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Saturday, January 31, 2015

‘Fuddy Meers’ cast set at The Strollers

fuddy Strollers

The Strollers, The Community Theater Company in Residence at The Burgdorff Center in Maplewood, has announced the cast of their upcoming production of the dark comedy Fuddy Meers, by David Lindsey – Abaire.

Fuddy Meers tells the story of an amnesiac, Claire, who awakens each morning as a blank slate on which her husband and teenage son must imprint the facts of her life. One morning Claire is abducted by a limping, lisping man who claims her husband wants to kill her. The audience views the ensuing mayhem through the kaleidoscope of Claire's world. The play culminates in a cacophony of revelations, proving that everything is not what it appears to be.

Linda Hatcher of Warren, plays Claire, the amnesiac and John Fraissinet of Nutley and Rob Bazaral of Madison play her hospital worker husband and her teenage son. Other cast member include Fran Shultz of East Orange as Gertie, Claire’s mother, Jeff Taylor and John Mendlovitz of Montclair as The Limping Man and Millet. Rounding out the cast is Jeanette Ricci of Roselle Park as Heidi. The production is directed by Keith Hoovler of Maplewood.

Fuddy Meers production dates are March 6, 7, 13 & 14 at 8 PM and March 8 at 2 PM. Tickets are $20 for Adults and $15 for Students/Seniors.

For further information, including ticket reservations go to www.thestrollers.org , phone our box office at (973) 761-8453 or email us at TheMaplewoodStrollers@gmail.com

Picture caption from left to right: John Fraissinet, Fran Shultz, Linda Hatcher, Jeff Taylor, Jeanette Ricci and John Mendlovitz. Absent from Photo: Rob Bazaral

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Two River is one of five theaters to receive a grant in the initiative’s nationwide pilot program

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Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, is proud to announce that the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has awarded the theater a generous grant of $125,000 to support its upcoming production of Be More Chill, a new musical written by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz, with choreography by Chase Brock and direction by Stephen Brackett. The grant will also support an ongoing relationship between Two River Theater and the team of Iconis and Tracz.

Two River is one of only five theaters in the country awarded this honor in the first round of the DDCF’s new, two-round Theatre Commissioning and Production Initiative, which supports  large-scale work by American playwrights and encourages long-term relationships between theaters and writers. The grant includes $75,000 to support Two River’s production of Be More Chill, which will run May 30-June 21, 2015: $25,000 to be awarded to composer/lyricist Joe Iconis and librettist Joe Tracz; and an additional $25,000 to support a commission and development activities for Iconis and Tracz to write a new musical for the theater. The other theaters awarded grants are Denver Center Theatre Company, Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and The Public Theater in New York. 

“Two River Theater is deeply grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation,” say Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst. “Be More Chill is the largest musical and one of the most ambitious projects in our theater’s history. This invaluable new initiative allows nonprofit theaters to produce works of such scale—and supports sustained relationships between institutions and writers, the central generative artists of the American theater. We are proud to have connected songwriter Joe Iconis and playwright Joe Tracz; to be developing and producing their extraordinary new work; and to be launching them as one of the most exciting new teams in the American musical theater.” 

Two River Theater also acknowledges support from the National Endowment for the Arts, which awarded Be More Chill a $20,000 grant, and from Lead Production Sponsor Durso Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley.  

BE MORE CHILL

A commissioned world premiere, Be More Chill is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini. Jeremy Heere is just your average dork trying to survive life in his suburban New Jersey high school. When he swallows a pill-sized supercomputer called The Squip that promises to bring him everything he desires most, he is transformed from complete geek to the coolest guy in class. But is being the most popular guy in school worth the risk?

Tickets are available from tworivertheater.org or 732.345.1400. Ticket prices range from $37 to $65, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance; $20 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $20 and include the best available seats at every performance.

DORIS DUKE CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, the environment, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. DDCF’s Arts Program focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, visit www.ddcf.org




John Tartaglia joins cast of 'Buyer & Cellar' at George Street Playhouse


George Street Playhouse and Artistic Director David Saint have announced that New Jersey native John Tartaglia, from the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q, as well as TV’s Sesame Street and the Emmy Award – nominated Johnny and the Sprites will be appearing in New Brunswick as the sole cast member of Buyer & Cellar, the fourth production of the New Brunswick theatre’s current season.  Mr. Tartaglia will take the fictional journey to the fictional version of Barbra Streisand’s fictional basement beginning March 3 through March 29.  Opening night is set for Friday, March 6.  Mr. Saint helms the production.

“I am thrilled to welcome John to George Street, in this wonderful comedy by Jonathan Tolins,” said Mr. Saint.  “He has the perfect combination of comic timing and an innate likability that works so well for this character.”

Tickets, starting at $28, are now on sale, as are flexible and affordable admission packages, through the George Street Playhouse Box Office, 732-246-7717 or the Playhouse website:  www.GSPonline.org.  George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue, in the heart of New Brunswick’s dynamic downtown, steps away from parking and dining for every palate and pocketbook.  When planning your visit to George Street, check out GSPonline.org for parking and dining suggestions.

Taking Ms. Streisand’s coffee table book My Passion for Design as its jumping off point, Buyer & Cellar is the fictional tale of an underemployed actor who becomes curator of her vast collection of costumes, dolls, clocks and other ephemera which is arranged as a shopping mall in the basement of her Malibu Beach compound (which is the focus of the book).  In the course of his fictional employment, he becomes shopkeeper, confidant and drama coach to the famous actress.  As the Associated Press remarked on the New York production: “Streisand won’t likely be coming, but you should!”

Creating the world of the play are original Scenic Designer Andrew Boyce; lighting designer Christopher J. Bailey and Projection Designer Alex Koch.  Casting is by Mc Corkle Casting, Pat McCorkle, Casting Director, Katja Zarolinski, Associate.

John Tartaglia might best be known as executive producer, creator and star of the 8-time Emmy nominated Johnny and the Sprites, now airing worldwide.   He himself received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Children's Series. He earned a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning musical, Avenue Q, in which he originated the roles of Princeton and Rod. Other roles on Broadway include starring as Lumiere in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and most recently, the role of Pinocchio in Shrek The Musical.   A 12-year veteran of Sesame Street, Tartaglia is one of the youngest puppeteers ever to perform on the show, starting at the age of 16.

Jonathan Tolins (Playwright) is the author of Buyer & Cellar, which was named Best Unique Theatrical Experience by the Off-Broadway Alliance when it premiered at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Other plays include The Twilight of the Golds (Broadway, Booth Theatre), If Memory Serves (Promenade), The Last Sunday in June (Rattlestick, Century Center) and Secrets of the Trade (Primary Stages). A collection of his plays has been published by Grove/Atlantic. His film work includes The Twilight of the Golds and Martian Child. For television, he was a writer for “Queer as Folk,” The Academy Awards, The Tony Awards and “Partners.” He was the author of Pushkin 200: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall, acted as script consultant on Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular, and co-wrote The Divine Millennium Tour and The Showgirl Must Go On for Bette Midler. He has written articles for Opera News, Opera Monthly, TheaterWeek, Time magazine and The Huffington Post, and is a panelist on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director David Saint, George Street Playhouse has become a nationally recognized theatre, presenting an acclaimed mainstage season while providing an artistic home for established and emerging theatre artists.  Kelly Ryman was appointed Managing Director in 2013.  Founded in 1974, the Playhouse has been well represented by numerous productions both on and off-Broadway – recent productions include the Outer Critics’ Circle Best Musical Award-winner The Toxic Avenger; the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Drama League nominated production of The Spitfire Grill; and the recent Broadway hit and Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof by David Auburn, which was developed at GSP during the 1999 Next Stage Series of new plays.  In 2015, George Street Playhouse will be represented by two productions in New York: the Broadway production of It Shoulda Been You, scheduled to open in April, and Joe DiPietro’s Clever Little Lies, opening off-Broadway in March.  Both shows received their premieres at the Playhouse.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Auditions: Midtown Direct Rep holding NJ auditions for second annual Listen to Your Mother: North Jersey

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CALLING ALL POETS, WRITERS, & STORY TELLERS

MIDTOWN DIRECT REP(MDR), the company that brought New Jersey the Off-Broadway hit musical, Rated P for Parenthood, and the resident theater company at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), is pleased to announce open auditions for the second annual Listen to Your Mother: North Jersey, a national series of original live readings about motherhood (www.listentoyourmothershow.com).

Auditions for Listen to Your Mother are open to EVERYONE (men, women, children, parents & non-parents), and all ages and ethnicities are encouraged to audition. In this show, the writers are the performers; so writers should come prepared to read aloud their own original 3-5 minute humorous or heartfelt (or somewhere in between) piece about motherhood. Auditions will be held by appointment only on Thursday, February 19, 5 pm - 9 pm and Saturday February 21, 10 am - 6 pm. To schedule an appointment, please send an email to LTYMNJ@gmail.com with the word AUDITION in the subject line, and include name, phone number, and audition time preference. Auditions will be distributed on a first come/first serve basis. Audition and venue information will be emailed with audition time confirmation. This is a spoken word event; so come prepared to read aloud your own original 3-5 minute humorous, heartfelt, thought-provoking, or happy piece about motherhood.

Commitment includes two rehearsals in the spring (TBD) and a pre-show run-through on May 9. No professional writing or stage experience required. The Listen to Your Mother, North Jersey Show will be held on May 9th at 5:00 PM at SOPAC (One Sopac Way, South Orange, NJ, 07079).

To get a great sense of the show visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/LTYMShow

Listen to Your Mother is a national series of original live readings about motherhood. (www.listentoyourmothershow.com) The mission of each Listen to Your Motherproduction is to take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood (in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor) in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors.

Listen to Your Mother aims to support motherhood creatively through artistic expression, and also financially, through contributions to non-profit organizations supporting families in need. The North Jersey show will be donating a % of ticket proceeds to Eva's Village, a progressive and comprehensive non-profit social service organization dedicated to fighting homelessness and poverty in Northern New Jersey.

About Midtown Direct Rep

With perhaps more professional theater artists than any suburb of NYC, Maplewood/South Orange (NJ) is "where Broadway comes home to sleep." MDR, a theatre company created by and for these NJ-based artists, develops and presents relevant, world-class theatre for its community.

Midtown Direct Rep company members include two-time Tony Award®-winner Norbert Leo Butz, Tony Award®-nominees Stephanie J. Block, Megan Lawrence, and Christiane Noll, plus Sebastian Arcelus, Joel de la Fuente, Bradley Dean, Michele Pawk, and many others. The company is led by Managing Director Jeffrey Shubart, Artistic Producer Steven Tabakin, Literary Manager Marni Raab, Artistic Advisor Sandy Rustin, and Producing Director Evan Fleischer.

For more information, visit http://www.middirrep.org.

Casting set for Paper Mill’s ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’

 

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Paper Mill Playhouse has announced the casting for the United States premiere production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Inspired by the classic Victor Hugo novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame has a book by Peter Parnell, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is directed by Scott Schwartz and choreographed by Chase Brock.

Leading the company are Michael Arden (Big River) as Quasimodo, Patrick Page (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) as Dom Claude Frollo, Ciara Renée (Pippin) as Esmeralda, Andrew Samonsky (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) as Captain Phoebus de Martin and Erik Liberman (Lovemusik) as Clopin Trouillefou. The Hunchback of Notre Dame will run eight times a week at the Millburn, New Jersey theater from March 4, 2015, through April 5, 2015.  The official press opening night is Sunday, March 15, at 7:00 pm.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is produced in association with La Jolla Playhouse (Christopher Ashley, Artistic Director/Michael Rosenberg, Managing Director) by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Group.The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Paper Mill Playhouse is sponsored by Bank of America. Paper Mill Playhouse's 2014-2015 Season is proudly sponsored by Investors Bank.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a dramatic retelling of the famous love story on a grand scale, with a lush, emotionally rich score. The musical features a score by Alan Menken (Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin). This new production is the only stage collaboration between these two giants of the American musical theater.

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

“We’re thrilled to present the U.S. premiere of this epic musical with the support once again of Disney Theatrical Productions,” commented Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director for the Millburn theater. “The score and the cast are magnificent and our audiences will get to experience an unprecedented 50 voices singing this beautiful music. We are excited to welcome two musical theater legends back to Paper Mill Playhouse, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.”

Michael Arden (Quasimodo) appeared in the Broadway companies of The Times They Are A-Changin’ and Big River. Mr. Arden was seen off-Broadway in Bare, Swimming in the Shallows and It’s Only Life. Some of Arden’s television credits include Nurse Jackie, Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife, Anger Management, Kings, The Closer and more.

Patrick Page (Dom Claude Frollo) was seen on Broadway in Casa Valentina, A Time to Kill, Cyrano de Bergerac, A Man for All Seasons, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Lion King, Julius Caesar and more. Mr. Page appeared in Carnegie Hall’s concert performance of The Sound of Music. Some of Page’s television credits include The Good Wife, Law and Order: SVU, One Life to Live and All My Children.

Ciara Renée (Esmeralda) starred as The Leading Player in the recent Broadway revival of Pippin. On Broadway, Renée also appeared in Big Fish. Ms. Renée was seen in productions of Sondheim on Sondheim, Dreamgirls, Carousel and Passing Strange among others.

Andrew Samonsky (Captain Phoebus de Martin) was seen on Broadway in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Scandalous and South Pacific. Mr. Samonsky appeared in the Encores! productions of Fiorello! and Merrily We Roll Along.

Erik Liberman (Clopin Trouillefou), a resident of Hoboken, was in the Broadway production of Lovemusik. He appeared off-Broadway in Dani Girl, For Elise, Minnie’s Boys, Most Ridiculous Thing You Ever Hoid and Mabou Mines Dollhouse.

Rounding out the ensemble are: Julian Decker, Mary Joe Duggan, Ian Patrick Gibb, Beth Kirkpatrick, Samantha Massell, Neal Mayer, Nora Menken, William Michals, Anise Ritchie, Vincent Rodriguez III, Richard Ruiz, Joseph J. Simeone, Jeremy Stolle and Dashaun Young.

At each performance, 32 local choir members from the Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus will serve as the onstage choral ensemble. Supporting music education and musicians, Continuo Arts offers New Jersey’s most comprehensive intergenerational choral program inclusive of children through senior citizens to professionals.  The Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus is under the direction of Candace Wicke, DMA, Founder, President & Executive Director.

Alan Menken (Music) composed the stage and film musicals Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Newsies, Aladdin and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. His other stage musicals include A Christmas Carol, Sister Act and Leap of Faith. His film musicals also include Life With Mikey, Pocahontas, Hercules, The Shaggy Dog, Enchanted, Tangled and Mirror, Mirror.  Some of Mr. Menken’s television credits include the ABC-TV musical series Galavant, an episode from The Neighbors, Lincoln (miniseries) and Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. Mr. Menken has garnered eight Oscars (with 19 nominations), 11 Grammys (including Song of the Year), seven Golden Globes, the Tony (plus three nominations), the Olivier, the New York Drama Critics Award, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Stephen Schwartz (Lyrics) wrote the music and lyrics for Wicked and Pippin and contributed music and/or lyrics to Godspell, The Magic Show, The Baker’s Wife, Rags and Children of Eden. Mr. Schwartz’s film credits include Disney’s Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Enchanted (all in collaboration with Alan Menken) and DreamWorks’ The Prince of Egypt. Mr. Schwartz is the President of the Dramatists Guild of America and Artistic Director of ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshops. Mr. Schwartz’s awards and honors include the Theater Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards and four Drama Desk Awards.

Peter Parnell (Book) wrote the new book for the 2011 Broadway revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Mr. Parnell’s plays include Trumpery, QED starring Alan Alda, a two-part adaptation of John Irving’s The Cider House Rules (American Theatre Critics Association Award), Sorrows of Stephen,The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, Romance Language, Hyde in Hollywood, Flaubert’s Latest and An Imaginary Life. Mr. Parnell served as a co-producer for The West Wing (two Emmy citations) and a producer for The Guardian, Inconceivable, Six Degrees, and The Lottery.

Scott Schwartz (Director) returns to Paper Mill Playhouse, where he directed the critically acclaimed production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. On Broadway, Mr. Schwartz directed Golda’s Balcony and co-directed Jane Eyre. His off-Broadway work includes Murder for Two, Bat Boy (Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Drama Desk Award nomination), Tick, Tick…Boom! (Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk nomination), The Foreigner, Rooms, Kafka’s The Castle and No Way to Treat a Lady. Mr. Schwartz is the Artistic Director of Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York.

Chase Brock (Choreographer) choreographed the Broadway productions of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Picnic. Mr. Brock’s off-Broadway work includes Irma La Douce, The Cradle Will Rock, Lost in the Stars, The Winter’s Tale, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, Venice, The Blue Flower and more. His television work includes The Late Show with David Letterman and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He is founder and artistic director of the contemporary dance company The Chase Brock Experience.

Michael Kosarin (Music Supervisor, Vocal & Incidental Music Arranger) has worked as a music director, arranger, and conductor on many Broadway shows including Nine, Grand Hotel, Secret Garden, Beauty and the Beast, A Chorus Line, Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Leap of Faith, Sister Act, Newsies, Aladdin and more. His film work includes Pocahontas, Hercules, Enchanted, Tangled, Manchurian Candidate, Captain America and more. Mr. Kosarin worked on television productions of A Christmas Carol (Emmy Award, Outstanding Music Direction), Once Upon a Mattress, The Music Man(Emmy nomination), Galavant and more.

Brent-Alan Huffman (Music Director & Conductor) served as musical director for the Broadway productions of Sister Act and Leap of Faith. On Broadway Mr. Huffman also served as the assistant conductor for Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. He conducted the tours of Beauty and the Beast and Little Shop of Horrors.

Michael Starobin (Orchestrations) provided orchestrations for many Broadway shows including If/Then, Annie, Sondheim on Sondheim, Next to Normal (Tony Award), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Assassins (Tony Award), Guys and Dolls, Falsettos, Sunday in the Park with George, Once on This Island and more. His film work includes The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Life with Mikey, Home on the Range, Tangled and Lucky Stiff.

Rob Berman (Dance Music Arranger) is music director of New York City Center Encores!, for which he has conducted 18 productions including Anyone Can Whistle, Merrily We Roll Along, and The Most Happy Fella. Mr. Berman’s Broadway credits as conductor include Wonderful Town, The Pajama Game,White Christmas, Finian’s Rainbow, The Apple Tree, and Promises, Promises, as well as ten original cast recordings. Mr. Berman has been nominated for five Emmy Awards for the Kennedy Center Honors (CBS), winning in 2012 for Outstanding Music Direction, and he music directed A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House for PBS.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame design team includes:

Alexander Dodge (Scenic Design) returns to Paper Mill Playhouse after designing sets for Master Class and The Importance of Being Earnest. Dodge’s Broadway credits include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), Present Laughter (Tony nomination), Old Acquaintance, Butley and Hedda Gabler.

Alejo Vietti (Costume Design) designed costumes for the Broadway production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. At Paper Mill Playhouse Vietti designed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, 1776 and Damn Yankees.

Howell Binkley (Lighting Design) won the 2006 Tony Award for best lighting design of a musical for his work on Jersey Boys.  Mr. Binkley served as lighting designer for many Broadway shows including Honeymoon in Vegas, After Midnight, Lombardi, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, In the Heights,Avenue Q and more.

Gareth Owen (Sound Design) received an Olivier Award for Merrily We Roll Along, a Tony Award nomination for A Little Night Music and End of the Rainbow and Olivier nominations for Top Hat and End of the Rainbow. Mr. Owen designed more than 250 commercial musicals including worldwide productions of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Hairspray, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Singin’ in the Rain and more.

Charles LaPointe (Hair & Wig Design) designed hair and wigs for many Broadway shows including Of Mice and Men, Violet, Side Show, Honeymoon in Vegas, The Elephant Man, The Apple Tree, After Midnight, Beautiful, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Soul Doctor, Motown, Jekyll & Hyde,Clybourne Park, Newsies and more.

Steve Rankin (Fight Director) provided fight direction for many Broadway shows including Memphis, Jersey Boys, Bonnie and Clyde, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Henry IV, Guys and Dolls, The Who’s Tommy and more.

Tara Rubin Casting (Casting) is a leading New York casting firm whose Broadway credits include the upcoming Gigi, It Shoulda Been You, Dr. Zhivago, and School of Rock as well as Aladdin, Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia among others. Regional credits include Yale Repertory, Westport Country Playhouse, Bucks County Playhouse and many others.

The Production Stage Manager is M. William Shiner.

Free Audience Enrichment Activities for The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Wed. March 4             6:00pm                        Art Gallery                 The Director’s Viewpoint

Enjoy coffee on us as Director Scott Schwartz discusses The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Thurs. March 5          6:00pm                        Mezzanine                   Conversation Club

Thurs. March 12 Learn more about the show you are about

Thurs. March 19 to see, led by members of Paper Mill’s

Thurs. March 26 Artistic and Education Departments.

Sat. March 28             Following Matinee      Orchestra                   Q&A with the Cast

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

Paper Mill Playhouse, a leader in accessibility, will offer audio-described performances for The Hunchback of Notre Dame on Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29, at 1:30 pm. Prior to these performances at noon, the theater will offer free sensory seminars. Sensory seminars offer an opportunity for patrons with vision loss to hear a live, in-depth description of the production elements of the show and hands-on interaction with key sets, props, and costumes.  There will be a sign-interpreted and open-captioned performance on Sunday, March 29, at 7 pm.

THE CONTINUO ARTS FOUNDATION is committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals, communities and cultures through music.  Supporting music education and musicians, Continuo Arts offers New Jersey’s most comprehensive intergenerational choral program inclusive of children through adult, senior citizens to professionals.  The Continuo Arts Foundation is known for providing all-encompassing and unforgettable local, national and international musical experiences in concerts, classes, workshops and throughout the education spectrum, leading to a lifelong love and support of the arts. Working in partnership with corporate and private sponsors, the Continuo Arts Foundation makes possible the education, performance and composition of music in ways which might otherwise be considered too unique or too expensive to be ordinarily undertaken.

The Tony Award-winning LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE is internationally-renowned for creating some of the most exciting and adventurous work in American theatre, through its new play development initiatives, its innovative Without Walls series, as well as artist residencies and commissions, including BD Wong, Daniel Beatty and Kirsten Greenidge. Currently led by Artistic Director Christopher Ashley and Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg, the Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, and reborn in 1983 under the artistic leadership of Des McAnuff, La Jolla Playhouse has had 25 productions transfer to Broadway, garnering 35 Tony Awards, among them Jersey Boys, Memphis, The Who’s Tommy, Big River, as well as Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays and the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, both fostered as part of the Playhouse’s Page To Stage Program. Visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org.

DISNEY THEATRICAL GROUP (DTG) operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher and is among the world’s most successful commercial theater enterprises, bringing live entertainment events to a global annual audience of more than 19 million people in more than 50 countries. Under the Disney Theatrical Productions banner, DTG produces and licenses Broadway musicals around the world, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida, Tarzan, Mary Poppins (a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh), The Little Mermaid, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Newsies.Aladdin is its most recent Tony Award–winning Broadway hit; its most recent London production is the critically acclaimed comedy Shakespeare in Love. Other successful stage musical ventures have included King David in concert, the national tour of On the Record, several touring versions of Disney’s High School Musical, and Der Glöckner von Notre Dame in Berlin. DTG has collaborated with the country’s leading regional theaters to develop new stage titles, including Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of The Jungle Book, and is proud to be working with La Jolla Playhouse and Paper Mill Playhouse on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In addition, DTG licenses musical titles for local, school, and community theater productions through Music Theatre International.

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Application Deadlines Extended for New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera's Auditions at Bergen Performing Arts Center for Roles in Carmen, Lucia di Lammermoor

 

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The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera has extended the deadlines for soloists in all vocal categories to submit applications to audition for roles in the professional opera company’s 2015 productions. New Jersey residents are encouraged to apply. Applications for the February 9 auditions must now be received by January 30. An audition appointment is required and must be made in advance.

Auditions will be held for the roles of Morales, Lillas Pastia, and El Remendado in Georges Bizet's Carmen and Lord Arturo Bucklaw, Alisa, and Normanno in Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Open auditions will be held on February 9 from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.at The Drapkin Cabaret and Lounge of the Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood, New Jersey.

Verismo Opera, the house opera company of bergenPAC, presents its 26th season with performances of Carmen on April 26 and Lucia di Lammermoor on October 18 in 2015. All the productions will be presented at 3:00 p.m. at bergenPAC.

Verismo Opera will present these grand operas fully staged with a live orchestra and chorus. The selected vocalists will receive free coaching from professionals in the field, including Artistic Director Lucine Amara, a Met Opera legend; General Manager/Stage Director Evelyn La Quaif, a Canadian soprano; and Maestro Anthony Morss. Professional photos and a DVD of the production will be available to use for future engagements and performances.

Auditions

All applicants must have previous experience in a fully staged production and the necessary vocal training to perform leading or supporting roles. New Jersey residents are encouraged to apply. Although an accompanist will be provided, applicants may bring their own. For an audition appointment, call 201-886-0561 or send an e-mail to info@verismopera.org.

Applicants must submit a bio listing current or past performances and roles sung, a resume, photo and an audio file, preferably in an MP3 format or on a CD, and a list of three arias by the application deadline to Verismo Opera Inc., P.O. Box 3024, Fort Lee, New Jersey 07024-9024 or to info@verismopera.org. A refundable $25 deposit must be submitted with all applications. Checks should be made out to Verismo Opera and mailed to P.O. Box 3024, Fort Lee, New Jersey 07026.

The site is handicapped accessible. Designated handicapped parking spaces are available. Vocalists requiring a special accommodation should call (201) 886-0561 at least two weeks before the audition.

Funding

The 2015 season is made possible, in part, with funds provided by the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of State, through grand funds administered by the Bergen County Department of Parks, Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs. Other supporters include Children’s Aid Foundation, Robert J. Campbell, MD, Cesare L. Santeramo, KSJ, Paul Weiss Matching Fund, The Gerda Lissner Foundation, Inc., and Vanguard Charitable Endowment Fund.

About New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera

verismonjvoFor 26 years, the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera (Verismo Opera) has been an integral part of the region’s classical music culture. Led by Metropolitan Opera luminary Lucine Amara, Verismo Opera delivers a rich, grand opera experience for performers and viewers.

The organization provides performing opportunities for young musicians and artists through its semi-annual productions at the Bergen Performing Arts Center and concerts held in community settings. Community members are invited to get involved as supernumeraries and volunteers. An annual international vocal competition is conducted in November with finals generally drawing artists throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Verismo Opera also organizes opera workshops, master classes and concerts and offers affordable, highly professional productions.

For more information about the nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, visit Verismo Opera's web site, www.verismopera.org or follow the company on Facebook, http://bit.ly/9JXTP8, or Twitter @NJVerismoOpera; or call (201) 886-0561.

Photo Credit: Marilyn Monsanto

 

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Two River Theater awarded grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

 

logo pantone compresTwo River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, has announced that the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has awarded the theater a generous grant of $125,000 to support its upcoming production of Be More Chill, a new musical written by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz, with choreography by Chase Brock and direction by Stephen Brackett. The grant will also support an ongoing relationship between Two River Theater and the team of Iconis and Tracz.

Two River is one of only five theaters in the country awarded this honor in the first round of the DDCF’s new, two-round Theatre Commissioning and Production Initiative, which supports  large-scale work by American playwrights and encourages long-term relationships between theaters and writers. The grant includes $75,000 to support Two River’s production of Be More Chill, which will run May 30-June 21, 2015: $25,000 to be awarded to composer/lyricist Joe Iconis and librettist Joe Tracz; and an additional $25,000 to support a commission and development activities for Iconis and Tracz to write a new musical for the theater. The other theaters awarded grants are Denver Center Theatre Company, Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and The Public Theater in New York.

“Two River Theater is deeply grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation,” say Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst. “Be More Chill is the largest musical and one of the most ambitious projects in our theater’s history. This invaluable new initiative allows nonprofit theaters to produce works of such scale—and supports sustained relationships between institutions and writers, the central generative artists of the American theater. We are proud to have connected songwriter Joe Iconis and playwright Joe Tracz; to be developing and producing their extraordinary new work; and to be launching them as one of the most exciting new teams in the American musical theater.”

Two River Theater also acknowledges support from the National Endowment for the Arts, which awarded Be More Chill a $20,000 grant, and from Lead Production Sponsor Durso Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley. 

BE MORE CHILL

A commissioned world premiere, Be More Chill is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini. Jeremy Heere is just your average dork trying to survive life in his suburban New Jersey high school. When he swallows a pill-sized supercomputer called The Squip that promises to bring him everything he desires most, he is transformed from complete geek to the coolest guy in class. But is being the most popular guy in school worth the risk?

Tickets are available from tworivertheater.org or 732.345.1400. Ticket prices range from $37 to $65, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance; $20 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $20 and include the best available seats at every performance.

DORIS DUKE CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, the environment, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. DDCF’s Arts Program focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, visit www.ddcf.org.

SPONSORS

Two River Theater is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division within the Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Monmouth University, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Durso Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley, Investors Bank, Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, William T. Morris Foundation, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at the Atrium at Navesink Harbor, and many other generous foundations, corporations and individuals.

Free reading of ‘Steel Magnolias’ at Holmdel Theatre Company

Free reading of
Steel Magnolias
By Robert Harling

Monday, February 2, 7:00 PM

Directed by Melanie Taylor

Featuring:
Carole Darché
as Clairee
Laura Herr
as Truvy
Kacey Perinelli
as Shelby
Sharon Saks
as M'Lynn
Alberta Thompson
as Ouiser
Sabrina Van Vliet as Annelle

Admission is FREE. Coffee is served.

Holmdel Theatre Company
at The Duncan Smith Theater
36 Crawfords Corner Road, Holmdel NJ 07733
(on the grounds of the Holmdel High School)
www.holmdeltheatrecompany.org

COMING UP AT HTC!
Open Auditions for
PROOF
by David Auburn
Sunday February 8th 5:00-8:00 & Monday February 9th 7:00-9:30
See our facebook event page for more information
https://www.facebook.com/events/1538313019750685/

‘tick, tick...BOOM!’ next at American Theater Group in Rahway

 

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American Theater Group, New Jersey's newest professional theater company, will open its production of Jonathan Larson's tick, tick...BOOM! on Saturday, January 31 at 8pm. The production, produced at Union County Performing Arts Center's Hamilton Stage (360 Hamilton Street, Rahway), runs through February 8.

Preview performances started (1/28) through Friday (1/30) at 8pm, opening Saturday, 1/31 at 8pm, Sunday, 2/1 at 3pm.

Notes from The Producing Artistic Director

“In 1991, I had just begun my tenure as the artistic head of another theater company in Bergen County. The first production was a one-man show entitled Billy Bishop Goes to War starring a then unknown actor named Roger Bart. At the time, Roger suggested a friend of his, another struggling artist and aspiring composer, to serve as the production’s Music Director. The friend was hired, and the rehearsal process overflowed with the enthusiasm of these two young artists.

During rehearsals, I would have conversations with the Music Director, and listen to his dreams of one day writing for the Broadway stage. One could not help but be impressed by his passion, his dedication and his wit. And his talent.

So it came as little surprise when several years later, that young composer’s work would take the theatrical world by storm when Rent opened in New York. Jon Larson did not live to see the impact his work had; his death the night before Rent’s first public performance is now part of Broadway lore. Roger Bart, after whom one of the characters in Rent is named, would go on to acclaim on Broadway, TV and Film, as   well as become one of the inaugural Board members here at ATG. And Jon’s Rent would change the face of Broadway, inspiring a whole new generation of musical theater artists and audiences.

But before Rent , Jon wrote another show, tick, tick…BOOM – an autobiographical story about a young artist struggling to write the next ‘Great American Musical’. It is full of the same passion, wit and talent that infused those conversations years earlier. And indeed the story takes place (and was very likely written) right around the time that I first encountered Jon.

So it seems fitting that some 20 plus years later, ATG reconnects with that passion, wit and talent by producing tick, tick…BOOM. As a company that looks to find new and exciting voices in the American Theater, we look forward to producing a work that tells the story of one of those voices, told by the very person whose voice we now celebrate.

In tick, tick…BOOM, the lead character (Jon) proclaims “I want to sit down right now at my piano and write a song that people will listen to and remember, and do the same thing every morning for the rest of my life”. Such a rash, unrealistic wish is full of youthful bravado. Ironically, by virtue of his all too short life, Jon Larson’s wish came true. ATG is pleased to join those who sing his songs.”

‘Amadeus’ next at Playhouse 22 in East Brunswick

 

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Playhouse 22, East Brunswick’s Community Theater troupe, presents Amadeus by Peter Shaffer running February 13 through March 1.  The drama focuses on the highly-fictionalized version of the relationship between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, a classic musical composer and contemporary of Mozart.

The original play won various awards for best drama including the 1981 Tony Award for Best Play.  A film adaptation featured Tom Hulce in the title role and F. Murray Abraham as Salieri was recognized with eight Academy Awards.  The American Film Institute has ranked Amadeus 53rd on its 100 Years... 100 Movies list.

The show is directed by Jon Heron of Monroe.   

All performances are Friday evenings at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $22 for adults and $20 for seniors and can be purchased online at Playhouse22.org, by calling the Box Office at (732) 254-3939 or at the Box Office window.  Playhouse 22 is conveniently located at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center at 721 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick.

Photo: Wayne Harris as Salieri and Michael Drake as Mozart

 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NJ short plays wanted: Chatham Community Players ‘Jersey Voices’

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The Chatham Community Players is seeking original, one-act plays, short musicals and/or original dance pieces, written by New Jersey authors, for Jersey Voices' 21st Annual Production.

It is once again time to be thinking about submitting one-acts for Jersey Voices. For those of you who have already sent along submissions for Jersey Voices '15 - thank you! For those of you who have not, we want to remind you that the deadline is coming up soon - this year’s DEADLINE is MARCH 15th, just under two months away!

So please put the finishing touches on those plays sitting on your desk/desktop and send them along. This year, like last year, we are only accepting submissions by e-mail to the address listed below.

Play submissions of any genre (including short musical and dance pieces), style and length up to 15 minutes running time (we're serious about this) will be accepted through March 15, 2015. Selected pieces will each be performed in our Black Box Theater in Chatham on the last weekend in July and first weekend in August.

If we've not chosen your work in the past, please don't give up on us. Each year we have produced new pieces by an author whose work we've passed over in the past; it usually has more to do with trying to balance 6 separate pieces for an enjoyable evening of theater than it has to do with the quality of the piece which has been passed over. In fact, under these circumstances, we have often held over a piece we've liked and given it consideration in the following year. Some of these 'holdovers' have subsequently been chosen, produced, and favorably received.

We are looking forward to seeing your work this year and, as we know that many of you come to see Jersey Voices, to seeing you again this summer. If you have not already introduced yourself, when you're in the audience please stay for the reception we have after each performance and introduce yourself. We'd love to meet you.

If you have any questions, visit our website at www.chathamplayers.org or send me an e-mail at jerseyvoices@chathamplayers.org.

We're accepting scripts this year by e-mail only to:jerseyvoices@chathamplayers.org

‘In the Car with Blossom and Len’ world premiere at Centenary Stage Company

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Centenary Stage Company to present World Premiere production of Joni Fritz’s Susan Glaspell Award Winning In the Car with Blossom and Len on February 20 and running until March 8 in the Sitnik Theatre of the David and Carol Lackland Center.  Work-shopped during last season’s annual Women Playwrights Series, In the Car with Blossom and Len proved that family dynamics can be the source of endless comedic material and received an overwhelming response.

In this funny and poignant new play, a basket full of unpaid bills for chemical engineer Lenny Gold’s laboratory is discovered by one of his adult daughters, unveiling a lifetime of secrets, a mysterious silent partner, and a few other challenges which must be met by this family.  A delightful family saga about growing up, growing older and where you put the keys.

Playwright Joni Fritz (photo) has worked in theatre and television as a writer and actress, with appearances in NYC and regional theatre, film, television and commercials.   Her writing credits run the gamut from theatre to videos, documentaries, and sketch comedy for USA Network. Most recently, Joni's play "Girl's Room," starring Broadway legends Carol Lawrence and Donna McKechnie, directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, enjoyed successful runs in NY and LA.  Her work has been seen in several theatres in the NYC area, including Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Women’s Theatre Company and Dreamcatcher Rep.  She is a member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA and the Dramatist Guild, and resides in Pompton Plains, NJ.

Directing the production is Tony Award nominated and Broadway veteran director/choreographer Lynn Taylor Corbett.  Nominated for the 2000 Tony Award, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography for the musical Swing!, Taylor Corbett also received a 2000 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Choreography. Her recent stage work includes both directing and choreographing the musical My Vaudeville Man!which, ran off-Broadway at the York Theatre Company from November 2008 through January 2009.  She received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Choreography with her collaborator, Shonn Wiley, for My Vaudeville Man!.

Performances for In the Car with Blossom and Len are Wednesday and Sunday afternoons at 2pm, Thursday evenings at 7:30pm and Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm.  Tickets for In the Car with Blossom and Lenrange from $27.50 to $25.00 for adults and $17.50 for children under 12 with discounts for students and seniors.  Thursday evening performances are our popular Family Nights; $25.00 for all seats with a special 2 for 1 rush discount when purchased at the door 2 hours prior to the performance.

For a comprehensive performance schedule, a full listing of all CSC events or to purchase tickets visit us on-line at centenarystageco.org, call the box office at (908) 979 – 0900 or stop by the beautiful David and Carol Lackland center located on the campus of Centenary College at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ.  Box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 5 pm and two hours prior to every performance.  CSC also operates a second box office during the season at 217 Main Street in Hackettstown, NJ open Monday through Friday 3 – 6pm.

The 2014-15 season of performing arts events at the Centenary Stage Company is made possible through the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Shubert Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and CSC sponsors, including Premier Sponsor Heath Village Retirement Community, Silver Sponsors Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, The Holiday Inn in Budd Lake, and Fulton Bank of New Jersey, and Centenary Stage Company members and supporters.

 

 

Dreamcatcher presents the New Jersey Premiere of The Most Deserving

 

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Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, professional Theatre in Residence at Oakes Center in Summit, is producing the New Jersey premiere of Catherine Trieschmann’s The Most Deserving.  This comedy recently played Off-Broadway at The Women’s Project, after having made its debut at the Denver New Play Summit. The Most Deserving plays February 12 through March 1, with talkbacks following theFebruary 15 and 22 matinees.

The Ellis County Arts Council, a motley assortment of art enthusiasts and reluctant community members, is giving away the largest artist grant in its history. The trouble arises when they all must agree on who is the most deserving of this gift. Backroom dealings, romantic entanglements and old grudges come into play as they struggle toward making their selection. This recent Off-Broadway hit was called a “frisky new comedy” by The New York Times and “smart, hilarious, riveting” by The New Yorker.

The comedy will be directed by Laura Ekstrand (Livingston), and will feature Dreamcatcher ensemble members Noreen Farley (Clinton), Scott McGowan (Maplewood), Janet Sales (Montclair) and Jason Szamreta (Rahway). Also featured are Julie Chen (New York) and André DeSandies (Englewood).

The Most Deserving will run at Dreamcatcher from Thursday, February 12 through Sunday, March 1.  Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.  Tickets range from $20-$35, with special rates for subscribers and groups.  Purchase tickets online at www.dreamcatcherrep.org or by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006.  All tickets are $20 at the Thursday, February 12 preview performance, and seniors pay only $20 on advance purchases only on Senior Sunday, the February 15 matinee.

Performances are at Oakes Center, located at 120 Morris Avenue in Summit.  Parking is available in the lot behind the theatre on Ashwood Avenue and at the Summit Recreation Center on Morris Avenue.  The facility is wheelchair accessible.  Assistive Listening devices for the hearing impaired and advance large print scripts are available by prior arrangement.  To purchase tickets or for information on any of Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre's programs, please visit www.dreamcatcherrep.org or contact Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre at Oakes Center, 120 Morris Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901, 908-514-9654.

About Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre:

Dreamcatcher was founded in 1994, and is a non-profit professional ensemble of actors who build community with the audience by sharing life-affirming stories in an intimate environment.  We seek to expose theatregoers to ideas and lives like and unlike their own, to awaken their imaginations and create empathy for others. The company focuses on deepening the experience of our patrons by supplementing the performances with personal contact through receptions, talkbacks, and interactive programs.

Dreamcatcher's core company of professional local actors performs contemporary work that entertains and challenges, and has at its heart a belief in the essential goodness of people. The company’s activities include mainstage productions, improvisational comedy and cabarets, new play readings and a variety of educational and senior outreach programs.

Dreamcatcher’s programs are funded by 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, Dramatist Guild Fund, The Summit Area Public Foundation, the Manley-Winser Foundation, and many other corporations, foundations and individuals.  Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre is a senior member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ at Paper Mill Playhouse

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Reviewed by Ruth Ross (njartsmaven.com)

The old adage, "The pen is mightier than the sword," aptly applies to the works of award-winning Montclair-born playwright Christopher Durang, who writes hilarious comedies with a fine sense of modern life’s absurdities, which he skewers with a rapier-sharp wit. He's taken on the Catholic Church, child abuse, our dependence on psychotherapy, even terrorism in works that feature sharp satire, crackling dialogue and off-the-wall comedy.

As is its wont in the month following the excitement of the holidays, the Paper Mill Playhouse eschews its usual musical comedy fare for a "straight" play, in this case Durang's 2013 Tony Award-winning (for Best Play) Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike now onstage in the Millburn theater through February 15.

In a wicked mash-up of Anton Chekhov's classic comedies—specifically, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard—Durang has fashioned a modern tale that, while referencing the Chekhovian themes of love and loss, satirizes our quest for eternal youth, our preoccupation with appearance and our infatuation with technology to the detriment of sharing and community.

Named by their community theater enthusiast parents after Chekhov's characters, middle-aged Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live a quiet single life in the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, stone farm house where they grew up, staying on after having cared for their aging and ailing parents for 15 years. The two spend their days reflecting on their lost chances, arguing whether the grove of nine cherry trees on the property constitutes an orchard and generally bemoaning their lot in life. Their gloomy (albeit peaceful) lives are turned topsy-turvy with the unannounced arrival of their overly dramatic movie star sister Masha with her latest beau, a 29-year-old would-be actor named Spike. Through two acts, along with three other characters, a wild weekend of raucous rivalry and regret ensues. Will Vanya and Sonia ever find happiness? Will Masha sell the house out from under her dependent siblings? And will Spike ever appear fully dressed?

You don't have to be familiar with Chekhov to understand all the in-jokes, for Durang provides much comedic fodder through his absurdist point-of-view. He does this through a series of monologues; each delivered by one of the four main characters. While this provides each actor with a chance to show his/her dramatic chops, most of them go on much too long. Too, as each character emotes, the others are left to stand around and just watch; I found it uncomfortable to watch them.

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Mark Nelson (above right) is sympathetic and poignant as the gay Vanya, a man who has never held a job and hides an interest in playwrighting. He kind of moseys along agreeably until the penultimate scene, where he erupts in a eight-minute tirade about life in the fifties when people wrote letters, watched "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett," and licked stamps. As Sonia, who never tires of reminding everyone that she is adopted, Michelle Pawk (above left) morphs from dowdy spinster to begowned bombshell ("Sequins are a girl's best friend," she says) before our very eyes; she does a spot-on, and side-splitting imitation of Maggie Smith in "Plaza Suite" that brings down the house. And Carolyn McCormick (above center) as Masha is narcissism on steroids, swans around the morning room lamenting her inability to garner roles like her namesake in Three Sisters instead of the lead in a tacky franchise of "Sexy Killer" films. Returning from the costume party she has inveigled everyone to attend and miffed that her Snow White costume (a la Disney) has made her mistaken for Norma Desmond or a Hummel figurine, she throws the best tantrum by an adult I've seen in a long time.

As Spike, Philippe Bowgen (top 2nd from left) nails the male bimbo persona as he struts around the stage in his underwear. His hilarious monologue re-enacts his audition for a role in "Entourage 2," and he gets big laughs when, told to do a reverse strip-tease (get dressed), he swings his pants around his head and saws his belt between his legs. Extra laughs are provided by Gina Daniels as the maid Cassandra, who quotes Greek tragedy and predicts doom for this already gloomy assemblage. Rounding out the sestet is a winsome Jamie Ann Romero (top 2nd from right) as the lovely Nina, niece of the neighbors next door, who wanders over one afternoon, becomes enamored of the glamorous Masha and piques the aging actress's jealousy when Spike takes an inordinate interest in her. Sweetly, it is she who encourages Vanya's artistic endeavor and thus, brings an uncomfortable state of affairs to resolution.

Director Don Stephenson has directed this patchwork of a play with spirit and a sure hand. That actors have to stand around and observe as one delivers a long monologue owes more to Durang's inability to let an idea go than to sluggish rhythm. David Korins has designed a bucolic set reminiscent of the houses in Bucks County; Leon Dobkowski's dynamite costumes add to the fun. Mark Bennett's original music and Stephen Terry's lighting design are atmospheric and suggest very well the passage of time.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike may not be top-drawer Durang. While all of the characters are droll, much of the comedy is over the top and the various parts of the play don't always connect very well. But those who love the theater (especially Chekhov) and great comedic talent won't go wrong spending a warm two hours with this motley crew at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be performed at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, through February 15. For information and tickets, call the box office at 973.376.4343 or visit www.papermill.org online.

Photos by Matthew Murphy/PMP

Monday, January 26, 2015

Due to Inclement Weather, RVCC Theatre Presentation Rescheduled

 

Due to the snowstorm, the Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s presentation of The Other Mozart, originally scheduled for Tuesday, January 27, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, March 3. The show will be presented at noon and 7 p.m. on March 3.

Tickets for the original date will be honored at the March 3 presentation. For additional information, contact the box office at 908-725-3420, weekdays, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg.

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT MANY THEATERS WILL BE CLOSED TONIGHT AND MOST LIKELY TUESDAY NIGHT DUE TO THE BLIZZARD. CALL TO CONFIRM BEFORE LEAVING HOME.

‘Bell, Book and Candle’ next at Bergen County Players

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Celebrating 82 Years, The Bergen County Players (BCP) to present Bell, Book and Candle. In a nutshell: Girl meets Boy. Girl loses Boy. Girl gets Boy. Sure, that’s a classic plot device, but what’s so special about it? Well, how about because the girl is a witch and the boy is a mortal? Sound familiar? It
should, because this magical rom-com, which originally starred Rex
Harrison on Broadway and then Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in the
popular film, eventually became the genesis of television’s memorable
comedy “Bewitched”. Seen for the first time on the BCP stage and sure
to fit in with the Valentine’s season, this “enchanting and charmingly funny
mid-century bewitching romantic comedy is sure to beguile!”
(THEATREMANIA.COM).

Bell, Book and Candle, written by John Van Druten (whose play I Am a
Camera eventually became the musical Cabaret) will be performed at the
Little Firehouse Theatre in Oradell from Saturday, February 14th
through Saturday, March 7th. Friday and Saturday performances are at
8:00 PM and are priced at $21, while Sunday matinee performances begin
at 2:00 PM and feature a $17 price. Tickets can be purchased online at
www.bcplayers.org, by calling 201-261-4200 or by visiting the box
office at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell during regular box office
hours.

Bell, Book and Candle is directed by Jerry Pettinati, a Life member
and past President of BCP and a member of BCP’s Board of Governors. He
has directed more than 20 plays including A View From the Bridge, Of
Mice and Men, The Crucible, Sideman and Last of the Red Hot Lovers. He
has also appeared on stage in That Championship Season, How to Succeed
in Business Without Really Trying and Amadeus. He resides in Fair Lawn
with his wife, Marilyn, who is also a life member of the Players.

The talented cast of Bell, Book and Candle includes: Joanne Guarnaccia
(Gillian) of Englewood Cliffs, Penny Kaspar (Miss Holroyd) of
Ridgewood, Bill Porterfield (Shepherd Henderson) of Ridgewood, Matt
Rofofsky (Nicky Holroyd) of Fort Lee and Glenn Woertz (Sidney
Redlitch) of Warwick, NY.

The crew includes: Rhea Smith (Producer, Bios), Marisa Dolkart (Stage
Manager), Michael Smith (Set Design and Construction, Photography),
Gerard Bourcier (Lighting Designer), Neil Kahn (Sound Designer), Cliff
Dreispan (Sound Operation), Lori Milchman (Light Operation), Kathleen
Ruland (Assistant to the Director), Matt Rofofsky (Publicity), Michele
Roth (Costumes), Rosella DeVincenzo (Décor), Marilyn Pettinati
(Makeup), Barbra Murtha (Crew/Props) and Geri Berhain (Member-at-Large).
TICKET AND SCHEDULE INFORMATION

•        All performances take place at The Little Firehouse Theatre
at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell, home to the Bergen County Players
since 1949.  Performance times are Friday/Saturday at 8pm and Sunday
at 2pm.
•        Tickets for Bell, Book and Candle are $21 for Friday and
Saturday performances and $17 for Sunday performances. Tickets can be
purchased online at www.bcplayers.org, by calling 201-261-4200 or by
visiting the box office at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell during
regular box office hours.  Visa, Master Card, and American Express are
accepted.
•        BCP’s popular Questions & Artists talkback session will be
held following the performance on Friday, March 13th. The session is
included in the cost of the ticket to that performance.
•        Those interested in Group Sales of 20 or more tickets can
call (201) 261-4200 x6 for further information and group pricing.
•        Discount tickets for students age 25 and under with proper ID
are available in advance for $14 by phone or walk-up only. Student
Rush tickets can be purchased for $5 at the window starting 30 minutes
before curtain, depending on availability. There is a limit of one
Student Rush ticket per person and only cash is accepted.
•        Parking is free at the Park Avenue municipal lot, across the
street, one-half block north of the theater.

The Bergen County Players has grown tremendously from its roots as a
small community theatre when it was founded in 1932; today, more than
300 volunteer members, working on and off stage, make possible the
nine productions presented each season.

Bergen County Players, Inc. is a non-equity, non-profit community theater
company dedicated to presenting quality productions for the enrichment of
the community.

Further information can be found at www.bcplayers.org.

Photo: (seated l-r) Bill Porterfield, Joanne Guarnaccia and Matt Rofofsky and
(standing l-r) Glenn Woertz and Penny Kaspar      Photo by Michael Smith

 

Auditions: ‘Aesop’s Fables’ A Modern Adaptation at Women’s Theater Company

 

The Women’s Theater Company, a professional theater company located in Parsippany, NJ, will hold non-equity auditions on Thursday, January 29 from 5pm to 7pm for its production of Aesop’s Fables: A Modern Adaptation, in conjunction with The New Jersey Theater Alliance’s Stages Festival. The Stages Festival is the state’s largest annual theatre festival that provides discounted and free theatre performances, workshops and, events for all ages throughout the month of March.

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Aesop’s Fables: A Modern Adaptation is a fun-filled, action-packed show that will keep young audiences on their toes! It takes the audience on a journey through 6 fables:

The Country Mouse and the City Mouse

The Fox and the Grapes

The Oak and the Reed

The Ant and the Grasshopper

The Miller, Her Son, and the Donkey

The Tortoise and the Hare

Seeking: Two female actors: non-Equity; 20s

One male actor: non-Equity; 20s

All of the actors must be able to portray several different characters, have lots of energy on stage, and be comfortable interacting with a young audience.

Auditions are by appointment only. Please e-mail, info@womenstheater.org for an appointment. Sides will be provided. Auditions will be held at the Women’s Theater Company, in residence at the Parsippany Playhouse, located at 1130 Knoll Road, Lake Hiawatha, NJ.

Aesop’s Fables: A Modern Adaptation will run March March 13th, 14th, 15th,  and 20th, 21st and 22nd. Friday and Saturday nights at 7pm and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 3pm at the Parsippany Playhouse. For more information, please e-mail info@womenstheater.org.

ABOUT THE STAGES FESTIVAL:

The Stages Festival offers over 100 performances, workshops, classes, and events at the states professional theatres, performing arts centers, libraries, schools, senior centers, museums and other community venues. The program was developed to encourage New Jersey’s residents to attend their local professional theatres by making the experience affordable, accessible, and fun. Since its inception 18 years ago, the program has served over 90,000 people. To receive a full schedule of events for The Stages Festival please visit www.stagesfestival.org.