Tag Archives: Darko Tresnjak

There Are No Errors In This Comedy

The Comedy of Errors

At The Hartford Stage
50 Church Street
Hartford, CT
Directed by Darko Tresnjak
Through February 12th

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Louis Tucci, Paula Leggett Chase, Alexander Sovronsky
Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Returning home after viewing the Saturday matinee performance of the Hartford Stage production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors I wanted to immediately sit down and write my review. There was one problem however, I could not stop laughing long enough to focus on my keyboard.

Director Darko Tresnjak has taken one of the Bard’s earliest plays and set it in 1965 Greece while adding music and dance to it. From the opening when Paula Leggett Chase steps out and sings a sexy and sultry Never On A Sunday in the best tradition of Melina Mercouri, I knew this was going to be something very special.

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

The set, which was designed by Darko, is breathtaking. Save your money on a ticket to Greece, you are there when you step into the theater. The colors are vibrant, with boats docked at the foot of the stage, the Phoenix and the Priory rising behind it and the Greek countryside as a backdrop is something to behold.
It is the Greece of Topkapi and Zorba.

Save your money on a ticket to Greece, you are there when you step into the theater.

But what would Greece be without music and dance? Drawing on original songs from the period and using onstage musicians playing on a bouzouki and an accordion for much of it, (some of the music is piped in and also great), the audience becomes a part of the experience. Throw in some moussaka and baklava for good measure.

I guarantee you will leave the theater with tears of laughter streaming from your face

Now top this off with Shakespeare’s madcap story about two sets of twins and the mixups that ensue along with an outstanding cast and you have one of the best plays on stage so far this season. Sprinkle some Marx Brothers flavored comedy on top and the laughter never stops. How often do you get to see a Shakespeare play with scuba divers, surfboards, beachballs, rubber chickens, and a human battering ram? All this while retaining the original language and story. And, all taking place within a 24 hour period.

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Trying to chose a particular moment or actor to praise is too difficult in such a fine production. Everyone is just wonderful and spot on. Seeing so many actors staying in synch while so many different and crazy things are occurring is marvelous. This production is fast paced, constantly funny, musically delightful, and filled with wonderful dance numbers. It is a joy to watch all of them perform. The lighting and choreography are up to the usual high standards of the Hartford.

This production is fast paced, constantly funny, musically delightful, and filled with wonderful dance numbers.

When someone asks me to pick a Shakespeare play for their first time experience, I don’t suggest The Comedy of Errors. It is funny but not with the depth of his later work. However, after seeing this production I can recommend it without any reservations. If you
have stayed away from Shakespeare because you thought he wrote in another language, or if you are a lifetime Bardologist, you owe it to yourself to make the trip to the Hartford Stage. If I lived closer I would see it again, and again.

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Darko Tresnjak and the Hartford Stage have never disappointed me with their Shakespeare productions. There are many excellent companies in New England performing these works, but The Hartford Stage ranks at the top.

After attending a performance I guarantee you will leave the theater with tears of laughter streaming from your face, the salt of the Mediterranean in your nose, a hunger for some moussaka, and an urge to cry out, “Zorba, teach me to dance!”

A Little More About The Comedy of Errors In Hartford

Hartford Stage Announces Cast and Creative Team For Queens for a Year

Cast Features Local Actress and Broadway Veterans

September 16 through October 2

show-queensHARTFORD, CT — AUGUST 23, 2016 — Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts announced today the cast and creative team for Queens for a Year, written by T.D. Mitchell and featuring local actress Vanessa R Butler.

The first show of Hartford Stage’s 2016-17 Season, Queens for a Year is a world premiere directed by Lucy Tiberghien, whose recent Off-Broadway credits include Don’t Go Gentle and Blind.

“We’re delighted to have Lucie Tiberghien and such a terrific cast joining us for this timely new play exploring the lives of women serving in the military,” said Elizabeth Williamson, Associate Artistic Director.

Butler’s credits include Gross Domestic Product and Jimmy and Lorraine at HartBeat Ensemble; Juliet in Romeo & Juliet at Capitol Classics; and Freedom: In 3 Acts at Bated Breath Theatre Company.

The cast also includes Heidi Armbruster, Time Stands Still on Broadway; Mary Bacon, Arcadia on Broadway; Alice Cannon, James Joyce’s The Dead on Broadway; Sarah Nicole Deaver, Henry V at Rutgers University; Mat Hostetler, the War Horse national tour; Charlotte Maier, God of Carnage on Broadway; and Jamie Rezanour, Romeo & Juliet at the Classical Theatre of Harlem.

In addition to Tiberghien, the creative team includes set design by Daniel Conway (Horton Foote’s Lily Dale Off-Broadway); lighting design by Robert Perry (Love in Afghanistan at Arena Stage); costume design by Beth Goldenberg (Engagements at Second Stage Theatre); sound design by Victoria Toy Deiorio (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); and dramaturgy by Elizabeth Williamson (Anastasia, The Body of an American).

Lori M. Doyle (The Visit on Broadway) will serve as production stage manager.

In Queens for a Year, Molly Solinas, a young Marine Corps Officer, unexpectedly returns to her family home in Virginia, bringing with her an even younger female Private. Four generations of women who’ve served their country in the Marines clash during what at first appears to be a post-deployment vacation – but is revealed to be much more.

“I am grateful to Queens for a Year for telling this difficult story and shedding a light on women in the military,” said Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator, New York.

Mitchell, best known as a writer on the popular Lifetime series “Army Wives,” has earned accolades for many works, including her plays Beyond the 17th Parallel (National Endowment for the Arts Artistic Excellence Grant, soon to be adapted for film), A Gray Matter, In Dog Years and the upcoming VRTU-L.


Previews begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 8
Opening Night: 8 p.m. Friday, September 16
Closes: 2 p.m. Sunday, October 2

Tickets & Performances

Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun at 7:30 p.m.—Fri, Sat at 8 p.m.—Sat, Sun at 2 p.m.
Wed matinee at 2 p.m. on September 21 only
Weekly schedules vary. For details, visit www.hartfordstage.org.

Tickets for all shows start at $25. For group discounts (10 or more), contact Theresa MacNaughton at 860-520-7114.

For all other tickets, please call the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151 or visit www.hartfordstage.org.

Special Events

Sunday Afternoon Discussion, September 18

Enjoy a lecture from artists and scholars connected with the production immediately following the 2 p.m. matinee. Free

AfterWords Discussion

Tuesdays, September 20 and 27 & Wednesday, September 21

Join members of the cast and our Artistic staff for a free discussion, immediately following select 7:30 p.m. performances on Tuesday or the 2 p.m. Wednesday matinee.




A Captivating Romeo and Juliet At The Hartford Stage


by Bobby Franklin

“O Romeo, Romeo! – wherefore art thou Romeo?”

In answer to that question, Romeo, Juliet, and all of the Capulets and Montagues are on the Hartford Stage under the very fine direction of Darko Tresnjak.

This Romeo and Juliet is nothing short of superb.

This Romeo and Juliet is nothing short of superb. Written over 400 years ago, the Hartford’s production of Shakespeare’s work is fresh and alive. The beautifully talented Kaliswa Brewster in her “dream role” as Juliet couldn’t be more perfect in the role as the young Ms

Juliet (Kaliswa Brewster)
Juliet (Kaliswa Brewster)

Capulet who is taken with the handsome Romeo played by the equally talented Chris Ghaffari. The two are lovely to watch as their forbidden love blossoms. They perform their parts with much playful humor (the famous balcony scene is among the best and most original I have ever seen) on a versatile set inspired by the work of Italian neorealist cinema, think Rossellini and Visconti.

Romeo (Chris Ghaffari) and Juliet (Kaliswa Brewster)
Romeo (Chris Ghaffari) and Juliet (Kaliswa Brewster)

The first half of this beautiful play is joyful and light. It makes the audience relax and share in the excitement of the title characters as they become more and more enthralled with each other. We laugh and share in their joy. Of course, we are made well aware of the tension that exists between the two families, but some how we feel things will work out just fine. Yes, even knowing the story, our emotions follow that arc. It is the magic director Tresnjak is able to make happen on stage. It is not the first time I have seen him do this.

Mercutio (Wyatt Fenner) and Tybalt (Jonathan Louis Dent)
Mercutio (Wyatt Fenner) and Tybalt (Jonathan Louis Dent)

Mercutio (Wyatt Fenner) is unlike any you have seen before. He is intense and, well, mercurial. And it is when he meets his end that our joyful mood takes a sudden and very real turn. “A plague on both your houses!” Again, it is that Darko magic at work. I observed laughter turn to tears in the audience as things descended into darkness because of the petty hatreds of the two families.

Friar Laurence (Charles Janasz)
Friar Laurence (Charles Janasz)

Charles Janasz brings wisdom and warmth to the part of Friar Laurence, and Kandis Chappell as Juliet’s nurse joins him in the failed and finally tragic attempt to reconcile things for the lovers and families. Our hearts break for them as well.

Everyone in the large cast is terrific, the set, with a balcony that extends and recedes from a wall designed after an Italian cemetery wall, and lighting are to the usual high standards of the Hartford. This production is a joy for all of the senses. Within minutes of the opening the theatergoers feel they are a part of all that is happening on the stage.

If you have seen Romeo and Juliet before do not miss this one as it is unlike any before. If you have never experienced it, there is no better time than now to see it for the first time, though I must warn you it may spoil you for future productions.

Juliet (Kaliswa Brewster) and Nurse (Kandis Chappell)
Juliet (Kaliswa Brewster) and Nurse (Kandis Chappell)

I have now attended enough Shakespeare productions directed by Darko Tresnjak at the Hartford to say his are by far the best in New England.

I urge you to take the short run down to Hartford to see this play. You’ll be sorry if you miss it.

Romeo and Juliet at The Hartford Stage through March 20th.

Info at www.hartfordstage.org Box Office 860-520-7114

The Hartford Stage Presents Romeo and Juliet

Kaliswa Brewster and Chris Ghaffari Lead Cast

Directed by Darko Tresnjak

Chris Ghaffari and Kaliswa BrewsterHartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnik will be bringing his magic to William Shakespeare’s most popular play Romeo and Juliet beginning on February 11th and playing through March 20th.

Kaliswa Brewster and Chris Ghaffari will play the archetypal young lovers. Brewster’s credits include Hartford Stage’s La Dispute and Macbeth and Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Under Milk Wood, all three directed by Tresnjak; the new Showtime series “Billions,” which stars Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti and debuts next month; and the Off-Broadway premieres of Emotional Creature and Soldier X. Ghaffari is in his final year of the MFA program at the Yale School of Drama, where he has performed in Coriolanus, King John and Paradise Lost. His resume also includes King Lear for The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park and As You Like It and Julius Caesar at Shakespeare on the Sound.

Tresnjak said, “Romeo & Juliet is a play of seemingly infinite possibilities, reinvented from generation to generation for over 400 years, a symbol of romantic love infused with iconic imagery and unforgettable language that has become a part of the vernacular. We look forward to exploring this eternally modern play with a company of great stage veterans and rising stars.”

Having seen Darko perform his magic on MacBeth and Hamlet I am very much looking forward to seeing what he does with Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet contains some of Shakespeare’s best known lines including “A plague on both your houses.”, “Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow, that i shall say good night till it be morrow.”, and “What’s on a name? That which we call a rose by any bother name would smell as sweet.”

For more information go to: www.harfordstage.org or call 860-527-5151