Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Old Library Theatre to present five original one act plays

Seated: Heather Drew, Garrett Dolloway, Betsy Trum
standing: David Cooper, Director: Marilyn Schilke
The Old Library Theatre, will present 4x4+1 five original one act plays chosen as winners of the First Annual Playwright's Festival.

To kick off the 2012 Season, 4x4+1 will showcase the talent of area playwrights Tom Winkler of Maywood, Joe DelPriore of North Bergen, Robert Daria of Leonia, Craig M. Tiede of Jersey City and Omar Kozarsky of Mahwah.

For the festival, The Old Library Theatre, solicited original works from local writers. The cast includes over 20 New Jersey actors and actresses. The Old Library Theatre is in residence at the Fair Lawn Community Center and receives support from the Fair Lawn Recreation Department.

Performances are: Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 12 at 2:00 pm.

The original plays that will be presented are:

"Vacation Photos", by Tom Winkler: A couple shows off their various vacation photos, which leads to unexpected revelations. "Feeding the Pigeons", by Joe DelPriore: Three warped amateur ecologists philosophize while pigeons wait to be fed. "In the Bus Depot", by Robert Daria: Art imitating life, imitating art, imitating life etc...."Affectations", by Craig M. Tiede: After his roommates suicide attempt, a young a young actor reaches out to his roommate's estranged parents for support and an explanation. "Last Dance", by Omar Kozarsky: The boys night out gets out of hand when their birthday celebration coincides with a retiring exotic dancer's final performance.

Fair Lawn Community Center is located at 10-10 20th Street (corner of 20th and Kipp) in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
For more information visit:

Two weekend changes at The Growing Stage

Click here to find out more!

Fiddler on the Roof in New Brunswick

The State Theatre in New Brunswick will present a touring version of the musical Fiddler on the Roof for three performances on Friday, February 17 at 8pm and Saturday, February 18 at 2pm and 8pm. A FREE Pre-performance Insights is available at 7pm before the Friday, February 17 performance and at 1pm before the Saturday, February 18 performance. The Insights takes place at the United Methodist Church, 323 George Street. Discounted tickets ranging from $25-67 are available for these performances as part of the State Theatre’s “Take5” promotion. Just mention the promotional code “Take5” when ordering tickets to receive the discount (not all seating sections apply). 

 Based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, the Tony® Award-winning musical Fiddler on the Roof has been lauded by critics again and again, and won the hearts of people all around the world. Filled with a rousing, heartwarming score, which includes “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” Fiddler on the Roof is a timeless classic.

 Fiddler stars veteran actor John Preece as Tevye. Preece has performed in Fiddler on the Roof over 3,400 times, more than 1,700 of which were in the role of Tevye. This production marks Preece’s 10th national tour of Fiddler on the Roof.  

 Other cast members include Barbi McGuire of Maplewood, NJ (Yente, The Matchmaker), Gerri Weagraff (Golde), Brooke Hills (Tzeitel), Sarah Sesler (Hodel), Chelsey LeBel (Chava), Brenne Rimberg (Shprintze), Kristin Morris (Bielke), Andrew Boza (Motel, The Tailor), Joshua Phan-Gruber (Perchik, The Student), and David B. Springstead, Sr. (Lazar Wolf, The Butcher). 

 "A perennial hit since it first opened in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof is a poignant story about the enduring bonds of the family. The musical is centered on Tevye, a humble milkman from the Russian village of Anatevka. Tevye wrestles with the new customs of a younger generation when his daughters choose suitors who defy his idea of a proper match. Tevye soon comes to realize, through a series of incidents that are at once comic and bittersweet, that his children will begin traditions of their own. At the story’s close, the villagers of Anatevka are forced to leave their homes and even the sturdy mores that have guided everyday life begin to crumble. Paradoxically, it is the enforced loss of the rigid traditions and home life that Tevye has tried so tenaciously to preserve that leads the family to reconcile and draw closer still."

 Fiddler on the Roof  is part of the State Theatre’s winter festival, Hub City Carnivale, four weeks of performances, activities, and attractions for all ages. Fiddler on the Roof is underwritten by Omar and Madiha Boraie with additional support by Rutgers Student Life. 

 For tickets or more information, call the State Theatre ticket office at 732-246-SHOW (7469), or visit them online at The State Theatre ticket office, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10am to 6pm; Wednesday 11am to 7pm; Saturday 1pm to 5pm; and at least one hour prior to curtain on performance dates. For information on group outings and discounts, call 732-247-7200, ext. 517. Some additional ticket and transaction fees may apply.

Last chance to see The Barn's Marvin's Room

Final Performances are this coming Friday, February 3 and Saturday, February 4 at 8 PM for The Barn's production of "Marvin's Room." 

Sisters Bessie and Lee, estranged since their father’s stroke nearly 20 years ago, are brought together under unexpected circumstances. Bessie, who has been caring for her ailing father Marvin and Aunt Ruth, learns that now she too is sick and turns to her sister for help, bringing to surface long-buried resentment and overwhelming love. This critically acclaimed award-winning play goes on a transcendent journey and, what appears to be a serious drama about dying, quickly becomes a very funny comedy about living. 

Marvin’s Room’ features Susan Binder (of Franklin Lakes), Bridget Burke-Weiss (of Boonton), Mark Dacey (of Wayne), Paul Diverio (of Ringwood), Hank Gunderson (of Boonton), Laura Kennedy (of Denville), Jack Romano (of Oak Ridge), Mary Ryzuk (of Boonton) and Gianni Vaughan (of Boonton).
Tickets are $15 ($14 for seniors/students on matinees only). For tickets, call (973) 334-9320 or visit the Box Office on Saturdays, 4-7 PM.

The Barn Theatre is located at 32 Skyline Drive in Montville, NJ, just minutes off Route 287, Exit 47.
Click here for map/directions
Montville, NJ 07045

Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: The Convert at the McCarter Center

Danai Gurira is a name most of us are not familiar with, however, just wait...she happens to be an extraordinary actress and award winning playwright who was born in Iowa and raised in her parents' native Zimbabwe (you will find her impressive bio at the end of this piece). On stage at the Berlind Theatre at the McCarter Center in Princeton is her latest play. In fact, it is the world premiere of the play The Convert, directed by the McCarter's treasure, Emily Mann

The Convert
Danai Gurira has written a deeply touching story set when Zimbabwe was the British colony of Rhodesia. The time is 1895-97, uninvited colonists have seized large amounts of former tribal grazing land and imposed taxes, transforming warriors and cattle tenders into menial laborers.for the "whites."  With this new order, the new masters also attempt to impose Christianity on the spirit-worshiping African inhabitants.

The setting for all three acts (two intermissions) is the sparse home of Chilford (LeRoy McClain), a well-meaning black Roman Catholic missionary who aspires to become a Jesuit priest.  He lives alone tended by his housekeeper, Mai Tamba (Cheryl Lynn Bruce) who, he believes, has successfully been converted to Christianity. However, she secretly honors her tribal religious customs. Mai Tamba brings her niece Jekesai (Pascale Armand) to work in the house as a way of rescuing her from a forced marriage to an old man arranged by her uncle (Harold Surratt). Chilford, at first balks at the hiring of the girl, but when she proclaims her desire to know Jesus, he relents and she becomes the convert and his protégé.

Chilford gives her a proper Christian name Ester. Also central to the plot is her cousin (Warner Joseph Miller) Mai Tamba's laborer son and the missionary's two educated black African friends... the womanizing Chancellor (Kevin Mambo) and his more sophisticated fiancée Prudence (Zainab Jah), who feels trapped between the male dominated white and black worlds...neither accept her.

This is an outstanding cast, led by Pascale Armand, in a powerful, thoughtful drama that has one possible is three hours long including the two intermissions. For some this may be a bit of a strain, but in my case the length was justified as it appeared for the rest of the audience. We attended the sold-out Saturday matinee on the 28th, the snowstorm the previous weekend prevented an earlier viewing,  the theatre was full for the dramatic, kick in the stomach Act Three... and the thunderous standing ovation that followed.
The world premiere of Danai Gurira’s The Convert at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, will play through February 12, 2012 . The Convert is produced in association with Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles) and The Goodman Theatre (Chicago). 

Author Danai Gurira tells us in the Playbill that, “The Convert is part one of my cycle on Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean identity. In the play I go back to the inciting incident: when Zimbabwe became a colony and the first uprising against the colonial structure occurred.The concepts of ownership and cultural identity, right and wrong and moral ideals, and of course questions of  faith and Christian identity -- all these things still flood who we are today. The Convert was really exploring all of that in myself...I felt the need to explore my own Zimbabwean identity and the country as a whole the only way I know how, which is through dramatic writing.” (Her bio is below). The Convert is the recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays award.

This clearly is another triumph for director and playwright Emily Mann who is in her 22nd season as Artistic Director of the McCarter Theatre. Ms. Mann's creative team of The Convert includes Daniel Ostling (set design), Paul Tazewell (costume design), Lap Chi Chu (lighting designer), Darron L West (sound design), J. Steven White (fight director), and Beth McGuire (dialect/vocal coach). Alison Cote is the production stage manager. 

  Reviewed by Rick Busciglio  January 28, 2012

Tickets for The Convert start as low as $20, and can be purchased online at, by phone at (609) 258-2787, or in person at 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ 08540. The Convert will be performed in the Berlind Theatre.

 Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30pm; Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 3:00 p.m., Sunday at 2:00 p.m. with an additional 7:30 performances on (Super Bowl) Sunday,February 5. 

 Groups of 10 or more save and receive premium seating. For more information, call (609) 258-6526 or e-mail
 "McCarter is committed to making live theater available and affordable to all members of our community." Public Rush makes unsold tickets available for half-price on the day of selected performances, and is not available in all seating locations. A Pay-What-You-Can performance will be offered on Tuesday, February 7 at 7:30pm. Tickets are subject to availability and must be purchased at the McCarter box office or at the door an hour prior to curtain.  
McCarter Theatre Center is easily accessible by car via US Route 1, Interstate 95/295, and NJ Route 206. Or take the train to McCarter:  New Jersey Transit serves Princeton Junction via the Northeast Corridor Line. Then it’s a ride of four minutes on New Jersey Transit’s “Dinky” train to Princeton Station–McCarter is directly across the street at 91 University Place.
"Danai Gurira is a playwright and actor. Her plays include Eclipsed, which received premiere productions at the Wooly Mammoth, Center Theater Group and Yale Repertory Theater. It recently won Best New play at the 2010 Helen Hayes Awards as well as Danai winning Best Playwright at the NAACP Theater Awards in August 2010. She co-created and performed in the award-winning two woman play In the Continuum, which premiered off-Broadway and toured the U.S. and Southern Africa. 
Danai Gurira
For her work on that production, Danai won a 2006 Obie Award, the 2006 Outer Critics John Gassner Award, and the 2004 Global Tolerance' Award (Friends of the United Nations), in addition to being honored by the Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2007, she received a Helen Hayes Award for Best Lead Actress in In the Continuum at Woolly Mammoth. Danai starred in the acclaimed film The Visitor (with Oscar-nominated actor Richard Jenkins) and on Broadway in Lincoln Center Theater's production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone. She is also featured in films 3 Backyards (Sundance 2010), My Soul to keep (Wes Craven, October 2010) and Restless City (Sundance 2011). 

She has appeared in TV shows Law and Order, Life on Mars, Lie to Me, Law and Order CI and has a recurring role on HBO’s Treme. She is the title role of the upcoming film, Ma George. She recently appeared as Isabella in NYSF’s Measure for Measure (Equity’s 2011Callaway Award).

She is the recipient of '08 TCG New Generations travel grant for Eclipsed with the
McCarter Theater and has taught playwriting and acting in Liberia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. She is developing a play about current day Zimbabwe where she traveled in April and September 2010 with the help of another TCG grant and the McCarter Theater. 

Her newest play, a historical Zimbabwean piece entitled The Convert (a commission with CTG) will appear at the McCarter, Goodman and Center Theater Group Theaters in the Winter and Spring (2012). These plays comprise parts of a trilogy on Zimbabwe’s coming of age from a feminine perspective.

She recently received the prestigious NEA New Play development grant to support the development of the Trilogy with Woolly Mammoth. She is currently a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. She is also a commissioned playwright with Yale Rep. She received her MFA in Acting from Tisch, NYU. Danai was born in the U.S. to Zimbabwean parents and raised in Zimbabwe. She lives in New York City."

Cheryl Lynn Bruce and LeRoy McClain
Cast Photos by T. Charles Erickson

Next at The Pennington Players- the musical XANADU


The Pennington Players bring the magical musical XANADU to the stage of Mercer County Community College's Kelsey Theatre. Dates and times for this hilarious skating musical adventure are Fridays, Mar. 9 and Mar. 16 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Mar. 10 and Mar 17 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Mar.11 and Mar. 18 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on Mercer's West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on March 9th.

XANADU follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens of Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time - the first ROLLER DISCO…hey, it's 1980!  But, when Kira falls into forbidden love with the mortal Sonny, her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation and chaos abounds.

This hilarious, roller skating, musical adventure about following your dreams despite the limitations others set for you, rolls along to the original hit score composed by pop-rock legends Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, and includes, “Magic”, “All Over The World”, “Suddenly”, “I’m Alive”, "Evil Woman", "Have You Never Been Mellow" and “Xanadu”, to name a few, and is based on the Universal Pictures' cult classic movie of the same title, which starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly.

The cast features Jaclyn Dixon of West Deptford as Clio/Kira;  Matt Reher of Philadelphia, PA as Sonny;  Rob Del Colle of Philadelphia as Danny;  Jaimie McMillan of Bordentown as Melponeme;  Maria Aromando of Neshanic Station as Calliope;  Dominick Sannelli of Levittown, PA as Thalia;  Frankie Rowles of Philadelphia as Terspicore;  Tia Brown of Lawrenceville as Erato;  Kim Cupo of Fairless Hills, PA as Euterpe; with Zach Mazouat of Mt. Olive; Allison McMullen of Ewing; and Elena Maddox of Horsham, PA as the Pit Singers. 

The production is being produced by Frank Ferrara of West Windsor; with direction and choreography by John Boccanfuso of Ewing and musical direction by Tracy Witko of Ewing.  Rounding out the production staff are Stage Manager, Michelle Rittman of Ewing; Set and Lighting Designer, Judi Parrish of Ewing; and Assistant Choreographer, Dominick Sannelli.

It's hilarity on wheels for adults, children and anyone who has ever wanted to feel inspired.  And it weaves a moving, electrifying tale of endless fun that will keep you in stitches, while the original, legendary chart-topping tunes lift you out of your seat. You'll want to keep the music in your head, and XANADU in your heart, forever.  

More information about XANADU can be found here

Tickets are $18 for adults; $16 for seniors, and $14 for students and children. Free parking is available next to the theater. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333. Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible.

Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers next at the Bergen County Players

Bergen County Players (BCP) presents Last of the Red Hot Lovers, an uproarious comedy by Neil Simon, who won a 1970 Writer’s Guild of America award for this, his ninth, of more than 30 classic stage plays. Under the direction of Jerry Pettinati, Last of the Red Hot Lovers will be performed at the Little Firehouse Theatre in Oradell from February 18 through March 10, 2012, with shows at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays.  Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling 201-261-4200, or by visiting the box office at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell during regular box office hours. 

The plot revolves around Barney Cashman, who has been happily married to his high school sweetheart for close to 30 years. But as that milestone anniversary approaches, the sexual revolution of the 1960s is burgeoning all around him. Though he’s a kind and gentle man, with no history of adultery, Barney decides to try and take advantage of the new sexual mores before opportunity passes him by. The question: Will Barney’s libido liberate or humiliate him? The answer may lie in the women – experienced Elaine, actress Bobbi and family friend Jeannette – he tries to seduce.

Nominated for four Tony Awards, Last of the Red Hot Lovers is the kind of comedy anyone who’s ever been in love – or lust – can appreciate!

Last of the Red Hot Lovers is directed by Jerry Pettinati of Fair Lawn. Jerry has been a member of BCP for more than three decades and is a former BCP president. He started directing in 1974 and has helmed more than 20 productions on the BCP stage, including Plaza Suite, The Prisoner of Second Avenue and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.

The nebbish Barney is played by Mike Scelzo of Fair Lawn. Mike has appeared in several of BCP’s past mainstage productions of Simon’s work, including Plaza Suite, The Prisoner of Second Avenue and Laughter on the 23rd Floor.

Sexpot Elaine is played by Janet Gaynor-Matonti of Ramsey. She was last seen at BCP in Who Am I This Time?, and previously in Steel Magnolias and Prelude to a Kiss. 

The free-spirited actress Bobbi is played by Nicole Aleles of Rutherford. Nicole is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a BA in Theatre Arts, and is an Equity Membership Candidate. 

Moralist best friend to Barney’s wife, Jeannette, is played by Debbie Buchsbaum of River Vale. Debbie last appeared on the BCP stage in Plaza Suite. Earlier BCP credits include Bermuda Avenue Triangle and Hansel & Gretel.

The production is co-produced by Ron Siclari of Oradell and Al Wander of Harrington Park.

The set is designed by Steve Moldt of Cresskill, with props by Pat Bain of Englewood and Anne Geisemann of Dumont, and décor by Ellen Essig of River Vale. The swinging sixties costumes are designed by Ruth Morley of Ridgewood, with make-up by Marilyn Pettinati of Fair Lawn. Michelle Roth of New Milford serves as stage manager, with Allan Seward of Rockland County handling lighting design and Rob Descherer of Woodcliff Lake designing the sound.


·       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 Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.

·       Tickets for Last of the Red Hot Lovers are $19 for Friday and Saturday performances and $16 for Sunday matinee performances, and can be purchased online at, 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.

·       Those interested in Group Sales of 20 or more tickets can call (201) 262-0515.

·       As it has for the past few seasons, BCP will continue to offer a “Questions & Artists” (Q&A) discussion following select performances.  The Last of the Red Hot Lovers Q&A will kick off immediately following the Friday, February 24th performance.  Admission is included in the cost of the ticket.

·       Student Rush tickets are available for $5 for students age 25 and under with valid ID, 30 minutes prior to curtain. One ticket per ID. Cash only. Students can also guarantee their seats in advance either online or through the box office for the special student price of just $14.00. 

·       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 theater when it was founded in 1932; today, nearly 300 volunteer members, working on and off stage, make possible the nine productions presented each season. 

Further information can be found at

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

New Jersey Rep Presents Summer In Sanctuary by Al Letson

March 8, 2012 - March 25, 2012
An Explosive New Play
New Jersey Repertory Company, located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch is proud to present “Summer In Sanctuary,” an explosive new play by Al Letson, a nationally recognized award–winning slam poet, performer, playwright, and the host and producer of the popular “State of the Re: Union” on National Public Radio. Performances for this limited run are March 8 - 25 and tickets can be ordered by calling 732-229-3166 or by visiting

The title refers to “Sanctuary,” a community center located on 8th Street, in one of the toughest sections of Jacksonville, Florida where Mr. Letson spent three months as a creative writing teacher at a summer camp for inner city teenagers. His intentions were noble. Letson grew up in a middle-class family in North Jersey, the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, and he wanted to make a difference. Imbued with idealism he enthusiastically went down to Jacksonville but very quickly learned that “sanctuary” was a dangerously deceptive word, and that soon he would be challenged as he had never before been challenged, and that all his ideals of “giving-back,” good intentions and resolve, would soon be tested bitterly.

The kids that he was supposed to “instruct” were fighting for survival on a daily basis in an environment rife with poverty, drugs, and violent crime, and the fact that Mr. Letson is African-American did not give him a free-pass. He had been dropped into a veritable war-zone, and although he sought desperately to connect and to impart the literature that he loved to his students, he was completely unprepared for what came next. He was confronted from the get-go with sullen faces, curses, and rage, and quickly learned that the job description of “creative writing teacher” was much too narrow and that he would have to improvise if he was to survive serving as coach, therapist, advisor, chauffer, videographer, and policeman. He found that things could explode at any moment, and often did in this highly charged uncertain environment, and that the kids that he was trying to teach could be swallowed up at any time by the dangerous neighborhood where gang killings were the norm.

Most would have fled, but much to Letson’s credit he stayed put, and dug in his heels recognizing that although the painful journey that he was about to embark upon would test his character to the extreme, he could emerge with his compassion and ideals burnished and strengthened by reality.

With poetry, music and videos “Summer in Sanctuary” takes the audience on an intimate journey with Letson into the dark and wavering soul of America where redemption is still possible.

Special thanks to the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for support of NJ Rep and this production of “Summer in Sanctuary.” Additional funding provided by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Horizon Foundation for NJ, and the NJ State Council on the Arts.

Performances are Thursdays, Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm; and Sundays at 2:00 pm, March 8 - March 25. Special previews are on Thursday, March 8 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm and Friday, March 9 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm.

Tickets are $35 with discounts for students (full-time 13-25), and groups of 10 or more. Additional performances can be scheduled on Thursday and Friday matinees or Sunday nights for groups of 30 or more.

Warning: Strong adult language.

For tickets call 732-229-3166 or visit for online ticketing.

NJ Rep is a non-profit, professional theater located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch, only minutes from the Jersey Shore. Free on-site parking and easy access from NJ Transit (North Jersey Coast Line) and Academy Buses.

New Jersey Repertory Company
A Boutique Theater for Passionate Theater Goers
179 Broadway
Long Branch, NJ 07740

New Jersey Theatre Alliance's fifteenth annual Stages Festival set for March

The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, its 35 professional member theatres, and partner organizations are presnting the fifteenth annual Stages Festival throughout the month of March 2012.

“New Jersey’s professional theatres have so much to offer,” says John McEwen, Executive Director of the Theatre Alliance.  “The Stages Festival serves as a month-long open-house to the state’s residents – giving them a chance to see the wide variety of programming that exists right in their own back yard – with shows, sample classes or play-development events at little to no cost.”

The Stages Festival began 15 years ago as a one-week program for young people and their families (originally called Family Week at the Theatre), but the program was so popular, and member theatres kept offering new events for people of all ages, that the Theatre Alliance – with the help of their funding partners – expanded it beyond the original week. The organization and its member theatres now provide a full month of performances, workshops and programs for theatre lovers in all the stages of their lives.

Events are held at member theatres, but also in local libraries, schools, hospitals and senior centers.  For the fifth year in a row, the Theatre Alliance is also sponsoring a private event for service men and women and their families on McGuire Air Force Base in Burlington County.

The Stages Festivalis a co-sponsored project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Additional program sponsors are Bank of America and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey.

The program’s mission is to give families the opportunity to experience the diversity of New Jersey’s professional theatres by offering affordable, exciting and educational programming at member theatres and in non-traditional venues throughout the state.

Ocean County teacher Joanne Betancourt has been hosting a Stages Festival event in her district for many years.  “Though all the years that I’ve worked with this wonderful program, I’ve seen how families share the bonding experience and how kids light up watching characters they’ve read about come to life. If the Theatre Alliance didn’t bring this program to our school, there are many children who wouldn’t have the chance to go to the theatre with their families.”

Performances aren’t the only part of the program; classes and workshops have always been a popular aspect The Stages Festival and this year over 20 offerings give theatre lovers a chance to participate in a variety of workshops under the guidance of professional artists.

Examples of workshops from north to south include:  Actors Shakespeare Company (Hudson county) – is offering a stage combat workshop for young people, an physical comedy workshop for ages 12 and up, and a Shakespearian centered acting workshop for the whole family; Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre (Essex county) – is offering an acting workshop for middle and high school students; East Lynne Theater Company (Cape May county) – is offering a workshop that covers improvisation and the basics of scene work for ages 15 and up.   Other member theatres will be offering acting workshops, pre- and post- show discussions, and more for all ages.

Some highlights of this year’s Stages Festival andFamily Week at the Theatre include:
Familiar stories told with laughter and adventure serve as a wonderful way to introduce children to the delights of live theatre, while keeping their parents happily entertained.
Touring productions from Pushcart Players and Centenary Stage Company and Surflight Theatre will be performing all over the state – in Atlantic, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, and Warren Counties  – with several productions including: A Year With Frog and Toad; If You Give a Mouse a Cookie; Red Riding Hood & Other Stories; Stone Soup and Other Stories; and the popular bi-lingual Cuentos del Arbol (Tree Tales).

George Street Playhouse will offer several opportunities to see their acclaimed production IRL: In Real Life – in Atlantic, Cape May and Ocean.  The production, and the conversation that will follow, will invite discussion about how young people can take an active role to end cyber bullying. 
Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s (Morris) Shakespeare LIVE! Company will bring the best of the Bard to audiences in a fast-paced and exciting productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth (both adapted for young audiences), at their Madison, NJ theatre.
Surflight Theatre's touring company will perform the popular Schoolhouse Rock LIVE! –– with songs and laughs for kids and their parents, who may recall the Saturday morning television of their youth with productions in Cumberland, Morris, and Ocean counties.

The Growing Stageoffers a reading series – produced in association with Playwrights Theatre – that features four thought-provoking new plays at their historic theatre in Morris County.
There are several opportunities to catch East Lynne Theater Company’s popular “radio play” Sherlock Holmes’ Adventure of the Norwood Builder at their performance space in Cape May and in Ocean and Bergen County.

Cuentos del Arbol(Tree Tales) will be performed by Pushcart Players in Cape May, Essex, Mercer and Passaic County on March 19.  Sharing delightful stories with universal themes, this language-enriching show inspires an appreciation for other cultures.  These performances are made possible by the support of The HMS Foundation.

Several member theatres are offering special deals to The Stages Festival patrons for main-stage productions in March including: 
Actors Shakespeare Company(Hudson) – Macbeth, from March 16 – 31.
Centenary Stage Company(Warren) – Ladies Man, from March 2 – 4.
Dreamcatcher Repertory Company(Essex) – Blood: A Comedy, Saturday, March 10.
Paper Mill Playhouse(Essex) – Damn Yankees, March 7 – 31.
Ticket deals vary; check for more information about dates, times and restrictions.

Accessibility/Accessible Performances
"The New Jersey Theatre Alliance is committed to making all of its programs and services fully accessible to the public."  Most venues participating in The Stages Festival are wheelchair accessible.  Call the venue directly for details regarding physical access (i.e. parking, wheelchair seating, rest-room access).  Any attendees requiring assisted services (i.e. sign language interpretation, assistive listening) may contact the New Jersey Theatre Alliance at 973-731-6582 x15 at least two weeks prior to the scheduled event.  The Alliance will work with the venue to meet accessibility needs.

The following performances by Pushcart Players are being offered during The Stages Festival on Saturday, March 3. 

An Open Captioned performance of Happily Ever After – A Cinderella Tale will take place at the Bickford Theatre, Morristown at 12:30pm.
A Sign Language Interpreted performance of Happily Ever After — A Cinderella Tale will take place at the Bickford Theatre, Morristown at 2:30pm.
An Audio Described performance of Red Riding Hood and Other Stories will take place at the Shea Center for Performing Arts at William Paterson University, Wayne at 2:00pm.

The highlights listed here are only a sampling of the diversity of this years’ schedule of events, and reservations are necessary for most of them.  For an up-to-the-minute schedule of The Stages Festival and Family Week at the Theatre,  visit the website at

Auditions: Chatham Players to hold open auditions for Cabaret

The Chatham Community Players will hold open auditions for the musical, CABARET, book by Joe Masteroff with music/lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, based on the Play by John Van Druten and Stories by Christopher Isherwood.
The production runs May 4 – 19, 2012 at the Chatham Playhouse.  Jeffrey Fiorello directs, Jill Finnerty is Musical Director and Megan Ferentinos, the Choreographer. Rehearsal to begin during the last week of February.
Auditions will be held on Thursday, February 16 and Thursday, February 23 at 7pm at The Chatham Playhouse, 23 North Passaic Ave., Chatham.
" Please prepare a song (in the style of the show), and bring sheet music in the appropriate key.  An Accompanist will be provided.  Come prepared to dance.  Headshots and resumes are not required but gladly received."
Chatham Players have an open call casting policy. ALL roles are open, none are precast, and everyone is encouraged to audition. Any questions please call Leslie Reagoso at (973) 769-3886 or email her at  
For directions or additional information, please visit
Cabaret is a musical based on book by Joe Masteroff, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.  The 1996 Broadway production became a hit and spawned a 1972 film as well as numerous subsequent productions. Cabaret is based on John Van Druten’s 1951 play I Am a Camera, which in turn was adapted from a novel Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood.  Set in 1931 Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power, it focuses on nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub and revolves around the 19 year-old English cabaret performer Sally Bowles and her relationship with young American writer Cliff Bradshaw.  A sub-plot involves the doomed romance between German boarding house owner Fraulein Schneider and her elderly suitor Herr Shultz, a Jewish fruit vendor.  Overseeing the action is the Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub which serves as a constant metaphor for the tenuous and threatening state of late Weimar Germany throughout the show.
Character Breakdown (9 Women, 10 Men):
The Emcee: Tenor (25-35).  German Accent.  Sexually ambiguous, charismatic entertainer who breaks the fourth wall and engages the audience.  He is the bridge between the “real” world of the storyline and the Cabaret. 
Sally Bowles: Mezzo / Belt (18-30).British Accent.  Sexy, charismatic and lonely cabaret performer with big dreams.  Has trouble with holding on to relationships. 
Clifford Bradshaw: Tenor (22-35).  American. Romantic Lead.  A writer and the basic protagonist from whose eyes we see the story unfold.  Becomes involved in a relationship with Sally.
Fraulein Schneider: Alto (50+).  German Accent.  A world-wearing owner of an apartment block where much of the action (outside of the Kit Kat Klub) takes place.  Falls for Herr Schultz and her relationship with him is tested to the extreme. 
Herr Schultz: Baritone (50+).  German Accent.  German Jew who is sweet, loving and honest. Runs a fruit stand near Fraulein Schneider’s apartment building.  Falls in love with Fraulein Schneider.  Charming and likeable. 
Ernst Ludwig: Bari/Tenor (25-40).  German Accent.  An amiable Nazi sympathizer, a street wise smuggler who seems to know everyone and everything.  Befriends Cliff, when he arrives in Berlin.  However, he has somewhat sinister depths to his character.  When his true beliefs become apparent, he is revealed as a Nazi.
Fraulein Kost: Mezzo (25-45).  German Accent.  Sexually dubious and selfish. Not afraid to speak her mind and admit her indiscretions.  A prostitute who lives in Fraulein Schneider’s rooming house.  Initially her character is played for laughs, however, later a more sinister and unpleasant side of her character is revealed (she is a Nazi sympathizer). 
Kit Kat Girls: (18-30) Girls who perform alongside Sally and the MC at the Kit Kat Klub.  All sexually very free.  All must be able to sing dance and act.  All double into other scenes.  
Rosie: So named because of the color of her “cheeks” 
Lulu: Sings “Two Ladies”. 
Frenchie: Featured dance - “If You Could See Her”.
Texas: From America.
Fritzie: The oldest of the girls.
Helga: The youngest. 
Kit Kat Boys: (18-30) Cabaret Boys at the Kit Kat Klub.  Also very sexually free.  All must sing dance and act.  All double into other scenes. 
Bobby: Sexually very open.  Sings “Two Ladies”.
Victor: Also, sexually very open. 
Hans: Doubles as Rudy (Fraulein Kost’s guest at the engagement party). 
Herman: The toughest.  Doubles as the Customs Official. 
Max: (30-45) German Accent.  The owner of the Kit Kat Klub.  Controlling and dishonest.
Nazi Guard: Ernst’s bodyguard at the Kit Kat Klub.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dreamcatcher's Valentine's Day Cabaret

Celebrate the romantic fun of Valentine's Day as the Dreamcatcher ensemble exercises their vocal chords at the dessert cabaret SWEET DREAMS. During the cafe-style cabaret your Dreamcatcher favorites will entertain with songs that consider love from many angles, singing selections from musicals such as Next to Normal and Ragtime, as well as popular songs from writers like Bob Dylan and Dar Williams. Throughout the evening the audience can help themselves to a delicious and sumptuous dessert and beverage buffet.

The evening promises to be a lively gathering, intimate and warm, whether you are celebrating Valentine's Day with friends or with a special someone

Event:      SWEET DREAMS Valentine's Day Dessert Cabaret    Info  

When:      Saturday, February 4, 2012  at 8pm    

Location:  The Baird 
                5 Mead Street, South Orange  Directions 
Price:       $30 in advance 

                $35 at the door   

                 Buy tickets now     save $5, plus no fees!  

Review: Veronica's Room at The Bickford

Calling all lovers of the psychological thrillers of author Ira Levin... Rosemary's Baby, Deathtrap and The Stepford Wives.  A must see is Ira Levin's chilling tale of Veronica's Room on stage now at the Bickford Theatre in Morristown. For the better part of two hours you will be pulled in, ever so slowly, into a fascinating whirlpool of deceit where you'll never be sure of what's real or just bizarre fantasy.

The plot, or as much of it I will reveal, involves a young couple who have been enticed to a mansion, not quite of the Psycho variety, by its elderly caretakers. There, the young girl is persuaded as an act of kindness to impersonate the deceased daughter of the owner for her sick sister who believes she's still alive. Once she agrees to this charade the nightmare begins.

Director Dan LaPenta takes us on as chilling a ride as we've experienced in the theater, well, since Deathtrap. La Penta has assembled a perfect cast...led by Rosemary Glennon as the young girl. She is outstanding in this bizarre role, a long way from her role as Bo Peep in the Growing Stages' fun Christmas production of Babes In Toyland. Debra Whitfield is perfect as The Older Woman; as is Rick Delaney as The Older Man; and making his acting debut Michael Manahan as The Young Man. Delaney, Bickford regulars will recallplayed John Barrymore in last season's comedy I Hate Hamlet.

LaPenta's production team
includes  Scenic Design by Jim Bazewicz; Costume Design by Fran Harrison, Lighting Design by Roman Klima, Sound Design by Andrew Elliott, Properties Design by Heather Ugrina. The Technical Director is Lewis Perlmutter. Yumi Matsuura is the Production Stage Manager. The Assistant Stage Manager and Assistant Sound Designer is George Panian.The ringmaster, who is celebrating his 10th season as Bickford Theatre's  Artistic Director, is Eric Hafen.

You have until February 12th to see this excellent thriller.

To purchase tickets or for further information, contact the Bickford Theatre Box Office at 973.971.3706 or visit

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio    January 27, 2012

Remaining Performances:
Thursdays  Feb. 2nd @ 7:30pm
Thursdays Feb. 2nd and 9th @ 2pm

Fridays  Feb. 3rd and Feb. 10th @ 8pm
Saturdays  Feb. 11th  @ 8pm; Saturday Feb. 4th @ 2pm
Sundays  Feb. 5th and Feb. 12th @ 2pm

There will be an Audio Described performance on Sunday February 12 at 2 pm.

Debra Whitfield, Rosemary Glennon, Mark Manahan and Rick Delaney