Category Archives: Arts ‘n’ Entertainment

Hartford Stage Announces Winners of “Write On” Competition

Hartford Stage today announced the winners of the Annual Young Playwrights’ Competition, Write On, for students in grades 9-12, and this year’s winners are Abigail Kehoe, Alyssa Slotnick, Christopher Snow, Joe Buchek and Jonas Shivers.


Abigail Kehoe – Classical Magnet School – Grade 12

Abby Kehoe is a senior at Classical Magnet School in Hartford, where she is taking a playwriting class and slowly warming to this dialogue-heavy literary medium. Flash fiction, poetry, and novels are her usual forte, but she is hopeful that this opportunity will expand her writing repertoire and make her a better-rounded thespian. Abby is currently stage-managing Classical’s production of Iphigenia 2.0 and preparing for National Novel Writing Month in November, where she will be attempting her first complete novel.

Alyssa Slotnick – Lewis S. Mills High School – Grade 12

Alyssa Slotnick is a senior at Lewis Mills High School in Burlington, CT.  She has a love of both reading and writing, as well as an interest in photography. She is currently taking AP English at her high school as well as several other English classes. Throughout high school she has had an interest in writing short fiction, and though playwriting is a new genre for her, she is very excited to use Write On to its full potential in exploring and learning a new type of writing.

Christopher Snow – Global Communications Academy – Grade 9

Christopher Snow was born in Hartford, CT, and has always been interested in art, film, media direction and production, acting, fashion, and interior design. He had the good idea of doing Write On because he sees it as good start in the art industry, starting with playwriting.

Joe Buchek – Hall High School – Grade 11

Joe Buchek is a junior at Hall High School. He has never written a play before this one and hopes to learn from this workshop.

Jonas Shivers – Hall High School -Grade 12

Jonas Shivers is a senior at Hall High School in West Hartford. Jonas has a large background in technical theater working on a lot shows throughout his four years at Hall, including but not limited to, Moon over Buffalo, Romeo & Juliet, House of Blue Leaves, Our Town, The Children’s Hour, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Under a Better Sky. He likes to write short stories. Jonas also is an actor, musician, DJ, and a freestyle skier in the winter.


Students were asked to submit an idea inspired by a topic that is important to them and relevant in their world and for these selected playwrights, Hartford Stage’s Education Department will help with the rest. Winning playwrights sit in on rehearsals for Hartford Stage’s Brand:NEW Fall Festival of New Works, participate in writing workshops lead by Hartford Stage’s Aetna New Voices Fellow, and see their own plays performed for the public by professional actors and directors. This year, the writers in the Write On program will work with Aetna New Voices Fellow, Matthew Lopez (The Whipping Man).

Hartford Stage Company

Hartford Stage, since its founding in 1963, has been known for innovative revivals of classics and the development of important new works, including 65 World or American premieres. Recent work includes Quiara Alegria Hudes’Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Horton Foote’sThe Orphans’ Home Cyclewhich had a celebrated run at the Signature Theatre in New York during the 2009-2010 season; a landmark production of Harper Lee’sTo Kill a Mockingbird;the premieres of Michael Kramer’sDivine Rivalry;and Daniel Beaty’sResurrection (later retitledThrough the Night,which had a successful run off-Broadway during the 2010-11 season). In 1998 the theatre launched an unprecedented ten-year retrospective of Tennessee Williams, which included the premiere of three plays. Other new work includes the premieres of Eve Ensler’sNecessary Targets, Edward Albee’sAt Home at the Zoo,Matthew Barber’sEnchanted April(which transferred to Broadway), Matthew Lombardo’sTea at Five, and many others. The theatre has earned numerous distinguished honors, including a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, the Margo Jones Award, OBIE awards, New York Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards. In 2005 Hartford Stage was awarded The Hartford Courant’s Tapestry Award recognizing its outstanding work in diversity, and in 2008 it was awarded the Bank of America Neighborhood Builder’s Award recognizing its excellence in building community in Greater Hartford. Hartford Stage is currently under the leadership of Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts.

Julie Andrews Directs ‘Mousical’ at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theater



by Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Critics On The Aisle™

The hills of Connecticut are going to be alive with the sounds of music as Julie Andrews directs a new musical— “The Great American Mousical”—at Goodspeed Musical’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. This developmental production runs November 8 through December 2.

The show is based on the best-selling book by Ms. Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, with illustrations by Tony Walton.

Unfolding below the bright lights of Broadway in the depths of the historic Sovereign Theatre, this is story of a troupe of musical-making mice who are in the throes of rehearsing a new show.  When the theatre is threatened by demolition and their diva, Adelaide, disappears, it will take all paws on deck to fulfill the time-honored tradition: the show must go on. Filled with singing, dancing, and show biz lore, “The Great American Mousical” is a tribute to life in the theatre and celebrates two of the most delight-inspring words in the English language: musical comedy.

The other talented collaborators on the team include Zina Goldrich, who composed the score with lyrics by Marcy Heisler; a book by Tony-nominee writer Hunter Bell; choreography by Tony-nominee Christopher Gattelli; and sets and costumes designed by Oscar-, Tony- and Emmy-winner Tony Walton.

“Emma, Tony and I had so much fun working on this book and are now overjoyed that it will come alive on the stage,” said Julie Andrews.  “I’m so blessed to be working with this creative team in adapting our book for the theatre.”

Michael Price, Executive Director of Goodspeed Musicals, adds, “Julie Andrews and Tony Walton have been part of the Goodspeed family for several years and we are thrilled to have them back with us to work on this delightful musical. Adding Zina, Marcy, and Hunter to the creative team makes the project even more exciting.”

The Norma Terris Theatre has tiered seating that provides unobstructed views of the stage, an eclectic club-like lobby, and ample free-parking. It’s located at 33 North Main, Street, Chester, and tickets are now on sale at the Goodspeed’s box office, 860.873.8668, and on-line at

Ms. Andrews has directed productions for Bay Street Theatre and Goodspeed Musicals, including “The Boy Friend” and its national tour. Beside years of applause and cheers from her adoring public, this legendary performer is also the recipient of an Academy Award, Kennedy Center Honors, Golden Globe, Emmy, Grammy, BAFTA, People’s Choice Award, Theatre World Award and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

In 2002 Elizabeth II officially named Ms. Andrews Dame of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to the performing arts at Buckingham Palace.

Emma Walton Hamilton is a best-selling children’s book author, professional editor and arts educator.  She co-founded the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York, where she served in numerous capacities through 2008, and is currently a faculty member in the MFA program in writing and literature on Stony Brook’s Southampton campus on Long Island.

Composer Zina Goldrich, along with long-time lyricist Marcy Heisler, is currently working on the musical adaptation of “Ever After” with director Kathleen Marshall.  Zina’s honors include the Fred Ebb Award, ASCAP’s Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, Seldes-Kanin Fellowship, and a Jonathan Larson grant.

Lyricist Marcy Heisler, with composer Zina Goldrich, was named the 2009 winner of the Fred Ebb Award for outstanding songwriting.   Her awards include the Richard Rodgers New Horizons Theatre Award and Jamie De Roy and Friends Award (ASCAP), a Seldes-Kanin Fellowship.

Librettist Hunter Bell earned an OBIE Award, Drama League nomination, and Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical. As an actor, Hunter has appeared on and off Broadway and in numerous regional theatres, including the Goodspeed Opera House and The Norma Terris Theatre.

Choreographer Christopher Gattelli’s Broadway credits include the current revival of “Godspell.” He directed the world premiere of Jim Henson’s first musical, “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas,” and the world premiere of “Radio Girl,” for Goodspeed Musicals.

The set and costume designer of this new musical, Tony Walton, has been honored for his contributions to the theater, movies and television with Tony Awards for “Pippin,” “House of Blue Leaves,” and “Guys and Dolls.”   Walton also directed and designed the triumphant Goodspeed production of “Where’s Charley?” designed sets and costumes for the Goodspeed production and the national tour of “The Boy Friend, and has received acclaim for his productions at the Irish Repertory, The York, Old Globe and Bay Street Theatres.

With boundless appeal for theater lovers, “The Great American Mousical” should entertain adults and kids with its wit and enlightening musical-theatre history—and an imagination-filled celebration of the characters that inhabit the Sovereign Theatre.

© Copyright 2012. Critics On The Aisle. All rights reserved.

Todd Carey announces his “Winter Tour”

Brooklyn-based and Chicago-born singer-songwriter Todd Carey will be heading out on the road in November and December for his “Winter Tour,” which will visit 13 cities and kicks off in Orlando on November 28th (see full tour schedule below). Carey will share the stage with his touring band for the majority of the dates, while several will find him in a duo setting (a departure from his past solo tours). Joining Carey on the road will be some of his labelmates (JD Eicher, Riley Etheridge Jr., Sarah Miles, Bracher Brown) and some music friends (Sam Grow, Emily Kopp, Honor By August, Daphne Willis, Michael Pearsall, Mary Bragg, Carl Anderson).  Miles and Willis both also appeared on Carey’s EP, The Duets Project, which was released on July 17, 2012.

Carey’s tour is in support of The Duets Project, which came out exclusively online.  Says Carey of the EP:  “The Duets Project came about in a very natural and organic way. Fans and friends had been requesting stripped-down and intimate recordings of songs from my catalog.” Featured on the EP are five amazingly talented women dueting with Carey:  Alysse Fischer, Dawn Mitschele, Daphne Willis, Sarah Miles, and Amber Rubarth.  Carey is hard at work on his next album, which will be released in the first half of 2013.

Prior to this year’s EP, Carey’s previous release, 2010’s After The Morning After EP, hit the Top 40 on iTunes’ Pop Chart and was produced by Mikal Blue (Colbie Caillat, Five for Fighting).  Before that, he released three solo albums (Elevate, Revolving World, and Watching Waiting [which came out through Universal’s Fontana Distribution]) and an additional EP (Whitefish Bay Sessions).

Carey is no stranger to touring and has criss-crossed the country repeatedly.  He’s toured with and performed on stage with numerous artists including Jason Mraz, John Mayer, Marc Broussard, Keaton Simons and Matt Duke.  Music from his Watching Waiting album was featured in the film “Palo Alto” and on MTV’s “The Real World.”  Billboard magazine called Watching Waiting “…custom-made for the top of the pop charts… with a witty edge.”  Carey hit the road over the summer on his “Float Away Tour” with Bushwalla, shared the stage in September with Tony Lucca, and performed as part of Hotel Carolina in Isle of Palms, SC, also in September.


11/28 – Orlando, FL / Backbooth (w/ Emily Kopp, Sarah Miles, Bracher Brown)
11/30 – Atlanta, GA / Smiths Olde Bar (Atlanta Room) (w/ Sam Grow)
12/1 – Raleigh, NC / The Pour House (w/ Sam Grow)
12/2 – Vienna, VA / Jammin Java (w/ Michael Pearsall, Mary Bragg, Carl Anderson)
12/4 – Hamden, CT / Space (w/ Honor By August, Sarah Miles, Bracher Brown)
12/5 – Boston, MA / Cafe 939 (w/ Honor By August, Sarah Miles, Bracher Brown)
12/6 – New York, NY / Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 (w/ Honor By August, JD Eicher)
12/7 – Philadelphia, PA / Tin Angel (w/ Honor By August, JD Eicher, Riley Etheridge Jr.)
12/9 – Columbus, OH / Scarlet & Grey (w/ Honor By August, JD Eicher)
12/11 – Cleveland, OH / Beachland Tavern (w/ Honor By August, JD Eicher)
12/12 – Chicago, IL / Lincoln Hall (w/ Daphne Willis, Honor By August, JD Eicher)
12/13 – Indianapolis, IN / Birdy’s (w/ Honor By August, JD Eicher)
12/15 – Spring Lake, MI / Seven Steps Up (w/ Honor By August, JD Eicher)

Clive Davis, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Jimmy Jam, Trevor Rabin, And More To Appear At Songs Of Hope VIII

Event to feature special performances and exclusive music auction

Clive Davis, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Jimmy Jam, Trevor Rabin (composer and vocalist of Grammy Award-winning group Yes) and music and entertainment industry giants committed to fighting cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases will take part in Songs of Hope VIII, a special event and silent auction that supports lifesaving research at City of Hope. Held at Rolling Stone’s exclusive House of Rock in, Santa Monica, Calif., the Oct. 18 event will be emceed by Jimmy Jam and feature an intimate performance by Edmonds.

Recognizing their amazing careers as songwriters and composers, the Songs of Hope VIII award recipients will include the:

  • Clive Davis Legend in Songwriting Award presented to Edmonds
  • Electronic Arts Composer Award presented to Rabin

The exclusive Songs of Hope silent auction features rare and one-of-a-kind music and film experiences and autographed items, including the opportunity to bid on original sheet music to “Lay Lady Lay” autographed by Bob Dylan; lithographs of John Lennon’s “On Cloud Nine” and “Ongakuku” (“Musician”); a Takamine guitar signed by the Eagles; autographed scores for “Hunger Games” and “Game of Thrones”; a guitar signed by Maroon 5; conductor’s lead sheets for the Bobby Darrin song “That’s All” with his notes; 4-person VIP scoring session experience with Danny Elfman for the movie “Oz: The Great & Powerful”; a Slash-signed guitar; and access to sound check, meet & greet, and VIP tickets to a Paul McCartney concert, to name a few.

David Renzer, president of Music Ventures at Saban Capital Group and co-event chair of Songs of Hope VIII, said, “Since its inception, Songs of Hope has been a unique event that has attracted tremendous support from the songwriter, publisher, music and entertainment industry. It’s great to see that tradition of philanthropy continue with Songs of Hope VIII, and a big thanks to our partners at House of Rock.”

“I am thrilled to be able to support City of Hope’s incredible research and lifesaving treatment by co-chairing Songs of Hope VIII, which has always been one of the most enjoyable music industry events,” said Doug Davis of The Davis Firm, co-event chair of Songs of Hope VIII.

“It’s an honor to continue to be associated with the City of Hope whose sole purpose it is to better the quality of the lives of the people it touches,” said Evan Lamberg, Songs of Hope VIII co-event chair and president, North America, Universal Music Publishing Group.

“The generosity of the music and entertainment industry allows City of Hope to create longer and healthier lives for people everywhere,”said Britta Bucholz, senior director of development at City of Hope.

Guests will enjoy a cocktail/hors d’oeuvres reception and the ambiance of the exclusive House of Rock – a historic estate transformed into an unparalleled, exclusive media, pop culture, and live music experience.

Prior honorees and participants at Songs of Hope have included Ne-Yo, Desmond Child, Stevie Wonder,, Mark Mothersbaugh, The Doobie Brothers, Swizz Beats, Jermaine Dupri, Dave Stewart, Glen Ballard,Lionel Richie, Gavin DeGraw, Colbie Caillat, and many others.

Songs of Hope VIII music and entertainment platinum and presenting sponsors include Clive Davis,American Express,Electronic Arts, Peer Music, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Spotify, Universal Music Publishing Group, Stiletto Entertainment and VEVO.To date, Songs of Hope has raised over $2 million for City of Hope.

To inquire about purchasing tickets for this nearly sold-out event, visit or contact Mary Carlzen at City of Hope,800-272-2310 or


See photos from last year’s Songs of Hope event here.

New London’s I AM Festival 2012: Indie Music Takes Center Stage

story & photo by Jon Persson

Sean Bones and his bandmates perform one of their original songs at New London’s 2012 I AM Fest.

Digital technology and heavy push of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have combined to change the music and entertainment business, giving rise to a new and highly populist model known as “Indie” music.
At this year’s New London’s 2012 I AM Fest, held on Saturday, September 8, a wide spectrum of the resulting artistry plays on four stages that stretch from Parade Plaza to the Hygienic Arts Park.
At the 2012 comeback, center stage has moved from the Custom House Pier to Parade Plaza, giving an added level of exposure to the cars and buses which pass through New London’s heart. Additional stages at the Hygienic Art Park, Oasis Pub, and Telegraph Recording Co., allows for more acts and more music than ever before.
Technology has delivered access to, and perfectible, capabilities in recording, production, distribution, and broadcasting that were once reserved for the top acts of record industry giants. And, it has created a new reality–music is a business that goes beyond performance. The performers are now promoters and managers and roadies, too.
This new age of techno-music mirrors the traveling troubadours and home-grown folk singers of pre-electric times. The new tradition is built on of artistry not destined for mass-consumption markets.
Adding to this “organic,” built from independent sources, sense are the vendors who have set up on Parade Plaza, the Hula-Hoop tent, organic coffee sellers, body-artists, handmade jewelry makers, and more. An audience bridging the generations — ’60’s survivors amongst the Gen X’ers and Millennium Babies — also parallels a past time. Amidst this modern Americana, the distinct English accent of the sound-check man adds a surreal British-invasion feel to the festivities.
I Am Fest began in 2006, founded by Sean Murray and Rich Martin. They were seeking to bring people, Indie music, and vendors together for a Saturday of fun in September. Despite having to take a hiatus in 2011 (due to the economy), I AM Fest is now Connecticut’s largest Indie music festival.
The music itself covers many genres from rap to rock, garage-band roots showing through in throaty lead vocals. There are social messages intermixed with surprising covers, the musical influences not always obvious in the prevalent original songs.
I Am Fest 2012 has made a good comeback ; next year promises to be an even bigger and better festival, now that the expanded version has been rolled out and tested.