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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Multiple interns in NYC during summer for Arts Festival


A world-premiere production titled UMBILICAL in the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity seeks multiple interns in NYC during summer of 2018.
The Planet Connections Festivity is New York’s premiere socially-conscious arts festival. Planet Connections’ artists use their work to raise awareness for a self-selected organization/topic. Since its inception in 2008, PC has presented over 200 productions and has supported over 300 charities.
UMBILICAL will be mounted in the 2018 Festival, which will take place in NYC from July 11 to August 5. An experimental piece, UMBILICAL explores an encounter between two strangers and a third performer in a surreal post-apocalyptic environment. It will run for six performances concluding on Saturday August 4th.
The production seeks:
Assistant Director
Stage Manager
Sound Designer
Set/Costume/Production Designer
Time commitment will run from May through the beginning of August; all are part-time jobs with varying hours (SM/AD will likely have the greatest time commitment; set/costume designers likely least). Those willing to fill multiple jobs will be preferred.
Please send your resumes, cover letters, and work samples (if applicable) to both Adam Chisnall at achisnall@gmail.comand to Michael Landes at

Mother’s Day Masquerade Comedy and Fashion Showcase at Edison Valley Playhouse

JBY Mothers Day Flyer 2018

Mothers from all walks of life will be celebrated and honored during a diverse pre-mother’s day event hosted by Just Be You Performing Arts on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at the historic Edison Valley Playhouse in Edison, New Jersey from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.. The Second Annual Mother’s Day Masquerade Comedy and Fashion Showcase is an evening packed with live vocal performances, a runway fashion show, and the debut of the organization’s all female stand-up comedy showcase.

Directed and produced by working mom and producer; Mahogany Reynolds-Clarke, the creator of the innovative comedy show, “Cracking Up In Rahway”, emerging female stand-up comedians in New Jersey and New York will put a funny spin on the ups and downs of motherhood. This marks the two year anniversary of the event; which debuted in May 2017 to a sold-out audience, at Hamilton Stage of the Performing Arts in Rahway, New Jersey.

“I am so excited to bring this show to Edison. After gaining much success in Rahway for two years; we realized there was a thirst and a hunger for more diversity, when it came down to stand-up comedy. This year’s show is going to offer something for every kind of mom,” said Reynolds-Clarke, founder and executive director of Just Be You Performing Arts.

Headlining the stand-up comedy showcase is bold and sassy comedian, Vernita Bostick. During last year’s event, Bostick brought down the house with her honest brand of comedy. A full-time educator in New Jersey, Bostick brings a hilarious outlook on working with children. Her fans know her from her work at Carolines Comedy Club, the Women in Comedy festival, and the world famous Apollo theater. She was also recently chosen as a 2018 semi-finalist for the Comedy Wings competition for the American Black Film Festival.

“I think a female comedian is not only important in today’s climate, but at all times. Our voice, our opinions and our viewpoint needs to be heard because there is nothing like a woman’s perspective. I think the mothers who attend will get a much deserved moment of rest; and be able to enjoy the attention and focus on them, while we praise them through our various forms, to thank them for all that they do,” said Bostick.

Making her debut with Just Be You Performing Arts is multi-talented stand-up comedian, Candace Kelley. Many know her from New York. She has performed at the PIT Underground in New York and pen mics. She was also selected to be a featured comedian at the 2018 Black Girls Giggle festival in New Orleans, Louisianna.

“I think when females see other females on stage, it opens doors. It's inspiring in so many ways. The producers have created a show that will also pamper mothers and the undervalued jobs they do,” said Kelley.

Fashion Show

Reynolds-Clarke’s all-inclusive runway show, “The Runway In Rahway” will make it’s debut in Edison, New Jersey during the event. Featuring an array of clothing and accessories from Kat’s Vintage and Chic Boutique of Rahway, New Jersey, owner Kathy Simpson-Givens will showcase a collection of unique one-of-a-kind garments. Making her first appearance in “The Runway In Rahway” fashion show is aspiring couture designer, Aisha Nasa, an 18-year-old intern studying fashion under the guidance of Delores Serecin of Delor Couture. Nasa, of Carteret, New Jersey will debut her collection of Asian culture inspired clothing.

“My line is a combination of the American and Pakistani culture, because I come from a Pakistani background and know about the American culture. I take both perspectives and put them together,” said Nasa.

Six-year-old aspiring fashion designer, Omariya Monroe, of West Harlem, New York, will also make her debut during the event. Reynolds-Clarke invited the gifted young designer to participate in the show because she believes in opening opportunities for artists of all ages. Moms will be moved by the young people participating in the show.

“Moms deserve to be honored, so my student, young vocalist, Adora McDaniel, will sing beautiful tributes to moms. This event has something for every mom. More importantly, we are taking time to honor a group of moms who are often over looked. The foster care and adoptive mom. Those moms need our support as well,” said Reynolds-Clarke.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Opens Its 56th Season with Molière's Masterpiece, Tartuffe


MADISON, NJ —  The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey begins its 56th season with its first Main Stage production, Tartuffe. Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte will direct this masterful French comedy that hasn’t been seen on STNJ’s stage since 2001. Renowned translator Richard Wilbur brings Molière’s witty words to brilliant life for English-speaking audiences. Veteran company member Brent Harris will play the title role and will be joined by STNJ favorites Patrick Toon and Victoria Mack, as well as two-time Tony Award nominee, Vivian Reed. Performances begin May 16. Patrons can purchase tickets at The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre located at 36 Madison Avenue in Madison by calling the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or by going online at

Tartuffe, the consummate con man, hypocrite, and womanizer, meets his match under Molière’s deft pen. A masterpiece of biting social commentary brilliantly enclosed in a swirl of witty verse, outrageous characters, and delightful machinations; the 17th century family featured in this serious comedy will feel very familiar to 21st century Americans.

“This is a season filled with comedy and the wonderful gift of comic relief, which is sorely needed these days. Some of our comedies this season are pure delightful froth and others are deeper, more serious comedies; Molière’s Tartuffe is a combination of both,” said Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte.

The Cast:

Brent Harris begins his seventh season in the title role of Tartuffe. His most recent company credits include last season’s opener The Merchant of Venice, as well as Exit the King, The Guardsman, The Alchemist, and To Kill a Mockingbird, amongst others. Mr. Harris has appeared in the national tours of The Lion King as Scar and The Screwtape Letters as Screwtape.

After appearing in last season’s production of Shakespeare in Love, Patrick Toon returns for his 12th season in the role of Orgon. He has also appeared on The Shakespeare Theatre stage in A Child’s Christmas in Wales, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised), The Diary of Anne Frank, and many more.

Two-time Tony Award nominee Vivian Reed will make her Shakespeare Theatre Main Stage debut in the role of Madame Pernelle. Ms. Reed won a Drama Desk Award for her performance in the Broadway production of Bubbling Brown Sugar. She is also the recipient of a Theatre World Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and NAACP Award, among many others.

Making his STNJ debut is William Sturdivant as Cléante. He has performed regionally in The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry V with The Acting Company and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, and The Merchant of Venice with The Guthrie Theater. He most recently appeared in New York City in X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation.

Victoria Mack returns for her 10th season as Dorine. Ms. Mack has appeared on the STNJ stage in Red Velvet, The Guardsman, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Pygmalion, and Pride and Prejudice, among many others. Her Broadway credits include Venus in Fur, and she has appeared in a number of television series including Orange is the New Black, Boardwalk Empire, and The Good Wife.

Aaron McDaniel, after appearing in the title role in The Bungler last season, will play Damis for his third season with STNJ. He is a member of Strangemen & Co., appearing in their original work, The Woodsman at New World Stages. Mr. McDaniel has toured the nation with Aquila Theatre and has worked as a fight choreographer for many productions including Newsies! The Musical and Aladdin.

In her first season with The Shakespeare Theatre, Sarah Nicole Deaver will play Mariane. She recently appeared Off Broadway in The Suitcase Under the Bed at Mint Theater. Regional credits include Hartford Stage and Baltimore Center Stage, and she has appeared on TV in Law & Order: SVU and The Last OG.

Drew Dix will play Monsieur Loyal for his fourth season with The Shakespeare Theatre. His company credits include The Bungler, Henry IV, Part One, and Man of La Mancha. He has performed regionally with the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Luna Stage, 78th Street Theatre Lab, and Firebone Theater.

Caroline Kinsolving will make her Shakespeare Theatre debut in the role of Elmire. She has performed regionally with Playwrights Horizons, The Old Globe, and San Diego Repertory Theatre, and she has appeared on TV in Medium, Criminal Minds, and Satisfaction.

Rounding out the cast are newcomers Garrett Gray and Mark Hawkins.

The Director:

Bonnie J. Monte is in her 28th season with The Shakespeare Theatre and serves as the Artistic Director; under her leadership, the Theatre has evolved into one of the most respected classical companies in the nation. She has directed over 60 acclaimed productions for the company during her tenure, most recently directing last season’s Shakespeare in Love and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Creative Team:

Tartuffe’s visual landscape will be brought to life by the creative talents of Scenic Designer Brittany Vasta, Lighting Designer Matthew Weisgable, and Costume Designer Nikki Delhomme. Ms. Monte will also sound design. The Production Stage Manager is Jackie Mariani.


Single tickets for Tartuffe begin at $29 for preview performances and begin at $49 for regular performances. Prices range from $29 to $69. The Theatre is proud to bring back its successful 30 UNDER 30 program for the 2018 season. Patrons aged 30 and under can purchase tickets for only $30 with a valid ID, subject to availability. For tickets, patrons can call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit

Auditions: ‘James and the Giant Peach, Jr’ at Brundage Park


Upcoming Audition - James and the Giant Peach, Jr.
Brundage Park Playhouse is pleased to announce its second audition notice for its upcoming show James and The Giant Peach, Jr.
Auditions are Saturday, May 5 at 2-4 pm and Sunday, May 6 at 2-4 pm at the playhouse on Carrell Road in Randolph, NJ. Auditioners Age 12 – 18 will be asked to sing acapella and read from sides, which will be provided. Please bring a headshot and resume to the audition. If you do not have a headshot, a photo will be taken at the audition.
Performance Dates: July 6, 13 and 20 at 8:00 pm and July 7, 8, 14, 15 and 21 at 2:00 pm
With a wickedly fun score by the TONY Award-nominated pair of Pasek and Paul and a creative, quirky book by Timothy Allen McDonald, James and The Giant Peach, Jr. is one of our For Kids By Kids productions. It’s summertime fun for the whole family.
List of Roles:
Ladahlord – Charismatic, Mysterious Guide. Male. Vocal Range: Gb5 – G3
James – On a quest to find a family of his own. Vocal Range: E5 – G#3
Ladybug- Regal demeanor, Feels maternal towards James. Female. Vocal Range: D5-A3
Grasshopper- Warm, inviting presence. Takes a paternal interest in James. Range: F#5- A3
Spider – Clever, fun-loving older sister to James. Female. Range C5-B3
Earthworm – Gentle spirit, can be a bit of a coward. Male. Range A5-B3
Centipede- Grouchy, but loyal to the pack. Male. Range F#5 – G3
Spiker – Female. Spiker is the brains of the team. Range E5 – F3
Sponge – Concerned with finding something to eat. Range E5 – F3
Matron Nurse – Runs the Painswick Orphanage. In need of a vacation.
Zoo Crowd: Mr. Trotter, Mrs. Trotter, Kari Kretour. Featured Roles.
Passing Man – Cameo Role
Man (with wallet) – Cameo Role
Billy Bobby-Cop – Cameo Role
Bobby Bobby-Cop – Cameo Role
Vagrants: Doreen Driggles, Violet Funkschmeller, Ridgley Rapscallion, Chris Cryermouth
Ida Walters – Reporter
Bitsy Botana – Garden Guild Member
Buzz – Hollywood Agent
Willy Wonka – Cameo Role
New Yorkers: Screaming Woman, Jake, Joe, Lucille Van Kooglestein, Bunny Mackenzie the 3rd
For further information please contact Brundage Park Playhouse at (973) 989-7092
or visit

Auditions: Bernards Township’s Plays in the Park

Aud. LM

Auditions for Trilogy Repertory’s summer production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid for Bernards Township’s Plays in the Park will be held at the Bernards Township Community Center, 289 South Maple Avenue, Basking Ridge, NJ, on April  29 (ages 10 - 15: 6 pm - 7:30 pm;  ages 16 and above: 7:30 pm) and May 2 from 7:30 pm - 9 pm,

10505311_744533352275845_3222691254500978493_nCome prepared to sing 16 bars of uptempo rock, pop, or musical theater.  Also be prepared to dance and to read from the script. Performance dates for the musical are July 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28, at 8 pm, in the outdoor amphitheater at Pleasant Valley Park in Basking Ridge.  Jaye Barre will direct, and Lorrie Lane will serve as Executive Producer. Contact or 908-217-2714 for additional information and schedule conflicts.   Visit and scroll to the bottom to download and fill out the Trilogy Repertory Casting Sheet to bring with you to auditions.

Directions for the Bernards Township Community Center may be found at:

‘Calendar Girls’ at Somerset Valley Players


WHAT: Somerset Valley Players Next Production Is “Calendar Girls” Based on True Story of Housewives Pin Ups

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 comedy Calendar Girls, opening on Friday, April 20.

cgflowerDirected by Darren Nye, Calendar Girls is based on the true story of small town British housewives who posed naked for a pin up calendar to raise money to support families of cancer patients. In the process, they became international media sensations. The play, written by Tim Firth, is an adaptation of the 2003 hit film of the same name.

Produced by Michael A. Muller, stage managed by CJ Miller, the show is sponsored by the Robert W. Pittenger Family.


Calendar Girls runs April 20 – May 6, 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

Final Weekend for Centenary Stage Company’s World Premier of ‘Hitler’s Tasters’

ht 5

“The four actresses in it are sensational!” – Peter Filichia, Broadway Radio

                Centenary Stage Company’s World Premier of Michelle Kholos Brooks’ Hitler’s Tasters wraps up its critically acclaimed run in the Lackland Performing Arts Center this weekend with performances Wednesday through Sunday. Audiences and critics alike have fallen in love. “Making this world premiere particularly special are the performances of the four young women. Director Sarah Norris has cast a group of remarkably talented women… it is easy to fall in love with these impressive young women and the unique story.” (Rick Busciglio,

The four are Brianna Morris, Jennifer Robbins, Emaline Williams.
and Ally Borgstrom,

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Photo: L-R Ally Borgstrom, Emaline Williams and Jennifer Robbins.

                Inspired by a true story, imagine knowing that every mouthful of food you ate could be your last. Such was the life for the young women charged with the task of tasting Hitler’s food so that he would not be poisoned. “All four actresses are excellent”, says Jane Primerano on NJ Arts Maven. Winner of the 2017 Susan Glaspell Award, Michelle Kholos Brooks’ Hitler’s Tasters is an alternately engaging and compelling play tells the story of the young women who three times day, every day, were “honored” with the opportunity “to die for their Führer”. But while they wait, like all girls throughout time, they gossip, they dream, they question and dance, until the door opens and the guard appears with each meal. 

                Michelle Kholos Brooks’ Hitler’s Tasters final performances are now through Aprill 22 in the Lackland Performing Arts Center at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ.  Remaining performances are Wednesday, April 18 at 2PM; Thursday, April 19 at 7:30PM; Friday, April 20 at 8PM; Saturday, April 21 at 8PM and Sunday, April 22 at 2PM. Tickets are $27.50 for adults on Friday evening & matinee performances.  Saturday evening’s performance are $29.50 for adults.  Thursday evening’s performance are $27.50 for ALL SEATS with a buy one/get one rush ticket special when purchased in person at the Centenary Stage Company box office beginning at 5:30PM. Discounts are available for students.

Monday, April 16, 2018

“Another Revolution” final presentation of the 2018 Centenary Stage Company Women Playwrights Series


It is 1968.  From opposing disciplines and very different worlds, Kate and Henry are forced to share a lab together in the midst of a campus devolving into political chaos, in Jacqueline Bircher’s “Another Revolution”, which will be the final presentation of the 2018 Centenary Stage Company Women Playwrights Series on Wednesday, Apr 25 at 7:30 PM in the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown.  

In this wry and compelling play, two individuals discover what it is truly like to inhabit another’s world, and what deeply personal reasons often motivate diverse and life-changing decisions.

jacqueline-bircher-headshot2Jacqueline Bircher (photo) is a playwright and screenwriter born and raised in New York City.   Her plays include Another Revolution (2017 Primary Stages ESPA*Drills winner), Webster's Bitch (Little Theatre of Alexandria) and The Rule of Thirds. Her short plays Reaction, Thin Ice, and Yesterday Somewhere have been produced in the Detention series at Primary Stages, and her screenwriting work has been featured at the WILDsound Film Festival and recognized by the Creative World Awards and WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices competition. Jacqueline has also received readings and workshops with Clutch Productions, Geneva Theatre Guild, and Talk Back Theatre at the Chance Theater in Orange County, CA. She studied creative writing and literature at Oxford University and Fordham College at Lincoln Center, where she was the recipient of the Ully Hirsch/Robert F. Nettleton Prize and the Margaret Lamb Prize for Fiction.

AR-160339974Led by Catherine Rust (photo), the CSC Women Playwrights Series celebrates its 27th year in 2018, having featured the work of more than 75 emerging playwrights in the developmental WPS process, and having taken 17 plays to full production from the series, including “The English Bride” by Lucile Lichtblau, which later transferred from CSC to a sold-out run at 59E59 Theatres in New York City.  This year’s “Hitler’s Tasters” by Michelle Kholos Brooks (from the WPS) , will move to New York City in fall, 2018.    The WPS program offers playwrights the opportunity to work with professional actors and directors in a workshop rehearsal process, and to hear their work in front of a live audience – a critical part of the development process.  Lively talk-backs with the playwright and cast follow each presentation, and one play is selected each year as the winner of the Susan Glaspell Award, which promises a full production in the main-stage season at CSC and a monetary award for the playwright.

Admission to the WPS is by donation and reservations are recommended, as seating is often limited.  For information and reservations, call the CSC box office at 908 979 0900, or log on to

The WPS receives support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation,  The Shubert Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, NJPAC, The NJ Theatre Alliance, Zonta Club of Morristown,  and season sponsor Heath Village. Additional theatre support comes from a Grand Producer grant from the House of the Good Shepard. 


The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse_Photo 3

Reviewed By Ruth Ross (

Art of the Deal, move over; make way for Art of the Con—better known as The Sting—the musical blueprint for a successful confidence game now making its World Premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.

Led by Harry Connick, Jr., this version of the beloved film (starring icons Paul Newman and Robert Redford and featuring the music of Scott Joplin) follows the basic, if convoluted, plot, but pads it with extended and often superfluous dance numbers, overwritten scenes and star turns for Connick so that its running time of two and a half hours exceeds that of the original. Broadway audiences, accustomed to 90-minute to 2-hour productions will have a hard time sitting through this one, no matter how riveting the plot.

The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse_Photo 7This is not to say, however, that The Sting in its current iteration lacks charm, wit or artistry. Bob Martin has eschewed replicating David Ward’s splendid screenplay, opting instead for a mixture of raucousness and quiet to tell the tale of an unlikely friendship that develops between Johnny Hooker (Left center, with Kevyn Morrow and Peter Benson), a young black grifter, and his white partner, the piano-playing Henry Gondorff, as they perpetrate a “long con” to get revenge on the dastardly Doyle Lonnegan for his role in the defenestration of Hooker’s mentor Luther back in Joliet, Illinois.

I am pleased to report that Martin and Director John Rando haven’t abandoned the script’s antecedents altogether; they have retained the vaudeville cards (carried by fetching showgirls) denoting each step of the sting, and composer Mark Hollmann manages to insert snippets of Scott Joplin’s recognizable Ragtime melodies used in the film score. In fact, the opening scene, featuring a lone trombonist playing the film theme’s melancholy notes, reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof, provides a powerful link to the source material.

Martin’s script elicits our sympathy for men who are essentially criminals by portraying the long con as a theatrical production, complete with costumes and roles, for an “audience of one”—in this case Lonnegan. And Hooker and Gondorff’s anticipation of the “thrill of the con” is so infectious that we root for them to triumph over someone even more evil than they.

The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse_Photo 6The talented actors portraying these low-lifes make the con fun to watch. Although he’s billed as the star of the show, Harry Connick Jr. (Gondorff) is a better musician than he is an actor; his acting style involves loud declamation, mostly, so his character comes across as more one-dimensional than real. He does better in the comedic bits, especially the poker game in the railway car that is the high point of the first act, where his broad approach turns what should be a serious crime into buffoonery. He can play a mean piano, though, a skill highlighted by “The Ragtime Rip,” chronicling how his music distracted brothel patrons so his partner could pick their pockets, and the opening number of Act II, “This Ain’t No Song and Dance.” Unfortunately, this dazzling display does nothing to advance the plot; it merely holds up the action and could be shortened or scrapped. (Above: Harry Connick, Jr., and J. Harrison Ghee)

The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse_Photo 5But J. Harrison Ghee (Johnny Hooker) literally steals the show from under the more famous Connick’s nose. In his first leading role (his bio lists stints in various musical theater ensembles), Ghee gives his character depth, conveying the challenges he faces as a black man and a loyalty to Luther that drives him to seek revenge. He can act, he can sing and he can dance—whether it be tap, the Charleston or Broadway. He brings down the house in “I Roll Bones with the Devil,” and he’s tender in a duet with the Dominican waitress Loretta.

The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse_Photo 4As the two undeveloped love interests, Kate Shindle (the madam Billie; right) and Janet Dacal (Loretta) each sing the lyrics of torch songs filled with emotion and longing, acting the words instead of just warbling them. Shindle is also a fine comedic actress, a skill evident in a scene where the con men hijack a Western Union office and terrorize a humble clerk.

Other standouts in the large cast include Kevyn Morrow as the avuncular Luther; Peter Benson as the twirpy Erie Kid; Richard Kline as the fixer Kid Twist; and Christopher Gurr as J.J. Singleton, the con man with a British accent. Tom Hewitt’s Doyle Lonnegan is a formidable antagonist for Hooker and Gondorff; his tall, thickset body exudes power, reinforcing the notion that he “kills for pride.” His vindictiveness is palpable.

The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse_Photo 1

High points of the plot involve a poker game and two scenes with horse races called in a bookie joint (above) set up just to lure Lonnegan in for the con. The card game feels endless; perhaps it wouldn’t have had the action preceding it not poked along with superfluous production numbers. The race-calling scenes are reminiscent of Guys and Dolls and the Ascot Races in My Fair Lady, and equally as entertaining. Gurr is wonderful as the announcer calling the races; talking quickly nonstop, he really ramps up the excitement not only onstage but throughout the entire auditorium.

As usual, Paper Mill Playhouse production values are high. Beowulf Boritt’s sets are magnificent; I especially liked his use of a backdrop that widens and heightens to reveal a small rectangle of action. Paul Tazewell’s lovely costumes transport us to 1936 Chicago; whores or fancy ladies and gents are dressed appropriately and colorfully. Japhy Weideman’s lighting is especially effective in the scenes on the train, drawing our eyes to three different locations as the action shifts. And Randy Hanson’s sound design enhances the sometimes frenetic action onstage.

Kudos to Warren Carlyle for his complex choreography encompassing a variety of styles, which the cast performs with energy. And the orchestra conducted by Fred Lassen provides terrific musical accompaniment without drowning out the actors.

The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse_Photo 2With some judicious editing, The Sting could be Broadway-worthy. Curtail some endless-seeming production numbers, especially those involving dance; eliminate the bits where prostitutes are carried onstage in chairs to music and the brief ballet when Hooker and Loretta exit, ostensibly to her bedroom—we know what’s going to happen next. As for Connick’s star turn that opens Act II, shorten it instead of scrapping it. We all know he’s talented.

As it stands, I’d give the world premiere production of The Sting a B or B-minus. Its good bones, talented performances and fine production values sow the seeds for a successful Broadway production. All it needs is some fine-tuning so that the long con becomes more riveting than boring.

The Sting will be performed at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, through April 29. For information and tickets, call the box office at 973.376.4343 or visit online.

The greatest plays of all time?

Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet in 2017JOHAN PERSSON/ARENAPAL

The greatest plays of all time

From Shakespeare to Chekhov, Molière to Miller, these are the showstoppers

‘Transparent Falsehood’ Ezra Barnes as Trump



Transparent Falsehood offers an up-close, hilarious, creepily absurd look into Trump's daily existence with never-before seen outtakes from a sad, overblown life.

Gil Kofman's plays include American Magic and The Interview/Entrevista (Dramalogue Award).

Richard Caliban is an Obie winning director (Crowbar by Mac Wellman), and was Artistic Director of the Cucaracha Theatre Company.

182 Hi-Res Color

Photo by Tom Bloom

In the cast are Wyatt Fenner (Bent, directed by Moisés Kaufman) as Barron/Jared, Stephanie Fredricks (Wonderful Town) as Melania, Chuck Montgomery (Hal Hartley’s Fay Grim) as Steve Bannon, and Latonia Phipps (Katori Hall’s Children of Killers) as Ivanka.

I play Donald Trump.

Performances are at Ars Nova's space, 511 West 54th, from April 27-May 19. For tickets. Be advised: the language in this play is consistent with its subject matter.

I hope to see you at the theater.

Ezra Barnes

©2018 Ezra Barnes | 144 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, NY 11201

“Grease” Brings Chatham’s 96th Season to a Rockin’ & Rollin’ Close

Cast of Grease

CHATHAM, NJ- The Chatham Community Players concludes its 96th Season with “Grease”, Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. This musical will run from May 4 through May 19. James Mosser is director and musical director with Jennifer Williams is the choreographer, both are from Union. They shared, "Grease is probably one of the most recognizable musicals of all time and it is so exciting to bring this show to life on the Chatham Players Stage. Our cast is full of fresh faced young actors and actresses that have such an infectious energy, its unlike anything that has been previously brought to the playhouse stage. We are so excited to bring this classic show into 2018 and share it with audiences"

Get out your leather jackets and pull on your bobby socks! It’s time to join Rydell High’s senior class of 1959! “Grease” follows love struck, bad boy Danny and girl-next-door Sandy in a thrilling injection of pure fun with astounding dancing and amazing songs. It’s the beloved rock n’ roll celebration of teen angst, fast cars and first loves – all set in the fabulous fifties. This smash show is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the film release, and features the irresistible songs from the Tony Award-Nominated Broadway Show and hit movie, including “You’re the One That I Want”, “Grease is the Word”, “Summer Nights”, “Greased Lightnin” and more!

Grace Petersen and Richie CarchiaThe talented and diverse group of actors making up the cast of “Grease” are Grace Petersen of Chatham as Sandy Dumbrowski, Richie Carchia from Short Hills as Danny Zuko (photo right), Kylie Francis from Springfield as Betty Rizzo, Taylor Eccles from Colonia as Frenchy, Josh Bezerra from Mountainside as Rogerand and Anna Paskalides from Chatham as Female Ensemble. Union, NJ is well represented, for it features Ronin Ruste as Kenickie, Nico Vasquez as Eugene Florczyk, Cameron Brito as Doody, Evan Caban as Sonny, Crystal Wright as Marty, Leanne Laurino as Jan, Alyssa Carbonell as Patty Simcox, Alexis Orallo as Cha Cha, Jason Yanto as Johnny Casino, Scott Faranda as Vince Fontaine, Khadija Sankoh as Teen Angel, Patricia Fallon as Miss Lynch, Pranav Chawla as Male Ensemble and Rachel Mendoza as Female Ensemble.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Talented cast for the Bickford hit A Dog Story; photo by Jack Grassa

Reviewed By Ruth Ross (

They’re called “man’s best friend.” They’re treated like members of the family. People purchase houses only if there’s room for them to run and play. Who are they: DOGS!

But dogs are also “chick magnets.” At least that’s the premise of Eric Weinberger’s charming, if predictable, musical, A Dog Story, now receiving its New Jersey premiere at the Bickford Theatre in Morristown, after a 2014 world premiere in Key West and an Off-Broadway run in 2016.

Roland (Daniel Robert Sullivan) meets Blair (Clare Fitzgerald); photo by Jack Grassa

The book by the late Eric Weinberger revolves around Roland, a shy, socially awkward 24/7 workaholic. Observing that he’s being passed over for partner in his law firm because he’s not married, Roland is determined to find a wife by Labor Day when the next slot will become empty. To solve the dilemma, his testosterone-driven roommate Guy advises him to get a dog, better yet, a puppy—a fool-proof way to win a girl’s heart. At first, the scheme appears to work, when Blair, a young woman Roland has spotted in Central Park, shows up in the Hamptons where he’s taken a summer cottage and is attracted to him because of the pooch, aptly named Cupid. Because Roland knows zilch about raising and training a pup, he hires Miranda from Good Dog Training who wisely observes that she’ll have to train Roland before the dog can be considered “trained.” But Blair turns out to be too much of a hot number for Roland, and he falls in love with the dog intended as a prop to be given away at the end of the summer. At that point, Roland discovers Miranda’s charms—and well, you know the rest of the story. (Above, Daniel Robert Sullivan as Roland spies Clare Fitzgerald as Blair in Central Park)

Directed by Bickford Artistic Director Eric Hafen, the peppy, pleasant music and sometimes clever lyrics penned by Gayla D. Morgan are delivered by a quartet of young actors, all with good musical ability. Daniel Robert Sullivan (Roland) shows his professional experience (he played Jersey Boys’ Tommy DeVito in Vegas, Toronto and on tour) as he makes his character’s charming awkwardness palpable. From the show’s very first number (“Married Over Labor Day”), he owns the stage. He’s especially winning performing the “Vacation/Training Tango” with Miranda or begging a missing Cupid to “Please Come Home.” It’s hard to take your eyes off him.

Miranda (Allie Ambriano) and Guy (Shabazz Green) sing Better Saturday Nights; photo by Jack GraOver the play’s 90-minute running time, Allie Ambriano’s Miranda (left, with Shabazz Green) morphs from nerdy, no-nonsense, unfashionable dog trainer to a very attractive girl worthy of the notice of hot-to-trot Guy and Roland. At one point, she even appears (in a nightmare) as a dominatrix! She sings well with both men and even manages to make the treacly sweet “Cupid’s Lullaby” (“Puppy, puppy pie,” she warbles) bearable. Of course, because she’s not so blatantly sexy, she’s the perfect match for Roland, and we sure root for them to get together.

Shabazz Green has a fine time flexing his very obvious muscles and thrusting his pelvis as he gives the nerdy Roland advice on attracting—and hooking up with—girls. Unfortunately, Weinberger and Morgan have created a cartoon character who’s more buffoon than real. But Green has a good voice and comedic timing, so he adds some levity to the tale.

Roland (Daniel Robert Sullivan) and Blair (Clare Fitzgerald); photo by Jack GrassaOf the four, Clare Fitzgerald (right, with Sullivan) as Blair appears to be uncomfortable onstage. Sexy in very short skirts, her character, too, is more caricature than real and requires her to utter some over-the-top dialogue that’s rather off-putting. She does a fine job declaring her love for the “Freedom” of a summer vacation from her high-charged job as the senior manager at a hedge fund, but she doesn’t have much to do except strut around the stage and lunge at Roland in a quest to “Make Some Noise.” Fitzgerald sings well, but the part doesn’t require much of her in the way of acting, leaving her looking awkward most of the time.

What about the dog, you ask? Well, Morgan and Weinberger have specified that Cupid be depicted as invisible so each audience member is free to imagine him as the dog breed they love best. To make this work, the actors—chiefly Sullivan and Ambriano—have to pick “him” up, cuddle him and pet him so that we “see” him, a feat they carry out with genius.

The plot unfolds on a functionally furnished stage set designed by Jim Bazewicz, using projections of what appear to be paintings of window views, beachscapes and Hampton cabins to set and change the scenes effortlessly. Roman Klima’s lighting and sound enhance the summer atmosphere; thankfully, no barking or yipping sounds intrude. Hailey Benson’s costumes suit each character, even if I experienced some moments of trepidation about the shortness of Blair’s skirt. The two-man orchestra, directed by Stephanie Lindley provided good, if sometimes too loud, accompaniment.

Yes, boy meets dog meets girl loses girl meets right girl may sound a bit trite, but A Dog Story reminds us that there is room in the theater for diverting musical comedies to take our minds off the weighty matters of day-to-day living. The Bickford Theatre’s production may not solve the Syrian crisis, but it does remind us that, in the “war” of relationships, humor and love—of human or dog—can bring about a happy if unexpected ending.

A Dog Story will be performed at the Bickford Theatre in the Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Hgts. Road, Morristown, through April 22. For performance information and tickets, call 973.971.3706 or visit online.

Review by Ruth Ross/Photos by Jack Grassa.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Chatham Players: Seeking Directors for Our 97th Season

The Chatham Community Players are seeking directors for their 97th (2018-2019) Season. This group has been entertaining residents of Morris County and the surrounding area since 1922. For the upcoming season they have secured rights to produce, Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baltz in October (Oct 5-20), Play On! by Rick Abbott in early March (Feb 22 - Mar 9, 2019), and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde in May (May-18, 2019).

Over the next month, we will be interviewing candidates for these three productions. Please send your resume and references to before April 20, 2018 and indicate which play you are interested in directing. Please be sure to include the word, "Director" in the Subject Line of your email. These are paid positions and amounts can vary depending on experience & show. For additional information on the Chatham Community Players, please visit

Chatham Players Annual Meeting-Open To All


Join us for our Annual Meeting
May 16, 2018 @ 7:30pm

What a year it has been!  Do you remember these moments?

Barefoot in the Park

Christmas Cards: Letters to Santa

Christmas Cards: Letters to Santa

Barefoot in the Park

Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias


The Chatham Community Players’ ANNUAL MEETING is on Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 PM at Chatham Playhouse.
Come hear about our successful 2017-2018 Season and learn more about what is coming up in our 97th Season (2018-2019).
ALL are welcome!!! Casts, Crews, Audience!
Refreshments will be served following the meeting. NO RSVP NECESSARY.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Chatham Community Players concludes its 96th Season with “Grease”.

The Chatham Community Players concludes its 96th Season with “Grease”, Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. This musical will run from May 4 through May 19. James Mosser is director and musical director with Jennifer Williams is the choreographer, both are from Union.

Get out your leather jackets and pull on your bobby socks! It’s time to join Rydell High’s senior class of 1959! “Grease” follows love struck, bad boy Danny and girl-next-door Sandy in a thrilling injection of pure fun with astounding dancing and amazing songs. It’s the beloved rock n’ roll celebration of teen angst, fast cars and first loves – all set in the fabulous fifties. 

The talented and diverse group of actors making up the cast of “Grease” are Grace Petersen of Chatham as Sandy Dumbrowski, Richie Carchia from Short Hills as Danny Zuko, Kylie Francis from Springfield as Betty Rizzo, Taylor Eccles from Colonia as Frenchy, Josh Bezerra from Mountainside as Rogerand and Anna Paskalides from Chatham as Female Ensemble. Union, NJ is well represented, for it features Ronin Ruste as Kenickie, Nico Vasquez as Eugene Florczyk, Cameron Brito as Doody, Evan Caban as Sonny, Crystal Wright as Marty, Leanne Laurino as Jan, Alyssa Carbonell as Patty Simcox, Alexis Orallo as Cha Cha, Jason Yanto as Johnny Casino, Scott Faranda as Vince Fontaine, Khadija Sankoh as Teen Angel, Patricia Fallon as Miss Lynch, Pranav Chawla as Male Ensemble and Rachel Mendoza as Female Ensemble.

Rounding out Mosser’s talented production team, the Producer and Scenic Designer is Robert Lukasik, Production Coordinator is Maybelle Lincoln, Stage Manager is Caroline Courtney, Assistant Stage Manager is Sarah Court, Scenic Painting by Carol Saso, Costume Designers are Cheryl Galante, Mike Patierno and Christina Kirk, Lighting Designer is Richard Hennessy, Sound Designer is Joe DeVico and Props is Tish Lum.

Performance dates May 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17 18 and 19 at 8:00pm and May 12, 13 and 19 at 3pm. All performances are at the Chatham Playhouse, 23 North Passaic Avenue, in Chatham. Tickets are $25 for adults and $23 for youth/senior.

Tickets can be purchased at our Box Office or Online. To access the theater’s new online ticketing service, where you can now reserve your particular seat, simply go to The service is available 24 hours a day, and tickets can be purchased online up until three hours prior to curtain on the day of a performance. Chatham Playhouse’s box office will begin accepting phone reservations on April 24 at (973) 635-7363. 

For information regarding box office hours, please call the box office number listed above. 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. “Grease” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark opens tonight! Plus: Auditions!

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark opens tonight! Don't miss the wine and cheese!

Written by: William Shakespeare
Directed by: Derek Egidio
April 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, and 28 at 8pm
April 15 and 22 at 2pm
If you are or someone you know is a teacher or professor and would like information on student group tickets please contact us for details.
Prince Hamlet has been summoned home to Denmark to attend his father's funeral. One night, a Ghost reveals itself to Hamlet, claiming to be the ghost of Hamlet's father, the former king. The Ghost claims that the old king was murdered by Hamlet's uncle, Claudius, who has since married Hamlet's mother and assumed the throne. Hamlet decides to uncover the truth for himself.
To reserve tickets you can click here or call 973-328-9202. To purchase tickets, please click here.

Leading Ladies Auditions

Written by: Ken Ludwig
Directed by: Neil Fitzpatrick
Sunday, April 15 7pm
Monday, April 16 7pm
Callbacks, by Invitation Only:
Wednesday, April 18 7pm
June 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, and 23 at 8pm
June 10 and 16 at 2pm

​​Two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, find themselves so down on their luck in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. When they hear that an old lady in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, when they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren't nephews, but nieces!

The Subject Was Doorknobs Auditions

Written and Directed by: Thom Florio
Sunday, April 22
Monday, April 23
Callbacks, by Invitation Only:
Wednesday, April 25
May 18 and 19 at 8pm
May 20 at 2pm

​In this comedic thriller written by a local playwright, eight strangers are summoned to a derelict vaudeville theater to fulfill the wishes of the theater's founding members -- their grandparents. A series of sinister events makes them realize their gathering was for a completely different purpose than previously believed.