Milford's HamletHub Mon, 18 Oct 2021 15:08:51 -0400 U.S. and state flags in Connecticut lowered to half-staff in honor of General Colin Powell

Governor Ned Lamont today announced that – in accordance with a proclamation issued by President Joe Biden directing flags to be lowered throughout the country as a mark of respect for General Colin Powell – he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to be flown at half-staff beginning immediately until sunset on the evening of Friday, October 22, 2021.

Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this same duration of time.

]]> (Gov. Ned Lamont) Politics Mon, 18 Oct 2021 10:13:39 -0400
Minute with Milford Mayor Ben Blake: COVID-19 Booster Vaccines

In this installment of Minute with the Mayor, Milford Mayor Ben Blake talks about COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters with Director of Health, Deepa Joseph.

The CDC updated guidance and guidelines on the COVID-19 Booster Vaccine. Please watch this video for the information.

Minute with the Mayor – COVID 19 Vaccine Boosters

]]> (HH) Life Fri, 15 Oct 2021 11:44:04 -0400
CT's Beardsley Zoo's Amur Tiger Reka to Transfer Out

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will say goodbye next week to Reka, a female Amur tiger born at the Zoo, as she moves to a new permanent home.

Born on November 25, 2017, Reka and her sister Zeya were raised by the Zoo’s animal care staff when their mother, Changbai, displayed no interest in her cubs. Zoo guests and supporters have followed Reka and Zeya’s journey from newborns whose survival was uncertain to the healthy young adult tigers they are today. 

Managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), inter-regional transfers are arranged with careful attention to gene diversity in the hope that successful breeding will take place. Last year, Zeya was sent to Rosamond Gifford Zoo as an excellent genetic match to that Zoo’s resident male tiger. Reka’s new home zoo will announce her arrival once a standard quarantine period is complete later this fall.  Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo remains home to Reka and Zeya’s mother, Changbai. 

Amur tigers are very rare and are critically endangered in the wild. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) statistics, today Amur tigers are thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range. Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict, and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild just in the past hundred years. The future of the Amur tiger has been a major concern of the world’s zoos for many years as the species has been pushed toward extinction. 

There is an SSP program in place for many species of animals through oversight by a group called the Taxon Advisory Group (TAG). The SSP makes breeding recommendations based on genetics, age and health of animals, and need for more of the species to protect future populations. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Deputy Director, Don Goff, is the Co-Chair of the National Felid TAG group. He leads a committee of AZA-accredited zoo members whose goal is to save declining species.

“As sad as we are to say goodbye to Reka, the planned transfer of animals to other member zoos ensures the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied AZA population,” explained Goff.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has had repeated success in breeding endangered species, a testament to the Zoo’s animal care specialists and the highest quality of animal care.  The Zoo has been the birthplace of multiple endangered species in recent years, including Amur tiger cubs, maned wolf pups, red wolf pups, three baby Giant anteaters, and two Amur leopard cubs.

]]> (Lisa Clair) Neighbors Thu, 14 Oct 2021 05:58:47 -0400
Elm Shakespeare Company presents a unique Halloween experience

Spooky Shakespeare is Back!

Just in time for Halloween, Shakespeare in the Park is back just after a long pandemic hiatus.

Elm Shakespeare Company’s professional company will delight audiences in Edgerton Park for one weekend only, with an immersive, spine-tingling experience – Taste of Fear II: Spooky Shakespeare Returns!  

Building on last year’s educational Halloween offering, this walkthrough performance will take audiences on a journey through Shakespeare’s scariest and gory scenes with favorite characters like Lady Macbeth and Hamlet along with a host of supernatural witches, ghosts, and avenging harpies!  

With two performances at 6pm & 8:30pm on October 29, 30, and 31st only, this fun-filled 75-minute production starts at the Cliff Street entrance to Edgerton Park and is not for the faint of heart or those unstable on their feet.  Audiences follow the action through the park, walking from scene to scene, led on by punning spectres.  The entire park becomes a magical haunted wonderland thanks to Elm’s longtime lighting wizard, Jamie Burnett and set designer Karen Root.

A full union cast, Elm Shakespeare’s professional company includes long time New Haven favorites Gracy Brown, Benjamin Curns, Courtney Stewart and Brianna Bach.  They are joined by the nationally acclaimed René Thornton, just returned from a season at Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the founder of LA Women’s Shakespeare Company, Lisa Wolpe.  Washington DC   native Shannon Parks and local actor Jeff Raab round out the talented acting ensemble.

As always, safety is a priority.  Audiences are asked to register for tickets in advance and wear masks throughout the performance.  Performers, in accordance with the Union guidelines, will NOT be masked, but will keep distanced from the audience at all times.  There is no seating, and the performance takes place in multiple locations, outdoors at night. We suggest warm clothing and comfortable walking shoes.  Please contact if you have any mobility concerns, so that arrangements can be made to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Visit for more information.  Tickets are free; however Elm Shakespeare suggests a $30 donation for adults, and $20 donation for students, in order to keep professional live theatre available to everyone in the community.

]]> (Audrey Lenhard) Events Wed, 13 Oct 2021 09:10:06 -0400
Milford Artisan Market on Milford Green October 16-17, 2021

The Milford Artisan Market will take place on Saturday, October 16, 2021 from 10am-5pm and Sunday, October 17 11am-4pm on the Milford Green at 168-176 Broad Street in downtown Milford, CT.

Fifty local artisans will be showcasing and selling their handcrafted items including jewelry, pottery, glass, clothing, home goods and more. Event will also feature live music, food trucks and artist demonstrations. Admission is free.

The event is organized by Artisan Events by Ally. Learn more at:

]]> (Jocelyn Murray) Events Tue, 12 Oct 2021 06:57:00 -0400
Ladies Night Sip and Paint at Milford Sports Pub & Grill on October 20

Visit Milford Sports Pub & Grill for Ladies Night Sip and Paint by Divine Creations on Wednesday, October 20 from 5 to 8pm.

Enjoy an evening of painting! Plus, food and drinks specials - $25 per person.

]]> (Milford Sports Pub & Grill) Events Tue, 12 Oct 2021 06:00:00 -0400
Corey Jones and Jessica Hewitt Team to Win 84th Mixed Team Championship

Stratford, Connecticut (October 11, 2021) The tandem of Corey Jones and Jessica Hewitt carded a 1-over 71 to capture the 84th Mixed Team Championship at Mill River Country Club.
“It was a team effort,” Corey Jones said of the victory. “We both ham and egged it pretty well and it worked pretty well.”
Competing in the Chapman format and battling windy conditions the duo from Shennecossett Golf Club began the shotgun start tournament on the first hole and opened with the seven consecutive pars before dropping a stroke on No. 8.

In the Chapman format, both players on a team tee off, then play each other’s ball for the second shot. One of the second shots is then selected to continue play and the ball is played alternatively until holed. On par-3’s, the players must select the ball to be played following their first shot and play alternately until the ball is holed. 

“I looked at the format and said the whole thing comes down to hitting a good tee shot. If you can eliminate as much distance between you and the hole as you can with the tee shot before you get to alternate shot then the format really isn’t too bad,” Jones said. “So as long as one of us bombs it then it doesn’t matter where we end up as long as we are close to the hole. If we have a wedge into the green we can hang around par.”

Unfazed by the bogey Jones and Hewitt, both former club champions at Shennecossett GC,  birdied the next two holes to move into the red and give themselves enough of a cushion. Off the tee on Nos. 9 and 10 Hewitt, playing in her first CSGA event, set the team up with wedges into the green and Jones produced knocking both approach shots close to set up the birdies.

They did drop strokes on Nos. 13 and 14 to fall back to 1-over but a run of pars on the way to the house righted the ship and secured the victory.

“I am very excited to win. I came in with no expectations,” Hewitt said. “I just wanted to feel it out and find out what it was like to be out here. I wanted to get my comfort and it was nice to have Cory out there with me. So definitely excited to get out there again next year.”

John Svetz (Torrington CC) and Jo Rasmussen (Great River GC) finished second at 4-over, Jason Morrow (EClub of Connecticut) and Nicole Elliott (Pequabuck GC) were third at 6-over, fourth place went to Mike Moraghan (CC of Waterbury) and Lisa Fern-Boros (Highland GC) at 7-over while Richard and Pam Burt (CC of Farmington) shared fifth with Carl Guzzardi and Rachelle Campbell (The Windham Club) at 8-over.  

In the Net Division the Burt’s claimed the title with a 9-under 61 thanks to 10 birdies and only one bogey. Paul Chesek (Mill River CC) and Laurie Martino (Mill River CC) were 5-under in second while Mike and Emily Spicci (Rock Ridge CC/EClub of Connecticut) shared third along with James Schlenk and Karen Kiely (Oronoque CC) at 4-under.

Winners By Flight


Augusta National Flight: Corey Jones & Jessica Hewitt (+1)

The Ocean Course Flight: Carl Guzzardi & Rachelle Campbell (+8)

Torrey Pines Flight: Richard & Pam Burt (+8)

Royal St. George’s Flight: Paul Chesek & Laurie Martino (+11)


Augusta National Flight: John Svetz & Jo Rasmussen /Corey Jones & Jessica Hewitt (-3)

The Ocean Course Flight: Bruce Giovanelli & Lisa Zuba/ Carl Guzzardi & Rachelle Campbell (-3)

Torrey Pines Flight: Richard & Pam Burt (-9)

Royal St. George’s Flight: Paul Chesek & Laurie Martino (-5)

]]> (CSGA) Neighbors Mon, 11 Oct 2021 12:31:12 -0400
SHU Community Theatre Establishes Choir for Seniors

The Sacred Heart University Community Theatre has established Youthful Hearts, a new community choir for singers age 70 and older that will rehearse and perform at the theatre in downtown Fairfield.

Under the baton of Michael Whitney Brown, esteemed director of Sacred Heart University’s Gospel Choir, vocal placement auditions will take place Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the theatre from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and the choir will begin regular rehearsals soon after. For more information call or email the theatre at 203-371-7956 or

“The SHU Community Theatre is thrilled to announce this wonderful program for community members to come together through the magic of song,” said Sacred Heart University President John J. Petillo. “Youthful Hearts is just one of many ways the theatre is becoming a cornerstone of cultural enrichment through live performances, film events, lectures and educational opportunities for Fairfield and the entire region.”

Brown hopes to bring the choir together with a wide-ranging repertoire of new and classic popular music. The singers will surprise and delight audiences with their programs, he said.

“We will present a range of choir music, from beloved standards to new works with a twist,” said Brown. “There will truly be something for everyone.”

The Youthful Hearts concept sprang from Young@Heart, a similar choir that started in Northampton, MA, in 1982. Profiled in The New York Times and on The Daily Show and Ellen, the singers―ranging in age from 75 to 92―have performed in Europe, New Zealand and Japan and were the subject of a documentary, Young@Heart. Their eclectic repertoire includes hits from The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Radiohead, The Beatles, U2, The Clash, Pearl Jam and OutKast.

“I think that the Youthful Hearts choir that Sacred Heart is putting together is such a wonderful idea,” said Brenda Kupchick, first selectwoman of Fairfield. “I love that it is a fun way to get our seniors involved and active in our community. As they begin, I wish the choir all the best and look forward to attending what I know will be a beautiful and heartwarming performance in the future.”

The SHU Community Theatre officially opened Labor Day Weekend, ushering in a new era of entertainment and enrichment at the bustling corner of Post and Unquowa roads. The century-old theatre has been fully reimagined and is now home to an array of exciting live concerts, film events and performances, including Broadway and jazz series, a singer-songwriter showcase and live comedy.

For tickets, visit the theatre’s website. For more information about the theatre, call 203-371-7956. 

]]> (Kim Swartz) Places Mon, 11 Oct 2021 10:02:52 -0400
When You Enter ACT's Smokey Joe's Cafe, You'll Beg To Stay Past Closing Time!

The words of the legendary Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are dead on. 

They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway

They say there's always magic in the air

After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, ACT of Connecticut brings Broadway BACK with a BANG. And, indeed, the lights are shining bright and the magic is contagious inside the equity theater in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

1950s rock n’ roll music at its core combined with soulful choreography by Stephanie Pope Lofgren will make you literally dance in your seat, wave your hands (add hoot and clap when appropriate). When you step inside Smokey Joe's Cafe you’ll beg to stay past closing time.

The talented cast of eight has heart, rhythm and soul. They do so much more than sing -  with no dialogue, only music, they tell a story of an era in American history that has left an indelible mark thanks to Leiber and Stollers masterpieces including “Jailhouse Rock", "Stand By Me", “Yakety Yak”, “Hound Dog,” “On Broadway,” and “Spanish Harlem” (to name just a few).

The epitome of girl power is Keyonna Knight, Courtney Long, Kelly MacMillan belting out “I am a Woman”. These ladies have swag - they are sultry and empowering. Inside Smokey Joe’s Cafe, they join Broadway veterans Juson Williams (who recently appeared on NBC’s America’s Got Talent), Albert Guerzon (Dance Captain), Avionce Hoyles, Jordan Fife Hunt,  and Arnold Harper II. Together, they create sparks that reach beyond the walls of the contemporary theater.

ACT of Connecticut has made a triumphant return to live theater. 

Added Performances: Sunday, October 17 at 7pm and Thursday, October 21 at 2pm

Purchase tickets here.

ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) of Connecticut is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) professional Equity theatre located in Ridgefield, CT. Founded in 2018 by Katie Diamond, Daniel C. Levine, and Bryan Perri, ACT of CT presents limited engagement runs of well-known musicals, as well as world-premiere productions by the next generation of writers and composers.

*Image courtesy ACT of Connecticut


]]> (KA) Life Sun, 10 Oct 2021 08:46:53 -0400
Special Effect Makeup Intensive Offered at Pantochino Studio on Oct. 16

Award-winning Pantochino Productions, a professional not-for-profit theatre company in Milford is hosting a Special Effects Makeup Intensive class on Saturday, October 16 from 10am to 5pm at their studio space in the Connecticut Post Mall.

Presented by make up artist Jenn Dugan of The Makeup Curio, the one-day intensive class offers professional makeup techniques and hands on experience in creating wounds, bruises, burns, hair, latex, prosthetics and more. The class is designed for those 16 years old to adult. The fee for the class includes all supplies and includes a makeup kit for each student.

Founded in 2016, The Makeup Curio's mission is to provide a creative, yet professional experience through education and design of hair and makeup in theater, allowing a space for every person to explore their curiosity. Jenn Dugan has nearly 20 years in the theater industry.  Previously a costume designer, shop manager, and wardrobe supervisor, Jenn transitioned to makeup and hair design in 2013. A NYS Licensed Esthetician, Jenn provides advanced knowledge of skin tone, bone structure, sanitation, and more to every project providing her the ability to work with all ages, skintones and genders.  She has been a presenter at the 2019 High School Musical Theater Awards in Schenectady NY, an adjudicator for the 2020 SWUSITT Conference and an instructor for the 2020 International Thespian Festival.

Pantochino Studio is located on the lower level of the Connecticut Post Mall near the former Sears department store. Those interested in the class must preregister in advance at


]]> (Pantochino News Desk) Events Sat, 09 Oct 2021 10:56:08 -0400
CT's Beardsley Zoo Announces Zoo Photo Contest Winners

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is proud to announce the winners from its third non-juried photography exhibition, “Photography Goes Wild.”  This year, more than 100 photos were submitted from the Zoo’s many dedicated amateur and professional photographers, and hundreds of votes were received online for a People’s Choice winner.  

Photographers were invited to submit up to three photos of animals from Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, from current or previous years. Judges were Jesse Thompson, co-owner of Milford Photo; Roger Salls, owner of Roger Salls Photography; and Jack Bradley, Zoo volunteer and instructor of Zoo classes on animal photography. 

Photography Exhibition sponsor Milford Photo provided the first, second, and third prizes in the form of gift certificates to the store. In addition, a People’s Choice Award was selected, based on $1 votes from the audience. There was also a Zoo Director’s Pick, with Gregg Dancho selecting his favorite photo. 


First Place: “Sunny Snooze” by Jill Coulter of North Haven (Red panda)

Second Place: “I Know I’m Gorgeous” by Susan Schellhas of Stratford (Amur leopard)

Third Place: “Portrait of an Amur Tiger” by Robyn E Abrams

Honorable Mentions:

“Freya” by Elaine Dyer

“My Heart Belongs to You” by Bernadine Kane

“Red Panda Staredown” by Katie Slawitschek

People’s Choice:

“Courageous Balance” by Kendelle Pitts

Zoo Director’s Pick:

“Sloth” by Lillian Staron

“Art is a natural way for people to express their love of animals and appreciation of nature,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “The Photography Goes Wild Exhibit helps to showcase the stunning diversity of species at the zoo, and we hope, encourages people to focus on preserving wild habitats and animal conservation in new ways.”

Milford Photo Co-Owner Jesse Thompson said, “It’s been great partnering with the Zoo by providing area photographers with a fun venue to shoot and display their work. Milford Photo looks forward to more events at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.”  

]]> (Lisa Clair) Neighbors Sat, 09 Oct 2021 10:55:25 -0400
Animal Cruelty Case in Orange, Joint Investigation Into Illegal Dog Fighting

Connecticut State Police Statewide Organized Crime Investigative Task Force, the Statewide Firearms Trafficking Task Force, and the Statewide Narcotics Task Force, with assistance from the Meriden Police Patrol Division executed a search warrant at 109 Britannia St. Meriden.

The search warrant was obtained as a result of a lengthy cooperative investigation with the Suffolk County, New York Police Department into an active dog fighting syndicate. As a result of the search warrant, detectives seized numerous items associated with dogfighting. The items seized included but were not limited to, shock collars, weighted harnesses and collars, break sticks (used to break up dog fights by inserting into dogs mouths) which contained blood and dog fur, whips and scales.

In addition, detectives discovered a homemade dogfighting ring. With assistance from the City of Meriden ACO’s, a total of eight (8) canines were removed from a make-shift kennel located at the rear of the property. The canines received veterinary care for injuries consistent with dogfighting.

Extraditable felony arrest warrants were issued for three Connecticut targets in the investigation and on 09/27/2021, State Police, Bridgeport Police Department Gang Unit, and Meriden Police Department patrol, located and arrested the following individuals:

Macedo, Getulio Vargas of Bridgeport, CT

Rivera, Jose of Meriden, CT

Rivera, Nelson of Meriden, CT

All three individuals were arrested as fugitives from justice in violation of C.G.S. 54-170, transported to the New Haven Correctional Center and detained without bond until their appearance at Meriden Superior Court GA #7 on 09/28/2021.

On 10/05/2021, the Connecticut State Police Statewide Organized Crime Investigative Task Force, State Animal Control, Milford Animal Control, and Orange PD Patrol, executed a search warrant at 968 Grassy Hill Road in the Town of Orange, after an investigation into suspected animal cruelty. Detectives developed the address based on leads from the dog fighting investigation with the Suffolk County (NY) Police Department. It was suspected that the owner was keeping dogs for the purpose of fighting. Police seized numerous items of evidence indicating that the dogs were being used for this illegal purpose at the property. Additionally, the dogs were found in outdoor kennel structures and subject to unsanitary conditions and tethered within their cages in an unlawful manner. As a result, a total of 7 dogs were seized and placed in the care and custody of the CT Department of Agriculture and will be housed at the Milford Animal Control. Criminal charges related to animal cruelty are anticipated by warrant.

]]> (CT State Police) Public safety Wed, 06 Oct 2021 12:41:58 -0400
Entertainment Critic Jim Ruocco Reviews ACT of Connecticut's Smokey Joe's Cafe

Editor's note: Here, international/national/regional entertainment critic Jim Ruocco reviews ACT of Connecticut's 2021-2022 season opener, Smokey Joe's Cafe. 

 In an idealized, nostalgic setting "Smokey Joe's Cafe" - a celebratory look back at the classic pop music of Leiber and Stoller - spins slice-of-life anthems and ballads into exciting tales of life, love, loss, desire and attitude in the most imaginative of ways.

It snaps and pops.

It amplifies the beat and mood from whence it came.
It's got feel.
It's got game.
It's got pulse.
It sparks the heart.
It seductively acknowledges sexual attraction.
It sings.
It dances.
It gets the pulses racing.
It transports you to a time and place of another decade. 
It recognizes the wit and imagination of its creators with both confidence and vitality.

More than just a trip down memory lane, "Smokey Joe's Cafe" is a great introduction to ACT of Connecticut's exciting 2021-2022 season which includes Bryan Perri's "Unplugged," "Nickel Mines," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Jonathan Larson's Tony award-winning musical "Rent." It is also the first LIVE musical to be staged at this venue since the pandemic struck. And what a welcome back, it is.
Told entirely through song - there is no story, theme, plot or connection - its theatrical platform is further enhanced by an exceptional design team that includes Jack Mehler (sets and lighting), John Salutz (sound) and Claudia Stefany (costumes). All three work wonderfully together with design work that is creative, individualistic, atmospheric and incredibly in sync with the sizzle, heat and pop nostalgia that is "Smokey Joe's Cafe." 
To direct "Smokey Joe's Cafe" - and get it exactly right on all conceptual levels - directorial requirements mandate someone with a complete understanding of theatrical performance, actor-audience reciprocity and musical theatre as an art form. In Stephanie Pope Lofgren, a Broadway veteran whose New York/National Tour credits include "Pippin," "Chicago," "Fosse," "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie," this revival is blessed with a dynamic auteur whose inspiration, creativity, knowledge and love for the subject matter is both extraordinary and virtuosic. It is exactly that kind of matter-of-factness and candor that turns this production and its labyrinthine musical trajectory into a veritable spectacle that shines, dazzles and delights.
As a storyteller and orchestrator, she brings great dimension and scope to the piece using technique, style, description and an enriched canvas of thoughts and ideas that make their mark most engagingly. Nothing is out of place or out of sync during the musical's intermission-less 90 minutes. It's all been carefully blocked, rehearsed and staged seamlessly with no two scenes alike in terms of performance and musicality. Moreover, it never stops going. It moves from song to song and moment to moment assuredly, fashionably and wondrously. Lofgren wouldn't have it any other way. And that, in a nutshell, is exactly what puts her at the top of her game.
Doubling as choreographer for "Smokey Joe's Cafe," Lofgren brings a wealth of experience and dash to the musical which, in turn, gives it plenty of heart, soul, passion and choreographic thrust. A dancer herself, she creates a fusion of styles, moods and movements that celebrate the art form and the actual period with an accomplished feel and exhilaration. She plays into the show's seriousness, humor and expression with a multitude of steps, patterns, movements, pairings and synchronization - all clearly and believably rooted in the technique of musical theatre and its satisfying realm.  Torsos twist. Hands pop. Arms move heavenward. Images reflect unity, beauty, love and loss. Dancers ignite into swirls of frenzy, passion, thrill and excitement. And lastly, the choices made by Lofgren illustrate the tradition, the conscience, the power and the musical heritage that is Leiber and Stoller, backed by singers and dancers who share her love of theatre, expression and live performance. 
Thirty-six musical numbers comprise the Leiber and Stoller songbook utilized for this particular production. They are: "Neighborhood," "Youngblood," "Falling," "Ruby Baby," "Neighborhood (reprise)," "Keep on Rollin,' " "Kansas City,"  "Trouble," "Love Me/Don't," "Fools Fall in Love," "Poison Ivy," "Don Juan," "Keep Forgettin,' " "On Broadway," "DW Washburn," "Saved," "Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown," "Smokey Joe's Cafe," "Loving You," "Pearl's a Singer," "Shimmy," "You're the Boss," "Treat Me Nice," "Hound Dog," "I'm a Woman," "There Goes My Baby," "Love Potion #9," "Jailhouse Rock," "Fools Fall in Love (reprise)," "Spanish Harlem," "I (Who Have Nothing)," "Neighborhood (reprise #2)," "Stand By Me," "On Broadway (bows)" and "Baby That's Rock and Roll."
Given the artistry, vibe and musical vocabulary of Leiber and Stoller and their elicitation of strong, moody, particularly fancied, lively song twists and emotions, musical director John Bronston ("Ain't Misbehavin' " "Five Guys Named Moe," "Hair") is the ideal fit for "Smokey Joe's Cafe," He gets Leiber and Stoller. He understands Leiber and Stoller. He appreciates Leiber and Stoller. He loves Leiber and Stoller. He gets excited by Leiber and Stoller. He connects with Leiber and Stoller. He feels at home with Leiber and Stoller.

A first-class, talented musician, he knows exactly how to make every single pop, R&B and rock 'n roll song associated with "Smokey Joe's Cafe" resonate and fascinate with that intimate supper club magic that was prevalent in the 1950's and 1960's. As the production evolves, his approach to the music is fast, detailed, grounded and adventuresome. There's also a freshness to it all, complemented by choice orchestral ingredients that pinpoint different notes, styles, beats, rhythms, combinations and collisions. Here you get more than Broadway sonic pastiche. You get reinvention that is smart, clever and veritable.

At ACT of Connecticut, Bronston (at the piano, doubling as conductor) surrounds himself with the very talented orchestral team of Tom Cuffari (keyboard 2), Russ Nyberg (drums/percussion), Gary Blu (tenor/baritone saxophone), Al Orio (electric guitar), Kevin W. Callaghan (electric bass) and Dennis J. Arcano (music contractor/synthesizer programmer). Under his tutelage, the band address and play the popular musical score with just the right amount of effortless enthusiasm, emotion and humor the production calls for.

Nothing is rushed or hurried. Instead, the message is clear and beautifully contoured with addictive, vibrant accounts, observed variants, projected buzz  and carefully calibrated tonal stability. Things, of course, sizzle and pop as the cast of eight raise their voice in song never once missing a single beat, intention, harmony, or rhythm associated with the show's tangy musical songbook. It's all very, very beautiful, keen, engaged and ever-enthusiastic.

"Smokey Joe's Cafe" stars Courtney Long, Avionce Hoyles, Albert Guerzon, Keyonna Knight, Arnold Harper II, Jordan Fife Hunt, Kelly MacMillan and Juson Williams. As dictated by its creators, the show remains an eye-popping, exhilarating ensemble piece where each performer gets his or her place in the spotlight while embracing the music of Leiber and Stoller and illuminating the vocal brilliance and individuality of the musical score with beauty, style, class, compassion, humor and dignity.

There are star turns. There are showstoppers. There are laughs. There are tears. There are playful and sexy bits that get the pulses racing. Song by song and scene by scene, the cast is in full and fine voice that reflects and complements the conceit of the material, the musical story arc and its conjuring questions and answers. What's wonderful about this particular group of performers - all-stars in their own right - is the depth and versatility they bring to every song they perform, their amazing range and control, their individual harmonizing, their continuity and how they wrap their voice around a lyric they want you to appreciate and understand. There's so much electricity here, the heat could easily cause or power outage or two.

An energetic and savvy tribute to one of America's most celebrated songwriting duos, "Smokey Joe's Cafe"  gigawatts lightning-fast ripples of mood, voice, pulse and excitement with nostalgic spectacle and thrilling momentum. It jumps. It pops. It sparkles. It sings. It dances.
Every one of the musical numbers shows Leiber and Stoller at their very best and the cast - all eight of them - go full-throttle as both singers and dancers - under Stephanie Pope Lofgren's inspired direction and emotionally shifting choreography. John Bronston's musical direction is both edgy and savvy and the band - absolutely sensational in their own right - never once misses a beat, which in a musical of this caliber, goes a very long way.

Now that Equity regional theatre is back with in-place protocols that include mandated vaccinated card check ins, the wearing of masks and social distancing, ACT of Connecticut remains a source of genuine inspiration and professionalism using the very best hand-picked actors, directors, choreographers and design teams.

With outstanding productions ranging from "Evita" and "Little Shop of Horrors" to "Working" and "The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee," this Ridgefield-based venue, under the artistic guidance of Daniel C. Levine (Artistic Director) and Katie Diamond (Executive Director) maintains a creative vision like no other. The staff - front, in-house and volunteers - not only make everyone feel welcome, but are especially accommodating during these very different and troubled times. A standing ovation for all.

]]> (Jim Ruocco) Life Wed, 06 Oct 2021 10:44:23 -0400
Chaz and AJ Help Make Milford Boy's Wish Come True

 Chaz and AJ, the co-hosts of Connecticut’s most popular morning show “Chaz and AJ in the Morning,” heard on 99.1 WPLR FM and 95.9 WFOX FM, have teamed with Make-A-Wish Connecticut to help grant a child’s wish.  

Anthony Muoio is a 7-year-old-boy from Milford, CT. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor at five months old and, since his brain surgery, has been suffering from epilepsy. His one wish was to have a camper for his family to go on vacation. He has two older siblings and he would love to go away with all of them. 

“The number one thing we can do as a radio show is to help local people.” said Chaz, “And once we heard Anthony’s story we knew we had to get the word out and make his wish happen.” 

Starting this past Monday, Chaz and AJ have been accepting donations at and The show is hoping to raise $14,500 which will pay for the camper that the Muoio family will keep. As of now, the show is half way to that goal.  To help generate donations, AJ will be walking around the Milford Green on Thursday dressed as Anthony’s favorite superhero, Captain America.  

”We are amazed and thrilled with the community support that the Chaz and AJ show has and their overall commitment to giving back. We thank them and their listeners for their passion for our mission and their willingness and generosity to help make life-changing wishes come true for local wish kids.” said Kim Pugh from Make a Wish.  

The Thursday event will start at 9am at the flagpole on the green. Mayor Ben Blake will read a proclamation declaring it Anthony Day in Milford and then AJ will start his walk.  

Connoisseur Media owns market-leading radio clusters in regions including Nassau-Suffolk, NY, Metro Fairfield CT, New Haven CT and Frederick, MD. 

]]> (Drew Carrano ) Neighbors Wed, 06 Oct 2021 10:16:31 -0400
2021 CRAzies Award Winners & Nominees Announced

The Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) announced today the award winners and nominees for the 2021 CRAzies Awards Gala presented by Sysco, LLC. Each year, the CRAzies recognizes the exceptional ability and talent of Connecticut’s restaurant community at this prestigious awards gala. Restaurant owners, operators, chefs, vendors and more will come together to celebrate the success of the industry at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Monday, December 6.  

“We are extremely excited to celebrate our industry at the 2021 CRAzies, especially at a time when Connecticut’s local restaurants and caterers have been through so much, and worked so hard, over these past 19 months,” said Connecticut Restaurant Association Executive Director Scott Dolch. “Congratulations to our 2021 award winners and nominees, plus a special thank you to the efforts of the nominating panel who provided valuable insight throughout the selection process.”

The CRAzies selection process began earlier this week when a panel of more than 25 food writers, critics, bloggers, and social media influencers sat down to finalize the list of award winners and nominees. Restaurateur of the Year, CT Hospitality Hall of Fame, Vendor of the Year and Friend of the Industry nominees were brought to the CRA Board of Directors, where the overall winners were selected in each of these four categories. 

In the remaining categories, the public can now vote by CLICKING HERE through the end of November for each category: Chef of the Year, Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year, Bartender of the Year, Server of the Year, Caterer of the Year, Restaurant Newcomer, People’s Choice, Regional Restaurants of the Year and Overall Restaurant of the Year. Winners will be selected from not only the public vote, but also from our nominating panel members.   

The 2021 Restaurateur of the Year honoree is Bill Taibe of For The Food Restaurant Group, who owns and operates The Whelk (Westport), Don Memo (Westport), Kawa Ni (Westport) and The Norwalk Art Space Café (Norwalk). 

The Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame inductees for 2021 will be Louis’ Lunch (New Haven) and Match Restaurant (Norwalk). The 2021 Vendors of the Year are ClarkHirth Associates, an accounting, tax and consulting services firm located in Farmington, and FordHarrison LLP, a Labor and Employment Law Firm that is based in Hartford. The 2021 Friend of the Industry Award will go to CT DECD Commissioner David Lehman for his dedication and leadership to our industry throughout the pandemic.

Highlighting our finalist categories, one of the most coveted awards is Chef of the Year. The five finalists for 2021 include Michone Danae Arringtonfrom The Art of Yum (Waterbury), Ashley Flagg from Millwright’s (Simsbury), Joel Gargano from Grano Arso (Chester), Emily Mingrone from Tavern on State (New Haven) and Manuel Romero from Olea (New Haven).

Our 2021 Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year finalists are Kristin Eddy from Millwright’s (Simsbury), Chan Graham from BouNom Bakery (Avon), David Vacca from Nana’s Bakery & Pizza (Mystic) and Rob VanKeuren from Flour Water Salt Bread (Darien).

The Bartender of the Year finalists are Ryan Andrade from The White Hart Inn (Salisbury), Jade Ayala from Oyster Club (Mystic), Juan Meyer from Rosina’s (Greenwich), Khalid Williams from Taprock (Unionville).

The Server of the Year finalists are Amanda Casey from Viron Rondo Osteria (Cheshire), Jason Gould from Fleming’s Steakhouse (West Hartford), Brendan Hayes from Roma Ristorante (Oakville) and Jess Saunders from Dockside Brewery (Milford). 

The Caterer of the Year finalists are Delicacy Catering (West Hartford), Emily’s Catering (Bristol), Marcia Selden Catering & Events (Stamford) and The Mobile Pub (Watertown). 

The Restaurant Newcomer award highlights the best new restaurants in Connecticut. The 2021 finalists are Camacho Garage (New Haven), The Charles (Wethersfield), Dockside Brewery (Milford), Don Memo (Westport) and Shipwright’s Daughter (Mystic). 

A new category for 2021 is the People’s Choice Award, where the public selects their favorite dining establishment in Connecticut across any genre of food or style of dining. Finalists from this category are Red36 (Mystic), Taco Daddy (Stamford), The Place 2 Be (Hartford & West Hartford) and Twister Italian Café (Parkville Market, Hartford).

The final category is Restaurant of the Year, where the CRA recognizes four different regional winners, as well as an overall winner from the sixteen nominees. 

Finalists from the North Region (Hartford & Tolland Counties) are Arugula (West Hartford), Millwright’s (Simsbury), Present Company (Simsbury) and Shu Restaurant (West Hartford). 

The South Region (Middlesex & New Haven Counties) finalists are Le Petit Café (Branford), Shell & Bones (New Haven), Tavern on State (New Haven) and Viron Rondo Osteria (Cheshire). 

The East Region (New London & Windham Counties) finalists are Oyster Club (Mystic), Stone Row Kitchen & Bar (Willimantic), TAO Asian Bistro & Lounge (Uncasville) and Tony D’s (New London).

The West Region (Fairfield & Litchfield Counties) finalists are @ The Corner (Litchfield), Community Table (New Preston), OKO (Westport) and Taproot (Bethel). 

Log onto today to learn more about the finalists, vote for your favorites, purchase tickets or become a sponsor. For additional information, please contact us at

]]> (Connecticut Restaurant Association) Events Tue, 05 Oct 2021 11:00:00 -0400