The Marvelous Wonderettes: the off Broadway hit now at the Ridgefield Theater Barn

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The fun musical comedy “The Marvelous  Wonderettes” is now on stage at the Ridgefield Theater Barn.  The musical which was written and created by Roger Bean first opened off Broadway in 2008 and was revived in 2016 and has been produced in cities all over the U.S. and in Canada.   The  show uses  well known pop songs from the 1950s and 1960s as a way to tell its story.  The songs are recognizable pop hits from that era to which the audience can easily relate.

Act One takes place in 1958 where we meet our cast, Cindy Lou, Missy,Betty Jean and Suzy.  At the last moment they are called upon to perform at their senior prom as a replacement. The girls save the day and entertain their classmates in four-part harmony.  The songs are fun, light and instantly recognizable as the girls deliver their own versions of “Mr. Sandman”, “Lollipop”, “Sugartime”, “Dream Lover” “Stupid Cupid” and many more.   The play becomes interactive as the audience themselves is asked to pick the prom queen and ballots are collected from audience members.  Costume design by Brenda D. Renfroe really capture clothing style of the period.

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Act Two is 10 years later in 1968 and the world of the Marvelous Wonderettes has changed.  They are back at their high school for their reunion.  Though the girls are back on stage we find their relationship to each other has changed over the years.  Again the cast entertains the reunion with a list of 1960s classic hits including “Heatwave”, “It’s In His Kiss”, “Son of a Preacher Man”, “Leader of the Pack” and more.  The songs are woven into the story and help tell the tale.

The show is fun and light hearted and entertained the audience without a slow moment. The talented cast includes  Rena Gavigan (Missy), Sarah Giggar (Cindy Lou), Lauren Nicole Sherwood (Suzy), and Tarah Margaret Vega (Betty Jean).  Music is live and provided by a band on stage including Benjamin McCormack (musical director), Nathan Huvard, Sabrina Mason, Jordan Tulley, and Kyle Camerato.    The production is directed by Foster Evans Reese who starred in “Fences” at the Barn back in 2018.

The production runs through January 4, 2020.  The Barn is an intimate small setting and the audience sits at tables.  Doors open at  6 and attendees can bring their own food and drink to enjoy prior to showtime.  A small bar is also open in the theater lobby.

for tickets and information:

https://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org/

Ridgefield Theater Barn

37 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield CT 06877

For information, call 203.431.9850

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Mlima’s Tale: a powerful and moving drama of the illegal ivory trade now at the Westport Country Playhouse

 

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A powerful, moving and thought provoking play is now on stage at the Westport Country PlayhouseMlima’s Tale is a compelling drama written by two time Pulitizer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and directed by Mark Lamos.  The play was featured Off-Broadway in 2018 and this is its first production since then and cannot be missed.

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The story of Mlima’s Tale is  of a famous and beloved Kenyan elephant named Mlima who lives in a protected national park, but is still being hunted by poachers involved in the illegal ivory trade.   The story follows the hunting of Mlima and the transport of the precious tusks of this animal to Vietnam and finally on to China.  Along the way the elements of human greed, corruption, and crime are exposed as part of this illicit trade.

The author brings not only great respect to the elephants and their plight, but humanizes them during the performance.  We hear the voices of the elephants as they run through the brush to escape the poachers, and as they cry out for loved ones.  It is traumatic tale that grabs the audience and does not let them go. Jermaine Rowe plays Mlima and his words and body language give a voice to this wonderful animal.  After the hunt Mr. Rowe takes on the part of the soul or the spirit of Mlima as the tusks are being transported.  He follow along the trade route and  physically touches each of the persons involved in the trade and marks them with the sign of their crime with white chalk.

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The message of “Mlima’s Tale” is straight forward, clear and direct. This is like no other drama I have ever seen on stage.  The set is simple and allows the actors and the story to drive the message.  The back screen of the stage is lit with changing images as well as  written quotes that convey the inhumanity of how we share this planet with other beings, and harvest them as if they had no soul.   This unique approach to story telling is quite compelling and I found myself riveted to the action on stage during the performance.  The somberness of the subject matter, the creative story telling, and the projected imagery of the written quotes constantly has the audience contemplating the seriousness of the elephant’s plight, and that of all exploited animals.    The play is 90 minutes long with no intermission.  There is no usual break to reflect on what is happening to in the play, but rather the audience is drawn into the story until its conclusion.  Like all his work, director Mark Lamos has done a brilliant job with this unique drama.

The other  three cast members  have the task of playing multiple roles including Kenyan hunters, corrupt officials, Kenyan park rangers, ivory traders, an American ship captain, Vietnamese port officials, and even a wealthy Chinese woman looking to buy an ivory trinket for her luxury flat.  Jeannean Farmer, Adit Dileep and Carl Hendrick Louis are up to the task of the many characters they play. Each has an impressive resume of Broadway, Off Broadway, and television roles and they provide a fine performance.

This is a rare play that is unique in its presentation but powerful in its delivery and its message.  Do not miss it.

for tickets and information >>https://www.westportplayhouse.org/mlimastale

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court

Westport Ct     (203) 227-4177

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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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Christmas Inn: a musical to put you in the holiday spirit at the Westchester Broadway Theater

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A fun and light hearted holiday musical, “Christmas Inn” has come to the Westchester Broadway Theater for a limited engagement.   It is the story of a partnership and friendship of two entertainers who leave Ireland with the hopes of making it big in America.  The story fast forwards two generations to the grandsons of the two men who are also an musical entertainment act.  However the grandsons have split up and the only bond remaining is the fact that they both are partners in an inn in Sharon Connecticut called the Christmas Inn.

Bill Brewer (Kilty Reidy) arrives at the Inn with his son, Sam (Nick Varricchio) just before Christmas to stage the annual Christmas show at the Inn.  However the Inn has seen better days, and it is also about to host Buddy Baker (Jayson Elliot) the estranged partner of Bill.  The audience discovers that Buddy as majority partner has plans to sell the Inn to developers who intend to forever close its doors.   Will the Inn be saved and will the spirit of the holidays warm the heart of Buddy?

The cast includes Maxine the innkeeper (Ann-Ngaive Martin) who adds comedy to her scenes including her alcohol tinged performance of the “12 Daze of Christmas”.  Also impressive is Sara Cline (Linda Baker) who provides the evening with some of the best vocal performances.

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The rest of the talented ensemble of Holly Googe, Joel Pellini, Daniel Scott Walton and Gabriella Perez (prior on the WBT stage in Man of Lamancha and Showboat) sing and dance their way through the numerous Christmas songs that make up the musical.

The character of 10 year old Josie Evans (Molly Siena Culot/Ruby Griffin) is an important one in bridging the divide between the partners.  Her solo performance at the end of Act 1 was inspiring.

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The light hearted musical is filled with Christmas carols that are woven throughout the story.  At the finale, the cast invites the audience to sing a long in some Christmas tunes.

A fun evening and perfect to put you in the holiday spirit.

Ticket Prices Dinner & Show range between $56.00 and $84.00 PLUS TAX depending on the performances chosen. Beverage Service & Gratuities are not included in the ticket price. Discounts are available for children, students, and senior citizens at selected performances. Also check the website for on-going Special Offers! The show is playing through December 23rd  2016

for more information  and tickets

Westchester Broadway Theater    

  tel  914 592-2222

One Broadway Plaza  Elmsford NY

http://www.broadwaytheatre.com

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“What The Butler Saw”, a hysterical British comedy at Westport Playhouse

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“What the Butler Saw” is now playing at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport Ct.  This historic theater which opened over 80 years ago has  hosted to a long list of amazing theatrical talent. Among the actors to grace the stage here over the years are Jane Fonda, Gene Wilder, Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Powell, Jerry Stiller and Paul Newman just to name a few.

The current production is a comedy written by Joe Orton back in the 1960s.  It is a classic British farce and the laughs are plentiful as the play(under 2 hours) really moves along.   It addresses such topics as marriage, infidelity, mental health, gender roles and gender definition, and of course the changing opinion of who in the cast is sane or insane.

The story is set in Britain in the office of a Doctor at a psychiatric clinic.  Dr. Prentice (Robert Stanton) interviews a young woman, Geraldine Barclay (Sarah Manton) who is seeking a job as his secretary.  His motives are quite clear wants to seduce the young woman and nearly does so when his nymphomaniac wife, Mrs. Prentice (Patricia Kalember) enters his office and the entire story goes quite mad from here. The audience has to hold on as we learn Mrs. Prentice is being blackmailed by a hotel bell hop (Chris Ghaffari) .The arrival of Dr Rance (brilliantly played by Paxton Whitehead) really shakes things up.  He is a psychiatrist sent by the British Government to inspect the clinic.  His arrival further turns the story on his head with his crazy misdiagnoses of everyone including Dr. Prentice.

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There is mistaken identity, false accusations and the local police (Julian Gamble) are involved try to resolve the whole mess.  The comedic timing of the actors is flawless. Direction by John Tillinger is fantastic and the cast really works together well.  Set design of the clinic office and its numerous doors (which are put to comedic use as the actors us them to great effect) is well done.

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The actors have a long list of impressive credentials.  Paxton Whitehead has made numerous appearances on Broadway  including, “My Fair Lady” , and many television and movie appearances including “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield.   Patricia Kalember has numerous Broadway and stage credits.  She has appeared in films and in television shows such as “Sisters” “Orange is the New Black” , “Law and Order” and many more. The whole cast is wonderful and the audience really enjoyed the performance.

“What the Butler Saw” has adult theme as is not suitable for children.

Don’t miss this hysterical comedy!

For tickets, show times and more information:

http://www.westportplayhouse.org/

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court  Westport Ct.

 

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