The Howard – Theater Review “West Side Story” Ivoryton Playhouse

Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman

Play:                         WEST SIDE STORY
Theater:                   Ivoryton Playhouse
Music & Lyrics:       Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim
Book by:                   Arthur Laurents
Director:                   Todd L. Underwood

In search of a summer adventure? Where will it take you? Suggestions happily provided. Are you in search of culinary sea food delights, maybe a day picking strawberries, relaxing at the beach, a summer movie, what to do? what toooo doooo? Don’t let this summer day flitter by!!
May I then suggest a day at “the theater”? Yes you may you say…
Then I strongly urge you to make a journey to the beautiful town of Ivoryton, in the State of Connecticut. This is one special summer destination I’m inviting you too- Within it’s reaches- bring a picnic basket, hunker down under the town’s gazebo, find the elephant, sit back and just relax on this lazy sunny dragonfly kind of day. And then the pièce de résistance of Ivoryton – a true theatrical gem – for it houses the one and only – The Ivoryton Playhouse. If I had to summarize this theater – I would say it had grace – and “Kate” – Hepburn that is, and even Helen Hayes- the who’s who of Broadway and Hollywood have played these hallowed halls – this my friends is the iconic Ivoryton Playhouse.

Set on a rolling hill, lined with rose bushes, it now beckons you to enter through their theater doors and enjoy one of their live productions. Most currently, we are on our way to Ivoryton to see the landmark musical – “West Side Story”- directed and choreographed by Todd Underwood, musical directed by Mike Morris and starring as our impassioned West Side of NYC “Romeo and Juliet” – Stephen Mir as “Tony” and Mia Pinero as “Maria”.
Yep- “Something’s coming, it may be around the corner, whistling down the river, twitching at the dance—who knows?” I know- and I told ya first- it’s at The Ivoryton!!

Stephen Mir as “Tony” and Mia Pinero as “Maria”.

I am ashamed to admit this, but from all my years of reviewing musicals, I have never ever seen a live performance of “West Side Story”. My only reference, until now is like most, the movie version starring Natalie Wood as Maria and as Tony – Richard Beymer, ( Hollywood trivia- Wood disliked Beymer so much she wanted her then boyfriend, Warren Beatty to play the role, with other suggestions including Tony Curtis, while director Robert Wise’s original choice to play Tony was Elvis Presley.) The 1962 film version was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won ten including Best Picture. I do recall, for its television debut in 1972, a decade later, NBC placed several warnings during the broadcast, regarding “this was only a movie” lest we all become modern-day juvenile delinquents or erstwhile “Jets and Sharks” and start “rumbles” as we sought out turf wars at our elementary schools!! I think I went to school that week trying to snap my fingers, shirt collar pulled up, and humming “When you are a Jet” and seeking my next musical!

“West Side Story” – a musical about two teenage rival gangs- its origin – Williams Shakespeare’s tragic love story “Romeo and Juliet” transplanted to the inner city of the Upper West Side of NYC- circa 1950’s, the Montagues are the asphalt jungle – “Jets” while the “Capulets” are the recently immigrated Puerto Rican “Sharks”. The musical has a book by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, with its conception and amazing choreography by Jerome Robbins. WST- On the horizon, a turf war is brewing between the Jets and Sharks, yet for the time being both gangs are playing it cool- ya know what I mean Daddy O? In the meantime, even love grows in the cement city as Tony, founding member of the Top-Cat “Jets” falls in love with “Maria” whose brother is the leader of the “Sharks”- as he professes his love to her on a fire escape outside her building-( alike Shakespeare’s balcony scene). Yet be forewarned “Something’s Coming”!!! Another bit of trivia – an original concept had the musical focus on conflicts between an Irish Catholic family and a Jewish family living on the East Side of Manhattan – “East Side Story”.

Stephen Mir as “Tony” and Mia Pinero as “Maria”.

Folks what makes this show a “must see” at the Ivoryton – firstly, the musical arrangements – the lights darken and all of a sudden you are immersed in the haunting “West Side Story” overture as you witness the ballet of the “Jets and Sharks” emerge onto the stark inner city set created by a Scenic Designer Daniel Nischan. Secondly, ten snaps of the fingers to choreographer Todd L. Underwood- who brings out the inner essence of Jerome Robbins exhilarating dance moves by the cast – so exciting to watch! As many of you know, I so enjoy leaving musical theater humming at least one song- not a problem here- these songs by Bernstein and Sondheim stirs one soul, hauntingly beautiful – with such now classics including: “Something’s Coming”, “Tonight”, “America”, “I Feel Pretty” and the soulful “Maria”.

Lastly, our two leads- great on stage chemistry, Mia Pinero as Maria- utterly charming- a skilled dancer with amazing vocal talents. As Tony, Stephen Mir, ok at first glance he doesn’t look like a gang-member, in fact none of the cast would instill any fear as you passed them on the streets of Ivoryton, but I digress, Mr. Mir shines whenever he is on stage, and exhibits a commanding presence, a true triple treat of talent – voice, dance and acting. Major kudos to the entire cast and shout out to Max Weinstein- you get the coveted “Howard Noticed You” – good job Max- and I encourage all to see this excellent production. Enjoy!

Mr. Max Weinstein

West Side Story opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on July 5th  and runs through July 30th, 2017. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting their website at

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


Posted in Howard, Theater, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

…….Thank you Dr. Edwin Fierer

The Question that saved my life – “How are you Feeling?

(In Late February I underwent open heart bypass surgery)

Today – I had an appointment with my Doctor- we went over my past 3 hospitalizations, 2 operations- he poked me here and there, took blood, checked the BP 3 times-and when he was done- I told him I wanted to say something to him-

I want to simply say Thank You” for helping me save my life”!

…….and for always asking “How are you feeling” during each visit!!
       Thank you Dr. Edwin Fierer……

Posted in Howard | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Howard Reviews – The Empress of the Seven Seas- Chef Maria Rosu

Every fisherman has a fish story about that giant “whopper” they pulled out of the sea- well just let me tell you about the “whoppers” I found on dry land! These behemoths can only be found in the beautiful New England hamlet of Bloomfield, the place? Bloomfield Village Pizza of course, helmed by the Empress of Pizza herself, Chef Maria Rosu where every Friday is now “Friday Fish Fry Day”!!

Chef Maria, affectionately known as, the “Empress of Pizza”, for her world famous, fresh out of the oven pizza, is quickly gaining recognition as the “Empress of the Seven Seas” with her fresh from the sea – “Friday Fish Fry” with such whale brimming plate offerings including; Haddock, halibut and scrod, colossal scallops, whole belly Clams and prawns. Once seen, you will have to agree, her culinary crustacean creations overflow their vessels.

Like most, whenever I think of Bloomfield Village Pizza, I immediately envision – “best Pizza” in Connecticut- hands down- and then onward to Chef Maria’s authentic homemade pastas, grinders, chicken wings and salads. But for the last several months, my tastebuds have been more adventurous with a yen for fresh fish. Like most, I have sojourned throughout Connecticut searching for great seafood restaurants- but who knew my search would bring me back to my own home town.

A “Friday Fish Fry” has been part of my world since a child- I remember going with the family to “Howard Johnson’s” in Hartford almost every week, the waitress would push a cart to your table, and plate you with fresh fried fish, chips (fries) and all the accompaniments you could handle.

It was several weeks back, yes- on a Friday, that I was visiting Chef Maria, she made me one of her world famous plain cheese pizzas and then asked what else I would like, I quickly responded – “your Friday Fish Fry Special”- a whole golden fried Haddock, accompanied by Fresh whole belly clams, lightly breaded and fried scallops and shrimps, and served with hand cut crispy French Fries, her in-house homemade coleslaw- with lemon wedges and tartar sauce on the side.

I enjoyed my delicious orb of a Bloomfield Village Pizza, and then Chef Maria brought out my “Friday Fish Fry” as described above- however on its way to my table and my awaiting tastebuds- several folks seated in adjoining tables took note of my “Catch of the Day” – one woman even asked if she could stopped by my table to take a second look at this oh-so enticing plate of fish-fry finery- of course one look and she ordered the “Friday Fish Fry” as well! Let me tell you friends the 3F’s is OMG – truly scrumptious!

Folks, I so encouraged you to visit with Empress Maria at Bloomfield Village Pizza, sample her rich assortment of Italian delights, but when it comes to Friday- remember her Fantastic Fish Fry. I understand in coming weeks Chef Maria is contemplating adding Fried Shrimp and Fried Whole Belly Clams Po-boys and fish tacos- I can’t wait! Enjoy!!

Bloomfield Village Pizza is located at 34 Tunxis Avenue in Bloomfield, Connecticut. For call ahead reservations, to place an order, or to speak directly with Empress Maria Rosu call 860-242-3339.

Posted in Food, Howard | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Howard – Theater Reviews “NEWSIES” Nutmeg Summer Series 3


Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman
Play:                         NEWSIES
Theater:                  Connecticut Repertory Theater
Music & Lyrics:    Alan Menken and Jack Feldman
Book by:                  Harvey Fierstein
Director:                 Christopher d’Amboise,

Cults– who knew that some musicals had cult followers or (ZOT’s) Zealots of the Theater!
Yep-we’re talking Broadway musical Zot-lots here!! Who knew? I bet my Aunt Ida knew!
Yea yea yea “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” fer sure had the ZOTS, maybe even “Mama Mia” or “Pippin” or “Kiss Me Kate”, and of course “The Book of Mormons” – but here’s the rub- one of the biggest ZOTS IS THE MUSICAL “NEWSIES” —“NEWSIES”?? So I simply state- join the ZOTS, put one foot in front of another, and ZOT over to see what’s it all about- Disney’s “Newsies” The Musical at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the University of Connecticut.

Yep it’s true- “Newsies” the musical has a cult following – and it’s a doozi believe you me! Christian Bale who played the role of “news-boy” Jack Kelly in the original movie version once stated “You say something bad about “Newsies” and you have an awful lot of people to answer too”. WOW! I’m not planning on – saying one ill word and a word to the wise-neither should you for the truth is- I think after seeing this “hot diggetty dog” of a good time at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) final production of the Nutmeg Summer Series- I just became a “Newsies” too- now where do I get my “Newsies” fan letter, membership pin and secret decoder ring? I’m all in! So Extra Extra read “all about it” here- “Newsies is “Above the Fold”- and top draw entertainment!!

For the uninitiated, “Newsies” is not about my or even your Aunt Ida, who calls each day on the land-line phone and asks, “Nuuu? So wats New?”- This time around, let me tell ya what’s New-sies!
Firstly- NEWSIES comes in two forms- both based on real events of the NYC Newsboy Strike of 1899, it was originally a 1992 Disney movie musical starring Bale, Robert Duvall and Ann Margaret and is a qualified “must have” for ZOTS on DVD and then in a second life, transformed into a Tony Award winning musical (nominated for eight, winning two) with a score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein. For the Nutmeg Summer Series, “Newsies” is Directed and Choreographed by Tony Award-nominee Christopher d’Amboise, Scenic design by Tim Brown, Costume Design by the phenomenal Fan Zheng and with a high-energy talented cast that ALL must be noted here including; Jim Schubin (Jack Kelly), Tyler Jones (Crutchie), Richard R. Henry (Joseph Pulitzer), Tina Fabrique (Medda Larkin), Aaron Bantum (Albert), Darren Brown (Scab 1/Citizen/Police), Will Bryant (Wiesel/Police/Mayor), Atticus Burello (Les), Jacob Burns (Specs/Jojo), Kent Coleman (Scab 2/Citizen/Stage Manager), Spencer Croy (Finch/Elmer), Brandon Engman (Mush/Buttons), Jamaal Fields-Green (Spot Conion/Citizen), Nate Healey (Governor Theodore Roosevelt/Nunzio/Police), Dharon Jones (Henry/Sniper), Noah Kieserman (Davey), Simon Longnight (Romeo/Tommy Boy), Aidan Marchetti (Seit/Jacobi), Kalob Martinez (Snyder), Cullen Ries (Oscar Delancey), Alyssa Sarnoff (Hannah/Nun/Dancer/Citizen), Paige Smith (Katherine Plumber), Tuck Sweeney (Race), Andy Viviano (Morris Delancey), and Jane Zogbi (Nun/Dancer/Citizen).

So heres’s da scoop- Brooklyn-eze accents not required but welcomed! It’s definitely not a sunshine life here in NYC, circa 1899, as we meet teen Jack Kelly who dreams of moving to Santa Fe, his wounded pal Crutchie and his family of orphaned and homeless newsies who survive by selling “The New York World” Newspapers on the streets. It’s a hard luck life indeed, as each day they arrive at the NYW to pick up their supply of daily papers to sell. Entering this world are Davey and his little brother Les, though they have a home and family, their father was injured at work and now unemployed, they must be the family providers. Jack quickly takes both brothers under his wing with the thought that the “innocent looking” Les could be the ticket to selling more newspapers. Meanwhile, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the NYW decides to increase the cost of the papers to the Newsies in an all about effort to outsell his competitors.
What to do? Led by Jack and assisted by New York Sun reporter Katherine Plumber the boys of “Newsies” band together to organized a strike against the surprised publisher Pulitzer. These union organizers are sure gonna need a “rough rider” to come to their aid- TR where are ya when we needs ya??!

Nate Healy as Teddy Roosevelt

I freely admit I am a newbie to CRT and their Nutmeg Summer Series, but folks the standards in production, actors, design and direction are as in the words of Teddy Roosevelt- “Bully”- excellent – I so enjoyed my first CRT foray, “1776”-and Newsies follows suit in the same form- highly highly enjoyable. Tim Brown’s scenic design sets the mood of grungy news ink splattered NYC world, while Fan Zheng once again designs authentic, to the period costuming. One side note, the character of Katherine Plumber”, throughout the entire production she wears her hair down and is usually outfitted in a brown period dress- I strongly felt that at the onset of the musical, she should have had her hair dressed up, to signify her original opposition to Jack and then it’s only let down as she awakens to Jack and the newsies blight, plus in the same light, her dress should now be blue, same as Jack’s shirt at productions end to show their solidarity. What do you think?

The” big highlight is indeed the choreography by Christopher d’Amboise – absolutely brilliant energetic performance by the entire cast! As for the Menken Feldman score- you’re not going to leave the theater singing “The Sun Will Come Out -Tomorrow” but there are some Zotty tunes including my fave, “King of New York”. The backbone of this production is indeed the casting – most notably Jim Schubin as “Jack” and Tyler Jones as “Crutchie”. We are reacquainted with the bigger than life Richard R. Henry as Pulitzer ( so enjoyable as Franklin in “1776”). Ok ok- ya know there is always at least one actor that steals the show, for “Newsies” there are two – Atticus L. Burello is a major scene stealer as the “babes in arms” – “Les”- good job kid- ya got noticed!! And finally major kudos to one actor who had several roles, Nate Healey, (last seen also in “1776”), he portrayed a police officer, “Nunzio” the Italian barber, cabaret dancer and Teddy Roosevelt-
this guy has some MAJOR acting chops- Bully job Nate!! Hey all you “Newsies” ZOTS – this musical is indeed a joyous great way to end the summer series- I can’t wait till next year’s summer musical selections- enjoy!

This production will take place at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theater located on the campus of the University of Connecticut. CRT is the professional producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut- Storrs, CT. For ticket information or to purchase tickets by phone: 860-486-2113 or visit online at

Howard Frydman and Johanna Morrison

Terrance Mann and Howard Frydman
































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


Posted in Howard, Theater, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Howard – E-tix to VIP Screening of “GIRLS TRIP” movie premiere


SUMMER OF ’17 – Hot Movie Free Flicks!

Hey Gang – your old old pal Howard invites you to the gala premiere of “GIRLS TRIP”

The screening will take place on TUESDAY, JULY 18th, 7pm at BOW TIE PALACE. For your opportunity to see GIRLS TRIP – please download and copy the following e-tix below. ARRIVE EARLY SEATING IS FIRST COME FIRST SERVED!!

first come first served.

Producer Will Packer (Ride Along and Think Like a Man franchises, Almost Christmas) presents Girls Trip, a new comedy from director/producer Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man franchise, Barbershop: The Next Cut).

When four lifelong friends—Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah—travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. James Lopez, head of motion pictures for Will Packer Productions, and Preston Holmes, executive produce.



Posted in Howard, Movie Premiere, Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Howard – Movie Invite to “DUNKIRK” – VIP Premiere

SUMMER OF ’17 Movie Premieres

Your Pal Howard invites you to the advance screening of DUNKIRK, scheduled for Wednesday, June 19th at 7:00 at the IMAX Buckland Hills in Manchester.


Please go to the Link below for your opportunity to receive admit two tickets:

This screening will be at the IMAX BUCKLAND HILLS in MANCHESTER, CT on Wednesday, July 19th at 7:00 PM. As always, seating is first come, first served!



DUNKIRK In theaters and IMAX on July 21

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Producers: Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan
Executive Producer: Jake Myers

Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard,
James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, with Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy,
Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy

Action Thriller. “Dunkirk” opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces. Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea they face an impossible situation as the enemy closes in.

This film has been rated PG-13 for intense war experience and some language.



Posted in Howard, Movie Premiere, Movies, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Howard – VIP Screening of “ATOMIC BLONDE” Free Tixs




TV5 and your friend Howard invite you to an advance screening of Atomic Blonde this Wednesday at Cinepolis West Hartford.



Genre: Action-Thriller

Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones

Directed by: David Leitch

Screenplay by: Kurt Johnstad

Based on the Oni Press
Graphic Novel Series “The Coldest City,”
Written by: Antony Johnston
and Illustrated by: Sam Hart

Produced by: Charlize Theron, Beth Kono, A.J. Dix, Kelly McCormick, Eric Gitter, Peter Schwerin

Executive Producers: Nick Meyer, Marc Schaberg, Joe Nozemack, Steven V. Scavelli, Ethan Smith, David Guillod, Kurt Johnstad

Oscar® winner Charlize Theron explodes into summer in Atomic Blonde, a breakneck action-thriller that follows MI6’s most lethal assassin through a ticking time bomb of a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.

The crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilized city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.

A blistering blend of sleek action, gritty sexuality and dazzling style, Atomic Blonde is directed by David Leitch (John Wick, upcoming Deadpool 2). Also starring John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones, the film is based on the Oni Press graphic novel series “The Coldest City,” by Antony Johnston & illustrator Sam Hart. Kurt Johnstad (300) wrote the screenplay.


Posted in Howard, Movies, Theater | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment