Christmas in Connecticut
By Bonnie Goldberg
Keep your December holidays hopping with happy events by including one or more of these festive features.
For a spicy and spirited start, there's a collection of twisted Christmas tales by celebrated writers like John Cariani, Jeffrey Hatcher, Jacques Lamarre, Matthew Lombardo, Theresa Rebeck, Edwin Sanchez and Jonathan Tolins. They are the merry bartenders who are whipping up your favorite characters from Christmas stories, but with a twist of mistletoe in your martini glass. Conceived and directed by Rob Ruggiero, Hartford TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford is offering "Christmas on the Rocks" from December 3-22. Call for tickets ($35-55), at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org.
For a more religious observance of the holiday, with an emphasis on humor, let Nonie Breen as the good Sister indoctrinate you to the proper Catholic rituals of the day. Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven will be setting up a creche and you, the audience, will be invited to give it life. From December 4-15 on Stage II, sister will be explaining and expounding, offering advice and wisdom, engaging you in a hilarious participatory experience meant to please. Call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or www.longwharf.org for tickets ($39.50). "Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold" awaits your exploration.
Bridgeport's Downtown Cabaret Theatre is presenting the holiday edition of "An Evening with Neil Diamond," featuring Tom Sledge as the iconic singer. Sledge is renowned as an authentic Neil Diamond impersonator and tribute artist, who looks and sounds like the genuine jewel. Performances are Saturday, December 7 at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport. For tickets ($47), call 203-576-1636 or online at www.downtowncabaret.org.
(Photo: Bill Raymond as Scrooge in Hartford Stage’s production of “A Christmas Carol”)
Community Theater Tackles "Les Miz
By Bonnie Goldberg
The penalty for stealing a loaf of bread, especially when it is taken to stave off starvation for a loved one's child, should not be years of imprisonment. Said to have been inspired by a true incident, in Paris in 1862, the French playwright and author Victor Hugo saw a wealthy woman bedecked in furs, riding in a luxurious carriage, sit obliviously by as a poor man was arrested. It happened virtually at her feet and the man was hauled away to jail for a minor crime.
Victor Hugo, novelist, essayist, poet, visual artist, statesman and advocate for human rights, was so affected by that scene of injustice that he wove it into his famous story of Jean Valjean in his novel "Les Miserables" or "The Poor." Even though it was banned by the French government, the story met with great success among the populace, so much so that people fought to buy one of the 48,000 copies sold on the first day it was published. Set to music a century later, "Les Miserables," produced by Cameron Mackintosh, has celebrated twenty five years as a majestic and sweeping drama that puts history on parade in a dramatic march through the French Revolution.
Blogs of Interest
Blogs about Connecticut theater, movie reviews, and the arts.
Artes Magazine -- fine art, architecture, design and theater
Back Stage Buzz - current and archived interviews with CT artists
susangranger.com -- movie reviews
CT Arts Connection
WMNR Fine Arts Radio (Rosalind Friedman's Review)
www.courant.com/curtain (Frank Rizzo reviews)
www.reflectionsinthelight (Lauren Yarger reviews)
www.nytheaterscene.com (Irene Backalenick/David Rosenberg reviews)