Lauren, a former newspaper editor, is the editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com) and Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com) where she reviews Broadway, Off-Broadway and Connecticut theater. She also is a freelance writer and consults and produces for the theater. She is a member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, the CT Critics Circle, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the National Book Critics Circle. She and her husband live in Granby, CT. Visit her writing site at http://laurenyarger.wordpress.com.
BWW Reviews: Bipolar Disorder Drives the Beat in a NEXT TO NORMAL Household
May 18, 2013
Kitt's score and Brian Yorgey's book and lyrics combine for one of the deepest and moving shows to hit a Broadway stage. It's not the typical subject matter for a musical (the theater suggests that it is appropriate for children 16 and up), but you should take advantage of an opportunity to see this excellent rock musical, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. That sandwich-making scene in the opening act is terrific as directed by Janine Molinari with De Laurentis skillfully portraying the frenzied breakdown as Diana tries to cope.
BWW Reviews: Racism Takes Up Residence in CLYBOURNE PARK
May 18, 2013
Have you heard the one about a little white man thrown in a jail cell with a big black guy? If not, you can catch this, and a few other offensive jokes over at Long Wharf Theatre, where they pepper the dialogue in Bruce Norris' CLYBOURNE PARK, the Pulitzer-Prize winning play that explores themes of racism, gentrification and the way Americans relate to each other.
BWW Reviews: IN A YEAR WITH 13 MOONS Puzzles Audience -- and Critic
May 10, 2013
As a critic, my first obligation is to be honest, so my readers will trust me when reporting on my experiences in the theater. After seeing the world premiere of In a Year With 13 Moons at Yale Rep, I have to tell you the truth. I didn't get it.
BWW Reviews: It's a Recording Session from Hell When the Star Gets LOOPED
May 10, 2013
A single line of dialogue is the catalyst for Matthew Lombardo's multi-layered and laugh-filled play LOOPED making a tour stop this week at The Bushnell in Hartford.
BWW Reviews: Goodspeed Scores Good Fun with GOOD NEWS to Field 50th
May 5, 2013
It's a simple tale, mostly predictable, but somehow perfect for the Goodspeed stage. It's light, fun and lends itself to big dance numbers and colorful costumes (Tracy Christensen, design), though nothing just smacks of the '20s, interestingly.
BWW Reviews: This HAIRSPRAY Sticks and is Quite a Do!
April 29, 2013
Director Paul Mullins has teased together a terrific cast (the ensemble at 45+ is huge) starring comedian Kevin Meaney as Edna Turnblad, Tina Fabrique (Ella) as Motormouth Mabel and Lena Mary Amato as Tracy, reprising this role for the fifth time.
BWW Reviews: Music Theater of CT's COLE Provides Quick Sing Through of Some Tunes
April 26, 2013
BWW Reviews: Shark Eats Shark, the Small Business in OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY at Ivoryton
April 26, 2013
'Shark-eats-little fish' and 'shark-eats-shark' set the stage for the underhanded word of corporate takeovers in Jerry Sterner's play, OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY over at Ivoryton Playhouse.
BWW Reviews: Sisterhood Overcomes Evil in SISTER ACT Tour at the Bushnell
April 17, 2013
Ta'Rea Campbell stars as nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier, the role made famous in the film by Whoopi Goldberg (who is a producer on the show). When Deloris sees her lover, gangster Curtis Jackson (Kingsley Leggs, who originated the role on Broadway), murder a snitch she's marked for execution and seeks help from the Philadelphia Police. She's taken into protection by shy, former high school classmate and cop 'Sweaty' Eddie Souther, who still harbors a crush for the flamboyant Deloris.
BWW Reviews: A Tale as Tall as the Sky is Wide Sweeps Across Hartford Stage with ABUNDANCE
April 12, 2013
ABUNDANCE, Beth Henley's tale of two mail order brides out west in the last part of the 19th century, packs in everything you'd expect from a tall tale of life on the American frontier - and much more. Maybe too much.
BWW Reviews: THE IMMIGRANT at Seven Angels Offers Storytelling at Its Best
April 9, 2013
Subtitled 'An American Musical,' it is in the truest sense the story of striving for the American Dream. Haskell (Max Bisantz) arrives in the small town of Hamilton, in Central Texas shortly after the turn of the century, pushing a banana cart and unable to speak English. Wary at first of the stranger, who also turns out to be a Jew, Milton and Ima (Paul Blankenship and Sarah Knapp) take him in. Milton, the town's banker, partners with Haskell to help build his business, which eventually turns into a dry goods store. When Haskell finally saves enough to bring his wife, Leah (Rita Markova), over from Russia, the friendship is tested, however. Haskell no longer is the observant Jew she married. The new country has changed him. He doesn't wear his hat, keep a Kosher home or observe the Sabbath any more.
BWW Reviews: THE MOUNTAINTOP at TheaterWorks Hartford Recreates the Room and the Man
April 8, 2013
It's April 3, 1968 and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., arrives at a Memphis motel after delivering his 'I've Been to the Mountaintop' speech. There, a mysterious maid bringing him a cup of room service coffee causes him to reflect on his life and destiny in Katori Hall's Olivier-winning play THE MOUNTAINTOP, running at TheaterWorks in Hartford.
BWW Reviews: Paul Giamatti's HAMLET at Yale Rep is 'Not To Be' Missed if You Want 'To Be' Entertained
March 24, 2013
Giamatti, a little older and less handsome-of-face than most Hamlets these days, brings out the tortured Dane prince's humorous side and in doing so, engages a younger generation that might not normally think several hours in a theater listening to Shakespeare could be a fun way to spend an evening. It sure is, however, thanks to Bundy's skill in allowing his actors to find fresh new interpretations while keeping them true to the classic.
BWW Reviews: Rock & Roll Fame Spins on the Flipside of Love in LIFE COULD BE A DREAM
March 18, 2013
In a basement rec room in the 1950s, four guys dream of being the next big thing in rock 'n' roll and of winning the girl who has stolen their hearts in Life Could Be A Dream, a jukebox musical that has them clapping and singing along at the Ivoryton Playhouse.
BWW Review: The Beatles Experience with RAIN Rocks at Waterbury's Palace
March 16, 2013
If you're a Beatles fan, you'll enjoy the music-jammed two and a half hours (with an intermission). The music and vocals are good. It's the next best thing to seeing Paul, George, John and Ringo in person. Four generations were represented in the audience who sang and clapped along with the music.
BWW Reviews: Extra! Extra! Screwball Comedy HIS GIRL FRIDAY Unfolds at Connecticut Rep
March 4, 2013
Love in the newsroom, corrupt politics and a murder trial combine for screwball comedy in HIS GIRL FRIDAY over at Connecticut Repertory's Nafe Katter Theatre on the UConn campus.
BWW Reviews: Chatting with Chekhov Sheds Some Light in MAN IN CASE at Hartford Stage
March 1, 2013
Dramatic music plays, people talk in short sentences expressing their deepest feelings, video mimics what is happening on stage - or the stage action depicts what already has happened - in an atmosphere that feels depressing and foreign. We have stepped into the world premiere of Man in a Case starring former ballet-sensation-turned-actor Mikhail Baryshnikov at Hartford Stage.
BWW Reviews: The Music Comes Through Loud and Clear, the Story Not So Much in AMERICAN IDIOT
February 27, 2013
A group of friends, loud music, drugs, sex, war and rebellion against parental authority. If you're thinking Spring Awakening or Hair, you're close, but just a generation or two off. This one is American Idiot, a Punk Rock musical featuring songs from Green Day and making a tour stop at the Bushnell.
BWW Reviews: Riveting Performances Propel Long Wharf's CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS
February 22, 2013
The darker side of the production is offset by riveting performances by Ivey and Tighe - and that really adorable scene-stealing lamb handled by William Berloni.
BWW Reviews: Seven Angels Takes Us on Trip Down Memory Lane with George Burns in SAY GOODNIGHT, GRACIE
February 20, 2013
The play is as much a love letter from Burns to his comedy partner and wife and a tribute to his friendship with comedian Jack Benny as it is a memoir of his career, which spanned 90 years until he turned 100.
Cathy Rigby Still Flying High in PETER PAN
February 18, 2013
BWW Reviews: Gurney's ANCESTRAL VOICES Blends Nostalgia with Modern Questions About Family, Acceptance
February 6, 2013
One of A.R. Gurney's lesser known works, ANCESTRAL VOICES, is getting a run over at Music Theatre of Connecticut, where the intimate setting is just right for the nostalgic look at one family, seen through the eyes of a boy growing up in Buffalo before World War II.
BWW Reviews: ALMOST MAINE Offers Warm Love Stories with a Touch of Frostbite
February 4, 2013
The play has cool charm, blustery humor and just enough frostbite to keep it from being too sweetly romantic.
BWW Reviews: Good Acting, Direction, Make All the Difference for STONES IN HIS POCKETS
February 1, 2013
When I first saw Marie Jones's play STONES IN HIS POCKETS, I wasn't reviewing, but was working as the Front of House Manager at the Bushnell where Bronson Pinchot was starring in the tour stop there in 2002. About half of the audience left at intermission, most of them asking what the play was about. I couldn't answer. I had no idea myself.
Photo Coverage: Inside MOOSE MURDERS' Opening Night After Party!
January 31, 2013
The Beautiful Soup Theater Collective's production of the first ever revival of Arthur Bicknell's Moose Murders, the most notorious flop in the history of modern theater, celebrated its opening last night, January 30, 2013 at The Connelly Theater. BroadwayWorld was there for the festivities and you can check out full coverage from the after party below!
BWW Reviews: BREATH & IMAGINATION Shouts a Jubilant Song
January 22, 2013
Humor, drama, history and passion are keys used to play a lovely chord as Roland hears music in everything he does and Tresnjak is the conductor who puts visual artistry to the emotions and plot.
BWW Reviews: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Brings Legends to Life -- Almost
January 10, 2013
It's 1956 and Carl Perkins (Connecticut native James Barry) is trying to record 'Matchbox,' the song he hopes will put him back at the top of the charts. Providing some distraction during the recording session (and adding to the music), however, are showoff Jerry Lee Lewis (Benjamin Goddard) and legends Johnny Cash (David Elkins) and Elvis Presley (Billy Woodward).
BWW Reviews: Enjoy Some Christmas Cheer from a Disgruntled Elf in THE SANTALAND DIARIES
December 14, 2012
Kready, dressed in full elf garb that incudes candy-cane tights (Margaret Charbonneau, costume design), often reclining in an ornate Santa throne decorated with a background of Christmas trees (Michael Lenaghan, set design), brings personalities to life with recreations of SantaLand moments under the direction of Rob Ruggiero, TheaterWorks' newly appointed producing artistic director.
BWW Reviews: Sarah Ruhl's DEAR ELIZABETH, Play About Poets, is Poetry Itself
December 12, 2012
It's amazingly sad yet funny, intense yet whimsical, deep yet obvious, revealing yet obscure -- all at the same time and both Fisher and Mays capture our imaginations as they creating characters experiencing the wide range of emotions.
BWW Reviews: Hartford Stage Showcases Ghosts in A CHRISTMAS CAROL
December 4, 2012
Right from the start, Michael Wilson's adaptation of Charles Dicken's A CHRISTMAS CAROL makes it clear that its subtitle, "A Ghost of a Christmas Story," should be taken seriously. Not only do the four ghosts we expect pay visits, but others dance, fly, float and slither across the stage in a satisfying presentation now in its 15th season at Hartford Stage.
BWW Reviews: Parade Scene Highlights Seven Angel's MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
December 3, 2012
The parade seen is terrifically stages with marching bands, entertaining acts and the famous Macy's balloons all depicted while Music Director Richard DeRosa and his five-man band play a score by Meredith "Music Man" Wilson that includes "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." Alexander Butler as Mara's grandson is adorable as is Grace Rundhaug, who believes in Santa when Kris is able to speak to her in her native Dutch. The real Macy's over at Waterbury's Brass Mill Mall also got involved in the production, decorating the theater lobby and providing discount cards in the program.
BWW Reviews: CT Rep's ROMEO & JULIET is Timeless Tale of Star-Crossed Lovers with a Few Twists
December 3, 2012
What stands out about this production is the really terrific fight choreography by Greg Webster. Steel clashes and extended sword battles rage in some of the most thrilling, realistic looking onstage battles you'll ever see. One battle breathtakingly stops, only to resume after intermission.
BWW Reviews: Yale Rep Takes a Revolutionary Look at MARIE ANTOINETTE
November 7, 2012
In this sumptuous, eye-pleasing version of the last days of Marie Antoinette, Adjmi interjects modern thoughts into history from France's bloody Revolution to create a remarkable, thought-provoking and witty theatrical experience.
BWW Reviews: THE KITCHEN WITCHES Brew Up a Different Kind of Food Fight at Ivoryton
November 5, 2012
Insults, cooking competitions, family secrets bubbling to the surface and food fights are ingredients for a successful show.
BWW Reviews: Christie Brinkley-Led CHICAGO Tour Razzle Dazzles at The Bushnell
October 27, 2012
Christie Brinkley, who played this role twice on Broadway, gives it a professional effort (adopting a speaking voice that sounds a lot like original Roxie Gwen Verdon), and she looks terrific, but singing and dancing don't come naturally to the former supermodel.
BWW Reviews: SOMETHING'S AFOOT at Goodspeed is a Whydunit Mystery
October 27, 2012
The biggest mystery surrounding SOMETHING'S AFOOT isn't who's murdering guests at a posh estate on a remote island. It's why Goodspeed would decide to present a revival of such a flawed musical when there are so many other more deserving shows out there. It's not a whodunit. It's a whydunit?
BWW Reviews: Strong Performances Highlight CT Regional Premiere of NEXT TO NORMAL at MTC
October 24, 2012
It's compelling, moving, excellent theater and Pratt is a treat to watch.
BWW Reviews: Hartford Stage Offers Rare Musical with Comedic Romp, A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER
October 22, 2012
Offering its first musical premiere since the 1996-97 season, Hartford Stage presents a tongue-in-cheek, Edwardian romp among the royals in A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder starring Tony-Award-Winner and Connecticut native Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife) as eight different characters.