The Howard – Theater Review – SECONDO at TheaterWorks Hartford

Reviewer:                        Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”

Production:                       SECONDO  

Theater:                            TheaterWorks Hartford

Playwright:                       Jacques Lamarre

Director:                           Rob Ruggiero

Based on Stories by:        Giulia Melucci

The Howard says – “SECONDO” – A Sizzling Summer Sensation!

Antoinette LaVecchia

Krackaboom-KrackaPow!!! Heaven’s above – that’s the sound of lightning striking twice!! “Secondo” is a Sizzling Summer Sensation! It rains laughs – achieves thunderous applause! Yesiree – famed Connecticut Playwright Jacques Lamarre, Director Rob Ruggiero and actress Antoinette LaVecchia are all onboard once again for this second entry, “Secondo”, the life, loves and further adventures of novelist Giulia Melucci. The World Premiere of “Secondo” – the sequel to I loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” is currently in production from July 29th till August 28th  at TheaterWorks in downtown Harford, Connecticut.

 “Is that the one about the woman who cooks pasta on stage”? I’ve heard that question countless times over the years, whenever I’ve spoken about seeing the premiere of “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” at TheaterWorks over twelve years ago. In fact, I was sitting next to then Mayor Pedro Segarra of Hartford, during intermission we both lamented how hungry we were getting as actress Antoinette LaVecchia spunned out freshly made pasta, yes-cooked on stage and offered to fortuitous attendees. Both of us were not selected. Luckily after the performance, both Mayor Segarra and I hurried over to the after-party at the Goodwin Hotel for “Mangia”-eating delicious culinary selections inspired from the production. By the way – sorry to say no ‘sharing the herring” during “Secondo” as LaVecchia prepares delicate Egg Yolk Ravioli – “Uova da Raviola”- yes I drooled over both the delicately prepared food and the invigorating on-stage production!   

Firstly, let me state this fact from the get go – I admire the work of Jacques Lamarre- he is fast becoming Connecticut’s premier and oh so prolific contemporary playwright/dramatist. I have often stated he has wit, charm, style and an unequivocal flair for the written word with a well-respected roster of plays including; “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti”, “Love & Spumoni”, and “Raging Skillet”, one of our all-time favorites “Ja-La” plays- about the life and times of “Chef Rossi – celebrity executive chef and caterer to the stars. Hmmm, ya notice that a majority of Jacques’s productions all have to do with food? It’s a good thing – we enjoy good food and good plays – Lamarre’s new play “Secondo” has both!! By the way Governor Ned Lamont – how about appointing Jacques Lamarre as honorary State Playwright Laureate? Sounds good to me!!

Howard Steven Frydman and Jacques Lamarre

“Secondo” – yes, it is ten years later since we fell in love with the absolutely amazing actress Antoinette LaVecchia aka Giulia Melucci. During this time, she has finally found true love and on this very night of nights, her 10th anniversary, we find her all-a-dizzy as she explains some wayward marital infidelities all the while preparing an exceptional dinner for her “he’s coming home” hubby – Gavin, who is on return flight from the Cannes Film Festival. But all is not as it’s cracked up to be, like those innocent dozen eggs awaiting to be turned into the Egg Yolk Ravioli or that mysterious Marriage Certificate that either disappears or keeps falling off the shelf. What could it all mean- from a mysterious caller, Bob-a purveyor of “Ladyfingers”, to an all-knowing “Alexa” with a song that matches Giulia’s every mood!

Howard Steven Frydman and Rob Ruggiero

Well let me tell you – Theater Works has done it again! This is a marvelous reunion with a joyous friend we have come to know and love. At plays end – I yen for more please! I even mention to playwright Lamarre and the absolutely charming Giulia Melucci, that I would love to see further exploits of Giulia, a TV series-namely “I LOVE GIULIA” a liken to such current TV trends including; “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “Jane the Virgin”, or “Nora From Queens starring Awkwafina. By the way I want to mention, I did meet the elusive Gavin, – a nice chap indeed! What did we all discuss, food of course and the Pizza made by Chef Maria Rosu at Bloomfield Village Pizza. By the way I want dibs on that outstanding kitchen set by Brian Prather – like this production – absolutely stellar. So? What are you waiting for – Go See Secondo!! Enjoy.

Howard Steven Frydman, Giulia Melucci and Jacques Lamarre

Performances of Secondo will take place from July 29th thru August 28th, 2022, at TheaterWorks Hartford located at 233 Pearl Street in downtown Hartford. The performance schedule is Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2:30pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2:30pm. In-person tickets are priced at $25–$65. All tickets can be purchased online at twhartford.org or by calling 860.527.7838. Please visit twhartford.org for more information.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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Holiday Festive Food – Breakfast with “Santa Howard”!

“Santa Howard” they called me. For many years I was honored to be given the “official title” of Santa Claus for the City of Hartford by originally Mayor Pedro Segarra and later by Mayor Luke Bronin. Even to this day Mayor Bronin whenever we meet, still calls me “Santa Howard”. I must have greeted over a thousand children over the years and heard their Christmas Wishes, from puppies to new Nintendo’s- and the questions- “How do the reindeer fly”, “How do I get the presents delivered around the world in one night”, “How do I fit down the chimney”, “How many elf helpers does Santa have”- yet to this day I so remember a small boy who quizzically asked, not a typical Santa inquiry, but humbly beseeched – “What does Santa Claus like for breakfast”- and I answered him thereupon- and even shared my cooking tips.

Well as the days stretch on, ever colder with snow blizzards on the ever horizon-I now humbly would like to share how to cook a  typical “Santa Howard” breakfast which includes a scrumdiddlyumptious -extremely delicious, tasty, series of morning edibles including: eggs, bacon, hash browns, blueberry pancakes and maple oatmeal. Shall we begin my friends?

Firstly- fresh eggs- Santa Howard enjoys them either of two ways – firstly- “Sunny Side Down yes down. Remember very fresh eggs are best for frying, and please let the eggs come to room temperature before cooking. I strongly urge you to use a non-stick fry pan or skillet. Heat the skillet over medium till hot, add a few tabs of salted butter just to coat the surface. Crack your fresh eggs right into the skillet, let them sizzle a bit. Cook until the whites and yolk reach your desired doneness – turn over -yes mine are Sunny Side Down- medium. They should be perfect.

My second favorite, scrambled- basically the same directions as described above. But this time, take your fresh eggs and whisk them in a bowl adding air into the eggs. Add a few tablespoons of very cold water and then the secret ingredient, Cottage Cheese. Yes- whisk the cold water and Cottage Cheese together. This simple edition will provide you with the most delicious and fluffy eggs you have ever eaten. Use the same type non-stick skillet, heat pan till hot, add some salted butter, and add your whisked eggs to the heated pan. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the eggs over for about one and half to two minutes until the eggs are set the way you like them – enjoy!

Breakfast meats & Hash browns- Your “Santa Howard” Breakfast is not complete without a fair ration of bacon.This time around use a cold skillet or iron griddle pan, its a classic way to crisp up those mouth watering bacon strips. Make sure you have a set of tongs or a large fork for turning the bacon. I like thin strips of bacon and if possible, nitrate free. Remember do not add oil to the pan this time, the fat will render while the bacon cooks. While the bacon cooks, add some paper towels to a plate – once the bacon is fully cooked, use your tongs to place the bacon on the paper towel draped plate to further drain the bacon fat. Now for the secret ingredient-  Brown Sugar – add a dusting of brown sugar to the still warm bacon- absolutely the best tasting bacon you will have ever eaten!!

No “Santa Howard” Breakfast is complete without crispy hash browns potatoes. Once again- lets use our non-stick skillet and a lid. Heat about two tablespoons of vegetable or Virgin Olive Oil, to your skillet, medium heat. Add about a pound of washed, pat dry and quartered red or Yukon Gold potatoes, but any type potatoes available will be fine. Arrange in a single layer. Season with salt, pepper and herbs of your choice-maybe some parsley flakes or paprika. Cover the potatoes with the lid for about 15 minutes till the potatoes are tender and are golden brown. Remove lid, turn over the potatoes add some additional salt, increase heat a bit and now cook uncovered till golden brown.Yes- “Santa Howard” enjoys his hash brown potatoes with Ketchup – don’t you?

Lastly, Oatmeal – yes Oatmeal- “Santa Howard’s” mother, Lillian Martha Green Johnson Zipkin Frydman, born in 1917 and who would have been105 on her birthday this November 27, would make this cold-day healthy breakfast treat taste actually amazing and I share her details here. Mom did use boxed Quaker Oaks, mostly using whole milk, cooked over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. A heaping dollop of the oatmeal would be placed in a bowl. She would than add a bit of either brown sugar or drizzled honey, and then add, either fresh strawberries or blueberries and some pecans. Other times she would add a dollop of peanut butter with a Hershey Kiss planted in the center. No matter what Lil presented- her oatmeal was always special and heartwarming on a cold  wintry New England day like those we receive here in the Beautiful Hamlet of Bloomfield.

Lastly, Blueberry Pancakes- well- let me tell you straight out, I personally do not make great Blueberry Pancakes- but when I have the hankering for the best, née the finest Blueberry Pancakes, “Santa Howard” and the entire Hamlet of Bloomfield, Connecticut make a direct beeline to Isaac’s Bagel Cafe at 16-b Mountain Avenue. Friends, why fret and fuss – Isaac Suttar will provide you a thick stack of decadent delicious Blueberry pancakes drizzled with authentic maple syrup. In fact friends, I do believe you can get your entire “Santa Howard” Breakfast as described here within this article at Isaac’s Bagel Cafe – so why cook? I wish you all a hearty healthy holiday – and wishing you all a “Santa Howard” breakfast with family and friends. Enjoy!

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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The Howard – Theater Review “42nd Street” – Goodspeed Opera

Reviewer:                         Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”

Production:                               42nd STREET – The Tap Dance Spectacular

Theater:                                    Goodspeed Opera House

Book by:                                  Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble

Music by:                                 Harry Warren

Lyrics by:                                 Al Dubin

Director & Choreography by: Randy Skinner

The Howard says – “42nd STREET! “A MUSICAL HAPPENING NOT TO BE MISSED”!

If Goodspeed Musicals most current production –the Tony Award winning “42nd Street- The Tap-Dancing Spectacular”, was a feast- I would deem it a most succulent affair indeed! Yes- I do say it’s a heavenly feast – a pre-Thanksgiving feast for the eyes, the senses and the soul! I simply imply that this marvelous musical morsel is SUPERLATIVE in every way. Friends you are about to witness one of the FINEST Musical performances that has come along in quite a bit! Directed and Choreography by Randy Skinner, “42nd Street – The Tap Dance Spectacular”, based on the 1933 Warner Bros. film, will be in production till November 6th at the Goodspeed in East Haddam, Connecticut. I say our Thanksgiving Musical Blessings have come early this year!!!

Max von Essen, Carina-Kay Louchiey and the cast of Goodspeed’s 42nd Street
Blake Stadnik and the cast of Goodspeed’s 42nd Street.

Just like the beautiful Autumn setting of the Goodspeed overlooking the Connecticut River I am simply overwhelmed, literally verklempt, (full of emotion) by what I have just witnessed on the stage of the Goodspeed –music and dancing perfection – simply said “it’s just that darn good’! Folks come from far and away to “the home of “Annie” to see the best, nay, the finest, of Musical productions this side of NYC- and let me tell you “42nd Street” does not disappoint. A myriad of greatness is being presented here- it all comes together with singing, dancing- oh that Rat-A-Tat-Tat TAP Dancing- going a mile a minute. Believe you me – folks are in their seats- tapping and dancing along. It all works so seamlessly. I don’t care if you know the 42nd Street story or not- but I’m sure our audience does, but once curtain rises and you see those amazing string of singer dancers performing their hearts out for you – you know that you are indeed part of a musical momentous happening!

Carina-Kay Louchiey and Kate Baldwin in Goodspeed’s 42nd Street.
Blake Stadnik and the cast of Goodspeed’s 42nd Street.

Yes- it’s a “Gabriel Come Blow Your Horn” moment here at the Goodspeed- I guess what I am saying is this production from the very start, in my judgement, is just Heavenly- with the opening happy hoofer showstopper “42nd Street, and following with the entire Harry Warren/Al Dubin score – “Young and Healthy”, the gorgeously mounted “Shadow Waltz”, “Go into Your Dance”, “You’re Getting to be a Habit With Me”, “I Only Have Eyes For You”, “We’re In The Money”, Lullaby of Broadway”, “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and Yes- “come meet those dancing feet- on the avenue I’m taking you to”-the iconic- “42nd Street”!

Kate Baldwin in Goodspeed’s 42nd Street.
Max von Essen as Julian Marsh and Carina-Kay Louchiey as Peggy Sawyer in Goodspeed’s 42nd Street.

As they say the tale is as old as time- and continues to this day- the dream – making it BIG in the Big Apple. It’s the theatrical tale that started it all off, – meet our ingénue- Miss Peggy Sawyer (Carina-Kay Louchiey), just off the bus from Allentown PA., only a few cents in her pocket, (it’s the great Depression you know), has not eaten in days, taps till she faints and before you can say, “the Sun’ll Come out Tomorrow” she’s starring in hotshot Broadway producer Julian Marsh’s (Max von Essen) newest musical production – “Pretty Lady”. Hmmm? Was it really an accident that Peggy tripped leading lady- the “Diva-licious Dorothy Brock (Kate Baldwin) breaking her ankle”? I’ll never tell! Ever tap-dancing throughout, Peggy is quickly introduced to fellow members of the troupe – hoofer Billy Lawyer, (Blake Stadnik), writers Maggie Jones, (Lisa Howard) and Bert Barry (E. Clayton Cornelious), Dorothy’s secret love- former vaudevillian Pat Denning (Patrick Oliver Jones) and Dorothy’s Texan “Sugar-Daddy”, Abner Dillon (David Jennings), and lastly the greatest ensemble of singers and tap-dancers this side of the “Chrysler Building” – which by luck, can also be found on “42nd Street”!

Blake Stadnik and Carina-Kay Louchiey in Goodspeed’s 42nd Street.
The cast of Goodspeed’s 42nd Street.
42nd Street Goodspeed Musicals 2022 East Haddam, CT 06423 (860)873-8664

My friends, let me first take note of the ensemble- I was impressed by each and every one of them, tap dancing a mile a minute for your pleasure – they include: Willie Clyde Beaton II, Sarah Dearstyne, Berklea Going, Candice Hatakeyama, Danielle Jackman, Edward Juvier, Taylor Lane, Brian Shimasaki Liebson, Brady Miller, Christian Probst, Christopher Shin, Kirsty Fuller and Derek Luscutoff.  I am simply in awe of two of our main cast – firstly, Carina-Kay Louchiey as Peggy Sawyer, OMG she’s like “the Flash” what impressive tap-dancing skills! Secondly-What do you say about a true star- my friends, two-time Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin as Dorothy is simply a delight to behold, and what great vocals – she steals every scene AND I loved it! Lastly, the coveted “Howard Noticed You Award” goes to Dance Captain, Kirsty Fuller, who during the performance that I attended, undertook the role of Diane Lorimer- Miss Fuller- you have made an indelible impression and are a most promising New Star indeed!!  My friends, “42nd Street- is a “not to be missed event”! Enjoy!!

The Howard and Miss Kirsty Fuller – 42nd Street at Goodspeed Opera

Performances for “42nd Street” is in production till November 6th, 2022. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select performances at 2:00p.m.), Friday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.). Tickets are available through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open weekdays at 10:00 a.m. and weekends at11:00 a.m., or online at goodspeed.org.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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The Howard – Theater Review – “The Great Gatsby” at Ivoryton Playhouse

Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman

Play:                        The Great Gatsby

Theater:                   Ivoryton Playhouse

Book By:                 F. Scott Fitzgerald

Adapted for Stage:  Simon Levy

Director:                  Todd L. Underwood

The Howard Says – An Elegant, Exquisite Theatrical Event Awaits

Sometimes waiting is a good thing- sometimes it’s a Great thing – such is the two year wait for a breathtaking and oh so elegant theatrical event that now awaits those patrons of the arts who venture to see the elegant and do I say exquisite theatrical production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “ever enduring” great American Novel – “The Great Gatsby”. Originally scheduled to be produced in May 2020 – Well Wait No Longer – “The Great Gatsby- about greed, power, lost love and the American dream is finally in production at the Ivoryton Playhouse, faithfully adapted for the stage by Award Winning Playwright Simon Levy and directed by Playhouse Associate Artistic Todd L. Underwood and it’s an amazing venture in live theater!

Erik Kochenberger as Jay Gatsby and Katharina Schmidt as Daisy in “The Great Gatsby”.

In fact, on this very day as we await the opening doors to the theater, a small group has situated themselves at the front entrance. I overhear several discussing their pet poodles, another is describing her new venture learning how to fly a plane, and yet another is a father talking to his young teen son regarding the character of Gatsby, briefly going over the main points of the story, describing Gatsby’s lost love and his desire for Daisy and why the Great Gatsby is plainly just so great- hmmm?- well the answer still awaits us all as we enter the Ivoryton Playhouse Theater. Shall we take our seats Old Sport?

Fitzgerald fans rejoice- we have returned to the decadent 1920’s- hear them roar! OH MY- what a stage! – decked out in art deco columns, soft lights, a massive eye at stages center provides various silent visuals, and keep an eye out for that “green” guiding light- kudos to scenic designer Martin Scott Marchitto. I can hear champagne glasses clinking in those fabulous mansion homes of Long Island as the elite gather to play, party and plot- ah – the 3 P’s. Meet Nick Carraway, (Joe Cordaro) -The Great Observer – a veteran of World War I, learning the Bond Business, who has found a low-cost bungalow near the exclusive affluent homes of Long Island, including that of his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Katharina Schmidt) and her rich and abusive husband Tom (Greg Brostrom)– Nick’s former classmate at Yale – Boola boola rah! Along the way we are introduced to Daisy’s friend, golf champion Jordon Baker (Carlyn Connolly), Tom’s girlfriend Myrtle (Siobhan Fitzgerald), Myrtle’s mechanic husband George (Daniel Rios, Jr.), the mob gangster Meyer Wolfsheim (Gabe Belyeu), party guest Mrs. McKee (Rebecca Ellis) and lastly – The Great Gatsby himself- Jay Gatsby (Erik Kochenberger) the multi-millionaire, some say he made his fortune being a bootlegger – no one really knows, but with Nick’s help he plans to restart his unrequited love for Daisy. Are you ready to Party!!! Hey Old Sport – Let the three P’s begin anew!!

Joe Cordaro as “Nick” in The Great Gatsby

 Our ever-glitzy cast- (perfect period costumes by Elizabeth A. Saylor) – I was proud of each and every one of them! Let me state- that productions such as “The Great Gatsby”, features multiple actors providing lengthy, in this case- Fitzgerald dialogue- during my visit, besides a lowly unscripted sneeze by Joe Cordaro – their performances were flawless, what memorization! Howard’s Kudos go out to the following stalwarts Joe Cordaro as Nick, the delightful Siobhan Fitzgerald as the cutie-patootie Myrtle and a coveted “The Howard Noticed You Award” is presented to Katharina Schmidt as Daisy- your ever fluid performance reminded me of  comedian Carol Burnett’s zany “Eunice” characterization – loved it! Please take in this long awaited, live production of “The Great Gatsby”! Enjoy!

The Great Gatsby runs through Sunday, October 23rd, 2022. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm; evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm. Sunday, October 23rd is a special performance and Gala at 3pm.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $25 for students. Tickets are available online at ivorytonplayhouse.org or by calling the box office at 860.767.7318. (For information on group rates, please call the box office.) For more information on the entire 2022 season, visit ivorytonplayhouse.org. The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

This season, the Playhouse is back to full capacity for the first time in two years, yet the safety of our audience remains our primary concern. Masks are optional with proof of vaccination and required for those without a vaccination card.

 Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at howards2424@gmail.com.

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The Howard – Theater Review – “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” – Playhouse on Park

Reviewer:                         Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”

Production:                       Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill  

Theater:                            Playhouse On Park

Playwright:                       Lainie Robertson

Director:                           Stephanie Pope Lofgren

The Howard’s Exhale – “Lady Day Lives On at POP – It Pulsates, Ever Sharp and Clever!!

A work so seriously inspirational – one immediately confesses their “grand observance of this superb offering” from Playhouse on Park- the Tony Award Winning – “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”. Yesiree – It is most undeniable that POP has brought forth a memorizing musical bio of a singing jazz legend and her unique musical style that still lives on in the hearts of so many – Billy Holiday- aka “Lady Day”. “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”, the first production in POP’s 14 Main Stage Season is currently in production from September 28th to October 16, written by Lainie Roberson, Directed by Stephanie Pope Lofgren and re-creating Miss Billy – the absolutely divine Danielle Herbert!!

Danielle Herbert as Billy Holiday

When actors are good they fly- here as Lady Day- Miss Danielle Herbert’s portrayal simply soar’s – with a voice that is sharp, clever and undeniable seductive in a production that is not to be missed. My friends we are experiencing artistic excellence in this production – Miss Herbert is so believable in this, I say it again, clever and ever insightful characterization of Billy Holiday. Song after song – we not only listen to songstress Holiday, but one takes note of the audience, with so many faces in hand, sitting forward in their seats totally engrossed in the life unfolding on stage- at one moment a laugh, at another a tear falling from the eye- yes-such an awe-inspiring ambitious production that has you treading emotions from start to plays end.

Danielle Herbert and Nygel D. Robinson

A bright star is soon to fade – the year 1959, we are at the run-down Emerson’s Bar in South Philadelphia– we are aware of the blight of Billy Holiday and now actual witnesses to one of her last performances and her fight and passionate right to live on. Throughout this 90 minute performance, Miss Billy Holiday is on stage, her trademark Gardenias by her side, accompanied by her pianist Jimmy Powers- (Nygel D. Robinson). This is just a shadow of this once strong and vibrant performer, who at times- rambling, incoherent or plainly intoxicated with either drugs or drink after drink, she introspects the audience with aspects of her life – from her parentage, numerous marriages, time in prison because of her addiction to drugs, nightclubs in Harlem, touring with Artie Shaw, and her sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall.

Oh the songs- A jazz fan’s delight –  Miss Herbert’s renditions of Holiday’s greatest hits are pure joy to the musical senses and includes: “I Wonder Where our Love Has Gone”, “When a Woman Loves A Man”, “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”, “Crazy He Calls Me”, “Gimme A PigFood and  A Bottle of Beer”, “Baby Doll”, “God Bless the Child”, “Foolin’ Myself”, “Somebody’s On My Mind”, “Easy Livin’”, “Taint Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do” and the heart-wrenching “Strange Fruit’. As stated- Miss Herbert’s performance as Billy Holiday provides a theatrical experience that is soon not forgotten. We rejoice in her performance and her interpretation of Holiday’s greatest songbook.  Enjoy!

Tickets are now on sale for LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILL, and range from $45-$55. Group rates available! Student and Senior discounts are also available. Student Rush is $15 cash ($17.50 w/ credit card), available 15 minutes prior to curtain. Lunch Time Special tickets are available between 12pm – 1pm for the performance occurring that same day/evening. They are $15 cash ($17.50 w/ credit card). Student Rush and Lunch Time Special tickets must be purchased in person at the Playhouse on Park box office. 2pm matinees are on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Evening performances are at 7:30pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and at 8pm on Friday and Saturday. There will be a talk back with the cast after each Sunday matinee. 

COVID-19 Policy: Vaccination card checks and masks are not required. However, masks are strongly recommended.

For more information or tickets, call the Box Office at 860-523-5900 x10 or visit http://www.playhouseonpark.org. Playhouse on Park offers discounts for group sales; inquire today! Playhouse on Park is located at 244 Park Road, West Hartford, CT 06119.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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The Howard – Food Review – Siam Corner Thai Kitchen & Pho

Brian Olecki and Chef Kannikar Olecki – Siam Corner

Food Reviewer:           Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”

Restaurant:                    Siam Corner Thai Kitchen & Pho

The Howard Says  –      “Siam Corner – A Hip, Hot, Happening Culinary Delight”!

“Here’s a story – about a lovely couple – who are bringing up a very lovely Thai Kitchen & Pho. It all takes place in the Town of Windsor – delicious food you know!”

“Till the one day – when the lady met this fellow- and they knew it was much more than a hunch-that these two would form a family, that’s the way they became the place known for dinner, bubble tea and lunch! Siam Corner that is!!! (Sung to the tune of the Brady Bunch)

Brian Olecki and Chef Kannikar Olecki – Siam Corner

Yessiree- there is a love story here at the newest Gastronomic delight to be found in the heart of Windsor, CT. Boy meets girl-a girl meets boy and whallah! Two years married and lo and behold a new eatery is born of their love – Siam Corner Thai Kitchen & Pho. Come meet these two adorable love-birds, Brian Olecki, his wife Chef Kannikar, and their pet Pomeranian and mascot Mochi. According to Brian and Kannikar, their love affair, marriage and eventual culinary partnership all started over a plate of Massaman Curry – it was the food that kept Brian coming back to see Chef Kannikar at her former restaurant, as they say “Service for two-to make a bargain-make a date”!  An awe-inspiring story indeed- as are their signature selections of authentic Thai cuisine- by the way Massaman Curry is on the menu for all you lovers of good food and romance -give it a try!!

Coconut Shrimp
Chive Vegetable Pancake, Scallion Pancake, Curry Puffs

First observations-well well well- Siam Corner, believe you me -is the “3H!” I say it again – Siam Corner- its the hippest, the hottest, the newest happening destination eatery to hit New England in a long time- its like Elvis has arrived and is putting on a daily rock concert- but here its Brian and Kannikar, folks are thrilled to see them and the line to enter, my hand to the sky, is out the door to witness these all-star rockin’ culinary performers. Yep its “3H” time! On entering this ultra-quaint cafe, one immediately takes in stimulating notes of various spices afloat – Thai lemon, Thai red and green peppers, dry Thai chili flakes, chili oils, – a delicate hint of burning essence-yes vibrant and tropical cuisine awaits us. Seating is comprised of several tall chairs at the counter where lucky patrons can either eat or watch their bubble tea being prepared, more relaxed seating awaits off to the side and upfront with direct views of the Hip, Hot, Happenings – noting that patrons are onlooking one another- whats that? – what did she order- can I have that too!! Too wonderful- seeing is believing!!

Well let me talk about the food – its fun, its pho, its Thai and its terrific! If you’re looking for authentic Thai food you sure have come to the right place – Chef Kannikar has learned and honed her skills not only from her grandma Nataya in Thailand, but has additionally graduated from culinary school in Bangkok. Up first- a sampling of appetizers: Colossal Coconut shrimps served with a delicious plum sauce; Chive Vegetable Pancakes-deep fried chive vegetable pancakes served with sweet chili sauce; Curry Puffs-puff pastries with potatoes, Thai curry powder, onions and sweet cucumber sauce. A great meal starter- yet the best is yet to come my friends!

Pad Thai
Pad Thai

Soups, Curry, Rice & Noodles: No visit to Siam Corner is complete without a sampling of their long roster of soups, curry, rice and noodle dishes. I have a sampling of the “Tom Kha” a massive bowl of milky delight- coconut milk with tender offerings of chicken, brimming with red onion and mushrooms-OMG Good! Next up Pad Thai-thin delicate rice noodles, intermixed with bean sprouts, scallions, fresh beaten eggs and served with a side of ground peanuts; next a courageously large offering of Crab Meat Fried Rice- chunks of crabmeat with stir fried rice served with fresh tomatoes, onions, scallions and fresh beaten egg; and finally the piece de resistance – the already mentioned Massaman Curry- let me plainly state, I have always assumed that curry to be too Hot and Spicy for The Howard to handle- well let me tell you this- the Massaman Curry was absolutely DELICIOUS!!  Coconut based curry with potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocado, white onions and roasted peanuts. Several folks even stopped by to ask what I was sampling- THE MASSAMAN- Thank you Brian for the suggestion- a great offering indeed!

Crab Meat Fried Rice
Massaman Curry

The Entrees- Chef Kannikar prepares me the following from her long list of Siam corner Specials-Siam Corner Beef, ultra-tender offerings of marinate beef stir-fried with fresh mushrooms, onions, scallions and a dusting of sesame seeds; and “Salmon Basil” a massive portion of fresh salmon- grilled salmon adorned with basil leaves, bell peppers, and chilli served over steamed bok choi- just heavenly- and yes- I received another onlooker stating – I’ll have what he’s having”- I smile- Great choice!!

Salmon Basil

Lastly – Bubble tea bubble tea bubble tea – its all about the BT here at the SC -Siam Corner that is! Well let me tell you as stated- folks are literally lined up just for the authentic bubble tea. Students from the local Loomis Chaffee School are crammed into the adorable bistro – chatting away nonstop as they order their various selections of Bubble Tea- then sip, slurp and dine -wow- me thinks it’s like a circa 1950 malt shop here as they kibitz away- where’s Gidget and Moondoggie!! Well I too end my delicious meal with a sampling of this popular Bubble Tea- tea accompanied with tapioca balls- Brian prepares me from the large assortment of teas – Brown Sugar Milk tea and Mango Fresh Milk tea, both refreshing and a perfect way to cool off on a warm September evening. My friends- as stated-Siam Corner is “THE Hippest, Happening, Hottest, Newest culinary hot spot I have witnessed in a very long time- The Howard rightly states- “a wonderful culinary team with Brian and Kannikar, delicious authentic Thai food and an outstanding hidden gem in the heart of Windsor”! Enjoy!

Bubble Tea

Siam Corner Thai Kitchen & Pho is located at 199 Broad Street, Windsor Connecticut. To order or for information please call: 860-298-8082, 860-298-8083 or email at ordersiamcornerwindsorct.com. Business hours: Mon-Thu:11am-9pm; Fri: 11am-9:30pm; Sat: 11:30am-9:30pm; Sunday-Closed.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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The Howard – Theater Review – “The Little Mermaid” at OHP

Reviewer:                        Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”

Production:                       The Little Mermaid  

Theater:                            Opera House Players-Summer Theater

Music:                              Alan Menken

Lyrics by:                         Howard Ashman & Glenn Slater

Book by:                           Doug Wright

Co-Directors:                   Erin Dugan & Julianne Thouin

Choreographer:   Sarah Rose Stack

Music Director: Michael Zappala

The Howard says – “Wunderkids-An Element of Magic at OHP’s The Little Mermaid”

Brooke DellaRocco as Ariel in The Little Mermaid at OHP

Secrets are meant to be shared- so call ME a blabber-mouth, that’s me a Blabber-Mouth! So- what’s on the Q.T.? A must-see student production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” taking place at the Opera House Players Summer Theater starring an amazing array of WUNDERKIDS- all singing, all dancing, all acting – its extraordinaire! There is something that dreams are made of going on at the OHP, theater students are learning their craft while all along providing a most excellent evening of live theater. I could not be as proud in my attendance as the numerous parents, grandparents or that one relative overheard yelling “there’s my Lily- that’s my Flounder!” Yessiree- I had a truly great night of theater AND SO WILL YOU! “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” is in performance August 12th-14th and 19th-21st at the Enfield Annex, 124 North Maple St., Enfield, Connecticut.

Lily Thompson, Brooke DellaRocco & Alec Ortiz Calderon.

Opera House Players- Summer Theater – presents the family friendly, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” passionately co-directed by Erin Dugan & Julianne Thouin, with elegant inspired choreography by Sarah Rose Stack and featuring a cast of 33 energetic WUNDERKIDS!!”The Little Mermaid” the stage musical which had its debut on Broadway in 2007, is a retelling of the Danish fairy tale, by Hans Christian Andersen, and is based on the 1989 animated Disney film about the little mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea, giving up her beautiful singing voice and tail for human legs, all in her effort to find true love with her Prince. 

Brooke DellaRocco and Ethan Sirard in The Little Mermaid.
Riley Quinn and Brooke DellaRocco in The Little Mermaid.

From the get go- let me state this is not a review but a statement on hard work, achievement, and admirable commendation to an organization, Opera House Players, and their summer theater for offering such a rewarding introductory career path for young folks. The cast of “The Little Mermaid” their ages run the gamut from 10 to 22, and as stated, I am so very proud of OHP for providing an environment where live theater empowers young folks and an environment where live theater empowers learning, imagination, creativity and make believe- the benchmark for childhood.

Alex Barry, Riley Quinn and Owen Austin in The Little Mermaid.
The Cast of The Little Mermaid at OHP.

Our OHP cast features Brooke DellaRocca as Ariel – the little mermaid, Lilly Thompson as Flounder, Alec Ortiz Calderon as the Mer-King Triton, Riley Quinn as Ursula, Josh Fernandez as Sebastian, Isaiah Simpson as Windward, Ethan Sirard as Prince Eric, Ethan Stack as Scuttle, Owen Austin as Jetsam, Alex Barry as Flotsam (both excellent puppeteers) Camden Bouley as Grimsby, Mathew Bussell as Chef Louis, and Robbie Coolong as Leeward, plus a most excellent ensemble of featured dancers and sailors. Each and every one a Wunderkid – wonder kids!! I must add ALL were “Wonderful” in their various character portrayals providing, remarkable singing, dancing and riveting performances all!

Brooke DellaRocco and Josh Fernandez.
Brooke DellaRocco and Riley Quinn.

The Little Mermaid compels the audience to use their imagination, which makes this OHP production so much fun. A creative underwater set deigned by Eric Boucher including King Triton’s throne, a wayward ship, various movable underworld set pieces, illuminating lights, all the while a wafting wave ebbs and flows center stage. And the songs – so memorable and such a hit with this audience as sung by the OHP cast includes the following stalwarts “The World Above” sung by Brooke DellaRocco (Ariel), “Under the Sea” by Josh Fernandez (Sebastian) and the brilliantly undertaking of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” by Riley Quinn (Ursula).

Ethan Stack, Brooke DellaRocco and Lily Thompson.

Let me state, OHP presents a Kaleidoscope of goodness -the sets, costumes, puppetry, choreography, acting and singing skills, and even a LIVE Orchestra is all first rate – let me tell you! As mentioned, there are a cast of 33 actors providing a copious amount of characters from mermaids, sailors and undersea creatures – and oh those great eel puppets – simply put they are ALL quite brilliant and I send my kudos to the entire cast for their most energetic and effervescent performances. Believe you me – I was mighty impressed in every actor and in their various roles and so Will you!! Yes, this a dream production not to be missed- these students are on top!! Besides our excellent leads, Brook DellaRocco and Ethan Sirard, I do want to send out a few, yes a few of my “Howard’s Noticed YOU Awards; firstly, to both Riley Quinn and Josh Fernandez – very impressed with both your singing and showstopping songs, and lastly Ethan Stack and Lily Thompson-excellent stage presence both, Ethan – you made one great Seagull!! Enjoy.

Cast of The Little Mermaid at OHP Summer Theater

Tickets for OHP production of The Little Mermaid are $23 for adults, $19 for children under 12, students, and seniors 60+. Please visit operahouseplayers.org/tickets or call 860-292-6068 for additional information.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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The Howard – Theater Review – Anne of Green Gables – A New Musical

Reviewer:                        Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”

Production:                       ANNE OF GREEN GABLES – A New Musical

Theater:                            Goodspeed Opera House

Book & Lyrics by:            Matte O’Brien

Music by:                          Matt Vinson

Director:                            Jenn Thompson

Choreography by:             Jennifer Jancuska

Based on the Novel By:    L.M. Mongomery

The Howard says – “Anne of Green Gables” – Splendor in the Green at Goodspeed!

Anne of Green Gables Goodspeed Musicals Juliette Redden as Anne Shirley

Well “Leaping Lizards” everything is coming up Splendor in the Green at Goodspeed- “Anne of Green Gables-A New Musical’ that is!! Yes sireee, another red headed mop-top has stolen our hearts and has taken center stage at the most formidable Goodspeed Opera House. Folks – plain and simple -it’s a breathtaking new musical that is not to be missed – filled with richly developed characters, high stepping dance moves and songs that will steal your heart away!! Directed by “the” Jenn Thompson and Choreography by Jennifer Jancuska – “Anne of Green Gables- A New Musical” will be in production till September 4th at the Goodspeed in East Haddam, Connecticut.

Sharon Catherine Brown, Juliette Redden, D.C. Anderson in Anne of Green Gables

Firstly- the gal with the red tresses – Juliette Redden who portrays “Anne Shirley” is an absolute “STUNNER” – what a voice my friends- I was simply blown away from the get go – A STUNNING PERFORMANCE – A suburb Musical Achievement! There I have said it – and one of the main reasons for you as well to see this new musical is this “dynamo”- Miss Redden in musical action! Miss Redden provides a heartwarming performance that must be shared with future audiences. Secondly, Choreography by Jennifer Jancuska – this place is a jumpin’ and a steppin’, I swear I saw one dancer leap into a chair that is attached to the onset background wall- e-gads my friends- how they do it I rightly don’t know – but you have to see these dancers up close and personal doing their “high flying moves”- yes seeing is a believing – Absolutely STUNNING!!!

Anne of Green Gables Goodspeed Musicals East Haddam, CT 06423 (860)873-8664

“My name is Anne Shirley (But I so wish it was Cordelia.) If you must call me Anne, I do so wish that you at least spell it with an “e”. Spelling “Anne” with and “e” is just so much more elegant.” Yes we agree – such a famous line-in fact that same sentiment hovers over the Goodspeed mainstage at plays start in bold metallic letters that eventually take that E in Anne, emblazoned it in neon green- we get the drift! It’s a new age for this well-known inhabitant of Prince Edward Island, and a new retelling of this famous character set to music, san the usual braided pigtails and straw hat, but bespectacled with red sunglasses according to the Goodspeed poster -It’s a Dilly! The tale – Our poor orphan gal has lived her life in an asylum for unwanted children. She desperately seeks to be wanted by anyone and to be able to finally have a place to call Home – her “Green Gables”, to find family and friends that will truly love her – freckles, red hair and wild imagination included.

Anne of Green Gables Goodspeed Musicals East Haddam, CT 06423 (860)873-8664

As stated many a times- The Goodspeed Opera is the benchmark for presenting the absolute finest in today’s musicals. With vibrant productions, remarkable set design, dancing, costumes, lights, first class actors, singers and dancers and on so many accounts – Director Jenn Thompson (The Music Man, Oklahoma!, Bye, Bye Birdie) has been on board- with her stamp on “Anne of Green Gables” this new musical will definitely go far! This production is a non-stop impressive tour-de-force from the get go- we are so rightly sure this production is headed to Broadway – of course it needs a bit of a nip and a tuck here or there – but this “new generation” retelling of Anne- is ready for the bright lights of Broadway. We give standing ovations to this entire cast and ensemble including: D.C. Anderson as “Mathew Cuthbert”, Sharon Catherine-Brown as “Marilla Cuthbert”, Pierre Marais as Gilbert Blythe, Michelle Veintimilla as “Diana Barry”, Amanda Ferguson as “Mrs. Barry” and lastly – the coveted “Howard Noticed YOU Award” goes to Aurelia Williams as “Rachel Lynde”- you STOLE the show whenever you were on stage- you know it and we loved it !!! Please don’t blink an Eye- “Anne of Green Gables – A New Musical” is a “must see musical event”! I strongly urge you to make your way to Goodspeed to take in this excellent production. Enjoy.

Aurelia Williams and Juliette Redden in Anne of Green Gables-Goodspeed Opera

Anne of Green Gables will be in production till September 4th, 2022. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select performances at 2:00 p.m.), Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.). Tickets are available through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open weekdays at 10:00 a.m. and weekends at 11:00 a.m., or online at goodspeed.org. For show highlights, exclusive photos, special events and more, visit us at goodspeed.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter @goodspeedmusicl

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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The Howard – Theater Review – Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Reviewer:                         Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”

Production:                      Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA  

Theater:                            Seven Angels Theater

New Book:                       Douglas Carter Beane

Music by:                         Richard Rodgers

Lyrics:                              Oscar Hammerstein II

Director:                           Jimmy Donohue

Choreographed by:          Marissa Follo Perry

Music Director:                Clio Janis

The Howard says…”I am Verklempt- Cinderella at Seven Angels – A Highly Charged Emotional Musical Event!

Jessica Irizarry as Ella in Cinderella

Are you ready for a grand summer adventurer? Are you ready for a good time? Just click those glass heels three times and you are on your way to a simply enchanting, highly emotionally charged theatrical event of the summer. Let me just rightly say- The Howard is absolutely “Verklempt” – which simply means “true tears of joy” were emanating throughout this most excellent musical production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” – and believe you me- that’s a hard thing to get me to do my friends!! The most fantastic “yarn that was ever spun” – “Cinderella”- is a stellar showcase of talent and production not to be missed from the “House of Semina”- (Seven Angels Theater) De Laurentis that is! This S.A.T. production of “Cinderella” runs from Friday, July 22nd  through Sunday, August 7th, in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Jessica Irizarry and Terrence Bogan in Cinderella

Yesiree – “Cinderella” – the classic fairy tale, you know it! A lowly gal of cinders, the ever so cruel stepmother and her duo dreadful daughters, a prince, a ball, a glass slipper- (ouch that must be painful) throw in a pumpkin and a few field mice, a fairy God mom and wallah!! – a tale often told! But do you know the musical Cinderella my friends by Rodgers & Hammerstein? This is one musical so unique in many ways- The only musical originally made specifically for television – first seen on CBS in 1957 starring “Mary Poppins” herself- Julie Andrews, again in 1965 starring Leslie Ann Warren and produced once more in 1997 starring Brandy Norwood, Whitney Houston as the Fairy God-Mom and Bernadette Peters as the nasty stepmother. The Howard’s favorite, as you can guess is the classic 1965 version. I can still envision those evil stepsisters, deliciously bad-azzed, portrayed by Pat Carrol and Barbra Ruick–singing the “Stepsister’s Lament”- it still gives me goosebumps to this day. Ok- I have not forgotten this current S.A.T. cast- don’t rush me-don’t rush me- I’m getting there I promise!

Terrence Bogan, Jimmy Donohue and Guy Gaudiosi
Cast of Cinderella at Seven Angels Theater

As stated – I am Verklempt- Seven Angels has provided all the right ingredients, cast, music, choreography by Marissa Follo Perry, for a highly emotional audience experience that one must takes note of wayward tears and eye wiping from this most appreciative audience, ahem – including The Howard. This version of “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” is the updated musical that was reintroduced on Broadway in 2013 by Douglas Carter Beane. It features a few additional songs from the R & H songbook and a divergence from the original “fairy book” concept by adding new back stories- Ella (Jessica Irizarry) opens Prince Topher’s (Terrence Bogan) eyes to “a state of foulness” in the kingdom, a love interest in the form of a local rebel rouser named Jean-Michel (Michael Newman) for one of the stepsisters Gabrielle (Marcia Maslo), Crazy Marie (Samantha Rae Bass) a gatherer of throwaways, an evil prime minister (Guy Gaudiosi) and his flunky Lord Pinkleton (Jimmy Donohue). I freely admit this production, under the skillful hands of Director Jimmy Donohue, is full of “heart, pathos, laughter and as stated -tears”. The production sets the mood from the get-go with all its original R & H songs and a simply charming entree montage behind gauzed curtains that slowly introduces the cast of characters.

Cristin Daly, Jessica Irizarry, Kadie Tolderlund, Marcia Maslo
Katie Tolderlund as Charlotte in Cinderella
Cristin Daly and Marcia Maslo

Well here it goes- Firstly – I just have to state that Mr. Jimmy Donahue, Director, Actor, Production Manager, is fast becoming a true legend in the theater world, aka “Mr. Showmanship” – he is certainly a guiding light here at S.A.T. We were first introduced to this creative force with his starring role in the holiday production of ELF, and we can certainly see his expert hand at work here. Jimmy’s rendition of “The Prince is Giving A Ball” as Lord Pinkleton is not to be missed my friends!! Onward to our talented cast, both our leads Jessica Irizarry and Terrence Bogan are dramatic, impressive, and equally charming with voices that match well. Kudos & bows to these amazing cast members including; Cristin Daly as the Stepmother/Madame, Marcia Maslo as Gabrielle, Michael Newman as Jean-Michel, and Guy Gaudiosi as Sebastian. Lastly, I present the coveted “The Howard Noticed YOU Awards” to two cast members – Ms. Samantha Rae Bass as Marie/Fairy Godmother- Miss Rae Bass your voice has no equal- a simply upbeat and jubilant performance!!!  Lastly, Miss Kadie Tolderlund – YOU STOLE THE SHOW in your performance as “Charlotte” the “other stepsister”. Whenever you appeared on stage all eyes are clearly on you! Kadie – you provided a most excellent performance experience– I so enjoyed your rendition of “Stepsister’s Lament. The Howard looks forward to seeing you in your next production. For a magical theatrical experience – please visit Seven Angels Theater for their production of “Cinderella”. Enjoy!

Samantha Rae Bass as the Fairy Godmother in CINDERELLA
Howard Steven Frydman and Jimmy Donohue

Performances for “Cinderella” at Seven Angels Theater starts on Friday, July 22 and runs through Sunday, August 7. Evenings at 7:30 PM and matinees at 2 PM.  Tickets are $20 for students, $29 or adults and a 4 pack only $99 and on sale now at the Seven Angels Theatre website SevenAngelsTheatre.org, by calling 203-757-4676, or at the box office. Seven Angels Theatre is located on Plank Road in Waterbury, Connecticut with plenty of free parking. Just off I-84.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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The Howard – Theater Review – PIPPIN at Playhouse On Park

Reviewer:                         Howard Steven Frydman aka “The Howard”

Production:                       PIPPIN  

Theater:                            Playhouse On Park

Book:                                Roger O. Hirson

Music & Lyrics:               Stephen Schwartz

Director:                           Darlene Zoller

Choreographed by:           Darlene Zoller

The Howard’s Exhale – “Pippin – Smart Sexy, and Savvy !”

Well Leapin’ Lizards and a Hellzapoppin’– Its “Pippin” at the POP and its absolutely Phenomenal! Yessiree Bob, The Howard says Pippin is Savvy, Sexy and Smart and jam-packed with foot stomping musical fun! This final production in Playhouse on Park’s 13th Main Stage Season, running from July 6th till August 21st is chocked filled with all those glistening glorious ingredients that make for a successful production!  From the get-go of its first song – “Magic To Do” – POP’s Pippin is indeed aglow with all the love, sweat and sweet tears that go into mounting such a massive staging and it unfolds to a most appreciative audience- let me tell you! This Summer the BIG Takeaway – make a beeline flight to see Pippin at POP.

Shannon Cheong in PIPPIN at Playhouse On Park

First of all – this production has a major case of the “Z’s”, it has been lovingly stamped all over- which is a good thing to have. Yes, my friends it’s been “Zoller-fied”, namely this production is filled with elaborate and oh-so stunning dance movements created by the Sorceress Supreme of Dance, Director/Choreographer Darlene Zoller. Pippin, beyond its story and music, is all about movement, you know Fosse Fosse Fosse, (Bob Fosse directed and choregraphed the original Broadway production in 1972) and Ms. “Z” has indeed provided an excellent showcase for our talented ensemble of dancers. In fact, it’s a beautiful site to behold to see our two leads Shannon Cheong as “Pippin” and Thao Nguyen as the “Leading Player” in duel leaps, and for a magnificent second, frozen in mid stride on stage. One can see the endless hours of rehearsals that have gone into this production, from a small hand gesture over the head, to aerobatics and intricate high jumps from center stage. You can literally envision Ms. “Z’s” coaching in every move on the POP stage – Bravo to both her and her charges.

Shannon Cheong in PIPPIN at Playhouse On Park

 So, what’s the matter with Pippin- like the kid endlessly playing brain draining video games during the summer break and his Pop at the bedroom door screaming to mow the lawn, he is just a bit confused and just doesn’t know what’s real or not and isn’t sure what to do with his life- Oy! Kids?! What’s the matter with kids today? Well pull up a seat (at POP of course) and hear a tale, told by the Leading Player (Thao Nguyen) and his theater troupe about this kid from yesteryear, the middle ages that is – a real Prince, Prince Pippin (Shannon Cheong) the son of the mighty King Charlemagne (Gene Choquette) who seeks to answer the question – the meaning of  true satisfaction and his purpose in life – does a life fulfilled come from battle, human temptations, or ultimately from finding true love? Along the way to discovery– the Leading Player introduces us to Pippin’s Grandmother Berthe, (SuEllen Estey), his half-brother, the muscle bound war machine Lewis (Brad Weatherford) and his step-mother Fastrada (Kate Wesler) who as we find out is deviously trying to make sure that her son Lewis will be King Charlemagne’s heir and not Pippin. Oy again! By the way, a kid -Theo (Ryan Byrne) with his pet duck shows up in the second act along with his widowed farm owner mom – Catherine (Juliana Lamia)– and I beseech thee, don’t leave your seat for a second – the Finale it’s a Doozy!

By the way, there is a 15-minute intermission in Pippin – during the climax of the 1st act, King Charlemagne dies and drops to the floor, and for that entire 15 minutes, on stage mind you, actor Gene Choquette does not move, not one muscle- for a blessed 15 minutes till the second act begins, WOW! I do need to take note of our actors- Shannon Cheong as Pippin and Thao Nguyen – besides those dance moves, what impressive voices on both, clear, loud and pristine. Our entire class of Pippin – many musical theater graduates are truly outstanding in both voice, movement, and stage presence, excluding those cast members already mentioned, our singular gratitude to; Dalton Bertolone, Leyland Cockerl-Patrick, Rae Janeil, Miss Teagan La’Shay, Oleode Oshotse, Stephanie Reuning-Scherer, Kristen Schoen-Rene, and Julie Solecki. The coveted “Howard Noticed You Award” goes to Ms. SuEllen Estey as Grandmama “Berthe”- you literally steal the show with your rendition of “No Time at All” – I delight when the lyric reaches “By a man who calls me Granny” for most Pippin aficionados know it’s a gentle acknowledgement to Actress Irene Ryan, who not only portrayed the original Berthe on Broadway but achieved international notoriety as “Granny” on the long running “The Beverly Hillbillies” TV series.  Friends, POP’s Pippin” is infused with memorable songs, spectacular choreography by Ms. Zoller and is a smart savvy class act! Enjoy!     

Cast of PIPPIN at Playhouse On Park

Tickets are now on sale for PIPPIN, and range from $40-$50. Group rates available! Student and Senior discounts are also available. Student Rush is $10 (cash only), available 15 minutes prior to curtain. 2pm matinees are on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Evening performances are at 7:30pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and at 8pm on Friday and Saturday. There will be a talk back with the cast after each Sunday matinee.

COVID-19 Policy: Vaccination card checks and masks are not required. However, masks are strongly recommended.

For more information or tickets, call the Box Office at 860-523-5900 x10 or visit http://www.playhouseonpark.org. Playhouse on Park offers discounts for group sales; inquire today! Playhouse on Park is located at 244 Park Road, West Hartford, CT 06119.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.

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