Category Archives: Stage

Theater Out, Theater In


The Connecticut theater season is drawing to a close—Yale Rep’s season ended weeks ago, not to mention the Yale School of Drama’s Carlotta Festival of New Plays. Long Wharf’s season-ending musical The Last Five Years is in its last week. Hartford Stage, which runs further into spring than the others, just opened its final show of the season. Continue reading

Let’s Get (Meta)Physical

Johnes forum

The world needs more philosophers and less philanderers, more oracles and less oligarchs. If you agree with this, then the Philosophical Forums in Connecticut has a two-day event designed just for you at the Kasbah Garden Café in New Haven this weekend called “Metaphysics in Art, Architecture, Poetry and Science.”

The forum will combine discussion and readings with formal presentations by scholars like Julianne Davidow (author of Outer Beauty, Inner Joy: Contemplating the Soul of the Renaissance), Scott Olsen (author of The Golden Section : Nature’s Greatest Secret), Kathleen Damiani, Steve Bass, Dee Rapposelli, and artists Ebenezer Sunder Singh and Don Axleroad.

Other participants include:
Ray Coutant
, filmmaker & Philosopher, PhD.Communications, Bear, Delaware
Prof. Robert J. Cuneo MFA, arts educator, University of Bridgeport (retired) 
Christine V. Miller,
Magda Mraz
, educator & artist of large allegories, student of Spiral Dynamics , originally from the Czech Republic;
Mariellen Champdelaine, artist
Maxwell Clark, artist & essayist, New Haven.

For more information, contact the forum’s organizer, the tireless Johnes Ruta, independent curator and art director of the New Haven Public Library’s Azoth Gallery. His email is

For more details on the forum, go to 

Cat Stevens??!!??!!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct another crop of musical icons this Thursday night in Brooklyn. At least this year they’re giving nods to deserving folks like Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham.

Some of the “undercard” at this year’s ceremony seems dubious at best but, hey, it’s their museum and they can induct whoever they want. Besides, everyone keeps their own private rock ‘n’ roll museum locked inside their hearts. However, the RRHOF really scraped the bottom of the barrel this year with Cat Stevens. Wow, nothing says “rock ‘n’ roll” quite like “Cat Stevens,” ya know?

Cat stevens

When last we saw this Cat (aka Yusuf Islam), he was still refusing to admit that he backed the Ayatollah’s 1989 fatwa on the novelist Salman Rushdie for the “blasphemy” of having written the novel The Satanic Verses. But this piece of video, proof that Stevens/Islam did in fact call for Rushdie’s death, just won’t go away:

Perhaps sensing that the ceremony had become more of a wake or an entombment than a celebration, the Hall has opened the event to the public for the first time, and is holding it in a basketball arena (Barclays Center, where the Nets play). In years past, the induction ceremony was for high-rollers only, with seats and tables going for king’s ransoms. They’re not exactly giving the seats away this year, with prices ranging from $55 to $576.40. But still, you can go:

The highlight of the ceremony in Brooklyn will, no doubt, be Bruce Springsteen inducting his former E Street Band, and performing with them, and perhaps the well-deserved, belated salutes to Epstein and Oldham. Every inductee’s presenter has been decided and announced (e.g. Michael Stipe will induct Nirvana, Tom Morello will induct KISS, etc.). Everyone but poor Cat Stevens.

Might I suggest Salman Rushdie be given the honors? Turnabout is fair play. And it just screams “rock ‘n’ roll”!




Who’s Hungry

Whos Hungry (2)
This sounds weird and interesting. “Who’s Hungry?” is an experimental table-top puppet theater play that weaves the real stories of five people in Santa Monica, California, who find they must choose between food and necessities. Angel tumbled into homelessness after a prominent career as an interior designer. Mike was evicted during a health crisis. Sharon stayed clean while working as an addiction recovery caseworker. All became hungry. The characters tell their stories through words, dance and music, and a range of puppetry styles. The audience are guests, viewing a banquet; the action takes place on a 24-foot dinner table. Each story has its own aesthetic treatment, and Delft china, Matchbox cars, televisions, rod puppets, Japanese Bunraku-inspired puppets are part of the visual feast.
Information from the press release:
Who’s Hungry is the brainchild of award-winning playwright, composer, choreographer and performer Dan Froot, an associate professor in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures / Dance. Working in close collaboration with Froot is Dan Hurlin, a nationally acclaimed puppet artist who designed and constructed the objects and sets, and directed the piece.
Performances will be Friday, April 4 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, April 5 at 3:00 pm in Sara Victoria Hall at the Silvermine Arts Center. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Reduced price tickets will be available for community partners. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 203-966-9700 ext. 22.

Hard Rocking Ray Hardman

Blanco and the Radiation

Who’d have thought that the smooth-voiced WNPR host Ray Hardman would harbor the heart of a garage rocker? Count me among the “not I” camp. It’s like finding out Miami Dolphins’ resident bully Richie Incognito collects butterflies or knits.

For those who still don’t believe, allow me to introduce you to Hardman’s band, The Radiation, seen here in this video clip with Blanco in a massively hot version of the Bellrays’ “Blues for Godzilla.”

And here they are performing a cover of Love’s “7 + 7 Is.”

The best news of all is that you can behold Ray Hardman in the flesh, along with The Radiation AND Blanco AND the Blanco Brothers, next Saturday, March 29, at Sully’s Pub in Hartford.

Above is the handsome poster for the show.

Your WNPR listening experience will change forever.

Picturing Punk

Cafe 9 Photo show

Tom Hearn grew up in Cheshire with a guitar in one hand and a camera in the other. On Friday night at Café Nine, his two hands come together, so to speak, at the opening of an exhibition of his rock ‘n’ roll photographs. Hearn, whose boyhood buddies Eddie “Legs” McNeil, John Holmstrom and Ged Dunn left the suburbs to start Punk magazine, was never without his camera when he went into Manhattan to meet up with his Cheshire posse. Many of the photos—which are in living/breathing black and white—are from forays into New York (and CBGB, et al), but others document the burgeoning punk scene in New Haven. Think the Ramones, Debbie Harry, the Dolls, Link Wray, Robert Gordon.

The photos will be on view at Café Nine for the month of March. The opening reception is Friday, March 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Café Nine, 260 State Street, New Haven, 203-789-8281,

The legendary Furors will be providing music at the reception.

At one time, the fate of the nation rested in the hands of these three gentlemen from Cheshire pictured below (L-R) John Holmstrom, Eddie “Legs” McNeil and Ged Dunn, at the “Punk Dump” in New York. Photo by Tom Hearn.

PunkDump 1

Turning On Turn Off the Dark


Now that Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has left Broadway after a three year run without turning any kind of profit, and heading off to an uncertain transformation into a Las Vegas entertainment, it’s an excellent time to dig into Song of Spider-Man—The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History (Simon & Schuster, 2013). Glen Berger, a co-author of the show, published this memoir last fall. It takes on a deeper tone now that this once-promising project—directed by Julie Taymor, scored by U2, originally set to co-star Alan Cumming as the Green Goblin—has officially been deemed unredeemable. Continue reading

Congressman Clay Aiken

Clay aiken

The one-time American Idol contestant and star of Broadway’s Spamalot, Clay Aiken, has just announced that he is running for Congress in North Carolina’s 2nd District. The incumbent, Rep. Renee Ellmers, greeted the announcement with the class and open-heartedness that we have come to expect from Republican members of Congress: “Apparently his performing career isn’t going so well and he’s bored.” She then added that he was only the runner-up on American Idol.

There are reasons aplenty why Congress is less popular than staph infection and root canal surgery, and Ellmers’ response to Aiken’s candidacy pretty much embodies all of them. And, actually, her observations could not be more wrong. Aiken has parlayed his fame and wealth into helping others less fortunate. Having grown up in a home riven with domestic violence, he knows the powerlessness and helplessness that defines life for millions of Americans and, as a gay man in a conservative part of North Carolina, has felt his sting of ignorance more than once.

Before rocketing to fame via American Idol, Aiken was studying to be a special education teacher and has focused on issues of that sort since. He has set up a $2 million foundation to help children with disabilities and has been a vocal and involved citizen in his district.

And dig this crazy quote he gave the News and Observer, I saw this as the best place I could serve, because I think Washington, in general, is dysfunctional. I think it’s high time we put people in Congress who are not beholden to their party, and not beholden to anything but the people who they live around and grew up around, in my case.”

People are just sick enough of Congress to vote for change. And Aiken seems like a fresh blast of it coming out of North Carolina.

 Oh, yes, as my friend Nick, who lives in North Carolina, has informed me, “Ellmers has already begun the gay-bashing. Her spokesperson described Aiken as ‘a performer whose political views more closely resemble those of San Francisco than Sanford.’”

Sheesh. Every time her office opens its collective mouth, Ellmers loses another 1,000 votes. And, in an evenly divided district, that will be the key to victory for Aiken. Allow your opponent to dig her own grave.

Frankly Anne

Anne Frank

Good things are happening in Torrington. Yes, Torrington. The often, and unfairly, maligned city’s downtown is slowly, inexorably being transformed by the arts. Besides the Warner Theatre and its various manifestations (Center for Arts Education, live simulcasts of opera, dance, plays, concerts, etc.), there’s the Artwell Gallery, now in a handsome new home, the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts and several other arts organizations.

One of the latter, the Connecticut Academy for the Arts (CAFTA), is currently staging an interesting, homegrown musical theatrical production-in-progress based on the life and thought of Anne Frank. Anne is produced, written and directed by Teresa Graham-Sullivan, founding executive director of CAFTA, with original music by Mark Papallo. Right now, the work is not open to the public though parts of it are being previewed for select audiences. However, keep an eye on this production as it moves toward its public unveiling (with a possible full world premiere to take place next spring at Bergen Belsen in Germany).

Papallo told me, Anne is “a work in progress. And, though the story of Anne Frank has been told many times before, we believe it has never been attempted in this manner, which is to focus on Anne’s beliefs and convictions and very prescient observations as to the nature of humanity. It may be the most significant work I’ve ever taken on.”

CAFTA, 69 Main Street, Torrington, 860-201-5706

What Did Delaware?

The answer to that question appears to be a well-tailored (law) suit:

Delaware’s new state motto should be: Welcome Corporate Criminals!

 What Did Mia Farrow?

The answer to that is a perhaps tastefully-tailored (law) suit or two by Woody Allen and maybe even the estate of Frank Sinatra. Turns out Woody Allen’s “son,” the golden boy now known as Ronan Farrow but was named Satchel Farrow Allen at birth, is probably not his—by Farrow’s own admission to Vanity Fair. Indeed, the boy may be the final seed Old Blue Eyes planted before shuffling off this mortal coil.

Those were the days

Those were the days

After all that screaming, gnashing of teeth and embarrassing herself in public about what a creep Woody Allen was—and, no doubt, there was some truth to those accusations—Mia Farrow has more than a few skeletons in her own closet.

Another reminder of that line from The Great Gatsby: “the rich are different from you and me.” And so are celebrities.

Ronan Farrow is coming to speak at Fairfield University’s Quick Center next spring, as part of the Open Visions series. Maybe the law suits will have started to really get going good by then.