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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Summer musical for kids’ production of LEGALLY BLONDE JR will perform at Rahway’s Hamilton Stage; cast and crew coached by Broadway Professionals

Twenty New Jersey young people will present the musical Legally Blonde, JR, this year’s presentation by THEATER PROJECT JR. Each summer, the program takes students (ages 8 & up) through an eight week course that culminates in three performances for friends, family and the community. Along the way, students learn acting, build confidence in themselves, make friends and have a wonderful time. For the first time, the production of Theater Project Jr (TPJ) will be presented at the Hamilton Stage in Rahway, August 21-23.

“The kids are excited beyond belief about performing in such a prestigious environment,” says the program’s director/producer Mary Iannelli. “The prospect of doing the show in such a beautiful venue really validates their hard work.” This opportunity is made possible by a grant from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ UCACT (Union County Advancing Community Theater) program.

Ms. Iannelli, who has helmed the program for over 10 years, wanted to give something special to the cast and crew for all their hard work, so she applied for a grant to bring Broadway professionals to provide a master class to the kids in the program. New York based actress Orfeh, who originated the role of Paulette in the Broadway production of Legally Blonde, and producer Tyce Green, founder of Straight From New York (SFNY) attended a rehearsal and worked with Theater Project Jr’s young actors.  SNFY is a NY based company that provides performance training opportunities and college audition prep through masterclasses and coaching. SFNY is staffed by acclaimed artists who have been recognized for their abilities in the Broadway industry, including many Tony Award winners and nominees. 

At the Legally Blonde Jr rehearsal, Orfeh and Tyce Green listened to the kids perform, offered guidance and support on how to make it better, and fielded questions from the students. The young actors were thrilled by the class and awed by the professionals, who quickly gained their confidence. Says Iannelli, “Both Orfeh and Tyce were so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and supportive throughout the entire process, it really made for a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both the cast and crew -- and what SFNY brought to the party far exceeded my expectations!”

Theater Project Jr has also been getting rave reviews from parents and children who return to the program year after year. “I have seen my son grow as an actor year after year with the Theater Project Jr group right in front of my eyes,” says parent Mindi Kaunfer of Springfield, NJ. “At 16, Adam has been acting for 6 years and has several school leads from the confidence the summer theater has provided him.”

“I just can't say enough wonderful things about the program,” says Pauline Papapietro, Cranford. The twenty young people performing in the show are drawn from all over Union County by the program’s reputation for providing a happy supportive environment for budding actors.  

Hamilton_Stage_ The Hamilton Stage, part of the Union County Performing Arts Center, is located at 360 Hamilton Street in Rahway. Tickets to the production are available at

The Theater Project, a professional theater company presenting events in Cranford, Maplewood and Union, is celebrating 21 years of bringing productions of the best contemporary plays to New Jersey. Their mission is to enhance the cultural richness of the community by producing new or lesser-known plays on challenging themes, by introducing children to the joys of live theater, and by providing avenues for creative expression for New Jersey’s playwrights, actors and directors.

For more information on THEATER PROJECT JR, call 908 809-8865 or visit


2015 production by Theater Project Jr’s summer musical theater class for kids 8 and up.

WHEN:        August 21- 23; Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 2 PM.

WHERE:      UPAC’s Hamilton Stage, 360 Hamilton Street, Rahway 07065

Phone: 732-428-4604

TIX: $12. Go to

Rehearsal of LEGALLY BLONDE, JR Seated:  Amanda Poszyler  Left to right:  Brooke Beckett, Kelly McMahon, Stella Ferra, Ashleigh Poszyler, Alexis Page (PHOTO CREDIT: Elisabeth Lynch)

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