Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood Bring ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ Improv Comedy to Warner Theatre


Courtesy of Jonas Public Relations and Super Artists

The audience that filled most of Warner Theatre Friday night had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they showed up to see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. So much so that even Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood didn’t know what was going to happen.

But the “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” comedians certainly delivered, bringing a taste of the improv show to Torrington for a night. The duo concocted a pudding pot of comedy on the fly, made from scratch with humor-infused, unconventional ingredients like dead goats, a turtle-tickling criminal and a part-time zookeeper opera. And that pot definitely boiled over, spilling into the auditorium and leaving the audience volcanically erupting with non-stop laughter.

When you go to a comedy show you probably expect stand-up, but not so with a Mochrie/Sherwood act. Flipping the format, Mochrie and Sherwood didn’t stand on stage ranting a memorized and or prepared monologue that was supposed to make you laugh. It instead featured several improv games from “Whose Line” with comedy made up on the spot with the help of audience participation and suggestions.

It was raw, not polished. It was spontaneous, not pre-conceived. And it was by no means perfect or pretty. But that’s what made it genuinely hilarious. Mochrie and Sherwood truly live in the moment with their comedy.

In order for a routine like this to work, the audience has to be lively, have a sense of humor and be willing to engage instead of just watch. And the audience Friday was all of those things. That’s what made the show so fun. Mochrie and Sherwood broke the imaginary barrier between audience and performer, celebrity and fan, by asking for suggestions, coming into the crowd and inviting audience members on stage to participate in the games and interact with the crowd. We were a part of their act, not just watching it.

To open the show, the comedians selected two random audience members to go up on stage to be the puppet masters to the first game. They were tasked with moving Mochrie and Sherwood, with one assigned to each, as the comedians played a scene and made up dialogue. After calling for an audience suggestion, the men did the entire bit in Irish brogues. Playing wilderness nurses that had to climb a mountain and rescue a man — later deemed a three-foot leprechaun — with a broken leg and carry him down a mountain. They were moving at a snail’s pace as the volunteers had to move one limb at a time, but quickly got laughter. Particularly when they teasingly mocked the volunteers when the movements didn’t keep up with the pace of the sketch.

The next game, Q&A, drew both strange and simple questions from the audience – like what can you do without getting arrested to get rid of a girl you’re not interested in? What was it like working with Drew Carey? If you sat down to lunch with your 20-year-old self, what would you say? What kind of board game would you make? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

They answered all of the audience queries either alternating one word at a time or speaking at once and trying to say the same thing.

“Working with Drew Carey was wonderful. He is a really nice guy with lots of money. Sweet,” they both answered to the question about their experience working with the former “Whose Line” host.

In response to the question about having lunch with their 20-year-old selves, they said, “Someday, you will be regretting that mullet.”

And perhaps be on the look out for a Mochrie/Sherwood board game that combines Monopoly and Operation. Wink.

“Song Cue” was a self-proclaimed tough game for the duo. Given the audience suggestion of a broken vacuum, the two set out in the sketch to clean up after a wild party before Mochrie’s wife got home. If a dead goat under the over-turned couch and the confession that the wife was having an affair with a mime weren’t enough turmoil, each comedian threw a monkey wrench into each other’s improv dialogue when they said “what do you mean?” That line was the trigger for a song, ranging from Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to the “Can-Can,” to play, meaning the comedian on the spot had to sing his explanation until the other cut them off. That led to a very long rap by Sherwood to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” As well as a very witty pun by him later warning Mochrie his imaginary wife was “two miming” him.

Then, Mochrie put on headphones and listened to music while Sherwood took audience suggestions to come up with a crime that he supposedly committed, the place where it happened and the evidence that was left behind. Mochrie then had to guess the exact words describing what he did, led warmer by more Sherwood puns hinting at the deed and audience applause. Somehow, Mochrie got it – that he ticked a turtle in a car wash and took a dump in the display toilet at Home Depot in Coginchaug and left behind a pudding cup as evidence. Surprisingly, it took him the longest to guess pudding cup – not Coginchaug – after Sherwood painstakingly dropped hints describing pudding like “Do I have to spoon-feed it to you?”, “You’ll get your just desserts” and that it was a delicious treat more liquid than Jello, custard or flan. Mochrie guessed pudding pot before he arrived at the right answer.

“The Sound Effects Game” was fun because of audience participation in providing the sound effects for the comedians in a skit but it also dragged because of the audience. Sherwood tried to include the back of the audience by having them pass the microphone around to each do one of his sound effects in contrast to Mochrie’s young female volunteer. It was an appealing concept, but the mic either wasn’t always passed or some audience members became too embarrassed because sometimes the areas where there should have been sound effects for Sherwood were silent. However, there were funny moments when the comedians commented on the lack of noise or poked fun at the sound effects that didn’t sound at all like what they were doing. As Sherwood and Mochrie saved the world in their sketch – stopping a Hawaiian volcano from erupting by shooting golf balls coated with Alka-Seltzer into it – so did the last audience member to do Sherwood’s sound effects, which included burping, yodeling and mimicking porcupines having sex.

But the intensity and the danger were heightened when the comedians and their crew set up 100 live mousetraps on the stage. Covering their eyes with vision-blocking goggles, Mochrie and Sherwood roamed about the stage barefoot singing an opera about a part-time zookeeper, per audience suggestions. We cringed as we anticipated them stepping on the mousetraps, yet laughed in delight when they stepped on them. Oh, you better believe they stepped on a lot of them, a couple even getting caught on Mochrie’s toes. He had to suck it up and remove them while still blindfolded. It looked painful for both of them, but they took it willingly for laughs. They even launched mousetraps at each other, Mochrie hitting Sherwood in his private parts a number of times and both occasionally cheating by taking off the goggles. Kids and adults, don’t try that at home.

Throughout the night they made references to jokes originated in earlier games in the performance, proving their wit and linguistic skills to weave chaos into something fluid.

They closed the evening with a parody of “My Way,” reviewing the evening of improv comedy in Torrington that they want to live on as a legend like Paul Bunyan and his dumb ox.

And legendary it was. Just ask the tickled turtle, not the mime.


Enchantingly ‘Disenchanted’ Princesses Tell Twisted Truth About Their Fairytales at The Belding

Credit: The Bushnell

They meet their princes, get married very quickly and live happily ever after. Or so we’re told about the Disney princesses. 

Not so, according to the princesses featured in ‘Disenchanted’ at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts’ Belding Theatre in Hartford.
Their sides of the stories are much more twisted and grim. 

Told in a musical revue style, the play features songs by Snow White (Merrit Crews), Cinderella (Madison Hayes-Crook), Sleeping Beauty (Daniella Richards), The Little Mermaid, Belle and Rapunzel (all played by Miriam Drysdale), Hua Mulan, Pocahontas and Princess Badroulbadour/Jasmine (Ann Paula Bautista) and The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Cherise Thimas). 

Snow, Cinderella and Sleeping are your hosts for the evening, telling the audience all about the “Princess Complex.”

Sure, everything might look like a perfect fairytale when you marry a prince, live in a castle and are glamorously dressed and blinged-out royalty. But the princesses paint us a much darker picture. Your whole story is about getting the guy, except in the case of this Mulan, who doesn’t completely get the guy and says she might be a lesbian. Sometimes, as Pocohontas complains, your full and true history isn’t told. You’re expected to be thin-waisted and eat nothing to maintain that figure when all you want are candy bars, Twinkies, hot pockets or burritos. You are big-chested. 

But there are some triumphs like The Princess Who Kissed the Frog, who conveniently doesn’t appear until the tail end of the show and whose princess name isn’t given, who represents the princess who is “finally black.” It’s a historical commentary on how long it took for Disney to create a black princess. 
Crews is the ringleader of the gig, our main emcee, as Snow, initially coming off as a feisty and dominant feminist and later becoming ironically proper and dainty given the message of the show is showing who the princesses really are and want to be. She fights through the stress of things going wrong in the show and tries to keep everything together. She and Thomas as The Princess Who Kissed the Frog had very powerful vocals and the capability to do complicated riffs and impressed when they hit high notes or held them out long. Thomas’ gospel-style voice was very uplifting. 

Hayes-Crook may have been playing a princess, Cinderella, but she was a queen of comedy. Although she is tapped as the stereotypical dumb blonde, she is brilliant in her body language, movements, emotion, expressions and vocal inflection as vehicles of slapstick humor. She kind of seems to take over the show by the end. 

Richards was spunky and brassy as the improper Sleeping Beauty and added another layer of comedy. I enjoyed when she and Thomas introduced a more hip hop and modern style of dancing to the princess scene. Hayes-Crook was one of the strongest dancers in the show. There are many dance numbers with a lot of twerking princesses. 

Drysdale is hilarious as a drunken and white trash Little Mermaid who wants her fin back and despises her fishnetted legs. Her booming low voice is sultry very suited to the Vaudeville and burlesque tones the show takes at times. 

Her song as an insane Belle in a straight jacket got a lot of laughs and is one of the most emotionally expressive songs as she sings about bestiality, cleaning up her husband’s droppings and talking to inanimate objects. 

She is scary and dominating with her whip as Rapunzel and it was priceless when Cinderella jump ropes with her hair. 

Bautista hilariously plays the socially awkward and unconventional warrior lesbian princess as Mulan and her song defining her character as gay got a lot of laughs. 

She also wins the award for best costume, in my eyes, as Princess Badroulbadour,as she is known in Arabian Nights, or more commonly known to us through Disney as Jasmine. It was fun seeing her flit about with the Jasmine outfit on top, a black cloth covering her feet and a magic carpet at her waist with fake legs and feet filed aboard the carpet to give the illusion she is flying. 

All the costumes were beautiful, really, most with glitter and significantly shorter than your usual princess garb.
The set is simple, using curtains and themed decor here and there, but the princess characters make the show so it doesn’t matter. Mickey Mouse hands occasionally hand props to the actors and collect them.

This show is comedic and musical royalty. 
Seeing these princesses step out of their fairytale and ground their experiences with a dose of reality gives us the same stories we grew up with and love told from a different and more modern perspective. They are fairytales with a twist.

The show is traveling around the country, so catch the princesses while they are still in Hartford. You can take photos with them after the show and tag them on social media. “Disenchanted” runs through Sunday, Oct. 2. More information on tickets is available at

Warner Theatre Urges You To ‘Join Us’ At Campy, Splatter-Filled ‘Evil Dead: The Musical’

Credit: Mandi Martini

Look who’s evil now. Nancy Marina Studio Theatre is transformed into a demon-ridden, blood-soaked horror realm in Warner Theatre Stage Company’s production of “Evil Dead – The Musical.”

The play satirizes the ’80s cult classic horror film by the same name, punching all the elements of your typical scary story with accented and exaggerated comedy. 

Before the audience was allowed to enter the theater, everyone had to sign a waiver warning people the fake blood would make the floor slippery and that it could stain their clothes. Oh, and that you might leave the theater possessed by a demon. So, from the get-go you could tell this wasn’t your ordinary show.

Patrons had the option to purchase tickets in the infamous “splatter zone.” Most of those audience members wore ponchos provided by the theater, but a select few wore white shirts and fully embraced being drenched and stained with stage blood. 

The first act follows happy-go-lucky college students – Linda, Ash, Scott, Shelly and Cheryl – on a fun, weekend adventure to a deserted cabin in the woods without telling anyone where they are. 

The mood starts out happy and bubbly. Cole Sutton plays the sex-crazed stud of the group as Scott, accompanied by the voluptuous, not-so-smart Shelly, who he picked up at a bar three days ago and invited along with the goal of getting laid. Caitlin Barra puts, let’s say, a bounce into the character of Shelly, a ditsy and simple girl oozing with sex. She is the dancer of the show and excels in movement and choreography in “Do the Necronomicon.” The way she carries herself says everything about her character on stage. 
Josh Newey presents us with a lovable, upstanding Ash, the leader and protagonist of our story. He’s dating sweet and adoring Linda (Shelby Raye), who he met at the grocery store they both work at. His nerdy and anxious sister, Cheryl, comes along for the ride, played by Jenna L. Morin.

Then they find some antique weapons – like a shot gun and axe – as well as a macabre book and professor’s tapes (voiced by Dick Terhune) revealing the discovery of evil, demonic forces that spook Ash’s sister, Cheryl, the only one not coupled up and who Scott taunts and continuously calls a “stupid bitch.” Yes, be prepared for the occasional profane and sexualized language in numbers like “What the F@#k Was That?” 

After Cheryl goes alone in the dark to check out an odd noise she hears and is essentially raped by some animated trees, everything changes. One by one, our main characters are picked off and possessed by demons as evil consumes the house and the woods around them. It won’t let them leave. 

They are faced with killing their demonic loved ones when they are turned. Mostly with a shot gun, but also with a chain saw to the audiences apparent excitement. Newey puts on a show of physical comedy when a demonically animated moose head, voiced by ensemble member Bryce Chamberlain, possesses his hand with evil. The fight scene between him and his hand is a ruckus riot. When Ash is forced to saw off his hand, it becomes its own being like the hand in “Addams Family.”

Most of the gunshots and limb-sawing, as expected, are followed by blood. Dozens of gallons of fake blood are used in every performance. At various times throughout the show, a blood-like substance is sprayed at the audience in the splatter zone from the catwalk above and the stage. Splattered audience members are invited to take a photo of their blood-soaked selves at the photo station in the lobby after the show to share on social media. 

Act One was surprisingly lacking in blood splatter, but audience members in the splatter zone won’t be disappointed by the end of Act Two when most of the blood is launched into the crowd. 

Our story shifts in Act 2, when Annie (Olivia Hoffman), the daughter of the cabin owner and professor studying the “Book of the Dead” who discovers evil forces at his cabin, arrives with her boyfriend, Ed (Daniel Willey) and a hillbilly they just met in the woods, Jake (Ruben Soto), who offers to guide them to the cabin on a secret trail when the bridge that is the only other path to the cabin breaks (even though Newey can hilariously pick it up to see what’s wrong with it). Hoffman stood out as the most dramatic and comical character of the show because of her overdrawn seriousness about supernatural studies and research. She is the eccentric demon-buster of our story, constantly talking and always cutting off her boyfriend before he can get in a word. 

Because of that, Willey had to rely on emotion and facial expressions for most of his part and we really can see his frustration when he barely gets in a word. 
Willey shines in “Bit Part Demon,” a similar number to “Mr. Cellophane” in “Chicago” in his sense of invisibility and being walked over. Ash, who was possessed and then returned to his human state when he sees the necklace he gave his now demon girlfriend, is identified as the lead character who can’t be formulaically be killed, especially not by a minor character like Ed. 

Then Hoffman delivers the funniest and most memorable song of the show – “All The Men In My Life Keep Getting Killed By Candarian Demons.” She is a vocal powerhouse and is also able to leverage her singing techniques for comedy in inflection and style. It will be stuck in your head for days. 

“The Necronomicon” is, of course, the big dance number of the show, reminiscent of the “Time Warp” in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in its quirkiness. The tune isn’t as memorable, but the dance, choreographed by Sharon A. Wilcox, is phenomenal. It requires a lot of physical exertion and body language on the part of the actors to appear like demons the entire dance. The actors were impressive with their movements as demonized characters the whole show and they generally stayed in character as they flocked on and off stage.

Song-wise, the actors favored character over musicality in the songs, with many of the females in particularly going out of tune occasionally in the upper range. It was less of an issue on the solos. Newey was the strongest male vocalist. Sutton and Soto maintained character and tone with strong voices that are pleasing to listen to in the show. 

Our band for the show, led by musical director Meric Martin, is visible through the window of the cabin, which makes it even funnier when Newey again uses physical comedy to portray Ash being attacked by the possessed trees right next to them. The score calls for keyboard (Diana Lawlor), guitar (Aaron Reid) and drums (Noel Roberge) and Martin improvises the bass guitar part which is not written into the music.

Jake Finch plays Fake Shemp in the ensemble. 

The play also utilizes video projections to set the narratorial background on “The Book of The Dead” and cleverly shows credits at the end in homage to the film. 

Ed Bassett designed the moose head.
Set designer Steve Houk was in charge of the Splatterzone design and execution. Lana Peck designed Linda’s severed head from her decapitation and worked on the set.

Keith Paul, the master of horror and satire, directs this gruesome production.

This show is popular and the studio theater is smaller so try to buy your tickets in advance, though they can be purchased at the box office if there are some left. The show closes this weekend, with remaining performances tonight at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. Visit for more information. 

‘Queens For A Year’ At Hartford Stage Delves into Controversial Subject of Rape in Military


T. Charles Erickson

A rape being swept under the carpet in the U.S. Marine Corps is buried within a story that simultaneously champions the triumphs and bonds of women in the military in “Queens For A Year,” which is in the last week of its run at Hartford Stage.

Mary Bacon opens the show as religious, anti-killing midwife Mae Walker giving strenuous, tense and seemingly reluctant testimony about a lieutenant to a faceless but demanding voice played from the sound booth, likely a military or police official of some kind. When asked to tell the story of what happened, she goes into a Greek mythological tale about a girl taken by Poseidon.

So a mythical, fictional tale opens our story, which is as layered as the ocean with darkness looming in the deep. Layer upon layer is peeled back to ultimately reveal secrets some of the characters are hiding. The meat of the play, set in 2007, is flashbacks as the plot bounces back and forth between the home of 2nd Lt. Molly Solinas’ (Vanessa R. Butler) great grandmother in rural Southern Virginia and Camp Lejeune in Iraq where Solinas and PFC Amanda Lewis (Sarah Nicole Deaver) were based.

Lt. Solinas brings lower-ranking PFC Lewis to her relatives’ home, introducing her as a friend to grandmother Gunny Molly Walker (Charlotte Maier), aunt Lucy Walker (Heidi Armbruster) and great grandmother Lucy “Grandma Lu” MacGregor (Alice Cannon). She says they are on a vacation to spend a few days off base.

But there is something the girls aren’t telling us. They are hiding from someone after something that happened.

Butler commands the stage both physically and in the serious, military tone of her character. She presents a conflicted woman who values honor and protocol, but who has contradictory emotions circulating underneath. Even though we don’t always know what she has going on in her head, her expressions tell us she has hidden and protective motivations and that she is strong as she fights to suppress them without worrying her family and Lewis.

Deaver presents a candid, likable Lewis who isn’t perfect and has had her share of struggles, but who is fighting for her rights and justice despite her fears. The scene where she is tasked with frisking an Iraqi woman crossing a border she’s assigned to with her troops is very moving. Even though the two women don’t speak the same language, Lewis’s female identity and demeanor puts the Iraqi woman at ease and allows the two to connect. And when Lewis breaks down, the Iraqi woman in turn comforts her. While male soldiers make fun of Lewis for being weak, it’s her femininity that makes her most suitable for that role.

Maier presents a tough yet wise-cracking motherly figure to the girls and Armbruster is the comic relief as the chipper, gay aunt who was kicked out of the military for “mental illness.” Cannon also has her humorous moments as an elderly veteran losing her memory but who has not lost one bit of her spunk. She got a lot of laughs for yelling out an unexpected expletive.

As Lewis cozies up to the lieutenant’s family, swapping stories about growing up and serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Solinas seems to sit back on guard in ultimate protective mode. But from what?

Through flashbacks, we learn Lewis, who is not under the command of Solinas, was sexually assaulted by a male officer of superior rank.

The flashbacks are interspersed with military chants, often voiced by women. But they get more and more gruesome and graphic as the show goes on, including a very sexual and profane one uttered by a male cast member that drew many gasps from last Wednesday’s mostly senior matinee audience.

After being raped, Lewis turns to Solinas for advice. Solinas seeks counsel from a female superior. The picture painted to her is grim and disturbing. She is advised not to get involved because it will tarnish her career and lead to no consequences for the perpetrators of the rape as they possibly continue to rise in the ranks. However, wanting to help Lewis, she goes against that advice and Lewis files a complaint. When a female officer questions her in military court, her line of questioning twists Lewis’s complaint into non-credible fog and nothing is done. However, as Solinas’s name is dragged into it as her mentor, the main perpetrator delivers her a death threat for the both of them in a cringe-worthy way. So, both of them are sent on the run.

As they hide out, not revealing the truth to the lieutenant’s family, Solinas forms her own secret plan to smoke out the bad guy and face him on civilian ground, leading to deadly consequences. Their own home turns into a battlefield that forces the girls to reveal their secret and forces the soldiers and veterans to confront a demon lurking within the very Marines they are very proud to have served.

Just before the storm hits, Mae – estranged from her family – arrives to see her daughter upon finding out the Marines are looking for her and the reunion uncovers dark secrets from the family’s past. Her story about Poseidon from the beginning of the play resurfaces and we hear a war-torn tale of trickery and the destruction of femininity in battle. So, when when we are brought full circle back to the interrogation room, the Greek myth makes more sense. It also seems to symbolize rape in the military as an almost mythical and taboo subject. Mythical in that we hear about it, but that it’s not often talked about like the stuff of legends. But it is also bitter truth just as the reality buried within a mythological story meant to teach a lesson.

And what is the lesson of this story? Perhaps it’s that the secret is buried beneath the original story we’re told, swept under the carpet. Perhaps it’s that these kinds of stories don’t have happy endings event when the secret is brought to light. Perhaps it’s that, like the circular form of the story, this is a problem that keeps circling and circling without any end in sight. Or perhaps it’s that the grim reality that more needs to be done to protect and not blame and target the victims.

Whatever the takeaway is, this play makes you think. And that alone is a victory.

The two ensemble members in the show – Jamie Rezanour and Mat Hostetler – brought more depth the the story, appearing as multiple characters in the flashback scenes.

Cpl. Brianna Morgan Maldonado (USMC, Ret.) served as a U.S. Marine Corps Advisor for the show.

Lucie Tiberghien directed the T.D. Mitchell play, Victoria Deiorio wrote original music and designed the sound, Greg Webster served as fight director, Robert H. Davis was the dialect coach, Beth Goldenberg designed the costumes and Robert Perry did the lighting design.

The show runs through Sunday, Oct. 2 with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

More information on the production and purchasing tickets is available at or by calling the box office at 860-527-5151. Tickets start at $25.





Head on Over to the Broad Brook Side of the Tracks for ‘The Great American Trailer Park Musical’


Credit: Emma Connell

“The Great American Trailer Park Musical” was not a title that had me expecting much, but it pleasantly surprised me and it wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t just some “white trash” musical.

The production put on by The Opera House Players had the most beautiful and elaborate set I’ve seen on the often black box style Broad Brook Opera House stage to date with a sliding wall on one of the trailers so you could see inside.

But the set wasn’t the only thing that gave the show charming character. The cast was chalk-full of talent. Christine St. Amant Greene plays Betty, the brassy, matronly, all-knowing supervisor for Armadillo Acres – a trailer park community set in Starke, Florida. She is essentially our host and narrator, telling the story with bold humor and powerful vocals with the help of equally talented singers Lyndsay Hart (Pickles) and Kait Rankins (Lin). Rankins was the strongest in her lower range. Hart was adorable and hilarious as the innocent, quirky and slightly ditsy Pickles, who’s experiencing psychosomatic symptoms of pregnancy (until the very end). Her expressions and body language was priceless and laughter-inspiring. The three women are like the Greek chorus of the story as our omniscient narrators, playing various characters in the story.

Christa Douyard had a solid voice and had comedic physicality as Jeannie, the agoraphobic trailer park wife, who is too scared to leave her mobile home for her 20th anniversary with her husband, Norbert (Jeff Clayton), after her baby boy was taken from them by a white-and-black-stripe-wearing kidnapper.

Clayton does a good job of delivering a simple, loving husband who just wants to go out of the trailer park with his wife. We don’t condone him going astray and having an affair with transient exotic dancer, Pippi (Jami Wilson), but we understand.

We are frightened of and then forgiving of Duke (Tomm Knightlee), Pippi’s controlling, rage-filled ex, who casts a storm on Armadillo Acres in a quest to track her down that puts everyone in danger.

The play has a farcical element portraying and defending the community the narrators assume we perceive as “white trash.” Its self-fulfilling moments are sometimes the most humorous. The musical is also self aware of elements of theater and makes jokes about them that pull us out of the story a little bit. The characters break the fourth wall, speaking directly to the audience.

One of the most memorable songs is “Storm’s A-Brewin’,” which has the ladies of Armadillo Acres wearing glittery silver dresses and shiny silver streamer wigs as muses of the storm. The song has an “It’s Raining Men” element to the melody.

So, if you want a laugh, head on over to “this side of the tracks” in Broad Brook to see “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” running two more weekends. Remaining shows are Sept. 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 18 and 25 at 2 p.m. at the Broad Brook Opera House at 107 Main St. Meghan Lynn Allen is the artistic director, Timothy Chavez is the music director and Karen Anne McMahon is the choreographer. Visit the organization’s website for more information on tickets and the production.

‘If/Then’ Explores What-Ifs of Life in Dual Narrative at The Bushnell

If/ThenWinspear Opera House

Left to right: Tamyra Gray (Kate), Jackie Burns (Liz/Beth) and Anthony Rapp (Lucas) in “If/Then.” Credit: Joan Marcus

If you had made one different choice, then where would you be? Would anything be different?

Many of us ask that question about seemingly minor moments in our lives and it’s something “If/Then” at The Bushnell explores.

We experience the parallel lives newly divorced Elizabeth (Jackie Burns) could lead when she moves to New York to start a new life depending on a simple choice.

In one life, she is Liz and her decision to go to a concert with her new but very good friend Kate (Tamyra Gray) sets her on a seemingly happier less career-oriented path of love and family. She meets a soldier named Josh, who has just returned from his second tour of service, and misses a call about a high-ranking job offer from ex-boyfriend, Stephen (Jacques C. Smith).

In her other life, she is Beth. The activist in her drives her to go to a protest with her friend Lucas (Anthony Rapp, who played Mark in the Broadway original cast of “Rent” and the movie alongside Idina Menzel, who also played the original role of Elizabeth opposite Rapp on Broadway). She takes the call from Stephen for the deputy urban planner job and that consumes her life, so she doesn’t have romance or meet Josh. Yet.

Which life is better? That’s up to you to decide. Both have moments of happiness and misery, but in both she experiences love and loss. One moment in her life as Liz is a real tear-jerker. The contemporary setting of the play makes it so real and relatable that you can’t help but put yourself in Elizabeth’s lives and feel the emotions she feels.

Elizabeth interestingly experiences very familiar issues, for instance getting pregnant at the same point in both her lives, though with different men. One situation leads to children and marriage and in the other she chooses abortion, though the subject is very lightly touched upon. In any case, you wonder what you would have done in her shoes. The flurry of intertwining parallel narratives makes the story lively and captivating.

Burns, of the original Broadway cast of “If/Then,” presents us with a likable protagonist who over-thinks everything and examines her life with a statistical realism. Her voice has an Idina Menzel and Lea Michelle quality to it and she even looks like both of them, so her style is very powerful, expressive and captivating for the role, which Menzel has also played. Burns has also played Elphaba in “Wicked” on tour and on Broadway, a role that Menzel originated on Broadway.


Jackie Burns as Elizabeth in “If/Then”. Credit: Joan Marcus

Matthew Hydzik plays the very positive and friendly Josh, who influences both of Elizabeth’s story lines in some way. His friend, David (Delacruz) only comes into the story because of him and is another optimistic character in the story.

Rapp has a very recognizable voice as Lucas that carries on attributes and traits of his role as Mark from “Rent” as an activist concerned about lower income housing options in New York. His character’s life and who he loves – man, David (Marc Delacruz) or woman (Beth) – is affected by the path of Elizabeth’s life.

Gray stood out as a favorite character in the spunky, free-spirited “f-ing great kindergarten teacher” Kate. Her vocal prowess was no surprise, as she appeared in the inaugural season of “American Idol” alongside winner Kelly Clarkson. Her love life is also affected by Elizabeth’s decisions – while she marries the love of her life, Ane (Janine Divita) in both, the outcome changes.

It was nice to see two gay couples in the forefront of the story in an uncontroversial light showing us that love comes in many forms. We also see love in Elizabeth’s friendships even when her lives don’t have her on a romantic path.

The contemporary style of the music makes it very conversational, like the oh-so-funny song, “What the F@$%?” questioning how you get to certain moments and surprises in your life. Tom Kitt wrote the 2014 Tony-nominated score. Brian Yorkey wrote the book and lyrics, which also earned a Tony nomination in 2014.

The set, designed by Mark Wendland, was very modern and the park serves as the focal point of the beginning, middle points and ending of the coinciding stories. It worked really well because so many strangers cross paths in a park, which makes you wonder how your life could change if your storyline intersected with a new person’s. You also see a lot of life being lived in a park, from music to blind dates. The ensemble helped to make these scenes very realistic, particularly with the addition of bikers on stage and people interacting in the background and sitting on park benches.

If/ThenWinspear Opera House

Credit: Joan Marcus

Projections designed by Peter Nigrini map out the locations of the different scenes for us, much like the map on a metro, where part of the story actually takes place.

I didn’t know much about this story going into it, but it was one of the few musicals that ever made me cry. The story draws a lot of emotion out of you and really hits home in an authentic way that makes you think about your own life.

So think, how would your life be different if you went to this musical? Then what?

Find out by checking out “If/Then” at The Bushnell in Hartford, running through Sunday. The play is directed by Michael Greif and choreographed by Larry Keigwin. Kyle C. Norris is the music director.

More information on the show and tickets is available at

Warner Theatre Hears a Who in ‘Seussical The Musical’


The cast of “Seussical The Musical” at Warner Theatre. Credit: Mandi Martini

Of all the places you go, one of them should be to this Warner show.

It’s a musical called “Seussical” that will give you lots of thinks.
And it’s a production enjoyable both for adults and kiddliwinks.

Our happy, lovable elephant Horton (Josh Newey) hears a many a Who land on a clover,
And the whimsical Cat in The Hat (Samuel Everett) sparks wide-eyed young JoJo’s (Trevor Rinaldi) imagination to runneth over.


Josh Newey as Horton the Elephant. Credit: Mandi Martini


JoJo (Trevor Rinaldi) and The Cat in the Hat (Samuel Everett). Credit: Mandi Martini

Meanwhile brassy diva lazy Mazie La Bird (Mary C. Johnson) wants all the attention,
As Horton’s nerdy, quirky and adorable neighbor, Gertrude McFuzz (Maggie Gillette) seeks his affection.


Mazie La Bird (Mary C. Johnson). Credit Mandi Martini


Gertrude McFuzz (Maggie Gillette). Credit: Mandi Martini

The mischievous Wickersham Brothers (Raymond Cook, Theron Johnson III, Michael Newman) monkey around, wreaking havoc on Horton in the Jungle of Nool,
And we get oh so much sass and opinions from jazzy, alto AlexaRae Campagna as the spunky Sour Kangaroo.

Wickersham Bros

The Wickersham Brothers (Michael Newman, Raymond Cook, Theron Johnson III) Credit: Mandi Martini


Sour Kangaroo (AlexaRae Campagna) and Horton (Josh Newey). Credit: Mandi Martini

The Bird Girls (Veronica Johnson, Caleigh Lozito, Kennedy Morris) chirp angelic, operatic gospel with attitude,
And we fell oh so sorry for selfless Horton and one-feather tailed Gertrude.


The Bird Girls (Kennedy Morris, Caleigh Lozito and Veronica Johnson). Credit: Mandi Martini

Creators Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens teach us a lot of lessons through Seuss,
About the dangers of over-indulging in medicine to give us long tails on our caboose,
Or abandoning one’s egg to go to Palm Beach, using many an excuse,
Or Mr. Mayor (JD Bauer) and Mrs. Mayor (Sara Wilson) discouraging their child, JoJo’s thinks, scared of them running wild and loose.


A person’s a person no matter how small, which is why everyone in this cast is important, after all.
From the Whos to the Citizens of Nool, they put in all of their energy and really answer the call.


The Whos and The Grinch. Credit: Mandi Martini

The set has a very illustrated, Seussy flare popping against the vibrant and stunning costumes and hair!


Kaitlyn Anthony as a featured dancer in the circus. Credit: Mandi Martini

Even if you’re like General Gengus Kahn Schmitz (Conrad Sienkiewicz) and his cadets, sounding off about disliking green eggs and ham,
There’s a lot of flavor in this musical to appeal to every sir, child and madame.

The full orchestra is powerful and sometimes overpowers the voices,
But the modern-day jing tinglers, flu floopers, trum tupers and slu-slumkers make oh so joyful noises.

The dancing is lively and the actors bring high energy and expressiveness needed in a kids’ show, those are facts.
You’ll see many familiar and beloved characters return, like The Grinch (Adam Fancher) and his dog Max (Jake Kordas).

So whether your soar to the Warner like Vlad Vladikoff (Dylan Zawisza) or inch there slowly like Yertle the Turtle (Joe Guttadauro), come see these stars,
They’ll help you see you’re not alone in the universe and teach you about friendship, and make you think just how lucky you are.

The staging and characterizations in “Seussical” are creative and cleaver.
Well done by Richard McKenna on his first directing endeavor.

Music directed by TJ Thompson and choreographed by Sharon Wilcox, the musical is two acts,
And on the last day of the run, Aug. 7, you’ll be visited by special friend, The Lorax.

So, go to for tickets and info,
And of all the places you go, one you won’t regret is this show!