Saturday, February 17, 2018

Review:‘Art’ exceptional Broadway level theatre at Centenary Stage Company

The Yasmina Reza`s Tony-winning comedy “Art” opened Friday night at the Centenary Stage Companys’ comfortable Sitnik Theatre. Let me cut right to the chase. 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 (bios below) provides an exceptional theater experience worthy of any stage.

The three men, Marc (Duk Kim), Serge (Wallnau) and Yvan (Carolan) are longtime best friends that have their relationship severely tested when Serge buys an expensive painting for 200,000 francs (the setting is Paris). The painting is by a respected modern artist. It is a large, completely white painting. Marc and Yvan have different reactions to the canvas. Marc, Serge’s social mentor, is horrified, and calls the painting ‘s**t, Yvan, forewarned of the uniqueness of the painting, attempts a more restrained reaction. (photo: L-R Kim, Carolan & Wallnau)
Both however, ignite from Serge a barrage of verbal abuse for their lack of appreciation and/or understanding of modern art. Their debate of these three questions: What is art? What does it mean to be a friend? What does it mean to be a friend when your friends have terrible taste in art? results in a brutal examination of their roles in this friendship. All delivered with the witty, smart, provocative dialogue of Ms. Reza.

The favorite star turn was Kevin Carolan’s monologue about the stress of dealing with his approaching wedding. The audience responded with a round of enthusiastic applause. He is a marvelous comedy actor. All three were perfectly cast. Randall Duk Kim was exceptional as Marc. He demonstrated that he could easily conduct a masterclass in acting. Carl Wallnau, the CSC’s artistic director, impresses as always with his excellence in comedy, drama, and music (fine voice).
The play is presented as a series of scenes (no intermission) that vary from three and two characters, to several single character monologues directly to the audience.

The set, a stark but handsome apartment living room, designed by Tim Golebiewski, serves as the residence of all three via clever prop changes. Particularly effective is the often overlooked music between scenes by sound designer Carlos Dias Jr. The stage manager is Danielle Constance. Ed Matthews is the lighting designer. Ashleigh Poteat designed the costumes. Jeff Chase serves as technical director.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio  Feb. 16, 2018

1007SitnikTheaterCentenary Stage Company’s production of Art runs February 16 through March 4 in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center.  Remaining performance dates are Fridays, February 23 and March 2 at 8pm; Saturdays, February 17, 24 and March 3 at 8pm; Sundays, February 18, 25 and March 4 at 2pm; Wednesdays, February 21 and 28 at 2pm and Thursdays, February 22 and 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.

Centenary Stage Company is also offering a buffet matinee for groups of 25 or more (up to 50) on Wednesdays February 21 and 28. Buffet matinees are $45.00 per person and include pre-show dining in one of CSC’s private dining rooms, as well as admittance to the 2pm matinee.  Buffet matinees must be scheduled in advance.  CSC also offers discounted tickets for group sales of 25 or more.  To find out more or schedule your group or buffet matinee call the Centenary Stage Company box office directly at (908) 979 – 0900.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit or call the Centenary Stage Company box office at (908) 979 – 0900.  The box office is located in the Lackland Performing Arts Center at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown and is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 5pm and two hours prior to every performance.

The Bios

Anne OcchiogrossoCentenary Stage Company’s Art is directed by nationally acclaimed Artistic Director, theatre director, dramaturge and acting coach, Anne Occhiogrosso.  Occhiogrosso has worked with a broad spectrum of plays and scripts throughout her celebrated career but her primary focus has been the classical theater with a special emphasis on the works of William Shakespeare.  She co-founded the American Players Theatre with Randall Duk Kim and Charles Bright in 1979, where she directed 16 Shakespearean productions. Occhiogrosso has taught acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting and the New York Shakespeare Festival and has been a guest instructor for schools throughout the country, including Centenary University.
randyCommercially known for his film work as the ‘Keymaker’ in Matrix Reloaded and as the voice of Master Oogway in Dreamwork’s Kung Fu Panda franchise, Obie Award winning Randall Duk Kim made his acting debut in 1960 and has spent most of his working life on stage.  His love of the classical repertoire and an early encounter with the Shakespearian acting of Morris Carnovsky has both fired and shaped his fifty-year career.  His performances in the regional theatres include seasons at the American Conservatory Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, the Arizona Theater Company, the NY Shakespeare Festival, and the American Place Theater.  A full list of credits can be found at  In 1979 with Anne Occhiogrosso and Charles Bright, Mr. Kim founded the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin and, for over a dozen years under their leadership, offered audiences classical plays (especially Shakespeare) in a summer repertory performance schedule.  During this time, Mr. Kim played the title roles in TITUS ANDRONICUS, KING JOHN, KING LEAR and HAMLET Christopher Marlowe’s TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT, Anton Chekhov’s IVANOV, and Sophocles’ OEDIPUS REX as as well as a host of other roles which can also be found on his website.  His film credits include PRISONERS IN TIME, THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, LOST EMPIRE (aka THE MONKEY KING), ANNA AND THE KING, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION, THE LAST AIRBENDER, and NINJA ASSASSIN.  TV audiences have seen Kim in, FRINGE, PERSON OF INTEREST and ELEMENTARY.  His Broadway credits include the THE KING AND I, David Henry Hwang’s GOLDEN CHILD, and FLOWER DRUM SONG.   Mr. Kim received an Off Broadway Obie Award for “Sustained Excellence of Performance” in the legitimate theater.  Last October, after a twenty – five year absence, Kim along with Anne Occhiogrosso returned to Wisconsin in The Pleasure of his Company, an original piece devised, written and performed by the pair to celebrate the Folger Library’s national tour of Shakespeare’s First Folio.
image025 (1)Award-winning actor and singer, Kevin Carolan has built a successful career over the last 25 years and has been directed by some of the most talented artists in show business, including Martin Scorese, Larry David, Tim Van Patten, Joe Mantello, Walter Bobbie, James Lapine, and Mel Brooks.  He has numerous appearances on television shows such as Orange Is the New Black, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Middle, The Good Wife, Royal Pains, Spin City, Fringe, White Collar, and the recurring role of the Barker in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.  Kevin has also toured the U.S., Canada, Tokyo, and Dubai, U.A.E. as Amos Hart in the musical Chicago, and performed in historic regional theatres such as The Goodman Theatre, The Huntington Theatre, Goodspeed Opera House, and the Paper Mill Playhouse.  He has appeared on Broadway in Dirty Blonde, The Ritz, Chicago (10th Anniversary Celebration), originated the role of Teddy Roosevelt in Disney’s Newsies! The Musical, which he returns to in the national tour, and recently created the role of Baloo in a new adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book, directed by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman, for which the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) awarded him Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.  He is also among the artists that have been drawn by world-renowned caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. 
CarlN_WallnauCentenary Stage Company’s own award winning Artistic Director Carl Wallnau’s recent acting credits include Lionel Percy in Bakersfield Mist (Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum) alongside 4 time daytime Emmy Award winner Kim Zimmer, Dr. Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles and Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival), and Mr. Mayhew in Witness for the Prosecution (Bristol Riverside).  He has directed numerous productions including the world premieres of Inventing Montana, The Tillie Project and The Poetry of Pizza, as well as, the American premiere of A Laughing Matter and the New Jersey premieres of Below the Belt, Square One, Rounding Third, Marvin’s Room and The English Bride, which later transferred to NYC for a run at 59E59.  Wallnau has been cited for outstanding direction in productions of Springtime for Henry, Ladies Man and Quartermaine’s Terms among others.  He has worked at numerous regional theaters including Paper Mill Playhouse, The Arden Theatre, Second Stage in NYC, York Musical Theatre in NYC, People’s Light, The Lark Theatre, The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Bristol Riverside, Forum Theatre, Premiere Stages, Orlando Shakespeare Company, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Foothills Playhouse, Theatre 1812 in Philadelphia, Barnstormers and 14 months on the road with the First National Tour of Titanic.  He received his MFA from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts.

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