Inka’s Seafood Grill: explore the tastes of Peru right in the heart of Westchester

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I have never dined at a Peruvian restaurant so I was eager to try Inka’s Seafood Grill.  Located in Armonk,  Inka’s Seafood Grill opened in 2017.  The chef from Peru has crafted a menu of classic dishes infused with the unique flavors of that South American nation.  Though at first you might think of Peru as just a mountainous nation but it actually has a coastline on the Pacific that is 1500 miles long which contributes to their love of seafood.

The restaurant is housed in its own building with convenient parking.   Inside the colors and lighting are warm and inviting.  To the right is a long bar with a stone face backdrop.  Upstairs is another dining room which also is perfect for private parties or events.

We started our evening with some interesting cocktails ($14) such as the Pisco Sour.  A interesting mix of Pisco, Egg White, Fresh Lime Juice, Angostura Bitters, and Simple Syrup.  Pisco is a brandy that is made in the wine producing regions of Peru.  A really interesting cocktail with a light white foam on top. We followed with the Inka’s Peach Tea a sweet refreshing concoction of Citron Vodka, Peach Schnapps, Apple Schapps, passion fruit, lemon juice and a splash of apple cider.  Fruity and fun.   We also sampled the Amazon Breeze another fun mix of tropical juices (passion, mango, pineapple, lime) with cranberry, pomegranate liqueur and coconut rum.  The perfect sweet cocktail to offset the savory dishes soon to come.

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Signature cocktails set the mood for an evening of Peruvian cuisine

Appetizers are plentiful with 11 on the menu ($8-$15).  Though mostly seafood there are chicken and beef options.  We started with the Trio De Causa an interesting dish of three mashed potato towers one with crab, one with shrimp, one with octopus and a beautiful presentation.  The tasty seafood was offset by the soft mellow potato “tower” and was a real hit.  A real interesting departure from the usual seafood appetizers you normally see.

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Trio de Causa

On the menu are 9 different Ceviches made from traditional Peruvian recipes.  Usually when I order a ceviche it arrives in a small glass, but this came in a nice size bowl.  I ordered the Ceviche Mixto which was diced white fish, mussels, calamari, octopus, shrimp, peruvian chili pepper, red onions, and cilantro.  This dish was almost entree sized and was delicious.  The Cerviches can all be ordered to be less or more spicy depending on your taste.

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Cerviche Mixto

For the main course there are numerous options from the grill, seafood dishes, and pastas.  We sampled the Tuna en Costa de Quinoa, a tuna encrusted with rainbow quinoa and sliced potatoes in a shrimp sauce.  We learned that quinoa which is so popular today first originated in Peru.  I have never had tuna encrusted in quinoa before and this was a fantastic dish.

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Tuna encrusted with quinoa

We also sampled a dish from the grill at the suggestion of our waiter.  The Parrillada Inka ($45) is a huge dish for two (or more) and is comprised of grilled seafood brochettes of shrimp, scallops, salmon and tuna in garlic butter. The brochettes are grilled to perfection on wooden skewers.

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The amazing Parillada Inka

An amazing and filling dish.   There is another similar dish of meats instead of seafood that is  prepared in a similar fashion.

Dessert continued our exploration into Peruvian Cuisine.  We sampled the Lucama ice cream which was complex in taste and delicious.  Lucama is a Peruvian fruit grown at higher elevations and is filled with vitamins and minerals.  The fruit resembles an avocado with green skin and yellowish flesh, but the taste is much different, and has been described as having notes of sweet potato, maple syrup and even butterscotch.  Very unique.

We finished with the wonderful Mazamorra Morado a pudding like confection and a popular Peruvian dessert.  Purple in color and creamy it is made from purple corn and fruit and has a taste similar to blackberry.  Fun and fruity and served in a margarita glass.

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Our meal at Inka’s was not just a meal but was an exploration into the culture and cuisine of Peru.  I learned so much in a few hours and in the same time had a memorable meal.  I truly recommend this restaurant for your next dining adventure.

Inka’s Seafood Grill

465 Main Street Armonk       tel.  914.730.1122

web>> https://www.inkasseafoodgrill.com

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Fences: Tony award winning drama now at Ridgefield Theater Barn

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A very interesting and thought provoking play, “Fences” is now on stage at the Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield Ct.  This  Pulitizer, Drama Desk and Tony Award winning play by August Wilson ran on Broadway back in 1987-1988.  Among its awards was the Tony Award for Best Play, and Best Actor (James Earl Jones).   It will run at the Theater Barn through February 24th.

The drama follows an African American family and is set in the late 1950s.  We meet Troy Maxon (Foster Evans Reese), a hard working man of little education who works as a garbage man.  His life is filled with regret about the fact his talents as a baseball player were never acknowledged due to the racial barrier in major league baseball. He lives a respectable life with his own little home he shares with his wife Rose (Tracey McAllister) and his son Cory (Shelby Davis).   Conflicts arise early in the play as Troy attempts to break the color barrier to become the first African American garbage truck driver for his firm.   Though Troy feels he will be fired for complaining to the union, he instead is promoted.  This promotion however comes at a price as he no longer works with his best friend Bono(Kevin Knight) and we see eventually they will drift apart.

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Other important characters are Gabe (Dan Fedrick) who plays Troy’s brother who suffered a brain injury in the War and is looked after by Troy, even though Gabe elected to move out of the house.  Troy has two sons, Lyons (Steffon Sampson) who Troy is in conflict with as he sees Lyons as a person with no direction who comes around just to borrow money.  His other son Cory (Shelby Davis) is also in struggles with Troy as he wants to elevate himself in life through sport, but Troy attempts to keep him down and steer him into a career of manual labor.

Rose, the loving wife and mother does her best to keep the peace.  Through the play she wants an ideal  yet simple life and for Troy to finish the white picket fence that surrounds the house.  It takes the entire play for the fence to be finished.  The fence for Rose represents keeping together her family and her dreams.  For Troy it represents a barrier, and for Cory  the fence is a way for his father to fence his ambitions to play sports and go on the college.   We see too the themes of death seep into the story and for Troy the fence is a way for keeping the grim reaper away.

The sold out theater was riveted to the actors on stage during the two hour plus play. Though all the actors gave solid  performances (including Dania Fedrick, who appears late in Act Two), the night belongs to Foster Evans Reese who commands the stage with his powerful and moving interpretation of Troy.

Due to adult themes and language, the play is best suited for mature audiences.

The Ridgefield Theater Barn is a real local treasure.  Doors open on hour before the show and you sit cabaret style at tables.  Guests bring their own food and drink to enjoy prior to the show.  The Barn now has a bar  in the lobby with snacks, a featured cocktail, wine and beer.

Tickets are $35 and $28 for Students, veterans and seniors)

Ridgefield Theater Barn

37 Halpin Lane  Ridgefield Ct             http://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org/

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You should be dancing! First Ladies of Disco rock the Ridgefield Playhouse, February 14th

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A fun event for music lovers, especially lovers of classic disco.  On February 14th The Ridgefield Playhouse is presenting a fun evening. The First Ladies of Disco Valentine’s Day Gala, which begins at 6:30pm,  includes performances by Martha Wash (The Weather Girls), Linda Clifford (“If My Friends Could See Me Now”) and Norma Jean Wright (formerly of Chic), who will perform all of their hits with some special surprises! “It’s Raining Men,” “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” “Everybody, Everybody” and “Strike It Up,” Linda Clifford’s  recordings have spent a total of 60 weeks at #1 on Billboard Magazine’s dance charts with hits “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” “Red Light,” “Don’t Give It Up,” and more.  Singer Norma Jean Wright first came to fame as a vocalist with Chic (“Le Freak,” “Everybody Dance.” “I Want Your Love,” )

 Part of the Pepsi Rock Series, powered by Xfinity, this fundraiser with a beat is sponsored by Lori & John Berisford, Shari Goodstein, Carolyn & Rommin Adl, Adam Broderick Salon & Spa, BMW of Ridgefield & Lera Jewels.

There will be free champagne & chocolate desserts  for all ticket holders and a chance to win a piece of jewelry donated by Lera Jewels; a spa package donated by Adam Broderick Salon & Spa and a date night package (which includes a car and driver!) donated by BMW of Ridgefield, this night is a fun way to celebrate with your significant other or just to cut loose with a group of friends.

Also contributing to the event will be All Season Party & Tent Rentals, The Cake Box, Campari America, Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe, Elizabella’s Bake Shoppe, Hollandia Nurseries, Pera Wines, and All proceeds from funds raised will go towards the Arts for Everyone outreach program at The Ridgefield Playhouse, which allows families and children from low income areas to attend shows for free!  The party starts at 6:30pm, when all ticket holders will enjoy a Valentine’s Day staple, champagne & prosecco, (courtesy of Pera Wines), chocolate (courtesy of Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe)  desserts (courtesy of The Cake Box, Elizabella’s Bake Shoppe and Whistle Stop Bakery)

The fundraising portion of the evening will include a raffle with prizes and a silent auction.  The charity is the Arts for Everyone outreach program at The Ridgefield Playhouse, which allows families and children from low income areas to attend shows for free and experience the great events that the Playhouse has to offer.

So get on your dancing shoes, grab your friends and dance the night away for a good cause.

 For tickets ($75) call or visit the box office, 203-438-5795

or go online at >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>ridgefieldplayhouse.org.

Ridgefield Playhouse

80 Ridge Road  Ridgefield Ct.

 

EVITA: The moving Broadway classic musical is a must see at Westport Country Playhouse

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Samantha Pauly as Eva Peron

The Broadway smash hit  Evita opened to a standing ovation at the Westport Country Playhouse.  The  Tony Award winning musical was written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber  and chronicles the rise to fame of Eva Peron, the actress turned wife of President Juan Peron of Argentina, her tragic demise and her elevation to an icon with the people of Argentina.

This production at the Westport Country Playhouse is unique in that it merges the talents of four experienced professional actors (members of Actors Equity Association) , professional dancers, with a ensemble of students from Broadway Method Academy.  The blending of all this talent backed by a 9 piece orchestra created an evening of powerful theater under the direction of Connor Deane and a fantastic creative team.

This is a very limited production of just 4 days and is certainly a production you should not miss.   The musical (there are really no speaking parts) was very dramatic and moving as if follows the arc of the public life of Eva Duarte Peron.  Samantha Pauly was tasked with the enormous role of Eva Peron and she was brilliant.  Her voice is so strong and dramatic, that the audience is swept  up in the drama unfolding onstage.  Her acting and the expressions on her face and in her voice gave the viewer the true feeling that they were watching Evita herself.  A truly amazing and moving performance.

Yurel  Echezarreta plays the role of Che, the narrator of the story and who helps stitch together the various scenes and moments in Evita’s life. His voice is strong and impressive and his acting is superb.  His performance was outstanding as he brings some needed comic relief at times to the story.

Kyle Barisich (Juan Peron) and Julian Alvarez(Magaldi) found out the cast of professionals on stage and they do a wonderful job.  But the evening belongs to Evita, and Samantha Pauly has full command of the stage and audience and is radiant.

The ensemble of young actors (pre teen and up) help fill out the cast whether singing as an ensemble or dancing or providing the much needed crowd for certain scenes in the performance. Credit to all these young actors (almost 40) for their efforts in making this a successful production.

The score by Andrew Lloyd Webber ( Phantom of the Opera, Cats) is dramatic and moving  and stays with you long after the house lights go up on this performance.  If you have seen this play, or it is your first time, do not miss Evita at the Westport Country Playhouse.

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court Westport Ct

 (203) 227-4177

http://www.westportplayhouse.org

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Argana Restaurant: escape to the flavors of Morocco

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A truly unique dining experience awaits in at Argana Restaurant in Port Chester.  This Moroccan restaurant transports you from the usual local dining experience in our area to the an evening of exotic culinary delights in sunny Morocco.   Not only is the evening filled with interesting and flavorful foods, we even had witnessed a belly dancer whirl around the dining room to the pleasure of the guests.  The chef  described the menu as modern Moroccan.

Located on Main Street in Port Chester which is already a lively hub of entertainment and dining,  Argana Restaurant welcomed us on a chilly January evening into a warm, friendly yet very unique restaurant.  The interior is soft colors, and the Moroccan lights cast a warm glow which sets the mood.  Everywhere from the tile on the bar to the small decorative touches lets you know you might be in Marrakesh and not Port Chester.

Cocktails were first on our order list as we enjoyed the tasty Marrakesh Mojito, a twist on this Cuban favorite.  Also enjoyed was the Argana politan, a sweet pomegranate infused variation of the popular Cosmopolitan.

At Argana you can order a la carte or Moroccan family style (two guests or more).  Our table was four adults and  we enjoyed several  dishes from the appetizer menu that were excellent in both presentation and flavor.  We enjoyed the Fromage Cigar which is phyllo triangle with goat cheese and  argana herb. A light way to start.  We also sampled the excellent  and spicy Harissa Shrimp which shrimp marinated in tomato sauce & harissa (a spice made from chili peppers).  The dish was aromatic and full  of flavor with just the right amount of spice and not too spicy hot.

A great bonus was the entertainment that evening just after 7pm.  An authentic belly dancer made her way through the dining room dancing, whirling and clapping her castanets.  Between the authentic music, dancing and flavorful aromas of this wonderful food filling the room, I felt briefly transported to North Africa.

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Our next starter was the wonderful Zaalouk, a great dish for the vegetarian in your party.  This dish was a flavorful traditional moroccan style eggplant with a dash of cumin. Our last appetizer was the Tatouka  an interesting dish of smoked tomatoes, peppers and Moroccan olive oil.  This was surprisingly mellow and not as spicy as I anticipated.  The spices used by the chef seem to enhance each dish and bring out a medley of flavors.

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Tatouka

For our main dish we all sampled three Tajines.  A Tajine is an earthenware pot with dome where the dish is cooked and served.

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Tajine

We enjoyed the amazing Short Rib (slow cooked for hours) and prepared with prunes, almonds and sesame seeds.  The short rib needed no knife, and the sweetness of the cooked prunes with the nutty flavors of the almonds and sesame was a favorite of the evening.  We also shared the  Red Snapper Tajine a mild fish served with spinach, red pepper and argan oil couli.  The last tajine was the Vegetarian Tajine which was a healthy blend of garden vegetables cooked in a saffron, ginger, pepper sauce that was very flavorful.

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Short Rib Tajine

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Red Snapper Tajine

The last of the main course was  the very interesting Chicken B’Stilla. A dish I have never had before also known as Moroccan Pie which combines sweet and savory layer of chicken, almond and egg wrapped in golden paper-thin pastry leaves. The dish is also accented with brown sugar and cinnamon.  This sweet and savory dish is a delight to the taste buds as you experience the savory chicken and soft flaky dough with a hint of sweetness.  A real interesting and delightful experience.

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Sweet and Savory B’Stilla

Dessert was to follow with a wonderful tea made with mint that needed no sweetener. We sampled the cheesecake and the napolean which coupled with the tea concluded a true culinary adventure.

Our area is full of many dining options, and Argana Restaurant is a very special place that I know I will return to again to experience the warm atmosphere and flavorful foods of Morocco.

Argana Restaurant

325 N Main St, Port Chester, NY 10573

tel.  914.612.4440

web  http://www.arganarestaurantbar.com

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Beach House Cafe: escape to the beach at this modern chic seafood house

Even with chilly temps here in the Northeast, you can escape to the beach even if it is only for a few hours.  Right in our area in Old Greenwich Ct. you can escape to the Beach House Cafe.  A recent entry to the restaurant scene in our area, the Beach House owners have crafted a warm, comfortable beach house themed eatery that reminds one that they are on vacation at some beach locale such as Martha’s Vineyard or Montauk.   Glass French doors open to two dining rooms with white wainscoting walls, beautiful custom woodwork, soothing artwork and custom booths that make you feel you are on a fine sailing vessel.  There is also a beautiful horseshoe shaped bar surrounded by walls of small glass windows.  The mood is decidedly upscale but comfortable beach house. Outdoor seating is available when weather permits.

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The owner Kane Xu brings his years of restaurant experience to this new eatery (formerly at Nuage in Cos Cob) and has injected new life and culinary energy into Beach House.  Our experience was very positive as we sampled some of the fine craft cocktails as well as the signature dishes available.

The bar features a full list of beers from the bottle ($5-$12) and draft ($7-8) and includes domestic, import and craft brews.  Wines are available by glass and bottle with 17 available by glass ($9-$15) and are from California, France and Italy.  Cocktails are a must and we sampled two of the specialties including the Coconut Mojito and the delicious Blood Orange Margarita.  What better place to have beach drinks?

We began our dinner with samples of The Organic Salmon Summer Roll, a rice paper roll with sashimi salmon, cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo and tobiko(fish roe).  A very light and  healthy tasting roll.  We followed with the Yellow Fin Tuna Flat bread which  was a delicious combination of sashimi tuna, spicy mayo, avocado and tomato on a small flatbread.  This combo of fresh tuna, cool avocado and the hint of spice was very satisfying.

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Salmon Summer Roll and Yellow Fin Tuna Flat Bread

We followed up with a hearty and healthy Spicy Seafood Soup, served in an attractive bowl.   The dish of calamari, shrimp, mussels, and tilapia floated in a spicy tomato broth that though flavorful, it never overwhelmed the wonderful taste of the fresh variety of seafood.  Very good dish on a winter evening (or anytime).

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Spicy Seafood Soup

Grilled Octopus was next and was the meat was tender and lightly grilled and served with veggies, aged balsamic glaze and drizzled with garlic lemon olive oil.  This was one of our favorite dishes of the evening.

 

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Grilled Octopus

The Seafood Risotto was delicious  and I am a big fan of the blend of fresh seafood and the comfort of a good risotto dish.  Lobster, scallops and shrimp was complimented by a fabulous truffle champagne butter which really made this dish burst with flavor.

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Seafood Risotto

If you are a lover of food from the land, do not despair as beef, chicken, pork and salad dishes are on the menu.   We sampled the Crispy Duck which was surprising light, not gamey, and buttery soft as it was served with a tasty orange soy glaze and carrot ginger puree.   A very nice dish.

Appetizers run from $10-17, salads from $8-$13, Main courses $15-$35.

Beach House Cafe has also opened in South Norwalk (SoNo) and I am hoping to visit that location soon so stay tuned.

With Long Island Sound right down the road from the restaurant, why not escape to the Beach House?  See you there.

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Beach House Cafe

220 Sound Beach Ave Old Greenwich Ct    tel 203.637.0367

website:  http://www.beachhousecafe.com/

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105TEN: an excellent menu and drinks elevate this hip tavern to a higher level

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I had heard good reports about this eatery in Briarcliff Manor that has been open for a few years now.  105TEN Bar and Grill  which takes its name from Briarcliff Manor’s zip code is part of the modern trend in our area that has described by some as an”elevated tavern”.  The concept is to combine the friendliness of a local tavern but with a slightly upscale and hip atmosphere and pair it with a wide menu of fine food which appeals to many tastes.  The effect is a place for the community to gather and feel comfortable.  Craft beers, cocktails, and wine satisfy the thirsty, while the menu which runs from burgers to seafood to salads to avocado toast treat diners to some very tasty options.

A great way to start was with some interesting cocktails, the White Winter Sangria and the Chocolate Rasberry Martini.  The martini was surely not traditional, but was a fun cocktail all the same and showcases the creativity behind the bar.

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Chocolate Raspberry Martini

While bar or tavern food may make one think of fried food, wings and burgers, the menu at 105TEN has been crafted to include a variety of healthy options.  The restaurant describes  its menu as ‘”elevated American cuisine”.

The interior of the restaurant is long with tables and couches for dining aside a long brick wall, and the other wall hosts the modern design bar.  The center is filled with communal pub tables which is perfect for groups of friends or families to gather.

We started our meal  with two appetizers , the first the Lobster Bisque soup (a special that evening) which was creamy, and full of taste though no lobster chunks were present.  Floating on top was a thick piece of bread which added substance  to the dish.  A  hearty soup and a nice starter on a cold evening.   Our other app was the Prince Edward Island Mussels which was a beautiful selection of mussels in the shell, served in a bowl with peas, white wine, garlic butter and bacon bits.  This dish was a delight and the mussels were fresh and the white wine and garlic butter sauce was light and flavorful.

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Prince Edward Island Mussels

Main courses at 105TEN range from steak, chicken , short ribs and seafood dishes.  One of our selections were the Ahi Tuna Tacos which were fantastic.  Certainly not what you would expect from a tavern menu.  Three tacos served with fresh ahi tuna, Asian slaw  pico de gallo, and served with a side of corn and black bean relish.  This dish was popular as I saw tables on both sides of us enjoying this healthy entree.

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Ahi Tuna Tacos

We also ordered the Braised Zucchini that is prepared with a flavorful medley of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, sun dried tomato, fresh sage  and cannellini beans.  I added sauteed shrimp to the dish (chicken also available) for an additional $7.   This dish was healthy and very satisfying. I love the combo of fresh ingredients.

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Braised Zucchini

 

With just a little room for dessert the Banana Nutella Pie which was a nice tasty combo of two of my favorite flavors.  It was a perfect way to round out our meal.

105TEN provides a fun and relaxed atmosphere for all with a good bar, relaxed atmosphere and a menu catering to everyone.  Gluten free and vegan options also are available.

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 105TEN

127 Woodside Avenue
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510

tel. 914.236.3651

website  >>http://www.105ten.com/

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EVITA: the smash Broadway musical in a very limited engagement at the Westport Country Playhouse

 

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The Tony award winning smash hit, Evita is coming to the Westport Country Playhouse stage for a limited engagement.  The musical will run February 7 to February 10,  2018.  The musical was written by the award winning team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber and premiered on Broadway in 1979 after an opening in London the previous year.  The musical had over 1500 performances on Broadway and would win numerous Tony awards for best musical, Best Actress (Patti LuPone), Best Actor (Mandy Patinkin), Best director (Harold Prince) and best musical score and book (Webber and Rice).

The story is based on Eva Peron, the wife of Juan Peron, the  President of Argentina. It follows her beginnings, rise to fame, her charity and the love and respect she earned from her people.

The cast will be headed by Samantha Pauly as Eva Peron, Kyle Barisich (The Phantom of the Opera) as Juan Peron, Yurel Echezarreta (Aladdin, Matilda) as Che, and Julian Alvarez (West Side Story) as Magaldi, with dancers Ryan Cyr (international tour of West Side Story), Adam Mandala, and Jordan Eagle.  Direction by Connor Deane.  Joining these actors will be 40 actors from the resident conservatory of the Westport Country Playhouse, the Broadway Method Academy.

Tickets are $45   Do not delay and miss this special show.

http://www.westportplayhouse.org/evita

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court  Westport Ct

tel.203.227.4177

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