Two Irving Berlin Musicals Highlight the Connecticut Holiday Entertainment Scene

The show stopping dance. Photo by Diane Sobolewski

The show stopping dance. Photo by Diane Sobolewski

By Karen Isaacs

 Old favorites are returning to Connecticut this holiday season, but two musical versions of popular Irving Berlin films will be among the new attractions.

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, an adaptation of the popular 1942 film that starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, has proved to be so popular at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam that the run has been extended through Dec. 28.  The premise of the film was an inn in Connecticut that only opened for holidays. It introduced “White Christmas” as well as a number of other Berlin songs.  The new show — which will undoubtedly have a life after Goodspeed — adds in some other Berlin standards, some fabulous dancing and solid performances particularly from Noah Racey in the Astaire role, Patti Murin as the love interest and Susan Mosher as the comic character.  There is even a talented child, Spencer Stanley, who manages to get great laughs without being a smart aleck.  While you are enjoying the show you can order special holiday cocktails and show-themed drinks either before the show or during intermission.  For tickets call 860-873-8668 or on-line at www.goodspeed.org.  BUT the show is selling out.

The Shubert Theater in New Haven is presenting the tour of the Broadway version of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Dec. 30 to Jan. 4.  This is the musical version of the 1954 film that capitalized on the popularity of the song, “White Christmas” and starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney.  In addition to the title tune, it included some other Berlin standards as well as “Count Your Blessings.”  This one is about a successful entertainment duo (Crosby and Kaye) who decide to broadcast their popular TV show from the failing Vermont inn owned by their WWII commanding officer.  For tickets 203-562-5666 or 888-736-2663  or www.shubert.com.

The Bushnell is also offering a new musical this season, a stage adaptation of the popular TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; The Musical. It runs Nov. 25 to 30. No performances are scheduled for Thanksgiving, but there are three shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The new musical is faithful to the well-loved 1964 TV animated classic and features Rudolph, Santa, and others including Hermey, Yukon and the Island of Misfit Toys.  For tickets call 860-987-5900 or visit www.bushnell.org.

 

Tiny Tim is all grown up in "Christmas on the Rocks" at TheaterWorks.  Photo by Lanny Nagler

Tiny Tim is all grown up in “Christmas on the Rocks” at TheaterWorks. Photo by Lanny Nagler

If the sweetness of the Berlin musicals are not your taste, TheaterWorks in Hartford is bringing backs its popular holiday show from last year.  Christmas on the Rocks is subtitled An offbeat collection of twisted holiday tales.  A variety of talented contemporary playwrights including John Cariani, Jeffrey Hartcher, Matthew Lombardo, Theresa Rebeck, Edwin Sanchez, Jonathan Tollins, and Connecticut’s own Jacques Lamarrre have written playlets about what has happened in adulthood to the children from some well-known holiday classics.  Thus we learn about the futures of Tiny Tim, Charlie Brown, Cindy Lou Who, and others.  The playlets have been tweeked.  Harry Bouvy and Ronn Carroll return to the cast, as “the man” and the bartender who hears their stories.  Jenn Harris plays “the woman,”  Christmas on the Rocks which runs Nov. 28 to Dec. 21 is not for children though more cynical and sophisticated teens will enjoy it.  For tickets call 860-527-7838 or visit www.theaterworkshartford.org.

Hartford Stage is continuing the process of refreshing and up-dating its spectacular A Christmas Carol — A Ghost Story of Christmas which runs Nov. 28 to Dec. 28.  Now in its 17th year, the production features new costumes and enhanced flying effects, choreography for the ghostly

New effects are part of this year's production of "A Christmas Carol -- A Ghost Story of Christmas" at Hartford Stage.  Photo by T. Charles Erickson

New effects are part of this year’s production of “A Christmas Carol — A Ghost Story of Christmas” at Hartford Stage. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

apparitions and lighting which reflects the newest and latest in stage lighting technology. This is year two of a three year series of upgrades.  Many of the well-loved cast members return including Bill Raymond as Scrooge, Johanna Morrison as the Spirit of Christmas Past and others.  If you purchase tickets before Nov. 28 and use the code: Turkey15 there is a 25 percent discount for performances Thanksgiving weekend.  For those or any tickets, call 860-527-5151 or visit www.hartfordstage.org. A family fun night is schedule for Dec. 18 with members of the cast greeting the audience, and local vendors will be in the lobby with their unique wares on Dec. 6,7 and 14, prior to the matinee performances.

A sensory-friendly performance will be on Dec. 9.  This is designed for children and adults with autism or other disabilities which create sensory sensitivities. Special materials will be available on the website for families to prepare for the show.

Once again, Jacqui Hubbard, artistic director of Ivoryton Playhouse, has written a Christmas show for the theater.  After the success last year of The Bells of Dublin, she has created a sequel — The Bells of Dublin: The Carols of the Bells which will run Dec. 11 to 21.  Once again, we visit Paddy and the gang at Bell’s Pub but it has been transformed into a wine and tapas bar. What has happened?  R. Bruce Connelly and Michael McDermott star.  You can expect music including banjoes and bagpipes.  For tickets call 860-767-7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

Branford’s Legacy Theater which is trying to revive what most refer to as The Puppet House will offer a holiday show at the Taber Stage, 48 Tabor Drive in Branford.  Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold is playing Dec. 5 to 7.  In the tradition of Late Night Catechism, the Sister takes on the mystery of what happened to the gold presented by the Magi to the infant Jesus.  For tickets, visit, legacytheatrect.givezooks.com.

Four Broadway ladies bring holiday songs and memories to the Bushnell.

Four Broadway ladies bring holiday songs and memories to the Bushnell.

Four Broadway leading ladies will perform 4 Girls 4: A Christmas Together on Dec. 1 at the Bushnell’s Belding Theater.  Donna McKechnie (best known for Company and A Chorus Line), Andrea McArdle (Annie),  Faith Prince (Guys and Dolls), and Maureen McGovern (The Pirates of Penzance) will celebrate the holidays with song, dance, laughter and memories.  For tickets call 860-987-5900 or visit www.bushnell.org.

Music is always a big part of the holidays and the New Haven Symphony is doing its part with three separate programs, each offered in a variety of locations. The full symphony will perform portions of Handel’s Messiah under the baton of Jeffrey Douma and featuring the Christ Church Choir on Dec. 18 at Woolsey Hall in New Haven benefitting the Community Soup Kitchen, Dec. 19 at The Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Fairfield University and Dec. 20 at the First Congregational Church in Madison.

The NHSO Brass Quintet will perform holiday favorites emceed by Mrs. Claus, who will share behind the scenes stories from Santa’s workshop, this year’s naughty and nice list, her favorite cookie recipe and the truth about Santa’s favorite reindeer. The Quintet will perform Nov. 30 at Infinity Hall in Norfolk,  Dec. 6 at Nelson Hall in Cheshire, and Dec. 19 at the Yale Center for British Art.

Home for the Holidays is the title of the Symphony’s pop concert featuring familiar classical and popular holiday favorites (“Winter Wonderland,” “O Holy Night” among many others)  including a singalong. Conductor Chelsea Tipton will direct the orchestra and soloists on Dec. 13 the Veterans’ Auditorium in Hamden and Dec. 14 at Shelton Intermediate School.  For tickets to any of  the Symphony programs, call 203-865-0831. or click here.

This content courtesy of Shore Publications and www.zip06.com

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