Saturday, August 27, 2016

Review of "Oslo"


I am a political theater junkie.  I have been transfixed by such shows as Frost/Nixon, Brian Cranston as President Lyndon Johnson in All the Way and even last season’s Charles III.  Now I can add the new Off-Broadway drama (transferring to Broadway in Spring 2017) Oslo to my list.  The play is based on the real-life, secret negotiations facilitated by a Norwegian diplomat and her sociologist husband that led to the Oslo Accords, a document that laid out the groundwork for a peace process between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).    

There is a lot of talk in this crackling, three hour, two intermission production.  But the material and its presentation by playwright J.T. Rogers is so enthralling and intriguing that you don’t notice the time.  Rogers gives us the requisite tense, shouting match negotiation sessions, but they are only one component of the complexities between these two hostile, mistrusting opponents seeking to overcome their adversarial relationship to forge peace and understanding.  There are no simple black and white answers.  Prejudices and biases you may bring to the show will probably be turned upside down, which only adds to the riveting and thoughtful nature of the play.
 
Michael Aronov, Jefferson Mays and Anthony Azizi of Oslo
There are many characters in Oslo.  The primary players are Mona Jund (Jennifer Erhle), the Norwegian diplomat who was instrumental in initiating the talks.  While a more behind-the-scenes person and a buffer between her government and the other involved parties she, nonetheless, is persistent in her beliefs.  Erhle is superb in her portrayal of the resolute envoy.  She is unflinching and forceful in her performance.  Her husband Terje Rod-Larsen (Jefferson Mays) is a novice, but unshakeable negotiator who gently, yet vigorously continues to push the peace agenda forward.  Mays is convincing in his resolve and skillfully straddles the fine line between the hubris and self-effacement of his character.  Actor Anthony Azizi, as the leader of the two-member PLO team, Ahmed Qurie, gives a layered performance.  He is stoic, suspicious, sometimes boisterous, but determined for the peace process to succeed.  Michael Aronov, as Uri Savir, head of the Israeli group, is a perfect counterpoint to his Palestinian adversary.  Aronov embodies his role with fortitude and passion.  He is fun loving; a man full of life.  However, when he switches on his negotiating persona he is no-nonsense, uncompromising and unapologetic for his words and views.
 
Members of the cast of Oslo
Director Barlett Sher, most recently known for his large-scale Broadway musical revivals, takes a wordy, complex script and presents it in an intelligent and understandable manner.  He smartly concentrates on the personalities behind the negotiations as a way to flesh out the story.  The emotions, temperament, and individual idiosyncrasies of the characters become the driving force of the play as opposed to the negotiation sessions themselves.  He slides the large ensemble of performers in and off the stage with deftness and precision.  He takes the minimal, circular set by Michael Yeargan to focus the attention on the performers and, in the small confines of the Mitzi Newhouse theater, gives us a birds eye view of the proceedings.  We are like flies on the wall witnessing history in the making. 

Oslo, a captivating historical drama through August 28th at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, moving to its larger venue, the Vivian Beaumont, in March 2017.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Collectible Showcase in Hartford


I have a Playbill collection that spans the 45 years I have attended Off-Broadway and Broadway productions.  There are a few shows I am missing so I was intrigued by the Papermania Plus Collectibles Expo at the XL Center in downtown Hartford, CT.  The event, considered the largest of its kind in the Northeast, has such items as movie star posters, concert posters, post cards, photography, rare books, stamps, sheet music, political items, and much more.  I was hoping one of the dozens of dealers might have the booklets I was searching for.  Sadly, I couldn’t find what I was seeking, but that didn’t prevent me from spending quality time poking around the antique ephemera and other collectibles.  I was surprised, for example, by the number of vendors that were selling hundreds of old postcards on every topic imaginable.  I discovered that theater paraphernalia didn’t seem too popular, but items related to films and movie stars were in plentiful supply.   It was also fun to peruse ancient maps and 1960’s concert advertisements.

One of the hallmarks of the event is the free appraisal by various vendors including Gary Sohmers of the television program, Antique Roadshow.  Have you ever watched the PBS show wondering what that possible household treasure might be worth?  On Sunday August 21st, from 11:00 am – 2:00pm, you can get that chance.  I did ask one dealer about my 1971 National Lampoon collection and was given a quick tutorial on what one can expect from selling collectibles verses what they might go for on the retail market.  Even though some issues I own go for $10.00-$20.00 on ebay there are only “worth” $3.00-$5.00 to a dealer.  So, my plans for an early retirement will be put on hold.

Papermania Plus continues on Sunday, August 21, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at the XL Center in Downtown Hartford.  Admission is $8.00 per person.  Senior citizens and college students with ID cards will be admitted for half price.   For more information, go to http://papermaniaplus.com/

Friday, July 29, 2016

Review of "Midsummer"


Opposites supposedly attract and in Midsummer, the quirky, charming romantic romp at Theaterworks, you couldn’t find two more different people then 35 year-olds Bob (M. Scott McLean) and Helena (Rebecca Hart).  Bob is a petty criminal.  Helena is, on the surface, a more buttoned downed divorce lawyer.  Their lives intersect one rainy night in a wine bar, which begins an odyssey of inebriation, lust, adventure, and maybe even love.

The action in the two-character play, which takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland, focuses both on each individual’s out-of-control and disorganized life as well as the continual chance meetings of the two protagonists.  These coincidental encounters, funny and poignant, eventually lead to a 24-hour, no-holds barred bender through the streets, clubs, and nightlife of the city.  The following day decisions are made that possibly shine some balance and direction to Bob and Helena’s topsy-turvy world.

Playwrights David Greig and Gordon McIntyre have written a well-crafted story of two lonely, seemingly dissimilar persons that, at the heart of the tale, are really no different from each other.  The characters are frisky, full of faults but, nonetheless, endearing.  No matter what the circumstances that befall them, which includes a run-in with a local mobster, you cheer for their happiness and well-being.  The play is also a meditation on taking chances at a certain point in life, not necessarily settling for one’s situation.  The show is enhanced by songs, interwoven into the plot, that the playwrights have composed.  The two performers who accompany themselves on guitar and ukulele cheerfully sing these musical interludes.  They serve as commentary for the high jinks on stage and the character’s innermost thoughts.

M. Scott McLean as Bob and Rebecca Hart as Helena are both fine actors with believable Scottish accents (kudos to dialect coach Gillian Lane-Plescia).    There is an easy rapport between them, which gives their performance a realistic luster.  They skillfully probe the despair in their characters, but also infuse them with humanity and playfulness.  They are also accomplished musicians and vocalists.

Director Tracy Brigden keeps the dynamics fluid, which keeps our attention and interest focused on the actors center stage.  She nimbly mines the story for its subtleties and outrageousness, creating a wholly satisfying theatrical piece.  Brigden also adroitly weaves in the jaunty songs without upsetting the rhythm of the production.

The set, minimal up front, with only a small platform and a couple of chairs, is a hoarder’s dream at the back end of the stage, with tables, chairs, and other assorted bric-a-brac piled high.  It’s a somewhat whimsical observation on the machinations of the player’s lives. 

Midsummer, a midsummer treat, playing at Theaterworks through August 21st.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review of "Bye Bye Birdie"


Bye Bye Birdie, the wholesome, rollicking musical, now playing at the Goodspeed Opera House, is the perfect diversion for a mid-summer’s eve (or matinee).  The production is entertaining, with a tuneful score, winning performances, and exuberant choreography.

The impetus for the plot was the real-life hysteria created among teenage girls when it was announced Elvis Presley was being drafted into the army.  From there, book writer Michael Stewart crafted a story about an Army-bound rock star, Conrad Birdie (Rhett Guter), that heads off to Sweet Apple, Ohio to plant one last kiss on one of his fanatical fans, Kim MacAfee (Tristen Buettel), live on the Ed Sullivan Show before he heads off to basic training.  This doesn’t sit well with Kim’s new boyfriend, Hugo Peabody (Alex Walton) or her family.  Trying to keep Conrad in check among the post-pubescent female crowd is his manager Albert Peterson (George Merrick), who has relationship troubles of his own with distraught girlfriend Rose Alvarez (Janet Dacal) and insufferable mother Mae Peterson (Kristine Zbornik).  In the end, the chaos that ensued is smoothed over, small town life returns to normal, and romantic strife is happily resolved.

The cast of Bye Bye Birdie during the "Honestly Sincere" production number.  Photo by Diane Sobolewski.

Stewart’s libretto humorously pokes fun at the shift in popular music to the rock beat and how adults reacted to this growing phenomenon.   While serving up classical musical comedy fare, he also manages to effectively satirize the country’s pandemonium over Elvis Presley’s induction and the cultural impact of The Ed Sullivan Show.  While today’s younger audience members may not appreciate the social significance of these two prominent and influential personalities the lack of knowledge will not deter theatergoers from the enjoying the show’s many pleasures.  

The music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, their first for a Broadway musical, is high-spirited and melodic.  There are such well-known songs among the score such as “Put on a Happy Face,” “Kids,” and “The Telephone Hour.”  “Hymn for a Sunday Evening” is a comic masterpiece and “One Last Kiss” and “Honestly Sincere” perfectly lampoon the burgeoning rock ‘n roll movement.

The cast of Bye Bye Birdie during the "The Telephone Hour" production number.  Photo by Diane Sobolewski.

The actors, whether bursting in song or dance, seem to be enjoying themselves greatly on stage.  They are led by George Merrick as Albert Peterson.  He is a world class whiner, a hopeless momma’s boy, but also a man with a mission, both romantically and professionally.  Janet Dacal as Rosie Alvarez is sufficiently flummoxed, distressed, and resourceful in her pursuit of Albert’s affections.  Tristen Buettel as Kim MacAfee is charmingly rebellious as the teenager is thrust into the national spotlight.  Alex Walton as Hugo Peabody is amusing in his perpetual state of bewilderment. Rhett Guter, with swiveling hips ablaze, is self-assured, high octane, and also detached as rock and roller Conrad Birdie.  Warren Kelley as Harry MacAfee and Kristine Zbornik as Mrs. Mae Peterson almost steal the show with their well-timed patter, tart remarks, and penetrating stares.  Kelley also does an outstanding job in two of the show’s signature numbers—“Hymn for a Sunday Evening” and “Kids.”

Rose (Janet Dacal) and Albert (George Merrick) during "Put on a Happy Face."  Photo by Diane Sobolewski.

Patricia Wilcox’s choreography is energetic, playful, and flirtatious.  This is so aptly illustrated in such production numbers as “The Telephone Hour,” “Honestly Sincere,” and “A Lot of Livin’ To Do.”  Each one is a crowd-pleasing showstopper.

Jenn Thompson’s sure-handed direction keeps the musical’s pacing in high gear.   She effortlessly transitions the show’s scenes between comic hijinks to relationship tumults to bratty teenage disobedience.  She also cleverly incorporates the title song, originally written for the film version of the musical, into the production.

Tobin Ost’s primary set piece of a wall-sized venetian blind is both inconspicuous and noticeable.   It’s a clever design to allow us to act as  voyeurs into the trials and tribulations of the Sweet Apple denizens as their lives are turned topsy-turvey by the hubbub over Conrad Birdie’s visit.

Bye Bye Birdie, at the Goodspeed Opera House through September 8th.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Review of "A Chorus Line"


When A Chorus Line opened 40 years ago it changed the musical theater landscape.  Never had dancers, the gypsies of Broadway productions, been given such a prominent role front and center.  The show became a cultural phenomenon, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama as well as nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical and was, at one point, the longest running musical in Broadway history.  Sound familiar?  Hint:  a current show about an American President.

Playhouse-on-Park’s current production of A Chorus Line, which plays through July 31st, is a superb, energetic mounting of the show.  The two hour, intermission-less musical is powerful and emotional, the dancing dynamic, and the score lively and tuneful.

The storyline is simple.  A large group of dancers are in a small, cramped studio auditioning for a few cherished spots in the chorus of a new Broadway musical.  The dance captain, Larry, and director/choreography Zach put the men and women through a number of routines as they begin the arduous winnowing process.  Eventually, 17 individuals are chosen before one final cut.  Zach, forceful, demanding, yet understanding of the personal and physical rigors involved with trying out for a show then asks each of the remaining candidates to talk about themselves, which they do through words, song, and dance.  Slowly, we learn their back stories and begin to care and silently root for favorites.  Finally, after much work, sweat, and heartbreak eight members of the original grouping are chosen.  Their dreams fulfilled.

The book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante strips the show of the artifice and razz-ma-tazz of a large-scale Broadway musical and, instead, focuses on the private stories of the actors and actresses to drive the plot.   Their tales come across as genuine, humorous, and heartbreaking.  The performer’s hopes and desires are so real and rich in detail because the librettists, along with original director/choreographer Michael Bennett, based the character’s lives on the real stories of chorus line dancers.  

The score by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban, while rooted in the 1970’s, doesn’t sound dated.  It can be playful (“I Can Do That”), high impact (“I Hope I Get It”), and poignant (“Nothing”).  Every song is a gem.  Hamlisch also shows his composing prowess by providing the driving, high-powered music for the extended “The Music and the Mirror” dance number.


The acting troupe comes across as a true ensemble effort.  Yes, certain actors stand out and are given more of a star turn (Michelle Pruiett as Cassie and Bobbi Barricella as Diana), but not one performer dominates the show.  It would be unfair to single out just a few because everyone has done such an admirable job subsuming themselves within their character.

Directors Sean Harris and Darlene Zoller are in perfect sync with the actors and actresses.  They effectively use the small Playhouse space to show the intimate and claustrophobic nature of the rehearsal studio.  They successfully balance the pathos of the impassioned personal narratives with the funny and tender moments of the production.  Acting sequences seamlessly segue into individual and group dance numbers, which heightens and expands upon the actor’s disclosures.

Zoller, doubling as choreographer, incorporates a number of dance styles into the production including ballet, jazz, and tap.  She uses the individual and large dance routines as a way for character self-expression and to communicate their freedom of body and soul.  By the musical’s conclusion the disparate parts of the ensemble meld into a well-oiled unit, culminating into the thrilling finale.

The eight piece pit band, under the musical direction of Emmett Drake and Michael Morris, does an outstanding job as they play almost non-stop throughout the production.

A Chorus Line, an entertaining classic not to be missed, at Playhouse-on-Park through July 31st.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What to See on Broadway in 2016

Here are my recommendations for people coming to New York to see a Broadway show. Below are my most up-to-date choices as of June 2016.  They are all musicals. I have not included the perpetually sold-out shows, but there are many excellent productions to see besides Hamilton. 

So, what are my top suggestions? I have broken them down into five categories:

Tikes – ages 6-9
Tweens – ages 10-13
Teen – ages 14-17
Young Adults – 18+ years
Adults

Here are the guidelines/questions that need to be considered:
·      When I make a recommendation it is usually with the understanding that an individual or family has not been to the Broadway stage very often.
·      I am looking at shows I think the occasional theater-goer would enjoy.
·      I lean towards the newer shows, but this is not a knock against some of the old-timers such as Chicago, Jersey Boys, and Phantom of the Opera.
·      This is all an inexact science with numerous variables to consider. For example, a Tween girl will probably love Wicked, but a boy…?
·      Is one seeking a musical comedy or a more serious production?
·      What might appeal to two or three age groups at the same time?
·      What about a mature eleven year old girl? What do we do about her?

I have not included such shows as The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, Aladdin, Wicked or Hamilton as any of the primary choices since these shows are almost always sold out and you would have to pay a king’s ransom to acquire decent seats with short notice.  I have included some of these shows at the end of each category under the heading – “IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING.” If one of these productions is available, disregard my rankings and scoop up the tickets pronto! If you are planning a Broadway trip down the road, it will be easier to procure tickets to these hard-to-get shows.  Just expect to pay full price.

Speaking of procuring tickets, there are a number of ways to purchase discount tickets for many shows.  The first place to review is the Broadway Rush, Lottery and Standing Room Only Policies on the Playbill.com website.  Believe it or not there are lottery tickets to most shows-at huge savings--even to The Book of Mormon and Hamilton.  A number of shows now have a digital lottery, which begins the day before the performance and is much easy to enter then the traditional lottery system.

Another great place is Broadwaybox.com for Broadway Shows Discount Codes.  You simply choose a show, print out the page with the specific code and can go directly to the box office to purchase tickets (you can also call, but will have to pay the service charge which could be over $10.00 per ticket).  No waiting in line at the TKTS Booth.  However, the lines at the newly refurbished TKTS Booth snake to the front very quickly.  You always seem to meet interesting people in the queue, which makes it go even faster.  

Foul language is very subjective.  When the musical Billy Elliot was on Broadway I had a parent email me concerned about the language. Yes, there were numerous swear words by the young actors, but nothing unheard of in middle and high schools across the country. And Billy Elliot was such a great show—the music, the dancing—I would not overlook the production because some of the young kids were cursing. The Book of Mormon is in a “language” category all by itself. If you or your children enjoy the television show “South Park” and are not bothered by the language, then The Book of Mormon is just up your alley.

Within the listings there is considerable overlap. For example, The Lion King could enthrall everyone, from TIKES to ADULTS. The age ranges of each category can be flexible at either end of the spectrum so a TWEEN may in fact be quite comfortable in a YOUNG ADULT show. You may scratch your head about why I left a certain production off a category. For example, Chicago is not listed even though it has been playing for years and continues to do well at the box office. But Chicago is getting a bit old in the tooth and there are more worthy shows to plop down your money for. Finally, just because a musical is not on my lists does not mean it is undeserving of your patronage. Remember, these are my opinions. Shows that I have previously reviewed are linked to that show title. So, without further ado…drum roll please…


TIKES (6-9 years old) - I think the best age for a child’s first show is 7 or 8, but 6 year olds could attend a musical.  It is important for parents to know their child.  Will they be quiet?  Not kicking the seat in front of them?  Be able to sit and watch?  If not, wait a year or two before subjecting yourself and other patrons to your child’s fussiness.


There use to be many Broadway shows for this age group, but the recommendations, in priority order, are now down to:

1.     Finding Neverland - The tale of how J.M. Barrie came to write Peter Pan.  Closing August 21st.  A solid show for the younger set.
2.     School of Rock - Pure fun that is faithful to the Jack Black movie.  Tuneful score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater.  A subversive treat for kids.
3.     Matilda - Darker then the movie, but the musical captures the essence of the Roald Dahl book.  Younger theater-goers will be able to identify with Matilda and the other kids.  Closing January 1, 2017.
4.     Cats –Coming back to Broadway in July.  The dancing, songs, and costumes are perfect for kids that might have trouble following a plot since there isn’t much of one.

IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING – Aladdin and The Lion King.


TWEENS (10-13 years old). This is always a difficult category since, as parents know, a lot of changes are percolating inside of tweens. Are they a young or mature tween?  The recommendations, in priority order:

1.     School of Rock – see under TIKES
2.     Fiddler on the Roof - The old warhorse is back in a beautiful production.  A must for anyone that has never seen the musical.
3.     Matilda – see under TIKES
4.     Finding Neverland – see under TIKES
5.     Cats – see under TIKES

IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING – Wicked, Aladdin, and The Lion King.


TEENS (14-17 years old).  The recommendations, in priority order:

1.     School of Rock – see under TIKES
2.     Fiddler on the Roof – see under TWEENS
3.     Bright Star –No stars, but a wonderful score by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin & Edie Brickell), great star turn by Carmen Cusack, and a heartwarming story.  Besides Hamilton my favorite new musical of the year. - CLOSING JUNE 26TH
4.     Something Rotten - Silly, but fun, fun, fun.  Tuneful score for this Shakespearean farce.  Did I say a lot of fun?
5.     The Color Purple - The best revival of 2016 with an incredible performance by Cynthia Erivo.  One of the top three shows not to miss when in NYC.
6.     Les Miserables - One of the classic, big English musicals that invaded our shores in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  An outstanding score and heartfelt story based on the Victor Hugo tome.

IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING (in order) – The Book of Mormon, Wicked, and The Lion King.


YOUNG ADULTS (18+ years old).  The recommendations, in priority order:

1.     Something Rotten – see under TEENS
2.     Bright Star – see under TEENS - CLOSING JUNE 26TH
3.     The Color Purple – see under TEENS
4.     An American in Paris - The dancing is incredible, great Gershwin score, Tony Award winning set design, a bigger then life story.  One of the best musicals I have seen in years.
5.     Kinky Boots - 2013 Best Musical.  A fun, rollicking good time with a great score by Cyndi Lauper.  A drag queen forms an alliance with a young man to save his shoe business.  It really is a family-oriented show.
6.     Fun Home - A 2015 multi-Tony Award winning show including Best Musical.  Adult themes, but so well done.
7.   Waitress - One of the better new musicals to open this season.  Based on the Indie movie about three waitresses at a diner.  Contemporary score by Sarah Bareilles. Star turn by Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller (for Beautiful).

IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING (in order) – The Book of Mormon, Wicked, or The Lion King.


ADULTS.  The recommendations, in priority order:

1.     An American in Paris – See under YOUNG ADULTS
2.     Bright Star – see under TEENS - CLOSING JUNE 26TH
3.     The Color Purple – see under TEENS
4.     Beautiful-A must for Carole King fans and fans of 60’s music.  A jukebox musical with a solid book.
5.     She Loves Me - A sumptuous musical comedy revival with a classic score, superb acting, and a gorgeous set.
6.     Fun Home – see under YOUNG ADULTS
7.   Waitress -see under YOUNG ADULTS
8.     Shuffle Along - So many stars—Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter and tap routines choreographed by Savion Glover—in this story of the first musical produced and acted by African-Americans.
9.      Something Rotten – see under TEENS

IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING (in order) – The Book of Mormon or Wicked.

Still unsure? Email me at Broadway99@comcast.net with your specific situation and I can see what I can recommend.

Monday, June 13, 2016

CT Critics Circle Awards Ceremony

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Two world premieres -- Hartford Stage's Broadway-bound "Anastasia" and Yale Repertory Theatre's "Indecent," which is currently playing in New York -- received top honors as outstanding musical and play at the 26th annual Connecticut Critics Circle Awards show June 13th at Hartford Stage, which co-hosted the event with TheaterWorks.

Tina Fabrique, who starred in the musical "Ella" in productions in theaters across the country, was master of ceremonies and performed at the show, which honors outstanding achievements in the state's 2015-16 professional theater season.

A selection of photos from the event are at the StuOnBroadway Facebook page.

Other award recipients are:

Outstanding director of a play: Rebecca Taichman for "Indecent."

Outstanding director of a musical: Darko Tresnjak for "Anastasia."

Outstanding actor in a play: Rajesh Bose for "Disgraced" at Long Wharf Theatre.

Outstanding actor in a musical: Bobby Steggert for "My Paris" at Long Wharf Theatre.

Outstanding actress in a play: Erika Rolfsrud for "Good People" at Hartford's TheaterWorks.

Outstanding actress in a musical: Christy Altomare for "Anastasia."

Outstanding choreography: Peggy Hickey for "Anastasia"

Outstanding ensemble: "Indecent"

Outstanding featured actor in a play: Charles Janasz for "Romeo and Juliet" at Hartford Stage.

Outstanding featured actress in a play: Birgit Huppuch for "The Moors"  at Yale Repertory Theatre.

Outstanding featured actor in a musical: Teren Carter for "Memphis" at Ivoryton Playhouse.

Outstanding featured actress in a musical: Mara Davi for "My Paris."

Outstanding debut: Mohit Gautman for “Disgraced” at Long Wharf Theatre

Outsanding set design: Alexander Dodge for "Rear Window" at Hartford Stage.

Oustanding costume design: (a tie) for Linda Cho for "Anastasia" and Paul Tazewell for “My Paris” at Long Wharf Theatre

Outstanding lighting design:  Donald Holder for "Anastasia"

Outstanding sound design: Darron L. West for "Body of an American" for Hartford Stage.

Outstanding projection design: Aaron Rhyne for "Anastasia" at Hartford Stage

Anne Keefe, stage manager of New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre and Broadway for more than 25 years and part of the leadership team that saved and transformed Westport Country Playhouse, received the Connecticut Critics Circle's Tom Killen Award for lifetimes achievement in the theater. Longtime colleague Alkison Harris presented the award and read congratulations from former Long Wharf Theatre artistic director Arvin Brown and actor John Lithgow.

Special awards were presented to Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva, co-composers and co-music directors who created the Klezmer music for Yale Rep's world premiere of "Indecent."

Among the award presenters were Gov. Dannel F. Malloy and Cathy Malloy, CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, O'Neill Theater Center founder George White, animal trainer Bill Berloni and Tony Award nominee Tony Sheldon.

Also performing was David Pittsinger, nominated for "South Pacific" at Ivoryton Playhouse.

The Connecticut Critics Circle is comprised of theater critics and writers in the state's print, radio and on-line media. Information: www.ctcritics.org.