Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Black Box Performing Arts Center, a professional theater and performing arts school in Northern Jersey, is in the midst of bringing free Shakespeare in the Park to Bergen County for the second season. Unique productions of Romeo & Juliet and Othello have been touring to Teaneck, Englewood, Ridgewood, Tenafly since early July - and now both shows will make special visits to New York City’s Nuyorican Poets Cafe in the East Village.

Inside The Nuyorican, these productions will run deeper and darker than their outdoor versions - with evening performances on August 9, 10, and 12. And the best part is that they are FREE (with just a one-drink minimum).

It's punks versus preps in this lesbian reimagining of Romeo & Juliet with non-traditional casting, live guitar underscoring, and wild fights...

Othello explores corporate espionage, broken loyalty, and big business collapsing in on itself as the women do their best to stop the men from turning against each other over “the green-eyed monster”...

Othello will play on Friday August 9 at 7:00PM SHARP and on Saturday August 10 at 9:30PM. Romeo & Juliet will take the stage on Monday August 12 at 7:00PM SHARP. Admission is free (one drink minimum).

Othello plays the following two performance schedule:
  • Friday 8/9 at 7:00PM
  • Saturday 8/10 at 9:30PM
Romeo & Juliet plays the following one performance schedule:
  • Monday 8/12 at 7:00PM

Free creative arts seminars for kids and teens hosted by Just Be You Performing Arts

A series of free seminars designed for kids and teens in the creative arts will be hosted by Just Be You Performing Arts in Rahway and Bound Brook, New Jersey. Developed for youth interested in a career in the performing arts from ages 5 to 18 year’s old. To be held on Saturday, August 3, 2019 at the Bound Brook Memorial Library in Bound Brook, New Jersey and on  Thursday, August 22, 2019 at the Rahway Public Library in Rahway, New Jersey.
Created and instructed by, award-winning actress, Mahogany Reynolds, the “Just Be You Seminar” is a continuation of her organization’s mission to be what she calls “champions for children”. Just Be You Performing Arts; a New Jersey based mentoring and enrichment organization was founded in 2013. Since that time, the organization has hosted several free workshops for kids and teens.
No acting or performing arts experience is required to participate in the workshops. The programs are designed to help young people express themselves in a fun, creative and inspiring way. Thanks in part to the support of Hector Herrera, Borough Administrator, Borough of Bound Brook, Reynolds was able to forge a partnership with the Bound Brook Memorial Library. The workshop on August 3 is therefore an official library program.

Mahogany Reynolds
“I am very grateful to the amazing staff of the Bound Brook Memorial Library and Mr. Herrera. I pitched this idea to them with high hopes. Being able to partner with them is a dream come true. I wish to expand upon this and reach more kids throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” said Reynolds, who will produce a Kwanzaa Celebration in partnership with the Easton Pennsylvania Area Public Library in December 2019.

Just Be You Seminar Highlights
The first seminar in the series was held on Saturday, July 20, 2019, in the Rahway Public Library’s auditorium room. It was an independent program run by Just Be You Performing Arts. Young performing across learned beginner technique skills in acting and stage presence. They also learned communication and public speaking skills. During the workshop, each participant is guided in a creative expression exercise created by Reynolds, entitled “The Who Am I Monologues”, which they perform at the conclusion of the seminar.
“My primary objective is to help these young people realize the value and importance of knowing who they are. By teaching them this at a young age, it will hopefully stick with them, as they grow in the industry. Knowing who you are and embracing the concept of ‘just be you’, is a great foundation upon which to not only build a career with substance, but a life of substance,” said Reynolds.
“I love this workshop! Learning how to keep themselves grounded for themselves is important because they won’t be manipulated by anyone. If they’re not grounded, the industry may manipulate them into being something they are not, and they may not be happen with themselves,” said Kaydee Barnett, of Brooklyn, New York, host and producer of the nationally syndicated radio talk show, “On the Edge Show with Kaydee Barnett”. Her teenage son, CJ, attended the Rahway workshop on July 20.
The “Who Am I Monologues” were first introduced to a group of thirty teens as part of the Rahway Local Organizing Committee (Rahway LOC) 11th Annual Rites of Passage Program. A mentoring program for city youth age 13 to 18 year’s-old. Reynolds was contracted to conduct a series of creative expression workshops for the teens during the 22 week program. During the workshops she taught stage presence skills, public speaking, and building confidence. At the Rites of Passage Banquet, several of the teens performed the “Who Am I Monologues”. Each monologue was written by the teens, none of which were actors, with the guidance of Reynolds; as their director and mentor.
“I enjoyed every moment of the workshop and truly believe the children received something that they don't get from the school district! These kids were able to talk about things they typically hold inside. I could see how it changed many of them and helped them to open up. It really effected them in a good way. And once the other teens saw their peers reciting their monologues, it encouraged them to participate as well. I am thankful to Mahogany for being a part of our program,” said Rosalyn Smith, Rahway LOC Chairperson.

Registration for Seminars

Kids and teens age grades 2nd to 5th can register for the Just Be You Seminar being held at the Bound Brook Memorial Library on Saturday August 3, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.; by email to:, or by signing up at the library. Registration deadline is August 3.

Kids and teens age 5 to 18 year’s-old can register for the Just Be You Seminar being held at the Rahway Public Library on Thursday, August 22, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. by email to: . Registration is required. Deadline to register is August 20.

The workshop series is also being offered, free of charge, to kids and teens, during the 2nd Annual Just Be You Performing Arts Youth Film Festival, to be held on Friday, August 30, 2019, at the Paul Robeson Campus Center Dance Theater, Rutgers University, 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07201. To learn more about the seminar series, or to become a sponsor or vendor, visit their website:

New Jersey's Newest Theatre company! The Penny Stinkards!


Tempest at Roxbury Arts Alliance

The Penny Stinkards performs its inaugural production of The Tempest at Roxbury Arts Alliance's Investors Bank Theater at Horseshoe Lake Complex on August 4th at 8 pm.

The Penny Stinkards will guide you through a delightful romp of Shakespeare’s final play with magic, fantastical creatures, drunken comedy, court intrigue, sweet love, and – of course – storms. The company – whose goal it is to produce Shakespeare’s works under original conditions – dispenses with technology to produce live, acoustic, actor-focused theatre that integrates audiences into the performance.

The troupe includes Emily Bonaria, Kevern Cameron, Eric Craft, Derek Egidio, Elizabeth Engelberth, Garrett Gallinot, Sarah Henley, Steve Henley, Brielle McArdle, Allegra Mroz, and Jack Roberts, each tackling a number of roles onstage and off.

Join us as we launch the newest New Jersey theatre company!

Tickets are $15 | $10 for Students and Seniors and can be bought at the door.

Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 8 PM 

Roxbury Arts Alliance

Monday, July 29, 2019

Review: 'Brigadoon' a delightful treat at the new Fellowship Cultural Arts Center

The Trilogy Repertory current production is the delightful fantasy musical Learner and Loewe’s  “Brigadoon.” This past weekend they presented the inaugural event at the new, very impressive Fellowship Cultural Arts Center located at Fellowship Village in Basking Ridge.  As of August1st they will be performing at their longtime venue, the Bernards Township Plays in the Park until the 10th.

“Brigadoon” centers on the improbable love story of an American visitor to the Highlands of Scotland and a beautiful local lass. What sets this musical apart from so many today is the beautiful romantic score.  Some songs have become American standards, including “The Heather on the Hill,” “Come to Me, Bend to Me” and the widely recorded “It’s Almost Like Being in Love.” It was Lerner and Loewe’s first big hit, followed  by the blockbuster musicals  “My Fair Lady,” “Camelot,” and  “Gigi.”

The Trilogy production is beautifully directed by company veteran, and president,  Jaye Barre, with music direction by Joseph Lesky, and choreography by Jill Karolina Cookingham.  Ms. Barre has assembled a particularly fine cast; led by David Rittenhouse, Joseph Schmidt, Jessica Albano, Claire Dempsey, Owen McKenna and Bridget Lynn .

The plot:  Two Americans, Tommy Albright (David Rittenhouse) and Jeff Douglas (Joseph Schmidt), are on a hunting holiday in Scotland, when they get lost in a dense forest. They come upon a village not on the map. There, they meet the kind and friendly residents of Brigadoon including the beautiful Fiona MacLaren (Jessica Albano). It is love at first sight between Fiona and this strange man from America, Tommy.  Fiona’s friend Meg (Claire Dempsey) is also very interested in Jeff, though that attraction is a bit less reciprocated. Fiona asks Tommy to accompany her to her younger sister Jean’s (Bridget Lynn) wedding to local boy Charlie Dalrymple (Owen McKenna). There, Tommy is introduced to Fiona’s father Andrew (Chuck Pisano) and enjoys the lively festivities with the people of the village. However, things take a dramatic turn when Harry Beaton (Tim Amalfitano) strikes out angrily, frustrated that Jean, the woman he loves, has chosen someone else. He threatens to leave Brigadoon, which seems to terrify everyone. When Tommy asks why the town fears someone leaving, Fiona takes him to the mysterious Mr. Lundie (Bob Vaias), who explains the magical secret of Brigadoon.  Tommy has an impossible choice: remain in Brigadoon with Fiona or return to his life in New York where he is engaged to be married to Jane Ashton (Caroline McKenna). His choice? See the play!

“Brigadoon” premiered on Broadway in 1947 and ran for over 500 performances. It was adapted into a successful movie in 1954, starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, and an Emmy winning television special version in 1966 starring Robert Goulet and Peter Falk.  The idea actually comes from a German folk tale, but in 1947, just two years after the defeat of  Nazi Germany, the setting was moved to Scotland.

The leads are all fine voiced, with Jessica Albano giving a standout performance as Fiona. She is a fine actress (excellent Scottish ‘burr’) with a  gorgeous  superior voice.  David Rittenhouse nicely plays the conflicted Tommy. He has several beautiful duets  with  Jessica Albano, with the now classic “Amost Like Being In Love” being an audience favorite. (Photo above right)
In regard to the Scottish accent, the players are surprisingly spot-on. (Side note: There is no one accent, it varies throughout the country, e.g. Glasgow has a somewhat crude, harsh accent, whereas the Capital of Edinburgh has a softer, gentle, refined accent).

Claire Dempsey is excellent as Meg. She impressively nails her musical numbers; “Love of My Life” and “My Mother’s Wedding Day.” Owen McKenna is a handsome, kilt wearing Charlie. He also nails his big number “I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean.” Bridget Lynn as the bride, Jean has several winning dance numbers (Top photo center with Owen McKenna).
The ensemble includes: Nicole Aulicino, Nancy Bart, Caitlyn Costello, Steven Fulda, Paige Hann, Harry Hess, Melissa Johnson, Emma Marsters, Kristie McGrath, Germaine McGrath, Glenston Miranda, Jason Procaccini, Kaitlyn Reiser, Jaidyn Riley, Jeslyn Wheeless, and Caila Yarwood.
The fine production crew includes; stage manager McKenna Moore; lighting Michael Wolff; sound Chris Wolff; costumes Kathleen Dempsey and Beth Berger.
In regard to the new Fellowship Cultural Arts Center, we look forward to the other productions set for this first season. The Trilogy group returns in September with “The Fantastiks,” The Centenary Stage Company’s wonderful comedy “Nunsense” will play in October (read our review); the NJ Ballet perform in November.  The New Jersey Festival Orchestra will ring in the new year on January 1st with a celebration of Broadway classics.  Come February, the critically acclaimed Light Opera of New Jersey will present the comic operetta  “Die Fledermaus.” This a much needed addition to the performing venues in the greater Basking Ridge, Bernardsville, Far Hills area. Note: It is open to all, with free parking, and two on-site restaurants.
   Reviewed by Rick Busciglio  July 28, 2019 

Here are a few photos of the new theatre:

The Theater Project celebrates 25th anniversary with casino night

Help us celebrate 25 years of presenting thought-provoking plays, original work, and even an occasional classic.
Your ticket for the event includes: 
  • buffet dinner 
  • betting chips for the table games
  • many chances to win prizes.

A cash bar will be available.

Tickets: $75 per person until September 6 when the price increases to $85 -- buy early!

TICKETS: TheTheaterProject.orgSaturday, October 5th, Noon to 4:00 PM

Galloping Hill Caterers, 
1085 Galloping Hill Rd, Union, NJ 07083

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Jazz Italiano: Neapolitan Folk Jazz kicks off JCTC’s Voices: International Theater Festival

With its renowned  propensity for multi-genre series, Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) kicks off New Jersey’s first annual, international theater festival with Jazz Italiano, an intimate, black-box theater  concert by IDR_Italian Doc Remix, the internationally acclaimed ensemble known for its vibrant combination of cutting-edge jazz improvisations and traditional Neapolitan folk music. Jazz Italiano takes place Thursday, August 22nd at Merseles Studios, 339 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, N.J. 07302.

Jazz Italiano kicks off Voices: International Theater Festival, JCTC’s new series presenting exclusive performances from around the world. Upcoming shows include Watch Now (9/26)  a dance performance from Slovakia; The Truth (9/27), a theater production from Poland, and La Caja, a multimedia, physical theater production by Los Escultores del Aire, an internationally touring theater company based in Spain. All Voices performances will be held at Merseles Studios.

Jazz Italiano is the New Jersey debut for IDR_Italian Doc Remix, whose music might more accurately be called Italian Folk Jazz. IDR_Italian Doc Remix  reworks the Neapolitan folk tradition, music that has been passed down from generation to generation and played at local festivals, rituals and familial gatherings. IDR, an ensemble of Italian-born musicians alongside some of the best players on the contemporary NYC live music scene, reimagines this centuries-old tradition using the improvisational structures and free-from creativity of modern Jazz. 

IDR_Italian Doc Remix is proud to present its repertoire in Jersey City, whose multicultural environment - with a strong Italian presence - can potentially be the perfect audience for our music,” said Marco Cappelli, IDR guitarist and founder. “We hope to get a lot of people coming to our concert and would like to meet all of them.”

IDR_Italian Doc Remix was formed in 2008 by Cappelli and Jim Pugliese, drums wizard and IDR co-leader, a veteran of the New York avant-garde music scene, who has played with the likes of Philip Glass and John Zorn.  Cappelli, who was born in Naples and now makes his home in Brooklynn, is known as sideman, soloist and band leader and has played in an array of venues, ranging from The Stone and the Blue Note Jazz Club to the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, His extensive touring career has spanned Europe, Asia and North America and has included some of the most prestigious international jazz and contemporary music festivals. He has composed scores for film, theater and dance, working with such renowned musicians, as  Marc Ribot, Elliott Sharp and Adam Rudolph  as well as with film director Leonardo Di Costanzo and choreographer Young Soon Kim and his White Wave Dance Company. Cappelli also completed an artist residency at The Stone, the prestigious experimental and avant-garde music program directed by John Zorn.

IDR vocals at Jazz Italiano will be handled by Francesco Pellegrino, a child singing sensation in his native Campania and alumni of Milan’s illustrious Teatro alla Scala. Now based in Toronto, Pellegrino is also famous for his critically acclaimed trio, Vesuvius Ensemble, dedicated to the preservation and celebration of authentic Neapolitan and southern Italian music. 
The IDR Jazz Italiano Line up also features Doug Wieselman/Clarinet; Ken Filiano/ Double Bass / Jim Pugliese/Drums. 

“JCTC is proud to begin Voices: International Theater Festival with Jazz Italiano and the wonderful music of IDR_Italian Doc Remix,” said Olga Levina, Artistic Director, JCTC. “We can learn about other cultures through art, and the more we know about other cultures, the better we can understand our own. Voices not only exposes audiences to music, theater and dance from other cultures, but encourages the exchange of ideas by inspiring conversations.” 

Thursday/August  22
Doors: 7:30/ Show: 8:00
 Tickets: $20

($15/ Student and Senior Discount – must show valid ID)

To purchase tickets visit:

Jersey City Theater Center
Merseles Studios
339 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 795-5386

Photo Caption: JAZZ ITALIANO at Merseles Studios in Jersey City is the New Jersey debut for IDR (Italian Doc Remix), an internationally acclaimed ensemble known for its vibrant combination of cutting-edge jazz improvisations and traditional Neapolitan folk music 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' at Princeton Summer Theater

When Princeton University graduate and Yale MFA candidate Maeli Goren was rereading A Midsummer Night’s Dream earlier this year, a piece of text stood out to her that never had before: a speech by Titania, the queen of the fairies, in which she speaks of “[t]he spring, the summer, / The childing autumn, angry winter change / Their wonted liveries, and the maz├Ęd world, / By their increase, now knows not which is which”—in other words, a world plunged into chaos by a changing climate. Suddenly, one of Shakespeare’s most-produced plays had become unusually timely.

After years of seeing productions set in “idyllic forests,” Goren became interested in exploring what might happen to the play if “the creatures of the forests, whether human or fairy, in their own squabbles amongst each other and their own disagreements and their. . .self-serving behavior may have caused the environment to. . .tump over itself.”

For Goren, Princeton Summer Theater was an exciting place to find out. Midsummer will be her third mainstage production with the company (she previously directed The Children’s Hour in 2018 and Metamorphoses in 2015), and it has given her the opportunity to continue her collaborations with many PST stalwarts, including Ross Baron, Maeve Brady, and Allison Spann.

The eight-member cast will also include PST Company Members Justin Ramos, Dylan Blau Edelstein, Michael Rosas, and Chamari White-Mink, and introduces first-time PST performer Regan McCall.

So, what does a Midsummer with an emphasis on environmental themes look like? Well, just like Athenian maiden Helena to the newly-enchanted Lysander and Demetrius, it appears both exactly the same and indelibly altered. The play’s witty humor is given new urgency by the crisis brewing in the background, with an assist from a talented production team; puppets by designer Toria Sterling re-energize the plot’s misbegotten affections, costumes by Jules Peiperl use plastic and other unconventional materials to consider the effect of humans on the environment, original music by cast member Allison Spann gives the piece a rhythmic heartbeat, and an innovative scenic design by Jeff Van Velsor puts the audience onstage for PST’s first-ever production in the round.

In the words of costume designer Jules Peiperl, it’s a “strange, fantastical, punchy, Where the Wild Things Are, Wizard of Oz. . .Midsummer” that, at just 75 minutes, is a spectacular end (or beginning!) to an evening of summer fun in Princeton.

The company will also continue performances of Puck’s Midsummer Mischief, an original children’s play based on the events and characters of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, on Fridays and Saturdays at 11 am through August 3rd on the Hamilton Murray stage.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Maeli Goren. Performances will be held at the Hamilton Murray Theater on July 25, 26, 27, 31 and August 1, 2, 3 at 8 pm and July 27 and 28 and August 3 and 4 at 2 pm. $29.50 General Admission, $24.50 Student and Matinee Tickets. For tickets and more information, call (732) 997-0205 or visit