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Monday, June 30, 2014

The hilarious ‘Menopause: The Musical’ coming to Morristown

You can see Menopause: The Musical at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown this summer. Grab your girlfriends and be prepared to laugh—a lot!

WHERE: Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown
www.MayoArts.org
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Auditions: Actor for Alliance Rep’s ‘Five Flights’

Alliance Repertory Theatre will hold auditions for the role of Tom in

FIVE FLIGHTS
by Adam Bock

WHEN: Tuesday, July 15, beginning at 7 PM
WHERE: Mondo , 426 Springfield Ave., in Summit NJ

Performance dates: Sept 19th - Oct 4, 2014.
Rehearsals begin in August.

Tom is a gay, professional hockey player. Athletic, 25-39. Serious and fun loving. Non-Equity only.

Readings will be from the script.

REVIEW: COMEDY SKEWERS POMPOUS LEARNING AT STNJ’S OUTDOOR THEATRE

 Reviewed by Ruth Ross (njartsmaven.com)

They were the "it" girls of 17th century France, upper-class women, enamored of the new zeal for Reason, who held regular salons attended by learned men who talked about literature, science and philosophy. Despite having scant education themselves, these women fancied themselves learned ladies, attaining knowledge just by hobnobbing with the intellectual elite of the age. And, they had big hair.

STNJ_LearnedLadies_IMG_7844Of course, their self-important pomposity was ripe for deflation, and no one did it better than Molière, as in his effervescent and mordant comedy, The Learned Ladies, the summer production of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, currently glowing with wit and humor at the Greek Amphitheater on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station. With sharpened quill, France's greatest comedic writer takes aim at academic fools and those who indiscriminately worship them. Oh, and did I mention that they had really big hair?

The plot involves a marriage between young aristocrat Henriette and her penniless suitor Clitandre, a match condoned by the bride-to-be's father Chrysale but violently opposed by her battle-axe of a mother Philaminte, who thinks the foolish philosopher Trissotin is a better match for her younger daughter. Abetting Philaminte in getting her own way are older daughter Armande and sister-in-law Bélise, both "learned ladies" (with big hair) who look down their noses people like Henriette, whom they consider to be stupid and materialistic, especially because she wants to become a wife and mother. (Above, l-r: The “learned ladies” [Alison Weller, Marion Adler, Susan Maris] voice their high-brow disapproval of poor grammar.)

STNJ_LearnedLadies_IMG_7911Director and sound designer Brian Crowe's choice of sprightly harpsichord music sets the tone from the very outset, as servants cavort around, performing their chores while reading books! The energy level thus established, Crowe keeps translator Richard Wilbur's snappy rhymed verse dialogue flowing nonstop, as when big-haired Philaminte pontificates on the need for good grammar and Trissotin reads his sonnet with (unintended) comic expression and often misplaced emphasis as the listening women, so moved by inanities, faint with pleasure. (Left, The pseudo-scholarly poet Trissotin [Clark Scott Carmichael] performs an impassioned original composition as an amazed Armande [Susan Maris] watches.)

Dressed in wonderfully evocative and silly-looking costumes designed by Paul Canada, the talented cast confronts Molière's satire head on, slinging his barbs against those who worship wit, the prominence of mind over body, but know nothing of what's happening in the real world. And these learned ladies and gentlemen certainly do have big hair. Philaminte and her posse wear huge white wigs that look like lambs on their heads, with a magnifying glass, book, globe, and a quill pen and scroll perched precariously on the tops. Their gold and white attire is decorated with words, math equations and geometry symbols to ram home that these wackos eat, sleep and drink knowledge, yet remain supremely uneducated!

STNJ_LearnedLadies_IMG_7677Everyone turns in a first-rate performance, from Marion Adler as the harridan Philaminte, who plans to banish all verbs and nouns the ladies do not like and who terrorizes her milquetoast husband Chrysale (deliciously played by John Hickock  as a bowl of quivering jelly whenever she appears) to the unable to be intimidated Henriette, played charmingly with a steel backbone by Rachael Fox. As the older sister Armande, Susan Maris has great fun inveighing against marriage (which she calls "slavery") but who continues to pursue Clitandre even after she has dumped him. Allison Weller's ample Bélise sails around the stage like a frigate as she, too, pursues Clitandre, despite his rejection of her. Of course, these two women are supremely deluded hypocrites, and Molière revels in taking them down a notch or two! And John Hickock does double duty as Vadius, dressed in all-black (his wig looks like a helmet) as the savant who expounds in Greek, saying, of course, nothing that sounds reasonable. (Above: The imperious matriarch Philaminte [Marion Adler] silences her husband Chrysale [John Hickok])

STNJ_LearnedLadies_IMG_8001Clark Scott Carmichael has a field day as the Greek scholar Trissotin, performing lots of physical comedy with aplomb, looking quite serious as he spouts idiocies, poses with his leg extended (called "making a good leg") and avidly pursues Henriette, who clearly does not welcome his attentions. Lindsay Smiling turns the small part of Ariste, brother to Chrysale and Bélise, into an important source of equanimity in the face of disaster, as does Christine Sanders as the wise maid Martine, dismissed because of her poor grammar by Philaminte in the beginning of the play, only to return to utter truths about human nature, even if she does so in an inartful way! (Left: The aspiring poet Trissotin (Above: Trissotin [Clark Scott Carmichael] wows Philaminte [Marion Adler] with his cultured “learning.”)

The set, designed by Charlie Calvert, glows in the descending darkness, with curving walls imprinted with words and a white marble floor furnished simply with four chairs and piles of books (some of which protrude from under the stage to form steps so the actors can exit gracefully). Hamilton E.S. Smith's lighting completes the jewel box effect.

As Clitandre says, there is "no fool like a learned fool," and with The Learned Ladies, Molière and the folks at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey provide dramatic proof of that axiom. Of course, it's all performed with style, elegance, precise comedic timing, and the ability to recite verse without it sounding sing-song-y yet amusingly charming. And many of Richard Wilbur's clever rhymes will make you laugh out loud with their wit!

So grab a low-backed chair or cushion, a picnic dinner or snacks, grandma and the older kids, and head over to Convent Station for a rollicking 95 minutes in the company of The Learned Ladies. You will be glad you did!

The Learned Ladies will be performed at the outdoor Greek Amphitheatre on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth , 2 Convent Road (entrances off Park Avenue and Madison Avenue/Rte. 124), Convent Station, through July 27. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM, Sundays at 7:30 PM and special twilight performances Saturday at 4:30 PM. Tickets are $15-$35 for adults; children under 5 go free (although I do not think they will enjoy the play's witticisms). For information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at 973.408.5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org online.

Reviewed by Ruth Ross (njartsmaven.com)

Photos © Jerry Dalia, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

What’s Playing on NJ Professional Stages

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BEACH HAVEN Surflight Theater “Jekyll & Hyde,” a musical by Frank Wildhorn, starring Bart Shatto. Through July 6. $45. Surflight Theater, 201 Engleside Ave.surflight.org. (609) 492-9477.

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CAPE MAY Cape May Stage, the Robert Shackleton Playhouse “Moon Over Buffalo,” comedy by Ken Ludwig. Through Aug. 1. $15 to $35. Cape May Stage, the Robert Shackleton Playhouse, 405 Lafayette Street. (609) 770-8311;capemaystage.com.

FIFTYYEARS_

CAPE MAY East Lynne Theater Company “The First Fifty Years.” Through July 19. $15 to $30. East Lynne Theater Company, 500 Hughes Street. eastlynnetheater.org; (609) 884-5898.

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 CONVENT STATION Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s “The Learned Ladies” at the outdoor Greek Amphitheatre on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth , 2 Convent Road (entrances off Park Avenue and Madison Avenue/Rte. 124), Convent Station, through July 27. Box office at 973.408.5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org online.

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LONG BRANCH New Jersey Repertory Company, Lumia Theater “Butler,” by Richard Strand. Through July 13. $35 to $60. New Jersey Repertory Company, Lumia Theater, 179 Broadway. (732) 229-3166; njrep.org.

2014 Disciple (1)

MADISON F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Drew University “The Devil’s Disciple,” by George Bernard Shaw. July 2 through 20. $25 to $50. F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Drew University, 36 Madison Avenue. (973) 408-5600; shakespearenj.org.

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MILLBURN Paper Mill Playhouse “Grease,” musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Through June 29. $35 to $90. Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive. (973) 376-4343; papermill.org.

Porgy-Summertine

PRINCETON McCarter Theater Center “Porgy and Bess,” Gershwin’s American classic produced by the Princeton Festival. June 29 at 3 p.m. $30 to $140. McCarter Theater Center, 91 University Place. (609) 258-2787; mccarter.org.

Food-blend

WAYNE Hunziker Black Box Theater “Food, the Musical,” five short musicals all about food. Through June 29. $10. Hunziker Black Box Theater, 300 Pompton Road. (973) 720-2371.

Photos provided by the theaters.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ next at Surflight Theatre

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Fiddler on the Roof, the Tony Award-winning musical that has captured the hearts of people all over the world with its universal appeal, continues Surflight Theatre’s 65th Anniversary Season from July 9 through 27.  Directed and choreographed by Norb Joerder, with music direction by Henco Espag, Fiddler on the Roof will have a press opening on July 10 at 8pm.

A timeless classic, Fiddler on the Roof features a score by Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), with a book by Joseph Stein, based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem.  One of the beloved musical scores in the history of the American theatre includes "Tradition," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Sunrise, Sunset.”

Fiddler on the Roof stars Matt Ban as Tevye and Sheri Sanders as Golde.  Also featured are Ali Gleason (Tzeitel), Josephine Patane (Chava), Elizabeth Ritacco (Hodel), Dan Zimberg (Motel), David C. Kreines(Rabbi), Mary Ellen Ashley (Yente), Shannon Harrington (Bielke), Tom DeMichele (Perchik), Nadia Jewel/Nina Randazzo (Shprintze), Patrick Ludt (Fyedka), Raymond Sambolan (Lazar Wolf), and Tom Orr(Constable).  The ensemble includes Robert Abdoo, Amanda Lynn Fannon, Jacob January, Ronnie Keller, Morgan McCann, Brian Martin, Amelia Millar, Ryan PJ Mulholland, Nicole Picinic, Grant Snuffer, Kelly Swint, and Janet Wiggins.

fiddlerMatt Ban (photo right) returns to Surflight having been an apprentice in the summer of 2009.  He has since toured the country in Monty Python’s Spamalot and Rock of Ages.  He made his Broadway debut in Rock of Ages as Dennis, October 2013, and returns to the NY run in August.  Sheri Sanders known for her “Rock the Audition” makes her Surflight debut as Golde.  She played Becky Two Shoes in the national tour of Urinetown, HAIR at Encores! and was featured in the title role of NYMF’s The Screams of Kitty Genovese.

Mary Ellen Ashley returns to Surflight to play Yente the Matchmaker.  She made her Broadway debut in 1943 and was in the original cast of Annie Get Your Gun as one of Ethel Merman’s sisters.

Surflight’s production will feature scenic design by Gateway Playhouse, costumes by Stacey Jeungling, lighting design by Benjamin Weill, and sound design by Mark Keeler. Liz Ann Howell is production stage manager.

An audience favorite nearly 50 years after its stage debut, very few musicals have so magically woven music, dance, poignancy and laughter into such an unforgettable experience. Produced by Harold Prince, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, and starring Zero Mostel, Fiddler on the Roof opened at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre September 22, 1964, where it experienced unprecedented success running 3,264 performances and winning nine Tony Awards.  The musical received international attention thanks to the 1971 United Artists motion picture adaptation featuring Topol.  In 1991 and 2004, Fiddler on the Roof was revived on Broadway and received even more Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical (1991) Best Orchestrations (2004) and nominations in 2004 for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actor.

Surflight Theatre is located at 201 Engleside Avenue in historic Beach Haven, NJ.  Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, Matinees are Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets: 45.  Call (609) 492-9477 or online at www.surflight.org.

Auditions: Neil Simon’s ‘45 Seconds from Broadway’

 

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Bergen County Players (BCP) of Oradell,  one of America's foremost theater groups, will hold open auditions for Neil Simon’s "45 Seconds from Broadway," which will have performance dates from October 25 to November 15. Auditions will take place at the Little Firehouse Theatre, 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell, NJ on July 7 and 8.

Directed by Iris Weinhouse, "45 Seconds from Broadway" is Neil Simon’s
affectionate look at the “Polish Tea Room”, the nickname the Broadway
community has given to the thoroughly unpretentious coffee shop of the Hotel Edison, with outlandish characters interacting throughout numerous hilarious plotlines that are woven together with Borscht Belt Humor.

When
Open Auditions (in order of arrival):
Monday, July 7 at 7:30pm
Tuesday, July 8 at 7:30pm
Callbacks (by invitation only):
Thursday, July 10 at 7:30pm
Performance Dates October 25 thru November 15, 2014
Where
Bergen County Players 298 Kinderkamack Rd, Oradell, NJ 07649

Breakdown
Please note: The age ranges listed are the characters' ages, not necessarily the ages of the actors.
Mickey Fox - 60ish, vigorous and alert - Jewish Comedian with strong
New York accent – always “on”
Andrew Duncan - 50-60 – British theatrical agent who adores Mickey –
British accent
Bernie – 70+ owner of the coffee shop – Polish/Yiddish accent - good
natured – schmoozer – but don”t fool with him
Zelda – 70 – his wife – Polish/Yiddish accent – big hearted - always
trying to help starving actors – loves to cook
Megan Woods – 20’s - fresh from the Midwest to make it big on
Broadway. Sweet and very naïve
Solomon Mantutu – 20-30 African American – South African accent – shy
and deferential – hoping to be a playwright
Rayleen – 50s+  -  thinks of herself as the “Grand Dame” (think Norma
Desmond) – lives is in a different world
Charles – 60s her husband – very quiet – but understands his wife’s problems
Arleen and Cindy 40-50 – typical suburban housewives – come into the
city to enjoy the theatre but they are like a Greek chorus commenting
on the state of the theater. Need good comic timing
Bessie – 40+ - African American – warm - an old “friend “ of Mickey”s
– has been around the theater for a long time but is passionate about it
Harry Fox – 60s – Mickey’s older brother – New York accent - tired of
living in Mickey’s shadow.

If you have any difficulties with these dates, want more information about the roles or need a copy of the script, please contact the producer, Paul Reitnauer III at pjreitnauer@gmail.com

‘Hair’ opens July 3rd at Chester Theatre Group


 

July 3rd - 20th at Chester Theatre Group

Book & Lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rado
Music by Galt MacDermot
Directed by Alan VanAntwerp
Music Direction by Jack Bender
Choreography by Megan Ferentinos

featuring
CHRIS ABBOTT ~ NICOLE BOSCARINO ~ LINDSAY BRAVERMAN ~ ANTHONY BRUNO ~ CHRIS CIAVATTA ~ RAVEN DUNBAR ~ DILLON FELDMAN ~ CHRIS FRAZIER ~ MARISA GARRITY ~ BRIAN HALL ~ CAROLINE HATCHER ~ MELROSE JOHNSON ~ ASHLEY LEONE ~ SHANE LONG ~ RYAN MARK ~ KELLY MILLER ~ LAURA MULLANEY ~ STEVEN MUNOZ ~ MIKE ROSSI ~ HANNAH SCHROEDER ~ ERICKA TRAUGH

The Age of Aquarius ~ a time of a time of harmony and understanding when, for a newly-empowered generation of young people, sex and drugs are vehicles to evade reality and the establishment. It's the 60s. Flower power, peace and love, and hippies gettin' trippy in the original American Tribal Love Rock Musical.

TICKETS: $25.00

Senior citizens 65+ and students under 18: $23.00

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

54 Grove Street, at the corner of Maple Ave., in Chester, NJ ~ 908-879-7304

www.chestertheatregroup.org

Ken Ludwig’s ‘Fox on the Fairway’ to premiere in Vermont

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Theater News from Vermont: Saint Michael’s Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Chuck Tobin today announced the opening of the area premiere of Ken Ludwig’s contemporary comedy The Fox on the Fairway (July 2 – 12, 2014). This is the theater we visited last Saturday night for a performance of  Young Frankenstein.

unnamed (3)A tribute to the great farces of the 1930s and 1940s, The Fox on the Fairway takes audiences on a comedic romp which pulls the rug out from underneath the stuffy members of a private country club during their annual golf tournament. Filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors, and over-the-top romantic shenanigans, it's a fast-paced comedy that recalls the Marx Brothers' classics. Directed by Kathryn Markey The Fox on the Fairway features professional acting company members Drew Lewis as Justin, Samantha Eggers as Louise, Mike Timoney as Bingham, Abby Lee as Pamela, Christian Kohn as Dickie, Katrina Ferguson as Muriel.

Performances begin on the Playhouse stage on Wednesday, July 2. Performances are evenings 7/2, 7/3, 7/5, and 7/8 – 7/12 (8 pm curtain), and Saturday matinees 7/5, 7/12, (2 pm curtain).

THE CAST
drewlewis2012Drew Lewis (Justin) appeared Off-Broadway in Richard II, The School for Husbands, Henry V. Other New York credits Theater Masters, Asking for Trouble 2013, and Six Windows Presents A Hero of Our Time. Regional credits Don't Dress for Dinner, Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet, Love's Labour's Lost, The Importance of Being Earnest. The Fox on the Fairway marks Drew’s Saint Michael’s Playhouse debut. (photo right)

sam eggersSamantha Eggers (Louise) appeared on Broadway in Mama Mia! Regional credits include Hero! at the Asolo Repertory Theater, The Lily's Revenge and The Glass Menagerie (us Laura) at American Repertory Theater.  Internationally, Samantha has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Moscow Art Theater. The Fox on the Fairway marks Samantha’s Saint Michael’s Playhouse debut. (photo right)

mike timoneyMike Timoney (Bingham) appeared Off-Broadway in The Bardy Bunch. Other credits include Private Lives, Corpse!, An Ideal Husband, The Philadelphia Story. Film, TV and commercial credits The Dollmaker, Last Chance, All My Children, This is Sports Center, Star Trek IV, and web series He’s With Me. The Fox on the Fairway marks Mike’s Saint Michael’s Playhouse debut. (photo right)

Abby Lee (Pamela) originated the role of Zoe in the world premiere of Car Talk, with other  New York and regional credits that include The Rubber Room, I Had Fun But Drank Way Too Much, The Intervention, Or, West Side Story, Barefoot in the Park. Saint Michael’s Playhouse credits include Young Frankenstein, Barnum, Talley’s Folly, Dames at Sea, Nunsense, Unnecessary Farce. (photo at bottom)

Christian Kohn (Dickie) appeared on Broadway in Hollywood Arms along with numerous other credits including the title role in Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, An Ideal Husband, Death of A Salesman, Phaedra directed by JoAnne Akalaitis. Saint Michael’s Playhouse credits include Young Frankenstein, Fiddler on the Roof, Tuesdays with Morrie, Rumors, Unnecessary Farce, Over the Pub. (photo at bottom)

Katrina Ferguson GIFKatrina Ferguson (Muriel) appeared Off-Broadway and regionally in numerous productions including Master Class, A Moon For The Misbegotten, Molly Sweeney, The Man Who Came To Dinner, The Sisters Rosensweig, The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Katrina has toured with National Shakespeare Company, American Drama Group. The Fox on the Fairway marks Katrina’s Saint Michael’s Playhouse debut. Ms. Ferguson makes her home in Morristown, New Jersey. (photo right)

THE CREATIVE TEAM

1_medium_croppedThe creative team is lead by director Kathryn Markey (photo right) whose Saint Michael’s Playhouse directing credits include Fiddler on the Roof, Boeing-Boeing, Around the World in 80 Days, and Over the Pub. Creative team includes Carl Tallent (scenic design), Collette Benoit (costume design), Jeffrey E. Salzberg (lighting design), Zachary Williamson (sound design), Theresa Pierce (property design).
                                                                                                                                  THE PLAYWRIGHT
                                                                                                                            Ken Ludwig is an internationally-acclaimed playwright whose work has been performed in more than thirty countries in over twenty languages. He has had six shows on Broadway and six in the West End. He has won two Laurence Olivier Awards, two Helen Hayes Awards, and the Edwin Forrest Award for Services to the Theatre. His plays have been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bristol Old Vic. His first play on Broadway, Lend Me A Tenor, which the New York Times called "one of the two great farces by a living writer," won three Tony Awards and was nominated for nine. His other best-known Broadway and West End shows include Crazy For You (which played five years on Broadway and won the Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Musical), Moon Over Buffalo, Leading Ladies, Twentieth Century, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Game’s Afoot, The Fox on the Fairway, Treasure Island and The Beaux’ Stratagem.

THE THEATER

“We are excited to continue our 67th season, with the area premiere of The Fox on the Fairway,” said Tobin, “but equally exciting is the fact that the Playhouse received a major upgrade this winter.  We’ve replaced every seat in the house with brand new, quiet, and comfortable theater seating. We’ve also replaced the carpet and made other upgrades to enhance the theater-going experience.” Tobin continued “The old seats certainly served their purpose, having been installed in 1975 when the theater was built. After almost forty years of use nearly every seat had broken springs and had become very creaky and uncomfortable. The new seats are soft, durable fabric over polymer padding, featuring contoured armrests, lumbar support, and newly engineered springs for extra comfort.”
Saint Michael’s Playhouse is an Actors’ Equity Association theater company owned and operated by Saint Michael’s College. Actors’ Equity Association is the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. The Playhouse produces its productions with theater artists from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theater nationwide, along with a stellar company of Vermont-based actors, directors and designers. Tobin adds “We rehearse our shows right here in our theater and design and build all of our scenery, costumes and props on location with our crew of approximately 70 professional theater artists.”

TICKET INFORMATION

Saint Michael’s Playhouse continues its 67th season of professional theater with Ken Ludwig’s new farce The Fox on the Fairway followed by a revival of the beloved Broadway comedy classic Arsenic and Old Lace, and Ring of Fire, the musical tribute to Johnny Cash.  Single ticket prices for the mainstage productions range from $32.50 to $43.50. Tickets may be purchased online at www.saintmichaelsplayhouse.org or by calling the Playhouse Box Office at 802-654-2281.

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                   Christian Kohn and Abby Lee in Young Frankenstein

Monday, June 23, 2014

STNJ’s production of Molière’s flirty comedy ‘Learned Ladies’ now at the amphitheatre

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The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s enormously popular annual summer venue for family theatre under-the-stars hosts the Outdoor Stage production of Molière’s flirty comedy Learned Ladies at the amphitheatre on the campus of the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morris Township.  This replica of an ancient Greek theatre nestled into the hillside of the bucolic campus offers a theatrical event unique on the East Coast. 

Learned Ladies continues through July 27th.  Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 7:30 p.m. and twilight shows on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.  Tickets are $35 for adults; tickets for ages 18 and under and students are $15.  Children under age five go for free. 

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For tickets or more information, call 973-408-5600 or visit ShakespeareNJ.org.  The amphitheatre is located on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth, 2 Convent Road in Morris Township. 

Top Photo: Husband and wife (John Hickok and Marion Adler) face off over their daughter’s marriage contract as the Notary (Felix Mayes, center) and Belise (Alison Weller, background) watch. Photo: © Jerry Dalia, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

David Mamet’s ‘Race’ Next at The Company

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Premiere Stages to Present New Jersey Premiere of ‘Soldier’s Heart’ July 10 - 27

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Premiere Stages at Kean University, celebrating its ten-year anniversary,
will present the New Jersey Premiere of Tammy Ryan’s Soldier’s Heart from July 10th through July 27th in the Zella Fry Theatre. Featuring Emmy award-winning actress and Premiere Stages fan favorite Kim Zimmer, this affecting new work tells the story of Casey, an American soldier who leaves her son behind to defend the country she loves. When the person she trusts most becomes her assailant, Casey returns home to face her greatest test,
bringing back more than she bargained for.

Soldier’s Heart is the third play by Ms. Ryan that Premiere Stages has produced. Ryan’s Dark Part of the Forest (2006) and the Primus Prize-winning Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods (2010) both premiered at Premiere Stages and were subsequently published.

“Soldier’s Heart is a powerful and moving exploration of a female Marine’s difficult re-entry into civilian society,“ stated John Wooten, Producing Artistic Director of Premiere Stages, who is directing the production. “The task of seeking assistance from a disinterested V.A. and an insulated chain of command makes her journey particularly challenging.” Ms. Ryan’s award-winning plays have been commissioned, developed and performed across the United States and internationally at such theaters as The Alliance Theater Company, Florida Stage, Marin Theater Company, Dallas Children’s Theater, Dorset Theater Festival, Stamford Theater Works, 29th Street Rep, City Theater Company, The Pittsburgh Playhouse and Bricolage Production Company, among many others.

kimzimmer250Ms. Zimmer (photo right), a four-time Emmy Award winner for her memorable turn as Reva Shayne on “Guiding Light,” leads Premiere Stages’ accomplished professional cast for Soldier’s Heart, which features Mairin Lee as the troubled Casey. Ms. Lee, a graduate of the American Conservatory Theater, recently made her Broadway debut in The Heiress. The cast also includes Benton Greene, who has appeared on television’s “Gossip Girl,” “Blue Bloods,” and “Law & Order”;

Landon Woodson, whose distinguished regional credits include the Chautauqua Theater Company; Erica Camarano, recently seen on television in “Hostages” and “Unforgettable”; Michael Colby Jones, who just finished a run in the Off-Broadway hit It's Just Sex! at the Actors Temple Theater; Azlan Landry, currently seen in Disney XD’s “Laugh Your Butt Off” commercial campaign; and Zane King Beers, who appeared in Lincoln Center’s recent production of Macbeth.

In conjunction with Soldier’s Heart, Premiere Stages will also offer a free screening of The Invisible War, an Academy Award-nominated documentary about sexual assault in the U.S. military, on Sunday, June 29 at 3:00 pm in the Kean University Center Little Theatre. Reservations are strongly recommended, and may be made by calling 908-737-4092 or emailing premiere@kean.edu. While admission is free, there is a suggested donation of $5, with all proceeds to benefit Premiere Stages’ community partner for the production, Safe Horizon.

Safe Horizon touches the lives of over 250,000 children, adults, and families affected by crime and abuse throughout New York City each year, offering assistance to victims through 57 program locations, including shelter, in-person counseling, legal services, and more. Safe Horizon provides support to people victimized by rape and sexual assault each year, offering services to rape and sexual assault survivors through a Rape and Sexual Assault hotline, as well as through Community Program offices. Rape and sexual assault survivors can receive in-person help, as well as referrals for resources ranging from medical assistance to counseling, from Safe Horizon staff. For more information, please visit http://www.safehorizon.org/

Kate Krug, Safe Horizon’s Director of Special Events, will join Resident Dramaturg Clare Drobot for a free post-show discussion following the matinee of Soldier’s Heart on Sunday, July 20; additional post-show discussions will feature playwright Tammy Ryan (Saturday, July 12 at 3:00 pm) and April Tully, LCSW (Sunday, July 27). Ms. Tully is the Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator for the V.A. New Jersey Health Care System, which is a nationally mandated position. This role combines both clinical and administrative responsibilities related to the diagnosis and treatment of veterans who have endured sexual trauma in the military. Ms. Tully holds a B.A. from Barnard College; an M.A. from Columbia University; and an MSW degree from Adelphi University. Her areas of special expertise include sexual trauma, post-traumatic-stress disorder, and addictions.

Soldier’s Heart runs Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 3:00 pm (the Sunday, July 13th performance will take place at 6:00 pm to accommodate a car show taking place on campus). Tickets are $30 standard, $20 for senior citizens and Kean alumni, and $15 for students and patrons with disabilities. Significant discounts for groups of 10 or more apply. To make reservations or to order a season brochure, please call the Kean Stage Box Office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) or visit Premiere Stages online at www.kean.edu/premierestages.

Tickets are also available for Premiere Stages’ exclusive Soldier’s Heart Opening Night Party on Friday, July 11th. This event features a pre-show party with wine and hors d’oeuvres at the four-star farm-to-table restaurant Ursino, admission to the performance, and a post-show champagne toast and dessert reception with the cast. Tickets for this exclusive event are just $55.00, and may be purchased by calling 908-737-4092.

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 advanced notice. Please call (908) 737-4092 for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. For more information, visit Premiere Stages online at www.kean.edu/premierestages.

Contact Information:
To purchase tickets, please call the box office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) or visit
www.kean.edu/premierestages. For group sales, call Heather Kelley at 908-737-4077 or email hkelley@kean.edu.

To join Premiere Stages’ mailing list or request a season brochure, please call Premiere’s administrative offices at 908-737-4092 or email premiere@kean.edu. An electronic version of the brochure is also available online: www.kean.edu/premierestages.

To learn more about partnership opportunities, please contact Clare Drobot at 908-737-4092 or cdrobot@kean.edu. For more information about specifics of our season, please contact Producing Artistic Director John Wooten at 908-737-4360 or jwooten@kean.edu.

Great Fun in Vermont at Saint Michael’s Playhouse's 'Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein'


We visited the Burlington area of Vermont this past week home of the handsome and comfortable Saint Michael’s Playhouse. The Playhouse, located on the campus of Saint Michael’s College, is an Actors’ Equity Association theater company. The Producing Artistic Director Chuck Tobin kindly invited us to see the Saturday night performance of Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein. (June 7 – 28, 2014).

Young Frankenstein features a book by three-time Tony Award-winner Mel Brooks and three-time Tony Award-winner Thomas Meehan and music and lyrics by Brooks. Young Frankenstein is directed by Keith Andrews with music direction by Thomas Cleary. Based on the Oscar-nominated smash hit 1974 film, Young Frankenstein is the wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic from the comic genius of Mel Brooks.

Here is our mini-review; The Playhouse production was a delight from start to finish with first-rate performances from a mostly Equity cast. Matthew Crowle as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein was marvelous...doing it all... acting, singing, dancing, including tap; as was Christian Kohn as The Monster (who, of course, also 'taps'); Abby Lee as Elizabeth, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein's high maintenance fiancee; Ashley McKay as Inga, the lovable, roll in the hay, laboratory assistant;  Brett Figel provided many laughs as Igor, no one wears a hump better; Bill Carmichael as Inspector Kemp, of arm and a leg fame; and Kathryn Markey as Frau Blucher, no favorite of Igor's horses, but a big audience favorite.

It was clear that the cast was having as much fun as the audience. Kathryn Markey's He Vas My Boyfriend and Abby Lee's Please Don't Touch Me numbers were standouts of the showstopper variety. The other major musical (and comedy) highlight, faithful to the movie, was Irving Berlin’s Puttin’ On The Ritz lead by Frederick and The Monster.

Special mention is in order for the fine production team: Tim Case provided the effective sinister castle set, Tracey Sullivan the period costumes, including wigs (Abby Lee appropriately wears 'The Bride of Frankenstein' hairpiece at the end of the play), Mark Wilson's lighting and Zach Williamson's sound design were particularly spot-on. Theresa Pierce designed the props, including the laboratory equipment. Tom Cleary lead a fine six piece orchestra. Bret Torbeck was the production stage manager.

Vermonters: You have just this week to join the fun at the McCarthy Arts Center Theater in Colchester. Young Frankenstein performances are 8 pm Tuesday through Saturday, plus a 2 pm matinee on Saturday the 28th.

The four mainstage plays of the 2014 subscription season are available as part of the subscription series - Young Frankenstein, The Fox on the Fairway, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Ring of Fire.

Season subscriptions range in price from $113 to $132. The Playhouse Box Office number is 802-654-2617. Single tickets range from $32.50 to $43.50. Ticket prices for Playhouse Junior children’s theater productions are $10. For more information go to www.saintmichaelsplayhouse.org.

Here's more about the theater and the season:

Saint Michael’s Playhouse is an Actors’ Equity Association theater company owned and operated by Saint Michael’s College. The Playhouse produces its productions with theater artists from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theater nationwide (Note: The award winning actress Katrina Ferguson, of Morristown, NJ, is currently here rehearsing Fox In The Fairway) along with its company of Vermont-based actors, directors and designers. Artistic Director Chuck Tobin:  “We rehearse our shows right here in our theater and design and build all of our scenery, costumes and props on location with our crew of approximately 70 theater artists.”

Next on the Playhouse stage is Ken Ludwig’s new mad-cap comedy The Fox on the Fairway (July 2 – 12, 2014), directed by Kathryn Markey. Playwright Ken Ludwig is an internationally acclaimed playwright who has had six shows on Broadway and six in the West End. His first play on Broadway, Lend Me A Tenor, which the New York Times called "one of the two great farces by a living writer," won three Tony Awards and was nominated for nine. A tribute to the great farces of the 1930s and 1940s, The Fox on the Fairway takes audiences on a riotous romp which pulls the rug out from underneath the stuffy members of a private country club during their annual golf tournament. Filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors, and over-the-top-shenanigans, it’s a furiously fast paced comedy that recalls the Marx Brothers’ classics.

The Playhouse season continues with Joseph Kesselring’s Broadway comedy classic Arsenic and Old Lace (July 16 - 26, 2014), directed by Mark Alan Gordon. Originally written in 1939 by American playwright Joseph Kesselring and later adapted into film by Frank Capra starring Cary Grant, Arsenic and Old Lace opened on Broadway in 1941 and became an immediate success, running for nearly 1,500 performances. In 1941, Americans were looking for some entertainment to take their minds off of the war in Europe and the growing fear that America would be pulled into it. Broadway gave them exactly what they were looking for with Arsenic and Old Lace. The play centers on spinster sisters Abby and Martha Brewster who are famous in their Brooklyn neighborhood for their generosity and kindness. But they have recently taken on a new charity project – relieving older gentlemen of loneliness by poisoning them with home-made elderberry wine laced with “just a pinch” of arsenic. The Playhouse presents this comedy classic for the first time since 1962.

The Playhouse will then present the final show of the subscription season Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash (July 30 – August 9, 2014), directed by Chris Blisset. From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. Creator Richard Maltby, Jr. describes Ring of Fire as “almost a mythic American tale of growing up in simple, dirt-poor surroundings in the heartland of America, leaving home, traveling on wings of music, finding love, misadventure, success, faith, redemption and eventually returning home.
It's about the journey of a man in search of his own soul.” More than two dozen classic hits including “I Walk The Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Ring Of Fire” - all performed by a multi-talented cast of five actor/musicians - paint a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stomping, crowd-pleasing salute to a uniquely American legend. Though he is never impersonated, Johnny Cash's remarkable life story is told through his music, climaxing in a concert that will both move and exhilarate.

PLAYHOUSE JUNIOR
In addition to the four plays of the subscription season Playhouse Junior offers theater productions for young audiences. Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat (July 18 – 20, 2014) is an imaginative adaptation of Seuss’s classic book. From the moment his tall, red-and-white-striped had appears around the door Sally and her brother know that The Cat in the Hat is the funniest, most mischievous cat they have ever met. Next is Dear Edwina (August 1 – 3, 2014) a heartwarming musical about the joys of growing up. Edwina and her friends share wisdom on everything from trying new foods to making new friends. Playhouse Junior productions are not part of the subscription season but can be purchased separately.

Friday, June 20, 2014

'Hair' next at Chester Theatre Group



It was rejected by countless Broadway producers as “too controversial,” but in 1968, Hair — the American Tribal Love Rock Musical — entered the theatrical pantheon as the show that captured the zeitgeist of the 1960s like no other. Hairtells the story of the “tribe,” a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the “Age of Aquarius” living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War.
The Chester Theatre Group’s own interpretation of the hippie-generation classic, set in an abandoned church, opens on Thursday night, July 3rd at 8PM. Featuring an ensemble cast comprised largely of young newcomers (plus a few CTG veterans), Hair runs for 11 performances: July 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, and 20. All Thursday, Friday & Saturday shows are at 8PM while all Sunday performances are 2PM matinees. (No show July 4th.)
The CTG production is helmed by first-time CTG director Alan Van Antwerp with musical direction by Jack Bender and choreography by Megan Ferentinos. Cindy Alexander is the show’s producer. Note: The production will NOT include any nudity.
The book and lyrics are by James Rado and Gerome Ragni set to music by Galt MacDermot.
Tickets are $25 with a $2 discount available for seniors aged 65 and over and students under 18. Tickets can be purchased online on the theater’s web site: www.chestertheatregroup.com or requested by phone by calling the 908-879-7304.
Chester Theatre Group is located at 54 Grove Street in downtown Chester, NJ at the corner of Grove Street and Maple Avenue. Its theater is a charming, intimate, 100-seat, in-the-round venue that makes for a unique and memorable theatergoing experience for all.

Professional Theater Alive and Well in Vermont at the Saint Michael’s Playhouse

We are visiting in the Burlington area of Vermont this week home to the Saint Michael’s Playhouse in  Colchester. The Playhouse is an Actors’ Equity Association theater company. The Producing Artistic Director is Chuck Tobin (photo below right).

Here is the 2014 schedule that started this week with Young Frankenstein.

The 2014 subscription season includes first-time Playhouse productions of the new Mel Brooks Broadway musical Young Frankenstein, Ken Ludwig’s new farce The Fox on the Fairway, and Ring of Fire, the musical tribute to Johnny Cash by Richard Maltby, Jr. as well as a revival of the beloved Broadway comedy classic Arsenic and Old Lace.

Chuck Tobin
“We are all very excited to embark on our 67th season, a season that represents a wide range of highly enjoyable shows – from large-scale musicals to intimate and hilarious comedies, both classic and contemporary,” said Tobin. “Equally exciting is the fact that the Playhouse received a major upgrade this winter. We’ve replaced every seat in the house with brand new, quiet, and comfortable theater seating (top photo). We’ve also replaced the carpet and made other upgrades to enhance the theater-going experience.”

Tobin continued “The old seats certainly served their purpose, having been installed in 1975 when the theater was built. After almost forty years of use nearly every seat had broken springs and had become very creaky and uncomfortable. The new seats are soft, durable fabric over polymer padding, featuring contoured armrests, lumbar support, and newly engineered springs for extra comfort.”

Saint Michael’s Playhouse is an Actors’ Equity Association theater company owned and operated by Saint Michael’s College. Actors’ Equity Association is the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. The Playhouse produces its productions with theater artists from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theater nationwide (Note: The award winning actress Katrina Ferguson, of Morristown, NJ, is currently here rehearsing Fox In The Fairway) along with its stellar company of Vermont-based actors, directors and designers. Tobin adds “We rehearse our shows right here in our theater and design and build all of our scenery, costumes and props on location with our crew of approximately 70 theater artists.”

THE MAINSTAGE SUBSCRIPTION SEASON

The 67th subscription season opened with the new Mel Brooks Broadway Young Frankenstein (June 7 – 28, 2014). Young Frankenstein features a book by three-time Tony Award-winner Mel Brooks andthree-time Tony Award-winner Thomas Meehan and music and lyrics by Brooks. Young Frankenstein is directed by Keith Andrews with music direction by Thomas Cleary. Based on the Oscar-nominated smash hit 1974 film, Young Frankenstein is the wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic from the comic genius of Mel Brooks. When Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, inherits a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his grandfather, deranged genius Victor Von Frankenstein, he faces a dilemma. Does he continue to run from his family’s tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather’s mad experiments reanimating the dead and, in the process, fall in love with his sexy lab assistant Inga? Unfolding in the forbidding Castle Frankenstein and the foggy moors of Transylvania Heights, the show’s raucous score includes “The Transylvania Mania,” “He Vas My Boyfriend” and an unforgettable treatment of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz.”

Next on the Playhouse stage is Ken Ludwig’s new mad-cap comedy The Fox on the Fairway (July 2 – 12, 2014), directed by Kathryn Markey. Playwright Ken Ludwig is an internationally acclaimed playwright who has had six shows on Broadway and six in the West End. His first play on Broadway, Lend Me A Tenor, which the New York Times called "one of the two great farces by a living writer," won three Tony Awards and was nominated for nine. A tribute to the great farces of the 1930s and 1940s, The Fox on the Fairway takes audiences on a riotous romp which pulls the rug out from underneath the stuffy members of a private country club during their annual golf tournament. Filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors, and over-the-top-shenanigans, it’s a furiously fast paced comedy that recalls the Marx Brothers’ classics.

The Playhouse season continues with Joseph Kesselring’s Broadway comedy classic Arsenic and Old Lace (July 16 - 26, 2014), directed by Mark Alan Gordon. Originally written in 1939 by American playwright Joseph Kesselring and later adapted into film by Frank Capra starring Cary Grant, Arsenic and Old Lace opened on Broadway in 1941 and became an immediate success, running for nearly 1,500 performances. In 1941, Americans were looking for some entertainment to take their minds off of the war in Europe and the growing fear that America would be pulled into it. Broadway gave them exactly what they were looking for with Arsenic and Old Lace. The play centers on spinster sisters Abby and Martha Brewster who are famous in their Brooklyn neighborhood for their generosity and kindness. But they have recently taken on a new charity project – relieving older gentlemen of loneliness by poisoning them with home-made elderberry wine laced with “just a pinch” of arsenic. The Playhouse presents this comedy classic for the first time since 1962.

The Playhouse will then present the final show of the subscription season Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash (July 30 – August 9, 2014), directed by Chris Blisset. From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. Creator Richard Maltby, Jr. describes Ring of Fire as “almost a mythic American tale of growing up in simple, dirt-poor surroundings in the heartland of America, leaving home, traveling on wings of music, finding love, misadventure, success, faith, redemption and eventually returning home.

It's about the journey of a man in search of his own soul.” More than two dozen classic hits including “I Walk The Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Ring Of Fire” - all performed by a multi-talented cast of five actor/musicians - paint a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stomping, crowd-pleasing salute to a uniquely American legend. Though he is never impersonated, Johnny Cash's remarkable life story is told through his music, climaxing in a concert that will both move and exhilarate.

PLAYHOUSE JUNIOR

In addition to the four plays of the subscription season Playhouse Junior offers theater productions for young audiences. Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat (July 18 – 20, 2014) is an imaginative adaptation of Seuss’s classic book. From the moment his tall, red-and-white-striped had appears around the door Sally and her brother know that The Cat in the Hat is the funniest, most mischievous cat they have ever met. Next is Dear Edwina (August 1 – 3, 2014) a heartwarming musical about the joys of growing up. Edwina and her friends share wisdom on everything from trying new foods to making new friends. Playhouse Junior productions are not part of the subscription season but can be
purchased separately.

TICKET INFORMATION

The four mainstage plays of the 2014 subscription season are available as part of the subscription series - Young Frankenstein, The Fox on the Fairway, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Ring of Fire.

Season subscriptions range in price from $113 to $132 and go on sale May 1, 2014. The Playhouse Box Office number is 802-654-2617. Single tickets range from $32.50 to $43.50. Ticket prices for Playhouse Junior children’s theater productions are $10. For more information go to www.saintmichaelsplayhouse.org.

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Jersey premiere of Steven Levenson`s comedy ‘Core Values’ next at Mile Square Theatre

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Mile Square Theatre to present the New Jersey premiere of Steven Levenson`s comedy Core Values, nominated for a 2014 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, at the Edge Lofts in Hoboken

Core Values strikes a note of true comic pathos.”—The New York Times

“Laugh out loud funny!”—Time Out New York

What place do values such as teamwork and loyalty have in today`s constantly changing marketplace? Can a middle-aged business owner who clings to these values unite his staff at a weekend retreat and save his small travel agency from the recession? Will a perfectly executed trust fall do the trick?

MSTassociate artistic director Matthew Lawler (seen recently in George Street Playhouse`s OUR TOWN, and featured in the film God`s Pocket with Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Annie McAdams (MST’s God of Carnage) lead a cast of four as they explore these questions in Steven Levenson`s funny play about discontent in the modern workplace.

While Mile Square Theatre (MST), Hudson County`s premiere professional theatre company, builds its new theatre space in The Artisan at 1400 Clinton Street, the company will perform across the street in the intimate Edge Lofts at 1405 Clinton. MST artistic director Chris O`Connor believes this unique setting will enhance the themes of the play and provide an exciting experience for the audience. “Levenson’s hilarious and bittersweet play offers a familiar look into the office workplace, where colleagues struggle to find value in their jobs and in their lives, “ O’Connor says. “I’m excited to produce this play in the intimate setting of Edge Lofts. Our design team is going to have a lot of fun creating this world.”

Core Values by Steven Levenson

July 10-July 27

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday @ 8pm

@The Edge Lofts

14th and Clinton, Hoboken

Core Values is presented with the generous support of Bijou Properties, Ironstate, the Mason Family Civic League and the Rockefeller Group.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased @ milesquaretheate.org, or at the door. Reservations are STRONGLY recommended.

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of state, a partner agency of the National endowment for the arts and by funds from the national endowment for the arts, administered by the Hudson county office of cultural & heritage affairs, Thomas A. Degise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

About Mile Square Theatre

Mile Square Theatre (MST) is the leading professional Equity theatre in Hudson County. Since 2003, MST has presented full-scale productions for adults andchildren, in addition to providing theatre education programs. Under the artistic direction of Chris O’Connor, MST receives support from The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Hudson County Division of Cultural Affairs. Forcompany information, please visit www.milesquaretheatre.org.

The Sixth Annual Cultural Access Network Awards

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Winners include Two River Theater, Playwrights Theatre,
Grounds For Sculpture and Thomas E. Shaw-Gardner

On June 19th, at the sixth annual Cultural Access Network Awards, three organizations and one individual will be honored for their leadership, innovation, and commitment to increasing access to the arts for people with disabilities.  The Awards are offered annually by the Cultural Access Network Project, cosponsored by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State; for the fifth year in a row, the event will be held at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey.

“The State Arts Council believes that accessibility to the arts is a fundamental right for all people,” said Nicholas Paleologos, Executive Director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. “We work to ensure that access is a priority in many different ways, including setting high standards for access in our grant making programs, and through our longtime partnership with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance to support the award-winning Cultural Access Network Project."

Attended by leaders in the state’s arts and cultural community, the Cultural Access Network Awards is a day long event that begins with a networking breakfast and group sessions to support the efforts of cultural institutions in making their programming accessible for everyone.

Beth M. Bienvenu PhD., the Director of the Office of Accessibility at the National Endowment for the Arts will be a feature guest – providing opening remarks for the day. Ms. Beinvenu manages the NEA’s technical assistance and advocacy work, providing guidance and support to state arts agency staff and professionals working in the fields of arts access, creativity and aging, arts and health, universal design and arts in corrections.

The celebratory event will also feature a performance by internet sensation Jodi DiPiazza. Currently a 12 year old student, Jodi performed a duet with Katy Perry on “The Night of Too Many Stars” – a fundraiser for autism education, and her song “Heroes of Autism” as used in conjunction with a fundraiser for Autism Speaks. Jodi is a 5th grade student enrolled in public school as well as the Alpine Learning Group.

Awards will be presented to individuals and organizations nominated by the community, and evaluated by a panel of independent judges.  Each organization receives a cash award to be used to support and further their innovative access and outreach programming.

“Since the Cultural Access Network Project was founded, my colleagues and I have been so impressed by the great strides the members of New Jersey’s cultural community have made in this area,” said John McEwen, Executive Director of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the Founder and Chairman of the Cultural Access Network Project.  “The honorees at this year’s Cultural Access Network Awards have each operated with the belief that their offerings should reach the greatest number of people regardless of ability, economic constraints, or geographic limitations, and they are all doing such meaningful work. We hope they inspire other organizations to develop creative programs and partnerships that will provide more opportunities for all of the state’s residents to enjoy its cultural treasures.”

Two Riv extTwo River Theater of Red Bank will receive this year’s Leadership Award for their work with Google to create a “walkable” virtual tour of the theater’s facility. The tours lives on Google Maps and is embedded onto the Two River Theater website. This virtual tour, fully accessible to the public, provides an additional level of support and benefit for patrons who use wheelchairs or require other assistance by allowing them to view the space in detail in advance of their visit.

“We are honored to receive the 2014 Leadership Award,” says Michael Hurst, Managing Director of Two River Theater. “We are grateful to the Cultural Access Network Project for recognizing the virtual tour of our facility; we are proud to be one of the first theaters in our area to implement this, and are hopeful that it will soon become a standard component of all accessibility programs.”

John PietrowskiTwo Innovator Awards will be presented. One will be given to Playwrights Theatre of Madison for a program developed for the New Jersey Special Olympics for the 2014 Special Olympic USA Games. Playwrights Theatre played a large role in volunteer training by commissioning a script from a New Jersey playwright – cast with New Jersey actors and Olympics athletes who performed the piece six times at five different training venues.  This pioneering project was also filmed, and is now being used for smaller Special Olympic training sessions.

“We are very honored to receive the Cultural Access Network Innovator Award this year,” says Playwrights Theatre’s Artist Director John Pietrowski (photo above), “It’s a wonderful recognition of the extensive work we’ve been doing, and we feel this recognition will assist us in expanding and deepening our programming.”

Also receiving an Innovator Award will be Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) and Enable Inc. for their collaborative initiative that provided Enable’s participants with on-site art-making workshops at GFS. Enable is a non-profit which supports individuals with disabilities to live full and independent lives. The Enabling Creativity initiative provided monthly workshops over a period of four months; participants not only learned how to appreciate contemporary sculpture and other forms of art, but also built a positive self-image through inclusivity.

"Grounds For Sculpture's staff was able to develop relationships with individuals from Enable, Inc. and see them become more expressive through their artwork; that alone was a powerful and rewarding experience," said Cassandra Demski, GFS’s Curator of Education. "Receiving the Innovator Award makes it even more thrilling as it will bring attention to the program." 

The Champion Award is being given to Thomas Shaw-Gardner in recognition of his tireless work on behalf of persons with disabilities. Shaw-Gardner is the Director for the Mercer County Office for the Disabled and Supervisor of a centralized contract unit for the Department of Human Services. Mr. Shaw-Gardner has served on several Americans with Disabilities (ADA) State of New Jersey Task Forces for Departments of Labor, Health and Senior Services, Human Services and Personnel. Mr. Shaw-Gardner currently directs programs providing services to people with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, the elderly, and children and youth. He has been a member of the Cultural Access Network Project – a co-sponsored project of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, as well as consultant to the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission for a number of years. He has served as Treasurer for the NJ Association of County Disability Services, Inc. for 10 years, and Chairperson for the NJ Coalition on Disabilities and Addictions since 2004.

The Cultural Access Network Awards are an annual event offered by the Cultural Access Network Project, which is a cosponsored project of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  This event is made possible in part by The Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Life Improvement and Fund for the New Jersey Blind.

Since its inception in 1994, the Cultural Access Network Project has provided service to the state’s cultural community to assist them as they make their facilities and programs more accessible to people with disabilities. Training sessions, workshops, and conferences align with information and tools available on the Alliance’s website http://njtheatrealliance.org/access.  Patrons can also find all-inclusive listings of accessible cultural events statewide.

The innovative programs and services of the Cultural Access Network Project have earned national recognition and framed New Jersey as a model among their peers in the cultural access field.

The work of the Cultural Access Network Project and access services is supported by Fund for New Jersey Blind; The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, Johnson & Johnson, Kessler Foundation, National Endownment for the Arts, New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, and The Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Life Improvement.

Review: New Play ‘Butler’ at New Jersey Rep

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Review by Michael T. Mooney (www.michaeltmooney.com)

First, banish any preconceived notions that BUTLER, Richard Strand's new play currently at NJ Rep, is about the life of a domestic servant – the sort with Oprah Winfrey in the background to provide moral support. The title actually refers to real-life Civil War Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler, who served the Union as commander of Fort Monroe, Virginia, where the play is set.

The events of May 1861 are matters of historical record: three runaway slaves arrived at the Fort seeking sanctuary. Butler's predicament is whether to return them to their rightful owners (as per the laws of the time) where they will most certainly face torture or death, or to somehow allow them to escape North to freedom. Both options seem equally unacceptable to the slaves, who insist on sanctuary - also a matter of historical fact. What is not fact, of course, are the imagined conversations between Butler and the slaves (here embodied by Strand-appointed spokesman, Shepard Mallory); those are strictly the manufacture of the playwright. And riveting stuff, they are indeed.

Strand opens his play with an extended verbal exchange between Butler (a commanding Ames Adamson) and his Lieutenant (an appropriately obsequious Benjamin Sterling), who has the unfortunate duty to convey the slaves' demands to the astonished Butler. The Major General's pre-War profession becomes increasingly apparent as he engages in a lengthy linguistic diatribe over the Lieutenant's unfortunate use of the word 'demands'. Only a lawyer could so vigorously battle over the verbiage used by a duty-torn soldier. The sequence brilliantly sets up what is to come – a war of wits and witticisms. Mallory (a wonderful John G. Williams) is a well educated slave – one who may or may not be able to read but who has a vocabulary that surely comes from something other than building Southern garrets, which has been his main pastime of late. Whatever its source, this educational edge allows him to go toe to toe with the Major General – taking the blustery Butler somewhat aback.

butler1In the play's second act, the Confederacy sends munitions expert Major Cary (a dignified David Sitler) to retrieve their 'property.' Once again, wily wordsmith Butler engages mightily with Cary, whom he rightly assumes is more Southern spy than official emissary. How the issue is eventually resolved is on a par with the most brilliant courtroom drama – showing that Butler's brain is certainly mightier than his bravery or brawn. Without resorting to history book spoilers, Act Two finds Butler taking issue with another choice word - 'contraband' – and manipulating a recent declaration from the Commonwealth to his own ends.

Strand's play is pitch perfect in both structure and dialogue – a rarity for a world premiere. He paints a textual picture of a man who is more at home on the bench than the battlefield. Strand's Butler is a complex character, one with moral ambiguities – a beast with a brain. In his NJ Rep debut, director Joseph Discher stages the play with a no-nonsense briskness that always values words over movement, something that would please the Major General, no doubt.

With a rock-solid script and assured direction, the success of the play falls to the actor cast as Butler. NJ Rep regular Ames Adamson is nothing short of magnificent in the title role. His is a considered, exacting performance that keeps us riveted throughout. Thanks to his odd period hairstyle and desk-jockey paunch, Adamson also looks alarmingly like photographs of the real-life Butler. The actor inhabits the character inside and out.

George S. Kaufman once quipped that “God writes lousy theatre” - meaning that the events of history are rarely interesting enough on their own without a dramatist's intervention. In BUTLER, the Deity comes as close as can be imagined, and Strand and company more than capably provide the rest.

BUTLER continues at New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ, through July 13th. For tickets and information contact www.njrep.com or call 732-229-3166

Review by Michael T. Mooney (www.michaeltmooney.com)

Photo 1: John G. Williams and Ames Adamson (credit SuzAnne Barabas)

Photo 2: David Sitler and Ames Adamson (credit SuzAnne Barabas)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Auditions: ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ at Barn Theatre

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The Barn Theatre in Montville, New Jersey continues its 87th Season by holding open auditions on Monday & Tuesday, July 7 & 8, 7pm to 9pm for its upcoming production of "Laughter on the 23rd Floor", written by Neil Simon. "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" will be directed by Stephen Catron.

AUDITION DATES:
Monday & Tuesday, July 7 & 8, 7pm to 9pm.

PERFORMANCE DATES:
September 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, October 3, 4 (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays).

SHOW DESCRIPTION:
Inspired by the playwright's youthful experience as a staff writer on Sid Caesar's 1950's Your Show of Shows. A comic drama as the harried writing staff frantically scrambles to top each other with gags while competing for the attention of star madman "Max Prince".

CAST REQUIREMENTS:

7 Men, 2 Women

LUCAS BRICKMAN: Male, 25-ish, The youngest and newest writer on the staff.
MILT FIELDS: Male, 35-45, Flamboyant. Brash. Constantly with the one-liners.
VAL SKOLSKY: Male, 40-50: Senior member of the staff. An emigrant from Russia when he was 12. Still has a strong accent. The most politically aware of all the writers.
BRIAN DOYLE: Male, 30-ish, Irish. A biting sense of humor as caustic as his outlook on life. Has aspirations of going Hollywood.
KENNY FRANKS: Male, 35-45, Neat dresser. The most sophisticated of the lot.
CAROL WYMAN: Female, 28-ish, She has a strong and quick defense system that comes with being the only female on the staff.
MAX PRINCE: Male, 35-45, He exudes great strength and dominates a room with his personality. He can change quickly from warm and happy to sullen anger. Very charismatic.
HELEN: Female, 25-35, a secretary.
IRA STONE: Male. 35-45 He is all energy with a touch of brilliant madness: An extreme hypochondriac.

Actors are asked to arrive to sign in within the first hour of the audition start time. All roles are available. Casting is open, and newcomers are especially welcomed. Crew and other volunteers are also needed for the event. If interested, please contact info@barntheatre.org.

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The Barn Theatre is located at 32 Skyline Drive in Montville, NJ, just minutes off Route 287 (Exit 47). For more information or directions, call 973-334-9320 ext. 5, or visit www.barntheatre.org