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Friday, September 30, 2011

Paper Mill Playhouse's Newsies Broadway bound?

Newsies, the stage adaptation of the 1992 Disney film currently running at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse, may head to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre in April 2012, according to the New York Post.

Directed by Jeff Calhoun, Newsies opened at the Paper Mill on September 25 and will play a limited engagement there through October 16.

Newsies leading man Jeremy Jordan has already expressed interest in seeing the show transfer to Broadway next spring, however....there is a large potential conflict with Jordan's schedule; he is set to star in Broadway's Bonnie & Clyde beginning November 4 at the Schoenfeld Theatre. Newsies' director Jeff Calhoun is also the director of Bonnie & Clyde!

Please read our review of Newsies.

Paper Mill Playhouse: Newsies cast list

As a follow-up to our review of The Paper Mill Playhouse's "Newsies" here is the enormous cast list;

The Cocktail Party next for the Chester Theatre Group

The Chester Theatre Group will present the comedy The Cocktail Hour by A. R. Gurney on Friday and Saturday at 8 pm November 5 to the 19 and Sunday at 2 pm, November 13 and 20, 2011, at the Black River Playhouse, located at the corner of Grove Street and Maple Avenue in Chester, NJ. 

Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award as Best Off-Broadway Play. A long-run New York success, this witty, perceptive play blends mordant humor with moments of affecting poignancy. “THE COCKTAIL HOUR is as funny and moving as The Dining Room…it could be the best play he has done so far.” —The New Yorker. 

“It makes for a deliciously funny and also occasionally touching evening, as Gurney’s family sit around raking over old coals and settling old scores with a quite new and beguiling freshness.” —NY Post. “The lines in the play crackle and pop with an electricity all their own.” — Drama-Logue.…"when I watch Gurney at his best, as he is here, I laugh through the tears.” —NY Daily News.
 
Penny Hoadley and Michael Foley
The Cocktail Hour will be directed by Cindy Alexander (Annandale). 

The cast includes: Michael Foley (Andover), Penny Hoadley (Brookside), AnnDonne Pepito (Somerset), and Steve Catron (Mendham).

 The time is the mid ’70s, the place a city in upstate New York. John, a playwright, returns to his family’s house, bringing with him a new play which he has written about them. His purpose is to obtain their permission to proceed with production, but his wealthy, very proper parents are cautious from the outset. For them the theatre is personified by the gracious, comforting era of the Lunts and Ina Claire, and they are disturbed by the bluntness of modern plays. 

 And there is also John’s sister, Nina, to contend with, although her reservations have to do with the fact that John has given her character such a minor role. Their confrontation takes place during the ritual of the cocktail hour, and as the martinis flow so do the recriminations and revelations, both funny and poignant. In the end it is evident that what John has written is closer to the truth than his family has heretofore been willing to admit, and that beneath their WASP reserve his parents and siblings are as beset with uncertainties and frustrations as their presumed “inferiors.” But while they seem shackled by the past, and tantalized disappointments and, with unfailing warmth and humor, converting pained resignation into cautious but hopeful anticipation.

 

Tickets are $18 ($16 for Seniors/Students). For reservations call 908-879-7304. For more information visit the CTG website www.chestertheatregroup.org

Tonight: Light up the Sky opens at the Centenary Stage Company

Cast photo by Bob Eberle

Centenary Stage Company’s Theatre season opens tonight with “Light up the Sky” by celebrated American Playwright Moss Hart.  

Directed by Carl Wallnau, the production runs  Sept 30 – Oct 16 in Hackettstown at the new David and Carol Lackland Center at 715 Grand Ave.  

For Tickets and information, contact the box office at 908-979-0900 or www.centenarystageco.org.

We'll review the Saturday night (10/1) performance.

Improv Comedy Class at Dreamcatcher

Back by popular demand...

IMPROV COMEDY CLASS FOR ADULTS

Get your comedy groove on while gaining confidence and having FUN!
improv comedy class Have you seen our improv comedy shows and thought "that looks like so much fun"? Do you envy the ease at which some people face a crowd? Are you an actor exploring comedy? If so, this course is just for you!

- Learn traditional improv games
- Develop spontaneity and learn how to shed your inhibitions
- For actors who want to try another angle on performing
- Not just for actors: for anyone who wants to develop these skills
- Perform in front of your friends and family at final showcase

Tuition & Registration

Course fee: $315  save $30 - register by October 3, only $285!   Register now
Dates:         Saturdays Oct. 8 to Dec. 17 from 10am to 12noon
Location:    Dreamcatcher's third floor loft at the Baird Center in South Orange    Directions

Note: enrollment is limited and is on a first come, first served basis


Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre
The Baird
South Orange, New Jersey 07079

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tonight: Stand-up Comedy Night at the Luna Stage


Michael Che headlines and hosts a night of Stand-Up Comedy


Stand Up @ Studio Luna
WHEN: Thursday, September 29, at 8 PM 
WHERE:  Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange
TICKETS: $10 (Age 21+ w/ID)
Refreshments: $5 at the Door

Luna's first-ever Stand-up Comedy Night! Bring some friends or make it a date night, but leave the little ones at home – this is an evening of mature fun for the humorous 21 and over crowd.
Join comedian Michael Che (Caroline's on Broadway) and a terrific team of up and coming young comic talents—Gordon Baker-Bone (Boston Comedy Festival); The Lucas Bros. (Comedy Central's Tosh.O); Nimesh Patel (The Stress Factory)—and just added to the group—Rae!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Theater Project to present comedy Fully Committed


The Theater Project, a 17-year old Central New Jersey-based professional theater company, will present its fall production, the zany “Fully Committed” by Becky Mode, from October 13 through 30. The production will take place at the New Jersey Arts Incubator at the Essex Green Shopping Center on Prospect Avenue just off I-280 in West Orange, NJ.



This hysterical, fast-paced show follows a day in the life of Sam Peliczowski, an out-of-work actress who handles the red-hot reservation line at Manhattan's number-one restaurant. She is certainly in demand – not for acting roles, but for prime reservations at the right table. As she juggles scheming socialites, name-dropping wannabes, fickle celebrities and egomaniacal bosses, Sam tries to sort out her own life and career. Sam – along with the nearly 40 demanding characters in “Fully Committed” – are all portrayed by one actress, Jenelle Sosa of Newark (Photo-TTP).


Directed by Rick Delaney, this hilarious comedy is about being in the right place at the right time, and heroine Sam learns that sometimes it's just best to hang up the phone. The New York Times hailed a previous production of “Fully Committed” calling it "…immensely entertaining, a richly comic affirmation of everything I've ever heard, or suspected, about the bad behavior that good food can inspire." Time Out New York called the production "hilarious and touching, galloping along at a swift, almost frantic pace."

The Theater Project believes that a more thoughtful, inspired and creative community can be stimulated by its unique brand of professional, high-quality and theatrical programming. It is dedicated to the presentation of powerful and relevant productions that explore contemporary values and topic issues in an intimate and engaging setting.

Committed to strengthening the bond our professional artists have with our patrons and donors, The Theater Project provides our Central New Jersey community with a broad range of affordable programming -- ranging from rarely-seen productions to educational offerings and programs supporting next-generation actors and playwrights to a safe developmental environment for the cultivation of new plays by authors of all ages -- in celebration of the special interactive relationship between artists and audiences only live theater can provide.

Tickets range from $10-25 and are available at Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006 or at brownpapertickets.com. More information is available at TheTheaterProject.org and NJAI.org or by calling (908) 809-8865. The New Jersey Arts Incubator is in the rear of the Essex Green Shopping Center next to the cinemas and behind Panera Bread, 495 Prospect Avenue in West Orange. Additional information is available at TheTheaterProject.org or NJAI.org.

Crossroads Theatre Company's New Brunswick Jazz Project

Events for all tastes at Centenary's new Lackland Center


Lackland Center
There will be non-stop activities at the David and Carol Lackland Center this October, as the Centenary Stage Company (CSC) launches in earnest into the exciting 2010-11 season in Hackettstown.

The theatre season opens with Moss Hart’s delightful comedy, “Light up the Sky”,   performing Sept 30 – Oct 16th in the larger Sitnik theatre of the Lackland Center.   Tickets range from $20-25 with discounts for seniors and students, and a special “Family Night” two-for-one ticket- price on Thursday evenings, available at the door on the night of performance.   A special Open Captioned performance (for patrons with hearing disabilities) of “Light up the Sky” will be offered on Sunday, Oct 9.

The CSC Young Audience Series performance for October will be “A Year with Frog and Toad - the Musical”, on October 15 at 11 am in the Little Theatre on Jefferson Street, in the main Seay administration building of the campus.   Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children under 12.
The celebrated Boston chamber orchestraA Far Cry, will perform a classical program on Oct 22 at 8 PM in the Sitnik Theatre.  The orchestra is a groundbreaking, self-conducted string orchestra rapidly ascending to critical acclaim as a new generation of classical ensembles.  Tickets are $25, with discounts for seniors and students.

The beloved New Jersey Ballet returns to the Sitnik theatre of the Centenary Stage on  Oct 29th at 8 PM, bringing ballet with a Latin Beat,  a fresh new celebration of Latino culture with works representing Cuba, Brazil and Mexico. The evening will feature Suite Huasteca, a contemporary celebration of the golden age of Spanish Baroque by New York-based choreographer David Fernandez, with music by celebrated Mexican composer/musician Jesus Echevarria.   The vivid sun-drenched colors of Mexico come through in the projected art backdrops by contemporary Mexican artist Gabriela Rosado Rivera.  Suite Huasteca was developed with the support of the Mexican Cultural Institute in New York and the office of the Consul General of Mexico.  Tickets are $25, with discounts for seniors and students.

"Not since Heifetz has anyone played Gershwin solos with this much panache,”  raves the American Record Guide about pianist Hyperon Knight, who will perform in the in the Kutz Theatre of Lackland as part of the Jazz in the Box Series.    Known as a virtuoso musician , Knight is a self-proclaimed “Gershwin Enthusiast”  and master of piano transcriptions in the tradition of Liszt & Horowitz .  Tickets for Hyperion Knight  are $17.50 in advance and $22.50 on the day of performance.

For tickets and information, contact the CSC Box office at 908-979-0900 or visit online, where tickets may also be purchased, at www.centenarystageco.org.
The 2011-12 season of performing arts events at Centenary Stage Company is made possible (and affordable) through the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation,  and CSC sponsors and members, including Skylands Community Bank, Heath Village Retirement Community, Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, and Mama’s and Café Baci.

Rodgers and Hart Songbook at the McCarter until Oct. 9

Ten Cents A Dance<br /> <br />The Music and Lyrics of Rodgers and Hart <br />Conceived and Directed by John Doyle <br /> <br />

RAVE REVIEWS<br />    <br />    “ An impressive display of talent … the individual performances are perfectly blended into the ensemble” – Town Topics <br /><br /> “So you think you’ve seen a musical revue? Think again. John Doyle has re-imagined the genre, and what better vehicle for the incomparable treasures of Rodgers and Hart.” – Time Off <br />“Ten Cents A Dance can truly be called theatre art at its best…it is an amazing accomplishment” – Stage Magazine <br /> “If you love the great melodies, as I do, from the era of George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern and, of course, Rodgers and Hart....you will leave the theater  'With A Song In (Your) Heart.
In association with Williamstown Theatre Festival<br /><br />Major Production Support Provided by  <br /><br />Opening Night Sponsored by  Glenmede<br />


WHERE: McCarter Theatre Center, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ 08540
Click here for further parking and directions information

TICKETS: Tickets start at just $20! Call 609.258.2787 or BUY TICKETS NOW or VIEW WEBSITE
www.mccarter.org
 
Isn’t It Romantic? Tony Award winner John Doyle (Broadway’s Sweeney Todd and Company) brings his trademark twist to the Rodgers and Hart songbook in this stirring new production with a cast that doubles as the orchestra! Rodgers and Hart’s evocative and sophisticated tunes will keep you bewitched, bothered, and bewildered in this inventive song-cycle. Chock full of your favorite tunes, this romantic and elegant musical will leave you with a song in your heart.
Including favorites: Isn’t It Romantic? ; My Funny Valentine ; Blue Moon ; My Heart Stood Still ; My Romance ; and many others!
Watch the trailer HERE. Ten Cents a Dance runs 90 minutes without an intermission.

NOTE: Examiner quote above is by NJ Footlights' Rick Busciglio

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Newsies at the Paper Mill Playhouse-WOW



The long awaited premiere of the stage version of the Disney musical Newsies was Sunday night at the Paper Mill Playhouse. On a scale of one-to-ten the WOW factor is plus ten. Once again, the Paper Mill Playhouse, in collaboration with an entertainment giant, has presented a spectacular, toe-tapping, foot-stomping production of pure entertainment.

Last season, you will recall, the Paper Mill, in concert with legendary producer Cameron Mackintosh (The Phantom of The Opera), presented the outstanding U.S. premiere of the 25th anniversary edition of Les Miserables. Musically (and the book) Newsies is not in the same league as Les Miz, but, of course, few shows are. But, the music is still first-rate, although no show-stoppers, and is the product of the film's composers...eight-time Academy Award®-winning composer Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Sister Act, The Little Mermaid), with lyrics by Jack Feldman. They retained many of the film's original songs (Santa Fe and Seize The Day, the most memorable) and added several new numbers.


The biggest change is the addition of a new book by Broadway Hall-of Famer, Harvey Fierstein. Fierstein has provided the central character, Jack Kelly (Jeremy Jordan), with a new love interest, fledgling newspaper reporter Katherine Plumber (Kara Lindsay) who aids the Newsies in their David and Goliath strike against Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, and by the second act has fallen in love with Jack, for example. In the film, Jack is in love with his friend David's sister Sarah.


Newsies, as the live-action Disney film musical that starred the teenaged Christian Bale, was a horrendous box-office flop. The best reviews called it 'mildly amusing.'  It was only after it was released to home video that the story of a bunch of kids taking on, and defeating, some of the most powerful men in the world developed a cult following. Newsies is based on the true story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City. Thousands of homeless children were living in Newsboys lodging houses, they strike when the price of newspapers for purchase by the newsboys is raised one-tenth of a cent, decided by bitter rivals, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World,  and William Randolph Hearst of The Journal.


The lead, 'Cowboy' Jack Kelly, torn between his dream of one day of fleeing the city for Santa Fe and wanting to help his newsie friends, faces many difficult decisions involving money and loyalty, is played by a relative newcomer of exceptional talent, Jeremy Jordan. Jordan can do it all...sing, dance and act (with a NY/Brooklyn accent worthy of Leo Gorcey and his Bowery Boys). Concurrently with his Newsie performance, he is in rehearsal by day in New York for his first starring role on Broadway as Clyde Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde opening in December. Kara Lindsay is excellent as the newspaper woman Katherine Plummer. Kara was last seen by the Paper Mill audience as Laura in The Little House On The Prairie. John Dossett impresses with his villianous portrayal of Pulitzer. Also outstanding is the huge cast of young men led by Ben Fankhauser as Davey, young Vincent Agnello as Les, Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Crutchie, Aaron J. Albano as Finch, and Tommy Bracco as Tommy Boy.

Leading the adult cast are Helen Anker, gorgeous as Medda, John E. Brady as Wiesel, Mr. Jacobi and the Mayor. His brief Mr. Jacobi appearance earned a round of applause. Kevin Carolan does a fine Teddy Roosevelt, then Governor of New York. The other great villain of the piece is Snyder, the warden of the infamous 'Refuge', a hell hole of a juvenile detention facility. Stuart Marland is very convincing as Snyder.
 
This outstanding production has been directed by Tony® nominee Jeff Calhoun (The Will Rogers Follies, Grey Gardens).  Calhoun is no stranger to Disney productions, he directed both the world premiere and international productions of Disney's High School Musical: On Stage, and Disney's High School Musical 2: On Stage. He is also set to direct Bonnie and Clyde on Broadway. Calhoun's team: First, the choreographer Christopher Gattelli, he has assembled a cast of exceptional male dancers, many of whom appear ready for the ABT (American Ballet Theatre). The impressive set, inspired by the girder construction of the long gone 3rd Avenue 'El' is the work of Scenic Designer Tobin Ost. Jeff Croiter is the Lighting Designer. Sven Ortel is the Projection Designer...a relatively new, and, in this production, a very key position.


David Holcenberg serves as Music Director of the 12 member orchestra. Michael Kosarin is the Music Supervisor/Vocal and Incidental Music Arranger. Rounding out the team are: Randy Hansen (Sound Design), Chuck LaPointe (Hair and Wig Design), J. Allen Suddeth (Fight Director) and Shane Ann Younts (Dialect Coach).   Thomas J. Gates is the all-important Production Stage Manager.

Harvey Fierstein, in his 'A Note from the Playwright' offers this view of Newsies; "Speaking for the team, I urge you, in the best Disney tradition, to dream, and then watch what happens! You can change the world." This is the important message of this marvelous theatrical event. Five Stars.
 
Newsies began at Paper Mill Playhouse on Thursday, September 15, 2011 and will be performed eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday, through Sunday, October 16. Three, four and five show subscription packages are available now, starting at $84.   Single tickets range in price from $25-$96. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973-376-4343, or at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, New Jersey or online at www.papermill.org.  Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted.  Groups of ten or more can receive up to a 35% discount on tickets and should call 973-315-1680Newsies is supported by a grant from The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. Investors Bank is the sponsor of Paper Mill Playhouse's 2011-2012 season.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio    September 25, 2011




Kara Linsey (Katherine Plumer) and Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelley),  Photos by T. Charles Erickson, courtesy of Paper Mill Playhouse




Monday, September 26, 2011

Stop The Presses! Newsies a smash hit at the Paper Mill!

"Standby for our review! Spectacular entertainment! Disney and The Paper Mill Playhouse have delivered bigtime!" Rick Busciglio

Final performances this weekend for All My Sons at The Barn Theatre

  Don't miss the powerful and thought-provoking "All My Sons" A drama by Arthur Miller
Directed by Mark Phelan

 
 
American businessman Joe Keller made his living selling airplane parts to the army during World War II. When he knowingly sold a batch of defective parts it resulted in the death of 21 men. His crime, long deflected by blaming his business partner, comes to light when his son Chris, unaware of his father’s guilt, returns with plans to wed the imprisoned partner’s daughter. Inspired by a true story, Arthur Miller’s first successful play stands as a provocative and electrifying piece of American drama.

All My Sons’ is directed by Mark Phelan (of Parsippany), and features Paul Bettys (of Denville), Michael Burkett (of Hackensack), Laura Byrne-Cristiano (of Caldwell), Diane Gilch (of Martinsville), Tom Hodge (of Denville), Bob Mackasek (of Union), Dale Monroe (of Hackettstown), Sky Spiegel (of Morristown) and Leyda Torres (of Belleville).

Final Performances run September 30, and October 1 at 8 PM; Tickets are $15 ($14 for seniors/students for matinees only).   For tickets call (973) 334-9320, or visit our Box Office on Saturdays, 4-7 PM thru October 1.  

   The Barn Theatre  |  32 Skyline Drive, Montville, NJ 07045  |  BOX OFFICE: 973-334-9320  |  www.barntheatre.org

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: Romance, Romance at The Women's Theater Company

The Women’s Theater Company kicked off its 19th season on September 23 (2011) with the little performed musical, Romance, Romance, music by Keith Herrmann and lyrics by Barry Harman. The show was one of five nominated for Best Musical in 1988, losing the Tony to the most successful musical of all time, The Phantom of the Opera. It was last produced in our area at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2007.

One of the area's most active, and honored directors, Lauren Moran Mills has assembled a talented group of actors and musicians for this charming, light, non-stop musical. Lauren also doubles as the choreographer.

Marc Dalio and Marcia Sofley

The performers, of mostly local talent, includes; Actors Equity members Marc G. Dalio, and Marcia Sofley. Plus, Ashley Kowzun and Joe D'Angio. Warren Helms is musical director and at the piano. Helms is supported by Tim Metz, considered a first call bassist in the NY metro area. Helms impressed with his vocals opening each act.

Romance, Romance is comprised of two one-act separate musicals (thus the double title), both love stories. Although there are four actors, only two are central to each story (Marc Dalio and Marcia Sofley).

The first, The Little Comedy,  is set in nineteenth century Vienna. Alfred and Josephine (Marc Dalio and Marcia Sofley) are discontent with their lives. He is tired of women only wanting him for his money, and she is a woman used to wanting men for their money. Confiding their woes to their respective best friends in letters, they each separately decide to dress down and go walking in the park, hoping for something different. They end up meeting and fall in love with the others' assumed persona.

Summer Share, the second act is based on a 1898 play Le pain de ménage, but has been updated to the late 1980s and set in The Hamptons, where two married couples in their thirties are spending the season in a rented cottage. Sam (Marc Dalio), who is married to Barb (Ashley Kowzun), and Monica (Marcia Sofley), who is married to Lenny (Joe D'Angelo), find themselves gradually progressing from harmless flirtation to the serious possibility of an illicit affair.

Initially staged off-off-Broadway in 1987, Romance/Romance later moved to the Helen Hayes Theatre in 1988, where it ran for 297 performances and was nominated for several Tonys, including Best Musical.

This production is unique in that it presents something for everyone, i.e. don't like the story in the first act? wait...you may adore the second act story.    

Romance, Romance
(considered by many critics to be an overlooked little gem) will provide a very pleasant evening of live theater with charming, but not necessarily memorable, music and performances by talented people... who may be a bit mis-matched in age and appearance. Marc Dalio, for example, is a handsome young man with a fine voice and a skilled actor, but he was a more believable Sam in the Hamptons, than the more sophisticated Alfred in Vienna.

To properly enjoy the play since the music is not familiar, we suggest that you might want to listen to the cast recording or samples available on the Internet, including video clips on YouTube.


Lauren Moran Mills' production support includes; Producer-Barbara Krajkowski; Stage Manager-Grayce Coviello; Scenic Design/props-Jonathan Wentz; Costumes-Joan Ludwig; and Lighting-Chesapeake Westveer.
 

All shows will be performed on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 3 pm. 
 Performances are at The Parsippany Arts Center, within the Parsippany Community Center, 1130 Knoll Road, Lake Hiawatha.
Tickets for performances are $20.00 and discounted for Senior Citizens to $18.00.
Please call 973 316-3033 to reserve seats for a performance.    Groups of 10 or more pay only $15.00 per person for any performance. Groups please call 908 306-0881 for reservations or contact elisamkennedy@yahoo.com    
(If a group of 20 or more is interested in a Thursday matinee, that can be arranged.)
Ample parking is available at The Parsippany Community Center.
The Women’s Theater Company, founded by Artistic Producing Director, Barbara Krajkowski of Parsippany, is a professional Equity Theater, now in its 19th year.     

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio  (September 24, 2011) 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: The Last Days of Mickey & Jean at the Bickford

Director John Pietrowski (Playwrights Theatre of Madison) continues to demonstrate his outstanding talent for play selection, casting and, of course, direction with the delightfully funny comedy The Last Days of Mickey & Jean by Richard Dresser

The play had its New Jersey premiere on Friday night at the Bickford Theatre (September 23, 2011). Working in this difficult economic climate, particularly for the arts, Pietrowski has been able to assemble a  three-way co-production that includes The Oldcastle Theatre Company of Vermont, the Bickford Theatre of Morristown with Artistic Director Eric Hafen and his own Playwrights Theatre of Madison, to mount this comedy that could have been titled "On the Lam in Paris," or "How Not to Retire."

The plot
was clearly inspired by the story of Boston's notorious fugitive mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger and his longtime mistress. Totally separate from this tale, the two were arrested in California this summer after 16 years on the run for his alleged role in 19 murders.

In Dresser's play, the fugitive mobster and his loyal mistress are Mickey and Jean. They have been on the run for seven years in Europe and are now hotel room bound in Paris. After seven months of this self imposed Parisian confinement, Mickey,
with a two million dollar reward for his capture, is suffering stress from both the fear that the police are closing in on him, and the constant togetherness with Jean. After a rare excursion to consult a doctor, Mickey is sure that Jean's constant attention and simple presence is killing him. Jean is convinced he is a "full-blown hypochondriac." Mickey replies; "Even hypochondriacs get sick and die. Every last one of 'em. If they died maybe they were right to be just a little concerned."

 Meantime, Mickey's only contact back home is his brother Jimmy who is overseeing Mickey's finances. In a moment of panic, Mickey risks calling Jimmy to plead for something to do..."Jimmy, you got to set me up someplace, I need to go back to work. I can still make a contribution, I know I can. I think of all I had and I look out the window and there's nothing here, it's just Europe.

Behind the many laughs, is the complicated tale of two people who now realize what they could have had under different circumstances as they appear to be facing a dead end. That's all we'll say about the plot that has several twists.

The play is clever, witty, and in many moments down right hilarious....it is one fun evening


The Actors' Equity performers, there are just three, are as the Brits say 'spot-on.' Mickey, the Boston mobster, is perfectly played by Duncan Rogers. The Bickford audience will remember Rogers as Ben Hecht in last season's "Moonlight and Magnolias." Beside extensive acting roles in regional and off-Broadway theater, plus television, he is also an award-winning writer and director; Bev Sheehan, who was recently recognized by the Star-Ledger as Best Actress in a Comedy, and was the Artistic Director of the What Exit Theatre Co. for 15 years, is simply marvelous as Jean, the longtime, and suffering mistress,  Sheehan and Rogers, incidentally, are both local residents  (both Maplewood, NJ), and Oliver Wadsworth, also with extensive NY and regional theatre credits as well as tv and film, gets to demonstrate his versatility by playing three vastly different parts beautifully. To reveal his roles may tip several plot twists. 
 
The production, as we said, is directed by John Pietrowski. The multi-talented Kenneth Moody designed not only the set, but also the costumes, and properties. The lights are designed by Roman Klima, Sound Design is by Jeff Knapp. Yumi Matsuura is the Production Stage Manager.

Special mention should also go to the
Artistic Director of the Morris Museum's Bickford Theatre, Eric Hafen.  “It’s exciting to continue the mission of the Bickford of ‘giving second life to plays’ with this co-production and NJ Premiere of this fun comedy by Mr. Dresser. I am enthusiastic about future collaborations and partnerships with the Playwrights and Oldcastle.” said Hafen who is in his 10th year at the Bickford.

Danielle & John Pietrowski

“We are very excited to be co-presenting this very funny and endearing play with The Bickford and Oldcastle Theatre,” said John Pietrowski. “If the audience response in Vermont is any indication, New Jersey audiences will have a great evening of theatre. Playwrights' audiences will recognize Richard Dresser’s work from our production of Augusta two years ago and The Bickford’s will remember Rounding Third, directed by none other than Duncan Rogers. We’ve been wanting to collaborate with The Bickford for some time, now, and this play is a perfect fit for both of our audiences.”

Note: The Playwrights Theatre of Madison is currently without a theater...their longtime Madison home in a former public school is no more. A new venue in Madison possibly at Fairleigh-Dickinson University would continue The Playwrights and John Pietrowski's important cultural contribution to Madison and the surrounding area.


 The Last Days of Mickey & Jean (appropriate for ages 18 and up), will  run through October 9, 2011, no show on Saturday, September 24.
A special Audio Described performance is scheduled for Sunday, October 9 at 2 pm. The play is presented without an intermission.

Single tickets: General Admission $40, Seniors $36, Members of the Morris Museum/Bickford Theatre Guild $33, Groups (10 or more) $30 and Students $20. For tickets, visit www.bickfordtheatre.org or call the box office at 973-971-3706.

See special $10 discount offer below.

All performances will take place at the Bickford Theatre, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, NJ. 

 

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio   (September 23, 2011)

 

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College to present Tuesdays with Stories series for teens and up

Theatre at RVCC
The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in Branchburg will once again present its popular Tuesdays with Stories series during the 2011-2012 season. The series, recommended for individuals age 14 and older, is a unique way to experience great American literature.

Many of the stagings feature literature performed by solo actors from The American Place Theatre’s (APT) Literature to Life Arts in Education Program, adapted for the stage and directed by Wynn Handman.

Performances begin at noon and 7 p.m. and include a pre- and post-show discussion, as well as light refreshments. Tickets cost $10 for noon performances and $25 for 7 p.m. shows. Those who purchase a series subscription to the 7 p.m. shows receive a 30 percent discount off the ticket price. The following performances will be included:

Southern Voices (American Place Theatre),October 18
In our first multi-book presentation, actors will dramatize William Faulkner’sAs I Lay Dying; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; and Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.
 
Down These Mean Streets (American Place Theatre), November 15
In his 1967 memoir, Piri Thomas emerges from a street life of drugs and crime and finds the inner talent and soul not only to survive, but also to enrich the lives of others.

The Night Before Christmas Carol (David zum Brunnen),December 20
This historically accurate and highly humorous production is set on the 1843 night that Charles Dickens dreams up his idea for a ghostly little Christmas book that becomes world famous.

A reading by Ilene Beckerman (Author of Love, Loss and What I Wore), March 20
In 1995, Algonquin published what Publishers Weekly called a “captivating little pictorial autobiography for adults, a life told through clothes.” Sixteen years and three books later, Ilene Beckerman has never stopped her journey.

The Kite Runner(American Place Theatre), May 15
The first contemporary Afghan novel written in English, The Kite Runnerdepicts the relationship of two boys—a privileged Pashtun and a Hazara servant—against the turbulent backdrop of 1970s Afghanistan.

For the eighth year in a row, Courier News readers voted The Theatre at RVCC as the “Best of the Best” in 2011 in the “Theater” category.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Box Office, 908-725-3420, or order online at www.rvccArts.org. A variety of subscribers’ packages are available for all Theatre series. Senior citizen, student and group discounts are also available for a variety of performances.

RVCC’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for over 40 years, the College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates. RVCC @ Bridgewater, located at 14 Vogt Drive, offers technical, trade, credit and non-credit courses.

Chatham Community Players to start season with Tracy Letts’ BUG

The Chatham Community Players will kick off their 90th Season by presenting the Pulitzer Prize & Tony Award winning playwright, Tracy Letts’ play, “BUG.” 
Bob Pridham returns as director, known to Chatham Playhouse audiences for directing numerous gems like “Rabbit Hole”, "The Graduate", “How I Learned To Drive", "Side Man."
BUG centers on Agnes, a lonely, middle-aged waitress victimized by her abusive ex-husband, and tortured by the kidnapping of her child in a supermarket almost ten years ago. After spiraling into a world of alcohol, cocaine, and seedy motel rooms, Peter a timid Gulf War veteran and drifter in search of a friend wanders into her life. As their interest in each other grows, so does their paranoid obsession with understanding what –or who – brought them together.  Did we mention the infestation of bugs?  “…obscenely exciting…top-flight craftsmanship. Buckly up and brace yourself…” states the New York Times.

The exciting cast includes: Sarah Pharaon as Agnes from Maplewood, Matt McCarthy as Peter from Landing, Tina Zogans as RC from Randolph, Jeff Maschi as Goss from Milltown and Brian Dowd as Dr Sweet from South Orange.
Director Bob Pridham added,” Playwright Tracy Letts gives us plays which fire on multiple cylinders and demand white-knuckle commitment from the actors, and BUG is no exception. Funny, rude, violent and appalling, this is a play which sends audiences and performers on a wild ride into a carnival darkhouse where almost nothing is what it seems to be. Few plays I know better capture the interlocked pathologies of fear, suspicion and reactionary madness which seem to be clogging the American airwaves these days. I'm reminded of the punchline to an old joke: "I may be paranoid, but at least I know what's real." Not to be outdone, Letts pushes us one step further: "What don't you know?"
Performance dates are October 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 8PM and October 23 at 3PM. All performances are at the Chatham Playhouse, 23 North Passaic Avenue, in Chatham.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for youth/senior.  NOT suitable for younger viewers, Parents are strongly cautioned.
To access the theater’s online ticketing service, simply go to http://www.chathamplayers.org/tickets.htm and click on the “TicketLeap” logo.  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.  The box office will begin accepting phone reservations on October 4 at (973) 635-7363.  For information regarding box office hours, please call the box office number listed above.
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.
In case you are not aware of this superior theatre group: The Chatham Community Players has been entertaining residents of Morris County and the surrounding area since 1922.  The organization’s mission is to produce high-quality theater for a diverse audience, while elevating its standard of excellence and providing a creative outlet with educational opportunities and outreach programs.  For more information, including details of CCP’s entire 2011-2012 season, visit www.chathamplayers.org.

Tonight at the Bickford: The Last Days of Mickey & Jean


Opening night tonight: The Bickford Theatre and Playwrights Theatre are presenting the New Jersey Premiere of The Last Days of Mickey & Jean by Richard Dresser.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The co-production, along with Oldcastle Theatre Company of Vermont (appropriate for ages 18 and up), will run through October 9, 2011. Official opening: Friday, September 23 at 8:00pm, no show on Saturday, September 24). The production will be directed by John Pietrowski and features Duncan Rogers, Bev Sheehan (both residents of Maplewood, NJ), and Oliver Wadsworth.         
                                                                                                                                                          Single tickets are on sale now: General Admission $40, Seniors $36, Members of the Morris Museum/Bickford Theatre Guild $33, Groups (10 or more) $30 and Students $20. For tickets, visit www.bickfordtheatre.org or call the box office at 973-971-3706

All performances will take place at Bickford Theatre, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, NJ.    
                       
It's love on the lam in this NJ Premiere of a new comedy by Richard Dresser (Rounding Third)! When Mickey, a fugitive mobster from Boston, is forced into early retirement in Paris with his no-longer-young girlfriend, Jean, the couple runs into one hilarious situation after another-and discover shocking secrets about each other along the way. With its funny perspective on unconventional love and loyalty,The Last Days of Mickey & Jean is a retirement story with a twist!

This production premiered last month at Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington, VT, and The Berkshire Advocate said it is “wonderful work and should be seen to be appreciated.” The Bennington Banner said that Bev “Sheehan is a delight to watch on stage,” that Duncan “Rogers delivers a stellar performance,” and that Oliver Wadsworth, in the “task of playing three roles, among them a doctor and a drag queen… excel[s] as comedic relief and allows the audience to look at the complicated humanity underneath the exterior of the characters.”

“We are very excited to be co-presenting this very funny and endearing play with The Bickford and Oldcastle Theatre,” said John Pietrowski. “If the audience response in Vermont is any indication, New Jersey audiences will have a great evening of theatre. Playwrights audiences will recognize Richard Dresser’s work from our production of Augusta two years ago and The Bickford’s will remember Rounding Third, directed by none other than Duncan Rogers. We’ve been wanting to collaborate with The Bickford for some time, now, and this play is a perfect fit for both of our audiences.”

“It’s exciting to continue the mission of the Bickford of ‘giving second life to plays’ with this co-production and NJ Premiere of this fun comedy by Mr. Dresser,” said Eric Hafen, Artistic Director of Bickford Theatre.

Kenneth Moody designed the set, costumes, and properties. Lights are designed by Roman Klima, Sound Design is by Jeff Knapp. Yumi Matsuura is the Production Stage Manager.

Over the past twenty years, RICHARD DRESSER’S plays have been widely produced on and off Broadway, in the nation’s leading regional theaters, and extensively throughout Europe.

He recently completed a trilogy of plays about happiness in America, with each play set in a different social class: AUGUSTA (working class), THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (middle class) and A VIEW OF THE HARBOR (upper class). These plays are just published and being produced in regional theatres and in Europe.

His seventeen published plays include ROUNDING THIRD, which deals with competition in American society through the prism of Little League baseball. After premiering at the Northlight Theater in Chicago, it ran off-Broadway and has since had over one hundred productions throughout the country.

Also, BELOW THE BELT, about three American men attempting to work together in a foreign land, started at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival, ran off-Broadway at the John Houseman Theatre, appeared throughout the country, and was a long-running hit in Berlin, triggering many European productions. It was subsequently made into a film HUMAN ERROR which appeared at the Sundance Film Festival.


NOTE: We will be reviewing The Last Days of Mickey & Jean (September 23, 2011.
The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum is a professional theatre that produces and presents year- round entertainment, including a Main Stage Series, consisting of drama, comedies, thrillers, and musicals; two Children’s Theatre series, and a Jazz Showcase. The theatre is a Senior Member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization of 30 professional theatres throughout the state of New Jersey. The Bickford Theatre works in conjunction with Actors' Equity Association and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. The theatre also has educational opportunities for children and adults with its Brightest Start School for Performing Arts.
Founded in 1913, the Morris Museum explores and celebrates the arts, sciences and history through exhibitions, education programs, performing arts and special events. The museum serves over 200,000 adults and children each year.

The Morris Museum, located at 6 Normandy Heights Road (at the corner of Columbia Turnpike) in Morristown, NJ, is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults and $7 for children, students and senior citizens. Admission is always free for museum members and is free to the public every Thursday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. For more information, call 973.971.3700 or visit www.morrismuseum.org.
About Playwrights Theatre:
Founded in 1986, Playwrights Theatre is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit professional theatre and arts education institution dedicated to developing and nurturing the dramatic imagination of artists, students, and audiences. Our New Play Program creates development opportunities for professional writers through readings, workshops and productions, and invites audiences to participate in authentic feedback experiences. Our New Jersey Writers Project, Poetry Out Loud, New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest and Festival, and Creative Arts Academy programs provide a comprehensive and hands-on arts education experience to over 31,000 students, Pre-K through adult.

Writers in the New Play Program are drawn from across the country, including our affiliation with the National New Play Network, a nation-wide group of theatres dedicated to the development and production of new work. Teaching Artists in our Education Programs are professional artists working in their field in the New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. From 2003-2012, we have been designated a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (along with only four other theatres: The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, George Street Playhouse, McCarter Theatre Center and Paper Mill Playhouse) as “an anchor institution that contributes vitally to the quality of life in New Jersey.”

Funding for our activities comes from: the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc., Bank of America, the Bay and Paul Foundation, The Bickford Foundation, Dramatist Guild Fund, Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, The Prudential Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Travelers, The Victoria Foundation, and many corporations, foundations and individuals.

Playwrights Theatre is a member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the National New Play Network, and Madison Arts & Culture Alliance.

Production Summary

Title: The Last Days of Mickey & Jean by Richard Dresser

Director: John Pietrowski

Cast: Duncan Rogers*, Bev Sheehan*, Oliver Wadsworth*

Dates: September 22 – October 9, 2011

Performances:
Opening Night: Friday, September 23 at 8pm
Thursdays, September 22 and 29 at 7:30pm; October 6 at 2pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturday, October 1 at 2pm, October 8 at 8pm (no performance on September 24)
Sundays at 2pm

Ticket Prices: General Admission $40, Seniors $36, Members of the Morris Museum/Bickford Theatre Guild $33, Groups (10 or more) $30 and Students $20. Cash, Check, MasterCard, Discover and Visa gladly accepted.

Advisory: Suitable for ages 18 and up.

Theatre Location: 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, NJ 07960. For driving directions, visit https://www.morrismuseum.org/static/bickford/directions.html. NJ Transit’s Midtown Direct offers daily service from Manhattan to Morristown. For further information, contact NJ Transit at www.njtransit.com or 800-722-2222.

Reservations: Box Office 973-971-3706 or online at www.bickfordtheatre.org

Creative Staff:
Set, Costumes and Properties Designer – Kenneth Moody
Lighting Designer – Roman Klima
Sound Designer – Jeff Knapp
Production Stage Manager – Yumi Matsuura*

* denotes member of Actors' Equity Association

Tonight: Composer at The Women’s Theater Company's Opening Night for Romance, Romance

The Women’s Theater Company kicks off its 2011-2012 season tonight (Friday, September 23, 2011) with an exclusive opening night reception with Keith Herrmann, composer of the musical Romance, Romance at the Parsippany Playhouse.

Tony nominated in  1988 for Best Musical, Romance, Romance is a show with book and lyrics by Barry Harman, and music by Keith Herrmann. The show is composed of two acts linked only by the common theme of love.
 
Mr. Herrmann is joining the Women’s Theater Company for opening night to meet and greet patrons at a wine and cheese reception after the performance. . The entire cast will also be on hand.
 
Marc G. Dalio and  Marcia Sofley
 Actors Equity members are Marc G. Dalio as Alfred/Sam and  Marcia Sofley as Josefine/Monica. Also starring are Joe D'Angio as Him/Lenny and Ashley Kowzun as Her/Barb.
 
Tickets for the Opening night wine and cheese reception and show are $25.00.
Ticket prices for all other performances: Regular $20; Seniors Citizens $18
 
Romance, Romance runs Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees through October 9.
 
To reserve or for additional information, please call The Women’s Theater Company, at The Parsippany Playhouse, 1130 Knoll Road, Parsippany, NJ- 973.316.3033
 
Note: We will review the Saturday night (9/24) performance.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Award-winning set designer for CSC's Light Up The Sky


Carl Wallnau and Bob Phillips
Award-winning set designer Bob Phillips will transform the David and Carol Lackland Center Sitnik Theatre into one of Boston’s grand hotels for Centenary Stage Company’s (CSC) season premiere production of the comedy  Light Up The Sky by Moss Hart, which will open Sept 30th and run through Oct 16 in Hackettstown.    


Phillips made his CSC debut this past spring as designer of Theresa Rebeck’s  hit comedy, Bad Dates.  He has designed over 75 sets for Orlando Shakespeare Festival, where he has been Resident Designer for the past 17 years.  He also regularly works with Pennsylvania Shakespeare, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Alpine Theatre Project, Florida Studio Theatre, and many New York theatre companies and regional theatres.  Phillips’ television designs include Come on Over, Another World, Search for Tomorrow, and Sesame Street, where he has designed for 21 seasons.  He has received the Outer Critics Circle, Madison, Village and Lillian Stoates awards for his theatre work, and six Emmy’s for his television designs.


From the author who penned The Man Who Came To Dinner, Moss Hart’s classic comedy Light Up The Sky  revolves around a group of New York theatre-folk who attend the opening of their new play in Boston.  The inspired young playwright, the dramatic diva, the emotionally involved director, and short tempered producer gather in star’s hotel room to toast the pending their pending triumph: a moving new play destined to change the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere.  However, by the end of the night, everyone is wishing they had performed Oklahoma.


Directed by CSC Artistic Director  Carl Wallnau, the   Light Up The Sky cast  includes Equity actors David Edwards, Liz Zazzi, Michael Irvin Pollard, Kirsten Hopkins and John Little, Mikaela Kafka, Eli Ganias, as well as Johnathan Turner, and David Scheffler,   Kathleen O’Mara (Bernardsville), Emilio Tirri, Kyle Parham and Kyle Conner.     Set design is by Bob Phillips , lighting design by Ed Matthews, and sound design by Colin Whitely.  



BACK-left to right: Kathleen O’Mara, Michael Irvin Pollard, John Little, Mikaela Kafka, David Edwards, Liz Zazzi; FRONT-left to right: Eli Ganias, Kirsten Hopkins, Emilio Tirri