Friday, June 20, 2014

“Endurance” an Engaging, Must-See Endeavor

Endurance -- Long Wharf Theatre Stage II -- Thru June 29

                                               Greg Weber, Jason Bohan,
                                               Andrew Grusetskie and Michael Toomey

What’s the connection between exploring Antarctica and getting fired from an insurance company that’s desperately downsizing after an economic meltdown? None, you might say, save that in both cases you find yourself out in the cold. Well, if that’s your answer then you’re just not creative, or at least not as creative as playwright Nick Ryan and Split Knuckle Theatre, for the two have joined forces to create “Endurance,” a sprightly, inventive piece of physical theater that just opened at Long Wharf’s Stage II.

In a book about directors of musicals, Graciela Daniele is quoted as saying that the audience is “the final collaborator.” Proof of this can be found if you attend “Endurance,” for the audience is called upon to do some work – not physical, but a bit of imagining to make the play come to life, for the four skilled actors are given only three desks, three waste baskets, a filing cabinet and a coat tree to work with yet are charged with creating not only a bustling office but also a ship being slowly crushed by ice and its crew surviving on ice floes. That they successfully accomplish this…and more…is a credit not only to them but the audience’s ability to “fill in the blanks.” In his book on Broadway directors, author Larry Thelen notes: “An audience that has to work a bit throughout the experience is an audience that is more dedicated to it.”

There are really two plays going on here. The first deals with the aforementioned insurance company and four of its employees who are hanging on by their fingernails as those about them get the axe. One of them, an insecure office drone named Walter Spivey (Christopher Hirsh) fears the worst when he is called before the faceless powers that be – they’re faceless because they have the waste baskets covering their heads, one of the many delightful transformations and visual tropes that occur during the play. Expecting to be let go, he is instead given a promotion and charged with not only managing his department but also seeing that over 4,000 back-logged insurance claims are handled in a three-month period. Suddenly he has been put in charge of the three men with whom he has been working and he doesn’t believe he’s up to the task.

Seeking guidance, Spivey goes to the library (the company won’t fund sending him to a seminar or even approve the expense of his buying a book on management – the executives even caution him about late fees on any book he gets from the library). In the library, in a hilarious scene, he searches the shelves, pulling down various books written by self-improvement gurus. Finally, he stumbles upon a different sort of book – “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” -- which details the harrowing experience of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 28-man crew and their two-year ordeal while attempting to explore Antarctica. This book becomes Spivey’s guide, and his finding it creates the connection between the first play and the second, a dramatization of Shackleton’s experiences.

Once the two “plays’ are established, the four actors – Hirsh, Jason Bohon, Andrew Grusetskie, and Greg Webster -- seamlessly shift back and forth in time: at one moment they are harried employees, the next they are crew members fighting for their lives. In these time shifts they are, amazingly, able to create quite believable characters, with Webster taking on the role of Shackleton.

                                               Jason Bohan, Michael Toomey,
|                                             Greg Weber and Andrew Grusetskie

With minimal costume changes – just some hats and a shawl, really – the actors bring to life a host of characters while physically manipulating the few props they have – chief among them the desks, which serve as, among other things, a shower, an elevator, several boats and menacing towers of ice. Assisted by lighting designer Dan Rousseau, with music by Ken Clark (there’s no credit for sound design, but whoever is responsible should get some type of award), the four actors…with the help of the audience…create two distinctly different, menacing, believable worlds, and the great thing is, there are laughs aplenty, especially when we are in the “insurance” world, for playwright Ryan has a quiver full of barbs, all dedicated to corporate America, and they are often razor sharp…and funny.

The sheer physicality of the production is amazing. Whether the four actors are processing claims – a mindless routine set to pulsing music – or towing boats across the ice, they are, in the process, presenting a graduate seminar in how important movement and control of the body are to acting, but don’t get me wrong, this is not some self-aggrandizing, thespian ego trip. No, the four (interestingly, no one is listed as director, which says a lot about how this show was brought to life) are intent on telling a story, or rather, two stories, and they succeed. When the sailors, facing almost certain death, gather together and sing to buck up their spirits, it’s a haunting moment; when Spivey, daunted by the task set for him, has a dream about how he might improve office productivity, and in the process give his charges a sense of purpose (a sequence accentuated by a hand-held light), it’s a stunning piece of theater.

Anyone interested in creative theater that engages the mind, the heart and the soul should not miss “Endurance,” if for no other reason than to see what can be done with three desks and three waste baskets. In an era often dominated by excess and over-production, “Endurance” cleanses the theatrical palate and again makes us realize what four talented actors are capable of creating…almost out of thin air.

“Endurance” runs through June 29. For tickets or more information call 203-787-4282 or go to

Saturday, June 14, 2014

“Spelling Bee” Gets an Amiable A

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee -- Playhouse on Park -- Thru July 20

Center: Steven Mooney (Barfee); L-R: Natalie Sannes (Olive), Maya Naff (Marcy), Scott Scaffidi (Chip), Kevin Barlowski (Leaf), and Hillary Ekwall (Schwarzy). All photos by Rich Wagner

Go ahead, spell “syzygy.” Bet you can’t (of course you can, because you’re looking at it – but you get my point). Rona Lisa Peretti can, without peeking, and that won her top place lo those many years ago at the Third Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Fast-forward 22 years and there’s a new batch of eager, buzzing Bees ready to win the trophy in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” currently being hosted at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, with none other than Rona Lisa at the helm. Even if you are logophobic (look it up!), you can’t help but have a good time at this particular Bee, smartly directed and choreographed by Susan Haefner.

The musical is based on an improvisational play by Rebecca Feldman, which William Finn, who wrote the music and lyrics for “Spelling Bee,” saw and immediately sensed possibilities. “Spelling Bee” was work-shopped in 2004 and reached Off-Broadway in 2005, then opened on Broadway in the same year, garnering two Tonys.

The premise is simple – but has a twist. Six young, idiosyncratic contestants gather for the county spelling Bee, each hoping to win and move on to the Nationals. The twist is that four audience members join the six (you can sign up for participation in the Bee in the lobby before the show) in the competition. The entire show is about the elimination, as one contestant after another goes down to defeat, along the way revealing aspects of their young lives (and the various pressures they are under) via song and dance. It is infectious.

Emily Kron (Rona); L-R: Scott Scaffidi (Chip), Hillary Ekwall (Schwarzy), Kevin Barlowski (Leaf), Steven Mooney (Barfee), Maya Naff (Marcy), and Natalie Sannes (Olive)

The contestants are essentially stereotypes: there’s the socially inept nerd, William Barfee (that’s “Bar-fey!”) (Steven Mooney), the Asian girl, Marcy Park (Maya Naff), who seeks perfection in all she does, and the weirdo goof-off, Leaf Coneybear (Kevin Barlowski), who makes his own clothes. Then there’s Logainne SchartzandGrubenierre (Hillary Ekwall), who’s two “fathers” have made her so uptight she might shatter at any moment, along with Chip Tolentino (Scott Scaffidi), a Boy Scout beset by puberty, and finally Olive Ostrovsky (Natalie Sannes), the sweet, girl-next-door type whose mother is currently in an ashram in India. The proceedings are overseen by Perretti (Emily Kron), assisted by vice-principal Douglas Panch (Norman Payne) and monitored by Mitch Mahoney (Norman Payne), an ex-con doing community service by providing comfort (and apple juice) to those eliminated.

Natalie Sannes (Olive), Steven Mooney (Barfee), and Hillary Ekwall (Schwarzy); Second row: Maya Naff (Marcy) and Kevin Barlowski (Leaf); Third row: Scott Scaffidi (Chip) 

Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, who wrote the book, milk the stereotypes for all they are worth, and to great comic effect, often focusing in on mannerisms and personal tics that define the “types.” The cast is, from first to last, excellent – whether they are wandering through the audience prior to curtain, establishing “relationships” (Scaffidi will find his “mother” in the audience before the show starts), guiding the other (audience) contestants through the first act, or revealing their travails and insecurities via ballads and ensemble numbers – they please on any number of artistic levels while eliciting laughs and guffaws from the audience on a regular basis.

Part of the enjoyment comes from how the four audience “contestants” are handled. The script calls for them, one by one, to be eliminated by the end of the first act. How Newsome, who as Panch reads the words to be spelt and provides definitions and usage of the words in sentences (to great comic effect) handles this elimination is a crowd-pleaser, especially since, on opening night, the last “contestant” left standing was actually a good speller of arcane words – how Payne chose to bring about his elimination got probably the biggest laughs of the evening.

With such an excellent cast working in harmony it’s difficult to point to any single cast member for praise, so let’s be inclusive. Mooney captures the nerdy awkwardness of his character with perfection, showing that he uses his intelligence as a defense mechanism to ward off the slings and arrows of disdain – his “Magic Foot” number is a deft weaving of character into song. Then there’s Ekwall, whose blond hair is pulled back tightly into two pigtails (emphasizing the pressure she lives under) – her character is total kinetic energy, wound so tight that words fly out of her mouth like bullets being fired by a machinegun (perhaps a bit of a detriment when it comes to catching all of the lyrics when she sings).

                                                        Maya Naff 

As for the goof-ball Leaf, Barlowski has the weirdness down to perfection – he flaps around the stage like a chicken on LSD and goes into a face-twisting, eye-crossing trance when he spells his words. As loose as Leaf is, Marcy is regimentally rigid, and Naff ably captures the self-induced pressure she is under – her encounter with “Jesus” and her plaintive “I Speak Six Languages” number, which set her character “free,” is an entrancing epiphany.

                                                          Scott Scaffidi 

Tolentino gives his character, the Boy Scout, just the right amount of earnestness and his two set-pieces – first when he must somehow hide his erectile embarrassment and second, at the opening of the second act, when he is demoted to selling candy to the audience – are both crowd-pleasers. 

                                                 Natalie Sannes and Emily Kron

Finally, there’s Sannes as the sweet-as-pie Olive, a sweetness that hides her pain, loneliness and longing for her mother to return. Her number, “The I Love You Song,” sung with Kron playing the mother and Payne the father, simply stops the show, her plaintive “Mother, Mother, Mother,” echoing in the audience members’ minds long after the blackout.

Of those running the show, Kron gives her character just the right touch of rah-rah enthusiasm and is a lovely, sweet-voiced, lithe addition to the ensemble numbers, while Newsome is excellent at the drollery needed to bring off his character, a man who hides his disappointment at always being the “vice-principal” until he explodes mid-way through the second act. Finally, Payne, in his multiple roles, is believably street-tough as Mahoney, but ably switches character to be a doting “mother” and an aloof, emotionally-challenged “father.”

There’s simply not much, if anything, to complain about with this production. The pacing is such that the two hours (with one intermission) seem to fly by. Tracy Flater, the Playhouse’s executive director, was sitting in the audience house right on opening night. You could see the pleasure on her face as the audience reacted to the subtle (and not so subtle) one-liners, the sight gags, the ensemble numbers. It must have been music to her ears.

If you’re looking for an engaging night at the theater that will have you leaving with a smile on your face, then “Spelling Bee” is a good bet – it’s a lot of goofiness with just a touch or two of pathos. And if you’re a logophile, sign up to be a contestant – you might just win some apple juice.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” runs through July 20. For tickets or more information call 860-523-5900, X10, or go to

Sunday, June 8, 2014

“Sing For Your Shakespeare” Sets a Rich Table

"Sing For Your Shakespeare" -- Westport Country Playhouse -- Extended thru June 28

                        Britney Coleman, Karen Akers, Stephen DeRosa (foreground),
                       Constantine Germanacos, Darius de Haas, and Laurie Wells.
                       All photos by Carol Rosegg

Westport Country Playhosue has a hit, a palpable hit, on its hands in the form of “Sing For Your Shakespeare,” a musical review conceived by Wayne Barker, Mark Lamos and Deborah Grace Winer, deftly directed by Lamos, the Playhouse’s artistic director, and choreographed by Dan Knechtges. There’s nary a dull or false moment in the entire 90 minutes in this tribute to the Bard and the many composers and lyricists who have, over the years, drawn from the Folio and the sonnets to create some memorable songs and musicals. Those memories come alive again, so much so that they make you want to see the original shows all over again.

The problem with most revues is that the premise is weak or lacking – a tribute to a composer or artist that contains a bit of biography as the mortar that holds the shaky structure together. Some directors shy away from revues because there’s little or no “story” to tell. As one director put it, you’re really at the mercy of the actors – the show rises and falls on their talent and ability to sell the songs and keep the audience interested. Well, such is not the case with “Sing,” for though it is a tribute it’s a multi-faceted one that draws on Shakespeare’s plays to provide settings for the 23 songs that comprise the evening…and the talent? Well, any director would sleep well at night knowing that his or her show is in the hands of the six extremely accomplished actors that comprise the cast.

                                           Karen Akers and Darius de Haas 

These six – Karen Akers, Britney Coleman, Darius de Haas, Stephen DeRosa, Constantine Germanacos and Laurie Wells – are called upon to sing, dance and act – often at the same time! (apologies to Eric Idle) And they do so with grace, style and a verve that keeps the evening “up” throughout the entire show. In fact, there are so many stellar moments that, as you leave the theater, you wish what you had just seen was a film that you could rent and immediately watch again…and again.

The vocal quality of the actors is on display right from the start as they gather on the single set designed by Riccardo Hernandez, which consists of two levels: a clear downstage area for the actors and a platform upstage for the seven outstanding musicians. Behind the musicians is a scrim with the Bard’s words flowing left to right, words that also appear on the proscenium’s arch. The evening opens with a madrigal – “Lover and His Lass” – and as you listen to the actors harmonize you sense that you won’t hear a false note the entire evening – and you don’t.

                                 Laurie Wells, Karen Akers, and Britney Coleman 

One of the things that makes the evening work so well is the framing of the songs, much of which consists of snippets or abbreviated scenes from Shakespeare’s writings. Early on, one of the most engaging moments is Germanacos’ recitation of Sonnet 40, followed by the sonnet set to music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn and sung with sass and style, and a great sense of the scat tradition, by Coleman.

There are also a lot of surprises. Did you know that Frank Loesser, he of “Guys and Dolls” fame, wrote a song for Betty Hutton to sing in the 1949 film “Red, Hot and Blue” that essentially summarizes, and satirizes, the plot of “Hamlet”? Well, he did, and it’s performed by the cast with great comic sense and a lot of body language. Then there’s a live-action historical sketch TV series that was called “Horrible Histories” from which the creative team has drawn the “Shakespeare Song,” written by Richie Webb and David Cohen, a skit that is basically Shakespeare going on a wordsmith ego trip – and DeRosa nails it. He actually looks like the Bard!

                    Stephen DeRosa, Constantine Germanacos, and Darius de Haas 

Then there are a lot of reminders, like the one that brings those of us of a certain age back to the time of “Hair,” and the memory that one of the numbers – “What a Piece of Work is Man” – was lifted from a Hamlet soliloquy and set to music – and de Haas and Germanacos do a fine job of doing the reminding.

Lamos stages the wooing scene from “The Taming of the Shrew,” nicely acted by Coleman and Germanacos, as an entry into several songs from Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate,” and the songs – “Where is the Life That Late I Lived” and “It’s Too Darn Hot” – are staged to evoke the musicals themselves, helped along by some great lighting effects by Robert Wierzel. This is, in essence, what makes this revue stand out – there has been a great deal of effort, thought and talent put into creating these numbers to evoke emotions on several levels, not the least of which is memory (for those of us into musical theater), but the scenes are not simple re-enactments of the musical numbers as they first appeared in the parent musicals, they have been reconceived for the show, so you get the best of both worlds.

                                  Britney Coleman and Constantine Germanaco

If you’re looking for an emotional wrap-up, then you need go no further than the last 10 or so minutes of the show, for after “Kiss Me Kate” there’s a segue into “West Side Story,” and Lamos, and the cast, and the orchestra, and lighting designer Wierzel, all work together to bring a clutch to your heart, first with “Maria,” beautifully and emotionally sung by Germanacos, and then the lovely duet, “Tonight,” sung by Germanacos and Coleman, to the penultimate number, “Somewhere,” sung by the entire cast. At this moment you might think the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is up there on stage, given the depth and complexity of the sound the six actors are able to create. I defy anyone not to be moved as you listen to the voices rise.

“Sing For Your Shakespeare” is enjoyable on just about every theater-going level, right to the closing number – “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” – which evokes the vaudevillian take on the number as it was originally staged in “Kiss Me Kate.” If you are a fan of musical theater, or are just looking for an engaging night out at the theater, then “Sing For Your Shakespeare” is for you. You won’t be disappointed.

“Sing For Your Shakespeare” has been extended through June 28. For tickets or more information call 203-227-4177 or go to

Saturday, June 7, 2014

“Chorus Line” Just a Couple of Beats Off

A Chorus Line -- Connecticut Repertory Theatre -- Thru June 14

                 A CHORUS LINE opens the Nutmeg Summer Season at Connecticut 
                Repertory Theatre’s Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre. Photo by Tim Brown.

You can’t go wrong deciding to board the iconic American musical “A Chorus Line.” Since its opening on Broadway in 1975, the show, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, with original choreography by Michael Bennett, has been an audience favorite, with several of its songs – “What I Did Love” and the signature “One” – and its corresponding choreography -- entering the American psyche. Thus, the musical, which one a hat-full of Tonys the first time around -- was a smart choice for the Connecticut Repertory Theatre up in Storrs to make to open its 2014 Nutmeg Summer Series, which will also include “The Sunshine Boys” and “Gypsy.” By and large, the show is as entertaining as ever, but there are some questions – some technical, others having to do with the use of one of the show’s leads – that had some in the audience scratching their heads.

For those who have been in a coma for the past four decades, the show deals with the aspirations of 17 dancers (know as “gypsies” in the trade) trying out for a Broadway musical. On an almost bare-bones stage, the seventeen literally and figuratively toe the line as they are put through their paces by Zack (Nick Lawson), the show’s somewhat demanding director, and Larry (Sean Jones), his assistant. As the dancers learn the routines, they are also asked by Zack (who is, for most of the show, just a voice reverberating in the theater – a demigod of sorts) to reveal something about themselves. It’s these revelations (based loosely on taped workshops with real dancers held in 1974) that give the show its meat, for without them it would be little more than a revue or an up-dated “42nd Street.”

The aspirants all come from different backgrounds, with two of them, Cassie (Lori Ann Ferreri) and Sheila (Annie Wallace) being the “old’ pros – they’ve been through the mill, with Cassie, who once lived with Zack, having almost achieved a sort of stardom. The other 15 dancers still, by and large, have stars in their eyes. Most of the cast is made up of college students or those who have recently graduated, and by and large they do a quite admirable job. Special note should be taken of Kristin Devine as Val – her rendition of “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” (it’s the “tits and ass” song) has a light, saucy, humorous quality to it that made the audience light up, as well as Wallace as Sheila – she gives just the right touch of world-weariness to the character, a weariness that belies her love of what she does. Then there’s Alanna Saunders as Diana – her “Nothing” is dead-on and quite moving, and although she struggles just a tad with “One,” the audience responded with well-deserved appreciation. The fact that most of the cast is, in fact, composed of young dancers/actors on the brink of their careers gives the show a certain sparkle and touching relevance. You can’t help but wonder where, or if, you will see these faces in two or three years – who will make it and who won’t.

Thus, the evening is well worth the trip up to Storrs. There are several things, however, that you will have to let pass. The first is the size of the stage itself – it barely contains the 17 actors when they are lined up stage right to left, thus giving the “on-the-line” scenes a certain cramped feeling, with the dancers seeming to be jostling each other for elbow room. Next is the lighting (designed by Greg Purnell). I attended opening night, and perhaps some kinks were still being worked out, but there were times when the follow spots seemed to be searching for the actors they were supposed to be illuminating, and other times when the actors seemed to be missing their marks by a step or two – especially in the “At the Ballet” sequence -- thus putting themselves into half-shadows. Perhaps one more day of tech rehearsal (boring as it is) might have been in order.

The final thing you will have to let pass is how Ferreri, as Cassie, is used. A Broadway pro, Ferreri often seems to be disregarded (intentionally or not) by director/choreographer Cassie Abate. In many of the dance numbers, though Ferreri is clothed in a bright red, eye-catching dress, she seems to inevitably end up far up-stage, behind the other dancers, as if Abate is trying to hide her. Then there is the supposed amorous relationship between Cassie and Zack – the two speak the lines but you never get the sense that there was ever anything between them more than an occasional shared cup of coffee; it’s the director’s job to sense when chemistry isn’t working and do something about it. Finally, in the “What I Did For Love” number, Abate has Ferreri blocked extreme stage left – she is visually removed and aloof from the emotion being expressed in the song by the rest of the cast – in fact, she looks more like an appreciative parent listening to her children – she’s given absolutely nothing to do but just stand there throughout the entire number.

Yes, the negatives may seem like mere quibbles, but taken in sum they affect the overall feel of the show, a feel that says the show has yet to truly come together. And yet, it’s “A Chorus Line,” so you can’t help but respond to all those dancing feet, tipping hats, heartfelt stories and youthful exuberance. This may not be a perfect show, but you will be entertained, especially if you enjoy seeing young, talented actors taking their first, tentative steps into a world that may hold disappointment or…stardom.

The show runs through June 14. For tickets or more information call 860-486-2113 or go to

Thursday, June 5, 2014

CCC Awards Announced

2013 - 2014 Connecticut Critics Circle Awards Announced

The Connecticut Critics Circle Awards for the 2013 - 2014 season have been announced. The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony on Monday, June 23 at the Westport Country Playhouse.

The recipients are:

2013-2014 Connecticut Critics Circle Awards

Outstanding Production of a Play – Dual Awards

                             Kaliswa Brewster, Kate MacCluggage and Mahira Kakkar.
                            Photo by Charles Erickson

Macbeth                                                                      Hartford Stage
These Paper Bullets!                                                   Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Production of a Musical

                                         The cast of The Most Happy Fella.
                                         Photo by Diane Sobolewski

The Most Happy Fella                                                Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Director of a Play

                     Ceci Fernandez as Frida, Keira Naughton as Ulcie, Ariana Venturi
                     as Higgy, Jeanine Serralles as Bea and Brad Heberlee as the priest. 
                     Photo by Joan Marcus

Jackson Gay – These Paper Bullets!                           Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Director of a Musical

Rob Ruggiero – The Most Happy Fella                      Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play

Matthew Rauch – Macbeth                                        Hartford Stage

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play

                                             Kate Levy. Photo by Lanny Nagler

Kate Levy – The Other Place                                     Hartford TheaterWorks

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical

                                    Katie Rose Clark. Photo by T. Charles Erickson 

Katie Rose Clarke – Last Five Years                          Long Wharf Theatre

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical

Bill Nolte – The Most Happy Fella                             Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Caryn West – Vanya…                                               Hartford Stage

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play – Dual Award

Steve Routman – The Underpants                              Hartford Stage/Long Wharf Theatre
Frank Vlastnik – Room Service                                  Westport Country Playhouse

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Janelle Robinson – South Pacific                                Summer Theatre of New Canaan

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Tony Sheldon – Hello, Dolly!                                     Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Ensemble

                      Bruch Reed. Pascale Armand, Chris Thorn and Laura Woodward.
                      Photo by Lanny Nagler

Love/Sick                                                                    Hartford TheaterWorks
   Pascale Arnand
   Bruch Reed
   Chris Thorn
   Laura Woodward

Outstanding Debut

Sheniqua Denise Trotman – Dreamgirls                     Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Choreography

Greg Graham – Somewhere                                        Hartford Stage

Outstanding Set Design

Michael Yeargan – These Paper Bullets!                    Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design

Jessica Ford – These Paper Bullets!                            Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design

Jason Crystal – Somewhere                                        Hartford Stage

Outstanding Lighting Design

Matthew Richards – Macbeth                                    Hartford Stage

Special Awards

Billie Joe Armstrong – Score for “…Bullets!”           Yale Repertory Theatre
A Broken Umbrella Theatre

The Tom Killen Award

Athol Fugard

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Nominations Announced

Nominations for the Connecticut Critics Circle Awards Announced

Nominations for the Connecticut Critics Circle Awards for the 2013-2014 season have been announced. Winners will be honored at a ceremony hosted by Jake Robards at the Westport Country Playhouse on Monday, June 23.

The nominees are:

Outstanding Production of a Play

Macbeth                                                                       Hartford Stage
The House That Will Not Stand                                    Yale Repertory Theatre
The Other Place                                                           Hartford TheaterWorks
These Paper Bullets!                                                     Yale Repertory Theatre
Time Stands Still                                                           Hartford TheaterWorks
Somewhere                                                                  Hartford Stage

Outstanding Production of a Musical

Dreamgirls                                                                    Ivoryton Playhouse
Hello, Dolly!                                                                 Goodspeed Opera House
The Drowsy Chaperone                                                Connecticut Repertory Theatre
The Last Five Years                                                     Long Wharf Theatre
The Most Happy Fella                                      Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Director of a Play

Kevin Connors – Master Class                         Music Theatre of Ct
Jackson Gay – These Paper Bullets!                             Yale Repertory Theatre
Patrick McGregor – The House That…                        Yale Repertory Theatre
Rob Ruggiero – Time Stands Still                                  Hartford TheaterWorks
Rob Ruggiero – The Other Place                                  Hartford TheaterWorks
Darko Tresnjak – Macbeth                                           Hartford Stage

Outstanding Director of a Musical

Gordon Edelstein – Last Five Years                              Long Wharf Theatre
Daniel Goldstein – Hello, Dolly!                                    Goodspeed Opera House
Rob Ruggiero – The Most Happy Fella             Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play

Julius Ahn – Stuck Elevator                                           International Festival
David Wilson Barnes – These Paper Bullets!                 Yale Repertory Theatre
Steven Epp -- …Anarchist                                           Yale Repertory Theatre
Mark Nelson – Vanya…                                              Hartford Stage
Matthew Rauch – Macbeth                                           Hartford Stage
Michael Rosen – Somewhere                                        Hartford Stage

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play

Kate Forbes – Macbeth                                               Hartford Stage
Irene Glezos – Master Class                                         Music Theatre of CT
Jayne Houdyshell – The Show-Off                                Westport Country Playhouse
Kate Levy – The Other Place                                       Hartford TheaterWorks
Priscilla Lopez – Somewhere                                        Hartford Stage
Debra Jo Rupp – Dr. Ruth                                            Hartford TheaterWorks
Jeanine Serralles – These Paper Bullets!                        Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical

Klea Blackhurst – Hello, Dolly!                         Goodspeed Opera House
Katie Rose Clarke – Last Five Years                            Long Wharf Theatre
Carissa Massaro – The Fantasticks                               Music Theatre of Connecticut
Mamie Parris – The Most Happy Fella              Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical

Bill Nolte – The Most Happy Fella                                Goodspeed Opera House
Adam Halpin – The Last Five Years                             Long Wharf Theatre
Tony Lawson – The Fantasticks                                    Music Theatre of CT
Stephen Mark Lukas – Damn Yankees             Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Didi Conn – The Underpants                                        Hartford Stage/Long Wharf Theatre
Mia Dillon – A Song at Twilight                                    Hartford Stage/Westport Country Playhouse
Siobhan Fitzgerald – I Ought to be in Pictures               Ivoryton Playhouse
Harriett D. Foy – The House…                                    Yale Repertory Theatre
Stacey Sargeant – Vanya…                                          Hartford Stage
Caryn West – Vanya…                                                Hartford Stage

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Robert Eli – Macbeth                                                   Hartford Stage
David Gregory – Vanya…                                            Hartford Stage
David Manis – Loot                                                      Westport Country Playhouse
Jared McNeil – Fences                                                 Long Wharf Theatre
Steve Routman – The Underpants                                 Hartford Stage/Long Wharf Theatre
Frank Vlastnik – Room Service                                    Westport Country Playhouse

 Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Ann Arvia – Damn Yankees                                         Goodspeed Opera House
Ashley Brown – Hello, Dolly!                                       Goodspeed Opera House
Natalie Hill – The Most Happy Fella                             Goodspeed Opera House
Janelle Robinson – South Pacific                                   Summer Theatre of New Canaan
Kristine Zbornik – Damn Yankees                                Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Doug Carpenter – The Most Happy Fella                     Goodspeed Opera House
Tony Sheldon – Hello, Dolly!                                        Goodspeed Opera House
Kevin Vortmann – The Most Happy Fella                     Goodspeed Opera House
Ron Wisniski – Damn Yankees                                     Goodspeed Opera House

Outstanding Ensemble

I Love You, You’re Perfect…                                      Ivoryton Playhouse
   Sheila E. Coyle
   Michael Brian Dunn
   Holly Holcombe
   Christopher Sutton
   Greg Sutton
Love/Sick                                                                     Hartford TheaterWorks
   Pascale Arnand
   Bruch Reed
   Chris Thorn
   Laura Woodward
Christmas on the Rocks                                                Hartford TheaterWorks
   Harry Bouvy
   Ronn Carroll
   Christine Pedi

Outstanding Debut

Sheniqua Denise Trotman – Dreamgirls                         Ivoryton Playhouse

Outstanding Choreography

Cassia Abate – The Music Man                                    Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Kelli Barclay – Hello, Dolly!                                        Goodspeed Opera House
Greg Graham – Somewhere                                          Hartford Stage
Doug Shankman – Grease                                            Summer Theatre of New Canaan

Outstanding Set Design

Antje Ellermann – The House…                                    Yale Repertory Theatre
Kate Noll -- …Anarchist                                              Yale Repertory Theatre
Alexander Dodge – The Show-off                                Westport Country Playhouse
Michael Yeargan – These Paper Bullets!                       Yale Repertory Theatre
Darko Tresnjak – Macbeth                                           Hartford Stage

Outstanding Costume Design

Jessica Ford – These Paper Bullets!                              Yale Repertory Theatre
Jess Goldstein – The Underpants                                  Hartford Stage/Long Wharf Theatre
Wade Laboissonniere – Hello, Dolly!                            Goodspeed Opera House
Katherine O’Neill – The House…                                 Yale Repertory Theatre
Joshua Pearson – La Dispute                                         Hartford Stage
K. J. Kim – The Fairytale Life…                                   Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Sound Design

Charles Coles/Nathan Roberts -- …Anarchist               Yale Repertory Theatre
Broken Chord – These Paper Bullets!                           Yale Repertory Theatre
Jason Crystal – Somewhere                                          Hartford Stage
Jane Shaw – Macbeth                                                  Hartford Stage
Chad Raines – The Fairytale Life…                              Yale Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design

John Lasiter – The Most Happy Fella                            Goodspeed Opera House
Matthew Richards – Macbeth                                       Hartford Stage
Philip S. Rosenberg – Somewhere                                Hartford Stage
Ben Stanton – Last Five Years                                      Long Wharf Theatre
Paul Whitaker – These Paper Bullets!                           Yale Repertory Theatre
Bradley King – The Fairytale Life…                              Yale Repertory Theatre

Special Awards

Billie Joe Armstrong – Songs for …Bullets                    Yale Repertory Theatre
A Broken Umbrella Theatre

The Tom Killen Award

Athol Fugard