icrv_preferred_rgb_150iCRaVe Music Fest is on…at the Ivoryton Playhouse!!!

iCRV Radio is thrilled to present the iCRaVe Music Fest on November 25 and 26 on the incredible stage of the Ivoryton Playhouse.  Be part of this community celebration as five bands grace this hallowed stage each of two nights.  Open seating, bistro tables, a dance area, some vendors, and a cash bar. Advance tickets for each night only $22.00 and you get a re-entry bracelet that you can show to participating area merchants for special deals.  Doors open at 6p…Music starts at 630p.

Be part of it all…each night with a different musical vibe:



Friday, November 25:  Roots and Americana…with Rivers….the CarLeans….Ron Anthony and Denny Collin…then Ramblin’ Dan Stevens and the Fiery Band…all capped off with Plywood Cowboy. Get tickets here….




Saturday, November 26: Rock and Jazz and Funk….with DizzyFish…Andrew Biagiarelli…The Grays…Cosmos Sunshine and the Butterfly Effect…and the great Michael Cleary Band capping it off… Tickets available…here…


Proceeds will benefit Team Avery

Avery Rose was a mere two years old hen she was diagnosed with a rare mutation of CDKL5. CDKL5 mirrors Rhett’s syndrome and there is currently no cure… It causes a punishing array of challenges… seizures everyday…difficulty doing the easiest of activities.

Only about 150 girls in the world have this rare disease.

Now eight years old, Avery, thanks to the caring family and friends…and community supporters along the Shoreline…and the great help from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County…is able to get to doctors and community activities with her new van…but she needs a proper lift so that her wheelchair can get in and out safely.

Proceeds of the Second Annual iCRaVe Music Fest will go to help Team Avery get that wheelchair lift for her van.  If you want more information…stop by Bill’s Seafood in Westbrook and ask for Mark…he will be happy to tell you more on the struggle and the great sense of community support he feels everyday. Go Team Avery!!!

icrave-music-back-fnl icrave-music-front-fnl

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And a perfect gift, too!
Have you ever wanted to be on stage at the Ivoryton Playhouse?  Do you know someone who has always harbored dreams of being in the spotlight?  Well, now is the chance to make dreams come true!
We are auctioning off a walk on part in our holiday production of The Bells of Dublin Part III:  A New York Fairytale.
The performance dates available are:

Thursday         December 8                 7:30pm
Friday              December 9                 7:30pm
Saturday          December 10               2:00pm
Sunday            December 11               2:00pm
Wednesday      December 14               2:00pm
Wednesday      December 14               7:30pm
Saturday          December 17               2:00pm
Saturday          December 17               7:30pm

 For a $100 donation, you will get:  
        **  The chance to be in the show with a walk on part and spoken lines
**  Your name will be printed in Playbill (if desired)
             ** 2 x seats for the night of your show

Join stars like Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando and Alan Alda and become a part of the amazing history of the Ivoryton Playhouse!

It’s not a big commitment – just one meeting and one rehearsal.

This is a limited opportunity – first come, first served. 
Please call Krista May at (860) 767 9520 x 205 if you would like to buy a walk on part in our December production or email krista@ivorytonplayhouse.org with your preferred date.

It’s your chance to be a star……..will you take it????

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The Ivoryton Players are presenting a fully staged reading at the Deep River Town Hall Theater.  The play is See How They Run by Philip King.  Directed by Joyce Beauvais.  The dates and times are: Friday, November 19, 2016 at 7PM and Saturday, November 20, 2016 at 2PM.  Parking at Walgreens, Bank, School and Adams.

See How They Run is a zany, hilarious farce set in a British country vicarage just post WW II.  The hilarity begins when an American Soldier dons a Vicar suit to see “Private Lives” outside of his jurisdiction.  Soon we have many vicars, a Russian Spy, Bobbys, a squiffy church lady and more!  Philip King wrote his play as an homage to Noel Coward.  It is crazy funny!!


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“…richly satisfying and deeply moving”  – Review by Zander Opper



kim-in-blue-satin Connecticut Premier of new musical play

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical
at the Ivoryton Playhouse
October 26th – November 13th, 2016

Ivoryton – Based on the life of Rosemary Clooney, American’s favorite girl singer comes to life on stage in this exhilarating and inspiring musical biography. Tenderly is not a typical “juke-box musical.” It offers a fresh, remarkably personal, and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent and unbridled personality made her a legend.  With her signature songs woven in and out, we learn both the story of her successes on film, radio, and TV, as well as her struggles in her personal life.

michael-and-kim-singing-together“I’d call myself a sweet singer with a big band sensibility,” Rosemary once wrote. She  came to prominence in the early 1950s with the novelty hit “Come On-a My House”, which was followed by other pop numbers such as “Mambo Italiano”, “Tenderly”, “Half as Much”, “Hey There” and “This Ole House.” Clooney’s career languished in the 1960s, partly due to problems related to depression and drug addiction, but revived in 1977, when her “White Christmas” co-star Bing Crosby asked her to appear with him at a show marking his 50th anniversary in show business. She continued recording until her death in 2002.

michael-with-folderThis production was developed and premiered by The Human Race Theatre Company and produced at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Michael Marotta* will be revisiting the role of the Doctor that he helped develop and Kim Rachelle Harris* will be making her debut as Rosemary Clooney. The production is directed by Brian Feehan, musical directed by Dan Brandl, set design by William Stark, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Rebecca Welles.

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on October 26th and runs through November 13th, 2016. 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 $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

Members of the press are welcome at any performance after October 28th.  Please call ahead for tickets.

Generously sponsored by Hamilton Connections and Comcast

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jacqui-with-hands-in-the-air-cropThank you to all hosts/hostesses and all guests who made Saturday’s celebration such an amazing success.  Photos will be posted here soon.

Thank you also to Sally Mayer, Kate Brashears and Donnelee Genaro for their tireless hard work to make the day and evening events so spectacular.



A Madhatters Tea Party and a Mirror Ball
A Celebration of Artistic Director, Jacqui Hubbard, and her Quarter Century at the Ivoryton Playhouse

jacq-in-pinkIvoryton:  The Ivoryton Playhouse is celebrating 25 years of laughter and drama, new shingles and seats, and more and more music and romance and applause than ever before. This year marks the 25th year of Artistic Director, Jacqui Hubbard’s involvement with The Ivoryton Playhouse. Beginning as a Board member in 1991, she became Board President and in 1999 she was hired as Artistic/Executive Director and oversees all aspects of this small, historic gem of a theatre.

On October 15th, the theatre will celebrate with a Wonderland Tea Party from 10-noon at the Ivoryton Farmer’s Market. Free activities for children will include A Pink Flamingo Croquet Game, Madhatters Tea Party, Queen of Hearts Story Time, glitter tattoos and face painting and musical fun with Sunny Train.

In the evening, the theatre will host a red carpet gala. The Mirror Ball: Reflections on 25 years through the Looking Glass will feature cocktails and fine foods catered by Coffee’s Market; a musical retrospective of the past 25 years with performances by some of our favorite artists; champagne toasts and dancing till midnight to the fabulous music of Long Island Sound.

Celebrating the past 25 years is important to Hubbard, as the continued growth of the Playhouse is near and dear to her heart. “I have watched the theatre and the community that surrounds it change and grow so much over this past quarter century. It has been an eventful 25 years with its fair share of highs and lows but the one thing that has remained constant throughout those years is the support we receive from the people of this area. The Playhouse has a great family of actors and donors, musicians and members, sponsors, local businesses and community partners and I am so proud of what we have accomplished in bringing people together and encouraging growth in the village of Ivoryton. It’s been an exhilarating ride and I am looking forward to the next 25!”

Built in 1911 as a recreation hall for the workers of the Comstock-Cheney factory, the Ivoryton Playhouse has been an important part of Connecticut’s cultural landscape for every one of its 100 years. Traveling vaudeville shows and silent movies entertained residents of the shoreline area in its early years until Milton Stiefel turned into a summer theatre in 1930 and attracted stars like Katharine Hepburn, Norma Terris, Marlon Brando and Tallulah Bankhead.

In recent years the theater has continued to win critical praise: Connecticut Critic Circle Awards, a Shoreline Arts Alliance Bravo award for Best Theatre and the Shoreline Times Readers Poll Best Theatre award as well as Connecticut Magazine’s Best Place to see Live Theatre.

Tickets for the Mirror Ball are $125 each.  For more information, to purchase tickets to the Mirror Ball, the 2017 season, and all things Ivoryton Playhouse, please call 860.767.9520 or visit our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

Photograph by Peter M. Weber





























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Our thanks to Outthink for producing another great video clip for us!

Actress Talia Thiesfield explains that the importance of Aldonza from Man of La Mancha is on a par with the roles of Fantine from Les Misérables and Evita’s Evita Perón.

Thiesfield, who plays Aldonza in the Ivoryton Playhouse’s production of Man of La Mancha, says that “these women’s (Aldonza, Fantine and Evita) stories need to be told because they live through harrowing struggles in a graceful and powerful way.” The musical includes scenes in which Aldonza finds herself in terrible, abusive situations. “But,” Thiesfield says, “the close connections formed by the cast made her feel empowered and energized to tell the story of a woman who goes through those situations and comes out knowing herself even better in the end.”

One of the world’s most popular musicals and winner of five Tony Awards, Man of La Mancha, the “Impossible Dream” is based on Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quixote, which itself is considered by many to be one of the greatest literary works of fiction ever published. The musical is a play within a play that follows the story of aging nobleman Alonso Quijana who, as Talia says, “to the public looks like he is losing his mind, but who really may be the sanest of us all.” Backed by his trusty squire Pancho Sanchez, Alonso renames himself Don Quixote and goes off in pursuit of the perfect dream. His adventures and misadventures include dueling windmills and defending his perfect lady.

A poignant musical, Man of La Mancha is moving, thought provoking and highly entertaining. It will warm the heart of everyone who has ever been inspired by the prospect of victory by the underdog against all the odds.

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Talia Thiesfield To Play Lead In Ivoryton Playhouse’s Man Of La Mancha

Photo credit: Zenith Richards

Photo credit: Zenith Richards


Bessy ReynaBessy Reyna/CtLatinoNews.com

Member of the CT Critics’ Circle (www,bessyreyna.com



Talia Thiesfield is back home in Connecticut! This time to perform the role of Aldonza –Quixote’s love object Dulcinea- in the popular musical Man of La Mancha opening September 7 at Ivoryton Playhouse.  Based on Cervantes’ 17th century fictional masterpiece Don Quixote, the play follows Quixote and Sancho during their adventures. Talia Thiesfield is not the only one connected to Connecticut when it comes to this particular show. It was first commissioned and produced by Goodspeed Musicals. In 1965 Goodspeed commissioned inspired by the TV adaptation of Don Quixote, to create what is now the 5 Tony award-winning show Man of La Mancha.  And the rest is history. The show made popular the song ” The Impossible Dream.” Aside from Thiesfield, the cast includes David Pittsinger, as Don Quixote, and Brian Michael Hoffman as Sancho Panza. The play has been translated into Japanese, Swedish, Spanish and many other languages, and was made into a movie with Sophia Loren, as Aldonza, and Peter O’Toole as Don Quixote. There have been two successful Broadway revivals in 1977 and 2002.

Known to Connecticut audiences, Thiesfield is both an actress and singer whose career has taken her to perform many different types of roles, from an innocent to a prima-donna.  Her experience in productions in many of the best known national stages, has taken her from Lincoln Center in NYC, to being cast in TV and movie roles, as well as appearing in the popular TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live. Her work has been recognized by the L.A. Times and other papers. Having graduated from UCONN School of Fine Arts, she continued her studies in California where she obtained her MFA.

Having interviewed a number of Latino actors who are preparing for a roles in upcoming productions in Connecticut’s stages, I know how busy their schedules are. But, in spite of a busy rehearsal schedule, they are always willing to take the time to allow me to introduce them to our readers. Talia was very gracious and generous with her time in granting us a previous interview when she was performing in the play LMNOP, at the Norma Terris in Chester, CT, and again, now that she has returned to the stage at Ivoryton, allowing us to admire once again,  her great talent.

One of my favorite writers the novelist, essayist, and poet Jaime Manrique (author of Our Lives Are the Rivers) spent years researching Cervantes’ life. In his book Cervantes’ Street Manrique reimagines the already larger than life true story of Miguel de Cervantes, who flees Madrid after a near-fatal duel, loses use of his left hand in battle, (becoming “El manco de Lepanto); is kidnapped and sold into slavery by pirates, who believe he “will fetch a good ransom because he’s a war hero” and, finally, pens the masterwork Don Quixote. It is a fun and fast-paced book which might be of interest to those attending Man of La Mancha or those who simply want to get hold of a very good book.



BR–Where are your parents from? Did they speak Spanish at home?

TT: My parents are both first-generation Caribbean New Yorkers. My father’s side is from the island of Haiti and my mother’s side is Puerto Rican. Though Spanish wasn’t spoken regularly in my home, my grandparents and other family members would often speak in Spanish, so I can understand fluently. As far as speaking goes…well…I’m much more fluent in Spanglish.

BR-Where did you grow up?

TT: I’m a Connecticut Yankee, born and raised.  The first half of my childhood was spent in Rocky Hill and we moved to Glastonbury while I was in Junior High school.  My family still lives in Glastonbury and that’s where I call “home.”

BR- Do you identify yourself as Latina/Hispanic?

TT: Claro! I’m a very proud puertorriqueña

BR-When did you become interested in the theater?

TT: I come from an artistic family. My father is a photographer, and both my parents made sure to expose me to a great deal of music, art, and theater as a child. I remember attending the Hartford Ballet and seeing exhibits at The Wadsworth Atheneum at an early age. Also, every Sunday my parents would play either jazz or classical music. My father had box sets of all the classic composers — Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky… So it was only natural that I had a love of the arts early on. My interest in theater specifically began when I was about 10 years old and watched Audrey Hepburn in the movie version of My Fair Lady. I was singing and doing the accent for weeks, driving my mother nuts. She eventually enrolled me in a theater camp.

BR-First play? Which are the memories you have of that experience?

TT: Aye, this is one of my mom’s favorite stories! I went to a theater camp at The University of Hartford when I was 10 years old and we did a production of The Wiz. I desperately wanted to play the part of the lion. I wanted to paint my face, and wear the costume, and roar and growl at everyone. I always liked being a character. So, I auditioned (I sang a ballad by Vanessa Williams with my Walkman in hand). When they announced the roles the next day, I learned I had been cast as Dorothy…the lead. I was so devastated! I went home and cried for hours. Well, after the first day of rehearsals, let’s just say I got used to being the star pretty quickly. Haha! I continued performing with that same group for about five years and I credit the program director, Tobi Silver, with being the first to encourage my interest and skill for what would be my future career.

BR-There is a myth about Don Quijote, and Cervantes’ life, how do you feel being part of the cast of this popular play? Have you done it before?

TT: I’ve never done the show before and was actually not very familiar with it prior to the audition. In preparation, I watched the archival recording of the 2002 Broadway revival and I was transfixed. This show is so magical and it is truly an honor to play Aldonza. Iconic roles like Aldonza, Evita, and Fantine are special to us because they represent the strength and perseverance inherent in all women.  They tell stories of women who endure and thrive through harrowing struggles and find dignity in their brokenness. As for Quixote, to me he represents the dreamer in us all.  He’s the fearlessness and imagination we all had at one point before the outside world conditioned us to believe in practicality.  He’s that corner of our subconscious that we wish we were brave enough to release once we’ve gotten older and more “responsible” and for that reason, this story is an important reminder to never lose sight of your dreams and to pursue whatever gives you purpose…no matter how old you are.

BR-Do you have a favorite playwright or play?

TT: I am a bit of a Shakespeare buff. I think I read my first Shakespeare play at the age of eight. I also love the plays Seven Guitars by August Wilson and By The Way Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage. I enjoy slice-of-life plays…shows that give you a peek inside someone else’s world. The musical In The Heights also holds a special place in my heart. Not only is it a heartfelt peek inside the life of Latinos living in New York City, but the whole show really has a heartbeat like a conga! I mean, the sabor just really gets into your system. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you fall in love with the characters, their culture, their pride and tenacity.

BR-Since you were last in Connecticut in LMNOP….what other roles have you played?

TT: It’s been busy, and I’m so grateful! I’ve been honored to work on some of my favorite TV shows, including Veep (HBO), Limitless (CBS) and The Following (FOX). I also originated the role of Penelope Square in the new hit musical Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical. The show is based on The Little Rock Nine and is a colorful history lesson for children that reminds them that our differences make us awesome, not outcasts. Additionally, I’ve been working with Glamour Magazine‘s online video department creating comedy videos for their website and other online venues.

BR-Aside from the theater have you also worked in movies and TV? Do you prefer one type of acting to the other?

TT: I’ve done film, TV, voice-overs, theater, and live concert performances, and each one has both benefits and disadvantages. On the one hand, I am very inspired and energized by the fast-paced  nature of working in television.  It forces me to make bold, specific decisions in my work and attack the material head-on.  However, it can sometimes lack the personal connections we make during the rehearsal process and run of a show in the theater.  In having more time, we build bonds with people that often develop into friendships long after the final curtain.

BR-You have participated in plays in different places in the USA, do you have a favorite theater where you have performed?

TT: It’s been such a joy to return to Connecticut, both while previously working at The Goodspeed and here now with Ivoryton.  The serenity one finds in the Essex area makes for a wonderful creative process.  Generally, I find myself feeling the most creative in locations by the water or in rural areas like Connecticut or The Berkshires.

BR-Your next project?

TT: I’m currently commuting back and forth to New York City a few times a week to rehearse for the upcoming NBC Diversity showcase…while doing Man Of La Mancha!  The showcase, which will be at the end of September, will be a presentation for various network executives, producers, writers, and top industry players. It highlights the talents of a select few actors who are part of underrepresented groups in television: people of color, women, and LGBTQ actors.  I’ll also be celebrating the release of the World Premiere recording of Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical, for which I originated the role of Penelope Square. The album will be released through Sony Masterworks and will be available on iTunes!

BR-What do you do for fun?

TT: In my time off, you’ll usually find me at the gym or running, if the weather permits, during the day. In the evenings, I’m often trying new food somewhere or meeting up with friends at my local haunt for some jazz and a glass of wine. I love to read, and actually can’t wait to go visit RJ Julia Bookshop soon!  I’m also a TV junkie so I enjoy binge watching my favorite shows online.

BR-Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and wishing you continued success.

TT: Thank you! It was a pleasure!

 Directed by David Edwards with choreography by Todd Underwood, Man of La Mancha opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on September 7th and runs through October 2nd, 2016. Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org 

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.


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David Pittsinger and Talia ThiesfieldThe Ivoryton Playhouse will open MAN OF LA MANCHA on September 7th and the timing could not be more appropriate. The media fueled fear and divisiveness; the circus that is the current political situation and the general instability of the world at large make dreaming impossible dreams an inviting and desperately needed antidote.

One of the world’s most popular musicals, MAN OF LA MANCHA, is based on Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quixote, and tells of the adventures of a mad, aging nobleman who embarrasses his respectable family by his adventures.  Backed by his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza, he duels windmills and defends his perfect lady, Dulcinea.

The show itself has Connecticut roots. It was the Goodspeed Opera House, which took a TV adaptation of “Don Quixote” by Dale Wasserman and turned it into “MAN OF LA MANCHA” the musical with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, back in 1965.

Winner of 5 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, MAN OF LA MANCHA is a remarkable show and one of the great theatre successes of our time. This is a play-within-a-play – a poignant story of a dying old man whose impossible dream takes over his mind. It’s All the Same, Dulcinea, I’m Only Thinking of Him, The Impossible Dream, I Really Like Him and Little Bird remain in your thoughts and in your soul well after you see the show.

Cast of Man of La Mancha at windmillDavid Pittsinger*, who performed here last year to great critical acclaim as Emile de Becque in SOUTH PACIFIC,  will be playing Don Quixote.  He will be joined by Talia Thiesfield* as Aldonza, Brian Michael Hoffman* as Sancho Panza, Jimmy Van Treuren* as the Innkeeper, Amy Buckley as Antonia, Melissa McLean as the Housekeeper and Matthew Krob as the Padre. The motley crew of prisoners and muleteers include Brian Binion, Ryan Cavanaugh*, AJ Hunsucker, James Ludlum, Conor McGiffin and Stephen Mir.

The show is directed by David Edwards who is doing double duty by also appearing on stage as Carasco. Choreographed by Todd Underwood, the set is designed by Daniel Nischan, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina. Musical direction is by Paul Feyer.

MAN OF LA MANCHA opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on September 7th and runs through October 2nd, 2016. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. There will be two additional Saturday matinees on September 24th and October 1st at 2pm.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Photograph by Anne Hudson
Picured – David Pittsinger* and Thalia Thiesfield*

*denotes member of Actors Equity

Members of the press are welcome at any performance.  Please call ahead for tickets.

Generously sponsored by Middlesex Hospital, Essex Meadows and Guilford Savings Bank

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cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-garth-kravits-r1Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Chatting with Talia Thiesfield, Aldonza in The Ivoryton Playhouse’s Production of MAN OF LA MANCHA, September 7 – October 2

Talia Thiesfield

Talia Thiesfield

Talia Thiesfield is starring as Aldonza opposite David Pittsinger as Don Quixote in The Ivoryton Playhouse’s production of MAN OF LA MANCHA, Wednesday, September 7th – Sunday, October 2th. Opening night is Friday, September 9th.

MAN OF LA MANCHA will be helmed by David Edwards, choreographed by Todd Underwood and will feature musical direction by Paul Feyer.

Written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, MAN OF LA MANCHA is the Winner of 5 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and is based on Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quixote, The musical tells of the adventures of a delusional Spanish knight who sallies forth on a quest to restore chivalry to the world, and to claim his lady love.

Ms. Thiesfield has appeared Off-Broadway in Marie Christine;  regionally in LMNOP (Goodspeed Musicals), Venice (Center Theatre Group), Smokey Joe’s Café, Violet & Measure For Measure (CT Rep), Romeo & Juliet, Nine, Seven Guitars; and in Los Angeles in Denis Leary’s Rescue Me Comedy TourCoachella Music Festival (w/ The Kills), and Stephen Schwartz – Making Good (Ford Amphitheatre, dir. Billy Porter). She has appeared on the TV shows “Limitless,” “Veep,” “Manhattan Love Story,” and  “The Following”. She has a BFA in Acting from the University of Connecticut, and an MFA from the University of California Irvine.

Below is my interview with Talia.

Lia: You are starring as Aldonza, a major role in a classic musical. How do you feel about that responsibility and tackling such iconic material?
Talia: It truly is an honor. As cliché as that may sound, it’s true! Roles like Aldonza, Evita, Fantine…these iconic female roles are so special to us because they represent the strength and perseverance inherent in all women.  They tell stories of women who endure and thrive through harrowing struggles and find dignity in their brokenness.  That resonates a lot with me, so I think this is going to be a very cathartic experience.  My intention is to move the audience with Aldonza’s story more so than with just a pretty song.

Lia: What does it mean to you to be playing on your home turf?
Talia: Oh, I love going back to Connecticut. I grew up there, my family is still there…it’s great. And I couldn’t be going back at a better time. I love CT in the Fall.

Lia: How do you plan on balancing your studying for the role, and your usual inclination to socialize with your cast mates?
Talia: I’ve actually been stressing out about this! I’m such a social person and I love hanging out and laughing into the wee hours.  But that definitely needs to be kept to a minimum this time around.  Taking on a heavy role such as this will require me to spend more nights in with a cup of tea, and fewer nights out with a glass of wine!  Once we get into our run and in the swing of things, I’m sure I’ll be more comfortable hanging out, but during the rehearsal process I’ll probably be a bit of a hermit.

Lia: What else have you been working on?
Talia: While rehearsing and performing in Man of La Mancha, I will simultaneously be participating in this year’s NBC Diversity Showcase where I will have the opportunity to perform for major network and industry executives.

I recently had the pleasure of working on some of my favorite TV shows like HBO’s VEEP and LIMTLESS on CBS.  I also recently recorded the Sony Masterworks world premiere soundtrack for Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical (by Douglas Lyons, Melvin Tundstall III, and Greg Borowsky) after originating the role for the preliminary workshops, demos, and presentations. Coincidentally, Polkadots premiered an educational run of the show with Ivoryton Playhouse only four months ago!

UCONN Today: All the World’s a Stage for Alumna Talia Thiesfield

The cast of MAN OF LA MANCHA also features Amy Buckley as Antonia, David Edwards as Dr. Carrasco, Brian Michael Hoffman as Sancho, Matthew Krob as Padre, Melissa McLean as Housekeeper/Maria and James Van Treuren as Governor/Innkeeper. Brian Binion, Ryan Cavanaugh, AJ Hunsucker, James Ludlum, Conor McGiffin, Stephen Mir round out the ensemble.

The creative team includes scenic design by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott, sound design by Tate Burmeister and costume design by Liz Cipollina, with James Joseph Clark as Stage Manager.

Performance times for MAN OF LA MANCHA are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm; evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $45 for seniors, $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

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Read RENT Reviews here!

The Reviews are in – run don’t walk to get tickets to see RENT!

Tony’s Corner
Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The summer show of Ivoryton Playhouse is the 20th Anniversary production of “Rent”, a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson. It opened on Broadway on April 29, 1996 and is based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Boheme” which premiered in 1896. This musical centers on a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to create and survive in New York’s Alphabet City in the last days of the Bohemian East Village, under the shadow of AIDS. The show is considered revolutionary for bringing controversial topics and counterculture to a traditionally conservative medium, and is credited with increasing the popularity of musical theater in the younger generation like the musical “Hair” spoke to the young people of the 1960’s. “Rent” begins as Mark, a filmmaker and narrator of the show, decides to begin shooting an unscripted documentary about his friends on Christmas Eve. The show follows their lives for a whole year, mixing comic and poignant moments together into a rousing musical masterpiece about life, acceptance and the joy of creating things together. Its powerful message resonates to this day and is not only touching but joyous and life affirming, too. Director Jacqui Hubbard picks the best 15 member cast to play these roles. She is aided in this huge task by music director Michael Morris and choreographer Todd Underwood. The film delivers a strong close to the show. If you have one show to catch this summer season, it should be “Rent” at Ivoryton Playhouse.

Jacqui blocks each scene excellently and elicits fabulous performances from her 15 member cast. Michael Morris taught the cast over 40 musical numbers in this show. The harmonic blend and balance of the voices is outstanding with the group numbers “Rent”, “Another Day”, “Santa Fe”, “La Vie Boheme” and “Seasons of Love” leading the way. He also plays lead keyboards while directing his five piece combo. Todd Underwood supplies the marvelous dance numbers which include modern, jazz, tango with the “Santa Fe”, “La Vie Boheme” and 1960’s style dance as the standouts. The two story set is by Martin Scott Marchitto while the costumes are by Lisa Bebey.

The two leading men in this show are multitalented with Johnny Newcomb as Roger Davis and Tim Russell as Mark Cohen. Roger is an HIV-positive musician who is recovering from heroin addiction and is Mark’s roommate. Johnny is a fabulous actor with a terrific tenor voice which soars in his many musical solos, duets and group numbers. Some of them include “One Song Glory” about Roger’s desperate need to write one great song before he dies of AIDS, “Your Eyes” is Roger’s song as he thinks Mimi is dying in Act 2, “Light My Candle”, “I Should Tell You” and “Without You”, the show stopping duet he sings with Mimi as Angel dies onstage. There isn’t a dry eye left in the entire audience at the end of their rendition. Mark Cohen is a struggling filmmaker who creates a final movie which details his friends lives and their journeys during the show. Tim has an phenomenal baritone voice which grips the audience with its power in his many numbers and is a fantastic actor as he narrates the many scenes poignantly. Tim’s numerous songs include group numbers “Tune Up”, “Rent”, “La Vie Boheme”, “Happy New Year”, “Halloween” and the powerhouse duet that stops the show with its intensity. That number is “What You Own” where Roger and Mark have an epiphany as Roger finally finds his song in Mimi and Mark finds his film in Angel’s memory. has a comic song “Tango Maureen” with his ex-girlfriend’s lesbian lover while they execute a perfect tango during it. Bravo to both these performers on doing a superb job in these demanding roles.

The villainous landlord, Benjamin Collins III who turns off the heat and electricity trying to turn Alphabet City from an artistic community into a technical based one is portrayed by Collin L. Howard. He plays this smarmy character beautifully, displaying his tenor voice in “Tune Up”, “Rent” and “Goodbye Love.” Ilast reviewed Collin in “Showboat” at the Shubert Theatre in Boston in July. Patrick Clanton as Tom Collins and Jonny Cortes as Angel Dumott Schunard are marvelous in their roles. Tom is a professor of computer science and is an anarchist with AIDS who finds love with Angel, a street drummer who strives to spread his surprising optimism amongst his friends. Patrick uses his magnificent bass voice to tug at your heartstrings in “I’ll Cover You” which he sings at Angel’s funeral. He sings this duet with Angel earlier in the show and they also sing “You Okay Honey?” He also sings lead in “Santa Fe” with a mellow sound and I last reviewed Patrick in “Sister Act” at NSMT. The character of Angel is a drag queen and is one of the most likeable characters in this show. Jonny is fantastic in this role especially in the death scene which tears your heart out at its dramatic impact. Angel also bumps off Benny’s dog which is a funny moment in this dramatic musical. All of his interactions with the rest of the cast are topnotch and his vocal prowess especially a fabulous falsetto are heard in his solos, duets and in the group numbers, too.

Alyssa Gomez is dynamite as Mimi, an HIV positive S&M dancer and heroin junkie who used to date Benny but is now Roger’s love interest. She is sexy as hell as Mimi and she knocks your socks off with her two duets with Johnny especially the poignant “Without You.” Alyssa’s solo “Out Tonight” stops the show with her powerful rendition and she dances up a storm during it. She is excellent as this drug addicted character. The two lesbian characters, Joanne, a Harvard educated lawyer and Maureen, a performance artist who is also Mark’s ex-girlfriend are excellently played by Maritza Bostic and Stephanie Genito. Maritza makes Joanne, a brassy broad who takes no crap from anyone especially Mark and Maureen. Her duet with Tim is hilarious while her duet with Stephanie, “Take Me or Leave Me”, is gut wrenching. I last reviewed Maritza as Red Riding Hood in “Into the Woods” at Lyric Company in Boston in 2014. Stephanie has many dramatic moments especially in Angel’s death scene but she is a hoot in her solo “Over the Moon” which is a thinly veiled criticism of Benny, using a metaphor involving a cow and a bulldog which is taken from Hey Diddle Diddle. Maureen has the audience yell Moo at the end of it. At the end of Act 1 during the closing number, she moons Benny which lightens up the mood for the somber events of Act 2. The most well known song of the show “Seasons of Love” opens the second act with the harmonies of the chorus soaring to the rafters of the theatre. Sheniqua Trotman’s powerful voice solos during this song. I last reviewed her in “Chicago” here as Mama Morton. The whole show is powerful and breathtaking with its impact on the audience.

Run do not walk to the box office for this sensational musical. Tell them Tony sent you. This review marks my 1500th review and what a terrific way to celebrate it with this powerhouse version of “Rent” at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse.

RENT (3 to 28 August)
Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT
1(860)767-7318 or www.ivorytonplayhouse.org


logoRENT review by Erica

RENT, on its 20th anniversary, has stood the test of time. It’s as relevant and fresh today as it was at its Broadway debut in 1996. Loosely based on Puccini’s La Boheme, this story of a group of young, starving artists living in the East Village tells the harsh realities of the era of AIDS, through the eyes of a tight knit bunch of friends, most of whom are HIV positive. Facing a nightmarish future, they still manage to find love, hope and moments of happiness. The Ivoryton has gathered an exceptional cast for this show…standouts vocally are Maureen (Stephanie Genito, perfectly cast), Mimi (Alyssa Gomez) and Tom Collins (Patrick Clanton), but the entire company delivers an exuberant performance. My husband had to shush me, as it was impossible NOT to sing along to the familiar score. We saw the show on the second night, and were awed by the polish of the young performers. It will only get better. This is an important work, lest we ever forget those harrowing days. If you haven’t seen RENT, or even if you have, go see it at the Ivoryton through August 28.



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