Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Light Opera of NJ’s ‘Ragtime’ is a stunning, stirring and sensational event !

Light Opera of New Jersey continues its 24th Season of operetta and musical theatre with a production of Ragtime the Musical at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, that is…….. simply sensational! It is the best thing we have seen since the LONJ’s ‘Hunchback’ a year ago. This production directed by Jeffrey Fiorello with musical direction by Charles Santoro and choreography by Aimee Mitacchione has it all; stirring story of early 1900 discrimination against immigrants and ‘people of color’ (sound familiar?), outstanding spot-on casting, fabulous voices, dazzling dancing, gorgeous costumes, impressive imaginative set, etc. This production is worthy of any stage on either side of the Hudson River.

Ragtime is fiction, but it includes a number of historical figures including Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Stanford White, and Emma Goldman. It is set in the melting pot of turn-of-the-century New York and powerfully tells three distinctly different tales; a Jewish immigrant and motherless daughter who start life in America on the lower East Side, a daring young ragtime musician in Harlem….both seeking the American promise of a better life, and an upper-class WASP wife living in lily white New Rochelle.

The casting of the three could not be more perfect: the immigrant Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia, is sensitively played by Daniel Peter Vissers. He 'lights up the stage’ with his sensitive and yet energetic portrayal of Tateh. The black musician, Coalhouse Walker, is played by the impressive voiced Dante Sterling with his leading man bearing; and the caring Mother is Christina Ryan. She sparkles with her solo turns, particularly, ’Back to Before’ in the second act.

The supporting players are outstanding; the always impressive pro Susan Spiedel nails Emma Goldman; opera veteran Kevin Johnson is Booker T. Washington, the most important African American of his time; Amber Brown is Coalhouse’s lover and mother of his child; Colleen Renee Lis has fun with the scantily clad vaudeville star Evelyn Nesbit. Playing the Father, a totally unsympathetic role, is Keith White. The cast also includes two talented children; Justin Roth is The Little Boy and Grace Lustig is Tateh’s little girl.

Very special recognition is in order for: music director Charles Santoro and his fine orchestra (Ragtime’s music ranges from marches, to cakewalks, to gospel and ragtime); Aimee Sukel Mitacchione for the choreography; stage manager Pamela Wilczynski; and the terrific ensemble.

Special calls of ‘Bravo’ are reserved for director Jeffrey Fiorello and producer Bill Corson.

Of course, Ragtime was ‘created’ by Terrence McNally -book, Lynn Ahrens- lyrics, and Stephen Flaherty- music. It is based on the 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime was the winner of the 1998 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Orchestration (in addition to 10 other nominations/individual awards),

Tickets at or by calling 973-313-2787.

Special note: Several years ago a high school in New Jersey faced attempts to censor their production of Ragtime due to the frank language. In response, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Dramatists Guild of America, and Arts Integrity Initiative, the organizations had urged the school officials “to reconsider and reverse [the] decision to censor Ragtime.”

They stated, “Ragtime’s use of racial slurs is an historically accurate and necessary aspect of a play that explores race relations in the early 1900s. Ragtime helps minors understand the brutalities of racism and the anger that has historically accumulated, partly through the use of racially offensive language. In contrast, censorship of such language ignores historical reality and presents a falsified, whitewashed view of race relations. Censoring the play will only perpetuate ignorance of our past.

“While we empathize with concerns about the emotionally disturbing effects of hearing or uttering racial slurs, we believe such concerns are to be resolved through educational means, not by censoring a renowned text. In our experience, similar concerns (around productions of To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men, for instance) have best been confronted through dialogue rather than censorship.” 

The play went on uncensored.

Friday, July 19, 2019

'Head Over Heels' at EXIT 82

Audiences are raving over HEAD OVER HEELS, the bold new musical comedy from the visionaries that rocked Broadway with Avenue Q and Spring Awakening! This laugh-out-loud love story is set to the music of the iconic 1980’s all-female rock band The Go-Go’s, including the hit songs, “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation,” Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Mad About You.”

Friday, July 19 @ 8pm
Saturday, July 20 @ 8pm
Sunday, July 21 @ 2pm

Friday, July 26 @ 8pm
Saturday, July 27 @  8pm
Sunday, July 28 @ 2pm

Thursday, August 1 @ 7pm
Friday, August 2 @ 8pm
Saturday, August 3 @  8pm
Sunday, August 4 @ 2pm
Click here to get your tickets!

The Exit 82 Studio Theater is located at 73 Main Street in downtown Toms River.

Parking is available on the street (free after 6pm) and in the free, public lots located on Irons Street and Hyers Street. 

The Studio Theater is BYOB for patrons 21+ (beer & wine only). Please drink responsibly. 

Theater photography by Vincent DiStefano.
Production photography by Rebel Darling Studio.
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Exit 82 Studio Theater
73 Main Street
Toms River, NJ 08753
Exit 82 Rehearsal Studio
34 Main Street
Toms River, NJ 08753
"Life is better with a little drama in it"
Copyright © 2019 Exit 82 Theatre Company, All rights reserved.

Trilogy Repertory Presents “Brigadoon” at Pleasant Valley Park

Trilogy Repertory Company continues the summer season of Bernards Township’s “Plays in the Park” on August 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, at 8pm, at Pleasant Valley Park, Basking Ridge, with Lerner and Loewe’s “Brigadoon.”

The musical opened on Broadway at the Ziegfeld Theater on March 13, 1947, running for 541 performances and winning a Tony Award for Agnes DeMille for Best Choreography. The 1954 movie version starred Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, and Van Johnson. Theatergoers will recognize the songs “Waitin' For My Dearie,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” and “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean.”

“Brigadoon” is directed by Jaye Barre of Basking Ridge, assisted by Marilyn Gamba and McKenna Moore, with musical direction by Joe Lesky of Somerset and choreography by Jill Cookingham of Take Flight Dance.

Starring in the production are David Rittenhouse of Califon (Tommy Albright) Jessica Albano of Branchburg (Fiona MacLauren) PHOTO, Joseph Schmidt of Bedminster (Jeff Douglass), and Claire Dempsey of Morristown (Meg Brockie).

The cast also consists of Rusty Cook, Tim Amalfitano, Owen McKenna, Maurice Marvi, Chuck Pisano, Bridget Lynn, Frank Skokan, Robert Vaias, John Lubarsky Caroline McKenna, Virginia LaFean, Nicole Aulicino, Nancy Barhte, Caitlyn Costello, Harry Hess, Melissa Johnson, Emmalee LaFean, Emma Marsters, Jaidyn Riley, Kristie McCain, Germaine McGrath, Glenston Miranda, Jason Procaccini, Kaitlyn Reiser, and Caila Yarwood.

“The partnership of Trilogy Repertory and Bernards Township has produced over three decades of family entertainment and achieved several awards for both groups for excellence in theater programming. Most prominent are the awards from ACT (Achievement in Community Theater) and the prestigious “Excellence in Cultural Arts Programming.” Lerner and Loewe’s “Brigadoon” is made possible, in part, by support from New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and is presented through special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI).

Brigadoon” will be presented at the outdoor amphitheater at Pleasant Valley Park, Valley Road (next to the Veterans Hospital at Lyons), Basking Ridge, on August 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, at 8pm. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating and a flashlight for finding your way after dark! For information, call 908-204-3003.

Sinatra Tribute at Shadow Lawn Stage

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Montclair Students to Perform in Luna, a Bilingual Play in Spanish and English

At Luna Stage on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am, July 20-28   

West Orange, NJ (July 15, 2019) – Six young people from Montclair participated in the selective StudioLuna Summer Performance Conservatory and will be featured in the Conservatory’s production of Ramón Esquivel’s Luna. Montclair students Isabella Canizares-Bidwa, Guthrie Clark, Elias Lewin, Cecilia Martinez, Elodie Morss, and Ruby Smith will be featured in the family-friendly, bilingual play in Spanish and English, which runs on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am, from July 20 – July 28

Luna tells the funny and hopeful story of Soledad, who sings and dances with the stars and moon every night. Her family is always on the move, so it's easier to talk to Luna, the moon, than to other kids. But Soledad has always wanted to have human friends, so one day she tries something new. This universal tale will speak to everyone who has ever struggled to make friends and keep them.

The play is the culmination of the students’ engagement in StudioLuna’s Summer Performance Conservatory, an audition-only, four-week program that allows performers between the ages of 11 and 17 to build individual technique, learn about themselves as performers, explore their own abilities, and refine their skills. The Conservatory experience culminates in a fully-produced production on Luna's Main Stage, which also tours to summer programs, libraries, and schools in surrounding communities.
The production will include original music by Cooper Davis and features members of StudioLuna’s Summer Performance Conservatory in conjunction with adult performers. It is directed by Luna Stage Artistic Associate Chris Kuiken.

Tickets are $15 and are available at  
Purchase Before July 15 for Discounts! 
$10 with code LUNA10, purchase by July 15 (limit 4 per purchase)  
$30 for Family Pack of 4 tickets with code LUNAFAM, purchase by July 15 
*Sensory Friendly Performance – July 21 at 11:00 am 
Regular Performances July 20, 27, 28 at 11:00 am 
Running Time: 50 minutes, no intermission

About the Artists
Ramón Esquivel is a writer and educator based in Seattle. His plays have been produced in New York City; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle and elsewhere in North America. His play The Shahrazad Society won the 2014 Aurand Harris Memorial Playwriting Award from the New England Theatre Conference. Three works, Nasty, Nocturnal and Luna, are published through Dramatic Publishing. Nocturnal is also part of New Visions/New Voices: 25 Years/25 Plays, an anthology commemorating the Kennedy Center festival, and Luna is featured in the upcoming Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latin@ Theatre for Young Audiences. He has degrees in history from Yale University, educational theatre from New York University and creative writing from the University of British Columbia.

Chris Kuiken is the 2018-2019 Artistic Resident at Luna Stage. He was the assistant director to Ari Laura Kreith for Luna’s Mainstage productions of Heartland and Pirira. He directed readings of Bees and Honey and three girls never learnt the way home for Luna’s New Moon Series. He also directed a series of plays for New Jersey's One-Minute Play Fest at Mile Square Theatre. Other directorial credits include William Finn’s A New Brain at Boston University, and COMBAT, an original piece that was devised and performed in 24 hours at Boston University. Chris is a teaching artist for StudioLuna's Youth Creative Response Team and Valley Stories Project. As an actor, Chris has performed in the NY International Fringe Festival as Ari in Black and Blue, and as Tom Watson in Jason Robert Brown’s Parade at the Huntington Theatre in Boston.

About Luna Stage
Luna Stage is a professional regional theatre that develops and produces vibrant plays about local and global experiences. Firmly rooted in New Jersey's Valley Arts District—a crossroads of cultures—Luna celebrates the diverse voices of its neighbors and brings its communities together for artistic events that inspire dialogue and build understanding.

Luna is committed to eliminating barriers to participation and nurturing the next generation of audiences and artists. In addition to its Equity MainStage and Studio productions, the company offers classes for children and adults, and developmental programs for early career artists.

Luna has contributed to the development of over 80 new works for the stage, earning a reputation for artistic excellence. Luna’s unique approach to producing, as well as the work itself, fosters an environment of inclusivity, understanding, and infinite possibility.

News from Dover Little Theatre

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Audition Notice
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