Lauren, a former newspaper editor, is the editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com) and Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com) where she reviews Broadway, Off-Broadway and Connecticut theater. She also is a freelance writer and consults and produces for the theater. She is a member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, the CT Critics Circle, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the National Book Critics Circle. She and her husband live in Granby, CT. Visit her writing site at http://laurenyarger.wordpress.com.
BWW Reviews: VENUS IN FUR at TheaterWorks - Dark, Stormy, '50-Shades-of-Grey' Night
October 20, 2012
It was a dark and stormy -- and 50-Shades-of-Grey-kind-of -- night. If that opening sentence piques your interest, you're going to love David Ives' play VENUS IN FUR opening the 2012-2013 season over at TheaterWorks Hartford. If not, you might want to stay home.
BWW Reviews: Theresa Rebeck's O BEAUTIFUL at CT Rep is About Agreeing That We Don't Always Agree to Disagree
October 6, 2012
Bullying, gun control and abortion rights are just a few issues that get a town hall hearing in the regional premiere of Theresa Rebeck's O BEAUTIFUL at CT Rep. What sets this one apart from other political plays is that some of the founding fathers themselves and other historic figures stop by to weigh in on some of today's hottest topics.
BWW Reviews: BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO, As is Creating a Plausible Jukebox Musical Book
October 1, 2012
If you are a fan of the songs of Neil Sedaka, BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO, featuring 19 tunes performed by an enthusiastic ensemble at Ivoryton Playhouse, then love will keep you together. The implausible book concocted to link the songs together in Broadway-show fashion, however, might cause a little laughter in the rain.
BWW Reviews: AMERICAN NIGHT's American Dream Nearly Turns into a Nightmare at Yale Rep
October 1, 2012
Montoya's writing is impassioned, witty and insightful and we can't help but come away knowing that we and our family history are part of the Night too. The play disappoints, however, when it allows leftist politics a soapbox.
BWW Reviews: A Jolly, and Not-So-Jolly, Holiday with MARY POPPINS
September 17, 2012
In this touring rendition of the P.L. Travers story (on which the 1964 Disney musical starring Julie Andrew and Dick Van Dyke was based), some of the telling in Julian Fellowes book is more "British" - darker -- than we might expect.
BWW Reviews: Jon Robin Baitz Creates a HEDDA for All the Ages at Hartford Stage
September 8, 2012
Times have changed, but Hedda's frustration still rings true in a contemporary society where political headlines about a "war on women" and protests that decisions on women's reproductive rights are made predominantly by men dominate today's headlines.
BWW Reviews: OLIVER Audiences at Ivoryton Can Consider Themselves Very Entertained
August 17, 2012
The dark and dingy streets of Victorian London and the hard life that faces those without the benefit of family pedigree or fortune are splendidly recreated in Ivoryton Playhouse's entertaining production of Oliver!, Lionel Bart's musical adaptation of Charles Dickens classic "Oliver Twist."
BWW Reviews: Taut Thriller TRYST Teases with Tension, Twists
August 13, 2012
When dowdy, painfully shy Adelaide Pinchin (Andrea Maulella) meets dashing, smooth-talking, George Love (Mark Shanahan) it's love at first sight -- for him! Or is it? All is not what it seems in Karoline Leach's play Tryst, a taut, brooding, romance thriller full of creepy twists and turns that make you squirm and keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next and whether two very sad people can find happiness together.
BWW Reviews: Colorful Backdrop, Soothing Music Soften Carousel's Harsh Tale
August 3, 2012
Director Rob Ruggierio's production of the classic, like the ups and downs experienced while riding a carousel horse (the carousel is wonderfully recreated for the prologue on the restrictive Goodspeed stage), has moments of delight and some disappointments.
BWW Reviews: 1962 Baltimore Comes to Life in Ivoryton Playhouse's HAIRSPRAY
July 5, 2012
It's 1962 Baltimore, where racial tension and segregation provide a backdrop for teen angst and lots of catchy tunes by Marc Shaiman (lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman) performed to stage-defying choreography by JR Bruno who manages to get some 15 ensemble members bopping around at times without crashing into each other on the small stage.
BWW Reviews: Connelly Sparks Some Life into Simon's Aging Comedy LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS
June 15, 2012
R. Bruce Connelly, one of Connecticut theater's gems, gives Neil Simon's LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS at Ivoryton Playhouse a shot in the arm with some charm and comic timing, but he and a willing cast can't fully resuscitate an aging play that's rather dated
BWW Reviews: SEX AND THE CITY, LOVE, LOSS & WHAT I WORE, BAD DATES all Get Together Over a Delizioso Pasta Dinner in I LOVED, I LOST, I MADE SPAGHETTI
June 11, 2012
Antoinette LaVecchia sparkles like a fine Chianti in Connecticut playwright Jacques Lamarre's stage adaptation of Giulia Melucci's bestselling memoir I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti getting a delectable world premiere at TheatreWorks in Hartford.
BWW Interviews: Christopher Smith -Musical Makes an 'Amazing' Journey to Goodpseed
June 1, 2012
AMAZING GRACE is getting a run at Goodspeed Musicals' developmental Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT with an eye toward hitting Broadway. This might seem like a lofty goal given the large scale of the production in a struggling economy that has producers holding on tightly to their investment dollars (even smaller musicals can cost tens of millions of dollars to produce in New York). And the material is religious to boot (religious-themed shows have a hard time getting favorable reviews on the Great White Way.) Given the nothing-short-of-miraculous journey of the musical, so far, however, all things may be possible.
BWW Reviews: Contemporary Politics Could Write Seven Angels' TEDDY & ALICE
May 18, 2012
Even though the musical depicts events from more than 100 years ago, 'not much has changed.'
BWW Reviews: Goodspeed Charms the Husk Right Off of This Production of MAME
May 14, 2012
Tony nominee Louise Pitre (MAMMA MIA) brings to life a legendary stage persona in an engaging and well staged production of the Jerry Herman musical MAME to open the Goodspeed Opera House's 2012-2013 season.
BWW Reviews: Westport Takes a Pleasant Trip INTO THE WOODS
May 7, 2012
Mark Lamos directs an impressive kickoff at Westport Country Playhouse with a 25th-anniversary production of Stephen Sondhheim's funny and thought-provoking musical INTO THE WOODS.
BWW Reviews: Keeping Up with THE REALISTIC JONESES Isn't So Easy
May 2, 2012
Knowing chuckles sputter throughout the audience during the world premiere of Will Eno's THE REALISTIC JONESES at Yale Rep. The story is about everything - and nothing - just like the dialogue, but sooner or later you recognize a character you know, or perhaps yourself, and suddenly the seemingly pointless conversation hits home like it was fired at a bullseye.
BWW Reviews: I LEFT MY HEART Celebrates Music of Tony Bennett at MTC
April 24, 2012
A mostly grey-haired matinee audience smiling, bopping heads, tapping feet and singing along with classics like 'Fly Me to the Moon,' Night and Day,' 'That Old Black Magic,' and of course, 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco.'
BWW Reviews: RED at TheaterWorks Hartford Could Use More Layers
April 11, 2012
Cynical, angry artist Mark Rothko (Jonathan Epstein) hires a young idealistic assistant, Ken (Thomas Leverton) to work with him on his newest commission: a series of four murals to hang in the newly constructed Four Seasons Restaurant in Manhattan. A smart dialogue about painting and about American society unfolds with the teacher-student relationship transitioning. Ken's hopes that Rothko might be a friend, or even a mentor to replace the father he discovered murdered at a young age are dashed with every stroke of paint, however. The master's vision for companionship extends only to the relationship between the paintings. The end result is always the same for him: tragedy. Rothko is struggling with the futility of life and with putting his brilliance on the walls of a commercial enterprise where its full meaning of the color red might or might not be comprehended by the capitalists dining beneath it.
BWW Reviews: THE WINTER'S TALE, Complete with a Bear, Shines at Yale Rep
April 2, 2012
A De 'light full' Productions of Shakespeare's tale of love and jealousy.
BWW Reviews: Charming Lead Bewitches in Long Wharf's BELL, BOOK & CANDLE
March 22, 2012
A bewitchingly beautiful Kate MacCluggage plays Gillian Holroyd, a witch who sets her sights on mortal Shepherd Henderson (Robert Eli) who lives upstairs from her red-swathed, moonlit New York apartment in Long Wharf Theatre;s production of John Van Druten's play with subtle commentary on social issues of the 1950s.
BWW Reviews: Country Singing Legend Comes to Life in ALWAYS PATSY CLINE
March 22, 2012
Always Patsy Cline, playing at the Ivoryton Playhouse brings to life the true friendship between Patsy (Jacqueline Petroccia) and one of her biggest fans, Louise Seger (Laurie Dawn). Penned and originally directed by Ted Swindley, the show packs almost 30 tunes around the story of how the women met and continued their friendship through letters in the late 1950s and early '60s until Cline's death in a plane crash at the age of 30.
BWW Reviews: Art Imitates Life as an Idea Doesn't Quite Come to Fruition in FEBRUARY HOUSE
March 2, 2012
The idea is a good one -- both in real life, where editor George Davis dreams of running a boarding house for artists in Brooklyn, and and in the theater, where book writer Seth Bockley brings the residents' stories to the stage, but a lack of practical planning in both cases fails to bring the ideas to full fruition.
BWW Reviews: When the Lie is Cast. Romance Can't Break It in CENTENNIAL CASTING
March 2, 2012
What does a 47-year-old single guy need to do to get a date with the girl of his dreams? Well, if you're Vincent DiDonato (Lou Martini, Jr.) in Gino DiIorio and Nancy Bleemer's comedy Centennial Casting playing at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, you pretend you are a casting director and pretend to give her an audition for a movie.
BWW Reviews: GOOD GOODS Possesses Too Many Unexorcised Ideas
February 15, 2012
'What was that about?' seemed to be the main question theatergoers were asking after experiencing Christina Anderson's play Good Goods receiving its world premiere at Yale Repertory, Well, it's about a family dry goods store, a mysterious factory town, finding love, finding sexual identity, and oh, yeah, possession and excorcism. It's almost enough to make your head spin (pun intended).
BWW Interviews: Alan Zweibel - Enjoying a Multi-Course Career Seasoned with Friendship
February 7, 2012
The multiple Emmy winner, who was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Writers Guild, East in 2010, talks about having friends like Billy Crystal, Larry David or Gilda Radner and in the same breath, can listen patiently as a wannabe writer runs a really bad idea by him for a TV sitcom. The blend of genius and kindness is a rare combination in this industry.
BWW Reviews: ALMOST MAINE Almost Loses Touch with Reality, but Provides Escapist Fun
February 7, 2012
Eight short plays with a prologue and epilogue depict folks falling in and out of love in a town called Almost, ME. The action takes place on a Friday evening in front of a rustic cabin-like backdrop.
TheaterWorks Hartford Revives Rarely-Seen THE STY OF THE BLIND PIG
February 6, 2012
A mother and daughter struggle with transitions in their life and with living with each other in Philip Hayes Dean's play THE STY OF THE BLIND PIG, getting a rare run on stage at TheaterWorks, Hartford.
BWW Reviews: Yale's A DOCTOR IN SPITE OF HIMSELF Proves Laughter is the Best Medicine
December 14, 2011
Steven Epp and Christopher Bayes are definitely the go-to guys if you want 21st-century audiences laughing at centuries-old plays.
A Play Within a Play Within a Ghost Story in the Mist Appears in WOMAN IN BLACK at Ivoryton Playhouse
November 7, 2011
A playwright endeavors to tell the scariest ghost story he's ever heard, but will the real ghost let him?
BWW Reviews: Internet Meets Live Drama in Innovative Premiere of WATER BY THE SPOONFUL at Hartford Stage
November 4, 2011
Avatars appear as the users of an internet support forum for crack addicts sign on to chat, but the action doesn't take place in cyberspace. It unfolds on stage as Hartford Stage presents the world premiere of Quiara Alegria Hudes' moving play WATER BY THE SPOONFUL.
BWW Reviews: Better Title for Herzog's Newest Play BELLEVILLE in its World Premiere at Yale Rep Might be Bewilderingville
October 31, 2011
Doctor Without Borders Zack (Greg Keller) and his yoga instructor/actress wife Abby (Maria Dizzia) seem like a typical, cozy American couple living in their Paris apartment, but theatergoers who really want any part of typical or cozy won't find it in this world premiere of BELLEVILLE, by Amy Herzog, commissioned by Yale Rep.
BWW Reviews: There's a Bleeping Good Play About Love, Loyalty, Relationships Behind the Profanity of THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT
October 24, 2011
Here in Hartford, it's worth the trip for the excellent, humorous play and a stellar performance turned in by Royce Johnson as Ralph.
BWW Reviews: Real World Meets Reel World in Slick CITY OF ANGELS at Goodspeed
October 24, 2011
Darko Tresnjak, Hartford Stage's new artistic director, helms a stylish production of the complicated murder-mystery musical CITY OF ANGELS for Goodspeed Musicals, starring Nancy Anderson, Burke Moses and a fabulous set designed by David P. Gordon.
BWW Reviews: Things Look Different when You See Them from the FLIPSIDE
October 18, 2011
Things aren't always the way they look, and they might not be anything like you think, unless you can see them from the other side.
BWW Reviews: Over-the-top Performances By Kids Propel OVER THE TAVERN
October 18, 2011
Catholic dogma might not rule the life of 12-year-old Rudy Pazinski, who to the horror of his parents and teacher-nun announces his decision to forgo Confirmation while he shops around for a religion, but Over the Tavern, Tom Dudzick's play opening the 21st season for Seven Angels Theater in Waterbury definitely is a good work with outstanding performances by the young people starring in it.
BWW Reviews: THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES - Two Blasts from the Past Stir Up Memories, Music, Fun
October 12, 2011
It's 1958 and The Marvelous Wonderettes, an all-female vocal group, is entertaining at the Super Senior Prom.