Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

A Night of Sips & Giggles
Lyric Hall

Theresa Rose, Tracy James and Laura Kirk
On November 23rd, I had the great pleasure to attend the 4th annual A Night of Sips & Giggles at Lyric Hall in New Haven, Connecticut. The premise of A Night of Sips & Giggles is to present short plays and sketches that are complemented by the audience being offered a sip of wine and an hors d'oeuvre before each play. For example, for a comedy sketch, white wine was served with a tasty desert while, for a more serious scene, red wine was offered to reflect the "darker" tone of the play. Hence, with the audience drinking a variety of wines during the evening, there is certainly a lot of sipping going on and plenty of giggles, as the audience gets more and more intoxicated. (It should be noted that for those who don't drink, non-alcoholic beverages are offered, as well). And, while this year's selection of plays were on the lighter side compared to last year's more serious, dramatic offerings, there was a special plus in that singers appeared between scenes to deliver a selection of both well known and obscure show tunes. Indeed, for a "Broadway baby" like me, it was heaven.

Much to my surprise (and delight), the evening opened with a sparkling duet version of "Can That Boy Foxtrot," Yvonne De Carlo's big out-of-town number from Follies (before it was cut and replaced by "I'm Still Here"), superbly performed here by Laura Kirk and Theresa Rose. Other rare show tune treats throughout the evening were Theresa Rose's belty "Cornet Man" from Funny Girl and Laura Kirk's delicious "You Can Always Count on Me" (from my first Broadway musical, City of Angels). The more familiar numbers included a slinky version of "I Cain't Say No," performed by another wonderful singer, Tracy James, complete with feather boa and a spot atop the onstage grand piano. (It should be noted that Andy Rubenoff was the wonderful pianist throughout). For Burt Bacharach fans, there was "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," and the evening closed with my favorite Bette Midler tune, "Friends" (written by Buzzy Linhart and Mark "Moogy" Klingman). So many of the songs are favorites, I felt like the selections were made especially for me.

I should hasten to mention that the short plays presented throughout the evening (all written by the extremely talented Frederick Stroppel) were also a lot of fun. As mentioned, the sketches were more on the comedic side compared to last year's A Night of Sips & Giggles, and laughter was plentiful throughout. Favorite moments include a sketch of a woman (played by the hilarious Joanna Keylock) driving on a highway while talking on the phone, and the final scene of a married couple (Frederick Stroppel and Joanna Keylock) trying to enact a sexual "fantasy" at a bar that is continually interrupted by a third character (the riotous Peter Plano), who unwittingly gets entangled into the couple's "fantasy." Not to be forgotten, Daniel Sarnelli and Timothy Gara also contributed amusing moments, reading humorous letters to the audience between scenes.

All in all, A Night of Sips & Giggles was pretty dandy and the aforementioned Joanna Keylock deserves a special round of applause for coordinating the evening and making sure that the show ran smoothly from beginning to end. Adding to the evening's pleasures was the ambiance of the theatre itself, Lyric Hall, which was built in 1913 as a silent movie house and then later served as a vaudeville palace, before almost being completely destroyed. Painstakingly restored over the last several years, Lyric Hall is a charming theatre and, in addition to being host to A Night of Sips & Giggles each year, also screens movies and offers a space for musicians and actors to perform. For more information about Lyric Hall, which is located at 827 Whalley Avenue in New Haven, Connecticut, please visit www.lyrichallnewhaven.com or call (203) 389-8885.

Photo: Lee Keylock

Also see the current theatre schedule for Connecticut & Beyond

- Zander Opper