Friday, March 31, 2023

Apple TV’s series ‘Shrinking’ an unexpected surprise

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-MA
10 episodes, renewed for Season Two

Co-created by “Ted Lasso’s” Brett Goldstein, ‘Shrinking’ tells the story of Jimmy who is struggling after his wife has died. He works as a cognitive behavioral therapist and is close to snapping. To say he is unprofessional at times is an understatement. He’s stuck and it’s affecting all aspects of his life.

It's having a negative effect on his relationship with his daughter Alice.

“Shrinking” stars Jason Segel, Harrison Ford, Jessica Williams, Luke Tennie, Michael Urie, Lukita Maxwell, Christa Miller, Lilan Bowden, and Ted McGinley.

Jimmy (Segel) works in a small office with two other therapists, Gaby (Williams) and Paul (Ford).

Jimmy’s pushy neighbor, Liz (Miller) asks him if this inattentive version of him is permanent. She tells him how amazing Alice is and before long she’ll be off to college and the relationship between the two of them will be even more strained. He needs to get back in the game.

Alice (Maxwell) reminds Jimmy the death of his wife happened to both of them and she’s had to deal with it all by herself. She hasn’t forgiven him for this.

Paul is a mentor to Alice and tells her nobody gets through life unscathed. He asks her if she’s going to let her grief drown her or face it and come through the other side.

Paul tells Jimmy Alice will run if Jimmy isn’t careful. Paul is speaking from experience.

Paul is estranged from his daughter who he contacts later in the series when he must tell her some serious news.

When Jimmy treats Sean (Tennie), a young soldier who’s worked overseas and has anger issues, Sean is resistant, but Jimmy gets him to open up.

After Jimmy has to bail Sean out of jail, Jimmy must call his best friend, Brian (Urie), who he’s been avoiding, for some legal counsel. Sean later moves in with Jimmy after Sean’s parents kick him out. Alice is less than cool with this, though they bond over time.

Williams is a great addition to this ensemble cast and is a nice contrast to her two grumpy and sad(ish) co-workers.

Ford steals the show as a resistant confidant who is annoyed by people, but offers help anyway, with a bit of sarcasm included. As Jimmy reaches out to Alice more and more, she continues to keep her distance. When he first brings this problem to Paul, and complains it’s not working, Paul tells him it’s understandable – he’s been trying for almost 10 minutes.

The theme of this show is a heavy one, but it’s very well done and combines humor and grief in a way that kept me looking forward to the next episode.

It’s a fun show with a great soundtrack. A positive show with great messages. It’s powerful and heartfelt and at times hard to watch with a few surprises thrown in. It does have some language and sexual content. Jimmy’s unconventional methods, though unethical are sometimes beneficial.

Two water bottles up!

Available on Apple TV+ <

Friday, March 17, 2023

Amazon’s ‘Shotgun Wedding’ a fun movie with explosions

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes

A destination wedding can stressful; relatives don’t always get along or certain ones are driving you crazy. Throw in pirates who take everyone hostage, threaten their lives and now things are more than a little stressful.

On the day of Darcy and Tom’s wedding, tensions and nerves are running high. When pirates invade before the start of the ceremony, the two must figure out how to save their guests and themselves, while dealing with some pre-wedding jitters. This action-packed rom-com was good, clean – make that messy – fun.

“Shotgun Wedding” stars Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Lenny Kravitz, Jennifer Coolidge, Cheech Marin, D’Arcy Carden, Callie Hernandez, Selena Tan, Alberto Isaac, Sonia Braga and Desmin Borges.

It’s the night before Darcy (Lopez) and Tom (Duhamel) are supposed to get married. Tom is trying to make everything perfect. They are in the Philippines and the rehearsal dinner is already a lot. Darcy’s mom, Renata, (Braga) is telling her she doesn’t want her ex-husband’s girlfriend, Harriet (Carden) to smile at her. Tom is having trouble connecting with Darcy’s dad, Robert (Marin). On top of all this Darcy’s ex-fiancĂ©, Sean (Kravitz) arrives unexpectedly.

Back in their room, Darcy tells Tom she would have been happy eloping. Carol (Coolidge) insists Tom spend the night apart from Darcy because it’s bad luck otherwise.

The ceremony hasn’t started and there is unknown trouble about to inhabit the island.

Tom is worried Darcy might call off the wedding because that’s what happened to her and Sean. Tom and Darcy get into an argument, but quickly set that aside when pirates attack and take the guests hostage.

Darcy and Tom escape but are being pursued by a few pirates. Once Darcy and Tom are caught, the pirates cuff the couple’s hands together.

Quick thinking on Darcy’s part and they are able to escape two of the pirates, but this puts them in a very close call.

The guests are making pleas with the pirates. Darcy and Tom catch up to the rest of the guests. They are able to separate themselves from each other and fend off an attacker.

A sincere moment shows maybe Darcy and Tom aren’t as sure about their relationship.

Tom surrenders to the pirates in order to keep Darcy and the resort owners (Tan and Isaac) safe. Tom takes a hostage and some truths come out. Those who are thought to have perfect marriages reveal they are not so perfect.

The pirates are mad, and things get worse.

After some intense action, Darcy tells Carol she really likes one of the gifts Carol gave her and Tom.

This was a great action movie that was funny, kind of bloody, but also kind of sweet. It does have mild language and violence. It took a few turns I did not see coming, which was part of the fun. Despite this very solid cast, I agree with Darcy that pirates or no pirates eloping may have been the way to go here.

Two cake knives up!

Available to stream on Amazon Prime. <

Friday, March 10, 2023

Windham Center Stage Theater introduces ‘Cinderella Jr.’

By Masha Yurkevich

Each year in March, the Windham Center Stage Theater (WCST) presents one children’s show, and this year the production is Cinderella Jr.

The Windham Center Stage Theater welcomes everyone
to come and enjoy 'Cinderella Jr.,' the timeless classic that
reminds us that dreams really can come true and that
hard work and kindness is rewarded. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
Cinderella Jr. is a timeless classic that reminds us dreams really can come true. Cinderella can be seen as a heroine rather than a victim; regardless of how horribly she was treated by her stepfamily, she worked hard and remained kind. In the end, these virtues are rewarded through love and the acceptance of the Prince.

Rachel Scala is the director and music director of this production and has been a part of WCST for almost a decade. She grew up in Windham but only became part of the theater community after she returned from college in 2015. Prior to that, she was active in the musical world and sang in choirs, played in bands, as well as in a few pit orchestras.

In 2016, she was cast in her first musical at WCST, “Little Shop of Horrors.” That led her to be more involved with the WCST Board of Directors and thus, got her into the music direction. This is her first time directing a mainstage production. While it hasn't been easy, it has been a lot of fun for Scala.

“My favorite thing is to see the students discover new moments on stage; when they finally get a joke or try saying a line differently or move their body in a different way… that’s the magic,” says Scala.

As the director of this production, it is her job to help the actors discover their characters so that they can make choices on stage.

The show has always been double cast — meaning that two separate casts of students perform the same show. This is done in order to accept as many students as possible into the program.

“WCST has an ‘everyone who auditions gets a part, and every part is important’ policy,” says Scala.

This year, there is the Pumpkin Cast, primarily made up of students from grades 2 to 5, and the Glass Slipper Cast, which is primarily made up of middle school-aged students. The Pumpkin Cast has 22 students, and the Glass Slipper Cast has 21.

Planning of this show started in August 2022 and auditions for the production were held in November 2022.

“It has been so fun being a part of this production,” says Scala. “I never planned on directing being a part of my journey, but I’m happy that my life has brought me down this path. Working with the children has been amazing, but what gets me every time is how dedicated our families are to the production, from the folks who sat through every rehearsal to the parents who set up our stage and collect our props.”

The Board of Directors are managing and supporting to costume this production, which speaks to WCST’s mission of a community of thespians working together to create a diverse and rich cultural experience, and Scala says that she is beyond proud to be a part of that.

This show comes at a very fragile time in WCST’s history. After enduring a national pandemic, community theaters around the world struggled to reopen the curtain.

“After shifts in leadership and a rocky start to our season, I’m so proud of WCST for coming together and getting this show done,” says Scala. “It is a staple in our season and a part of so many family traditions in Windham and surrounding communities.”

The Windham Center Stage Theater welcomes all to come and enjoy the Cinderella Jr. show through March 19 with Friday and Saturday evening shows at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday shows starting at 2 p.m. All shows take place at the Windham Town Hall located at 8 School Road. Doors open a half hour before the show starts.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and free for children under the age of three who will be sitting on a lap. Tickets can also be purchased online at <

Friday, March 3, 2023

The Celtic Tenors to perform in Windham on St. Patrick’s Weekend

World-class entertainers, The Celtic Tenors, are globally beloved by audiences for their world-class musical artistry and good-humored performances. They are three unique solo voices, but when called upon blend into one tenor sound and are coming soon to Windham.

The Celtic Tenors will appear in concert at the Windham
Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 18
with special guests The Windham Chamber Singers.
The Celtic Tenors will be performing at the Windham Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 18 with special guests, The Windham Chamber Singers.

The trio has captivated audiences throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States since their arrival on the music scene in 2000. What began as three very talented friends gathering on the operatic stage has since exploded into an international recording and touring phenomenon that transcends the trio’s classical roots and embraces folk, pop, and various other dimensions of the musical spectrum.

The Celtic Tenors are the most successful classical crossover act to emerge from Ireland and with a polished international reputation and more than a million CDs sold worldwide, The Celtic Tenors offer something truly unique, which are the skill, range and ability of world class tenors, combined with the personality and fun of genuine performers.

Matthew Gilsenan, James Nelson and Daryl Simpson are The Celtic Tenors and they perform renditions of beautiful Celtic songs ranging from exhilarating classics to a capellas to popular contemporary music.

The conductor of The Windham Chamber Singers, Dr. Richard Nickerson says he’s excited about this unique musical opportunity for the community.

“This will certainly be a night to remember,” Nickerson said. “We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to share the stage with The Celtic Tenors and excited to continue our tradition of bringing the highest quality performers to Windham.”

Tickets are $10 to $25 reserved seating and on sale now. They can be purchased online at

The Windham Performing Arts Center is at 406 Gray Road, Windham.

For more information, send an email to Dr. Richard Nickerson at <

Movie Review: ‘The Whale’ powerful, but ultimately sad, depressing

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Charlie is an obese man who lives alone and works as a professor remotely. He left his family when his daughter was 8 to be with the man he loved. After this man dies, Charlie’s life and health get progressively worse. He has congestive heart failure but refuses to go to the hospital for treatment. When his daughter comes back into his life, she is very upset with him, but he wants nothing more than to be a part of her life.

“The Whale” stars Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Ty Simpkins, Hong Chau, and Samantha Morton. I wanted to like this movie more than I did, but still thought it was pretty good.

Charlie (Fraser) is having trouble breathing just as a missionary, Thomas (Simpkins) knocks at the door. Charlie is not interested but tells the man to read an essay as Charlie believes these could be his last moments on Earth.

Just then, his friend who is a nurse, Liz (Chau) stops by. She is frustrated at seeing a missionary there and tells him to leave. She then takes Charlie’s blood pressure, and it is very high. She explains to him he has congestive heart failure and should go to the hospital, but Charlie refuses.

Later, his daughter Ellie (Sink) comes over. They have not seen each other in eight years. Charlie is happy to see her and really wants to get to know her. She is upset with him for leaving the family because he was in love with a student, Alan, who has passed away.

Ellie exploits Charlie’s want to spend time with her by telling him to rewrite some essays for classes she is failing. This comes after he promises to pay her a large sum of money to continue to let her see him. Life has not been easy for Ellie, and she’s pretty mean to Charlie right from the start.

Despite all this, Charlie worries Ellie has forgotten what an amazing person she is. Liz tells him bringing Ellie over is a bad idea.

Charlie doesn’t do anything to take care of himself. He eats junk food in copious amounts which only leads to him feeling worse. There is an instance where he chokes, but thankfully Liz is there to save him.

Thomas returns again in another effort to get Charlie to become a part of the church. Liz reinforces that she wants Thomas to stay away, but Thomas claims Charlie needs spiritual guidance. Liz tells him Charlie will likely die soon and she’s the only one who can help him.

Thomas returns again, but this time it is discovered he’s not who he originally introduced himself as. He still won’t give up on Charlie.

Ellie continues to act terrible toward Charlie. She screams at him and tells him she doesn’t care about him. Is this true?

This is an engaging, but depressing movie. It is emotional and powerful. Fraser and Sink both give amazing performances. I did not know what to expect going in, I had just heard that this movie was incredible. It starts in kind of a low place and by the end, hasn’t risen much higher.

It does have a fair amount of language and there is some sexually suggestive dialogue and brief imagery. I was interested in Charlie’s life, but as it progressed, I was disappointed in the direction the plot was taking. I’d recommend this movie only for the impressive acting by Fraser and Sink.

Now playing in select theaters and available to buy. <