The Howard -Theater Review: “The Most Beautiful Room in New York”

Review: The Most Beautiful Room in New York
Theater: LongWharf
Critic: Howard Steven Frydman

“The Most Beautiful Room in New York” is an ultra sophisticated new musical about the steaming hot, heavily creamed, spicy and sweet, whirling dervish of the New York culinary Business- where chefs hunger for critical acclaim and Michelin 4 stars! Currently being produced at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, “The Most Beautiful Room in New York”, has book and lyrics by Adam Gopnik and music by David Shire, and is directed by Long Wharf Theaters Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein.

The company of The Most Beautiful Room in New York

The company of The Most Beautiful Room in New York

This foodie based musical is basically about family- think ala the Waltons- the Seavers – the Jetsons, the Tanners from Full House- no? – ok ok “The Addams Family”! Here we meet the Kaplan family, they run “TABLE” restaurant (the “La” went missing a long time ago) located in Union Square – prime NYC “Restaurant Row” real estate- hmmm?? La Familia – Father and Executive Chef – David (recently onboard Matt Bogart), David’s wife and Table’s house manager- Claire (the most talented Anastasia Barzee), their two wholesome kids Kate (Sawyer Niehaus) and son Bix (Tyler Jones),and their “organic green market owner” gay neighbors, Phoebe and Gloria played by Darlesia Clearcy and Danielle Ferland. Rounding out the cast are Carlo- ( played by a scene stealing Mark Nelson) owner of the “La Anarchist Pizza” situated in David’s old neighborhood of Bensonhurst, his daughter Anna (Krystina Alababo) and finally hot shot -Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur- the devilish – Sergio- wonderfully portrayed by American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis.

Anastasia Barzee and Matt Bogart

As families go – the Kaplans are a bit bland- unlike real restaurant owners – where you would hear families screaming, pots and pans clanging, kin a-brawling, are the norm all the time- here it’s who will make daughter Kate her morning eggs! So, what could go wrong here? Here’s the McGuffin- and it comes in the daily mail- a letter from the landlord- he’s raising the rent to $35,000 a month! How is David going to keep the restaurant going with only 4 tables? Oy Vey! For that amount of money, I could retire already and hire my own chef! But what is David going to do? Find cheaper digs, open a “Burger Fingers” franchise, move to Seattle (the play will get to that later) nope- he reaches out to his “devil on my shoulders” of an old partner, Sergio, for help in saving “Table” ! You know you never make any deals with the “Manhattan Mephistopheles” – without loosing your Sole – ahem- I do mean Soul! Upcoming a renaming – “Sergio’s Table”!

Matt Bogart and Constantine Maroulis

As many of you know, besides writing theater reviews, I additionally write about “dining” out here in New England. I’ve been to “ultra fancy shmancy” to “mom and pop” holes in the walls and there are a couple of things I’ve learned – first, sometimes the best “hidden gem” for a foodie is the small family place around the corner where all the townies go. Second – never call your restaurant or even a play “THE MOST” beautiful or best of anything – I once recall being invited to a new “beaucoup” restaurant to sample the “haute cuisine” – asking the waiter what was the “most” delicious item on the menu- after debating blurted “try the mashed taters”. My friends, let me continue with – there is a hidden gem here with this musical – it’s just that a few layers still need to be peeled away- let me continue..


The layers- firstly- I have never seen a cast like this giving it it’s all and it shows in each and every cast member! They are going full steam out to make this new musical a success.
Fan favorite (and mine too) Anastasia Barzee is a working actress of the highest order- from television, film and Broadway- she is a standout! No matter what she is in – I’m madly in love with the oh so talented Miss Barzee- her singing is unparalleled, (I would see this production just to hear Anastasia sing). Constantine Mouroulis – I have to admit was absolutely amazing- the America idol chap ya know, but his stage presence, easy going acting style, and yes even his singing – blew me away – top notch acting and a really great voice-yep very impressive! But it’s Mark Nelson’s portrayal as Carlo, the grumpy inventor of the “Pizza Slice” that steals the show whenever he is on stage and adds much needed levity to the production. Mark also performs one of the very few songs, “Espresso” that was a jolt to the production and brought a smile to the audience. Yes, most of the music is not memorable. It needs a bit of a “Rogers and Hammerstein” fix – I personally like to leave the theater, especially a musical, humming at least a few of the songs.

If I was the producer- This production is way too long, with family members you just rightly don’t care for, and moments that seem so out of focus, case in point- in Act Two there is a NO WAY MOMENT- Clare, setting up an afternoon tryst with ex-flame Sergio, it feels so out of character and left me with a “yuck” moment. It might be a different story if she was going to defend her husband – but it leaves one with a dirty taste in your mouth. The production just needs a bit more fantasy and more of a feel good sensation when you leave the theater. Sparkle and magic yes- no I don’t want a Disney-esque musical -but in my mind’s eye – I do see this production more in the lines of “Damn Yankees” with a focus on a real Devilish Sergio- trying to steal the soul of David in exchange for him having the “Most Beautiful Room in New York”. I would also rewrite the character of Carlo as the wise god-like figure who helps David defeat Sergio/Devil.

And lastly, utilize the talent of Constantine a bit more- how about changing the forgettable “There’s Always A Wait For Your Table” and allowing Sergio and his two minions do a top hat and tails song and dance number to the much quoted THERES NO BIZ LIKE THE RESTAURANT BIZ- how about it Gopnik and Shire??

So here’s the question, is this musical a crystal glass with shaved ice and sliced lemon half empty or half full? – being an optimist – I say It’s delightfully full! Beyond its need to be sharpened as stated above. See it for the talents of Bogart, Nelson, Maroulis, and the deliciously divine Anastasia Barzee! Oh and how about renaming it again to “The Demon of Restaurant Row”?? When at a restaurant- it never hurts to ask!

The production will take place from May 3 through May 28, 2017 on the Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Theatre. For more information about the Long Wharf Theatre, or to purchase tickets, visit LongWharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at Howardbatv@aol.com

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Howard Steven Frydman receives prestigious Duncaster “60 Over 60” Award

 

Howard Steven Frydman receives “60 Over 60” Award.

Howard Steven Frydman, General Manager of BATV, Secretary of the Bloomfield Board of Education, and the official “Santa Claus” for the City of Hartford, was one of over 60 state residents to receive the prestigious Duncaster “60 Over 60” Award.

According to organizers- Howard Steven Frydman goes by several aliases – “Mr. BATV”, “Bloomfield’s Goodwill Ambassador” and even “Santa Howard”. For the past 30 years, Howard has been the General Manager of Bloomfield Access Television (BATV) and is the town’s most visible cheerleader. Howard has served in such elected positions including: Bloomfield Library Board of Directors, Selectman, Registrar of Voters, Justice of the Peace, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Bloomfield’s Continuing Education.

Additionally, Howard’s Theater, Food and movie reviews have been syndicated in several state newspapers and currently serves as the “Art Critic at Large” for the Messenger Publications. Each December Howard transforms into “Santa Howard” donning a red suit, trimming his real white beard and traveling throughout the State of Connecticut spreading the good will of the season.

BATV Board of Directors members congratulate Howard Steven Frydman- From left: Barbara Ann Williams, Howard Steven Frydman, Harvey Leon Frydman, and Meredith Johnson.

On May 20th, a gathering of over 400 attended the award celebration that took place on the Duncaster campus, honoring all these extraordinary individuals over the age of 60 who are some of the state’s senior movers and shakers.

Howard S. Frydman Michael A. O’Brien, Duncaster President.

Duncaster launched the state’s first 60 Over 60 awards in January looking for people ages 60 or better living lives to be admired; lives that inspire. They included those who impacted others; started businesses; gave birth to movements; furthered ideas or made a difference in someone’s life.

Ed Stockton and Howard Steven Frydman

Howard Frydman, Mary Fran and Peter Libassi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those honored at this celebration include those who dedicated their lives to public service, authors, artists, poets, volunteers, caregivers, healthcare professionals and executives with some of the state’s most influential institutions.  They are pioneers and change-makers.  They broke rules.  They made new ones.  They did things first and they kick-started change.  They made history and they honored it.

About Duncaster: Duncaster, the Hartford area’s first LifeCare community, is located minutes from West Hartford and Simsbury in Bloomfield CT.

This boutique Life Plan Community sits on 94 acres.  While catering to those who are active and engaged in independent living neighborhoods, Duncaster also offers options for those seeking assisted living, memory care, long-term care and rehab services (all private) in intimate settings. Duncaster was voted the Best Retirement Community by readers of Harford Magazine and the Connecticut Law Tribune.  Residents have a role in governance and sit on the board – a rare distinction. For more information, visit http://www.Duncaster.org or call (860) 380-5005.

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The Howard Theater Review- “Thoroughly Modern Millie”- Goodspeed Opera

Review: Thoroughly Modern Millie
Theater: Goodspeed Opera House
Reviewer: Howard Steven Frydman

The countdown to summer has begun- drawn like a bee to his nectar- I joyously make my first seasonal sojourn (since my recent bypass surgery) to a rare flower – set atop by the majestic Connecticut River- it can only bee- The One – The Only – The Goodspeed Opera House. Their initial offering- the first of three musicals presented for the 2017 season – “Thoroughly Modern Millie. With a book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan and includes new music by Jeanine Tesori, new lyrics by Scanlan and is directed and choreographed by Denis Jones. My friends, let me tell you what all the buzz is about- TMM is a very welcomed delight, a toe-tapping, flip flapping, red-hot jazzy, bees knees of a good time!! Let me tell You – musical Comedy at its raucous best- so here it goes!

I love musicals that have wacky characters, screwball storylines, high kicking dancers and memorable music- and this meets all my criteria with a capital TMM- and that stands for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” – you should’ve seen my “beaming” smile as I descended from the grand opera staircase after the performance- I coulda lit up Long Island sound, but I digress- let’s start at the start- shall we?

As many of you may already know TMM started its life as a movie musical in 1967 starring musical superstars Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, and coming off her role as “Laura” in the “Dick Van Dyke” show Mary Tyler Moore- later it made its way to Broadway in 2002 with a few changes in storyline and music- but the tale stays the same- it’s circa 1920ish and everything is modern – thoroughly! Journeying to NYC – our heroine “Kansas Born”- Millie Dillmount (Taylor Quick) has plans – big plans and that include marring her boss for money and not for love- by Gosh, by Gee, by Jimminy!!!!

Taylor Quick as Millie Dillmount in Goodspeed Musicals’ Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo Credit © Photo by Diane Sobolewski

Taylor Quick as Millie Dillmount in Goodspeed Musicals’ Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo Credit © Photo by Diane Sobolewski

Millie quickly transforms herself from a “bug-eyed Betty” to a be-bobbed, hot diggity “it girl” flapper. Yet in a Clara Bow snap of a finger moment she gets purloined- suitcase, purse, money – all gone – all awhile meeting up with paper clip salesman Jimmy Smith (Dan DeLuca). No money, no where to go what’s a gal to do? – in Millie’s case it’s off to where the vacancy neon lights is a revolving door- the Hotel Pricilla for aspiring actresses. Here we are introduced to ex-actress and “white slaver” the wickedly wicked – Mrs. Meers (Loretta Ables Sayre) who has a fondness for orphans- “Sad to be all alone in the world.” hmmmm??! In quick succession we are acquainted with Millie’s roommate, the innocent and wide-eyed Miss Dorothy Brown (Samantha Storm), the boss she plans to marry – Trevor Graydon (Edward Watts), nightclub singer and wealthy widow Muzzy Van Hossmere (Ramona Keller) and Mrs Meer’s two Chinese faithful flunkys – Bun Foo (Christopher Shin) and Ching Ho (James Seol).

“Muquin” Christopher Shin (Bun Foo), Loretta Ables Sayre (Mrs. Meers) and James Seol (Ching Ho) in Goodspeed Musicals’ Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo Credit © Photo by Diane Sobolewski

“Muquin” Christopher Shin (Bun Foo), Loretta Ables Sayre (Mrs. Meers) and James Seol (Ching Ho) in Goodspeed Musicals’ Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo Credit © Photo by Diane Sobolewski

The production:- Ok- the first thing that hits ya square in the eyes is the extraordinary ’20 costume design on the cast and ensemble. Costume designer and two time Tony nominee Gregory Gale has brought all the razzmatazz of that “modern” era to the Goodspeed stage – and it shows especially in their first dance number- the plays namesake “Thoroughly Modern Millie”- it’s the cat’s meow!! Our lead Millie- Taylor Quick, is a singing sensation- and not a bad typer as well- I loved her “Razz-matazz” rendition of “The Speed Test”! Loretta Ables Sayre is perfectly cast as the dastardly Mrs. Meers- I just wished she had added a bit more exaggerated Meers meanness-madness to the role. Romona Keller is delicious in her role as “Muzzy”- what a voice on this gal- reminded me a bit like Carol Channing – If only Director Denis Jones had added the songs “Jazz Baby” and “Baby Face”, from the original TMM film, it would have been a perfect match for Miss Keller’s sweet and sexy vocal stylings. Finally, I am in love with Lucia Spina’s elbows and her portrayal as put-apon secretary Miss Flannery- all eyes are on Miss Spina and her elbows whenever she is on stage- so you better go see TMM to see why!!! So there!!

“Skies are sunny and clear, long as I'm here with you.” Ramona Keller (Muzzy) returns to Café Society (pictured with Darius Wright, PJ Palmer and Daniel May) Goodspeed Musicals’ Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo Credit © Photo by Diane Sobolewski

“Skies are sunny and clear, long as I’m here with you.” Ramona Keller (Muzzy) returns to Café Society (pictured with Darius Wright, PJ Palmer and Daniel May) Goodspeed Musicals’ Thoroughly Modern Millie now playing at The Goodspeed through July 2. Photo Credit © Photo by Diane Sobolewski

This is no bum’s rush- I am truly backing this first musical entry at the Goodspeed Opera House. As Julie Andrews once said – It’s practically perfect in every way” – hmm, maybe that was another film that “popped” into my head- but you get my drift- “Thoroughly Modern Millie” will leave you with a “Happy Healing Healthy” glow – make a bee line to Haddam and enjoy a night of pure theatrical joy!! Enjoy!!

Thoroughly Modern Millie
Goodspeed Musicals
East Haddam, CT 06423
(860)873-8664

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” will run April 21st through July 2nd, 2017. Curtain times are Wednesday at 2:00 p.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 on-line at goodspeed.org.

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at Howardbatv@aol.com

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Captain Underpants- Exclusive Screening Family 4 Pack of Tixs

 

THE BATV SUMMER OF 2017 BEGINS!!!!

Join us for the movie of the summer-
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE
BATV invites you to the
advance screening of 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks’ upcoming release, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE, on Saturday, May 27th, at 10 AM at Bow Tie Cinema City at the Palace.

Please go to the Gofobo link below for your family pack of 4 screening passes!
URL: http://www.gofobo.com/CaptainUnderpantsBATV

First come- First Served. Please arrive early to theater.

location- Cinema City at the Palace
330 New Park Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Date & Time
Saturday, May 27th, 10am
Have your passes to show at the door

 

 

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Director: David Soren
Writer: Nicholas Stoller (Based on the Epic Novels by Dav Pilkey)
Producers: Mark Swift, Mireille Soria
Cast: Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Thomas Middleditch, Jordan Peele, Kristen Schaal

SYNOPSIS
Based on the worldwide sensation and bestselling book series, and boasting an A-list cast of comedy superstars headed by Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, DreamWorks Animation brings audiences the long-awaited global movie event, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. This raucously subversive comedy for the entire family tells the story of two overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold, who hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE Official Channels
SITE: http://www.dreamworksanimation.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/CaptainUnderpantsTheFirstEpicMovie
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/DWAnimation
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/dreamworksanimation/
#CaptainUnderpants

 

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Tom Cruise in THE MUMMY- VIP Screening- Enter Contest and WIN TIX

 

 

THE BATV SUMMER OF 2017 BEGINS!!!!

Join us for the movie of the summer- THE Mummy Starring Tom Cruise!

Below please find  info and link for our upcoming screening of THE MUMMY on 6/6, 7pm at Bowtie Palace. Enter the BATV THE MUMMY CONTEST to win two tickets to the premiere. First come- First Served. Please arrive early to theater.

Link:
http://tinyurl.com/l3dxmaq

Site From Which You Are Signing-Up Through *
Your answer- BATV- TV5

 

THE MUMMY – In Theaters June 9
Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | #TheMummy
Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: The Mummy.
Thought safely entombed in a tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.
From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.
Cruise is joined by a cast including Annabelle Wallis (upcoming King Arthur, television’s Peaky Blinders), Jake Johnson (Jurassic World), Courtney B. Vance (TV’s American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson) and Oscar® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator).
The creative team on this action-adventure event is led by director/producer Alex Kurtzman and producer Chris Morgan, who have been instrumental in growing some of the most successful franchises of the past several years—with Kurtzman writing or producing entries in the Transformers, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible series, and Morgan being the narrative engineer of the Fast & Furious saga as it has experienced explosive growth from its third chapter on. Sean Daniel, who produced the most recent Mummy trilogy, produces alongside Kurtzman and Morgan.

 

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A Heart to Hartt Happening- “The Rhythm of U.S.”

Howard Steven Frydman
The Hartt School
The Rhythm of U.S.


I just witnessed a spectacular student produced production-“The Rhythm of U.S.” – but how I got here is a story in itself- it took a twist of fate, a new heartbeat’s tick, once broken now mended – that brought it all together.

So here’s the yarn according to me – Howard!

The McGuffin: Serendipitous moments- a zig or a zag- do you take the right turn or the left, saying yes instead of no. It’s amazing how ones choices lead us to extraordinary moments, chance encounters, wonderful unforeseen opportunities.

These “blink in time” flash points embrace – placing you at random encounters, a drift-less decision that leads you to meet someone new, participate in an event or place you at the right moment at the right time.
Over the years, I have been a magnet for these happy heavenly happenstances – finding fate’s “fickle finger on my shoulder” -this time it led me to meet writer, director, actor Emma Krishnaswami, view her production- “The Rhythm of U.S.” and revisit old and new friends at the Hartt School in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Zig: Three weeks since my most recent open heart bypass surgery-and now only two days home after a two week stay at Caleb Hitchcock at Duncaster- a rehab center in the beautiful hamlet of Bloomfield- and now the blizzard of ’17 hits the region! Oy! As Mark Twain testified, “don’t like the weather- just wait” – I came home the temp was 55, a day later, it’s 16 degrees and snowing to beat the band- over two feet!
With my Cardiologists warning ringing in my ear- “Howard- never ever again- no snow shoveling” – yet the next day I had to go back to the doctor- so what to do? Another “Oy”!

 

The Zag: I needed help- What else could I do-I sent an SOS via emails and Facebook seeking snow storm assistance- and it came!! It came from folks who were concerned about my predicament such as famed actress and Hartt Voice, Speech, and Dialects Professor Johanna Morrison, restauranteur Maria “Pizza Empress” Rosu, and folks like Hartt Student Miss Emma Krishnaswami who I had never ever met!! Miss K. wrote “I was wondering if you still needed help? I won’t be able to get there till this evening after 6, but I would be happy to help you out.” Who is this extraordinary woman?

A Serendipity Snowstorm: what a moment- I was so truly overwhelmed by this young woman reaching out to me in a real time of desperate need- it really touched my heart! Yet before I could actually take up anyone on their kind offers- Unbeknownst to me Mayor Syd Schulman of Bloomfield sent someone over to clear the driveway  of snow- I am blessed with friends! However in response to my friend Johanna Morrison’s concern I emailed her,”Johanna- can you believe Mayor Syd of Bloomfield sent someone to my home to do my driveway! They were so quiet I didn’t even know they had been to my home—and then I received an email from one of your Hartt students- Emma Krishnaswami- I don’t even know her- and she wanted to help dig me out!!! Wow!! That was so nice!!! If you know her- please give her a big hug from me!! You have some wonderful thoughtful students!!”

Scott Burrows (2020); Alex Robertson (2020); Matthew Werner (2019); Genevieve Hendrix (2019); Voni Kengla (2019); Ariana Ortmann (2019); Pedro Fontes (2020); Quiana Leigh (2019); Danny Brown, Music Director (2019); Emma Krishnaswami, Director and Co-Writer (2017).

Scott Burrows (2020); Alex Robertson (2020); Matthew Werner (2019); Genevieve Hendrix (2019); Voni Kengla (2019); Ariana Ortmann (2019); Pedro Fontes (2020); Quiana Leigh (2019); Danny Brown, Music Director (2019); Emma Krishnaswami, Director and Co-Writer (2017).

An Emma Krishnaswami Invitation: At this point about 5 weeks have passed- I am still home recuperating and now in mid-April I received an unexpected and welcome email invitation from Miss Emma inviting me to “a show that I have spent 7 months planning and the entire semester directing. It is called “The Rhythm of U.S.” ” –  a collaborative project created by University of Hartford students, co-written and directed by the one and only Emma Krishnaswami.

Howard Steven Frydman, Emma Krishnaswami.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The production features an original piece by Connecticut’s next Mark Twain, famed playwright and friend Jacques Lamarre, plus up and coming student playwright Sam Seleznow. Hartt Student performers include: Scott Burrows, Pedro Fontes, Genevieve Hendrix, Quiana Leigh, Voni Kengla, Arianna Ortmann, Alex Robertson and Mr. Matthew Werner. Of course I’m excepting Emma’s kind Invitation- my first live production in months since the “Big H-Cut” – nothing short of an April blizzard would stop me from seeing this student production. Hartt here I come!!

With Cane in Hand- I make my way slowly to The Handel Performing Arts Center, Studio N125. There is so much creative energy emanating from this room it could light the lights on Broadway. I’m greeted by old friends including, Robert H. Davis, Hartt Professor of Theatre in Acting and Voice & Speech, and my singular choice to take over the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in The Hartford Stage’s annual production “A Christmas Carol”- (are you hearing me Mike Stotts!!), as previous mentioned, my old pal, the legendary playwright and all around “good guy” Jacques Lamarre, and then a whirlwind of a gal approaches me – “are you Howard?” – I reply- “are you Emma”? – I promptly receive a heart healing hug from the one and only Miss Emma Krishnaswami. I could cry!

Jacques Lamarre, Emma Krishnaswami. Howard Steven Frydman

Howard Steven Frydman, Robert H. Davis

Miss Emma’s Production: “The Rhythm of U.S.”, a series of short acting pieces, explores different political issues – women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, the refugee crisis, and anti-semitism. Issues that I personally must state that have been brought “front forward” by a “Enfant Terrible’s trumpeted rage and reign.

According to Emma, “While the production represents different races, genders, cultures and sexualities, the show also unites performers and audience in a commonality we all share: humans trying to live together in America”.
The pieces in this one hour production include; “Bottom of the River”; “Yearning to Breathe Free”, Jacques Lamarre’s “Gaybraham Lincoln”, “Amazing Grace” and the thought provoking “Sunday In The Park with Anne” – Anne being the ghost of “Anne Frank”- told in three parts-and utilizing various “diary” selections. Anne is the illusion of “hemp happy” Jonah as they discuss anti-semitism then and now. A powerful emotional “triptych” that could be made more emotional if the ending was heightened with an unexpected twist- that Jonah is also a Ghost- a victim of someone’s hateful antisemitic rage. Only a suggestion!
I look forward to seeing this splendidly conceived production augmented by additional pieces and produced at other theaters! Great job all!

 

A Questionable Mr. Howard: Several questions that I put forward to Miss Em.

What was the hardest part of putting this production together?
“This process had many difficulties, but I think I was well prepared for each of them with the amount of experience and training I have had in theatre on and off stage. I’d say one of the biggest struggles was coordinating all of the students’ rigorous schedules with my schedule and the availability of rehearsal space. I remember spending full days coming up with the rehearsal schedule for the next 2 weeks. Sometimes we would be in the depths of a rehearsal and we would get kicked out because there was a class. Going into the project, I also knew I had to accept the fact that people may drop out, people may forget about rehearsal or may have to cancel coming to one at the last minute”.

What did you learn?
“Ooooh many many things. One of the most important things I learned was what I am capable of and that I should trust myself. I went in with a lot of self-doubt about my abilities to see the fine points in real moments, which I think are essential to making a piece of theatre believable and relatable. But as the process continued I learned that I had a very good sense of these moments and could actually guide actors in a helpful way. It was always magical when I would adjust something and suddenly the moment came to life. I also learned that I have gained enough acting, stage management, technical, and leadership experience over the years to properly plan the birth process of a show in a timely fashion. I learned to have much more confidence in what I know. I learned that I am a director as much as I am an actor”.

“I also learned that all those years of being taught and directed really did teach me how to get the best work out of actors. In order to create real, relatable theatre you must be willing to let the actors be artists and trust them. Make them comfortable, treat them as equals rather than lesser, and make sure they feel validated in their contributions so that they are inspired to continue contributing.”

“I also learned that actors really need to eat if you want to have productive rehearsals. One weekend we had an 8am and no one had eaten because the dining halls weren’t open that early and people were so slow and cranky. The next weekend I brought food and people were much more lively. The contrast was night and day. Literally.”

Why did you put this project together- was this your concept?
“This project was very much my concept. Prior to the election of Trump, I came up with the idea to tell the Syrian refugee story. I realized I had not paid much attention to this horrible crisis across the sea and that I was one of millions who didn’t bat an eye at it. This had to stop because if it were me over there it would make no sense to me how my world could be falling apart, but there are people out there who still have perfect lives and refuse to help. This bothered me on a deep level. Looking back now, I am not sure how I would have accomplished this. Then the election of Trump occurred and I realized our citizens needed something encouraging, something uniting, but being a student in college it was difficult to feel like I could do anything to bring about change. I saw this show as an opportunity to help. I still wanted to shed light on the refugee crisis, but also on other communities and groups that were negatively influenced by this election.”

Is this your senior Project- how many students were involved-are they all Hartt seniors?

“This is my senior project. There were 12 students involved altogether. 8 actors, 1 student writer, 1 director/writer, 1 music director, 1 dramaturge. The only seniors were Sam Seleznow (“Sunday in the Park with Anne” playwright) and me. All the actors were freshmen and sophomores. Our music director, Danny Brown, was also a sophomore.”

Btw- what was your grade?

“This was actually something I chose to do on my own, not as an assignment, so I have not been graded on this. I am thinking of talking to my advisor about getting credit for it, but I am not sure.”

From Heart to Hartt: It’s a simply amazing serendipitous road on how I was invited to participate in seeing Emma’s theatrical vision. Thank you Emma Krishnaswami! “Thank god for the arts”- and thank our lucky stars for the staff and rising star talents at The Hartt School.

 

I have said it once and I will say it again – these students- these young men and woman at Hartt definitely have wonderful hearts – and here’s my tale and how it led to my visit to see the production of “The Rhythm of U.S.” And its all true- cross my heart!!

A good cast is worth repeating ( Universal Pictures) -all actors enjoy seeing their names not only in lights- but in print- so I am honored to list those participants here again now- Scott Burrows, Pedro Fontes, Genevieve Hendrix, Quiana Leigh, Voni Kengla, Arianna Ortmann, Alex Robertson and Mr. Matthew Werner.

And look out world – Here Comes Emma Krishnaswami! Oh and by the way- Stay off Motorcycles young lady!!!!

Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at Howardbatv@aol.com

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Exclusive Movie Invite-Bloomfield’s Anika Noni Rose “Everything Everything”

 

Dear Friends-

You are invited to a very special screening starring my old old friend Anika Noni Rose-from my hometown of Bloomfield!!

For your chance to download passes to the advance screening of EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING on Monday, May 15 at 7pm at Bow Tie Palace in Hartford,

click here: http://www.wbtickets.com/BjuSO26387
Please remember seating is first come, first served and not guaranteed so arrive early!

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING
In theaters on May 19
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LyEE7eR0nM

(Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Director: Stella Meghie
Writers: J. Mills Goodloe based on the bestselling book by Nicola Yoon
Producers: Leslie Morgenstein, Elysa Dutton
Executive Producer: Victor Ho

Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Ana De La Reguera, Anika Noni Rose

 

Romantic Drama. From Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures comes “Everything, Everything,” based on the bestselling book by Nicola Yoon, directed by Stella Meghie and starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson. What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face…or kiss the boy next door? “Everything, Everything” tells the unlikely love story of Maddy, a smart, curious and imaginative 18-year-old who due to an illness cannot leave the protection of the hermetically sealed environment within her house, and Olly, the boy next door who won’t let that stop them. Maddy is desperate to experience the much more stimulating outside world, and the promise of her first romance. Gazing through windows and talking only through texts, she and Olly form a deep bond that leads them to risk everything to be together…even if it means losing everything.

This film has been rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief sensuality.

EverythingEverythingMovie.com

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