Saturday, January 7, 2017

From the Desk of Jim R, Take, 2, Column 13: Sharon Wilcox directs "The Who's "Tommy" at the Warner Theatre

By James V. Ruocco

No one fashions musical theater quite like director/choreographer Sharon Wilcox.
Her work is compassionate, pitch-perfect, punchy, raw, honest and real.
Who, better than Sharon, to direct the Warner Theatre's upcoming production of "The Who's Tommy."
I for one, plan to be there opening night as both friend, critic and theatregoer.
And though I haven't seen a single rehearsal or heard a single musical note, I know that this "Tommy" is going to ROCK.

"I am really lucky because this will be the second time I have had the opportunity to work on 'The Who's Tommy,' " says Wilcox. "I directed it for the Thomaston Opera House back in April 2005.
So, it will be almost 12 years when we open it next month. Incidentally, my music director for that production was Dan Ringuette and he will be returning as my MD once again for this 'Tommy.' "
Looking back, Wilcox recalls that she had "a wonderful experience with that production" the first time round. Twelve years later, and, with dozens of directing credits under her belt, she's ready for her new production of "Tommy."
"I thought it was time to try my hand at it again and put what I have learned to good use," she says.  "You are only as good as the cast you assemble - if you cast a show correctly, that's 90% of your job right there.
"The other thing I am excited about is bringing together an ensemble of actors, singer and dancers to tell the story (a small group that play nearly every role in the production). We've also got a unique set design planned (thank you Steve Houk) and just want the show to rock as hard as 'Rock of Ages' last season."
The cast, handpicked by Wilcox, is both first-class and first-rate.
It's quite an impressive list.

Tommy & Narrator: Noel Roberge
Tommy (Age 10): Trevor Rinaldi
Tommy (Age 4): Brendan Harris
Mrs. Walker: Roxie Quinn
Captain Walker: Adam Boe
Uncle Ernie: Josh Newey
Cousin Kevin: Peter Bard
Sally Simpson: Lauren Jacob
Mrs. Simpson: Sara Carlin
Mr. Simpson:Jim Wood
Kevin's Father: Rey Budny
Kevin's Mother: Sara Carlin
Minister: Jim Wood
Minister's Wife: Bronwyn Hamill
Nurse: Bronwyn Hamill
Nurse 2: Kaitlyn Anthony
Nurse 3: Nicole Bard
Nurse 4: Sara Carlin
Officer #1: Jonathan Zalaski
Officer #2: Joey Frighetto
Allied Soldier #1: Steffon Sampson
Allied Soldier #2: Shelby Davis
Lover: Tony Leone
Judge: Jim Wood

1st Barrister: Tony Leone
2nd Barrister: Rey Budny
Hawker: Tony Leone
Harmonica Player: Rey Budny
Gypsy: Katie Chamberlain
1st Pinball Lad: Devlin Tenney
2nd Pinball Lad: Tony Leone
Specialist: Jim Wood
Specialist's Assistant: Bronwyn Hamill
News Vendor: Joey Frighetto
DJ: Rey Budny

Local Lads/Security Guards: Jonathan Zalaski, Christopher Franci, Tony Leone, Joey Frighetto, Tyler Bard, Devlin Tenney, Shelby Davis, Steffon Sampson
Local Lasses: Kaitlyn Anthony, Katie Chamberlain, Caitlin Barra, Lauren Jacob, Nicole Bard, Cassie Martin, Malie Grasmere
Ensemble: Kaitlyn Anthony, Nicole Bard, Tyler Bard, Caitlin Barra, Rey Budny, Sara Carlin, Katie Chamberlain, Shelby Davis, Christopher Franci, Joey Frighetto, Malie Grasmere, Bronwyn Hamill, Lauren Jacob, Tony Leone, Cassie Martin, Devlin Tenney, Jim Wood, Jonathan Zalaski

"The Who's Tommy" is being showcased at the Warner Theatre (68 Main St, Torrington)
Performances are Feb. 4 through Feb. 12.
For tickets or more information, call (860) 489-7180.

It's Time for Carole King & a Cast of Mormons

The early life and career of songwriter Carole King is lovingly retraced in this "jukebox musical, which uses songs she wrote with husband Gerry Goffin, among others, to tell her story.
"Beautiful" is set in 1959 when King was 17 and pregnant and married to Goffin. In the 10 years that follow, we get to hear lots of song classics, including "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "Natural Woman," "Up on the Roof," "You Got a Friend," "Take Care of my Baby," "Walking in the Rain" and "One Fine Day."
We also get a very real, emotional story, which moved, the real King to tears when she saw the musical about her life for the very first time. And yes, she loved it because, in her words, it "was told so compellingly."
"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical " runs Jan. 17 through 22.

Uganda.....not Salt Lake City is the setting for "The Book of Mormon," an offbeat, off-the-wall musical that gets high marks for its absurdity, vulgarity, obscenities, religious malice and celebrated uniqueness.
Created by "South Park's" Trey Baker and Matt Stone, the actual story, so to speak, charts the valiant efforts to two goody-goody Mormon missionaries as they desperately try to convert the citizens of Uganda to the Mormon religion.
Winner of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Musical, "The Book of Mormon" is not for the faint of heart as it deviously pokes fun at smiling door-to-door Mormons, their 190-year-old Mormon religion, Jesus Christ, Darth Vader, Yoda, sexual liaisons, sacrilege, homosexuals, AIDS, dysentery, "The Lion King," "The King and I," "The Sound of Music" and just about everything else. Its use of four-letter words is absolutely hilarious.

"The Book of Mormon" runs Feb. 14 through 19.
Tickets prices are $25.50 to $96.50 depending on the production.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays.
For tickets or more information, call (860) 987-5900.

Judas Iscariot......His Last Days

Rehearsals have begun for the Vagabond Theatre Company's upcoming production of "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot."
Set in a courtroom in a corner of purgatory called "Hope, " this two-act drama, written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, chronicles the court case and fate of Judas Iscariot. More to the point, if God is supposedly all-forgiving, why then, is Judas condemned to an eternity in hell?

The production, directed by Mat Young, stars John R. Smith Jnr., as Judas Iscariot and Jesus of Nazareth, Eric James Dino as Satan, Lynette Victoria as Fabiana Aziz Cunningham,  Juan Ayala as Yousef  El-Fayoumy, Maggie Pangrazio as Bailiff and Simon the Zealot, Giovanna Olcese as Saint Monica, Sister Glenna, Loretta and Soldier 2, Martin A. Smith as Pilate, St. Matthew and Uncle Pino, Justine Wiesingeras as Mother Teresa, Sigmund Freud, St. Thomas, Henrietta Iscariot and Soldier 1, Alynne Miller as Gloria, Mary Magdalene, St. Peter, Matthias of Galilee and Soldier 3, Patrick Duffy as Butch Honeywell and John T. Liszewski as Judge Littlefield and Caiaphas

 "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" is being staged at the Performing Arts Center of Connecticut (18 Lindeman Drive, Trumbull, CT).
Performances are March 17 through 26.
Tickets are $20 (general admission) and $15 (students and senior citizens)

(Jim Ruocco welcomes your comments. You can contact him at