Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: 2013 Jersey Voices One-Act Festival of the Chatham Community Players

Anna McCabe and Chip Prestera (5564 to Toronto)

The New Jersey Community Theatre Association this past week announced the nominations for "Best Original Play" for the 2012 season. On that short list is the 2012 Jersey Voices One-Act Festival of the Chatham Community Players (Read our 2012 review). Friday night we attended the 2013 edition of the Jersey Voices One-Act Festival, the 19th edition. The Festival has a short four performance schedule which means you have only Friday and Saturday night next week, August 2 and 3, to see this marvelous display of local talent.

The event consists of six short plays, but what makes the event truly unique is that the plays are all original and written by New Jersey playwrights.

The CCP's Artistic Director, Bob Lukasik explained in his introductory remarks Friday night that they annually receive over 100 original submissions. "The plays this year run the gamut from comedy to heart gripping drama and the themes cover many aspects of life such as loss, fear and unconditional love. I’m constantly amazed and excited by the creativity, the resilience, the persistence of the Playwrights of New Jersey whose plays we get to present every summer. This year we are very pleased to have 4 veteran directors returning and 2 new directors." Each director did his or her own casting.

As with our first time experience last year, the play selection, staging and performances were impressive. The six playwrights are: Eric Alter of West Orange (the only repeat from last year), Mark McCarthy from Union City, Loretta Napolitano of Denville, Jerrod Bogard currently of New York, NY, Karen Howes of Madison and Omar Kozarsky from Mahwah. The six directors are: Ron Mullligan, Arnold J. Buchiane, Joann Lopresti Scanlon, Stephen Catron, Megan Ferentinos and Paul Bettys. Buchiane, Scanlon, Catron and Bettys are the four who directed last season's Perry nominated edition.

The acting was excellent, however several actors deserve special mention. The actors we placed in this category are the incredible comedy talent of Chip Prestera as the strange man in the Bus Station (The 5564 to Toronto), Jeffry Foote as the incompetent Court Jester (Fool Me Twice), Scott Tyler as a crazed film star fan (Keli Richards), Miriam Salerno as the sympathetic Queen Helena (Fool Me Twice) and Ellen Fraker-Glasscock as Delores the senior citizen's version of Esther Williams with news of a medical advancement of a very personal nature (Aquasize).

The most touching moments were in The Most Beautiful Rock with its theme of war and torture. The most fascinating, and a bit bizarre, is the Aquasize play set in a pool. It is the only play with a credit for choreography. Roxanna Wagner's swimming movements earned some of the biggest laughs of the evening. A nod to director Stephen Catron for his obviously superior skill in finding such good sports to showcase their non-Sports Illustrated swimsuit appearances.

The six plays were divided equally with three pre-intermission and three post-intermission. The total time is about two hours. The fact that the evening consists of six separate, different themed plays that are obviously short and each ends with a nice plot twist presents a bit of a reviewing conundrum. In other words, we will only include here the author's description with no further plot discussion.

The entire event is another example of the marvelous acting, directing, and oh yes...writing talent we have in the Garden State.

Each of the following pieces are performed each night of the festival:

  • Most Beautiful Rock by Eric Alter of West Orange - The Story of War told and heard by people who aren't quite ready to hear it and are surprised by how it ultimately resolvesThis production features Cara Heary of Summit, Jon Beeler of Cedar Grove, Jeff Maschi of Milltown, Jim Clancy of Basking Ridge and Lewis T. Decker of Millington,.  Directed by Joann Scanlon of Chatham.
  • One Woman's Onions by Mark McCarthy from Union City - Two modern suburban sisters with separate lives dance around their differences, but finally come to the fact that they love and care for each other and will find a place of common thought. This production features Tara Cioletti of Wayne and Alexandra Landau of Florham Park. Directed by Arnold Buchiane of Summit.
  • Fool Me Twice by Jerrod Bogard of New York, NY - Being Royalty is really just a business... This production features Miriam Salerno of Millburn, Jeff Foote of Denville and Jim Clancy of Basking Ridge.  Directed by Paul Bettys of Denville.
  • Aquasize by Loretta Napolitano of Denville- A group of Senior Citizens adjust to their ages and the reality while trying to get their exercise inThis production features Ellen Fraker-Glasscock of Chester, Geraldine Baillod of Rockaway, Melissa Lowver of Summit, Gwyn E. Nielsen of Scotch Plains, Art Seif of Berkeley Heights and Dickson Lane of West Orange. Directed by Steve Catron of Mendham.
  • The 5564 to Toronto by Karen Howes of Madison - The impossible to believe happens in a near empty bus terminal at 4:00 in the morning. This production features Chip Prestera of Stirling and Anna McCabe of Morristown. Directed by Ron Mulligan of Bloomfield.
  • Keli Richards by Omar Kozarsky from Mahwah - Love is blind and love endures. Unrequited love, though, is still tough to live with.  This production features Julie Ann Nolan of Little Falls, Scott Tyler of Morristown and Lewis T. Decker of Millington. Directed by Megan Ferentinos of Cranford.

The remaining performance dates are Friday and Saturday evenings, August 2 and 3. All performances begin at 8 p.m. at the Chatham Playhouse 23 North Passaic Ave Chatham, NJ. Tickets are $15 for adults (19 and older) and $10 for youth (18 and under). To access the theater’s online ticketing service, simply go to For more information, call the box office at (973) 635-7363 or go to

It is highly recommended that tickets be purchased in advance. Patrons with special needs requiring seating accommodations should contact the Playhouse at least 24 hours prior to the performance. Without prior notice, accommodations cannot be guaranteed.

The Chatham Playhouse is home to the Chatham Community Players (CCP). CCP has been entertaining residents of Morris County and the surrounding area since 1922. The organization’s mission is to produce high-quality theater for a diverse audience, while elevating its standard of excellence and providing a creative outlet with educational opportunities and outreach programs. For more information, including details of CCP’s upcoming 92nd Season (2013-2014), visit

Ellen Fraker-Glasscock (R), Geraldine Baillod (C), Melissa Lowver, Gwyn E. Nielsen (rear), Art Seif and Dickson Lane (L).
Photos by Howard Fisher

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