A gas fireplace in the corner is the perfect romantic touch to this room.

Aquidneck Room

Breakfast is included and the guests can gather on the first floor where coffee, tea, juice, muffins, fruit and other items are available.  You can also order eggs and sausage if you so desire.  The owner was present both days and entertained the guests with wonderful stories of the house, Newport and his own experiences.  It made our breakfast very special.

The Breakfast Room

The house is only a short 5 minute drive into downtown Newport.  There you can park and explore the narrow historic streets lined with 200 year (and older) homes.  There are also great shops, bars, music venues, and restaurants along Thames Street and down on the wharves. Of course Newport offers great scenery from a ride along Ocean Drive, to the famous Cliff Walk.  As Newport becomes a destination for collector car enthusiasts with two car museums, and the success of Audrains Concours Motor Week, the demand for upscale lodging will be high.  With ample parking and minutes from downtown, we can see the Hamilton Hoppin house being a future gathering place for auto enthusiasts. 

Though the mansion is grand, it still is able to convey a special warm and intimate atmosphere. These qualities makes it the perfect spot for an event, a small wedding or just a romantic getaway.   For a short time you can experience the history and grandeur of Newport by staying at the Hamilton Hoppin House.

The Hamilton Hoppin House (Villa 120)

20 Miantonomi Ave, Middletown, Newport, Rhode Island

http://www.hamiltonhoppinhouse.com

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Unique “experiences” await at Hemlock Hill Farm in the Hudson Valley

Brunch with Rescued Donkeys

Life should be an accumulation of memorable experiences.  Events which we can enjoy and that we can reflect upon later only to recall with fondness.

This past weekend we discovered such a memorable experience tight here in the Hudson Valley at Hemlock Hill Farm in Montgomery New York (Orange County).  An easy 1 hour drive from Westchester. 

This small farm is tucked up on a hillside surrounded by woods. Upon exiting your car you will immediately notice the quiet and the serenity of this place.   Hemlock Hill Farm offers several “experience” options.  On this particular beautiful October day we decided to try the “Brunch with Rescued Donkeys”.   We were greeted by our host Kaity who introduced us to the three rescue donkeys, who were friendly and adorable.  The donkeys are all in a fenced in field but they did stay close by as we prepared to sit down for brunch.

The brunch table was artistically and tastefully set on a rustic, century old picnic table.  Green boughs and pumpkins lined the center of the table, and china plates, teacups and silverware completed the setting.  On a separate table was a beautifully arranged display of prepared foods and baked goods.  All were made fresh by Kaity. 

Rustic and elegant, the perfect setting for brunch

We were treated to quiche, pumpkin muffins, apple cider donuts, mini apple pies, and more.  There were also veggies, pita and hummus.  Mason jars offered either small salads, or a potpourri of fruit and nuts.  The presentation was attractive and imaginative.  Coffee, tea and apple cider were also served.  It was indeed a memorable brunch. As we enjoyed the fresh made meal, the donkeys wandered about in the enclosed field.

A beautiful assortment of freshly made menu items

After our delightful brunch we entered the barn to meet the rescue horses, and the very friendly rescue goats.  The baby goats were especially happy to greet us.  There were also chickens on the property which provide the farm with fresh eggs.  It was great to interact with these animals.

Another experience offered is “glamping”.  This activity has grown enormously in the past few years.   The term describes traditional outdoor camping blended with a more upscale modern and comfortable aesthetic.    The tent on the farm was the perfect combination of the rustic outdoors and romantic comfort.  This is the perfect place to escape and disconnect.  The cream colored tent includes a large nicely made bed with decorative pillows, comforter and even an electric blanket.   The tent has a mini fireplace which is actually an electric space heater, a chair and some board games.   Outside the tent is surrounded by hand laid stone walls and more seating, a table, a cupboard and cooking stove add to the ambiance. You have your own mini compound.   I can imagine stepping out of the tent at night and looking up at the stars of the Hudson Valley sky as they softly illuminate the farm.

The farm offers other experiences as well and we encourage you to check out their website.  The farm is minutes from area attractions including Angry Orchard Cider, City Winery, orchards and of course all the great hiking in the area.

We remember with fondness our afternoon we spent at the farm and look forward to returning once again.

Hemlock Hill Farm

211  Youngblood Road Montgomery New York    (Orange County)

http://www.hemlockhillfarm.net it is “net” not “.com”

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Audrain’s Concours Motor Week 2022. Recap of a great weekend in Newport

Audrain’s Concours Motor Week  2022 was a great success.  A bit of inclement weather could not dampen the spirits of those who attended this fantastic automotive lifestyle event held in historic Newport Rhode Island.   Audrain’s Motor week was filled with events, parties, vendors, a tour of classic vehicles, seminars, and the Bonham’s auto auction.  The week concluded with the spectacular Concours d’elegance featuring over 150 beautiful cars on the lawn of The Breakers overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The Gathering at Rough Point

We started our visit by heading to The Gathering at Rough Point, the mansion of Doris Duke (now a museum).   The lawn at Rough Point was the perfect venue for attendees to enjoy a fine display of automobiles while enjoying cocktails, wine and craft beer.  Local restaurants provided delicious food from oysters, lobster rolls, clam chowder to pizza.  There were several exceptional cars on the lawn including a Cadillac Cyclone concept car from the 1950s to the beautiful Pontiac Banshee concept car, which many attendees lamented that Pontiac should have put into production. There was an unveiling of a custom Land Rover which the builder had painstakingly converted into a classic “woody” wagon.  The craftsmanship was quite impressive. The panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean were the perfect backdrop for this memorable event. Friday afternoon also featured the Bonhams Auction at the Concours Village.  A fine selection of collector  cars were available for attendees to bid on.

Cadillac Concept Car
Jay Leno being interviewed at unveiling of a custom Woody Land Rover
The tour reaches Bellevue Avenue

Saturday provided more events including the Tour d’Elegance which stopped along the route in front of Audrain’s Museum and the Concours village.  The cars which were all part of Sunday’s Concours, took part in the driving tour around historic and scenic Newport.  Their arrival on Bellevue Avenue thrilled the crowd which enjoyed seeing this gathering of automotive classics. 

We also attended one of the many seminars.  This seminar hosted by Jay Ward (director of the Cars animated movies) and Vin di Bona (television producer) was entitled “Cars of the Silver Screen” and which was entertaining as it was informative.

Sunday was the pinnacle of Motor Week with the Concours d’Elegance on the lawn of The Breakers, the palatial summer home built in 1895 for Cornelius Vanderbilt II.  The 70 room mansion with its sweeping lawns overlooks the Atlantic Ocean which provides the perfect setting for a world class automotive event.

American pre war classics at the Concours

There were numerous classes of cars vying for awards including a special 30 under 30 Class which showcases cars from enthusiasts under the age 30, American Cars 1920-1932, American cars 1933-1940, American Luxury 1945-1980, American Sports,  Aston-Martin, British Sports Cars, Cadillac, Custom cars and Early Brass Era Cars.  It was a remarkable gathering of automotive history once again at Audrain’s. 

 A magnificent 1930 Bentley Speed Six owned by William Medcalf of Vintage Bentley took home the coveted ‘Best of Show’ trophy on  his matching-numbers Speed Six Bentley.  The  Bentley was supplied new to Viscount Mandeville, the 10th Duke of Manchester.

Best of Show

Audrain’s Concours Motor Week was a great success and a car lover’s dream.  Dates for the 2023 event have already been announced for Thursday September 28th to  Sunday October 1st 2023.   Tickets go on sale in the spring of 2023.   Audrain’s is not just a car show, it is a life style event.

Audrains Concours Motor Week

http://www.audrainsconcours.com

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Felice County Fair features live bands, food and craft beer at Arrowood Farm Brewery in the Catskills. Saturday October 1st.

Here is a fun event this weekend.  Take a ride to  Arrowood Farm Brewery in Accord New York, Ulster County.  The farm is an easy 90 minute drive from Northern Westchester County and lies just west of New Paltz New York in the beautiful Hudson Valley.

This year’s Felice County Fair will take place on Saturday, October 1, 2022 at Arrowood Farm Brewery.  The festival and will feature artists performing on one stage in addition to great local food vendors, craft beer, and other activities.

Unique and Collaborative Sets Featuring Performances by CONOR OBERST · THE FELICE BROTHERS · HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF · EVAN STEPHENS HALL (PINEGROVE) · HALEY HEYNDERICKX · AL OLENDER · and  WILLIAM LAWRENCE. plus additional special guests.

The Felice Brothers are a country/rock band from the Catskills, and have released several albums.  Hurray for the Riff Raff describes its genre of music as “Americana” and they are from New Orleans.  The band is headed by lead singer Alynda Segarra, and has released 10 albums since 2007.

It sounds like a great day in the country with live bands, food and of course the great craft beer from Arrowood Farm Brewery.

Please check out this link for more information, tickets, what and what not to bring etc.

Link to festival >> http://www.felicecountyfair.com

Arrowood will be hosting other events during the fall, so check their website .

Felice County Fair at:

Arrowood Farm Brewery

236 Lower Whitfield Rd, Accord, NY 12404 http://www.arrowoodfarms.com

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Sunset Blvd., the Tony Award winning musical now on stage in Norwalk at the Music Theatre of Connecticut

Sunset Blvd. the Tony Award winning musical is now live on stage at the Music Theatre of Connecticut  (MTC) in Norwalk .  The music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.  The musical based on the 1949 movie by director Billy Wilder and opened  in London’s West End  in 1993 with Patti Lapone as the lead actress.  In 1994 it opened on Broadway and with Glenn Close as lead actress and the play won Tony’s for Best Original Score, Best Book and Lyrics, Best Actress as well as other accolades.  

MTC is a small theater that consistently produces top quality performances featuring actors with Broadway, off-Broadway, and National Tour experience.  This is all produced in an intimate black-box theater setting where the audience sits on three sides of the stage and is so close, you feel  you are in the performance itself.  It is quite the experience.  Sunset Blvd which runs through October 2nd  is a Broadway quality musical right in our backyard.

The setting is Hollywood in 1949-1950.  Our main character is silent movie star Norma Desmond (Elizabeth Ward Land) who like so many silent movie era stars was cast aside by the Hollywood studios when sound replaced silent movies.  Her desire is to return to the big screen and has even written her own screenplay, but she is shunned by the studios.   By fortune, she crosses paths with Joe Gillis (Trevor Martin), who is down on his luck screen writer who spends more time dodging bill collectors then writing for the studios.   Norma sees an opportunity and hires Joe to edit and improve her screenplay.  But he must move into her house and work exclusively for her.  Seduced by her stardom and wealthy lifestyle, Joe is persuaded to take on the work.  He soon finds himself  longing for the world outside Norma’s estate.  He had promised a young studio assistant, Betty to collaborate on a script together.  But this they must do in secrecy without Norma or her ever present and loyal butler, Max(James Patterson) finding out. 

There is sadness in the story as Norma has grand delusions of returning to the silver screen and the studios that cast her aside at the end of the silent movie era.  As the new year approaches with the optimism of her return and is echoed by the songs, “The Perfect Year” and “This Time Next Year”.

However despite these dreams, the story spirals downward to its dramatic conclusion. 

Sunset Blvd is a first rate production.  Since this is a large 12 member cast and a small stage, set design is limited but clever.  Costumes, especially those worn by Norma evoke the era of Hollywood in its glamour era.   You will walk away from the show impressed by the vocal performances.  Elizabeth Ward Land as Norma amazed the audience with an award winning performance.  Her vocals were powerful, emotional and mesmerizing.   She has performed on Broadway no less than 6 times and she thrilled the theater the evening we attended.   We were also very impressed with the vocals of Max the Butler played by James Patterson.  At first limited to a talking role, Mr. Patterson impressed the audience with his  deep and moving rendition of “The Greatest Star of All”. As always Kevin Connors delivers yet another directing triumph.

MTC’s revival of Sunset Blvd. delivers everything you expect from a Broadway show.  The evening is filled with emotion, power, tragedy, the glamour of bygone Hollywood all wrapped in a beautiful musical performance. With Broadway talent and first rate production, why travel all the way to Manhattan when you can see great theatre so close?

 Sunset Boulevard stars Elizabeth Ward Land (B’way- Amazing Grace, Memphis) as Norma Desmond and Trevor Martin (Wolfbane Prod.- Sweeney Todd, Sharon PH- Beauty & the Beast) and Joe Gillis. The cast also includes James Patterson (B’way- Beauty & The Beast, Gigi) as Max von Mayerling, Sandra Marante (Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Westport Country PH- In The Heights) as Betty Shaefer, Jacob Sundlie (MTC- Ragtime, Shawnee PH- Addams Family) as Artie Green, and in multiple roles is Philip Callen (Legacy Theatre Deathtrap, Urban Stages- Honky), Jeff Gurner (B’way- The Lion King, MTC- Falsettoland), Paul Aguirre (Nat’l Tour- Billy Elliot, Seussial), Matt Grasso (MTC- It’s A Wonderful Life, ACT of CT- Joseph…Dreamcoat), Helen Clare (SToNC- YAGM Charlie Brown, Honky Tonk Angels), Emily Solo (Charlottesville Opera- Sound of Music, New Camerata Opera- Infinite Energy), and Leigh Klinger (Sharon PH- Beauty & the Beast, Mac-Haydn Theatre- Sunset Blvd.)

Sunset Boulevard is directed by Kevin Connors with musical direction by David John Madore and choreography by Corinne C. Broadbent. Abbey Murray stage manages alongside the creative team which includes scenic design by Lindsay Fuori, lighting design by RJ Romeo, costume design by Diane Vanderkroef, prop design by Sean Sanford, and sound design by Will Atkin.

Ticket prices range from $40-$65 plus fees and can be purchased online.

MTC   Music Theatre of Connecticut

phone (203-454-3883). MTC MainStage is located at 509 Westport Ave. in Norwalk, Ct

http://www.musictheatreofct.com

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The Exonerated: a powerful, moving drama now at the Ridgefield Theater Barn

“Powerful”, “Raw” and “Intense”.  These are just a few adjectives that went through my mind as I watched The Exonerated, now on stage at the Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield Ct.   The play is about 6 inmates on death row and how they were wrongfully accused, and after decades they were exonerated.

The Exonerated is a 2000 play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen that debuted Off-Broadway in 2000 at 45 Bleecker Theater and ran for over 600 performances. It won numerous awards including the Lucille Lortel Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, the Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play.   It is indeed a unique theater experience.

The stage design for this production is stark and bleak.  The walls are dark prison gray, there is a bench in the front of the stage and 10 wooden chairs line the three walls where the actors all sit silently until they stand up to tell their story to the audience.  On the back wall is a single window with prison bars.  The front of the stage is lit with a spot light but the rest of the stage where the actors sit is cast in shadows as if they are forgotten.

During the performance we meet each of the prisoners, 5 men and 1 woman.  One of the men is Delbert who is a self described poet and he tells not only his own story, but serves as the narrator.  He focuses the audience on the injustice of each of the prisoner’s arrests and convictions.   Each of the prisoners rise from their chair to tell the audience a brief part of their story before returning in silence to their chair.  We learn about their arrest, the pressure to make a confession, false testimony and other tactics which cast a poor light on the justice system.  Several of the prisoners are African American and all have low incomes which results in shoddy legal representation.  All are convicted and sent to death row.  Also are on the stage are two women who portray the wives of the convicted.  Two other male actors play multiple roles of police officers, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.

There is no music, and only one actor speaks at a time.  The theater is silent and you can hear the audience members reaction as they gasp in disbelief and anger at the mistreatment of these people at the hands of the justice system.

The stories are real and based on true events.  The actors are all first rate and as each tells their story the audience has their eyes riveted to the stage as they hang on every word.  The performances are compelling and heart wrenching.  But all is not darkness in this story as the convicted are finally exonerated though they are scarred and have lost decades of their lives.   There is an uplifting feeling of hope as the play concludes.   The full house at the Theater Barn gave the cast a well deserved standing ovation.

This is certainly a play you should see, and we were very impressed by the direction and brilliant performances.   Due to mature subject matter, the play is not recommended for audience members under 18.  The play runs just over 90 minutes with no intermission.

The wonderful cast includes Kevin Knight as Delbert, Priscilla Squiers as Sunny, George Croom as Robert, Kendall Driffin as Georgia / Female Ensemble #1, David Fritsch as Gary, Chris Cooney as Kerry, David Tate as David, Paulette Layton as Sue/Sandra/Female Ensemble #2,Timothy Huber as Male Ensemble #1,Matt Pagliaro as Male Ensemble #2.   Directed by Elizabeth Young who has crafted a powerful moving play.

The play runs through September 25th 2022 and is  presented without intermission Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 5pm.

Doors open one hour prior to curtain; Cabaret Seating; Bring Food & Drink; Snacks are available in the lobby.  The Ridgefield Theater Barn is a unique venue and a local treasure.

Ridgefield Theater Barn

for tickets and information http://www.ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org

photo credits: Pippa Walton

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The ultimate car event, Audrain’s Motor Week returns to Newport, R.I. , Sept 29th to October 2nd

Concours Day on the lawn at The Breakers

One of the premier automotive events of the year is returning to historic Newport, Rhode Island.  Audrain’s Motor Week kicks runs September 29th to October 2nd.   This is not just a car show, this is an automotive and a lifestyle event not to be missed.  Newport is the birthplace of auto racing with William K. Vanderbilt and his friends racing at a Newport horse track back in 1900.  This event would later evolve into the Vanderbilt Cup Races.  Newport is rich with history from sailing, tennis, to racing, and  to being the summer playground of the wealthy during the Gilded Age.  This historic town is the perfect venue for Audrain’s Motor Week which concludes with Audrain’s Concours on the lawn at The Breakers, overlooking the ocean.

The organizers have organized so many events for Motor Week you need to plan ahead.  The Concours Village is The Headquarters for this World-class Automotive Event! The International Tennis Hall of Fame acts the Concours Village for the Motor Week. The Village is open through the Motor Week and will feature concessions from local restaurants, vendors with unique booths and experiences as well as an exciting and adventure-filled Family Zone. Patrons will be able to enjoy great food from LaForge Restaurant and other exceptional Rhode Island restaurants, purchase official motor week merch, view some very special autos and motorcycles.  It is also where some fantastic seminars are held.

Any time during motor week visit the Audrain Automobile Museum to check out the latest exhibition. Each temporary exhibition features 15-20 cars allowing for an in-depth look at a collection of remarkable vehicles.  This museum always displays some of the most unique and interesting cars.

Audrain’s Museum always amazes with its changing exhibits of rolling art

On Friday August 30th, Rough Point the beautiful former home of Doris Duke will host “The Gathering”.  We attending this event during the first Audrain’s Motor Week and it is outstanding.  The lawns overlooking the ocean are breathtaking. As you wander the grounds, sip champagne, wine, and Newport Craft specialty cocktails and beer. You’ll be in good company with comedian, Jay Leno and other car enthusiasts alike. Full-day ticket holders have access to the grounds from 11:00 am onward. Half-day ticket holders have access from 2:00 pm onward.  Rough Point is a mansion and a museum with an extensive collection of fine arts and a sprawling historic landscape with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.  This is not an event to be missed.  The Gathering runs 11 am to 5pm.

Friday will also feature a preview of the Bonhams Auto Auction as well as seminars both at the Concours Village. Saturday will feature the Tour D’Elegance.  The Tour d’Elegance is the scenic drive for all cars that are participating in the Audrain Newport Concours d’Elegance and is a spectacle not worth missing. In 2021, the tour began Saturday morning at Scarborough Beach in Narragansett. The tour then drove through downtown Jamestown and over the Newport Bridge. The tour followed through Aquidneck Island where it stopped at cars & coffee at Ft. Adams State Park overlooking the harbor, continuing with a Scenic drive along historic Ocean Drive and the breathtaking Atlantic Ocean. The tour ended on Bellevue Avenue with all cars parking together on the closed street for the public to view and interact with drivers and owners.  In 2019 we enjoyed this amazing spectacle as exquisite cars arrived in the street in front of Audrain’s Museum  where drivers and owners could meet the public.  Historic Bellevue Avenue was closed as cars assembled in the street.  It was quite the experience.

Meeting Jay Leno during Audrain’s Motor Week

Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance is the pinnacle  of Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week. The Concours team has gathered an outstanding  selection of judges from around the globe. The Concours classes covers the decades from early 1900 to 1980 with a focus on cars that exemplify the History, Luxury, and Sport of the automotive world.  Donald Osborne, Nic Waller and the rest of the selection committee search diligently for special cars to engage guests from around the world.

First, second, and third-class trophies and ribbons will be awarded with the first in class winners competing for the Willie K. Vanderbilt Trophy. There will also be one of a kind awards  given by some very special guests and judges.

At the Concours, attendees will find rare and beautiful autos.

The 2022 Audrain Concours d’Elegance will take place on Sunday, October 2, 2022 at the Breakers Mansion in Newport.  The Concours runs from 8:30 am to 3:30pm. 

The Audrain’s website provides more detailed information and ticket information for all these events, and we encourage you to visit the page to plan your visit.

Audrain’s Motor week is an event not to be missed. The history of Newport, the elegance of the Gilded Age and the artful design of the automobile all merge for an unforgettable experience.

See you on the show field!

Audrains Motor Week

For tickets and information and to plan your visit:

https://www.audrainconcours.com

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Hearts of the Hollow, a new musical based on the Legend of Sleepy Hollow now on stage in Carmel

A new musical has opened right here in the Hudson Valley.  Hearts of the Hollow is a musical adaptation of the classic short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” written by Washington Irving.  Irving was one of America’s first well known authors and was a  resident of Tarrytown, New York.

Set in the early 1800’s in the rolling farmlands around Tarrytown, the famous tale involves a Hessian soldier who was killed during  the Revolutionary war, and his head was separated from his corpse.  The Headless Horseman as he is known terrorizes the countryside and its residents searching for his lost head.

The residents of the area live in fear of the mysterious horseman.  But life in the Hollow goes on with crops to harvest, school to teach, and of course romance. 

Hearts of the Hollow is a two act, 20 song musical with music and lyrics by Patricia White, and score by Mo Khoder.  Patricia White also wrote the play and served as producer.  She was inspired by a live reading of the story and thought it would make a fine musical.  She was correct.

All the main characters from the original tale are here as well as some new characters.   The story mixes they mystery and spookiness of the original tale and adds the lightness of romance, and learning to follow your heart. 

The cast includes Yasmin Ranz-Lind as Katrina Van Tassel, Wayne Hu as her father, Justin Witwick  as Ichabod Crane, DaShaun Williams as Brom Bones, as well as 9 other actors.  The crafting of the tale goes from the macabre to the lighthearted, and the songs are crafted to fit the mood. You will be alarmed when the Headless Horseman himself finally enters the theater and surprises the audience. Such fun!

Part of the magic of the show is the use of a projection screen as the background which changes the setting to farmland, to house interiors, to even a fog filled forest.  It was very effective.  The cast also moves down the center aisle of the theater bringing the action into the audience. The songs included “City Life” which the audience was singing and humming outside at intermission. The finale which included the whole ensemble, “Looking up” wowed the audience into a standing ovation.

The venue is inside the Whipple-Feely Chapel in Carmel, a 19th century church and is the perfect stage for this production. This is just the right play to get you in the Halloween spirit!

This special seasonal event takes place in Carmel, NY at the Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park inside the historical Whipple-Feely Chapel.  Shows run every weekend from September 9 to October 31, 2022.  Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.  On Monday, October 31, there will be a special Halloween performance at 8 pm. Arrive in costume on Halloween to be eligible to win a prize!  

Hearts of the Hollow takes place at The Whipple-Feeley Chapel located at The Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park

201 Gipsy Trail Road, Carmel, NY 10512

Dates: Every weekend from September 9 – October 31, 2022

For tickets and information, please visit: https://www.heartsofthehollow.com/

Director: Jennifer Sandella

Choreographer: Paul Aguirre

Book: Patricia White, Mo Khoder

Music & Lyrics: Mo Khoder, Patricia White

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