Tag Archives: goodspeed

Goodspeed Razzles And Dazzles with Sheldon Harnick

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goodspeedr5Grammy, Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Sheldon Harnick will be forever grateful to the Goodspeed for several reasons.

And one of them is rebuilding his friendship with composer and his well-known late collaborator, Jerry Bock.

“We had had a falling out and ended up working together again on a production that played at the Goodspeed and it brought back the friendship,” said the much younger than 90-year-old looking Harnick. Harnick was in Connecticut Friday to receive the Goodspeed Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre at its Razzle Dazzle Gala at the Madison Beach Club. “The Goodspeed has a lot of wonderful memories for me.”

goodspeedr4“Fiddler on the Roof,” one of a host Harnick/Bock musical collaborations that also included “Fiorello!,” “The Body Beautiful” and “She Loves Me,” will celebrate its 50th anniversary as the featured summer production at the Goodspeed this month.

“We worried when we worked on that musical,” admitted Harnick, about the iconic play about a traditional Jewish family in the midst of cultural change. “We worried because it was about a Jewish family so as we developed it we tried to put the emphasis on universal values like love, family and freedom. I think we did a good job.”

The evening was particularly celebratory for a lot of reasongoodspeedr3 besides Harnick’s appearance. Also attending the gala were actor Tony Roberts, who presented the award to Harnick, and actor Adam Heller, who will play the role of Tevye in the Goodspeed production of “Fiddler.”

It was also a night a new branding for the gala that benefits the Goodspeed’s education program.

goodspeedr2Like other major galas, the annual soiree will now always be known each year as “Razzle Dazzle.”

“We wanted it to have an identity and we want to move it around, not just hold it in Middlesex country,” said trustee and gala chair Marcia Kalayjian.

For retiring executive director Michael Price, Friday’s gala marked his last as the longtime head of the theater.

“I’ll still be coming to this even after I leave,” he said. “It’s sad to be stepping down,” he grinned. “But I don’t like to talk about it.”

Goodspeed McMahon Ties The Knot

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wedding (3)wedding (2)The “I Do! I Do!” was the real thing at Great Neck Country Club Friday at the wedding of Goodspeed’s well-known marketing guy Dan McMahon to real estate broker Joe Rhodes III.

Among the guests were Mark Twain House front man Jacques Lamarre and his husband Arthur Galinat, Back9Network’s Paul Pendergast as well as family, friends and the officiate, Goodspeed’s executive director Michael Price.

No honeymoon for the couple however. Goodspeed’s annual gala, this year honoring legendary lyricist and composer Sheldon Harnick, is Saturday night in Madison so it’s back to work this week for the newlywed.


Goodspeed Opens 2014 Season With Sox-Twisted ‘Damn Yankees’

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gspeed13While the Red Sox and Yankees were duking it out in the Bronx on Friday, the pinstripe vs. Beantown rivalry was also going on in East Haddam as Goodspeed opened for its 2014 season with the musical classic, “Damn Yankees.”

In deference to a state that is divided between the two teams, the 1955 Broadway show, originally pitting the Yankees against the Washington Senators, was tweaked a bit with the showdown featuring the Sox instead.

And that change meant setting the proper stage.

Entergspeed11 well-known Goodspeed supporter Mike Chaiklin, also a Red Sox diehard, who not only arranged for the Red Sox “ball girls” and Wally the Green Monster mascot to stop by, but also the Sox 2013 World Series trophy, to make sure the audience knew well-ahead of time that this production of “Damn Yankees” was going to be something a bit different.

“He wouldn’t have minded, I think he would have been proud that people are stills singing his songs,” said Janie Ross Coulter, about the change-up in the play that features songs including “Heart” and “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets.”

Her father, the late Jerry Ross, wrote the musical score for the original Broadway production in 1955 gspeed14with Richard Adler. “The songs in the show are simply joyous,” she said.

For many audience members who remember the former tv show “Moonlighting,” the evening included a bit of double-take, especially at the after party. Among the cast members in “Damn Yankee” is Allyce Beasley, who –plays “Doris” in the Goodspeed production, but was easily recognized as the ditzy  Agnes Dipesto, office receptionist in the popular tv series that starred Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis.




UConn Parade, UConn Gala And More This Weekend

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]uconngala2Yes,  we have two national championship teams here in Connecticut so it just follows that it is all about UConn this weekend. And so it should be!

But besides the Championship Parade on Sunday in Hartford, the UConn Foundation  will be doing some celebrating of its own on Saturday night at its Fifth Annual “White Coat Gala.”  The event will be held at the Connecticut Convention Center.

The Carole and Ray Neag Medal of Honor recipients  this year are Richard and Jane Lublin and UConn Auxiliary president Irene Engel . Also being honored with the corporate philanthropist award at the ball is Cigna.

For more information go here.

But let’s back it up a bit. On Thursday, the Ct Historical Society will host an opening  reception for its new display honoring acting icon, Katharine Hepburn.

Titled “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen,” the exhibit features over 40 costumes the Oscar-winning,  Connecticut resident wore in 21 films and six stage productions, including “Adam’s Rib,”  “The Philadelphia Story”  and “Coco.” The display also includes vintage posters, playbills and photos and, of course, an ensemble of her signature tailored beige trohepburn-sponsorship-page-header[1]users and linen jackets.

The exhibit was organized by the Kent State University Museum and will be on display in Hartford through Sept. 13.

For more information go here.

Also on Thursday, the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford will host its annual “Opening The Door openingCelebration” at the Connecticut Convention Center. The event features the induction of the 2014  Hall of Fame inductees, Kevin Henry, Joseph Horvath, Darryl Thames and
Clarence (Sonny) Thomas.

The evening includes dinner, a reception, auctions and some surprises. For more information go here.

Also on Thursday at The Pond House Cafe in Elizabeth Park, the Interfaith Education Task Force will hold its 7th annual “Soaring for Success” fundraising party.

Profits from the party support a collaboration between Noah Webster and Rawson Schools and  the task force that provides volunteer tutors for students in need.

Tickets are $35  and available at the door.

Spgoodspeedyankeesring is absolutely here for two reasons. Baseball season has begun and the Goodspeed in East Haddam opens Friday for the season.

And its opening production is the best of two worlds for a baseball-conflicted Connecticut. It’s “Damn Yankees” with a Red Sox twist.

Opening night of “Damn Yankees, The Musical (The Red Sox Version)  includes some Sox treasures including its World Series trophy which will be on display for ticket holders before the show begins. There will also be some other Red Sox surprises including Wally the Mascot and Sox “ball girls”  at the opening night event .

For more information go here.

And speaking of theater, “Somewhere” opens Friday night at Hartford Stage. For ticket wetstasteinformation go here.

On Saturday, you can also enjoy a dine around by attending the Wethersfield Historical Society’s Taste of Wethersfield from 7 to 9 :30 p.m. The dine-around will be held at the Keeney Memorial Cultural Center at 200 Main St. Cost is $50 per person for early admission at 6 p.m. and $35 per person for admission at 7 p.m. A host of area restaurants will be serving featured foods. There will also be live entertainment and auctions. For information go here.

On Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m., at The Studio at Billings Forge in Hartford, GLAD will honor John and Becky Glezegladn for their efforts on behalf  the LGBT community.

The couple have not only financially supported organizations like True Colors,   but have also served as activists for gender equality in the state. For more information go here.


June Grooms? Goodspeed Guy Getting Married

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Dan McMahon, right, and Joe Rhodes

Admit it , we are all thinking about “no snow” and as such,  thoughts turn to June, a season of sun, summer and of course, weddings.

And in the wedding category, June 2014 will include one starring a well-known Goodspeed theater staffer and his partner, an equally well-known shoreline realtor/broker.

Dan McMahon, marketing and public affairs director at the East Haddam theater is marrying Joe Rhodes III on June 6.

“Isn’t love great,” said a happy McMahon who reports the wedding will include friends and family from as far away as Hawaii and Florida, as well as a welcome “invasion” of McMahons from his native Chicago.

The ceremony and reception will be at the Great Neck Country Club in Waterford.

And doing the “I do” honors?

Longtime Goodspeed executive director Michael Price will take center stage and officiate at the nuptials.

Price, who retires from the theater this year, is not a justice of the peace, but McMahon said his boss has assured him he will have the proper credentials to make it all legal by the time the wedding rolls around.

“We can’t wait to celebrate our wedding with our family and friends, ” said McMahon. “We wish everyone could be as happy as we are.”



Actress Jo Loesser A Most Happy Lady At Goodspeed Musical

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MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

For actress/singer Jo Sullivan Loesser, it was an emotional and nostalgic evening at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam Friday. It was opening night of one of her late husband’s, composer Frank Loesser’s, well-known musicals “The Most Happy Fella.”

“It took him five years to write it,” said Loesser, sharing tales of her celebrated husband who also wrote the lyrics and music to the Broadway hits “Guys and Dolls” and “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.”

Art intermission, Jo Loesser, who played the lead role of Rosabella in the original Broadway production of the play, admitted she found herself singing along during the first act of the musical about a romance between an older man and much younger woman. “I think this is one of the finest productions of Frank’s show,” she said fighting back some tears. “He would be so pleased.”  


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

Also among those in the opening night audience were Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. 

The theater is in the midst of its 50th anniversary celebration and the evening was also dedicated top seven longtime Goodspeed employees: Ed Blaschik, Michele Baumann, John Riccucci, Mary Miko, Diane Sobolewski, Jay Hilton and Donna Lynn Hilton.


Like It Or Not, It’s ‘Bye Summer’ and ‘Hello Autumn’ This Weekend

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]It’s kind of the ‘glass half full, glass half empty’ quandary when you look at the upcoming weekend. It’s the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, and for some that can be both good or bad. But despite what season is your favorite Hartford, this weekend brings a lot of enjoy.

It begins today with two well-known al fresco dining events. Carbone’s will host its annual scotch and cigar social under a tent at the landmark restaurant on Franklin Avenue from 6 to 9 p.m. The evening features Carbone’s old world cuisine, aged single malt scotches, complimentary cigars, boutique beers, fine wines and music. Tickets are $125 a person with proceeds going to Carbone Family Charities. Information: 860-296-9646.  

At billings2the same time over at the Billings Forge Market Green at 539 Broad St., Hartford, there will be the annual Farm-to-Table  Dinner under the tent beginning at 6 p.m. The fundraiser showcases the best of the season’s harvest and supports the initiatives at Billings Forge Community Works. There will be food, wine, entertainment and auctions. Tickets are $160. Information: billingsforgeworks.org

If it’s shopping that makes your weekend, The Village for Families & Children will host a grand re-opening of its Second Chance Shop at 730 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury Thursday. The thrift boutique is operated by the facility’s auxiliary and benefits The Village programs. The grand opening and reception are from 5 to 7 p.m.

Friday also has a plethora of choices including the annual WOW Forum, a professional women’s conference held at the Warner Theater in Torrington and sponsored by the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. Guest speakers including author Ann Leary, NBC Today Show contributor Susanna Salk, artist Danielle Mailer and author Suzy Kline. Information: wowforum.org

Thappy (2)he Goodspeed Opera House continues its 50th anniversary celebration with the opening of “The Most Happy Fella” Friday. It marks the second time the opera house has staged a production of the musical about an aging vineyard owner who proposes to a younger woman via mail, but sends pictures of his much younger and more handsome foreman instead. The show runs through Dec. 1. Information: 860-873-8668 or goodspeed.org 

bbash6Over at Camp Courant in Farmington Friday it will be ‘superhero’ time as the camp holds its annual “Buddy Bash.’ Guests are invited to dress as their favorite superheroes and enjoy a dine-around, auctions and entertainment with proceeds going to the facility that provides free summer camp to eligible youths from Hartford. The party begins at the camp at 6 p.m. and there is an ‘after party’ at Trumbull Kitchen in Hartford.  Tickets are $125. Information: campcourant.org

Celebrate the official end of summer Saturday by heading to Hartford for the annual ‘Envisionfest,’ a  free one-day festival highlighting the city’s innovative history, arts and cultural assets. Hundreds of live entertainment and hands-on activities will be featured throughout the day with musical entertainment and dramatic performances on six stages, free admission to more than eight museums, landmark building tours, lawn games in Bushnell Park and activities along the riverfront. Information: envisionfesthartford.com

Ahclso on Saturday, The Hartford Club will celebrate its ‘140 Years of History’ at a gala there beginning at 6:30 p.m.  The evening will include cocktails, a four-course dinner, dessert room, music and dancing as well as live and silent auctions. Information: hartfordclub.com

All the World’s A CT Stage, Hartford, Goodspeed, Black-eyed Sally’s

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Courant Photo

There were some special guests at the revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful” on Broadway recently, and of course director and former Hartford Stage head Michael Wilson was so honored to have them there. The guests? First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha.

According to Wilson, who will soon be doing some slipping back into Hartford for pre-production work on the annual production of “A Christmas Carol” at Hartford Stage, the First Lady and daughters received a round of applause from the audience at the award-winning show, and afterwards headed backstage to meet the crew and cast including Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Wilson said Mrs. Obama was “ generous in her praise for the production” and also met Hartford Stage alum including Devon Abner, Pat Bowie, Curtis Billings, Leon Addison Brown, Arthur French, Bill Kux, Adepero Oduye, Linda Powell (daughter of former secretary of state Colin Powell), and Charles Turner.

And Wilson notes, he received a hug from the First Lady during the backstage kudos.

By coincidence, Hartford attorney Tanya Bovee, who was the highest bidder on a Broadway package at last spring’s Connecticut Fair Housing benefit, was also in the audience and while she did not get to meet Mrs. Obama, she did get a meet and greet with Williams.

dolly guests 002

Courtesy of Goodspeed

Meanwhile, there was also some star power over at the Goodspeed at its production of “Hello Dolly” which, by the way, has been extended to Sept. 14.

Broadway stars Audra McDonald and Will Swenson came to see their friend, Tony Sheldon, who plays Horace Vandergelder in the show. The two were on the way to Tanglewood where the Grammy-award winning McDonald was slated to do a concert.

And speaking of things happening on stage, Black-eyed Sally’s had a special guest a few days ago, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The non-profit group that makes wishes come true for very ill children, brought Seattle resident Connor Owen and his family to Hartford to see a Toby Keith concert and meet him after the show. As part of the weekend, the foundation chose Black-eyed Sally’s for dinner for the blind and wheelchair bound 17-year-old because they knew how much he and his family would enjoy the restaurant’s live R&B music provided that night by The Dirty Bones.

And he did and then some, according to Varano who not only had the band play a Johnny Cash song and dedicate it to Owen (a huge JC fan) but also gave him a CD and Black-eyed Sally’s tee shirt as a souvenir.

Wha If You Ost A Etter? Ad he Aoher? ‘LMNOP’ Opens At Terris Theatre

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lmnopImagine a world where the letters you use every day to communicate are suddenly banned.

That was the thought-provoking premise of the new and unusually serious new musical, “LMNOP,”  that is getting a test run this summer at the Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre.

And among those at its opening night were its creators, Scott Burkell and Paul Loesel.

 “It’s an adult fable,” explained Burkell, lyricist for the tale of a fantasy community whose trouble begins when letters start falling off a monument and government officials decide to ban them one by one. “The theme is loss of choice.”

The musical is based on the book, “Ella Minnow Pea,” by Mark Dunn.

And the more serious than usual play did take regular audience members a bit by surprise. 

“I come here each year expecting more upbeat, entertaining kind of theater,” said Mary Virginia Malone, who attended with friends from Old Saybrook. “But this show was different in a good way,” she said. “It had the great music and choreography you expect when you come to a show here, but it also touched on the importance of freedom of speech, and that was something that definitely had me thinking.”

Get Ready Hartford For a Great Summer Weekend

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calendar_clip_art-1_optFinally Mother Nature is giving us a break by delivering what appears to be the kind of balmy summer weekend we dreamed of when we were shoveling out of snowstorms last winter.

It’s a weekend of summer’s best;  ice cream, outdoor concerts, leisurely boat rides, wine, food, golf and more.

All that good stuff begins today at the Mark Twain House & Museum. The Hartford landmark will be hosting its annual “Ice Cream Social.” And it’s free!

Sice-cream-cone[1]taff will be scooping from 5 to 7 p.m . And there’s more than just ice cream and sundaes. There will also be dancers from West Hartford’s Ballet Theatre Company and barbershop quartet music courtesy of the group Bandstand.  Information: marktwainhouse.org.

Then you can head down to Goodspeed’s Norma Terris theatre in Chester for opening night of  its new musical “LMNOP.”   Billed as “chaos, one letter at a time,” the show begins at 8 p.m.  The show goes through Aug. 18. Information: goodspeed.org.

Beginning Friday, get your Irish on because the 30th annual Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival kicks off at the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury.

The three-day festival is a lively mix of Irish music, culture, food, ands beverages. Among the bands featured this year are The Kildares, the Bogside Rogues, Unforgettable Fire and the St. Patrick’s Pipe Band.  There is a “Festival Colleen” contest, a “Men in Kilts” contest , Irish bread baking demonstration, “Celtic Cids” activity zone for kids  and sheep herding demonstration.

Shamrock_07[1]The festival is open Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 2 p.m. to midnight and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. information: irishmusicfest.com

Also on Friday, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will entertain with “The talcott2Rolling Stones Tribute: 50 years of Satisfaction” the final show in its Talcott Mountain Music Festival this season. It is held  at the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows. Bring a picnic, blanket and a chair and enjoy. Gates open at 6 p.m. with the show at 7:30. Tickets begin at $5 for children and $25 for adult lawn tickets. Tables seats are also available. Information hartfordsymphony.org. 

On Saturday head to Bushnell Park and enjoy a free ride on the  historic carousel to celebrate its 99th birthday.

The Bushnell Park Carousel is one of less than 200 antique wooden carousels still operating in the United States. the New England Carousel Museum in the process of a “Countdown to 100″ restoration and entertainment effort to celebrate the 2014 100th anniversary of the ride.

The free rides this weekend will be offered from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Birthday cake and punch will be served from noon to 1 p.m. Information: thecarouselmuseum.org.

Also on Saturday, New London will celebrate its historic waterfront with its “Fish Tales, Tugs & Sails 2013″ party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.. The free nautically themed family festival  includes public viewing of tug boats and other boats including the Mystic Whaler, entertainment, contests and  food.

Twinebotshe fifth annual Connecticut Wine Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Goshen Fairgrounds. sponsored by the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association and presented by the CT Wine Trail, the festival features fine wines from a wide variety of local vintners, as well as artisanal crafts, foods, wine classes and entertainment. Admission is $30. Designated drivers can attend for $10. The festival is open Saturday from noon to 7 p.m and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

On Sunday, Mike Love and the Beach Boys will kick off the annual Ahmad Rashad Celebrity Classic with a concert at Mohegan Sun. Proceeds this year benefit the REACH Foundation.

The golf tournament  begins Monday and among those playing in the tournament on Sunday and Mike Love HeadshotMonday are football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, NBA Champion Ron Harper, actor Richard Jenkins and UConn legends Donny Marshall and Scott Burrell.

And finally, don’t forget, Taste of Hartford continues through Aug. 6  and there are lots of great Hartford restaurants offering $20.13 fixed price dinners. Information tastehartford.com Enjoy!