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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

News from Across the Hudson: ‘A Brooklyn Boy’ a one man show extended

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New York – After unprecedented demand, A Brooklyn Boy, a one man show co-written and performed by Steven Prescod and co-written and directed by Moises Roberto Belizario, will extend performances through April 28, 2018 at the East Village Playhouse (340 East 6th Street). 

Called “a tour de force” by The New York Times, A Brooklyn Boy is a riveting spoken-word performance that portrays Steven Prescod's coming-of-age story, taking audiences on a journey from adversity to personal triumph.  Born in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood to a Grenadian mother and a Guyanese father, Steven was only one year old when his father was incarcerated. Steven grew up in a house surrounded by a variety of relatives who all had an impact on his life, many of whom are among the 32 characters he plays throughout the show.
As an impressionable teenager, despite his efforts to break free from his neighborhood’s unyielding grip, Steven was constantly pulled back, ultimately leading to his arrest. While facing a seven-year jail sentence, Steven could have become another statistic or headline. Instead, he took a second chance at life.

An excerpt of the show was performed for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge through The CityKids Foundation, prompting Prince William to call the show and performance “inspirational.”  That performance led to a production at the National Black Theatre and a tour of school performances.

Click here to see Steven discuss the play on The TODAY Show.
Performances for A Brooklyn Boy run Thursdays and Fridays at 7pm, and Saturdays at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are $40 and available through OvationTix.com. EastVillagePlayhouse.com


The Summit Playhouse to stage hit comedy BOEING BOEING

Boeing Boeing
The Summit Playhouse will present the hilarious hit comedy "Boeing Boeing" with performances on March 2-3, 9-10, 16-17 at 8:00 pm and March 4 & 11 at 2:00 pm.

Summitcrop (1)The Summit Playhouse is located at 10 New England Ave., Summit NJ.  Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3081776 or for more information call 908-273-2192 or email summitplayhouseinfo@gmail.com
It’s the 1960s, and swinging bachelor Bernard couldn’t be happier: a flat in Paris and three gorgeous stewardesses all engaged to him without knowing about each other. But Bernard’s perfect life gets bumpy when his friend Robert comes to stay and a new and speedier Boeing jet throws off all of his careful planning. Soon all three stewardesses are in town simultaneously, timid Robert is forgetting which lies to tell to whom, and catastrophe looms. A riotous farce that recently enjoyed hit revivals in London and New York, Boeing Boeing is now set to arrive in Summit—fasten your seat belts!

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The cast of "Boeing Boeing" includes Michael Smith-Gallo (Bernard), Dale Monroe (Robert), Elaine D'Addezio (Gloria), Alicia Harbin (Gabriella), Julie Anne Nolan (Gretchen), and Joanne Sternberg (Berthe). The production is directed by Jeanne Johnston and produced by Ann Lowe, Joann Scanlon and Pam Heller.

Axelrod Launches New Season as Professional Theater!

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The cast of RAGTIME takes the stage! Director-choreographer LUIS SALGADO and his team are working with the cast for Saturday night’s opening night.

Salgado, who won this year’s Broadway World top awards for Best Director and Best Choreographer, was recently nominated for 18 Helen Hayes awards for theatrical excellence in the Washington D.C. area for his Spanish-language production of In the Heights.

Salgado is reinventing Ragtime the Musical, a show that has enjoyed two Broadway runs, and audiences at the Axelrod PAC will be surprised by the sheer magnitude and raw energy of Salgado’s new production. “I feel like I am risking A LOT in the way we've chosen to tell this story, but I also think it is extremely worth it and this is the right moment, the right story to take a risk on.” Salgado’s first priority for this production is Telling the Story. “Heart comes first. Humanity comes first. Daring comes first. The same way that we should listen to our hearts and dare to take action to be in touch with the raw scene of our humanity.”

It’s our professional cast of 28 actors who brings Salgado’s vision to life: “I'm beyond words with this cast, They are GIFTED with their voices, OPEN with the process and hard working as hard working can be. The physical style of this production demands them all to connect, move and engage as one full ensemble and, they embrace this challenge with dedication and love."

Salgado’s work has been seen on four continents and yet he continues to return to the Axelrod to explore his Art with a Purpose. “The Axelrod team is very supportive and inspires the challenge of working on such a massive project with their consistent commitment to getting it done the best way possible. Especially Andrew DePrisco who I've come to adore as a producer and visionary for the Axelrod.”

e63476_c6369d52f6e446e6b1d2b4f1d1e5bb97~mv2_d_1806_1207_s_2Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ

CENTENARY STAGE COMPANY TO HOLD FREE WORKSHOPS AS PART OF THE NEW JERSEY THEATER ALLIANCE’S STAGES FESTIVAL.

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As part of the New Jersey Theater Alliances Stages Festival, Centenary Stage Company will be offering two free workshop events in the Lackland Performing Arts Center at 715 Grand Avenue Hackettstown, NJ.  On Saturday, March 3 Centenary Stage Company will offer a ‘Stage Combat’ workshop and on Saturday, March 10 CSC will offer a ‘Musical Theatre’ workshop.  Both workshops begin at 10 am.

                chris youngThe Stage Combat workshop on Saturday, March 3 is open to participants ages 13 – 18 and is limited to 12 participants.  The workshop will be led by teaching artist Christopher John Young (photo) and will take students through foundation safety measures of stage combat while employing technique to craft the illusion of violence for the stage.  Young is a professional actor and educator.  He holds an M.F.A. from the Professional Actor Training Program of Ohio University and is a member of Actor’s Equity Association.  His professional acting credits include work at Centenary Stage Company, Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, 12 Miles West, Alliance Repertory Theatre (NJ), Oxford Shakespeare Festival (Oxford, MS), Monomoy Theater (Cape Cod, MA) and Vampire Cowboys (NYC).  Film credits include; Hotel (streaming on Amazon Prime), Hunter’s Weekend, Star Crossed Lovers and web-series Jess Archer Versus (streaming on Amazon Prime).  Young is certified in unarmed and single sword combat from the Society of American Fight Directors.  As an educator Young is an adjunct instructor for Centenary University’s Theatre Department, as well as, Kean University and has spent several summer seasons as an instructor for Centenary Stage Company’s Young Performers Workshop.

             1658614_800364273335528_3420521361611660769_o   The Musical Theatre workshop on Saturday, March 10 is open to participants ages 13 – 20 and limited to 10 participants.  The workshop will be led by Assistant Professor of Theater & Dance, Lea Antolini – Lid (photo right).  Anotlini – Lid received her BMA in classical voice from the University of the Arts and her MFA in acting from Brandeis University where she also had the opportunity to teach movement for the actor under the tutelage of Susan Dibble.  Credits include work at Centenary Stage Company, The Growing Stage, Women’s Theater Company of NJ (NJ) and Blessed Unrest Theater Co. (NYC). She has performed professionally in NYC and in cities on the east coast.  Recently, Lea traveled to China with international dance company Nai – Ni Chen Dance, to teach dance in a prestigious festival held at Kunming University.  She is also a founding member and managing director of the XY Dance Project a professional dance company in NJ/NYC.  Antolini – Lid is a member in training with Blessed Unrest Theater Company in NYC and a member of Actor’s Equity Association.

            INTERTIOR - sitnik 4073 - 41    Both workshop events are free to the public.  However, due to the limited nature of class sizes reservations are required.  Registration deadline for the workshops are Friday, March 2 by 3:00pm.  To register for either workshop call the Centenary Stage Company box office directly at (908) 979 – 0900.  The box office is located in the Lackland Performing Arts Center at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ.  The box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 5 PM and two hours prior to every event.  Centenary Stage Company can also be found across social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Like and follow to receive the latest in Centenary Stage Company news and special offers.

                The 2017-2018 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, the Sandra Kupperman Foundation, Zonta Morristown Chapter and CSC corporate sponsors, including Premier Season Sponsor Heath Village Retirement Community, Silver Sponsors Hackettstown Medical Center, The House of the Good Shepherd, Home Instead Senior Care (Washington), and Fulton Bank of New Jersey, and Centenary Stage Company members and supporters.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

CROWNS at McCarter Theatre

This coming-of-age musical has hip hop, gospel and a whole lot of soul. Don’t miss this uplifting LIMITED ENGAGEMENT that will make your spirit sing! http://mccarter.org/crowns Written and Directed by Regina Taylor Adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry

Auditions: ‘Grand Hotel’ at Somerset Valley Players

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OPEN AUDITIONS: Grand Hotel - The Musical

Directed by Jim Jarell

WHEN
:  Sunday, March 4, and Monday, March 5, at 7 p.m.

WHERE:  Somerset Valley Players, 689 Amwell Road (Route 514) in Hillsborough, NJ 08844.

PERFORMANCE DATES: Opens Friday, June 8, and runs weekends trough Sunday, June 24.  Friday and Saturday shows start at 8 p.m., Sunday shows at 2 p.m.

CHARACTER BREAKDOWN:
Erik: 30s Assistant concierge who is deeply in love with his wife and eager to make a better life for his young family. (Baritone)
Zinnowitz: 40s An attorney in Berlin. The secretary for the company under Preysing's direction. Encourages Preysing to lie. Ambitious, greedy, and willing to do whatever it takes. (Baritone)...

Hermann Preysing: 40s General Director of a large textile mill. A solid burgher blinded by riches and terrified of losing his life style. He uses lies and money to get what he wants. (Baritone)

Flaemmchen: Late teens to early 20s. A pretty girl who has theatrical ambitions, she wants to go to America and appear in movies. Constantly conflicted between her ambition and her morals. (Mezzo Soprano)

Otto Kringelein: 40s A mortally ill bookkeeper from the small town life looking for new excitement. He is a smart man wanting to live life to the fullest while he can. Humble, joyous, and grateful. (Tenor)

Baron Felix Von Gaigern: 20s Athletic, charming, and optimistic but broke. Wishes to be immoral. A good guy who loves life in the fast lane and falls in love with Grushinskaya. (Tenor)

Raffaela: 30s Confidante, secretary, and Elizaveta's dresser. Secretly loves Grushinskaya and wants to protect her always. Hardworking, dependable, and smart. (Alto)

Elizaveta Grushinskaya: 40s The still-beautiful, world famous, Prima Ballerina on the verge of retirement. Finds herself feeling old until she is revived by the young Baron's love. Demands only the best from herself and for her fans. (Alto)

Colonel-Doctor Otternschlag: 50s Grievously wounded by gas and shrapnel in WWI; a cynical, ruined man and the narrator of the show. (Baritone)

The Countess & The Gigolo: 20s A pair of ballroom dancers who dance through the scenes and whose presence adds a layer of whimsy and irony to the situations. (Non-Singing)

Jimmy 1 & Jimmy 2: 20s Two African American men working as entertainment and hotel staff. (1 Tenor, 1 Baritone)

Ensemble: 20s-30s A group of 8-10, will portray assorted hotel guests, hotel staff, and the scullery maids.

SPECIAL NOTES FOR AUDITIONERS:

All cast members must be 18 or older. 

Prepare 32 bars of a BROADWAY STANDARD that shows off your range. Bring sheet music in the right key. Broadway standards are Broadway songs that do not have today's pop/rock influence. Think Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loew, Leonard Bernstein. Stay away from Pasek & Paul, Jason Robert Brown, Sondheim, Larsen, Tom Kitt, or anything written after 2000.

Come prepared to learn a short dance combination. EVERYONE dances.

Callbacks, if necessary, will be by invitation only on March 10.

Go to www.svptheatre.org for details and directions to the theater

Neil Simon’s ‘California Suite’ opens this week at Somerset Valley Players

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What: Somerset Valley Players Next Production Is Neil Simon’s “California Suite”

Where:  689 Amwell Road (route 514) Hillsborough, NJ 08844

The next production of the Somerset Valley Players, Hillsborough’s award-winning, nonprofit community theatre, is the Neil Simon ensemble comedy California Suite, opening on Friday, March 2.

Directed by Todd Bennington, California Suite is quartet of four diverse vignettes that have only one thing in common: Their characters have all stayed in the same suite in a Beverly Hills hotel. Visitors from New York, Philadelphia, London, and Chicago find love, loss and laughter in the individual tales of the goings on in Suite 203.

Produced by Ed Hayden, stage managed by Harriet Trainor, the show is sponsored by JML Landscaping of Neshanic.

California Suite runs March 2-18, at the Somerset Valley Players theater on 689 Amwell Road (Rout 514) in Hillsborough. The theater is air conditioned, barrier free and wheelchair accessible.

For tickets and show times go to www.svptheatre.org.

Final Weekend to see ‘Art’ at CSC

“‘Art’ exceptional Broadway level theatre at Centenary Stage Company”
- Rick Busciglio; NJ Footlights

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Critics and audiences are raving about Centenary Stage Company’s all – star production of Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award winning Art which closes its run in the Lackland Performing Arts Center this weekend. “This production directed by the multi-talented Anne Occhiogrosso, starring a trio of outstanding Broadway, film and television vets, Randall Duk Kim, Kevin Carolan and CSC’s own Carl Wallnau provides an exceptional theater experience worthy of any stage.” (Rick Busciglio, NJ Footlights).

Being hailed as “ingenious” by Jay Lustig of NJarts.net, it all begins when Serge buys an expensive painting by a celebrated artist.  A white canvas with white diagonal lines.  Old friends square off over the canvas, using it as an excuse to hilariously batter one another over various slights and failures.  Art is a hilarious exploration of the very notion of what constitutes art while examining the meaning of friendship.  “There's no way you will not laugh with these idiosyncratic friends in their simple sitting room. The performers make sure of that.” (Michael Vest, Broadwayworld.com).

Centenary Stage Company’s production of Art closes this weekend in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center.  Specific performance dates are Friday March 2 at 8pm; Saturday, March 3 at 8pm; Sunday March 4 at 2pm; Wednesday, February 28 at 2pm and Thursday, March 1 at 7:30pm.  Ticket prices $27.50 for adults and $17.50 for children under 12 on matinee and Friday evening performances.  Saturday evening performances are $29.50 for adults and $17.50 for children under 12.  Thursday evening performances are $27.50 for ALL SEATS with a special ‘buy one/get one’ rush ticket special when purchased in person at the Centenary Stage Company box office starting two hours prior to performance time.  The ‘buy one/get one’ rush ticket special is not valid for advance ticket sales, on – line or by phone.  Offer is only valid in person at the box office during the designated time and may not be combined with any other special offer or discount. 

image018Centenary Stage Company is also offering a $5.00 student rush ticket for the Friday, March 2 at 8 pm performance.  $5.00 student rush tickets are available to any student from any school or institution.  To take advantage of the offer tickets must be purchased in person at the Centenary Stage Company with a valid student I.D.  Offer not valid for advance ticket sales, on line or by phone.

[title of show] next at Women’s Theater Company with Patricia Durante

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The Women’s Theater Company, a professional theater company in Parsippany, NJ, presents [title of show] written by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell

[title of show] by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell involves two struggling writers who hear about a new musical theater festival.  However, the deadline for submissions is just three weeks away.  In 90 minutes, they write and perform their show at the festival and learn lessons about themselves as people, friends, and artists.  The musical received a Tony Award Nomination for Best Book of a Musical in 2009.

[title of show]: Starring, Kathleen Clancy, Patricia Durante, Joe Elefante, Gerry Mastrolia

barbaraProducing Artistic Director Barbara Krajkowsk (photo), Direction and Musical Staging by Lauren Moran Mills, Musical Direction by Deborah Martin

[title of show] runs March 9-18 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors. To purchase tickets online please visit www.womenstheater.org or call

973 335 3038.

The Women’s Theater Company is located at the Parsippany Playhouse at 1130 Knoll Road, Lake Hiawatha, NJ. For GPS driving directions, please enter the town of Boonton, 07005.

New Jersey Theatre Alliance presents Hudson Theatre Works’ Readings from the Edge

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Admission is Free

New Jersey Theatre Alliance presents Hudson Theatre Works’ Readings from the Edge series consisting of The Exonerated by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen on Monday and Tuesday, March 12 and 13 @7:30PM. This event is part of the Alliance’s Stages Festival, the state’s largest annual theatre festival that provides free and discounted theatre events for all ages throughout the month of March. Admission is Free.

The Exonerated - A powerful drama that reveals the true stories of exonerated prisoners from interviews and court transcripts, some of whom spent as many as twenty two years behind bars.

Culled from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files and the public record, The Exonerated tells the true stories of six wrongfully convicted survivors of death row in their own words. The six interwoven stories paint a picture of an American criminal justice system gone horribly wrong—and of six brave souls who persevered to survive it.

Winner 2003 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. "The #1 play of the year…intense and deeply affecting…" — NY Times. "Riveting. Simple, honest storytelling that demands reflection." — Associated Press.  "Artful and moving…pays tribute to the resilience of human hearts and minds." —Variety. "Stark…riveting…cunningly orchestrated." — The New Yorker. "Hard-hitting, powerful, and socially relevant." — Hollywood Reporter.

Suitable for High School and older.

Description can be found at https://www.stagesfestival.org/event/1749.

GloriaDirected by Artistic Director, Frank Licato, the cast includes:  Michael Bias, Kevin Cristaldi, Gregory Erbach, Jeffery Foote, Cathy Gale, Heinley Gaspard, Todd Hilsee, Gloria Lamoureux (photo), Antonia Marrero, Sara Parcesepe and Brian Richardson.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Next at Art House Productions east coast premiere: ​Grace, or The Art of Climbing​ by L M Feldman




(Jersey City, N.J.) – Art House Productions (Meredith Burns, Executive Director) is proud to announce the spring mainstage theater production of ​Grace, or The Art of Climbing ​ by L M Feldman. Making its east coast premiere, ​Grace​ will be directed by Adin Walker.

 The play follows the journey of Emm, who faced with a painful chapter in her life and fighting the inertia of depression, decides to enter the world of competitive rock-climbing. Her quest through the rugged and humorous terrain of physical training and personal relationships charts the journey of a young woman suspended between muscularity and vulnerability, falling and climbing, parents and children, and the ardor and grace of being human. 

“I love L's worlds – to live inside them is an honor and dream.” says Walker. “Our brilliant scenic designer, Claire DeLiso, is transforming the space in a way that feels like an immersive climbing gym, and I am so excited to play play play and dive in with our fearless acting company, our imaginative designers, and our adventurous audience members!” ​The cast includes Emily Kitchens*, Lawrence Street*, Paulo Quiros*, Tiffany Iris, Javan Nelson, Thomas Muccioli, and Hank Morris.
For ​Grace, or The Art of Climbing​ , Art House is partnering with the Hoboken-based rock climbing gym, Gravity Vault, who has generously provided climbing training to the actors. Art House will be hosting a Gravity Vault members night on the second weekend of the run. “Our programs do not survive without the generous support of our community partners and Gravity Vault has really stepped up in support of our artistic vision for this show,” says Executive Director, Meredith Burns.
Additionally, in keeping with Art House’s mission of making the arts accessible, the Art House Access Committee will be providing audio interpretation and sign language interpretation on Sunday, March 18th. Please email ​info@arthouseproductions.org​ or call 201-918-6019 for more information and additional requests.

Performances of ​Grace, or The Art of Climbing​ run March 15th - April 1st, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Tickets: $25. Students & Seniors: $18. To purchase, visit arthouseproductions.org or call 201-918-6019.   *Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity.

About  L M Feldman (Playwright)  is a queer, feminist playwright (and circus artist) who loves theatrically adventurous, physically ambitious, intimate, inquisitive, deeply honest plays – usually about outsiders, often about searchers, always about the human connection.  Her plays include ​ANOTHER KIND OF SILENCE ​ (PlayPenn, O’Neill Finalist, Playwrights Realm Fellowship, Drama League New Directors/New Works Fellowship); ​AMANUENSIS​ (Northwoods Ramah Theatre Company commission)​; THE EGG-LAYERS​ (Jane Chambers Honorable Mention, O’Neill Finalist, New Georges/Barnard College co-commission); ​A PEOPLE​ (Jewish Plays Project NYC Residency);​ GRACE, OR THE ART OF CLIMBING​ (Denver Center Theatre Company, Nice People Theatre Company, ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award Nomination, Barrymore Nomination, The Kilroys List); several ensemble-devised works, including ​AND IF YOU LOSE YOUR WAY, OR A FOOD ODYSSEY ​ (The Invisible Dog, New York Innovative Theatre Award Nomination),​ LADY M (​ Philadelphia Live Arts Festival), and ​THE APOCRYPHAL PROJECT​ (Yale Cabaret), among others;  For more: http://www.laurenfeldman.com/

About  Adin Walker (Director)​ graduated from Princeton University with degrees in English, Theater, and Gender & Sexuality Studies. Projects as director/choreographer include The White Dress (Araca Project), One Arm (Chautauqua Theater Company), Pin* and the Blue Fairy (Drama League Artist-in-Residence, Dixon Place), Gruesome Playground Injuries (TheaterLab NYC), Jacqmin Family in the Petrified Forest (Source Festival), Rent, and Singin' in the Rain(Princeton/McCarter.)  Walker is the Artistic Associate. www.adinwalker.com

About Art House Productions Art House Productions (AHP) was founded shortly after the devastating events of September 11, 2001 in order create a safe and healing place for artists and community members to connect through creative expression. Since then, AHP has grown significantly. In 2007, AHP became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and was presented with the Key to the City by Jersey City for being a pioneer of artistic and cultural programming and a model of what the arts can do for evolving urban centers. Now in its 17th year, AHP presents a professional season of two Actors' Equity Association mainstage productions, four curated visual art exhibitions, over six youth and adult arts education programs both in school and after school, and the free, quarterly arts festival, JC Fridays, which serves over 15,000 people annually.

AHP's mission is to engage, inspire, entertain and challenge audiences with highly intentional visual and performing arts programming; provide arts education to promote lifelong learning to diverse communities; and celebrate the essential power of the arts to illuminate humanity. AHP provides a home for innovative performing, visual, and literary artists to develop new work; presents emerging and under-recognized artists who are making significant contributions to their respective fields; and serves as a safe space for established artists to take creative risks. 

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; administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, and by the County of Hudson, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive, and the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Light Opera of NJ teams with Central Jersey Symphony for special concert




Our friends at Central Jersey Symphony Orchestra, led by Michael Avagliano, are presenting a special concert Mozart in Milan, which will feature a preview of The Daughter of the Regiment with our lead cast members. Join us tomorrow for a lovely afternoon of orchestral and vocal classics in an intimate setting!
Sunday, February 25, 2018 at 3:00pm 

CJSO will perform Mozart's Overture to The Marriage of Figaro and his towering Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter", K. 551, as well as arias from Donizetti's opera The Daughter of the Regiment, featuring vocalists from Light Opera of New Jersey. 

Admission: Adult $25, Senior $20, Student $15 
Tickets available at the door or online at www.cjso.org
Chelsea Friedlander
David Murray
Hanne Dollase
Marie
Tonio
Sergeant Sulpice
Marquise of Birkenfeld

Just one month away! Join us for the full opera of Donizetti's 

  

Tickets $30, $35 and $40 Reserved Seating, $10 for Students with ID
Tickets are available for purchase HERE or by calling 908-655-6023.

Review: 'Seminar' fine play with outstanding cast at Chester Theatre Group


                                      (from L to R: John A.C. Kennedy, Jessica Phelan, Nick Wolf, Anthony Bentrovato, and Meg Foley)

The Chester Theatre Group is presenting Theresa Rebeck‘s thinking man’s comedy Seminar. The play is a fast paced (90 minutes with no intermission)  directed by the multi-talented Lauri MacMillan. This is not a fluffy sex comedy, well… sex does play a big part in the story. It concerns four young would-be novelists; Kate, Martin, Douglas, and Izzy and their tutor, Leonard, an elitist ex-novelist with international literary fame. Leonard has not written for some time, finding himself resorting to private tutorials for survival. In this case, each of the four students paid Leonard $5,000 for a ten-week writing seminar to be held in Kate's rent controlled Upper West Side New York apartment. Each sees this class as the pathway to writing the next great American novel, and the fame and fortune that would follow.

Leonard (John A. C. Kennedy) may be a fine novelist, but his method of teaching in this seminar format is not only unorthodox it borders on sadistic. His approach is to provide the minimum of encouragement via almost constant sarcastic and cynical comments about their writing ability (or lack of). He dismisses, for example, Kate’s six-year writing effort inspired by Jane Austen after reading only the first five words of her story. The result is that the sessions turn vicious with sex used as a weapon.
Front: Jessica Phelan, Seated Nick Wolf, John AC Kennedy Standing: Meg Foley. Anthony Bentrovato
The four students are nicely cast: Jessica Phelan (CTG regulars will remember her in CTG’s Show for Days) is beautifully cast as Kate, a liberal feminist leading a privileged life. She has the more challenging role of the two women; Meg Foley  is Izzy a sexually free young woman who’s only interested is writing for the money. She seduces all three men, or is it the other way around? This the smallest part, but the weapon of sex is important to the plot and she excels at keeping all three men interested. Her  ”time” with Douglas and Leonard is purely due to their literary contacts; Nick Wolf nicely portrays the rather bland Douglas who Leonard describes as "a literary whore" getting by on his name and connections. His uncle is a well-known writer, Douglas’s number one goal is to bed Izzy (his real life wife!).

The last of the four is a CTG newcomer Anthony Bentrovato. He is spot-on in the key role of the broke and homeless Martin who is shy about anyone reading his writings whom Leonard cruelly calls ‘a p***y.’ He strays with Izzy but his heart belongs to Kate. In turn, Kate strays with…oops.. see the play for the answer.

Last in this cast list is John A.C. Kennedy…he is beyond  marvelous in this star-turn. He perfectly presents the brilliant but cynical Leonard. To see his performance is worth the price of admission (ok, old theater cliché…but absolutely true.) This man is an outstanding actor (and a real life writer!).

The director of this brutal (verbally) confrontation of aspiring writers is Lauri MacMillan. She is a superior ringmaster leading a fine cast of community talent to a  professional  level..  John A.C. Kennedy, in particular, would be outstanding in this part on any side of the Hudson.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio  February 23, 2018

Performances:
February 24, March 2, 3 at 8:00 PM
February 25, March 4 at 2:00 PM

Mature Content and Language. May not be suitable for children under 16.
Production Credits: 
Producer Roxanna Wagner
Stage Manager George Seylaz
Props Cathy Braithwaite
Set Design Stephen Catron
Lighting Design Ellen Fraker-Glasscock
Sound Design 
Robert Jakuc


Tickets: $20 adults, $18 (Buy on-line

Black River Playhouse  54 Grove Street (at the corner of Maple Avenue), Chester, NJ    07930 • 908-879-7304 • info@chestertheatregroup.org