Thursday, May 13, 2021

Life & Style

Sweet Music, Looking to Spring, and Manhatta

Saying Goodbye: 2019 ended on a sad note with the passing of composer/lyricist Jerry Herman. He gave us some of the most engaging musicals of the last half of the 20th century, with music that was toe-tapping and easy to hum along to.

While some complained that he lacked the sophistication of Sondheim or the subtle political satire of Kander & Ebb, he gave us wonderful moments of theater: Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles. Even some of his less successful musicals—Mack & Mable, Dear World, and Milk & Honey—had great tunes. He will be missed. I had the pleasure of meeting him when Goodspeed produced Mack & Mabel; he was gentleman in every sense of the word.

Starting 2020: Hartford Stage kicks off 2020 with the one-woman show Pike Street, through Sunday, Feb. 2. Nilaja Sun, who wrote the play, stars in it. She previously had performed No Child... at Hartford. Pike Street tells the story of a Puerto Rican family in New York; the mother struggles to support her immobilized daughter, her womanizing father, and, when he returns from deployment, her brother with PTSD. For tickets, visit or call 860-527-5151.

Sweet Music: West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park will open the year with Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical from Wednesday, Jan 15 to Sunday, Feb. 2. Clooney, who may now be best known as the aunt of George Clooney, was a band singer, actress (White Christmas, among others), TV show hostess, and, later, a fine jazz singer. The one-woman show starting Susan Haefner weaves her life story, including her marriage to José Ferrar, with her music including hits such as “Tenderly” and “Hey There.” Haefner originated the role of Clooney. For tickets, call 860-523-5900 or visit

Looking to Spring: The days are getting longer and that means it is closer to the time when Ivoryton Playhouses opens for the 2020 season. The season opens with parody: Forbidden Broadway Comes to Ivoryton, from March 18 to April 5. This is a special production of the off-Broadway hit tailored for Ivoryton. Following will be a stage adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic novel The Great Gatsby from April 22 to May 10. Native Gardens is a comedy about neighbors who are gardeners but have differing visions of that term. It runs from May 27 to June 14. The summer features three musicals: Flashdance: The Musical from June 24 to July 26, Ring of Fire—The Music of Johnny Cash from Aug. 5 to 30, and Ghost: the Musical from Sept. 16 to Oct. 11. The season concludes with Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, The Mousetrap from Oct. 28 to Nov. 15. Subscription tickets are now sale; single tickets go on sale Wednesday, Feb. 19. For information, visit or call 860-767-7318.

New Musicals: Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals, now in its 15th year, will present staged readings of three new musicals as well as special events and seminars, Friday, Jan. 17 to Sunday, Jan. 19. The musicals include The Tattooed Lady, Private Gomer, and Grow. You can purchase a package for the entire festival or tickets for individual events. Visit for information.

Exploitation: Manhatta opens 2020 at the Yale Rep from Friday, Jan. 24 to Saturday, Feb. 15. The play combines the mortgage/banking crises of 2008, as well as the “interlocking legacy of commercial exploitation and attempts to eradicate the culture of Native people,” as the press materials describes it. The central character—a securities trader—is a member of the people from whom the Dutch “purchased” Manhattan. For tickets, visit or call 203-432-1234.

Karen Isaacs is an East Haven resident. To check out her reviews for New York and Connecticut shows, visit She’s a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle, New York’s Outer Critics Circle and the American Theatre Critics Association.

Karen Isaacs is the Columnists for Zip06. Email Karen at .

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