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Thursday, September 21, 2017

NJSO Chamber Players perform Aaron Jay Kernis string quartet in NJSO Accent event with the composer

NJSO with Xian Zhang at NJPAC 008 bow - credit Fred Stucker
Kernis to introduce, chat about the work with quartet at Prelude Performance
NJSO performance that follows features Musica celestis for string orchestra
Fri, Oct 13, at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton

Members of the NJSO Chamber Players will perform the Aaron Jay Kernis string quartet that the composer later orchestrated as Musica celestis in a special NJSO Accent event with Kernis on Friday, October 13, at 6:45 pm at the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s 8 pm concert includes the NJSO premiere of Kernis’ ethereal work for string orchestra.

The Prelude Performance features NJSO Assistant Concertmaster David Southorn, violinist Minji Kwon, Assistant Principal Viola Elzbieta Weyman and Acting Assistant Principal Cello Na-Young Baek. Kernis and the musicians will chat about the string quartet and orchestral versions of Musica celestis before audiences hear the work in each form.

Musica celestis is inspired by the medieval conception of that phrase, which refers to the singing of the angels in heaven in praise of God without end,” Kernis writes in his composer’s note.

The NJSO’s 8 pm program, led by Music Director Xian Zhang, also features Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with cello virtuoso Alban Gerhardt.

The Prelude Performance is free for October 13 ticketholders. Concert tickets start at $20 and are available for purchase at or 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476).

NJSO Accents are pre- and post-concert events that enhance the concert experience and bring audiences closer to the music and music makers. Learn more at


Zhang Conducts Beethoven
Fri, Oct 13, at 8 pm | Richardson Auditorium in Princeton

Xian Zhang, conductor
Alban Gerhardt, cello
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

KERNIS Musica celestis (NJSO premiere)
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”

Additional performances of the NJSO program take place on Thursday, October 12, at 1:30 pm and Sunday, October 15, at 3 pm at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and Saturday, October 14, at 8 pm at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. Learn more at

Novo Nordisk is concert sponsor of the October 13 performance.

Winner of the 2002 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, 1998 Pulitzer Prize and 2011 Nemmers Award, Aaron Jay Kernis is one of America’s most honored composers. His music appears prominently on concert programs worldwide, and he has been commissioned by America’s preeminent performing organizations and artists, including the New York Philharmonic; San Francisco, Toronto and Melbourne (AU) symphonies; Los Angeles and Saint Paul chamber orchestras; Walt Disney Company; Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Renee Fleming; Dawn Upshaw; Joshua Bell; Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Sharon Isbin. Recent and upcoming commissions include his Fourth Symphony for the New England Conservatory (for its 150th anniversary) and Nashville Symphony; concertos for violinist James Ehnes, cellist Joshua Roman, violist Paul Neubauer and flutist Marina Piccinini; a horn concerto for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Grant Park Music Festival; a work for the Borromeo String Quartet and a piece for the San Francisco Girls and Brooklyn Youth Choruses with The Knights for the New York Philharmonic Biennial.

His works have been recorded on Virgin, Dorian, Arabesque, Phoenix, Argo, Signum, Cedille and many other labels. Recent recordings include Goblin Market and Invisible Mosaic II (Signum); Three Flavors, featuring pianist Andrew Russo, violinist James Ehnes and the Albany Symphony with conductor David Alan Miller (Albany); and a disc of his solo and chamber music, On Distant Shores (Phoenix). Kernis’ conducting engagements include appearances with the Pascal Rioult Dance Company, at major chamber music festivals in Chicago and Portland and with members of the San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and New York Philharmonic.

He is the workshop director of the Nashville Symphony Composer Lab and, for 11 years, served as new music adviser to the Minnesota Orchestra, with which he co-founded and directed its Composer Institute for 15 years. Kernis teaches composition at Yale School of Music and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Classical Music Hall of Fame. Leta Miller's book-length portrait of Kernis and his work was published in 2014 by University of Illinois Press as part of its American Composer series.

Invitation to join The Friends of NJFO Overture Party

The music of New Jersey Festival Orchestra is out of this world!
Come join The Friends of NJFO to celebrate the opening of the Orchestra's 35th Anniversary Season and
David Wroe's 20th anniversary as Music Director.

Seasonal beers and German wines
German inspired appetizers and desserts


241 E. Dudley Avenue, Westfield
Suggested donation $50
All proceeds to benefit New Jersey Festival Orchestra
and NJFO outreach programs


Light Opera of NJ sets new season including The Hunchback of Notre Dame


a Gilbert & Sullivan revue

directed by William Corson

November 3 at 8 pm
November 4 at 2 pm and 8 pm

St Mark's Episcopal Church, 140 South Finley Avenue, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Learn more here

Gaetano Donizetti's 


directed by Jamie Baer Peterson and Lauran Corson 

with musical direction by Michael Avagliano

March 23 and 24, 2018 at 8 pm

St Mark's Episcopal Church, 140 South Finley Avenue, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Learn more here



Music by


Lyrics by


Book by


Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney film

directed by Jeffrey Fiorello

with musical direction by Stephen Fox

July 13, 14, 20 and 21, 2018 at 8pm
July 15 and 22, 2018 at 2pm

South Orange Performing Arts Center, 1 SOPAC Way, South Orange, NJ 07079

Learn more here

Become a season subscriber and save 10% on tickets to all 3 productions!
Return THIS FORM by October 20th to secure the best seats!

This program is 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, and administered by the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission through the State/County Partnership Local Arts Program.

Light Opera of New Jersey, 120 Governor Drive, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

5th Annual Harvest Fest Returns to Skylands Stadium’s Indoor Event Center


The Growing Stage -The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey will hold its fifth annual Harvest Fest fundraising event on Thursday, September 28, from 6:00 until 9:00 p.m. at the Skylands Stadium Indoor Event Center, 29 Championship Place, Augusta, NJ.  All are invited to attend this magical evening of gourmet food, fine wines and specialty beers, live performances, and exciting prizes.

The event features wine and beer tastings from more than twenty vendors, as well as gourmet tastings from fine local restaurants including Perona Farms, Black Forest Inn, Café Pierrot, Krave Caterers, Shakey Jake’s, KCC Raw Bar, The Wheelhouse, Fanucci’s Café, Polo’s Bar & Grill, Alice’s Restaurant, The Windlass, The Chocolate Goat, Andre’s Lakeside Dining and Pine Hill Farm.  RoNetco Supermarkets and ShopRite Wines & Spirits are major sponsors of this important fundraiser.

Tickets are now on sale for $50 per person (or $175 for a party of four), and must be purchased in advance.  Attendees must be 21 or older.

Connolly and Hickey - The Growing StageAll proceeds from the event benefit both the mission of The Growing Stage and the continued restoration of its home - the historic Palace Theatre. The Growing Stage is a professional, non-profit performing arts company dedicated to theatre for young audiences and families. The company provides distinctive arts programming for children and families including Main Stage productions, classes and educational workshops at the Palace, along with touring productions and residencies statewide.  The Growing Stage begins its 36th Main Stage season with Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST with performances running October 6 through October 29.  Fundraising events such as Harvest Fest help The Growing Stage keep its professional programs affordably priced for schools and families throughout the region.

In conjunction with Harvest Fest, The Growing Stage is holding a raffle to benefit its artistic and educational programs for young people. Three exciting prizes will be awarded:  $2,500 ShopRite Gift Cards; $1,250 ShopRite Gift Cards and The Ultimate Apple Package – Apple iPad, Watch & TV (Value: $900). Raffle tickets are $10 each, and may be purchased weekdays at the historic Palace Theatre, 7 Ledgewood Avenue, Netcong, or by calling (973)347-4946. The drawing will be held at Harvest Fest on September 28th, but winners need not be present.

To purchase tickets for Harvest Fest or for more information, please visit or call (973)347-4946.


2017-18 Season Opener
Fri, Sep 29, 8pm
Advent Lutheran Church (NYC)
2504 Broadway, New York, NY
Sat, Sep 30, 8pm
West Side Presbyterian Church (Ridgewood, NJ)
6 South Monroe St, Ridgewood, NJ
Sun, Oct 1, 3pm
Flushing Town Hall (Queens, NY)
137-35 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY

Hailed as a “sensitive and thinking musician first and an awesome technician second” (Los Angeles Times), internationally-acclaimed pianist HAESUN PAIKjoins New York Classical Players for our season premiere. Top prize winner at the Leeds, Queen Elisabeth, and Tchaikovsky competitions, Paik lends her virtuosity to NYCP’s program as the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Works by Shostakovich, a Renaissance-inspired premiere by ERIC NATHAN, and Saint-Saens’ well-loved Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with violinist of the Grammy-nominated Enso Quartet KEN HAMAO complete this program of lyrical and thoughtful masterworks.
Dongmin Kim conductor
HaeSun Paik piano
Ken Hamao violin  

Eric Nathan / Omaggio a Gesualdo for String Orchestra (premiere)
Saint-Saens / Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (NYCP edition)
Shostakovich / Prelude and Scherzo, Op. 11
Beethoven / Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major (arr. Yoomi Paick)

VIP seats can be purchased. We secure the best seats for you and your guests.


Click to watch the interview video
The 2017-18 season, NYCP is proud to announce a new endeavor with pianist HaeSun Paik to perform all five Beethoven piano concertos - including the singular Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Cello - over the next three seasons. This project, which culminates in Beethoven’s 250th centenary, allows NYCP to build a longstanding artistic relationship with the virtuosic Paik and delve deeply and immersively into Beethoven’s legendary works for piano and orchestra. Flushing Town Hall joins NYCP as a presenting partner for the "Paik & Beethoven" Project, which begins with the 2017/18 season opening on September 29.

George Street Playhouse to open season with new version of hit musical I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE

Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro’s record-breaking, off-Broadway hit to open GSP’s College Farm Road venue


George Street Playhouse has announced the full cast for an new, updated version of the off-Broadway hit musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, with book and lyrics by Playhouse favorite Joe DiPietro (Memphis, Nice Work if You Can Get It) and music by Jimmy Roberts (The Thing About Men, The Velveteen Rabbit). Karen Burthwright (Broadway’s Jesus Christ Superstar), Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Broadway’s Lysistrata Jones, Legally Blonde and Hairspray), Mitchell Jarvis (Broadway’s Rock of Ages, GSP world premiere of Getting’ the Band Back Together) and George Merrick (Broadway’s Honeymoon in Vegas, South Pacific and High Fidelity; Off-Broadway’s Clever Little Lies) star in the inaugural production at George Street Playhouse’s new, interim venue at 103  College Farm Road on the Cook Campus of Rutgers University. Performances run Oct. 10-Nov. 12, 2017, with Opening Night set for Friday, October 13.

Helming the production will be David Saint, who is entering his 21st season as George Street Playhouse’s Artistic Director. This marks the third time Saint will be directing a work written by DiPietro at George Street Playhouse, having previously helmed world premiere productions of Clever Little Lies (2013), which moved off-Broadway in 2015, and Creating Claire. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change marks the sixth DiPietro-written show to be produced at George Street Playhouse, including world premieres of The Toxic Avenger, Creating Claire and Clever Little Lies starring Marlo Thomas, as well as New Jersey premieres of Ernest Shackleton Loves Me and The Second Mrs. Wilson.

This fresh, contemporary take on I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, premieres exclusively for Playhouse patrons! The world of dating has evolved, and this newly revisited musical will tackle modern love in all its forms. From the first date, to marriage, children, and the twilight years, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, follows the arc of relationships in insightful and hilarious ways.

unnamed (1)With its longtime venue in downtown New Brunswick razed to make way for a new performing arts center that will serve as George Street Playhouse’s future home, the Playhouse has taken residence in the former New Jersey Museum of Agriculture at 103 College Farm Road on Rutgers University’s Cook Campus through its 2018-19 season. George Street Playhouse is expected to return downtown to the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center in time for its 2019-20 season. A former museum exhibit area is being transformed into an intimate, main stage theatre space.

Tickets range in price from just $15 for students (with valid ID) to $79, based on performance. Visit our new website (, which allows patrons to select their own seating locations when ordering tickets online.

Located right off Route 1 amidst a vast bucolic setting on the Cook Campus of Rutgers University, George Street Playhouse’s new, interim venue features expansive lobby spaces, an outdoor patio and free nearby parking. The entrance into the building and to all areas of the theatre are barrier-free. For directions to George Street Playhouse, visit the Playhouse website ( and click Directions on the homepage.

New Brunswick’s favorite restaurants are less than two miles from College Farm Road. For a list of restaurants, visit the Plan Your Visit section of the website. And keep a lookout for unique dining options offered by George Street Playhouse.

Joe DiPietro - Beale Street_5x7Joe DiPietro (Book & Lyrics) is a two-time Tony Award winner for Memphis, which also received the 2010 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical. He received a Tony nomination & Drama Desk Award for Nice Work If You Can Get It. His comedy Clever Little Lies, starring Marlo Thomas, premiered at GSP in 2013 and ran off-Broadway in 2015 under the direction of GSP Artistic Director David Saint. He also wrote the long-running off-Broadway hit Over the River and Through the Woods.

Premiere Stages at Kean University Increases Awards for 14th Annual Play Festival

Foster Mom Press Photo 3 

Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, is now accepting submissions for the 14th annual Premiere Play Festival.  This yearly competition for unproduced scripts offers developmental and production opportunities to four playwrights with strong ties to the greater metropolitan area (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware).

This year, Premiere Stages is excited to announce increases to all financial awards for winners, and has expanded its eligibility to include playwrights from Delaware. Premiere will accept submissions now through December 15, 2017, and select four finalists by early March 2018; any submissions received before or after this submission window will not be considered. All four finalists will receive developmental readings, scheduled for March 15-18, 2018, with a winner and runner-up to be announced in April 2018. The festival winner will be awarded a $2,500 advance and receive a full Equity production during Premiere Stages 2018 Mainstage Season; the runner-up will receive $1,000 and an Equity 29-hour staged reading in June 2018. The two remaining finalists will each receive an honorarium of $750.

Through the uniquely accelerated Play Festival process, Premiere Stages provides an encouraging and highly focused environment in which playwrights can develop their work. Premiere Stages also actively advocates for Festival writers by reaching out to other theatres to secure subsequent productions, and partnering with other organizations and theatres to extend the profile and life of the works developed.

JohnWooten“We are pleased to increase the awards and developmental opportunities that we can afford to regional dramatists. We are developing a record number of playwrights at Premiere in 2017 and we look forward to this trend continuing in 2018,” stated John J. Wooten, Producing Artistic Director and founder of Premiere Stages.

In the fourteen seasons since its founding, the Premiere Play Festival has received over 3,500 submissions and developed more than fifty plays. Multiple plays produced at Premiere have been honored by the American Theatre Critics Association, and/or been published by Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, Dramatic Publishing Company, Playscripts, and Broadway Play Publishing. A number of Play Festival winners and finalists have subsequently been produced in New York and at regional theatres across the country, including 2017 finalists Patricia Cotter’s 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting For John Anderson) premiering at Jackalope Theatre Company in October, and Sarah Gancher’s Seder, premiering next month at Hartford Stage.

All 2017 Premiere Play Festival entries will be evaluated by a panel of theatre professionals in consultation with Premiere artistic staff.  Agents and theatre professionals with an affiliation to Premiere Stages may submit full scripts; playwrights may submit a synopsis and script sample directly. The submission window is September 15, 2017 through December 15, 2017, and there is no fee to enter the competition. Complete submission guidelines are available online at Premiere Stages is committed to supporting a diverse group of writers; playwrights of all backgrounds, ages, and experience levels are encouraged to submit. All entrants are encouraged to review Premiere Stages’ production history, which is also posted on the website.

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Please call 908-737-4077 for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. For more information, please visit Premiere Stages online at

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chester Theatre Group Perry Winners for 2017 Congratulations

                      Chester Theatre Group Winners for 2017:

                                 Outstanding Production of a Play
                                - The Trip to Bountiful
Roxanna Wagner – Producer
Kevern Cameron
Kevern Cameron - Director

Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actress -
The Trip to Bountiful
                                                      Terri Sturtevant

Marionettes Bring Magic & Mozart to Jersey City

The Prince & the Magic Flute 300dpi

JCTC-KIDS and Jersey City’s favorite string-attached theater company – Puppetworks – returns for its new season with an entrancing production of The Prince & The Magic Flute.

JCTC-KIDS presents The Prince & The Magic Flute by Puppetworks, Sundays at 1:00 pm, beginning October 1st at Merseles Studios, 339 Newark Avenue, Jersey City 07302.

Since 2014, JCTCKIDS – the children’s division of Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC)—has brought children’s theater in the form of classic marionette puppetry to the puppet theater at Merseles Studios.  While previous productions were based on fairy tales, folklore and classic children’s literature, The Prince & The Magic Flute is based on a beloved opera, adding another dimension to puppetry in Jersey City.

“Our version of The Prince and The Magic Flute is a musical, but all the songs the puppets sing and the instrumental music on the soundtrack are the original compositions by Mozart,” said Mike Leach, Executive Director of Puppetworks. “Puppetworks pride ourselves with keeping timeless, traditional stories alive. Our shows also serve as one of the first introductions to theater and literature that families can give their children. With The Prince & The Magic Flute, we also add operatic storytelling and Mozart to that introduction.”

The Prince and The Magic Flute was performed in 1791 – just two months before the premature death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart wrote this fairytale opera for the theatrical troupe at the ‘Theater auf der Wieden’, where Mozart frequently performed. The story – of a prince saving a damsel – was actually based on several sources, especially medieval romance literature. The story follows a brave prince and his funny, bird catcher sidekick— with the help of magic bells and a magic flute—on their quest to rescue a princess from the Palace of the Sun. Their story includes such highlights as a giant crocodile, eerie creatures of the night, tests of water, fire and silence, and a final confrontation with the evil Queen of the Night.

JCTC-KIDS presentation of The Prince & The Magic Flute follows on of the most successful Puppetworks runs in Jersey City. The winter/spring production of the Wizard of Oz at Merseles Studios saw sold-out performances as well as special bookings for schools and other groups.

NJ Rep’s Theatre Brut Session 4 Plays

Play Schedule for Saturday, Oct 7 at 2pm

The Conversation by Wendie Malick.  A look at the assumptions we make about ourselves and each other. We have this strange notion that by a certain age, we will have pretty much figured life out. The truth is we are all “works in progress,” and a necessary part of our evolution may require radically upsetting the status quo.Directed by Dan Lauria and starring Priscilla Lopez, Barbara Andres and Dan Lauria.

Her Place in the World by D.W. Gregory. Adam's immortal, diabolical first wife, Lilith, makes her appearance again, wreaking havoc among his descendants, now atoning for their sins in Juniata County, Pennsylvania. Directed by Andrea Andresakis and Starring Carolyn Popp, Dan McVey, Brittany Sambogna, Pheonix Vaughn, Edwin Alexander.

The Outside Edge of a Full Circle by Matthew Harrington. Is Jesus from Wolverhampton?  James and his wife ponder this question, among others, after he returns from an early morning stroll where-in he had an unusual encounter with a naked man named Jesus. Directed by Joel Stone and starring Mary Francina Golden and Joe Gioco.

Something About Eve by Lynne Halliday. A young man decides to buy some perfume for his fiancé, but what should be a simple business transaction becomes more of an interrogation, when an attractive saleswoman probes into his personal life and turns him upside down.  Directed by  Zoya Kachadurian, and starring Alex Hyatt and Christopher Daftsios.

The Actors

Priscilla Lopez

Barbara Andres

Dan Lauria

Carolyn Popp

Dan McVey

Brittany Sambogna

Pheonix Vaughn

Edwin Alexander

Mary Francina Golden

Joe Gioco

Alex Hyatt

Christopher Daftsios

Wendie Malick

Spotlight Playwright

Wendie Malick is an award winning actress whose career has spanned 40 years. Best known for her roles on Dream On, Just Shoot Me, Frasier and Hot in Cleveland. Films include American President, Jerome, Waiting, Fifty-Nothing and The Emperor’s New Groove. Theatre credits: North Shore Fish, Burleigh Grimes (Off-Broadway), Round Trip, Questa, Vagina Monologues, Santaland Diaries, The Underpants (Los Angeles) Blithe Spirit, What is the Cause of Thunder (Williamstown), Closure (NJ Rep), Love Letters (Laguna Playhouse), Don’t Blame Me … (Woolly Mammoth), The Guys(Studio Arena). Malick is currently starring in Paul Rudnick’s new play, Big Night at The Kirk Douglas Theater in L.A.

D.W. Gregory

Spotlight Playwright

D.W. Gregory's plays frequently explore political issues through a personal lens. The New York Times called her “a playwright with a talent to enlighten and provoke” for her most produced work, Radium Girls, about the famous case of industrial poisoning. Other plays include Molumby's Million, nominated for a Barrymore Award by Philadelphia Theatre Alliance; The Good Daughter and October 1962, which premiered at NJ Rep; a new musical comedy, The Yellow Stocking Play, with composer Steven M. Alper and lyricist Sarah Knapp; and Salvation Road, coming from Dramatic Publishing. Her short comedy So Tell Me About This Guy was a finalist for the Heideman Award and produced at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville on a bill of short works. Her plays have been produced throughout the United States and abroad, and her work has been developed through the support of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE), the National New Play Network, the Maryland Arts Council, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Gregory is a member of the Dramatists’ Guild and an affiliated writer with The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. More information can be found on her website at and at

Matthew Harrington

Spotlight Playwright

Matthew Harrington was born in Brasil, raised in South America and Europe, and now resides with his wife, LaDawna, in New Jersey. Upon graduating from the Professional Actors Training Program at Ohio University (MFA), he spent several years as a resident member of the Indiana Repertory Theater.  Most recently he has devoted much of his time, joy, and passion to the art of writing, especially for The Bakery.

Lynne Halliday

Spotlight Playwright

Lynne Halliday is a performer and playwright. She has appeared at the York Theatre, 54 Below, The Guggenheim Museum and sung with ABT. She is a co-author of The Gorges Motel, a FringeNYC standout that is being published by Dramatists’ Play Service, as well as By the Numbers, which recently premiered at in Florida and is being developed in New York by the Now Collective. Her work has been seen at Coogan’s Play with your Dinner and her Ballad of 72nd Street appeared in the TBG Fast Play Fest.

Buy Session 4 Plays

Old Library Theatre Wins NJACT’s Community Theater of the Year Award for 2017!

Old Library Theatre was announced the recipient of NJACT’s Perry Award for Community Theater of the Year at tonight’s 2017 Perry Awards ceremony, held at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ.

Craig Tiede, current OLT President, accepted the award on the company’s behalf, and his remarks are below.

Congratulations to all who give of themselves to make OLT such a special place where art and memories are made!

Thank you. Receiving this recognition means a lot to all of us and we’re so grateful to those who wrote a letter of support or nomination on our behalf, to the executive board of NJACT for selecting us to receive the award, and everyone who donates their time and talents to Old Library Theatre, helping us engage, entertain, educate, and do what we love in the context of our greater lives, sharing that love to make others’ lives greater.

My name is Craig Tiede and I’ve been the president of Old Library Theatre since 2012. For those who’ve not heard of us, or for those who picture us performing finger puppet productions of The Brothers Grimm from behind book-filled stacks, here’s a primer: We are the resident theater company of the Fair Lawn Recreation Department in Fair Lawn, NJ. We perform in a beautiful 170-seat theater space that we share with a handful of other community and professional theater companies. We are in the midst of our 50th anniversary season and we produce eight shows per year – including original works and Broadway favorites. We are committed to showcasing talented performers of all ages, shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and stages of development, teaching them the art of creating live theater and bringing the joy of its creation to their community.

For many, community theater is a punch line. It’s some second-class version of a great art form, better left to the professionals, than to the part-timers who believe they could have been stars had they only not been “born too soon and started too late.” We’re seen as this collective of the ones who never made it, or never tried.

For others, community theater is a hobby. It’s just a fun place to go after school or work, where temporary, but intense, relationships are formed, memories are made, and we get to share our talents with our friends, family and coworkers.

And for others, community theater is a lifestyle, a hashtag, a second home, a first home – the partner, best friend, boss, and staff that never leaves us, even if it occasionally lets us down. It’s the blood that runs through our veins, the air we breathe, the proof of a life lived out loud.

To us, community theater is a privilege, and a calling. We choose to spend a portion of our lives engaged in this form of social intercourse and personal recreation because we know community theater matters. It makes a difference. It shapes, and transforms, lives. It brings stories and poses questions to communities they might not otherwise encounter. What we do, what we love, what we are so lucky to be celebrating here tonight, matters.

Our company, like most of yours, has its share of challenges. And in the years I’ve been involved, more than a few seemingly insurmountable obstacles. You know what I mean – the kinds of people, and situations, and tech weeks, and ticket sales – that make the joy and magic we’re trying to capture and share something only chemically possible with a great deal of alcohol, or distance, or passive aggressive social media posts.

But as artists, our creativity and persistence musn’t waver. And we, Old Library Theatre, have persisted. We have pushed ourselves to do better, be better, expect better, and attract better. And when we get it wrong, we recalibrate. And when we get it right, we don’t brag. We dig in. And we keep going, keep trying to do right, to spread joy, and allow ourselves to feel lucky that we get to do something that we love and that we know matters.

None of us think receiving this award means we’re the best community theater in New Jersey. We don’t think it means this was our best year, or the one where we finally got it right. We don’t think it means we’re any more or less deserving than any other community theater in New Jersey.

What we hope it means is that we’re on the right track and you’re proud to have us as members of this community. We are the dreamers, the creators, the storytellers, the educators, the risk-takers, the sharers of joy our communities need and are better for.

‘Sleuth’ next by Maurer Productions OnStage at Kelsey

Anthony Shaffer's

The ultimate game of cat-and-mouse
played out as only two English gentalmen can!

Viist MPOnStage on the Web

Coming this October

See Video Promo

About the Show
Maurer Productions OnStage presents Anthony Shaffer's' Tony Award winning play. The ultimate game of cat-and-mouse is played out in a cozy English country house owned by celebrated mystery writer, Andrew Wyke. Invited guest Milo Tindle, a young rival who shares not only Wyke's love of the game but also his wife, has come to lay claim. Revenge is devised and murders plotted as the two plan the ultimate whodunnit

The cast features George Hartpence of New Hope, PA as Andrew Wyke; Dan Keyser of Bridgewater, NJ as Milo Tindle; Phillip Farrar of Morristown, NJ as Inspector Doppler; Harold K. Newman of Mahwah, NJ as Detective Sergeant Tarrant; and Roger Purnell of Wayne, NJ as Police Constable Higgs. The show is directed by Diana Gilman Maurer, co-founder of MPO with her husband, John M. Maurer. She notes that Sleuth is a classic drama where you don’t really know what to expect – until the very end.

The members of the production team are Master Carpenter Jeff Cantor, Lighting Designer M. Kitty Getlik, and Sound Designer Judi Parrish. Costumes are by Anthony Remer and the stage manager is Stacy Maurer.

Tickets are $18 for adults; $16 for seniors; and $14 for students/children. They may purchased online or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333.
Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking next to the theater. For a complete listing of adult and children's events, visit the Kelsey website or call the box office for a brochure.

Directed By: Diana Gilman Maurer

Fridays, October 6 & 13 at 8 p.m.;
Saturdays, October 7 & 14 at 8 p.m.; and
Sundays, October 8 & 15 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $18 adult, $16 seniors, $14 students/children
plus a $1 per ticket processing fee.


                       THE HUNCHBACK OF SEVILLE,
             Cherise Castro Smith's bawdy new comedy

Teachers and school staffers are being invited to attend the opening night performance at no charge. A coffee and cake reception with the cast follows the show.
This NJ premiere about the “discovery” of the new world and the powerful women standing over Christopher Columbus’ shoulder skewers history while satirizing the personality politics of the 21st century.

The free tickets are available with school or NJEA ID cards at the box office beginning 7 PM, Friday, September 29, on a first come, first served basis pending availability; free tix may be reserved in advance with a $2 service charge at Please present ID at box office when picking up tickets.

The Theater Project - PO Box 101, Union, NJ, 07083, (908) 809-8865

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review: ‘Show for Days’ at the Chester Theatre Group

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The Chester Theatre Group premiered this weekend their first production of their 50th season, a quirky, off-beat backstage play Show for Days, by Douglas Carter Beane. The play has had limited exposure since it premiered two years ago at the Lincoln Center Theatre to mixed reviews. The star was Patti LaPone who won praise for her performance as Irene, the theater’s leader and quintessential drama queen.

showDSC00685One of our favorite community theater actresses , Carla Kendall gives an impressive performance as Irene, the equal of her ‘Master Class’ turn at the Barn Theater several seasons ago. She nicely keeps the level just below ‘over the top.’ It would be easy to blow the roof off of the Black River Playhouse with this showcase part. Irene, is a tough trooper who has mastered all things political…she has no qualms about getting her way, including everything from simple flattery to vicious blackmail. Her mission is to keep the theater company together at all costs even in a dilapidated building marked for demolition. Her principal support comes from her lesbian manager Sid, played by another community theater star, Lauri MacMillan. She is spot-on as the most realistic member of the group. She is a balloon buster of the highest order. Irene, at her nastiest, enjoys reminding Sid that her lover has fled without notice.

The play is semi-autobiographical. Beane was introduced to theater in Reading, Pennsylvania, the setting of the play. It was there that he discovered his sexuality and writing talent ….he’s a Tony playwright winner. Several of his other plays are also about the gay world, I.e., Nance and The Little Dog That Laughed.

showDSC00327The story is told through his eyes. Brian Merrill as Car (photo left)portrays with great sincerity both the adult and schoolboy Beane. He suffers a tragic heartbreak when he is rejected by his first-ever lover and fellow cast member, Damien, played effectively by Will Roper.

The cast has two other talented members, both nicely cast by director Roseann Ruggiero. The first is Jessica Phelan (photo below) as the company’s naïve ingenue Maria. Second is Josh Musgrave who plays a stereotypical black leading man, Clive. Musgrave is clearly a major talent.

showDSC00256A bit of the plot: It starts when a young man (Beane/Car) wanders into a dilapidated community theater in Reading, PA in 1973. The company members welcome him—well, only because they need a set painter that day. The young man then proceeds to soak up all the idealism and the craziness that comes with being part of a struggling theater company with big dreams. His life is changed forever.

Shows for Days is billed as a comedy, but it has its dark dramatic moments. In other words, it is not Neil Simon fluff. We were most impressed with the cast led by Carla Kendall and Lauri MacMillan (photo below). Both ladies, in particular, are theater-in-the round veterans (translation…easily heard). Working in the round, even in a venue as intimate as the Black River Playhouse, can be challenging. Roseann Ruggiero nicely utilized the theater’s limited space maximizing the audiences’ ability to both hear and see.

You have two more weekends to see this backstage circus. Closing is Sunday October 1, 2017. Hats off to ringmaster Ruggiero.ShowsForDays_dsc00260_sm

Also, special note is in order for the creative team: Penny Hoadley producer*; Roseann Ruggiero director; George Seylaz & Richard Vetter stage managers; Steve Catron scenic design; Ellen Fraker-Glasscock lighting design; Richard Vetter & Steve Catron sound design; Barbara Haag, Roseann Ruggiero & Scaramouche costumes; Barbara Henderson & Geraldine Baillod props; Barbara Haag ,Barbara Henderson & Geraldine Baillod dressers.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio September 16, 2017

The Chester Theatre Group performs in The Black River Playhouse, an intimate, 100-seat theater in the heart of Chester Borough’s historic district. The venue’s in-the-round format ensures that every seat offers an engaging, memorable experience for each audience member. The theater is located on the corner of Grove Street and Maple Avenue. For more information, visit the CTG website at

*Note ala Irene…: Penny Hoadley WAS the CTG’s leader for over three decades. There is absolutely no similarity with her and the Irene character!

History of the Chester Theatre Group

Each season, for more than 50 years, the Chester Theatre Group has been a vital part of the New Jersey cultural community.

Our home, the Black River Playhouse, is rare among theatres in New Jersey in that it connects artists and audiences in a special in-the-round theatre space where viewers are less than five feet away from performers. That intimacy is our greatest asset. It generates a singular energy that occurs only in live theater.

The Black River Playhouse was originally a Baptist Church. In 1854, it was purchased by the Bedminster Methodist Church and, in the winter of 1880-1881, thanks to the strength of six mule teams, moved to its present location at Grove Street and Maple Avenue. Once the new Methodist Church was built in 1908 at the corner of Colins Lane and Main Street, Chester Township purchased the old Grove Street church to be used as their Chester Township Municipal Building.

In 1930, after Chester Borough was formed, this structure became the Chester Borough Hall. Eventually the Chester Borough relocated its municipal offices and this structure was used for medicine shows, Sadie Hawkins dances, firemen’s fundraisers and picture shows. It continued serving the community in these roles for many years.

In 1959, Chester’s growing population required the addition of an auditorium to the Williamson School. There was a stage but no money for curtains, spotlights or backdrops. With no available funds to provide these items, a group of residents banded together to mount a production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town as a fundraiser. The funds were raised, the play was a success and the Chester Theatre Group was born. Bus Stop and The Curious Savage completed their first year’s plays.

The Chester Theatre Group continued to perform plays, from The Crucible in their 1960-1961 season to Born Yesterday during their 1965-66 season. These early productions were performed at different local venues.

In 1965, Chester Borough put its Borough Hall on the auction block and it was bought by the Chester Theatre Group for $6,000 with two minor issues: one, Alan Rubinstein, the Chester Theatre Group President at the time, did not have the 15% down payment, and two, the deed still showed that Chester Township owned the building. Alan Rubinstein was able to resolve the 15% shortcoming by passing his hat around to the crowd gathered for the auction and Chester Township’s Honorable Mayor Conklin agreed to turn over the deed. The sale became official December 9, 1965 and years of renovation began.

The first Chester Theatre Group production in the Black River Playhouse takes place in January of 1967. This production, A Thurber Carnival, was deemed “A Smash Success.” And so it has been for the past 50 seasons.

A fundamental cornerstone of CTG is promoting the invaluable work of directors. By providing a free and accessible venue for creative expression, directors are invited each season to come forward with their ideas and visions for possible productions. CTG does not limit itself solely to the commercial, the avant grade, or the classical; to dramas, musicals, or comedies; or even to plays. We limit ourselves only to answering the following questions affirmatively: Will the production be interesting, entertaining, and challenging enough to us and our audience to warrant production? And can we do it well? That philosophy has yielded decades of quality theater for our community, enriching artists and audiences alike.


NOW PERFORMING thru October 1, 2017

November 3 - 19, 2017

December 8 - 10, 2017

February 16 - March 4, 2018

March 15 - 17, 2018

May 4 - 20, 2018

54 Grove Street (at the corner of Maple Avenue), Chester, NJ 07930 • 908-879-7304 •


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