Spiga: traditional family style Italian dishes with an infusion of modern flavors

We recently visited Spiga located in downtown New Canaan Ct.  We were excited to be dining at this eatery specializing in traditional Italian cuisine fused with a modern flair.   The dishes are served “family style” which means large plates filled with your favorite dishes that are meant to be shared.

The menu may be filled with Italian classic cuisine, yet the interior is quite modern.  The deep rectangular space is  divided into long wooden tables, orange colored booths, and unique tables with attached swing out stools.  The is also a long attractive bar where craft cocktails are available as well as an extensive wine list.   At the rear of  the restaurant is the open kitchen as well as a deli counter which makes one feel if they have stepped back in time into an Italian deli with cheeses hanging from the ceiling, and fresh made pastas available for sale.

The menu at Spiga follows the theme of traditional Italian cuisine infused with modern culinary touches.  We were able sample along with our fellow guests a wide assortment of the chef’s handiwork.   Fans of traditional Italian fare will be pleased with the selections of mozzerella,  salumi ( a selection of Italian meats) , and an extensive list of pasta dishes. There is also a raw bar and we sampled the  Double Tier, a beautifully presented selection of 6 oysters, 12 little necks, and 4 jumbo shrimp.

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Double Tier

As an appetizer we sampled the tastefully executed and modern Avocado Crab Salad with fresh lump crab meat, avocado, , cherry tomatoes, grilled onions, corn, scallions, and complimented by a mango dressing.  The menu abounds with both modern and traditional salads.

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Avocado Crab Salad

A must have at any Italian eatery is pasta and Spiga makes their own fresh pasta on site. The Gnocchi Bolognase was perfection, as was the Cioppino Fra Diavolo. For something more current, the  Butternut Squash Gnocchi was filling as it was delicious. Just another way Spiga is blending traditional dishes with the modern culinary trends.

 

The Lobster Angolotti  was a fantastic pasta dish which is similar to lobster ravioli and served in black squid ink. A delicious dish.

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Pasta Dishes including Lobster Angolotti and Gnocchi Bolognese

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Montauk Tuna

Main course selections are plentiful at Spiga as are oven fired pizzas.   Poultry, pork, beef and seafood dishes are plentiful. For our main course we really savored the Montauk Tuna, seared fresh Ahi tuna encrusted w/ sesame seeds on a bed of avocado puree served w/ cannellini beans, heirloom tomatoes, charred sweet onions, corn, citrus dressing. A fresh delicious dish we did not expect from Spiga but is proof of the kitchen philosophy of serving  innovative cuisine alongside classic dishes we all love.

 

If you are planning to dine at Spiga, bring your appetite and bring the family (friends too).   Mangia!

Spiga

134 Main Street New Canaan Ct

website >>> http://www.eatatspiga.com

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Annie:the Tony Award winning musical classic now at the Westport Country Playhouse

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The Tony Award winning “Annie” is now at the Westport Country Playhouse through Sunday February 17th.  This fantastic production of this classic musical is a product of the Broadway Method Academy which is the resident conservatory of the Westport Country Playhouse.  The BMA is an award winning non-profit organization that can provide your children with quality, comprehensive training and instruction in the theater arts.  This production includes adult actors with credits from Broadway to film and television who share the stage with the amazing young actors from the Academy.

Annie is based on the long running comic strip, Little Orphan Annie that ran in newspapers nationwide for many decades.  Starting in the 1930s , Annie is an orphan who along with her dog Sandy, finds love and the family she desires when she is adopted by the wealthy Daddy Warbucks.

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The story of Annie was adopted for the Broadway Stage with book by Thomas Meehan , music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.  The play opened on Broadway in 1977 and ran for six years.  It received several Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score and Andrea McArdle who played Annie was nominated for a best actress Tony.  It has run for many years in revivals, national tours, and in regional and local theaters.

The brilliance of the show is in the optimism and spirit of Annie and the other orphans who are faced with a tough life in the orphanage during the depths of the Great Depression.   The musical score is timeless and filled with classics such as “Tomorrow”, “Easy Street”, A Hard Knock Life”,  “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and “Maybe”.  The score and book have held up very well in this timeless story that appeals to all ages.

 

The current production which blends veteran actors with acting students is first rate.  With a 14 piece live orchestra, the musical performances are as vibrant as any show in any theater.  Costume and set design is wonderful and much effort  and talent was placed in  these two areas.

Paul Schoeffler who plays Daddy Warbucks gives a wonderful performance and his deep booming voice commands the stage.  He has numerous Broadway credits as well as Off Broadway, and voice over work.  Klea Blackhurst (Miss Hannigan) portrays the evil manager of the Orphanage and she brings humor to the show as well as lending her fantastic vocals.  She has numerous credits to her resume including work off-Broadway.

Lauren Sprague (Grace Farrell- Warbucks assistant) has a wide resume including National Tours, and regional theater.  We last saw her in the Westchester Broadway Theater in “A Chorus Line”.  Her fine voice lights up the stage and she is the perfect counterpart to the business-like Warbucks.

The adult cast of Nicholas Rodriquez (Rooster), Julie Kavanagh (Lily) and Dan Remmes (FDR) bring lots of laughs to the performance.

The rest of the cast is filled with members of the BMA who fill the roles as orphans, maids, NYC residents, radio guests, and much more.  Ava Lynn Vercellone takes on the enormous role as Annie, and her vocals and acting ability charmed the audience on opening night.   Sunny the dog who is a rescue animal plays Annie’s pet dog, Sandy and was an audience favorite.

Connor Deane as director should get special credit for this  fantastic production of Annie.  The stage was filled with so many young actors, yet the effect on the audience was that we were watching a Broadway performance.  Well done!

For Tickets and information:  https://www.westportplayhouse.org/BMA-Annie

 

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court

Westport Ct.

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La Camelia: savor the authentic flavors of Spain and Portugal in a charming atmosphere in Mt. Kisco

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While there are many fine restaurants in our area, it is unique to discover an eatery that is provides a great menu, friendly service and a dining atmosphere that is warm and inviting.  La Camelia in Mt Kisco is such a place.  Perched on a hill in a 19th Century home, the restaurant is instantly welcoming.  I felt as if  I had walked into the home of a favorite relative, or a quaint New England or European inn that was overflowing with charm and warmth.  The feeling was instant comfort.

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While the restaurant has been operating since 1984, current owners Victor and Serafina Varela have infused new life, an updated menu and genuine warmth and hospitality into La Camelia.  The interior has wide wood floors, fire places and  wooden tables draped in linen.  Prints and tapestries adorn the walls.  There are three separate dining spaces and a bar, all with a unique charm of their own.

The menu is comprised of  authentic Spanish and Portuguese dishes, tapas (small plates), sangria and wines.  The fresh flavors of the Iberian Peninsula  are all here to explore and enjoy.

We started with a pitcher of white wine sangria which was served in a traditional hand painted ceramic pitcher instead of glass or plastic.  This authentic beverage was a great way to start our culinary tour.

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Sangria served from a beautiful hand painted ceramic pitcher

The Sopa de Lagosta (Lobster Soup) was warm and delicious on a cold night.  Served in a unique fish shaped bowl , this lobster bisque also included crab meat and a piece of toast floating on top.  It was hearty and delicious.

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Sopa de Lagosta (Lobster Soup)

Since Spain and Portugal border the sea, the menu is full of seafood options.  We enjoyed the Tostada de Gambas,  a warm tapas with grilled shrimp, fresh guacamole and served over in house made crunchy chips.

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Tostadas de Gambas

Another great tapas was the  Mexilhoes na Cataplana, or steamed mussels in a red sauce.  A very unique presentation of this classic dish as it was served in a covered metal bowl with a hammered finish.  Lifting the cover allowed the fragrant flavors of fresh steamed mussels in a slightly smoky red sauce to fill the air.  This unique presentation and fantastic preparation is what makes La Camelia so special.

For our main dishes we sampled (at the suggestion of the staff), the Bife na Pedra which is  black angus steak that is lightly grilled on each side then served on a cooking stone. You slice the steak and allow the hot stone to cook it to your liking.  A really fun, interactive and authentic dish which we highly recommend.

A visit to a Spanish restaurant is not complete without  enjoying Seafood Paella.  I am big fan of this dish and La Camelia delivers with  all seafood including mussels, clams, shrimp, and topped with a 1/2 pound lobster.  The presentation of the dish was wonderful, and the taste was perfection.

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Seafood Paella

With just a bit of room left for dessert we were surprised to see a dessert cart rolled into the dining room.  Again a charming detail we have not seen in some time in dining and another example of the hospitality at La Camelia. There were several great looking desserts with the Carrot cake and the Chocolate Mousse being our favorites.

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La Camelia is a very special dining experience.  The warmth and genuineness of the hosts, friendly staff, amazing dishes from the sunny Iberian peninsula and a cozy welcoming atmosphere make this a must dine destination.

We cannot wait for warmer weather when the side patio opens up for outside dining.   A perfect restaurant for date night, or a gathering of friends.

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La Camelia

234 North Bedford Rd 
Mount Kisco NY 10549     

web   https://lacameliarestaurant.net

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Old Ringers: A hilarious comedy now at the Ridgefield Theater Barn

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One of our favorite theaters, The Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield Ct. is now featuring the Connecticut premiere of the comedy “Old Ringers” .  The play written by Joe Simonelli , follows 4 older  women that are facing the grim reality of an economic downturn.   Diane has had her monthly  social security check  reduced due to error, Cathy Ann has had her hours cut back and their friends Verna and Rose are feeling a similar economic pinch as well.  Other than  Diane the ladies are feeling a bit light in the romance department as well.

The play which takes place in Diane’s home in the Bronx, also features Amanda the born again Christian daughter of Diane who is shocked by her mother’s bawdy ways and her drinking.  The juxtaposition of such opposite characters lends comedy to the setting.  With their finances in ruin, and with few options the women find inspiration when a caller dials the wrong number  thinking they called a phone sex service.  The four women scheme to set up their own phone sex service right in Diane’s house.  They draft Harry, Diane’s accountant and boyfriend to be part of their new enterprise.  What would possibly go wrong?

The women spring into action and the comedy ramps up as the phone calls roll in and somehow Diane and her friends must keep their new venture a secret from the pious Amanda and her new love interest, a local police officer.

The two act play moves along briskly and the cast of seven actors give a humorous and sometimes madcap comedic performance.  Timing is everything, and director  Carol Dorn has skillfully guided the cast to execute their lines for maximum effect.  The audience roared in laughter throughout the evening.   Ms. Dorn has worked in television and film for the last 12 years. Her theater experience is extensive with work both on stage and off stage as a director and a playwright.  Her skill as a director is really evident in this production at the Theater Barn and we hope to see her back soon.

The very talented and funny cast includes Sarah J. Ahearn as Amanda , Laurel Lettieri as Rose, Frances  McGarry as Diane, Stefanie Rosenberg as Cathy Ann, Linda Seay as Verna, Joshua Adelson as the police officer and Mark Rubino as Harry.    The play runs through February 23rd.

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Guests at the Theater Barn enjoying refreshments prior to the performance of “Old Ringers”

The Theater Barn is unique! Arrive one hour before the show and bring your own food and wine. Wine, craft beer and snacks are also available for purchase at the theater.   Seating is cabaret style.  The small intimate space gives everyone in the audience a great view of the performance.  There is nothing like live theater.

Tickets are $35 for adults, and $28 for seniors, students and veterans.  Grab some friends and have a night out at the theater.

Ridgefield Theater Barn

37 Halpin Lane Ridgefield Ct

web>   https://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org

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Ain’t Misbehavin, the Tony Award winning musical swings into the Westchester Broadway Theater

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The 1978 Tony Award winning Best Musical, Ain’t Misbehavin is now playing at  the Westchester Broadway Theater in Elmsford.  The musical was created by Richard Maltby Jr. and Murray Horowitz and is a musical tribute to Thomas “Fats” Waller the famous African American song writer and musician.  Waller rose to fame during the “Harlem Renaissance” when African American artists created new music that attracted audiences from all walks of life.  His style of composer, musician, and comedian spanned several decades from the 1920s to the 1940s and he wrote over 400 songs.   WBT is staging this musical appropriately enough during Black History month.

The two act show is not your typical Broadway style musical.  The format is music revue where one song follows another.  There is no spoken parts from the cast, so the audience may feel it is more in the audience at the famous Cotton Club and less at a  Broadway musical.  There is no story, and is not a biography of Mr. Waller.  If you are not familiar with Fats Waller,  his songs may be as the 11 song Act One includes such classic hits as “Ain’t Misbehavin” and the rousing “This Joint is Jumping”.  Waller himself wrote the music and left the lyrics to other composers.  Many of the songs are bawdy in nature with plenty of double entendre to keep the audience amused.

Act Two is also comprised of 11 songs and the show really starts to hit its stride.  The “Viper’s Drag/Reefer” song is the first number where the actors start to engage the audience and gently pull them into the action on stage.     “That Ain’t Right” with lyrics by Nat King Cole is a classic blues number that highlights the many styles that Waller brought to the stage.

The brilliance of the evening is evident in the soulful “Black and Blue” with lyrics by Andy Razaf.  The ensemble cast sits motionless on stools on stage and sings the haunting lyrics together:

“I’m white inside, it don’t help my case
‘Cause I can’t hide, what is on my face, oh!  I’m so forlorn, life’s just a thorn. My heart  is torn, why was I born? What did I do to be so black and blue?”

To this member of the audience, this was indeed the most touching and powerful moment of the evening.   While Ain’t Misbehavin may not be typical musical theater, it is important  and relevant as it celebrates the history of this musical awakening, and the great talents of Fats Waller and his lyricists. It also exposes the audience to a rich and vibrant musical genre.   Richard Maltby Jr., the creator and original director of the 1978 production is here at WBT directing once again.

The show runs through February 24th.

For tickets and information:

https://www.broadwaytheatre.com

Westchester Broadway Theater

One Broadway Plaza Elmsford NY

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Maritime with a Twist: a fun adults only event. Tour the aquarium and sample local foods and drinks on Thursday February 7th.

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A sea turtle at the Maritime Aquarium

A fun event for adults is coming  February 7th at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. Your ticket price includes admission to the Aquarium as well sips and samples from some of the area’s top breweries, distillers and restaurants during the “Maritime with a Twist” adults-only evening event at the Aquarium!  21 and older please.

This is always a fun time as you sample foods and beverages from restaurants from the South Norwalk (SoNo) area which is known for its vibrant dining scene. The entire aquarium will be open for you to visit as well.  Make sure to stop by and see the harbor seals at play or the amazing displays of aquatic life. . A  great way to spend a winter’s evening.

PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS AND RETAILERS INCLUDE:

Asylum Distillery, Bandido Mexican Restaurant ,Bourbon Raw (new restaurant) Cantiki, (new restaurant),Charter Oak Brewing Company,Enchanted Szechuan, Local Kitchen & Craft Beer Bar Naked Turtle White Rum, No Worries Brewing Company,O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant, Our House SoNo, Owl’s Brew, Saltwater Restaurant & Bar, Tablao Wine Bar & Restaurant, The Blind Rhino, Thimble Island Brewing Company, Total Wine & More

February 7, 2019 @ 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Tickets: $35 for members, $40 for non members.

For more information and tickets:

https://www.maritimeaquarium.org/events/event/1310465

The Maritime Aquarium

10 North Water Street  Norwalk, Ct

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Evarito’s: SoNo’s finest authentic and modern Mexican eatery soon to open its new rooftop space

 

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SoNo (South Norwalk) is already home to a vibrant dining scene, and the addition of Evarito’s Mexican Kitchen and Bar has made the neighborhood a true dining destination. The restaurant which opened last year is the latest offering from the Skal Restaurant Group whose other popular restaurants include Cask Republic (Stamford, New Haven) and the Ginger Man (Greenwich).

Evarito’s menu is Mexican but has been described as “Mexican mash up”.  It has been expertly crafted to blend authentic Mexican dishes with modern culinary trends.  Christian Burns, principal of the Skal Restaurant Group has culled dishes from his travels to Mexico and brought these items to Evarito’s which can be paired with a fine selection of craft cocktails, beer, wine or sangria.

Like other restaurants in the Skal Group the interior is upscale with fine attention to design, lighting and creating an overall pleasant dining environment.  No orange or yellow painted walls or sombreros hanging from the walls at Evarito’s.  The feel is casually elegant.   We are anxious to visit the roof top bar when it opens in the Spring of 2019.

Our menu  on our latest visit included some fantastic apps, craft cocktails and a main dish that will have you returning for more.

Our appetizers included  Oyster Shooters with a fresh shucked oyster topped with hicama and served perched on a  spicy tomato shot.

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Fresh Catch Cerviche was a favorite with fresh seafood, tomato, cilantro, onion, cucumber, avocado.

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Queso Fundido is a fun dish for the cheese lover  and is a combo of melted Oaxacan, Muenster & Chihuahua cheeses, poblanos, salsa, and soft tortillas.  The Chorizo and Cheese empanadas  are a pleaser with deep fried masa pockets, Mexican cheese blend served with a spicy cilantro crema. Tasty and different.

 

Campechana Cocktail was one of our favorites and if you love seafood, you will want to order this delicious dish and features shrimp, octopus, oysters, Mexican cocktail sauce, avocado,  and pico de gallo.

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Every Mexican restaurant has salsa.  Why not take a Salsa Tour, and sample 7 different flavors including chilie de arbol, salsa roja, morita, salsa verde,  avocado, borracha, and mole negra.

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For our main we suggest the Fajitas which are unlike the typical fare is served on a skillet and your choice of steak, shrimp or mushrooms with grilled mixed vegetables, cilantro cream, and salsa roja.  The hand  rolled tortillas are authentic and served in a decorative hand carved wooden box.

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Evarito’s Mexican Kitchen and Bar has elevated Mexican cuisine to a new level, with an authentic healthy cuisine and fresh ingredients.  Absent are the heavy sauces, refried beans and typical fare.  In its place are great authentic dishes presented with a modern dining approach.

With the addition of the new rooftop space, Evarito’s needs to be on your dining destination list.

Evarito’s

16 North Main Street  South Norwalk Ct

web https://www.evaritos.com

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Taste of Fairfield, a fun food event presented by Town Vibe returns Sunday January 27th.

 

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Looking for something to do the last weekend in January?   There will be no football on Sunday and if you are looking for something different then The Taste Of Fairfield-Winter Fest may be the perfect way to take care of the winter blues. The event is on Sunday January 27th from 12 noon to 4p.m.

Taste of Fairfield-Winter Fest  is a great event that brings together in one place restaurants, wineries, distillers, craft brewers and markets.  Samples of their products will be available to taste for all attendees.   I attended the fall Taste of Fairfield event a few months back and had a great time.

The focus of this event will be on comfort food, party food and other great food and beverages you might serve at your own party.   The Fest is indoors at the beautiful Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield Ct.  This is a great party space and in addition to the food there will be live music, silent disco, bowling, stand-up comedy and even roving entertainment.  Sounds like a great afternoon!

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Tickets:  $50 in advance.  $100 for VIP tickets which includes open bar and access to the private lounge. Tickets at the door are $10 in addition to the advance ticket price.  Parking is free!   There is a charity, Operation Hope that will be receiving proceeds from  the Chances to Win drawing

Taste of Fairfield -Winter Fest is a production of Town Vibe, the publisher of great local magazines in Fairfield, Westchester, and Litchfield Counties.

 

For tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/taste-of-fairfield-winterfest-2019-tickets-51433214128

Taste Of Fairfield-Winter Fest

Brooklawn Country Club

500 Algonquin Road Fairfield Ct.

 

 

 

Greenwich International Film Festival will screen “Ben Is Back” starring Julia Roberts and Q&A with writer/director Peter Hedges on 12/17

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The Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) has announced a very special screening of  “Ben is Back” starring Julia Roberts , Lucas Hedges and veteran actor Courtney B. Vance. The film was nominated for awards at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival.

The film follows troubled addict Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges), who returns home to his unsuspecting family one Christmas Eve. Ben’s mother Holly Burns ( Julia Roberts) welcomes her beloved son’s return, but soon learns he is still very much in harm’s way. He has decided to skip rehab for the holidays to be with his family. However, during the 24 hours that make up the film, their lives may change forever. It is up to his mother, Holly to do whatever she can in her power to save her son and her family.

The film is written and directed by Peter Hedges (father of Lucas Hedges) and has written several novels, plays and movie scripts such as “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, “About a Boy” and others.

The film will be screened by GIFF on Monday December 17th at the Bow Tie Cinemas in Greenwich.   This special evening will kick off with a cocktail reception at ASHA (409 Greenwich Ave.)  from 6pm to 7:15pm.  ASHA will be donating 10% of all purchases made at the reception to GIFF.  The film will then be screened at the cinema at 7:30 with a Q & A session to follow with director and writer, Peter Hedges.  This promises to be a very special evening, and is just another example of the fine and unique programming that the Greenwich International Film Festival brings to our area.

Not only does GIFF host its annual film festival, but produces great events like this one during the year.  Please consider becoming a GIFF member or give the gift of membership to a loved one this year.  Members are invited to special events and can take advantage of special VIP discounts as well  as have access to fantastic thought provoking cinema.

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For more information on GIFF, memberships, and tickets  please visit:

Greenwich International Film Festival

http://www.greenwichfilm.org

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The Foreigner: an award winning comedy presented by the Armonk Players

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The Armonk Players are presenting on stage  the comedy “The Foreigner”  by Larry Shue now through Saturday December 8th 2018.  The play is a hilarious comedy which had the audience roaring with laughter and applause throughout the two act two hour performance.

The play which has had two off Broadway runs as well as regional theater productions is set in a lodge somewhere in Georgia.  Here we meet Charlie, an Englishman who has tagged along with his friend  Sgt. Froggy Le Sueur of the British army who has business nearby at an American army base.  Charlie is a quiet, nervous proofreader of a science fiction magazine, and has lost all confidence in himself due to his wife’s cheating ways.   He rather be alone at this time, so Froggy hatches a scheme where Charlie will act like he cannot speak or understand English and the owners of the Lodge and the other guests will give him peace and quiet.  Quite the opposite happens.  The owner of the Lodge, Betty Meeks is  fascinated by meeting a real “foreigner” and dotes on him.  Heiress Catherine Simms begins to confide her secrets to him thinking he cannot understand her.  And her brother, the somewhat dim witted Ellard, who everyone ignores, takes a shining to the new stranger and he to him and insists on teaching him English!

Charlie ( Keith Young) is hilarious not only with his body language and facial expressions but his use of his imaginary “foreign” language which even includes references to science fiction names and terms. The peaceful Lodge and its occupants reveal their secrets to their foreign guest including the fact that Catherine’s fiancé, Reverend David Lee is secretly a leader of the local Klan and wants to take over the Lodge and turn into their headquarters.  Can the meek and withdrawn Charlie come to the rescue of Betty, Ellard, Catherine and the Lodge?  Only the audience will know as Act Two comes to its hilarious and explosive conclusion.

A comedy like The Foreigner is a success due to a number of vital factors including the quality of the script, the actors themselves and their comedic timing, and of course the directors ability to ensure that the lines of the actors are paced correctly to deliver maximum comedic effect.  All those factors are present in the Armonk Players production.  An excellent ensemble cast of Chris Jamison as Betty Meeks, Richard Lauria as Ellard, Cassie White as Catherine, Jeff Schlotman as Froggy LeSueur, Zachary Curtin as Rev. David Lee, Scott Brannon as Klansman Owen Musser, and Keith Young as Charlie.  Directed by Pia Haas who expertly guided this talented cast in this fast paced, lively two hour comedy.  The audience responded with a standing ovation at the conclusion.

This was our first time seeing the Armonk Players and we were very impressed by the quality of the production, lighting, sound and excellent set design.

The show runs through December 8th.   For more information and tickets:

The Armonk Players

https://www.armonkplayers.org/schedule.html

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