"Nuts" - By Tom Toper - Theatre Of Northeastern Connecticut, Inc. at the Bradley Playhouse (Putnam, CT) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Tara Golson as "Claudia" in a scene from the Tom Toper drama, "NUTS" now playing at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. through June 11, 2023. Photo Credit Jeffrey Buchbinder)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“ I was a little girl , I used to say to her, I love you to the moon and down again and around the world and back again.”

                                                                                          - ("Claudia") Tom Toper     

Theatre Of Northeastern Connecticut, Inc. 

at the Bradley Playhouse 

Presents Tom Toper's


Written by Tom Toper

Directed by William Corriveau

Cast Includes: Tara Golson as "Claudia Draper"; D. Robert Corriveau as "Aaron Levinsky; Jonathan Demers as "Franklin MacMillan"; Jim Douglas as "Dr. Herbert Rosenthal"; Preston Arnold as "Arthur Kirk"; Tonya Leigh Brock as "Rose Kirk"; Roy Simmons as "Judge Murdoch"; Adam Leidemer as "Harry Haggerty"; Brittany-Paige Kimlingen as "The Recorder."

Additional Creative Team:   Natasha Darius - Stage Manager; Sarah Oschman – Artistic Committee Liaison; Jeanne Foley – Production Manager; Kathleen Atwood – Production Coordinator; William Corriveau – Set Design; Bonnie Theriault and Melinda Collelo – Props; William Corriveau and Carl Mercier – Lighting Design; Roger Hammond – Light Board; Wendy Harris – Sound Board; Jeff Buchbinder – Photography; Eddie Krauss – Logo Design; Kristi-Lyn Sadosky – Business Manager.


June 2 through June 11, 2023

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times) 

Bradley Playhouse, 30 Front Street (Route 44) in Putnam, CT.  


All seats reserved. Reservations may be made with a major credit card online at www.thebradleyplayhouse.org or by calling 860-928-7887.   


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

The Theatre Of Northeastern Connecticut (TNECT) at the Bradley Playhouse presents a compelling courtroom drama, “NUTS, which still proves powerful, albeit occasionally upsetting, after more than 40 years. 

As a caution, it should be noted, at the outset, that anyone in attendance struggling with emotional issues might find some of the troubling subject matter in the play emotionally “triggering” as a multitude of difficult subjects get explored.   

However, there is so much richness to the script, from its complex, well-defined characters to its finely-honed dialogue. 

Therefore, while uncomfortable at times, the overall piece is absolutely brilliant with TNECT performances well worth seeing and applauding.   

“NUTS, written by Tom Toper, is set in a 1979 courtroom and the drama explores multiple relationships. It is also a powerful psychological essay that confronts issues of sexual abuse. 

“NUTS” opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre in April, 1980, where it ran for 96 performances. 

Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour play, and under the skillful guidance and direction of William Corriveau, “NUTS” illustrates varied control issues within the family dynamic. 

It also shows how, in the late 70s, both the healthcare and criminal court systems equally lacked in the proper understanding of how to aid those with mental struggles accused of crimes...and still is still true to this day. 

The makeshift “courtroom” where the play takes place is located in a psychiatric wing of Bellevue Hospital in New York City

Toper was a journalist who covered New York City police stations, courtrooms, hospitals, and psychiatric wards which helped him develop the play. 

Toper’s  play would later be adapted into a film in 1987 which starred Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss

(Photo: Preston Arnold as "Arthur Kirk," Adam Leidemer as "Harry Haggerty" and D. Robert Corriveau as "Aaron Levinsky" in a scene from the Tom Toper drama, "NUTS" now playing at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. through June 11, 2023. Photo Credit Natasha Darius)

Belligerent, disturbed massage-escort Claudia (Tara Golson) is indicted for manslaughter in the first degree after killing a client in self-defense. 

Claudia’s mother, Rose (Tonya Leigh Brock) and stepfather, Arthur (Preston Arnold), have conspired for the hearing to have Claudia legally declared mentally incompetent. 

Brock and Arnold have effective chemistry as Claudia's parents and while their intent may sound nefarious, it is actually designed to prevent a trial. 

However, it also would mean that, if successful, Claudia would ultimately be institutionalized, quite possibly, for the rest of her life. 

Claudia rejects this effort, thus seeking and granted a competency hearing to determine if she is, in fact, “NUTS. 

As Claudia’s attorney, Aaron Levinsky (D. Robert Corriveau), works her case with conviction, but he is met with fierce opposition at the hearing by legal counsel Franklin MacMillan (Jonathan Demers) and psychiatrist Dr. Herbert Rosenthal (James Douglas). 

Corriveau and Demers contrast nicely as opposing lawyers and Douglas gives a terrific performance as Rosenthal, especially when cross-examined by Levinsky and confronted by the combative Claudia. 

(Photo: Jim Douglas as "Dr. Rosenthal," Adam Leidemer as "Harry Haggerty," and D. Robert Corriveau as "Aaron Levinsky" in a scene from the Tom Toper drama, "NUTS" now playing at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. through June 11, 2023. Photo Credit Natasha Darius)

Tara Golson as Claudia is thoroughly compelling from the moment she appears on stage. 

Claudia is angry and distrustful of everybody, except court officer Harry (Adam Leidemer). 

There are some emotionally charged “Claudia monologues” in the play which will have some in the audience absolutely sobbing by their conclusion. 

Claudia is defiant and antagonistic throughout the entire proceeding, resisting her attorney’s help, lashing out at MacMillan and Dr. Rosenthal, all which leads to the revealing of dark, family secrets and Claudia's later personal life choices. 

(Photo: Tara Golson as "Claudia" in a scene from the Tom Toper drama, "NUTS" now playing at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. through June 11, 2023. Photo Credit Jeffrey Buchbinder)

Toper derived Claudia’s “mental illness” plot from a true-life incident on which he had reported. 

The revelatory “family secret” was actually conveyed to Toper by his wife which provided inspiration for Claudia's motivation to become a prostitute.

There is no real "set" of which to speak - several chairs, three tables and a couple of flags to indicate where we are. There is a "black box" feel to the production and this simplicity allows the focus to be squarely on the story.  

All the performances are elevated and consistently propel the story forward with both conviction and honesty. 

"NUTS" continues at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam until June 11th.

Approximately two hours, 30 minutes with one intermission.

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




"NUTS" is a 1979 play by Tom Topor

The play is a courtroom drama, suspense, and psychological drama which explores sexual abuse issues, family and social power dynamics, and aspects of the criminal court system. 

"NUTS" was also adapted into a 1987 motion picture of the same name starring Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss.


The Bradley Playhouse is a 117 year-old vaudeville theatre in the heart of the Putnam antiques and restaurant district in the “Quiet Corner” of Northeastern Connecticut.  Since 1991, the Bradley Playhouse has been managed by the volunteers of The Theatre of Northeastern Connecticut, Inc. (TNECT).  


TNECT produces eight main season shows per year and a number of special fundraising events for The Bradley Playhouse Restoration Fund. TNECT’s mission is to produce and sponsor quality theatre and entertainment for the residents of Northeastern Connecticut and the surrounding areas, to encourage the development of creativity through the support of local artists, and to support education and hands-on experience in the creation, direction, and production of theatre and the performing arts.

The Bradley Playhouse

30 Front Street

P.O. Box 71

Putnam, CT 06260-1942