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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sistine Chapel Artwork Exhibit at the Big E - West Springfield, Massachusetts

 photo by JT Lynch

The best exhibit at the Big E this year is the must-see artwork of Michelangelo.  A show of copies of his restored work on the Sistine Chapel is currently on tour, and the Eastern States Exhibition fairgrounds are the lucky hosts of a smaller version of this exquisite art exhibit.  From the website of the production:

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition

For more information,  follow the exhibit on social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The exhibit is produced by Special Entertainment Events (SEE), a L.A.-based exhibition production company which acquired the worldwide rights to the fresco reproductions. The photographs were taken post-restoration of the ceiling; in some cases, color enhancement was necessary to match the images for consistency.

photo by JT Lynch

The highlights of the frescoes are presented in their original size. This innovative interpretation of the timeless masterpieces can be viewed up close, including The Creation of Adam. It has previously made stops in Montreal, Vienna, Shanghai, Dallas, Munich, and New York.

photo by JT Lynch

On display in the Young Building, we are able to see the master's work close up as we never could at the Vatican in all its majesty in that setting.  The administrators of the fair are to be congratulated and most sincerely thanked for obtaining this exhibit.  More such artistic and cultural displays in the future would be a splendid addition to New England's Great State Fair.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Goodspeed Opera House - RAGS - East Haddam, Connecticut

A press release from The Goodspeed:
A bold refocusing of the musical by Broadway legends Strouse, Schwartz, and Stein
 with a revised book by David Thompson is set for The Goodspeed this fall

EAST HADDAM, CONN August 31, 2017: Join Rebecca and David Hershkowitz as they journey to a “brand new world” in Goodspeed’s reinvented Rags. Original creators Charles Strouse and Stephen Schwartz have teamed up with David Thompson, who has adapted Joseph Stein’s book, to rework this timely and inspiring piece. Goodspeed explores the grit and determination of American immigrants through this joyous reimagining of a musical by  some of Broadways biggest legends. Rags will run October 6 – December 10 at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn [Official Press Opening will be October 25, 2017].
Welcome to the new world! Fresh from Ellis Island, a young mother and her son search for a new life and a sense of home as the 20th century beckons. The streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side may not be paved with gold, but they echo with the music of opportunity, optimism and hope. A ravishing score by the songwriters of Annie and Wicked colors a sweeping saga of America’s immigrant past. Celebrate our rich roots in Goodspeed’s new adaptation of a neglected masterpiece of the musical theatre.  Rags is made possible in part by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lucille Lortel Foundation, Eversource Energy, and Amica Insurance.
Directed by Rob Ruggiero, Rags features music by Charles Strouse, original book by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, revised book by David Thompson and vocal arrangements are by David Loud.
Samantha Massell will play Rebecca Hershkowitz. Ms. Massell recently performed the role of Hodel in the 2015 Tony nominated Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof. She performed in the Broadway production of La Bohème and the New York City Center ENCORES! productions of Little Me and It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane …It’s Superman. Regionally she performed as Florika (Esmerelda U/S) in the La Jolla and Paper Mill Play House productions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and in The MUNY productions of Aladdin, Into the Woods and Bye Bye Birdie. David Hershkowitz will be played by Connecticut native Christian Michael Camporin, who was in the original Broadway productions of Finding Neverland, covering both the roles of Michael Llewelyn Davies  and Jack Llewelyn Davies, and Matilda The Musical in the role of Eric.
Sal Russo will be played by Sean MacLaughlin who made his Broadway debut as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera. Sara Kapner will be playing Bella Cohen. On stage, Ms. Kapner was most recently seen performing in the MUNY’s 2015 production of Into the Woods, but can also be seen in Twisted Sisters and The Murder Pact, which are both currently running on Lifetime TV. Returning to the Goodspeed stage after playing Tevye in 2014’s Fiddler on the Roof as well as performing in Goodspeed’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Pseudolus) and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Harry) is Adam Heller who will be playing Avram Cohen. Mr. Heller’s most recent Broadway credits include Uncle Morty in the Original Broadway Production of It Shoulda Been You, Elf The Musical, and Baby It’s You!.
Mitch Greenberg returns to Goodspeed as Jack Blumberg having previously performed in Cutman the musical and You Never Know. On Broadway, Mr. Greenberg was in the 2015 Revival of Fiddler on the Roof and the Broadway hit It Shoulda Been You. The role of Anna Blumberg will be played by Emily Zacharias who made her Broadway debut in Chu Chem as Lotte. Ms. Zacharias was also in the original Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde as Guinevere. Also returning to Goodspeed in the role of Rachel Brodsky will be Lori Wilner who previously performed the as Golde in Goodspeed’s 2014 production of Fiddler on the Roof. Additionally, Ms. Wilner played Grandma Tzeitel in the 2015 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof.
Returning to The Goodspeed stage having wowed audiences as Billy Crocker in the 2016 hit Anything Goes,  David Harris will perform the role of Max Bronfman. Earlier this year, Mr. Harris was seen in the role of Father in Barrington Stage’s production of Ragtime and as Dan Goodman in TheaterWorks’ acclaimed production of Next to Normal. Nathan Salstone will be playing Ben Levitowitz. A recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Mr. Salstone’s one-man play All Anonymous featuring original music and lyrics premiered at The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama’s ‘Playground’ in December 2016.
The members of the Quintet include JD Daw who recently performed the roles of Doctor Madden in TheaterWorks’ production of Next to Normal, Jacey in The Muny’s production of The Music Man and Sir Dennis Galahad in North Shore Music Theatre’s Spamalot. Joining him will be Ellie Fishman whose credits include A Christmas Story at Paper Mill Playhouse and both Beauty and the Beast and My Fair Lady at The MUNY. Danny Lindgren returns to Goodspeed as a member of the Quintet having previously appeared on The Goodspeed stage as Clark Gable in Chasing Rainbows, as Smokey in Damn Yankees and as Jake in The Most Happy Fella. Some of Mr. Lindgren’s favorite credits include Benny in Guy and Dolls and Will Parker in Oklahoma! both at Finger Lakes Music Theatre Festival and Nephew Fred in A Christmas Carol at The McCarter Theatre. Sarah Solie whose many Broadway credits include the original Broadway productions of Mary Poppins, High Society, Beauty and the Beast and Cats and Jeff Williams who made his Broadway debut in the 2000 revival of The Music Man and was most recently performed in the Off-Broadway production of Death for Five Voices round out the Quintet.  The swings will be Catalina Gaglioti, (Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals We Foxes ,Off-Broadway’s Temple of the Souls ) and Giovanni DiGabriele (Second National Tour of Cinderella)Gordon Beck will understudy the role of David Hershkowitz.
Rags will be directed Rob Ruggiero who has directed numerous Goodspeed productions  including Carousel, Camelot, Show Boat, 1776 and Fiddler on the Roof. He has received numerous awards and nominations for his regional work including multiple Connecticut Critics Circle Awards. Mr. Ruggiero conceived and directed the original musical revue Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn which garnered him nominations for both Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Mr. Ruggiero currently serves  as the Producing Artistic Director at TheaterWorks in Hartford, where he conceived and directed the highly successful Ella, a production that received Kevin Kline and Joseph Jefferson Awards and has since been produced at major regional theaters around the country.
Choreography will be by Parker Esse who returns to Goodspeed where his previous credits include Fiddler on the Roof, A Wonderful Life, The Most Happy Fella and Carousel.  Mr. Esse choreographed Sondheim and Marsalis’ A Bed and A Chair: A New York Love Affair at New York City Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He is a three-time Helen Hayes nominee and 2010 winner for Best Choreography for Arena Stage’s Oklahoma!. Mr. Esse has served as Associate Choreographer for Broadway’s Finian’s Rainbow, A Tale of Two Cities and multiple New York City Center Encores! productions.
Scenic design will be by Michael Schweikardt who has designed several shows at Goodspeed including Fiddler on the Roof, The Most Happy Fella, Carousel, Show Boat, and Big River. He received a Broadway World Award for Best Scenic Design for Showboat as well as a Connecticut Critic’s Circle Award for Best Scenic Design for Big River. Mr. Schweikardt has designed the world premieres of Nobody Loves You and Duncan Sheik’s Whisper House at The Old Globe as well as the Off-Broadway production of Bloodsong of Love at Ars Nova and  several productions at TheaterWorks in Hartford. Other Off-Broadway credits include ReWrite (Urban Stages), The Black Suits (The Public Theater), Things to Ruin (Second Stage, The Zipper Factory), The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks (TheatreWorks USA) and Tryst (Irish Rep). Additionally, he has designed for theatres such as The MUNY, Papermill Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse and California Musical Theatre.
Costume design will be by Tony Award winner Linda Cho who returns to Goodspeed where she previously created the costumes for  A Little Night Music. Her designs can currently be seen in the Broadway production of Anastasia for which she was nominated for a Tony Award, Outer Critics’ Circle Award and Drama Desk Award. Ms. Cho won the Antoinette Perry and Henry Hewes Design Award for her work on A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Ms. Cho received the 2017 Ruth Morley Design Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women. Other credits include designing for places such the Theater for a New Audience, Second Stage, Manhattan Theater Club, NY Public Theater, Asia Society, Classic Stage Company, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theater, Westport Country Playhouse, Royal Shakespeare Company and Hong Kong Performing Arts Center.
Lighting design will be by John Lasiter who has designed Goodspeed’s productions of Fiddler on the Roof, The Most Happy Fella, Show Boat, Carousel among others. Other Connecticut credits include, designs for Long Wharf Theater, Hartford Stage and TheaterWorks. On Broadway, Mr. Lasiter designed High, and Off-Broadway, he designed Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn.
Sound design will be by Jay Hilton who has designed countless productions at both The Terris Theatre and The Goodspeed. His work has also been heard on Broadway, National Tours and regional theatres from coast to coast. He also serves as Goodspeed’s audio supervisor.
Wig and Hair design will be by Mark Adam Rampmeyer whose work can been seen in Goodspeeds current production of Oklahoma!. Other Goodspeed credits include Thoroughly Modern MillieAnything Goes; Bye Bye Birdie and Chasing Rainbows, as well as  La Cage aux Folles, Good News!, 42nd Street and Big River to name a few. On Broadway, he designed West Side Story, Lysistrata Jones and The Farnsworth Invention.
The Music Director will be Michael O’Flaherty who is in his 26thseason as Goodspeed’s Resident Music Director. His Broadway credits include By Jeeves and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. O’Flaherty has written music and lyrics for A Connecticut Christmas Carol which will be produced at The Terris Theatre this fall. Orchestrations will be provided by Dan DeLange who has created the orchestrations for over 40 Goodspeed productions. His orchestrations for Show Boat have been nominated for the Best Revival Musical Oliver Award in London. Vocal Arrangements will be by David Loud who returns to Goodspeed having previously provided arrangements for Red, Hot and Blue and served as Music Director for Band Geeks!  at The Terris Theatre.  Mr. Loud’s Broadway credits include vocal and dance arrangements for  Sondheim on Sondheim, vocal arrangements for Curtains,  The Boys from Syracuse, and Steel Pier. In addition, he has been credited as Conductor, Music Director and Music Supervisor for numerous Broadway productions. David Loud has created musical arrangements for Audra McDonald, Barbara CookBetty Buckley, Andrea McArdle, Norm Lewis, Bernadette Peters, Paolo Szot among others.
Casting for Rags is by Paul Hardt of Stewart/Whitley Casting.
Rags will run October 6 – December 10, 2017 [Official Press Opening October 25] Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00p.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 seven days a week, or online at For show highlights, exclusive photos, special events and more, visit us at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter @goodspeedmusicl, Instagram and YouTube.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development and advancement of musical theatre. Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of United Airlines, the official airline of Goodspeed Musicals; official audio sponsor Sennheiser; and official auto sponsor Hoffman Audi. Goodspeed is also grateful for the support of the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts.

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