Godspell: A theatrical tour de force now on stage at ACT in Ridgefield

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A total modernized and powerful version of the 1970s classic musical Godspell is now on stage at ACT ( A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut) in Ridgefield Ct.  It was our first time seeing a play  at this theater and we spellbound by this  incredible production.  If you see only one play this year, make it Godspell at ACT.

The original production of Godspell which opened in 1971 off-Broadway and the 1973 film of the same name was a lighter play with the characters dressed in colorful period clothing.   The story features Jesus in a modern setting with his disciples (though given different names), and the story follows parables from the New Testament which teach the lessons of forgiveness, charity, kindness to all,  and that man must worship God and not money.  These lessons can be appreciated by anyone of any faith or background, and seem even more relevant today.

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Artistic Director Daniel C. Levine was given permission by the show’s creator, Stephen Schwartz to revise Godspell and cast it in a new light.  Levine has brought Godspell from 1971 to 2020 and in the process created a powerful and moving production.   The play opens in an abandoned church in Manhattan that where some homeless have taken refuge.   Enter the developers and realtors who reveal that this old magnificent structure will be demolished to build high priced condos for the wealthy.  They care not for the church nor its purpose as they discuss the price of these condos to be built and brag about how the building is 90% sold.  Suddenly from the ruins of the church, Jesus appears to transform the greedy and to open their eyes to his lessons.   The stage design of the abandoned church is magnificent with its Gothic pillars, and stained glass windows  which creates the perfect mood for the play.   Levine was inspired to set the musical in an abandoned church after witnessing the fire at Notre-Dame in Paris.  Reid Thompson who is the scenic designer helped bring a Broadway quality set to our backyard and in doing do brought Levine’s vision to fruition.

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The score from Godspell is memorable and includes such favorites “Day By Day”,  “All the Best”. “Light of the World”, and from the film, “Beautiful City”.   The sound is professional and some of the best and clearest we have heard at any theater.  Credit goes to Sound Designer John Salutz and his talented team.  The vocals are outstanding with great performances from the entire cast.

The story is not all heavy, as lighter comedic moments are part of the show including satirical references to the President  as well to Harvey Weinstein.    The cast also interacts with the audience playfully, and even leaves the stage to move about the theater.  During the intermission the actors appear and begin to mingle with the audience while still in character.  This was effective in really allowing the attendees to feel immersed in the story and not a passive observer.

The cast was brilliant and even included an ensemble of children actors who make brief appearances as they represent the innocent and the future of us all.   The cast of actors have numerous Broadway, off Broadway, National Tour and regional credits.   It was an evening of wonderful performances with Trent Saunders (Jesus), Jaime Cepero (John the Baptist), Shalen Harger, Jacob Hoffman, Katie Ladner, Alex Lugo, Andrew Poston, Monica Ramirez, Phil Sloves, Morgan Billings Smith , Emma Tattenbaum-Fine, and Cameron Nies.

We were totally mesmerized by this stunning new interpretation of  Godspell.  It is a show for us all and so relevant today.  The show runs through March 8, 2020 and it has to be on your must see list.

ACT    A  Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut

36 Old Quarry Road

Ridgefield, CT 06877

Box Office: (475) 215 5433

web  >>>https://www.actofct.org/

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Clairvoyant Anna Raimondi will host a special evening of spiritual readings on April 11th in Greenwich

 

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A very interesting and special evening is coming to our area on Thursday April  11th.   Clairvoyant medium and healer Anna Raimondi will host a very special evening of spiritual group reading at the Bow Tie Cinema in Greenwich, Ct.  Ms Raimondi is known as a very gifted medium, healer and author of several books.  During the evening Anna will connect audience members to their loved ones on the “other side” with messages of guidance and with love.

Her mission is to give others the tools they need to live their lives in joy, while following their souls’ mission. Anna, through her gift of intuition, provides wisdom and healing from heaven as she provides others with insight, guidance and direction. . Her path has led her to teach, facilitate seminars and retreats, and work with clients to provide profound insight and healing.

She traces her clairvoyant powers back to her childhood   where she blessed with the gift of clairvoyance and ability to hear the voice of Mother Mary. She states she has devotedly prayed with her and listened to her advice, as she offers me guidance, solace, love, and wisdom. Mary communicates with her so that she can share her messages with other people, no matter what faith,  and she wants everyone to know they have a refuge in her and God.

Anna holds a BA in Clinical Psychology, and an MBA .  She is a certified Hypnotherapist, Grief Counselor, Spiritual Healer and author of Conversations with Mary: Messages of Love, Healing and Hope for  Everyone  (Atria Books, 2017), Talking to the Dead in Suburbia: An Ordinary Woman with an Extraordinary  Gift, and One with the Drum-A Journey to the Soul.

Anna has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, and is a regular guest on  The Dr. Oz Show for various segments pertaining to spirituality and the afterlife.  She is in the process of beginning her own podcast and is in conversations for her own television show.  This looks to be a very intriguing event you will not want to miss.

When >>Thursday, April 11th,  7-9 pm

Bow Tie Cinemas  2 Railroad Avenue Greenwich, CT 06830 

(Right off I-95 at Exit 3), steps from the Greenwich RR Station.

$55 Early Bird

$85 Meet and Greet (includes a personal introduction to Anna after the show)

For tickets, visit annaraimondigreenwich.eventbrite.com.

For more information about Anna, please visit her website: www.annaraimondi.com.

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Cabaret: the Tony award winner is a must see at the Music Theatre of Connecticut

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Cabaret the multi award winning musical is now on stage at MTC, the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk.  MTC has produced another fine show that premiered this past weekend  and runs through Sunday April 14.  Like all the shows we have enjoyed at this local theater, this production is first rate and should not be missed.

Cabaret is a 1966 musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff, and  was adapted from the short novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood.  The setting is Berlin in 1931.  The city of Berlin in the period between World War 1 and the rise of the Nazis was the center of the arts and culture of Weimar Germany.   The play is set at the seedy Kit Kat Klub and at a rooming house.  We are introduced to Cliff Bradshaw (Nicholas Dromard) an American writer who is traveling to Berlin in hopes the artistic atmosphere will kick start his novel.  He meets on the train to Germany a mysterious man, Ernst Ludwig (Andrew Foote) who befriends him and finds him cheap lodging at a Berlin boarding house.  Here we are introduced to woman who owns the building, Fraulein Schneider ( Anne Kanengeiser) and fellow boarder, a Jewish fruit merchant named  Herr Shultz (Jim Schilling).   Ernst takes Andrew out on the town to the Kit Kat Club.  Here we meet the iconic character The Emcee (Eric Scott Kincaid) and the entertainers including Fraulein Kost (Hillary Ekwall) and  Sally Bowles (Desiree Davar).  Sally is much like Cliff as she has come to Berlin to revel in its artistic and sexual freedoms.

Soon an unlikely romance develops between Cliff and Sally.  As a subplot we also see a romance blossom between the spinster Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, even at their advanced age.  It seems that the feeling is anything is possible in post World War I Berlin.  But the idealism of the age is interrupted by a underlying current which upends the worlds of our characters.  Ernst is exposed as a Nazi and we see the rise to power of the Nazi party which threatens the very nature of German society.  Fraulein Schneider realizes that to survive in a Nazi ruled Berlin she cannot marry a Jewish man and must break off her engagement.  The gay men at the Kit Kat Klub are even the targets of the hate and intolerance of the new order.  Cliff decides the reasons for coming to Berlin are quickly vanishing and he decides to return to America with Sally.  But Sally does not flee with him stays behind. She keeps on singing at the cabaret in denial of the drastic change  on the horizon.  Even Herr Schultz feels that even though a new order is coming to Germany, not much will change.  He too is in a state of tragic denial. A poignant tale that is relevant in today’s environment of how a nation of freedom loving people can have their country slowly turned into a  dark and intolerant culture.

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Desiree Davar as Sally Bowles

The songs of Cabaret lighten the heavy and important message of the play as they tie together all the scenes of this musical.   Many of the memorable numbers are present and wonderfully executed including “Wilkommen”, “So What”, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” and of course “Cabaret” .

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The MTC theater is a small black box style theater with the audience sitting on three sides (only 4 rows each side) which creates an intimate an up close theater experience.  The stage is small and the designers must use their artistic skills to carve out the separate scene spaces. They do so very effectively.  Due to the size the cast is smaller than might be in a larger theater but Director Kevin Connors skillfully uses the talented cast to fill the theater with drama and song.  He masterfully reminds the audience of the joys of the cabaret where we can forget our troubles, but we must be vigilant as freedom of artistic expression can be fleeting in the face of oppressive forces.  The full house on opening night approved of the great performance. The cast  is wonderful and Ms Davar as Sally Bowles wowed the audience with her fine vocal talents.

A fantastic production of a relevant and timely play that should be seen.

Tickets and information: https://www.musictheatreofct.com/cabaret

Music Theatre Of Connecticut

509 Westport Ave  Route 1

Norwalk Ct

web >>>>>https://www.musictheatreofct.com/cabaret

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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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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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Greenwich Wine and Food Festival returns to Greenwich September 21-22nd

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The fantastic Greenwich Wine and Food Festival presented by PepsiCo returns to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park on the harbor in Greenwich Ct., September 21-22, 2018.  The festival is amazing with food, wine, beer, and spirits tastings, celebrity chefs and demonstrations, a casino gaming tent, and capped off by a fantastic outdoor concert.  All this is the beautiful setting of Roger Sherman Baldwin Park.

Friday night will feature a  special dinner with The Opening Night Master Chef Wine Dinner, held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park on Friday, September 21, will honor Alex Guarnaschelli for her innovation and substantial contributions to the culinary world.

Saturday September 22nd is a fun filled day starting at 12:30 pm with the Grand Tasting Tent with 150 different food and beverage vendors!  It is quite the treat.  It is a great way to sample wine, spirits, beverages and check out the culinary delights from great local restaurants.

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Celebrity chefs abound at the festival with The Celebrity Green Room, presented by Ethan Allen, will host celebrities and culinary experts in a luxury lounge while being interviewed by Serendipity contributing editors Chef Matt Storch and Chef Robin Selden.

12:30-12:50pm – Adam Richman  1:00-1:20pm – Scott Conant 1:30-1:50pm – Alex Guarnaschelli  2:00-2:20pm – Samantha Benjamin (The Dessertist), Kevin Des Chenes (restauranteur and author) and Lindsay Perkins (Lindsay Culinary, LLC)    2:30-2:50pm – Christian Petroni (Fortina, Winner of Next Food Network Star), Bill Taibe (Jesup Hall, Kawa Ni, The Whelk) and Serena Wolf (author and Domesticate-Me.com)  and more!

From 1pm to 6pm there will be two kitchen demonstration stages with celebrity chefs presenting great cooking demos.

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From 4:30 pm to 8:30pm there will be more great activities leading up to concert time!  There will be “The South of The Border” presented by Don Julio featuring the flavors of Mexico.   Bud and Burgers will have burger samples from competing restaurants as well as plenty of Budweiser on tap.   There is also a great “Tailgate Party” during this time with great samples from   featuring samples from Blue Point Brewing Company, Cafe’ Bon, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Filippo Berio, Half Full Brewery, Hoodoo Brown BBQ, Izzi B’s Bakery, Jameson, Kettle One, KOW Steaks, Mike’s Organic Delivery, Pepsi Zero, The Blind Rhino, The Dough Girls, True Color Sparkling Wine, Val’s Putnam Wines & Liquors, Walter’s Hot Dogs and Woodford Reserve.  There is something for everyone!

The festival will end with an outdoor concert.  At 6:30 pm vocalist and multi instrumentalist Caroline Jones will kick off the concert. She has released her first album this year “Bare Feet” and has spent much of 2018 touring with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band.  I have seen her in concert and she is not to be missed!

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At 8:30 pm Tim McGraw will be the main act on stage.  McGraw’s career spans over 20 years and  is considered a top  country music artist. He has numerous Grammy, CMA and AMA awards to his credit.  His crossover into a blend of country and pop music has made him a fan favorite all over the country.

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This event is not to be missed and comes along once a year !  For more information click the link below.

https://serendipitysocial.com/greenwich-wine-food

Greenwich Wine and Food Festival presented by PepsiCo

 

Ridgefield Theater Barn opens its 53rd season with the musical comedy, Urinetown

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The Ridgefield Theater Barn has opened is 53rd season with Urinetown, The Musical.   Urinetown is a satirical musical comedy .  It satirizes the legal system, capitalism social irresponsibility, populism,  bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics  The show also parodies past musicals, and the Broadway musical itself as an art form.

The play opened on Broadway in 2001 and ran for over 900 performances.  It was  the winner of the 2002 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Original Score.   The music and lyrics were written  by Mark Hollmann,  and the book and lyrics  were penned by Greg Kotis.

This very funny musical now comes to the Ridgefield Theater Barn Stage with performances through September 28th 2018.    This production is directed by Deb Failla with Musical Direction by Lisa Riggs Hobbs. The show features Michael Valinoti, Elyse Jasensky, Chris Balestriere, Monica Harrington, James Hobayan, Bill Warncke, Joe Caputo,  Meaghan Elliot, Shawn Tyler Allen, Rachel Lotstein, Samantha Holomakoff, Rachel Lewis, Duane Lamham, Lesli Allen, Stephen Emerick, and Harry Brendan Garnett.

The Ridgefield Theater Barn is a wonderful intimate venue to enjoy live theater.  Seating is cabaret style at tables and theater goers are encouraged to bring their own food and wine to enjoy prior to the performance.

Don’t miss this hysterical show  before it sells out!  For tickets and more information:

http://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org

Tickets are $38 and Seniors (62)/Students/Veterans $30

Ridgefield Theater Barn

37 Halpin Lane  •  Ridgefield, CT

 

 

The Understudy: a behind the scenes stage comedy now at Westport Country Playhouse

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A very funny play set backstage at a Broadway theater has opened  at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport Ct.  “The Understudy” written by award winning playwright Theresa Rebeck  is  a clever and very funny comedy that brought laughter and much applause from the opening night audience.  It recently ran off Broadway.

The play opens with a bang as Harry (Eric Bryant) runs down the aisle of the theater and leaps on stage and reminds the audience to silence their cell phones.  We learn quickly he is not a member of the theater but rather an actor and the show has abruptly started even though the stage curtain is still closed.  An effective way of getting the full attention of the audience.

This comedy takes place during practice on a Broadway stage for a serious play based on the works of German novelist Franz Kafka.  As the actors practice their lines, the audience is treated to a play within a play, with the seriousness of the Kafka story contrasting with the comedy of the main play itself.  The Understudy employs three actors, Harry who is the journeyman understudy looking for his big break, Jake (Brett Dalton) who is a movie actor and mid level action film star, and Roxanne (Andrea Sglowski) , a former actress now stage manager whose job during the play is to run this practice.  She has the task of  keeping Jake and Harry from fighting (as Harry dislikes a B  movie actor taking on serious Broadway roles).  Jake has no love for Harry as he sees him unfit to understudy for a “star” like himself.    Jake too is obsessed as to why he is not receiving big dollar contracts for movies and not the $2 million a film he currently  is paid.

We also find that Roxanne and Harry were once engaged and she has no idea he has been cast as the understudy as he has adopted a new name.  That tension and Harry’s constant absurd comments about changing the lines further send the practice into disarray.  Throw into the mix Laura, the stage board operator (unseen during the show) who is stoned and keeps screwing up the sound, lighting and the sets.  This only adds to the calamity on stage.   The play gives the audience a look into the world backstage at a Broadway production and all the issues that arrive that give angst to those in the production, but comedy for the viewer.

Interesting is the playwrights commentary on the current state of American theater.  Instead of staging plays and musicals of integrity, the public and the theater industry itself is obsessed with celebrity and profits , with many plum roles in the theater going to big name movie stars instead of seasoned actors.  This commentary is worthy and timely considering some of the shows making it to the stage today.  A very funny play with great acting, a thoughtful clever script and excellent direction by David Kennedy.

The play runs  one and a half hours and is fast paced and has no intermission.  The play runs through September 1, 2018.

for tickets and information

https://www.westportplayhouse.org

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court   Westport Ct.

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Fences: Tony award winning drama now at Ridgefield Theater Barn

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A very interesting and thought provoking play, “Fences” is now on stage at the Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield Ct.  This  Pulitizer, Drama Desk and Tony Award winning play by August Wilson ran on Broadway back in 1987-1988.  Among its awards was the Tony Award for Best Play, and Best Actor (James Earl Jones).   It will run at the Theater Barn through February 24th.

The drama follows an African American family and is set in the late 1950s.  We meet Troy Maxon (Foster Evans Reese), a hard working man of little education who works as a garbage man.  His life is filled with regret about the fact his talents as a baseball player were never acknowledged due to the racial barrier in major league baseball. He lives a respectable life with his own little home he shares with his wife Rose (Tracey McAllister) and his son Cory (Shelby Davis).   Conflicts arise early in the play as Troy attempts to break the color barrier to become the first African American garbage truck driver for his firm.   Though Troy feels he will be fired for complaining to the union, he instead is promoted.  This promotion however comes at a price as he no longer works with his best friend Bono(Kevin Knight) and we see eventually they will drift apart.

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Other important characters are Gabe (Dan Fedrick) who plays Troy’s brother who suffered a brain injury in the War and is looked after by Troy, even though Gabe elected to move out of the house.  Troy has two sons, Lyons (Steffon Sampson) who Troy is in conflict with as he sees Lyons as a person with no direction who comes around just to borrow money.  His other son Cory (Shelby Davis) is also in struggles with Troy as he wants to elevate himself in life through sport, but Troy attempts to keep him down and steer him into a career of manual labor.

Rose, the loving wife and mother does her best to keep the peace.  Through the play she wants an ideal  yet simple life and for Troy to finish the white picket fence that surrounds the house.  It takes the entire play for the fence to be finished.  The fence for Rose represents keeping together her family and her dreams.  For Troy it represents a barrier, and for Cory  the fence is a way for his father to fence his ambitions to play sports and go on the college.   We see too the themes of death seep into the story and for Troy the fence is a way for keeping the grim reaper away.

The sold out theater was riveted to the actors on stage during the two hour plus play. Though all the actors gave solid  performances (including Dania Fedrick, who appears late in Act Two), the night belongs to Foster Evans Reese who commands the stage with his powerful and moving interpretation of Troy.

Due to adult themes and language, the play is best suited for mature audiences.

The Ridgefield Theater Barn is a real local treasure.  Doors open on hour before the show and you sit cabaret style at tables.  Guests bring their own food and drink to enjoy prior to the show.  The Barn now has a bar  in the lobby with snacks, a featured cocktail, wine and beer.

Tickets are $35 and $28 for Students, veterans and seniors)

Ridgefield Theater Barn

37 Halpin Lane  Ridgefield Ct             http://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org/

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Sex with Strangers: a romantic drama in the digital era at Westport Country Playhouse

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Laura Eason writer/producer on the television series House Of Cards (Netflix) is the author of this interesting and thoughtful play now on stage at the Westport Country Playhouse.  Sex with Strangers is part drama, part comedy that focuses on the modern digital age of dating, relationships, and how we learn about the people we meet.

The play has only two characters, Ethan (Chris Ghaffari) and  Olivia (Jessica Love).   Olivia is a professor and talented but unsuccessful author in her late 30s.  She is staying in a woodsy bed and breakfast in the Michigan woods.  She is all alone and is there to clear her mind, disconnect from the world and perhaps finish a long overdue novel.

Her tranquility is soon broken by the unexpected arrival of  Ethan, another guest  during a snowstorm.  Ethan is a late 20s blogger and author who interrupts the quiet of the cabin with his demands for food, and general disgust when he discovers there is no wi-fi at the remote cabin.  The audience discovers that Ethan is also a writer and internet sensation and has produced two books based on his weekly sexual exploits with strangers he picks up in bars.  The titles of the books is where the name of the play is derived.   Olivia is not only a English professor but had published a book years earlier that was the subject of mixed and some harsh reviews.  The experience of rejection of her novel despite her talent has had such a lasting effect on her that she is unable to finish her second novel despite her talent and ambition.  The two are true opposites.

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The conversation in the first act between Ethan and Olivia is in short, rapid exchanges that reminded me more of text messages than true conversation.  However as  the characters learn more of each other, the conversation evolves and becomes more warm and complex .   We find that Ethan is not here by accident and knew about Olivia, her first book and that she would be at the cabin.  Indeed he has used the internet to read up about her and seek to out photos of her.  It as if he was reviewing an online dating profile and shows the stark differences between the two characters.  Olivia is absorbed by the written word, great authors, and dreams of joining her literary idols on the shelves.  Ethan is a scrappy internet blogger,  who we find dreams of leaving the shallow persona that has made him a success and become a real author.  The strangers do become romantically entangled despite their obvious differences.  However, Olivia uses the internet to find out more about Ethan and his books and finds she is repelled by his sexual exploits as well as the counter-blogging by women that he slighted.

Act Two shifts gears and is set in Olivia’s apartment.  The lives of the two very different strangers become entangled not only in their strange sexual attraction, but their shared ambition to be published.  In Act two we see a change in the characters and their relationship as they use each other to achieve their personal goals.    The play is a commentary on our digital world, the personas we create online, and how we interact with each other online and in person.   The play is sprinkled with humor which helps break the tension between the two characters.

Jessica Love who has Broadway and off Broadway credits in resume does a fine job as Olivia.  Chris Ghaffari who was on the Westport stage last year in the hilarious “What the Butler Saw” did an excellent job as Ethan.

The scenic design by Edward Morris were really well done and constructed and drew the audience into the play.  The woodsy bed and breakfast cabin was very realistic and effective.

An interesting and thoughtful play with direction by Katherine M. Carter.

The play runs through October 14th 2017

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court Westport Ct

tel. 203.227.4177

web for info and tickets     

http://www.westportplayhouse.org/sex-with-strangers

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