Several art exhibitions will be opening this weekend, including “Durer, Rembrandt & Whistler: Prints from the Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly” at the Bruce Museum and “#smART … digitally speaking” at the Old Town Hall Museum in Stamford. You can see art from a “Bird’s-eye” perspective in Westport.
Above, Stamford musician Dennis Collins performs at a past Jazz Up July performance in 2011 in Stamford, Conn. He performed on “The Late Show with David Letterman” with Darlene Love on June 12. File photo
It has been a busy couple of months for singer Dennis Collins, whose run of performances continued last night when he backed Darlene Love during her appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” For those who caught the show, they would have spotted the Stamford resident second in from the right, lending his voice to the Bill Withers’ song “Lean on Me.”
Fortunately, for those that didn’t, you can see that performance in the video below.
“She is just so amazing,” Collins said of Love, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who began her career as a sought-after session and back-up singer,
Love’s appearance came two days before the release of the documentary, “20 Feet From Stardom.” This new film by director Morgan Neville celebrates the backup singers, including Love, who performed with some of the great musicians.
Of course, that is the life that Collins knows well, having backed a host of singers, including Roberta Flack, Patti LaBelle, Sheryl Crow, Beyonce, Cee-lo Green and others.
“That was another wonderful event,” he said during a recent interview. “How often do you get to sit three feet away from Carole King when she sings ‘You’ve Got a Friend.’ ”
Recently, he has been touring as a back-up vocalist, along with his wife Sharon, with the musical show “Once Upon a Dream” that features the songs of The (Young) Rascals. The show, which is directed by Steven Van Zandt and Marc Brickman, recently ran on Broadway for a limited engagement.
Currently on tour, the next time it will swing around to the area will be in July, beginning with a performance on July 5 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey, Jones Beach on July 6 and Audg. 30 at Mohegan Sun.
“It’s just great and people are loving it,” Collins said. “They are dancing in the aisles.”
As a young boy attending boarding school in England in the 1940s, Michael Roemer (right) and his classmates were no strangers to the kind of riotous laughter that could be brought on by the most serious of assemblies.
Inopportune and inappropriate, it was a giggling that tended to feed on itself, leaving its practitioners nearly devoid of the control to make it stop.
“At the time, I would take my handkerchief … and I would stuff it in my mouth,” said Roemer, a filmmaker, author and Yale professor, as he chuckled at the thought of it. “I still remember what that handkerchief tasted like.”
It is not likely such a drastic solution will be carried out on Tuesday, June 18, when Roemer is expected to participate in “Books Worth Talking About” a literary salon held at the Lucille Lortel White Barn Center at the Westport Country Playhouse. As the author of “Shocked but Connected: Notes on Laughter,” Roemer will be called upon to talk about comedy and what spurs humans to laugh.
“I have a rather heady view of laughter, and by that I mean it is a serious one,” he said.
Still, he hopes not to create a stuffy, clinical look at what spurs the guffaws, giggles and chortles. If anything, he said laughter is full of surprise, shock and the unexpected.
“What we are really responding to is the shock,” he said. “There are a lot of jokes where the truth of the joke is hidden.”
“They question assumptions that we need to live by,” he added.
An ongoing series, the salons bring authors to the playhouse whose work is in line with the shows presented on stage. The talk, which will include radio host and Broadway scenic designer Leo B. Meyer (left) as moderator, will begin at 6:30 p.m., and is open to anyone with a ticket to that night’s 8 p.m. performance of George Kelly’s “The Show-Off,” which is directed by Nicholas Martin. (Ticket exchanges may be possible for subscribers,by calling the playhouse, 203-227-4177.)
This 1924 classic comedy throws together a first-rate blowhard with a reserved American family and lets the drama, and laughter, unfold.
Meyer, who for nearly 40 years owned and operated Bridgeport-based Atlas Scenic Studio, said he was looking forward to seeing the show staged, since he had only had a chance to read it. Meyer, who designed and produced sets for hundreds of productions, including many at the Westport Country Playhouse, said he also was looking forward to sharing the evening with Roemer.
Meyer’s voice might be familiar to those who attend the salon, as he also hosts a show with Dolly Curtis, “Backstage Buzz,” for WPKN-FM Public Radio, which is based in Bridgeport.
“It is amazing how humor has changed over the years, and that is what I am hoping to speak with him about,” said Meyer, who lives in Milford.
Roemer is well aware of the concept of shifting sentiments. For instance his 1969 comedy, “The Plot Against Harry,” has a funny story in and of itself.
“There are many people who didn’t find it funny,” he said, laughing. It had followed another independent film, “Nothing But a Man (1965),” that he wrote and directed.
It wasn’t until 20 years after “Harry” was finished that Roemer discovered that perhaps it was funnier than he had been led to believe. While working to put his films on videotape so his children could see his work, he noticed the technician laughing hysterically as he watched the film.
“I asked him, ‘do you think that’s funny,’ and he said, ‘Yes, I think it is very funny.’ “
On a whim, Roemer sent off a copy to the New York Film Festival where this tale of a small-time crook trying to get his life together after a brief stint in prison was accepted and received a great response when it was shown in 1989. It also made an appearance at the Toronto Film Festival. The next year it made its theatrical release.
He said after its screening at the Cannes movie festival in France in 1990, he happened to cross paths with one of the actors in the film.
“She told me: “I wish you had told us it was a comedy. I didn’t play it for laughs.”
The production includes 15 songs by Lauper, who teamed with playwright Harvey Fierstein to bring this tale to the stage. It is based on a 2005 British movie about a shoe factory poised on the brink of failure that gains a second life as a maker of footwear for drag queens.
Over the years, Lauper also has contributed her talents to area causes and events, including charity concerts and special appearances. She also is zeroing in on an honorary feat. With this win, her first Tony, she adds to her Grammy win in 1985 as best new artist and her 1995 Emmy for her guest appearance on the NBC show “Mad About You.” She just needs to find a project that puts her in the running for an Oscar.
The state may be awash with rain for most of Friday and into Saturday, but it also will boast a flood of entertainment. Nearly every musical genre will be featured on stages throughout the state. A number of festivals will feature yummy culinary traditions. Attractions, venues and sites around the state will be offering free and discount admission and special events to mark Open House Day. There will be movies, movies and more movies New Milford will be awash with paint.
We are still months away from the traditional season for ghost tours and other haunted happenings, but the Mark Twain House & Museum will hold a series of “Graveyard Shift” ghost tours, open to the public, in the early days of summer.
The tours, which will run June 28 and 29, have been popular events in the past, bringing visitors to the places where apparitions, unexplained smells and sounds and other odd phenomena have been reported. Back in 2009, the Hartford homestead was featured on Syfy Channel’s “Ghost Hunters.” You can see a clip of that appearance above. It also has appeared on other paranormal shows, including the Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story.”
As you roam the mansion, including the basement, you will hear about the home’s famous inhabitant, author Mark Twain (“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”), who lived in the home with his family from 1874 to 1891.
Tours take place on the hour beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m., each day. Tickets are $20, $16 for members and $13 for children 16 and under. Tours are not recommended for those under 10. Organizers urge those interested to call early, as the tours tend to fill up quickly. Call 860-280-3130.
If you can’t make the tours, the house, which is a National Historic Landmark, and museum are open to the public Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 12 to 5:30 p.m.
Above, Elle Woods, as played by Fairfield resident Arielle Boutin, is devoted to Bruiser, her beloved Chihuahua, as played by Frankie. The two actors will help to bring to life Curtain Call’s production of “Legally Blonde, The Musical,” which will play at the Kweskin Theatre from June 7 to 29. The theater is located at 1349 Newfield Ave., Stamford.
You may want to go to check out the canines that were prepped for the stage by professional trainer and Connecticut resident William Berloni. You could go to enjoy the choreography by nationally known actor and dancer Jimmy Locust, who runs a Stamford dance studio. You could go to hear the live music. Or, you could simply be drawn to the story.
This upcoming weekend marks the opening of “Legally Blonde, The Musical,” which will close out this year’s season of Curtain Call, a nonprofit theater company in Stamford. It will run in the Kweskin Theatre from June 7 to 29. You are going to have to hurry to get your tickets, though, as shows are selling out quickly.
The story is based on the book “Legally Blonde” by Amanda Brown, as well as the 2001 film that starred Reese Witherspoon in the lead role of Elle Woods – a young woman who goes against stereotype and succeeds in getting what she wants.
The show is being produced by Lynne Colatrella, Curtain Call’s co-founder, and boasts a cast of actors from across Fairfield County and New York, including Arielle Boutin of Fairfield, who stars in the title role.
Tickets are $29 for adults, $20 for seniors and $14.50 for students and children. Call 203-461-6358 or visit the theater’s website.
In the midst of a tour that is bringing jazz composer and pianist Amina Figarova to venues throughout North America and Europe, Figarova and her sextet will make a stop in Wilton Saturday, June 15, to perform as part of the library’s “Hot & Cool: Jazz at the Brubeck Room”series. The library is located at 137 Old Ridgefield Road.
Last year saw the release of her 12th album, aptly titled “Twelve.” Among other things, the album’s music was influenced by the move Figarova and her husband and musical partner, flutist Bart Platteau had made in leaving their longtime home in Rotterdam for a new home in Forest Hills, Queens.
Figarova, who was raised in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Platteau, who is from Belgium, are global travelers and have worked with musicians from around the world. The sextet has been featured on the main stage of the Newport Jazz Festival and performed at the New Orleans Jazz Heritage Festival.
An informal reception will follow the June 15 concert, which will run 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The suggested donation is $10 per person. Advance registration is recommended, as is getting to the concert early. To register, visit the library website or call 203-762-3950, Ext. 213.