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‘Newsies’ even better the second time around

The many virtues of the Disney sleeper hit musical “Newsies” became even more apparent to me last night when I caught the opening of the first-rate first national tour at the gorgeous Palace Theater in Waterbury. Based on a 1992 movie flop, the story of an 1899 strike by New York City newspaper boys against […] [Read More]

The star who changed our notions of beauty

Barbra Streisand has been a star and pop culture icon for so long now that it is easy to lose sight of the revolutionary impact she had on show business 50 years ago. Streisand’s distinctive looks were called “ugly” by some industry insiders who couldn’t imagine a place for the actress and singer in a […] [Read More]

‘Days and Nights’: Chekhov in Connecticut

The very gifted stage actor Christian Camargo makes an auspicious film directing debut with “Days and Nights,” an adaptation of “The Seagull” set on a rambling Connecticut estate in the early 1980s. The movie opened at the IFC Center in New York just a few weeks ago, but it has already been made available for […] [Read More]

Bad Movies We Love: ‘Rich and Famous’

Veteran Hollywood director George Cukor’s final film, “Rich and Famous,” was not well reviewed when it debuted in 1981 and the box-office results were mediocre. A mini-controversy erupted when New Yorker reviewer Pauline Kael wrote about what she saw as homosexual undertones in the storytelling, but Kael’s critics blasted her review as thinly veiled homophobia directed […] [Read More]

Solving many mysteries at CrimeCONN on Saturday

You wouldn’t think that people who write about murder and deep psychological disturbances would be be fun to hang out with, but you would be wrong. After spending many hours at assorted crime writing conferences — from Bouchercon to ThrillerFest to the New England Crime Bake — I am continuously impressed by the generosity and […] [Read More]

The not so discreet charm of Lilli Palmer

The other night as I was scrolling through the nearly endless offerings on the Amazon Prime streaming service, I noticed the 1961 comedy “The Pleasure of His Company” starring Fred Astaire and decided to give it a look. Made after Astaire’s transition from musicals to straight acting, the slightly musty movie shows its origins as […] [Read More]

‘A World Elsewhere’: an American in WWII Germany

Imagine growing up in Hartford right after World War II and having a classmate at school yell “Nazi!” at you. That’s what happened to Sigrid MacRae because she was born to an American woman who spent the war in Germany married to an officer. What happened before and during the war between her parents was […] [Read More]

‘Our Town’: Thornton Wilder classic as fresh as ever

The enduring popularity of “Our Town” has led some people to dismiss it as a sentimental chestnut from Depression era America. How could something that has lasted so long and been enjoyed by so many people be a rigorous and even demanding piece of theater?, the critics ask. As the new Long Wharf Theatre production […] [Read More]

Explore the lost art of letter writing in Fairfield

It will be my pleasure tonight at 7 at the Fairfield University Bookstore to moderate a discussion with the Westport writer Nina Sankovitch about her wonderful book “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (Simon and Schuster) in which she examines what could be the lost art of letter writing. Sankovitch got a lot of attention a few years […] [Read More]

Playbill Yearbook: 12 months on Broadway

Now in its tenth edition, the annual “Playbill Broadway Yearbook” has become an indispensable record of a year’s worth of shows and benefits and other special events connected to Broadway. An offshoot of the peerless website, the profusely illustrated volumes are overseen by editor Robert Viagas and a staff that gathers information that can’t […] [Read More]