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Mint Condition remembers their mentor Prince

June 29th, 2016 by admin

Lawrence Waddell and Stokley Williams of the St. Paul-based R&B band Mint Condition sit down to talk about their mentor, friend and fellow musician Prince.

From their own beginnings in the early 90s meeting Prince for the first time, to stories of playing on tour with him, to their reflections on Prince’s influence on the “Minneapolis Sound” and the artistic world more broadly, Waddell and Williams remember Prince and his legacy.

Interview by Jeff Achen of The UpTake. Published April 30, 2016

Darius Murrell Production presents – Mint Condition – with comedian CAPONE at The Shubert Saturday, July 9th at 8pm.

Click HERE for Ticket Information



Peter Rabbit Coin May Be The Cutest Ever Minted Beatrix Potter’s fictional bunny stars on a British 50 pence piece

April 15th, 2016 by admin

Peter Rabbit is on the money.

Beloved author Beatrix Potter’s fictional bunny appears on a brand-new 50 pence piece released in Britain on Monday.  Printed in color, Peter wears his iconic blue jacket and appears to have a mischievous glint in his eye. It looks like he’s about to thieve Mr. McGregor’s tasty vegetables. (But it’s probably just the way the metal shines.)

British coin designer Emma Noble designed the limited-edition silver proof coin to mark the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth in 1866. Only 15,000 have been made.peter rabbit coin

The limited-edition coins can be purchased on the Royal Mint website for about $76, but a cheaper, unlimited color version costs about $14 on the same site.

An uncolored version of the coin will go into general circulation later this year with an unlimited mintage, the Royal Mint told The Huffington Post. It will be worth 50 pence, or around 70 cents.

Peter Rabbit coins are available for purchase on the Royal Mint’s website, and come in special boxes. Three more of Potter’s characters will appear on coins later this year to make a four-piece set. Their identities have not yet been revealed. The flip side of each coin features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Noble said she wanted Potter’s illustrations at “the forefront of my design as they are lovely images and the characters are very well known.”  “I felt they were enough to stand alone and I designed them in this way as I thought they would work best for both the colored commemorative and un-colored circulating coins,” she said in a statement. “I really hope people are pleased with them as a set.”  Before the coin’s release, the Royal Mint teased Peter Rabbit fans with this tweet on Sunday:  Noble previously worked on a coin commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Peter Rabbit will also star in a previously unpublished book by Potter, who died at age 77 in 1943, that’s slated for release in September. The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots will include illustrations by Quentin Blake, perhaps best known for illustrating author Roald Dahl’s books.

02/29/2016 10:47 am ET

 Lee MoranTrends Editor, The Huffington Post

Peter Rabbit Tales at the Shubert, Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 1:30pm. 

Tickets On Sale Now!




The Man who Trained Sandy the Dog in ” Annie”! Broadway Animal Trainer Bill Berloni and His Collie Argyle, “There to Put a Smile on Your Face”

March 30th, 2016 by admin

Best in Show — a spotlight on Broadway personalities and their animal companions — continues with animal trainer Bill Berloni, whose furry friends have appeared on Broadway in Annie, Legally Blonde, The Audience, the Bernadette Peters revival of Gypsy and many others. Berloni, whose bloodhounds are part of The Dallas Theater Center’s current world premiere of Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, is also the subject of the Discovery Family Channel series “From Wags to Riches.”

What is your pet’s name, and is there a story behind it? Bill Berloni: Argyle. I got Argyle from a casting call we held for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 2005. He came from Herding Dog Rescue of Long Island. As a child, I had a dog named Rexie who was my best friend. In my adult professional career, no one wanted a “Lassie” dog, so when I had the opportunity to adopt a collie for a show, I jumped on it.

Breed? Age? BB: Long Haired Collie, 11 years old.

How did you find your pet? BB: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang called for eight dogs to run in a pack that would have been found in the English countryside. I decided to hold an open call and invite all the shelters in the tri-state area to bring dogs, and there was Argyle. He was one of four dogs we adopted that day.

Berloni as a child, with Rexie

Berloni as a child, with Rexie

What is the one thing your pet has eaten that he/she shouldn’t have? BB: By the time Argyle was nine months old, and before we got him, he ate two socks and needed surgery. Knowing that was his history, we made very sure he never got into anything like that.

What person, living or dead, does your pet remind you of and why? BB: Argyle reminds me of the comedian Red Skelton. I remember being a kid and watching his TV show and Red was always kind, helpful — there to put a smile on your face. That is Argyle. Where does your pet sleep? BB: Argyle has a suite in our home where he sleeps with two female dogs who play Sandy. He is their Alpha dog.

Is this your first pet? If not, elaborate? BB: Argyle in not my first pet. As a theatrical animal trainer, I have rescued and owned over 200 animals, all rescues. But Argyle reminds me of my first pet. You never forget you first love.

Do you use a groomer, no groomer? BB: We groom Argyle ourselves. His hair is so long and beautiful if you don’t brush him regularly, he will may badly.

Do you dress your pet? If so, what is his or her favorite, or least favorite thing to wear? BB: We don’t dress Argyle, but you should see the outfits our Legally Blonde chihuahuas have!

Berloni and Argyle

Berloni and Argyle

Best Halloween costume? BB: We put a fake sheepskin on him, and he was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Best trip with your pet? BB: Best trip with Argyle is always Times Square and the bright lights of Broadway.

Favorite Treat? BB: Argyle has Irritable Bowel Syndrome from all the surgeries he had as a pup. He is on a special diet, but a special treat for him is baby food. Yum!

Does your pet do tricks/commands? BB: Besides being trained as an acting dog, he does a great “Lassie” impersonation by holding up a hurt paw.

If you could talk to your pet for five minutes, what would you ask him or her? BB: If I could talk to Argyle for five minutes, I would thank him for being the best dog and taking care of my daughter, Jenna, when she was smaller. She told me he pulled her out of a frozen pond when the ice broke. I would just express my gratitude for taking care of us.

Berloni and Argyle

Berloni and Argyle

Does your pet have a best friend? BB: Argyle’s best friend is my daughter Jenna. He loves me, but took care of the kids first and then came home to me.

Is there a pet product you swear by that you can’t live without? BB: Furimator, a special brush for long hair. It has been so helpful with his coat over these years.

If your pet was a character in a Broadway show, who would that character be? BB: He has been a character in a Broadway show!

If there was one thing you would want people to know about your pet, what would it be? BB: If there was one thing I would want people to know about Argyle is he is the dog everyone wishes they had as a friend.

You and your pet go on a talk show. What is your anecdote about him/her or his/hers about you? BB: During Chitty, we went to do a press event for the Macy’s Day Spring show, and we discovered Argyle dislikes big balloons. He slipped his collar and was running wild around the show. I made a mental note to myself, no balloons ever in our house.

Most embarrassing thing your pet has ever done in public or when guests are over. BB: The most embarrassing thing Argyle does is act so trained everyone thinks he is “Lassie.” I have to keep telling people I trained “Sandy,” “Sandy!” But he looks at me with that big Collie smile, and I forgive him.

Playbill Article By Andrew Gans

Sep 11, 2015



A Love Supreme for Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Only one thing can distract U.S. Justice from the law: the opera

February 11th, 2016 by admin

What do I love about opera?

Its glorious music, high drama and gorgeous voices. An operatic voice is like no other. I was a super once — an extra —in Die Fledermaus, and was seated within three feet of Placido Domingo. I had never heard a voice of that beauty so close up. It felt as if an electric shock were running through me.

I think Mozart’s operas The Marriage of Figaro  and Don Giovanni are the two most perfect ever written. The music is magical. The sextet in The Marriage is the most hilarious piece in all of opera. And Don Giovanni has the most seductive duet, “Là ci darem la mano,” sung when the Don attempts to seduce Zerlina. One day I’ll say The Marriage is my favorite opera. The next day, the Don.

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walks with two Carmen extras at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center. — Mark Peterson/Redux

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walks with two Carmen extras at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. — Mark Peterson/Redux

In 2015, an opera opened about me and Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s called Scalia/Ginsburg. The composer, Derrick Wang, has degrees in music from Harvard and Yale. Enrolled in law school, he was reading dueling opinions by me and Justice Scalia and decided he could compose an appealing comic opera from them. He uses lines from opinions, speeches and articles we’ve written. The opera is really touching because it shows two people who interpret the Constitution differently but genuinely like each other. The last duet we sing is “We Are Different, We Are One”: different in the way we interpret written texts, one in our reverence for the institution we serve, the Supreme Court of the United States. 

How do you get to know opera?

For me, it began when I was 11, in 1944. My aunt took me to a high school in Brooklyn  for a condensed version of La Gioconda. I loved it. In high school I started attending the New York City Opera. To save money, I’d go to dress rehearsals. Or I’d buy tickets for seats in the last row of the top balcony.

 When it came time to introduce my daughter to opera, I played a recording of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte,  libretto in English, during dinner. After she had heard it maybe four or five times, we read the libretto together. Then my husband and I took her to a performance. By then, she knew most of the lyrics by heart. She was 8 years old. My son’s first exposure was Aida.

One way to get to know and love opera is by attending the Metropolitan Opera simulcasts in a movie theater. I went to four or five last year.

Most of the time, even when I go to sleep, I’m thinking about legal problems. But when I go to the opera, I’m just lost in it. Loving it. And I don’t think about any legal brief.

—As told to Frederick Allen by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, AARP The Magazine, December 2015

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 82, is an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

Does this article put you in the mood for a little opera? …

Yale Opera presents A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Shubert

February 19-21, 2016 

Benjamin Britten’s magical opera based on the Shakespeare play

is performed in English

New Haven Register archives: JOHNNY CASH COMES FULL CIRCLE: Yale Whiffenpoofs flock to singer’s side for Toad’s show

June 8th, 2015 by admin

As the Shubert gets ready to rock out this week with Million Dollar Quartet (June 11-14)  — a show inspired by the famed 1956 recording session with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash & Carl Perkins, we thought we’d share this great article by columnist Fran Fried from an interview he did with Johnny Cash


New Haven Register archives: JOHNNY CASH COMES FULL CIRCLE: Yale Whiffenpoofs flock to singer’s side for Toad’s show

Johnny Cash played two sold-out shows at Toad’s Place on York Street in July of 1990.

(This story ran on Page 15, in the Living section, of the New Haven Register Tuesday, Nov. 3, 1992. It was the preview to a scheduled show that Thursday at Toad’s Place in New Haven by Johnny Cash. He was to have performed a couple of songs with Yale’s famed Whiffenpoofs, whose longtime home, the supper club Mory’s, stands next to Toad’s. Unfortunately, the shows were canceled, but I did get to see him that Saturday, sans Whiffs, at the Garde Arts Center in New London.johnny Cash

This tour came at the low point of his recording career. His late-’80s albums for Mercury went nowhere and he seemed to have fizzled out, and was trying to figure his next move. A year and a half later, he shocked us with the stark simplicity of the first of his Rick Rubin albums, which re-established him for good and sustained him the rest of his life.

Johnny called me one morning a few days before, just before he left for the funeral of his longtime agent, who died the same day as Johnny’s good buddy Roger Miller. I did apologize right off and tell him I felt badly that he called me at such a trying time. His response, in that voice: “Well, you got me.” I was eternally grateful that he took time to talk to a stranger, especially given the circumstances.)

By Fran Fried, Register Entertainment Editor

This is the type of trivia question that starts bar arguments: What was the first song Johnny Cash ever sang in public?

“Hey Porter”? “I Walk the Line”? Some Hank Williams number? A hymn? Don’t knock yourself out. You will never guess; I guarantee it. So let the man tell you himself:

“The first song I ever sang in public, in front of a large audience, was at commencement exercises at my high school when I was in 11th grade. It was ‘The Whiffenpoof Song,’“ he said last week.

Of all the songs.

Thus, Cash, on his return visit to Toad’s Thursday night — he played there in July 1990 — will open his new tour by singing at least that song on stage with another American musical institution — Yale’s Whiffenpoofs.

They’ll sing “The Whiffenpoof Song” and Cash’s timeless “Ring of Fire” at the second show, scheduled to start at 10:30. Whether they perform more depends on how quickly Cash can make it up to New Haven from Nashville after Wednesday’s memorial service for old friend Roger Miller.


Cash said Country Music magazine editor Russ Bernard, a Yale alumnus, was the one who lined up this seemingly unlikeliest of musical pairings.

“He called me up and said ‘You’re playing Toad’s, at Yale. Mory’s … (is next door),’ “ Cash said from Los Angeles, where he was preparing for the funeral of his agent, Marty Klein. “I said ‘You mean as in “From the tables at Mory’s to the place where Louie dwells?”‘

“He sent me a brochure on (the Whiffenpoofs). They began in 1909 and sang at some of the greatest occasions in history. I realized what a class act they are. To sing with them would be the ultimate kick for me.”

One of the Whiffs, Jody Gold, said the feeling is mutual.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “It’s really funny in a way. I don’t think I know too many people who listen to his music, but he’s a legend. Combining our kind of music with his is incredible.”

Whiffenpoofs aside, this is a period of returning to roots for Cash. He’s about to re-enter the recording studio, and save for a duet with wife June Carter Cash on Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life,” he plans to turn the clock back musically to 1955 – to the pre-country rockabilly days with the Tennessee Two, when he recorded for Sam Phillips at Sun Records.

This is a man whose multi-million-selling albums pre-date the much-hyped Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus by over two decades; in 1969 — at the heyday of the smash hit “A Boy Named Sue” and the “Live at San Quentin” album, Variety magazine estimated he was bringing in a quarter of the revenues at Columbia Records, the world’s largest label.

Yet Cash isn’t sure where he belongs in the scheme of present-day country music, with much of it sounding like adult top 40 with pedal steel. But he said he does like the idea of this latest country resurgence.

“I don’t know where I fit in,” he said. “But I’m gonna do the things I always have. I’m not gonna sound like anybody else.”

As if anyone will mistake one of the most recognizable voices in the English-speaking world for anyone else.

Back when he started this 37-year circle, Cash had a decidedly narrower view of fame: “Back then, my idea of stardom was to get to sing on the radio. I never thought past the range of the broadcasting stations in Memphis. Then one day I was turning the knob on my radio and heard my record (his first, “Hey Porter”/”Cry Cry Cry”) on a station in Shreveport, La. I couldn’t believe it.”

He’s a much smarter man than the first time around, having survived the pratfalls of drinking and drugs, finding the Lord, and becoming a beloved public figure.

And if the circle needed to close any tighter, the deaths of Miller and Klein, both on Oct. 25, have made Cash, who turned 60 Feb. 26, reflect a little more deeply about his own mortality.

“I get up every morning thinking just for today, because (life’s) so fleeting,” he said. “Everyone knew Roger’s time was coming (he had throat cancer), but my agent died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was only 51 years old. It gave me reason for deep thought.”


Tickets for Million Dollar Quartet (June 11-14) may be purchased via or by contacting the Box Office at 203.562.5666.


“Fans Wild Over Elvis In Show At Coliseum” by Dick Conrad, New Haven Courier-Journal July 17, 1975

June 4th, 2015 by admin

Our upcoming show Million Dollar Quartet is inspired by the famed 1956 Memphis recording session that brought together Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time.   In honor of Elvis, we share with you this concert review from his 1975 performance at the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Elvis in new haven 1975


“Elvis: I Love You,” said the sign hanging from the railing in back of the stage at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum Wednesday night.


The signature of Debbie Persano, and the appropriate XOX, were at the bottom of the love note, but it became obvious later that many of the 10,000 plus in attendance would have been glad to add their names.


Gurgling in to the microphone, swaying like the Elvis of old and singing at least as well, Presley more than satisfied the faithful who paid $10, $7.50 and $5 to get in.

The crowd was a mixture of “teens and persons in the 20 to 35 age range. Everyone brought a camera.


Presley came on only after the audience endured a mel singing group and a comedian and enjoyed “Sweet Inspiration,” a female group.


The master of ceremonies patiently asked everyone to take his or her seat, and then, to the strains of the famous opening of the movie “Space Odyssey,” Elvis charged onto the stage.


So much for staying in the seats. The flash bulbs popped and thousands screamed. About a hundred charged the stage as Elvis went into “See See Rider.”


For many of the others who risked their ribs, there was a good supply of spare articles of clothing, which Presley distributed after a cursory wrap around the neck.


He accepted several bouquets of roses, but rejected a bottle of champagne.

“Amen” came next, and then some assorted gurgling that sent shock waves through the crowd.


“Play rock and roll” and “I love you , Elvis” came from everywhere in the house. But next was the popular “If You Love Me Let Me Know” before a lot of the old favorites.


Presley finally asked the throngs to sit down, just before a few persons almost managed to get on the stage.


The show was a success. Police reported little trouble despite the frenzy inside.

Courtesy of Scott


To purchase tickets for Million Dollar Quartet June 11th – 14th

visit or call the Shubert Box Office at 203.562.5666


SCSU freshman working on setup of ‘Matilda’ touring show

May 11th, 2015 by admin

Shubert Theatre official Anthony Lupinacci said he was excited recently to see someone who recently went through the theater’s management internship program sitting among the pros helping assemble the national touring production of Broadway hit “Matilda the Musical.”Rachel

That would be Rachel Zwick, 19, a Southern Connecticut State University freshman from Northford who attended city magnet schools. She’s been working as a paid production assistant for about six weeks with the company that is building the tour at the storied theater.

“It’s so rewarding for us to see her actually sitting in the theater with the production people from the first national tour of the show. The way I’m viewing it, this is a rather unusal opportunity for someone so young.”

Kelly Wuzzardo, director of education for Shubert operator CAPA, said the theater partners with school officials to offer programs such as the management internship. And Zwick has also been an usher intern, tech apprentice at summer camp (working on rental shows at Co-Op) and a teaching assistant for summer camp. Advertisement

Zwick, in a phone chat during a break from work at the theater, described the scene of many laptops, cables and tables (which Lupinacci at one point said looked like “mission control”) in the theater audience area.

“There’s lighting and sound and projections, production management,” said Zwick, “and we all have our tables.”

Talk about a great experience, said Wuzzardo.

“She’s sitting in a room with people who have Tony Awards, you know what I mean?” said Wuzzardo. “It’s a huge deal for someone like her to get this kind of experience. And it’s going to be a huge deal on her resume to say… I worked the beginning of a national tour and worked with all these people.”

Zwick has been going on Home Depot and Lowe’s runs, doing other errands and working on purchasing orders and doing filing for the production, she said.

Wuzzardo recommended Zwick to show staffers who were looking for a PA.

“Because she’s been through the different internships, our management staff knows her, the tech guys know her. All the adults here have seen her come through as a kid… We all take pride in that, that everybody’s been able to contribute a little bit to her education and then, with full confidence, be able to recommend her to this real-deal show.”

“I didn’t even think that was something I could do,” Zwick said. “I thought you had to have a college degree for it. And for this to be my second semester of college and take on something like this is just so incredible, and I’m so grateful.”

Tony Award-winning “Matilda the Musical,” the story of an extraordinary girl who dreams of a better life, opens Saturday and runs through May 23 at the College Street theater, known as the “birthplace of the nation’s greatest hits.”

Zwick said she’s “trying to network and make connections and meet people, since this is something I want to be doing for the rest of my life.”

Zwick did shows every year at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School in New Haven, serving as assistant director on one. She also did costuming and stage managing there and at community theater.

Being in the middle of it all for six weeks is an eye-opener.

“It’s definitely given me such a deeper appreciation of everything thay goes into building a national tour of a Broadway musical.”

In the management internship program, which at three to four weeks is more of an extended job shadow, Lupinacci said “we try to explain to them (that) if you really have a love for this business, don’t just give it up if you don’t become the next Barbra Streisand. You could do the technical work on the show, you could be a company manager, you could be a stage manager… work in the office.”

Wuzzardo said that at the 100th anniversary gala recently, the Shubert honored Eastern Connecticut State University student Jacari Santiago, who also has worked his way through Shubert programs and done some professional work.

“They’re both examples of kids,” said Wuzzardo of Zwick and Santiago, “who, when given these opportunities, have taken … full advantage. And it’s paying off. This is exactly why we do these things, because we want to introduce these kids to jobs that they may not have had access to.”

Zwick is no expert yet, but she said that based on seeing some “Matilda” tech rehearsals, “It is absolutely phenomenal. I highly recommend.”

In the fall, Zwick will spend a semester with the National Music Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford.

About the Author – Joe Amarante, New Haven Register

Joe has been the TV editor, features writer, columnist, general assignment reporter and copy editor for some 35 years in New Haven, first with the Journal-Courier and then the New Haven Register. Follow Joe on Twitter: @joeammo.


05/11/15 – reprinted with permission of Joe Amarante, New Haven Register