Saturday, December 20, 2014

Children’s Classic Fable, “The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” Coming To The Chatham Playhouse - January 9 - 11, 2015

goose

(L-R) Jennifer Sisco, Mary MacDonald, Maycee Campano,Sean Day, Andrea Sickler,Rob Bazaral, Photo by Howard Fisher

Chatham Community Players' Fantasy Theater presents a play based on Aesop’s “The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” by Stacey Lane on January 9 at 7pm and January 10 & 11 at 1 pm and 4 pm at the Chatham Playhouse 23 North Passaic Ave., Chatham. All tickets are $10. Eric Holgerson from Budd Lake directs this fun-filled play appropriate for children of all ages!

Based on one of Aesop’s best known fables, this clever story is told from the perspective of a poor farmer’s wife named Gretchen.  When a wayward traveler reluctantly leaves his pet goose in her care, Gretchen discovers that the goose lays golden eggs.  The woman goes on frivolous spending sprees, but her greed for fine clothing and jewelry only grows.  Hoping to get even more golden eggs, she showers the goose with special treats and neglects her hard-working chickens as well as her husband, who remains shoeless.  But her new trinkets of wealth bring Gretchen only short-term satisfaction, and no matter how much she purchases from the merchants at the marketplace, she finds herself always wanting more.  This fable’s message is that “happiness cannot be purchased.”

The cast includes Colleen Grundfest of Warren as Gretchen, Julia Musilli of Montville as Scrambled, Sadie Whitman of Whippany as Omelet, Talia Miller as Poached, Andrea Sickler as Millie and Sarah Kmiecik as Orella are from Chatham, Bill Wagstaff Benedict and Rob Bazaral as Wendell are from Madison, Claire Harpel of Short Hills as Sunny Side Up, Howard Fischer as George and Maycee Campano as Golda are from Berkeley Heights, Jennifer Mitchell of Pequannock as Jewell, Jennifer Sisco of Vernon as Percy/Umbert, Sean Day from Union City as Colby and Mary MacDonald of Springfield as Taylor

Box Office Information – Online Ticketing

Tickets can be purchased at our Box Office or Online. To access the theater’s online ticketing service, simply go to ccp.ticketleap.com. The service is available 24 hours a day, and tickets can be purchased online up until three hours prior to curtain on the day of a performance. Chatham Playhouse’s box office will begin accepting phone reservations in January 2015 at (973) 635-7363. For information regarding box office hours, please call the box office number listed above. Patrons with special needs requiring seating accommodations should contact the Playhouse at least 24 hours prior to the performance. Without prior notice, accommodations cannot be guaranteed.

Funding has been made possible in part by the Arts Council of the Morris Area through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

 

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Please help us continue to entertain you, our theater family, and provide programs for the next generation of patrons and practitioners. Donations accepted by mail or on our web site.
Happy Holidays!

http://www.TheTheaterProject.org
PO Box 101, Union, NJ  07083

 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Paper Mill Playhouse has made more seats available for its holiday hit ‘Elf’

ELF Photo 2

Paper Mill Playhouse has released a block of great seats today for its holiday musical, Elf, for the week following Christmas. Expanded availability includes performances from December 27, 2014 through January 4, 2015.  

Based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, Elf has a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin.  Elf is directed by Eric Ankrim and choreographed by Josh Rhodes. Elf runs eight times a week at the Millburn, New Jersey, theater through January 4, 2015. Elf has been playing to many sold-out houses since November 26. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org.

Elf at Paper Mill Playhouse has been acclaimed by critics and audiences alike.  You can watch an audience reaction video at this link: http://lnk.nu/youtube.com/1d16d. The New York Times says that Elf at Paper Mill Playhouse is a “cheerful, energetic, high-kicking rouser” and “a merry treat for the holiday season.” The Record adds, “This sprightly Paper Mill production is an entertaining holiday treat for kids and more than pleasant for parents.”

Based on the holiday film starring Will Ferrell, Elf is the fantastical holiday musical for the entire family! This is the hilarious and joyous tale of Buddy, an orphan who is mistakenly transported to the North Pole and raised by Santa's elves. Now, as a grownup, he embarks on a journey to discover his true identity.  It's a holiday treat for the entire family.

Elf will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:00pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm, Friday at 7:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Check Paper Mill Playhouse’s website for special holiday week schedules. Tickets are on sale now and range from $28 to $99. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680.  College students can order $20 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.

“There is no better way to celebrate the holidays than a trip to Paper Mill Playhouse to experience this heartwarming and hilarious musical about everyone's favorite elf, Buddy,” commented Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director for the Millburn theater. “Bring your entire family together to see the New Jersey premiere of this holiday treat.”

Elf features a cast of Broadway veterans and Paper Mill Playhouse favorites. James Moye (Buddy), a North Bergen resident, appeared in the Broadway companies of Bullets Over Broadway, Million Dollar Quartet, Ragtime, A Tale of Two Cities, The Full Monty and Urinetown. Moye’s television credits include The Onion News Network, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, The Today Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and more. Kate Fahrner (Jovie), a resident of Maplewood, was seen in the Broadway and touring productions of Wicked. Fahrer was also seen in off-Broadway productions of Under My Skin and Sarah, Plain and Tall.   Paul C. Vogt (Santa) returns to Paper Mill Playhouse, where he last appeared as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Vogt is known for his roles on MADtv and NBC’s The Rerun Show. On Broadway, Vogt was seen in Chicago and Hairspray.

Heidi Blickenstaff (Emily Hobbs) was last seen on Broadway as Alice Beineke in The Addams Family. Blickenstaff’s other Broadway credits include [title of show], The Little Mermaid and The Full Monty. Robert Cuccioli (Walter Hobbs) returns to Paper Mill for his thirteenth production. On Broadway, Cuccioli was seen in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Les Misérables and Jekyll & Hyde. Jake Faragalli (Michael), a south Jersey resident, appeared off-Broadway in Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was seen in regional productions of Oliver!, Mulan, Willy Wonka, To Kill a Mockingbird and Father of the Bride.

Cleve Asbury (Mr. Greenway), a Bloomfield resident, was featured as Mr. Ovington in the recent Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Asbury was also seen on Broadway in Chita Rivera: The Dancers Life, Annie Get Your Gun, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Me and My Girl and others. Jessica Sheridan (Deb) returns to Paper Mill, where she appeared inOliver! and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Sheridan’s Broadway credits include Sister Act, Follies, Mary Poppins and Les Misérables. DeMone (Macy’s Manager) performed in productions of Ragtime,Miss Saigon, Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Great MacDaddy, Black Nativity Now and Balls: The Musical.

Rounding out the ensemble are: Sydney Brenton (Short Hills, NJ), Stephanie Cain, Alicia Charles, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Di Liberto, Madge Dietrich, Michael Fatica, Michael Coale Grey (Union, NJ), Anna McCarthy (Madison, NJ), Gillian Munsayac, Patrick O’Neill, Heather Parcells, Jody Reynard, Chris Richards, Justin Schuman, Sam Seferian and Laura Smith.

Eric Ankrim (Director) is a Seattle-based director and actor who previously directed Elf at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, WA. Ankrim also directed the Seattle premieres of In the Heights,Spring Awakening, Avenue Q and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which he adapted for the stage. As an actor, Ankrim understudied Zachary Levi in Broadway's First Date, in a role he originated in Seattle.

Josh Rhodes (Choreographer) received a 2013 Drama Desk Award nomination for best choreography for Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. Also on Broadway, Rhodes provided the musical staging for First Date and served as the Associate Choreographer on The Drowsy Chaperone, and he choreographed Company with the New York Philharmonic starring Neil Patrick Harris and Patti LuPone for PBS.

Dominick Amendum (Music Director) has, for the past eight years, served as Associate Music Supervisor for the international megahit Wicked, having also conducted Wicked’s Broadway, Los Angeles and first national touring companies. In New York City, Amendum also worked on First Date, Heathers and The Blue Flower. Amendum worked on recordings with artists such as Dolly Parton, Marvin Hamlisch, and Stephen Schwartz.

Thomas Meehan (Book) received the Tony Award for writing the book of Annie, his first Broadway show, as well as for cowriting the books for The Producers and Hairspray. He also wrote the books for the musicals Rocky, Chaplin, Young Frankenstein, I Remember Mama, Annie Warbucks and more. He is a longtime contributor of humor to The New Yorker, an Emmy Award–winning writer of television comedy, and a collaborator on screenplays including Spaceballs and To Be or Not to Be.

Bob Martin (Book) has worked as an actor and writer in Canadian theater, film and television for three decades. He co-created and starred in The Drowsy Chaperone, which won him the 2006 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for best book, the Theatre World Award, and a Tony nomination for best actor. He is the co-creator of the TV show Slings & Arrows and also has written, produced, and appeared in Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays, Puppets Who Kill, Sensitive Skin and others.

Matthew Sklar (Music) wrote the music for The Wedding Singer, which garnered nominations for the Tony Award for best score and the Drama Desk Award for outstanding music. Sklar’s other original musicals include The Rhythm Club, Judas & Me and Wicked City. Sklar served as pianist, conductor and/or arranger for more than a dozen Broadway productions, including Shrek, Nine,42nd Street, Titanic, Miss Saigon, Les Misérables and Caroline, or Change.

Chad Beguelin (Lyrics) most recently penned the book and additional lyrics for Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, earning Tony Award nominations for best book and best score. He was nominated in the same categories in 2006 for his work on The Wedding Singer. His play Harbor premiered Off Broadway last season at Primary Stages. He also wrote the book and lyrics for Judas & Me, The Rhythm Club and Wicked City.

The Elf design team includes:

Matthew Smucker (Scenic Design) is a Seattle-based scenic designer whose work appeared at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Village Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars, Arizona Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, San Jose Rep, Kansas City Rep, Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis and more.

Kelly James Tighe (Scenic Coordination) worked on off-Broadway and touring productions of The Great Divorce, The Fantasticks, Almost Heaven, Movin’ Out, Shear Madness and Cats.

David C. Woolard (Costume Design) designed costumes for the Broadway productions of West Side Story, All Shook Up, 700 Sundays, The Rocky Horror Show (Tony Award nomination), The Who’s Tommy (Tony and Olivier Award nominations), Bells Are Ringing and more. Woolard’s off-Broadway, regional, and opera credits include Piece of My Heart, Bare, The Toxic Avenger, Playwrights Horizons, Hartford Stage, Lincoln Center Theater, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Kennedy Center, Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, Goodman, Arena, Guthrie, and Seattle Rep among others.

Irma Brainard (Costume Coordination) worked as an assistant costume designer on the Broadway productions of The Best Man, Follies, The Book of Mormon and Elf. At Paper Mill Playhouse, Brainard worked on South Pacific and Oliver!.

Charlie Morrison (Lighting Design) returns to Paper Mill Playhouse after lighting Grease, The Little Mermaid, Curtains, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, The Full Monty, Meet Me in St. Louis and Hello, Dolly!Morrison worked on national and international tours of Hello, Dolly!, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Miss Saigon, Aida, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Who’s Tommy. Morrison received two Helen Hayes Awards for outstanding lighting design and has been nominated seven times.

Randy Hansen (Sound Design) is Paper Mill Playhouse’s resident sound designer. He is audio consultant and sound designer for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphony, and he completed the sound installation at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Numerous television broadcasts include Broadway on Broadway, Victoria’s Secret Christmas specials and the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Leah Loukas (Hair & Wig Design) worked on the Broadway productions of On the Town, A Night with Janis Joplin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, American Idiot and Irena’s Vow. At Paper Mill Playhouse Loukas designed Grease, The Sound of Music, The Little Mermaid, Oliver! and South Pacific.

Telsey + Company (Casting) is an award-winning organization of casting professionals in New York City with local, regional, national and international clientele including Broadway and touring companies of If/Then, The King and I, Motown, Kinky Boots, Finding Neverland, Honeymoon in Vegas, Rock of Ages and Wicked. The lead casting director on this project is Cesar A. Rocha, CSA.

Gary Mickelson (Production Stage Manager) recently stage managed Can-Can at Paper Mill Playhouse. On Broadway, Mr. Mickelson stage managed First Date, Memphis, Gypsy, Company, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, The Lion in Winter and Victor/Victoria.

Paper Mill Playhouse will once again, be a collection point for this year’s Jersey Cares Coat Drive.  Over the past 19 years, Jersey Cares has collected, sorted and distributed more than 500,000 winter coats to New Jersey residents. The donated winter coats benefit at-risk men, women, children, and infants in our area. Each year, Paper Mill Playhouse gladly participates in this worthy cause and will be collecting gently-used, winter coats from November 26 through the run of Elf. This year, Paper Mill Playhouse will also be a collection center for new, unwrapped toys to help underserved communities throughout the state.  Collection of coats and toys will take place in the lobby at Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ.

Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances for Elf on Saturday, December 20, and Sunday, December 21, at 1:30 pm. Prior to these performances atnoon, the theater will offer free sensory seminars. Sensory seminars offer an opportunity for patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the production elements of the show and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes.  There will be a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance on Sunday, December 21, at 7 pm.

Paper Mill Playhouse will offer a special autism-friendly performance of Elf on Tuesday, December 23, at 1:30pm.  This performance is designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disabilities, and is planned in cooperation with Paper Mill Playhouse’s Autism Advisory Team. This is the second time Paper Mill Playhouse has expanded its autism-friendly performances to a mainstage production after a successful performance of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in 2013. The theater environment will be altered for this performance, providing a sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming to all families. The performance itself will be adjusted with special attention paid to lighting and sound.

Additionally, Paper Mill Playhouse will host a free open house titled Meet Your Seat on Monday, December 22, 2014, from 4:00 to 6:00pm.  This is an opportunity for children who are new to the theatrical experience to visit the theater space before the show. Often children with autism or other developmental disabilities become anxious in new surroundings, new experiences, and they need time to transition. The Meet Your Seat open house provides an opportunity for children to come to the theater in advance of the performance and take time to feel comfortable in this new space.  Major support for autism-friendly programs is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional generous support by C.R. Bard Foundation, The Karma Foundation, The Merck Company Foundation, and, MetLife Foundation.

Paper Mill Playhouse embraces a long history of providing access services to patrons of the theater.  In addition to autism-friendly performances, Paper Mill Playhouse offers a wide variety of access programs and services including: sign-interpreted performances, open-captioned performances, audio-described performances, pre-show sensory seminars and barrier-free access theater-wide.  Paper Mill Playhouse’s accessibility programs have been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, VSA arts/MetLife, and the New Jersey Department of Recreation as a role model for other performing arts organizations throughout the country.

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country's leading regional theaters.  Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

WINTER ACTING SESSION with DIRECTOR FRANK LICATO

 

Frank Licato"Frank works within that rare environment where creativity is a balance of seriousness and playful freedom, rooted in a trustworthy sense of truth and expanded and challenged by boundless imagination." - Michael Ornstein, Chuck Marstein on Sons of Anarchy

"Frank Licato is a wonderful director, actor and teacher in that his stage and TV career has been a stellar combination of acting and directing.  He gives his colleagues first hand knowledge because he has been there and done that.  His work is gritty, truthful and on the money." - Richard Vetere, Pulitzer nominated playwright/screenwriter

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SCHEDULE

SCENE STUDY/MONOLOGUES 

WEDNESDAYS 

11:00 AM TO 1:00 PM
@Shetler Studios
244 W 54th St #12


I will be conducting an 8 week winter session which will include monologues and scene study.

The classes will start on January 7 and end on February 25. They will be from 11am to 1pm on consecutive Wednesdays or 10am to 1pm depending on the number of students, which will not exceed 10, so everyone has a chance to work each week.

The fee for the 8 weeks is $400 or $375 for returning students. This comes to about $50 or less a class.

The class will be at Shetler Studios, 244 West 54th Street, 12th floor between Broadway & 8th Avenue.

If enough people are interested in taking a class but can only study at night I will initiate an evening class as well. Please email me if this is the case.
There will be a $50 non-refundable fee to reserve your spot which can be paid thru Pay Pal using my email address: frank@franklicato.com.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or go to my website for more information: www.franklicato.com.

I am also available for private sessions, Skype sessions and audition coaching.
Feel free to pass this on and have a great Holiday.

"Frank Licato is about the WHOLE truth. When working with Frank, I seem to waste no time finding the courage to explore my craft with abandon. To have presence enough to trust my own organic impulses rather than trying to play an idea in my head." - James Georgiades - Actor - Gotham/The Americans

If you have any further questions call or email :

frank@franklicato.com or call 646-522-5689

Frank is Artistic Director of Hudson Theatre Works

Playwriting Class at Centenary Stage Company with John Pietrowski

 

John PietrowskiThe Centenary Stage Company will offer a special  Playwriting Class this winter, which will be open to the public.  The class will be taught by Playwrights Theatre of NJ Executive Director, John Pietrowski, and will be held on Tuesdays from 6-9 PM, from Jan. 20th through May 5.  The cost of the class will be $250.

Intended for both beginning and experienced writers, this class will explore, through hands-on exercises, the elements essential to creating a vital play for the stage. Experienced writers with plays-in-progress will have ample opportunity to workshop their pieces;  beginning writers will work towards the creation of a 10-20 page play. Instructional emphasis will be placed on the creation of interesting characters and events, and how they are rendered efficiently and effectively through both the textual and non-textual language of the theatre.

Playwrights will have the opportunity, if interested, to showcase their work during the annual CSC Playwrights Series festival in April.  The festival is now in its 23rd year, bringing playwrights from all over the country to Hackettstown each spring to workshop and present their new work with a professional director and cast.

Director, playwright and actor John Pietrowski has been the Artistic Director of the Playwrights Theater of NJ (PTNJ) ,  a professional theatre and arts education institution dedicated to developing and nurturing the dramatic imagination of artists, students, and audiences, for over 20 years.    He has taught playwrighting at  Kean University and Bloomfield College, and has led countless workshops and outreach missions to advance  the art of playwrighting throughout the state.   Pietrowski has also directed over 25 new plays and countless  readings during his tenure.    His two playsBlack Madonna and The Buda have been performed at Playwrights Theatre, Foundation Theatre, Loaves and Fish Theatre and Arts Club Theatre, and his most recent play, Dura Mater, was workshopped at Johns Hopkins in the fall of 2010.

Pietrowski  is the recipient of a 2012 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship.  He currently teaches Theatre History at Fairleigh Dickinson University,  and he holds an undergraduate degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and a Masters in Public Administration in nonprofit management from Seton Hall University.   Mr. Pietrowski was also the Program Coordinator of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Theatre Program for Teachers and Playwrights from 1988-94.   He is currently the Secretary of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Treasurer of the Madison Arts and Culture Alliance and the Treasurer of the National New Play Network.

Catherine rust croppedInterested writers should contact Catherine Rust (program director, Playwright Series) at 908 979 0900 x5, to register.   A special early registration discount of $25 will be offered for all registrations received by December 30.

Centenary Stage Company (www.centenarystageco.org) is the professional, AEA (Actors Equity Association) theatre in residence on the campus of Centenary College.   CSC is a member of TCG  (the national Theatre Communications Group), and NNPN, the National New Play Network.

Dreamcatcher ‘Improv for Business’ with Laura Ekstrand

So often in our professional lives we are called upon to respond spontaneously under unfamiliar circumstances. Presenting and promoting ourselves well when we don't know exactly what the other person's needs and interests are can be challenging.

How can we turn these tricky situations into opportunities for us to shine and to express our passion?

Instructor Laura Ekstrand, Artistic Director of Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, will lead the group in exercises and games designed to improve our ability to listen, read body language, and truly collaborate. The workshop promises to be an enjoyable, unique way to unlock our individuality and to connect with more immediacy and openness.

About the instructor: Laura Ekstrand is the founder of Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, a 20-year-old professional ensemble in residence at the Oakes Center in Summit. As an actor, she has appeared onstage in New Jersey at Dreamcatcher, Bickford Theatre, Passage Theatre, Luna Stage, and is a member of the improv comedy group Multiple Personality Disorder. In NY she has worked at Naked Angels, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and New Georges, among others. Laura has been featured in such films as Split Ends, High Art and I Shot Andy Warhol, and on TV on Hack, Sex And The City, Law & Order, and The Guiding Light. She is also a director and playwright as well as a private monologue coach; Laura holds a B.A. from Yale University and an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA and the Dramatists Guild.

Tuition & Registration * Improv for Business
  • Course fee:  $15 fixed price cost of Marigolds lunch
  • Date: Thursday, January 8th, 12noon - 2 pm
  • Location: Lower Level Dining Area, MONDO, 426 Springfiled Avenue, Summit, NJ 07928

RSVP: info@mondosummit.com

For more Dreamcatcher winter and spring classes click here.

_____________________________________________________________


AUDITION MONOLOGUE PREP

for College & Professional Auditions

Whether you're a student preparing for college auditions or an actor working on a new monologue (or brushing up a familiar one), this class will give you the coaching and feedback you need to make your best possible impression. In auditions you often have just 1 or 2 minutes; so make sure you're communicating your particular strengths and individuality while telling a cohesive and compelling story. Read more.

Instructor: Laura Ekstrand

Course fee: $120 for 3 classes  Register now

Dates: Saturdays, January 3-17, 2015 from 12pm - 2pm

Location: Floor 2 studio at Dreamcatcher's home at Oakes Center in Summit, NJ   

_____________________________________________________________

     Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre

Oakes Center  *  120 Morris Avenue  *  Summit, NJ 07901

Tickets: 800-838-3006 | Info: 908-514-9654

www.dreamcatcherrep.org

Paper Mill Kicks Off New Year with Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-Winning Play

 

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Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Paper Mill Playhouse

The Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Todd Schmidt-Managing Director) has announced casting for its winter comedy, Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

This touching and wickedly hysterical Tony Award-winning best play features Broadway, television and film veterans: Philippe Bowgen (Spike), Gina Daniels (Cassandra), Carolyn McCormick (Masha), Mark Nelson (Vanya), Michele Pawk (Sonia) and Jamie Ann Romero (Nina). Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be directed by Don Stephenson.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will run eight times a week at the Millburn, New Jersey, theater from January 21 through February 15, 2015. The official press opening night is Sunday, January 25, at 7 pm. Paper Mill Playhouse's 2014-2015 Season is sponsored by Investors Bank.

The master of comedy, Christopher Durang, mixes six distinct characters and dishes up a hilarious stew in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they grew up, but their peace is disturbed when their movie star sister Masha returns unannounced with her twenty-something boy-toy, Spike. A weekend of rivalry, regret, and raucousness begins. "Will Vanya and Sonia ever find happiness? Will Masha sell the Bucks County farmhouse out from under them? And will Spike ever put his pants on?" writes USA Today.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:30pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:30pm, Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 8:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm.  Tickets are on sale now and range from $28 to $99. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680.  College students can order $20 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.

“The thing I really admire about Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is the way it jumps back and forth from funny to touching, and it does both very well,” commented director Don Stephenson.

Philippe Bowgen (Spike) appeared off-Broadway in The Danger of Bleeding Brown, Water and Power, Over the Horizon and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Bowgen was seen in regional productions of Antony and Cleopatra, Oedipus el Rey, Darko Tresnjak’s Macbeth and more. His film credits include Son of a Kingpin, Sobrevivo and The Remains of Something Whole.

Carolyn McCormick (Masha) appeared in the Broadway companies of Equus, Private Lives and The Dinner Party. McCormick was seen off-Broadway in The Open House, Family Furniture, Black Tie, Celebration and more. In addition to playing Dr. Olivet on Law & Order, McCormick was a series regular on Spenser: For Hire and Cracker. She has been a guest star on Blue Bloods, Body of Proof, Cold Case, Judging Amy, The Practice, Homicide, Star Trek, L.A. Law and more. Her film credits include You Know My Name, Loverboy, Enemy Mine, Nights in Rodanthe, Whatever Worksand Downtown Express.

Mark Nelson (Vanya) was seen in the Broadway productions of After the Fall, A Few Good Men, The Invention of Love, Bioxi Blues and others. Nelson appeared in productions of Timon of Athensat The Public Theater, Three Sisters at Roundabout, The Winter’s Tale at BAM, The Invention of Love at Lincoln Center and more. Some of his regional credits include Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Uncle Vanya, The Merchant of Venice, Underneath the Lintel, Talley’s Folly, Falsettos and I Am My Own Wife. Nelson’s television credits include The Good Wife, Unforgettable, Ed andLaw & Order.

Michele Pawk (Sonia), a South Orange resident, won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance as Louise in Hollywood Arms. Pawk received Drama Desk Award nominations for Cabaret and Crazy for You. On Broadway, Pawk also appeared in Hairspray, Losing Louie, Mamma Mia!, Chicago, Seussical, Triumph of Love and Mail. She appeared in off-Broadway productions of Giant, A Small Fire, The Paris Letter, Hello Again, Merry We Roll Along and more. Pawk’s television credits include Law & Order, Guiding Light, All My Children,Shannon’s Deal, The Golden Girls, L.A. Law and more.

Gina Daniels (Cassandra) was last seen on Broadway in All the Way. Daniels performed in regional productions of Doubt, Measure for Measure, As You Like It, A Christmas Carol and more. Jamie Ann Romero (Nina) appeared in regional productions of The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Three Musketeers, Romeo and Juliet, Sunsets and Margaritas, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and others.

Don Stephenson (Director) returns to Paper Mill Playhouse, where he directed Lend Me a Tenor and played John Adams in 1776. Mr. Stephenson directed Of Mice and Manhattan for the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, Noises Off and The 39 Steps at the Flat Rock Playhouse, and The Great Unknown for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Stephenson directed Titanic at Lincoln Center, the Hangar Theatre and the Muny. He directed critically acclaimed productions of Oleanna, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and the hit musical Doctors and Diseases at the Barter Theatre, which moved Off Broadway to the Players Theater. Other New York directing credits include Buck Simple (Garrick Gaieties), When Pigs Fly (Kaufman Theatre), Golden Voices (Symphony Space),Old Flames (Theatre-Studio Inc.) and a workshop of My Time of Day: The Music of Frank Loesser. Stephenson also directed The Desperate Hours and Through All Kinds of Weather at the Clarence Brown Theatre and Sleeping Beauty at American Stage Festival.

Christopher Durang (Playwright) won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. His other plays include Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Betty’s Summer Vacation (all Obie Award winners), Miss Witherspoon (Pulitzer Prize finalist), A History of the American Film (Tony nomination, best book of a musical), Baby with the Bathwater, Durang/Durang (six one-act plays including the Tennessee Williams parody For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls), Sex and Longing, and many more. Also a performer, Mr. Durang has appeared in several of his own plays and cabaret acts. A New Jersey native, he attended Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, and he is co-chair with Marsha Norman of Juilliard’s playwrights program. His numerous honors include the Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships, and induction into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

The Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike design team includes:

David Korins (Scenic Design) has designed sets for many Broadway shows including Motown, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Annie, Passing Strange and more. At Paper Mill Playhouse, Korins designed sets for Anne Frank, Godspell and The Other Josh Cohen.

Leon Dobkowski (Costume Design) returns to Paper Mill Playhouse, where he recently served as the assistant costume designer on Can-Can. On Broadway, Dobkowski served as the associate/assistant costume designer on The Trip to Bountiful, Nice Work If You Can Get It, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and more.

Stephen Terry (Lighting Design) served as the associate lighting designer on the Broadway productions of Glengarry Glen Ross and The People in the Picture. Terry served as the assistant lighting designer on the Broadway production of Sixteen Wounded. At Paper Mill Playhouse, Terry served as the lighting designer for Lend Me a Tenor.

Mark Bennett (Original Music & Sound Design) has designed sound and composed original music for many Broadway shows including Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Macbeth, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Coast of Utopia, Golda’s Balcony and more.

Leah J. Loukas (Hair & Wig Design) worked on the Broadway productions of On the Town, A Night with Janis Joplin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, American Idiot and Irena’s Vow. At Paper Mill Playhouse Loukas designed Elf, Grease, The Sound of Music, The Little Mermaid, Oliver! and South Pacific.

Amanda Stephens (Scenic Coordination) served as assistant scenic designer for the Broadway productions of Motown, Annie, Bring It On, Magic/Bird, Imaginary Friends and Godspell. Stephens also worked on the Broadway productions of Lombardi, Passing Strange and The Times They Are A- Changin’.

Telsey + Company (Casting) is an award-winning organization of casting professionals in New York City with local, regional, national and international clientele including Broadway and touring companies of If/Then, The King and I, Motown, Kinky Boots, Finding Neverland, Honeymoon in Vegas, Rock of Ages and Wicked. The lead casting director on this project is Karyn Casl, CSA.

Gary Mickelson (Production Stage Manager) recently stage managed Can-Can and Elf at Paper Mill Playhouse. On Broadway, Mr. Mickelson stage managed First Date, Memphis, Gypsy,Company, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, The Lion in Winter and Victor/Victoria.

Free Audience Enrichment Activities for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Wed. January 21        6:30pm             Art Gallery     The Director’s Viewpoint

Enjoy coffee on us as director Don Stephenson discusses Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Thurs. January 22      6:30pm             Mezzanine       Conversation Club

Thurs. January 29 Learn more about the show you are about

Thurs. February 5 to see, led by members of Paper Mill’s

Thurs. February 12 Artistic and Education Departments.

Sat. February 14        Following Matinee                  Orchestra       Q&A with the Cast

Meet the cast and ask actors questions about the show or the role they are portraying.

Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike on Saturday, February 14, and Sunday, February 15, at 1:30 pm. Prior to these performances at noon, the theater will offer free sensory seminars. Sensory seminars offer an opportunity for patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the production elements of the show and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes.  There will be a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance on Sunday, February 15, at 7 pm.

PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country's leading regional theaters.  Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.   

 

McCarter Theatre celebrates life of Nelson Mandela with Read-In at 3 Libraries

 

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McCarter Theatre Center welcomes all interested community members to join fellow neighbors, artists, civic leaders, and friends to commemorate and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela with the Unrelenting Voices Read-In: Freedom, Justice, Mandela, and More. This event will happen at three separate locations simultaneously on Thursday, January 8th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

In reading aloud the words and writings of Mandela, as well as prose, poetry, and dramatic works by other unrelenting voices for freedom—like Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, and Desmond Tutu—we  will explore social justice, resistance in the face of oppression, and the power of art as political protest.

DATE, TIME, AND LOCATIONS
This event will take place at 7 p.m. on Thurs., Jan. 8th at all of the following locations:

Princeton Public Library


65 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ

Trenton Free Library
120 Academy Street
Trenton, NJ

New Brunswick Free Library
60 Livingston Ave.                                                                                       New Brunswick, NJ

Lend your voice - all ages are welcome to attend and participate as either audience members or readers. Persons interested in reading aloud should contact McCarter Engagement via (609)-258-6546 or kplace@mccarter.org.

This program is presented in conjunction with McCarter Theatre’s upcoming 2015 international co-production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Auditions: Alliance Repertory Theatre Company for Liz Flahive's FROM UP HERE

Auditions

Award winning Alliance Repertory Theatre Company will be holding auditions for Liz Flahive's FROM UP HERE, Tuesday, Dec 16th at 7:30 PM  at The Summit Playhouse (10 New England Ave, Summit NJ 07901). Performances will be at the Summit Playhouse the weekends of Feb 27 - Mar 14, 2015.

Kenny Barret has done something that has everyone worried. He wishes he could just make it through the rest of his senior year unnoticed, but that's going to be hard since he has to apologize publicly to his entire high school. While at home, his mother is struggling with a rocky start to her second marriage and a surprise visit from her estranges sister. FROM UP HERE is about a family limping out the door in the morning and coming home no matter what. Nominated for both the 2008 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards.

Cast:
Kenny - lead role, 17 to 21, withdrawn, sensitive teen boy. One of life's walking wounded.
Lauren - 14 to 21, Kenny's younger protective sister. hard-boiled, sardonic.
Charley - 17 to 21, lovable, goofy ten boy. Plays guitar.
Kate - 16 to 21, ambitious, chirpy over-achieving teen girl
Daniel - 30s, Grace's younger husband, laid back, sympathetic.
Caroline - 27 to 38, Grace's younger sister, world traveler, free spirit.
Mr. Goldberg/Stevens - 35-55, dual role of guidance counselor and policeman.
Note: The role of Grace has been cast.

Headshots and resumes required.  Readings will be from the script. For more information please see www.alliancerep.org.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review: Unique Version of Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ with Alan Semok as Scrooge at Chatham Playhouse

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This past weekend, we had the opportunity to review the Chatham Community Players'  unique (and wonderful) musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. The adaptation is by Philip William McKinley and Suzanne Buhrer and is directed by Jeffrey Fiorello with Jack Bender the musical director and Megan Ferentinos the choreographer.  

This marks the 17th time that the Chatham Players has produced this show.  From 1988-1995, the group produced the show every December, and it now produces the show on a biennial basis. This unique production has become a popular family tradition for many in the area – entertaining more than 32,000 audience members since 1988.

Unlike the standard version of "A Christmas Carol," this version has Ebenezer Scrooge sharing the stage with Charles Dickens. Dickens participates in most scenes in his special role as the narrator....and who better to narrate than the author. We should note that we also reviewed the 2010 and 2012 productions. This year's play is essentially identical to 2012 except for minor set and dialogue changes, modified choreography and the addition of one song ..."Marley's Lament" not heard since the musical was workshopped in the early 80’s in Las Vegas.

The script follows the original story of the re-birth of Scrooge rather faithfully, plus material the writers incorporated from letters Dickens wrote to family and friends for his commentary as he travels with Scrooge on his life-changing journey.

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Front Row L-R:  Joelle Bochner, Chip Prestera, Alan Semok, Pierson Salvador, Scott Baird, Samatha Kaplan.

Playing Scrooge for the eleventh time (since 1988!) is the veteran actor Alan Semok (photo above). Semok, who has a long list of professional credits from both stage and television, His performance this year, as it the past editions, deserves a rave review. He is outstanding as Ebenezer making the transformation from the "cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy man, who despises Christmas and all things which give people happiness." His "Only A Fool" song brought tears to the eyes of more than a few in the full audience.

Other standout actors include: Charles Dickens played in this edition by Chip Prestera. Prestera, CCP's top comedy performer, and the 2012's nephew Fred, nicely steps into the more dramatic role of Charles Dickens. He surprises with not only his dramatic talent but also his more than adequate singing and dancing skills. Scrooge's nephew Fred in this edition is played nicely by Adrian Rifat. Scott Baird makes a fine Bob Cratchit (also fine voice displayed in the number "Not Tomorrow") Samatha Kaplan as Mrs. Cratchit scores with the heart-tugging "If I Could Hold You In My Arms,"

Steven Nitka, another popular community theatre veteran, excels as Jacob Marley as do the three ghosts past, present and future-- Adunni Rae Charles, Will Carey and Graham Helfrick. Will Carey also doubles very effectively as Mr. Fezziwig. Playing the second best known role is young Pierson Salvador as Tiny Tim. He is a charmer, specially with the sweet song "Tiny Tim's Dream."

The remainder of the large and talented cast includes:  Andrea Thibodeau, Sarah Rappoport (lovely sweet voice), Brielle Raddi, Maryann and Randy Post, Joelle Bochner, Eila Francis, Jody and Parker Ebert, Alyssa Franck, Dash Green, Sasha Jacobs, Ryan Graziano and Meghan Sabin.

Since this is a musical, we applaud the excellent musicians under the leadership of Jack Bender (doubles on keyboard). They are: Jarred Lee keyboard 2; Paul Robertson percussion; and Jeff Little bass.

Director Fiorello nicely uses the entire space available in this semi theatre-in-the-round facility (The audience sits on three sides). The rear space is used impressively for several scenes including Scrooge's home with several set pieces on turntables. Also, impressive is the entrance and exit of Marley's ghost in chains (no spoiler here). Much of the action involving the speaking members of the juniors in the cast is wisely staged in the floor area closest to the audience. The sets, props, lighting and sound are all top level as are the attractive Victorian costumes. Just what we have come to expect again from Jeffrey Fiorello and his team ( and the Chatham Players).

​​Fiorello's creative staff, mostly repeating their 2012 positions- from choreographer Megan Ferentinos who again has the large cast moving smoothly-even the children. Ferentinos has revised and added to the earlier production;  Bill Motyka set design; Fran Harrison costume design; Joe DeVico sound design; Richard Hennessy lighting design; Andrea Sickler scenic artist; Brian James Grace wigs; Tish Lum props and furniture; Pamela Wilczynski production coordinator; Debby Hennessy stage manager; Beth Vetter assistant stage manager; and the producers Bob Denmark and Chris Furlong.

Yes, there are many other versions of Dicken's tale currently playing, of course, but this is a unique take of the "Carol" providing truly fine family entertainment...we urge you to call for tickets now. The Saturday performance we attended was 'sold-out' and only four performances remain.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio   December 13, 2014

The remaining performance dates are December 19 and 20 at 8 PM,  and December 20 and 21 at 3 PM. All performances are at the Chatham Playhouse, 23 North Passaic Avenue, in Chatham. Tickets are $25 for adults and $23 for youth/senior. For more information, call the box office at (973) 635-7363 or go to www.chathamplayers.org.

Note: The Chatham Community Players theater; there isn't a bad seat in the house. The audience is seated on three sides, in this not quite, theater-in-the-round. Parking is free and plentiful. The theater is blessed with a good number of truly excellent restaurants within easy walking of the theater, as is the Chatham train station with express service to NYC.

Additional photos (all by Howard Fisher)

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Pierson Salvador and Scott Baird

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Will Carey and Alan Semok

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Dash Green and Sarah Rappoport

 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Auditions: Growing Stage Studio Series Presentation of THE CANTERBURY TALES

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The Growing Stage - The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, located in the Historic Palace Theatre on Route 183 in Netcong, New Jersey will be holding auditions for its Studio Series presentation of THE CANTERBURY TALES on Thursday, Dec. 18th at 7:00 p.m.  Auditions are OPEN to anyone ages 12 years old through high school.  All auditioning will be asked to read from the script.  The production is under the direction of Lori B. Lawrence, the Growing Stage’s Director of Educational Programming.

Based on the original story by Geoffrey Chaucer, this production is a comedy in two acts adapted by Lindsay Price.  The story follows a group of travelers who set out for Canterbury on a pilgrimage. To pass the time, they entertain each other with a storytelling contest. The best story wins a prize.  Each and every performer gets a chance to shine in this spirited, charming script.  Great characters, lots of humor, and strong ensemble work.

THE CANTERBURY TALES runs from January 30th through February 8th, with performances on Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00 p.m.

Rehearsal schedules are generally two to three evenings during the week, and Saturday afternoons. All cast members are expected for all performances, with no exception since the company does not cast understudies. For additional information please call (973) 347- 4946 or e-mail the director at eddir@growingstage.com

The Studio Presentation Series initiated in the fall of 2009 has succeeded in engaging both patrons and artists.  Targeted for specific-aged audiences rather than the wide-reaching family fare of the Main Stage, the series provides community artists with a unique opportunity to participate in the creative process of “trying out” new, more experimental works under the direction of emerging professional artists. This program allows our company to both cultivate new talent and challenge audiences.

Holiday Variety Show at Dreamcatcher

Kick off the season with your favorite Dreamcatcher actors! If you enjoyed the corny fun of those old-fashioned holiday variety shows starring Andy Williams, Perry Como and The Mandrell Sisters, you'll love A VERY SPECIAL (Holiday) SPECIAL.
The Dreamcatcher ensemble will entertain you with holiday songs, comic sketches and improv, and lots of good old-fashioned fun. The show is appropriate for the whole family, and every year's show is completely original!

A Very Special (Holiday) Special

Musical Variety Show

DATE: Friday, December 12 & Saturday, December 13

TIME: 8:00 PM

LOCATION: Oakes Center, 120 Morris Avenue, Summit 07901

( Entrance on Russell Place, parking lot at 20 Ashwood Ave.) Directions

PRICE:  $20 adults, $15 kids 15  and younger

DISCOUNT: Our email friends SAVE 10% (Advance only!) Enter code HOHOHO at checkout.

Buy Tickets Now


7-SHOW SEASON PASSHOLDERS: Don't forget to reserve your seats! Email us for help

More Info on line at dreamcatcherrep.org.

Nicole Callender, Clark Carmichael, Laura Ekstrand, Noreen Farley, Eli Ganias  and Jason Szamreta are the cast of 'A Very Special (Holiday) Special'.

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AUDITION MONOLOGUE PREP

for College & Professional Auditions

Whether you're a student preparing for college auditions or an actor working on a new monologue (or brushing up a familiar one), this class will give you the coaching and feedback you need to make your best possible impression. In auditions you often have just 1 or 2 minutes; so make sure you're communicating your particular strengths and individuality while telling a cohesive and compelling story. Read more.

Instructor: Laura Ekstrand

Course fee: $120 for 3 classes  Register now

Dates: Saturdays, January 3-17, 2015 from 12pm - 2pm

Location: Floor 2 studio at Dreamcatcher's home at Oakes Center in Summit, NJ   

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     Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre

Oakes Center  *  120 Morris Avenue  *  Summit, NJ 07901

Tickets: 800-838-3006 | Info: 908-514-9654

www.dreamcatcherrep.org

 

Review: ‘Tilt the Unlit Candle’ off-beat Christmas tale at Luna Stage Company

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The ​world premiere play that opened at West Orange's Luna Stage the weekend of December 5-7 is Tilt the Unlit Candle by Ben Clawson.
This is Clawson's third play to be introduced at the Luna Stage (The Dangers of Electric Lighting and The High Water Mark). We gave the other two plays high marks for fascinating scripts, excellent production/direction and impressive performers. Tilt the Unlit Candle scores high marks on two of the three. Where it fails, at least when compared to the other two plays, is the over-long ​unsatisfying ​script.

It is a very contemporary Christmas story far from the world of Ebenezer Scrooge or even George Bailey*. It is the story of eight very different people, mostly society's strays, who have come together at a sad little church in a sad little town for a sad Christmas Eve service.  No characters have an epiphany. Their lives are not forever altered by their Christmas Eve visit. But, in a small way they each proceed with a better, kinder understanding of where they are and where they hope to go. However, it is unlikely you would invite anyone home for a holiday eggnog.

The ad for the play states "It's time for the annual Christmas Eve service in a small town at an even smaller church. Last year didn't go well, and this year isn't shaping up much better. The congregation is too old, the pastor is too young, and the choir is badly out of tune. Plus, there's a drunk who refuses to get off the church steps. Join these wacky revelers as they attempt to celebrate the holiday season and figure out just what the heck it is that they all seem to be searching for.​"

Tilt Liz Knotts

To say the characters are "wacky" is a bit of a stretch....this is not "The Marx Brothers go to church." The play does have some very funny moments, mostly early in the first act between the young minister Thad (Tony Knotts-photo above) who is attempting to hang garland on the church porch and the leader of the Fellowship committee Ms. Martha (Liz Zazzi-photo above). She is critical of not only his garland hanging skills...not "looping enough," but every other aspect of his ministerial performance. In her eyes he falls extremely short of his predecessor, Pastor Ron. Ron evidently was able to walk on water. Tony Knotts​ is ​fine​ as the sincere, slightly naive, minister​. The success of this scene is due in large part to the skill of Liz Zazzi (a New Jersey comedy treasure).  ​Zazzi, in a power red jacket, is marvelous. She wallows in her church responsibilities, firm to excess, but underneath she seems to be a lonely, shallow woman.  ​

Another amusing, but poignant segment is the banter between a young pregnant woman, Kathleen (Megan Greener-top photo) who has come to this church simply because it is closest to her home and  the well-meaning but verbally inept Chair of the Welcoming Committee, Fred (Scott Cagney-top photo). Cagney is excellent, properly boobish with a kind, caring manner. Megan Greener impresses as the sensitive young woman facing an uncertain future.

Then there is Sue (Michelle Lupo) who has just quit her retail salesclerk job at the nearby mall wanting something better in life. Michelle Lupo nicely projects the frustration and anger of life on a treadmill.

The weakest scene, in fact it just about stops the play is between a young woman and man who meet at the steps. They are each there because a partner is a choir member. The man, Joel (Jerome R. Schler Jr.) is black, gay and Jewish (adopted). The woman, Trish​ (Kelley Evans), is a free spirit who joins Joel in sharing a pre-service "joint." Both are fine actors caught in an unsatisfactory scene in which the audience has little interest. Maybe, that's it...there is no one to really like, or root for, in Tilt the Unlit Candle. The title comes from a mid-service fire set accidentally by improperly lighting a candle.

Back to the "drunk who refuses to get off the church steps"---- this is Brendan (Tom Artz)  a man on a unique soul cleansing mission. ​Veteran actor Tim Artz is absolutely perfect in this role of the drunk with cash.
                                                                                                                          Tilt The Unlit Candle is nicely directed by Artem Yatsunov​.  He and Ben Clawson are part of the Strangedog Theatre Company​ making its first co-production​ with the Luna Stage​. They founded Strangedog​ after the two graduated from Montclair State​. Several cast member are also from Montclair State; Tony Knotts, Megan Greener, Scott Cagney and Jerome R. Schler Jr.

We give the final word to the director: “It’s a Christmas show for people who are kind of tired of Christmas shows,” Yatsunov said. “It really touches on what it is that people are looking for this time of year. And, though it’s not entirely family friendly, it is affectionate.”​

For more information, visit www.strangedogtheatre.com.

​Production credits: Daniel Viola stage manager; Rachel Budin lighting designer; Deborah Caney costume designer (Greener and Zazzi’s outfits are standouts, as is Cagney’s Christmas sweater); Julian Evans sound designer.  

Tilt the Unlit Candle runs Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 21. Get more information at here or at 973-395-5551. The Luna Stage is located at 555 Valley Road in West Orange just off 280. Ample street parking.

The theatre is handicapped accessible and offers assistive listening devices.

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Tim Artz and Tony Knotts

*FYI: George Bailey as in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday classic ‘The Story of the Nutcracker’ is a joy at the Growing Stage

 

nutcraker cast

The Growing Stage, The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, located in the Historic Palace Theatre on Route 183 in Netcong, New Jersey is now presenting the holiday classic THE STORY OF THE NUTCRACKER through December 21st  with performances Friday evenings at 7:30 PM, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4:00 PM.

THE STORY OF THE NUTCRACKER is adapted from the story by E.T.A. Hoffman that later inspired the ballet created by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky with a book by Stephen L. Fredericks & Perry Kroeger. THE STORY OF THE NUTCRACKER is under the direction of Stephen L. Fredericks, The Growing Stage’s Executive Director with choreography by Jillian Petrie.

THE STORY OF THE NUTCRACKER is The Growing Stage’s original adaptation which transforms the classic holiday ballet into a fully formed theatrical production laced with the music of Tchaikovsky. The mysterious Uncle Drosselmeir brings his niece, Clara, a very special gift, a Nutcracker. After the family has gone to bed, Clara sneaks downstairs to see her gift. As the clock chimes twelve, the adventure begins! Clara and the Nutcracker, who is really a prince, journey through the Land of Sweets, battle an army of mice, sail on the Lemonade Sea, rescue the Sugar Plum Fairie and finally reclaim the Prince’s crown from the Dowager Mouse Queen and her inept son. It’s a delicious holiday treat for the entire family!

THE STORY OF THE NUTCRACKER features the talents of five professional equity performers in the cast. Steven Etienne of Belvidere and Lucas Pinner of Rahway, last seen in Disney’s The Little Mermaid as Sebastian and Grimsby, play the Nutcracker and Uncle Drosselmeir respectively; Lori B. Lawrence of Hackettstown, last seen in The Secret Life of Hubie Hartzel, plays Grandma and Madam Mouserinks; Danny Campos, who played the title character in The Secret Life of Hubie Hartzel plays Captain Stahlbaum and Admiral of the Lemonade Sea; Jerielle Morwitz, who appeared in last season’s Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical plays Frau Yunquist and the Queen of Ice. Rounding out the cast are twenty two young performers and community artists.

Join us on Saturday, December 13th for a Pre-show Dance Workshop with our company choreographer. Additional fee and reservations required for the dance workshop.

The Growing Stage continues FUN-tastic Fridays with all tickets $15! Saturday and Sunday tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for children and seniors. To purchase tickets, please visit our website at www.growingstage.com or contact the Box Office at (973) 347-4946. Group rates and Birthday Party packages are available.

Cast photo supplied by TGS

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Photos by RJB