Thursday, May 31, 2018

Two River Theater: registration now open for the theater’s new Summer Theater Intensives

Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, announces that registration is now open for the theater’s new Summer Theater Intensives, open to young people entering grades 7-9 and 10-12. For the first time, the program (formerly Summer Theater Camp) will feature a performance component, with an original show taking place on the stage of the Rechnitz Theater every Friday night.

The Summer Theater Intensives will feature an Onstage Track for actors, singers and dancers, and a Backstage Track for designers, stage crew and technicians. Students are encouraged to sign up for multiple weeks and try both tracks to gain different sets of skills.

The dates for the Summer Intensives are July 9-13, July 16-20, and July 23-27. Classes will run Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm, with shows at 7pm each Friday evening. Participants can sign up for one, two or three weeks; prices are $475 for one week, $855 for 2 weeks (10% discount), and $1211.25 for 3 weeks (15% discount).

Two River Theater believes that art is for everyone, so significant financial assistance and payment plans are offered every year. If families are unable to afford the full tuition amount, they are highly encouraged to apply for a need-based scholarship.

The Onstage Track will be led by Devin Fletcher, musical director Eliot Roth and guest teaching artists. Students will spend the week working on a collage of songs, scenes, dances, original material, movement pieces and poetry that will be performed on the Rechnitz stage every Friday night; a different show will be performed each week.

The Backstage Track will be led by Lea Anello, assistant director Shane O’Neill and guest teaching artists. Students will paint flats, create costume pieces, learn about lighting and sound, and make props—all of which will be used to build the world of the Friday performance.

For more information and registration forms, visit or contact Amanda Espinoza, Education Assistant, at 732.936.8804 or 


Two River Theater's Education programs are supported in part by The Community Foundation of New Jersey, Investors Foundation, The Jorgensen Foundation, New Jersey Natural Gas, OceanFirst, The Mary Owen Borden Foundation, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, and are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Two River Theater is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Monmouth University, The Shubert Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Riverview Medical Center, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation,  The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at The Atrium at Navesink Harbor, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Jorgensen Foundation, US Trust, Wells Fargo, William T. Morris Foundation, Kessler Foundation,  Investors Foundation, The John Ben Snow Foundation, VNA Health Group, Brookdale Community College, and many other generous foundations, corporations and individuals.

Since its founding in 1994, Two River Theater has been committed to creating great American theater by developing and producing work by some of the country’s leading artists. We are proud to be viewed as a vital cultural resource in the community of Red Bank, New Jersey. Through 8+ theatrical productions each year (including world premieres, musicals, classics and theater for young audiences) and 40+ annual events happening around Monmouth County, we produce exceptional theater and cultivate engaged audiences. Two River Theater is under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst. For more information, visit or call 732.345.1400.  

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has named new Artistic Director of the NJSO Youth Orchestras

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has named José Luis Domínguez Artistic Director of the NJSO Youth Orchestras, signing him to a two-year contract that extends through the 2020 fiscal year a relationship that began in September 2017 when Domínguez was named Interim Artistic Director of the youth orchestras. This season, he has worked closely with NJSO Youth Orchestras artistic faculty and conducted two of its four ensembles, the Academy Orchestra and Training Ensemble.

Domínguez says: “This year with the NJSO Youth Orchestras has been a very interesting and very happy experience for me. I felt the privilege of being part of such an incredible group of professional musicians and teaching artists. The spirit of the students and the parents is unquestionable. It shows passion, and I want to take it a few steps further. If I can make Saturday the best day of their week, I’ll feel like I did my job.”

NJSO Music Director Xian Zhang says: “The students have had so much fun and learned so much working with José Luis this season. José Luis embodies all the qualities we want in a Youth Orchestras leader, and we are so excited that he will continue to lead the program.”

NJSO Education Committee member Michelle Merchant says: “As the parent of two children participating in the NJSO Youth Orchestras, I am delighted that José Luis Domínguez has been selected as the Artistic Director. To this role, he brings an unrivaled enthusiasm, a dedication to music education and a unique cultural appreciation to which the students respond so well. As a leader and role model, he will have a profoundly positive impact on the program and the community for seasons to come. I am excited about how the NJSO Youth Orchestras and the students will grow under his energizing and inspiring guidance and leadership.”

Domínguez will conduct the NJSO’s free summer parks concert series in June and July. He led the NJSO’s #OrchestraYou pro-am post-concert session in April and conducted the Orchestra’s May family concerts at NJPAC in Newark.

The Chilean-born conductor was previously Resident Conductor of the Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra. He annually directs programs with the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Chile, with whom he served as Principal Conductor before assuming his current roles as Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Senior Advisor. He has led the youth orchestra on tour internationally and conducted its operatic debut, a performance of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale that was regarded as a major breakthrough for the Chilean and Latin American system of youth orchestras.

A major gift made by longtime supporter Anna P. Drago recently recognized the significance of this position at the NJSO. The gift names the NJSO Youth Orchestras Artistic Director Chair in her honor.

Learn more about the NJSO Youth Orchestras at

Chatham Players to Hold Auditions for Baitz’s Clever Play, “Other Desert Cities”

All Youth Production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at The Growing Stage

The Growing Stage, The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, located in the Historic Palace Theatre on Route 183 in Netcong, New Jersey is proud to present the Studio Series Presentation of THE TEMPEST from June 7th through the 10th with performances at 7:30 PM on Thursday and Friday, and matinees at 4:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday.   Based on THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare, this adaptation is by Stephen L. Fredericks, Executive Director/Founder of The Growing Stage. The production is co-directed by Stephen L. Fredericks and Jillian Petrie

THE TEMPEST is believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where the sorcerer Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to royalty by using illusion and magic. He conjures up a storm, a tempest, which brings his brother Antonio, who stole his rightful title, and King Alonso of Naples, who took part in the scheme, to the island where Prospero and Miranda now live. Antonio and the King believe they are shipwrecked and marooned on the island, but it is really Prospero weaving his magic in order to get the justice he believes he deserves.

THE TEMPEST is an all youth production featuring 24 young performers hailing from Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex and Warren counties.  This production is a part of our Studio Presentation Series.  This series initiated in the fall of 2009 has succeeded in engaging both patrons and artists. Targeted for specific-aged audiences rather than the wide-reaching family fare of the Main Stage, the series provides community artists with a unique opportunity to participate in the creative process of “trying out” new, more experimental works under the direction of our professional artists. This program allows our company to both cultivate new talent and challenge audiences.

Tickets for THE TEMPEST are $15 for Adults and $12 for Children & Seniors, with group rates available.  Tickets can be purchased by calling the TGS Box Office at (973) 347-4946 or visiting  The Growing Stage – The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey programs are made possible, in part, by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

‘Half Time’ a new musical opens at Paper Mill Playhouse


Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Todd Schmidt-Managing Director), recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, presents the East Coast premiere of Half Time, a new musical, with book by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Nell Benjamin and additional music by Marvin Hamlisch and Ester DeanHalf Time begins performances  TOMORROW, Thursday, May 31, 2018, for a limited engagement through Sunday, July 1, 2018, at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive) in Millburn, NJ.  Opening Night is Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. Half Time is produced in association with Dori Berinstein and Bill Damaschke. Bank of America is the Major Sponsor of Half Time. Paper Mill Playhouse's 2017-2018 season is proudly sponsored by Investors Bank.

Half Time is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell and co-choreographed by Nick Kenkel with music direction by Charlie Alterman. The cast features five-time Emmy nominee Georgia Engel (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” The Drowsy Chaperone) and Tony and Emmy Award winner Lillias White (The Life, “Sesame Street”) along with André De Shields (The Wiz, The Full Monty, Ain’t Misbehavin’) and Tony award winner and Broadway legend Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line) who with this all-star cast will tell the uplifting true story of ten New Jersey seniors with extraordinary dreams.  Half Time is based on the motion picture Gotta Dance, directed, written and produced by Dori Berinstein.

From the director/choreographer of Kinky Boots comes the incredible true story of ten determined dreamers who audition to dance at half time for a major basketball team. They have three things in common: they love to dance, they have something to prove, and they are all over 60. Only after making the cut do they learn they won’t be dancing tap, salsa or swing—instead, they will bring down the house with a style that is entirely new to them: hip-hop. Take the uplifting journey with these dreamers—and the young coaches who inspire them along the way—as they battle self-doubt, stereotypes and even each other for a chance to bust a move at center court in front of 20,000 screaming fans. Together they remind us that in life, when the odds are stacked against you and the challenges seem too great to overcome, it’s not the end of the game—it’s Half Time.

The principal cast features André De Shields as Ron, Georgia Engel as Dorothy/Dottie, Donna McKechnie as Joanne, Lillias White as Bea, who are joined by Haven Burton as Tara, Lori Tan Chinn as Mae, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Kendra, Nancy Ticotin as Camilla, Madeleine Doherty as Estelle, Tracy Jai Edwards as Alison Prager, Mary Claire King as Jenny, Lenora Nemetz as Fran, and Kay Walbye as Muriel. 

Rounding out the cast are Alexander Aguilar, Ken Ard, Sydni Beaudoin, Tami Dahbura, Paula DeLuise, Gabriela Garcia, Talya Groves, Kathryn Kendall, Valton Jackson, Summerisa Bell Stevens, Garrett Turner and Gayle Turner.

“I am thrilled our new musical Half Time will be a part of the very exciting 2017-2018 Paper Mill season,” stated Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell. “Half Time celebrates the singular power of music and dance to unleash big emotions and bring people together.  We can’t wait to share it with the amazing audiences at Paper Mill.”

“We are excited to welcome legends André De Shields, Georgia Engel, Donna McKechnie and Lillias White to Paper Mill Playhouse,” commented Mark S. Hoebee, Paper Mill Playhouse’s Producing Artistic Director. “This new musical, inspired by the documentary Gotta Dance, is a true New Jersey story that will be thrilling for audiences of any age.”

Bank of America is committed to supporting arts and culture in our local markets. We are proud to sponsor Paper Mill Playhouse and its production of Half Time. Organizations like Paper Mill Playhouse help economies thrive and encourage individuals to connect with one other across cultures,” said Robert Doherty, president, Bank of America New Jersey. “Half Time is a fun and exciting production and reminds us all that you’re never too old to bust a move!”

The creative team of Half Time reunites Mitchell with his Kinky Boots collaborators, including Tony Award winner David Rockwell (Scenic Design), Tony Award winner Gregg Barnes (Costume Design) and Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner (Lighting Design), along with Nick Kenkel (Co-Choreography), Randy Hansen (Sound Design), Jason Lee Courson (Projection Design), Drama Desk nominee Josh Marquette (Hair and Wig Design), Tony Award winner Larry Hochman (Orchestrations), and Telsey + Company (Casting).  The Production Stage Manager is Jason Brouillard.

Half Time will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:30pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:30pm, Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 8:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $34. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680. Students may order $23 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse box office on the day of the performance. Paper Mill Playhouse's 2017/2018 season is proudly sponsored by Investors Bank.

André De Shields (Ron). In a career spanning 49 years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator. A multiple Tony Award nominee, Mr. De Shields is the recipient of the 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship/Distinguished Achievement, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, and the 2018 Bob Harrington Bistro Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is best known for his showstopping performances in six legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On!, The Full Monty, Mark Medoff’s Prymate, and Impressionism (with Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons).

Georgia Engel (Dorothy/Dottie) is excited to be making her debut here at Paper Mill Playhouse with this production of Half Time. Georgia last appeared on Broadway creating the role of Mrs. Tottendale in The Drowsy Chaperone. Other Broadway credits include My One and Only and Hello, Dolly! with Ethel Merman. Off Broadway, Georgia received an Obie Award for Annie Baker’s John (Signature Theatre), directed by Sam Gold. She also appeared in Annie Baker’s translation of Uncle Vanya (Soho Rep), also directed by Sam Gold, and Will Eno’s Middletown (Vineyard Theatre). Television: “Hot in Cleveland,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” (three Emmy nominations), “Coach,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ (two Emmy nominations).

Donna McKechnie (Joanne) was last seen at Paper Mill Playhouse as Sally in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. She received a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for her performance in A Chorus Line. Other Broadway shows include How to Succeed…; The Education of Hyman Kaplan; Sondheim: A Musical Tribute (also choreographed); On the Town; Promises, Promises; Company; State Fair (Astaire Award); and The Visit. Besides regional theaters across the country, Donna has starred in numerous productions in London’s West End, Paris, and Tokyo. She has guest starred extensively with symphony orchestras throughout this country, on television, and in film. Her memoir, Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life, was published by Simon and Schuster.

Lillias White (Bea). Select Broadway credits include Fela! (Tony nomination), The Life (Tony Award), Chicago, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Cats, Once on This Island, and Dreamgirls. Film/TV: The Get Down, Gotham, Person of Interest, Nasty Baby, Smash, Pieces of April, Gloria, Disney’s Hercules, Sesame Street (Emmy Award), Law & Order. Off Broadway/Regional: Texas in Paris (Lortel nomination); While I Yet Live; Love, Loss, and What I Wore; The Best Is Yet to Come; Purlie; Dinah Was; Crowns; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (NAACP Theatre Award); Vagina Monologues; Romance in Hard Times (Obie Award); among numerous others.

Haven Burton (Tara) is overjoyed to make her Paper Mill debut. Broadway credits include Kinky Boots (Lauren), Violet (standby for Sutton Foster), Shrek (Gingy, Fiona u/s), Legally Blonde (Margot, Elle u/s), Rent (Maureen). Off Broadway, regional, and tours include Gotta Dance (Tara), Disaster! (Marianne), Nobody Loves You, Shrek (first national tour and PCLO, Fiona), Rent (national tour, Mrs. C), Santa Rosa Symphony Pops. She can be seen with her son on season one of High maintenance (HBO).

Lori Tan Chinn (Mae) was born and raised in Seattle, WA. Broadway: Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen (Broadway and theatrical debut), G. R. Point, M. Butterfly. Off Broadway: The Primary English Class, G. R. Point, The Ballad of Soapy Smith. Regional: Arena Stage (South Pacific, Bloody Mary—Helen Hayes Award); Goodman Theatre (Peter Sellars’s The Merchant of Venice); Walnut Street Theatre (South Pacific); O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (seven seasons as an actor, five seasons as a reader to artistic director Lloyd Richards). Film: Mickey Blue Eyes, What About Bob?, Glengarry Glen Ross, She-Devil. Television: Orange Is the New Black, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific (Bloody Mary), Roseanne.

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe (Kendra) is thrilled to make her Paper Mill debut in Half Time! Fresh out of the University of Michigan, her university credits include One Hit Wonder (Fiona), The Drowsy Chaperone (Chaperone), and American Idiot. Other credits include All Shook Up (Muny) and Mamma Mia!, Aida, Shrek, and South Pacific (Pittsburgh CLO).

Nancy Ticotin (Camilla), a native New Yorker, made her Broadway debut at age 10. Film: Ransom, The Wiz, Hackers, The History of Future Folk. TV: Taken, Law & Order, SVU, Orange Is the New Black. Ticotin is an original member of Ballet Hispánico of NY. She was the sole mezzo-soprano in the nine-member operetta Great Day in the Morning at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris with Jessye Norman, directed by Robert Wilson. Broadway: The King and I, West Side Story, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Damn Yankees, In the Heights. First National Tour: On Your Feet (Gloria Fajardo). Highlight: guest star with New York City Ballet as Anita in West Side Story Suite.

Madeleine Doherty (Estelle) appeared in six Broadway shows including the original casts of The Producers, A Christmas Carol, Sister Act, Gigi, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She recently appeared in The Producers at Paper Mill Playhouse reprising the role she originated on Broadway. Over 50 regional productions and five national tours.

Tracy Jai Edwards (Alison Prager). Broadway: Amber Von Tussle in Hairspray, Serena in Legally Blonde (also MTV). Off Broadway, regional, and international credits: Ruthless, She Loves Me, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (with Ann-Margret), Guys and Dolls, Grease: Das Musical, and many more. TV: Odd Mom Out, Law & Order: SVU, Curb Your Enthusiasm, White Collar, to name a few.

Mary Claire King (Jenny) is back at Paper Mill after appearing in Oliver! in 2013. Broadway: War Paint. Tour: Catch Me If You Can. Regional: Goodman, Theatre Under the Stars, North Shore Music Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Flat Rock Playhouse. Proud member of Range A Capella, which has been featured performing on E!, Nickelodeon, and with Kelly Clarkson in her Piece by Piece tour at Radio City Music Hall.

Lenora Nemetz (Fran) left her native Pittsburgh as a teenager to work on Broadway. She began her career with her Broadway debut in Cabaret. A protégé of Bob Fosse, Nemetz first came to the attention of New York critics when she replaced Chita Rivera as Velma Kelly in Fosse's production of Chicago. She went on to create the role of Delores Dante in the Broadway production of Working, garnering a Drama Desk Award nomination. She co-starred with Peter Allen in his one man show Up in One both on Broadway and in Los Angeles. Nemetz co-starred with Chita Rivera as Angel in The Rink filling in for Liza Minnelli. National tours include Sweet Charity, Bye Bye Birdie and Some Like it Hot. She appeared in Paper Mill Playhouse’s Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2013.

Kay Walbye (Muriel) Paper Mill Playhouse: Run for Your Wife, It Runs in the Family, Out of Order. Broadway: Titanic, Urinetown, The Secret Garden, Run for Your Wife (original companies); Grease, The Rose Tattoo (Circle in the Square). Lincoln Center: Show Boat (NY Philharmonic). Encores!: Juno, Bye Bye Birdie. Regional: Gotta Dance (Chicago), Damn Yankees (Arena Stage—Helen Hayes nomination), Damn Yankees (North Shore Music Theatre—IRNE nomination), Pygmalion (Alley Theatre), Oklahoma! (Sacramento Music Circus), The Front Page (Williamstown Theatre Festival). TV: The Blacklist, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Bob Martin (Book) has been working as an actor and writer for over three decades. He has received many awards in both Canada and the US, including a Tony for The Drowsy Chaperone. Recent TV projects include Slings & Arrows, seasons 1, 2, and 3 (TMN, Sundance); Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays (CBC); Michael: Every Day (CBC); Sensitive Skin, seasons 1 and 2 (HBO); and Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (NBC). Recent theater projects include, Encores! (NYC), The Prom (Atlanta), Gotta Dance (Chicago), Elf (Broadway, Dublin, London), The Drowsy Chaperone (Toronto, Broadway, London), Second City Toronto (performer, director, artistic director).  In development: The Sting (Paper Mill Playhouse), Millions, The Prince Bride.

Chad Beguelin (Book) is a four-time Tony nominee whose works include Disney’s Aladdin (Tony Award nominations for best book and best original score, Drama Desk Award nominations for outstanding lyrics and book), and The Wedding Singer (Tony Award nominations for best book and best original score, Drama Desk Award nomination for outstanding lyrics). He also wrote the lyrics for the Broadway musical Elf. He is the recipient of the Edward Kleban Award for lyric writing, the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award, the Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theater Award, and the ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award.

Matthew Sklar (Music, Arrangements) a Tony, Emmy, and Drama Desk Award–nominated composer, proudly began his professional career as a rehearsal pianist at Paper Mill Playhouse. As composer on Broadway: Elf, The Wedding Singer (Tony Award nomination for best original score). TV/film credits include Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (2015 Primetime Emmy nomination for outstanding music direction), Sesame Street, Wonder Pets!, and PBS American Masters. Awards: ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, the Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theater Award, Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award. Upcoming: The Prom, premiering this fall on Broadway at the Cort Theatre.

Nell Benjamin (Lyrics) Broadway: Legally Blonde, with Laurence O’Keefe (Olivier Award, Tony nomination); Mean Girls, with Tina Fey and Jeff Richmond. Off Broadway and Regional: The Explorer’s Club (Outer Critics Circle Award); Cam Jansen; Sarah, Plain and Tall; Because of Winn Dixie; Pirates!; 3hree. New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve and Young People’s Concerts. TV: Unhappily Ever After; Whoa! Sunday with Mo Rocca; The Electric Company; Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris; Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway; Julie’s Greenroom. Upcoming musicals: Huzzah!, Life of the Party, Dave. Grateful recipient of the Kleban Award and a Jonathan Larson Grant.

Marvin Hamlisch (Additional Music) winner of three Academy Awards, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, three Golden Globes, and the Pulitzer Prize, wrote the music for the Broadway musicals A Chorus Line, They’re Playing Our Song, Smile, The Goodbye Girl, Sweet Smell of Success, and more. His prolific output of film scores includes The Way We Were, The Sting, Sophie’s Choice, Ordinary People, and Ice Castles, among many others. He also composed for and conducted symphony orchestras and served as arranger and music director for Barbra Streisand.

Ester Dean (Finale), a singer, actress, and Grammy Award–nominated songwriter, started her musical journey at a young age. She broke into the big leagues when she collaborated with Rihanna to write and record her first number-one hit, “Rude Boy,” followed by “What’s My Name,” “Where Have You Been,” and several other Rihanna hits, as well Katie Perry’s “Firework” and Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass,” among many more. She lent her voiceover talent to the animated films Ice Age: Continental Drift and Rio, and she has contributed to movie soundtracks, including “Let It Grow” for The Lorax. Ester starred as Cynthia Rose in Pitch Perfect and its two sequels.

Jerry Mitchell (Director/Choregrapher) received Broadway’s Tony Award for Best Choreography twice, for the revival of La Cage aux Folles and Kinky Boots, for which he was also nominated as director. Most recently on Broadway, Jerry directed the Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet!. He was nominated for an Olivier Award for his choreography in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which he also directed and coproduced in the West End. In the 35 preceding years, Jerry has been involved with over 50 Broadway, West End, and touring productions, including as choreographer of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Full Monty (Tony nomination); The Rocky Horror Show; Hairspray (Tony nomination, also NBC’s live telecast); Gypsy; Never Gonna Dance (Tony nomination); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Tony nomination); La Cage aux Folles; Legally Blonde (Tony nomination), which he also directed; Catch Me If You Can; and Kinky Boots. He also directed and choreographed the new musical based on the iconic film Pretty Woman, which will open on Broadway later this summer.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Auditions: High Schoolers for Arts Academy in Newton

'Tartuffe' a Five-Star Delight at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

Patrick Toon and Brent Harris (Jerry Dalia)
Comedy rules this season at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey! As the New Jersey treasure devotes the new season to the best medicine in these troubled times… laughter.  They deliver big-time with their five-star season opener, Molière’s masterpiece of social satire Tartuffe.  

This production continues the excellence at all levels that we have come to expect from Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte and her Madison based creative team. First, one of the joys of Tartuffe, beyond Moliere’s intricate web of a plot, is the witty verse translation by Richard Wilbur. It is a delight to the ear, as the set and costumes are to the eye, oh yes…and the actors too! The STNJ is noted for its casting excellence…this presentation scores brilliantly in that department.

The outstanding leads are Brent Harris who plays the title role Tartuffe; He gives a powerful, memorable performance as the masterful charlatan. The combination of voice, physical size, costume, AND acting talent result in a “master class” demonstration of stage presence.  
Patrick Toon is wonderful as the wealthy, but hapless family head, Orgon. He is totally blinded by the hypocrisy of Tartuffe who claims moral superiority over all.  
Brent Harris and Caroline Kinsolving (Jerry Dalia)

Victoria Mack delights as the outspoken and quick-witted maid Dorine who questions Orgon’s idolizing of Tartuffe  "He calls him brother and loves him as his life. Preferring him to mother, child and wife!" We learn early in the first act Orgon’s regard for Tartuffe over all including his wife:
 “Orgon: Has all been well, these two days I’ve been gone?
How are the family? What’s been going on?
Dorine: Your wife, two days ago, had a bad fever

Orgon: Ah. And Tartuffe?
Dorine: And a fierce headache which refused to leave her

Orgon: Ah. And Tartuffe?

Dorine: Tartuffe: Why, he’s round and red,
Bursting with health, and excellently fed.

Orgon: Poor fellow!
Victoria Mack and Vivian Reed (Jerry Dalia)
Orgon, may be a  17th century version of Dagwood Bumstead, a bumbler of the first order, but he has a beautiful, intelligent wife, Elmire, who to Tartuffe’s dismay, is loyal, and virtuous. Caroline Kinsolving is perfect as Elmire.

Leading the supporting cast is William Studivant as the brother of Elmire (and brother-in-law of Orgon), He is the voice of reason and good sense. Naturally, he is mostly ignored by Orgon. Two-time Tony Award nominee, Vivian Reed has much fun as the melodramatic grandmother, Madam Pernelle. She is also under Tartuffe’s spell.

Sarah Nicole Deaver and Patrick Toon (Jerry Dalia)
Nicely playing Elmire’s stepchildren Damis and Mariane are Aaron McDaniel and Sarah Nicole Deaver. Both are aware of what a deceitful hypocrite Tartuffe really is. McDaniel has great fun as the hot-headed heir who faces disinheritance for his resistance to Tartuffe. Sarah Nicole Deaver’s Mariane is a joy as she protests her father’s decision that she should marry Tartuffe. Her physical resistance is one of the highlights of the play. Her heart belongs to Valerie, played with imposing style by Mark Hawkins. Will she or will she not gain her wish? (you have to ask?).
Aaron McDaniel and Brent Harris (Jerry Dalia)

The rest of the fine cast includes: Drew Dix as Monsieur Loyal; Garrett Gray as the Officer; and Delia Bannon as Madame Pernelle’s poorly treated maid.

What clever machinations bring about Tartuffe’s downfall? Answers can be seen selected evenings and afternoons at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s gem of a theater on the campus of Drew University in Madison.

This is one of the most enjoyable theater events we have experienced in the last several years. 
Reviewed by Rick Busciglio   May 26, 2018

Creative credits: Bonnie J. Monte director and sound designer; Brittany Vasta scenic designer; Nikki Delhomme costume designer; Matthew J. Weisgable lighting designer; Jackie Mariani production stage manager.

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

Now at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre until June 10
Performance Times:
Tuesdays ­– 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays – 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays – 8:00 p.m.
Fridays ­– 8:00 p.m.
Saturday matinees ­– 2:00 p.m.
Saturday evenings – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday matinees – 2:00 p.m.
Sunday evenings – 7:30 p.m.