Actress Connie Stevens wants to make people laugh — because they need it

Connie Stevens — who is in town to star in the New Theatre Restaurant production of “Miracle on South Division Street” — was the classic studio starlet. She made dumb TV shows (“Hawaiian Eye”) and movies we now regard as camp (“Parrish,” “Susan Slade”). She made pop records. As time went by, she played Vegas. But as is often the case with celebrities we think we know, a serious human being is at work behind the superficial imagery.

Robert Trussell

MET’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ blends laughter, tears and friendship

The reason Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” seems destined to be produced in perpetuity is its remarkable ability to generate belly laughs and involuntary tears in the course of two hours. The play isn’t exactly a farce. Neither is it a melodrama. And it’s not really a comedy of manners. But it has elements of all of the above.

Must there always be a standing O?

“Everyone knows that a standing ovation can be an utterly hollow exercise,” writes The Star’s theater critic, Robert Trussell. “Think of politicians leaping to their feet during any president’s State of the Union speech. But when it comes to the arts, I’ve observed at times a curiously indecisive quality about audience approval — almost as if we’re driven by the fear that someone will think us unsophisticated.”

Musical Theater Heritage revives Leonard Bernstein revue, Living Room takes on David Mamet

The first revue Musical Theater Heritage staged at the Off Broadway Center was “Bernstein’s Broadway,” a survey of some of the remarkable music Leonard Bernstein composed for “West Side Story,” “On the Town,” “Candide” and “Wonderful Town.” Six years later, MTH founder George Harter and artistic director Sarah Crawford have brought it back so more people can see it.

KC Rep captures some good performances in ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’

Christopher Durang’s comedy, a Broadway hit, has attracted enthusiastic support among artistic directors at regional theaters across the country. This is the second time critic Robert Trussell seen this erratic romp, which received near-universal praise from New York critics. “All I can say is that I must have been out of the room when they passed around the Kool-Aid,” he writes.