Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CENTENARY STAGE COMPANY’S YOUNG AUDIENCE SERIES TO PRESENT “IF YOU GIVE A MOOSE A MUFFIN”

MAINmoose  - yas (6)If You Give a Moose a Muffin

WHEN:  Saturday, September 27, at 11 AM 
WHERE: Little Theater on the Campus of Centenary College, Hackettstown
TICKETS: $12.50 dollars for adults and $10 for children.  
Tickets may be purchased on-line at www.centenarystageco.org, at the CSC Box Office in the Lackland Center at 715 Grand Ave. in Hackettstown, or by calling 908.979.0900.  The Box Office is open Monday through Friday 1–5 PM, and two hours prior to performance times.  CSC also has a Box Office open during the main season at 217 Main Street in Hackettstown open Monday through Friday from 3–6 PM.

In this hilarious, music-filled play, a young girl entertains a gregarious moose by giving him a muffin. If a big hungry moose wants a muffin, he’ll surely wan some jam to go with it. So begins the comic complications of an adventure that will delight young audience members! 

If You Give a Moose a Muffin kicks off this season’s Young Audience Series third Saturday Festival presented by the Centenary Stage Company and sponsored by Hackettstown Regional Medical Center. Every third Saturday of the month will feature a different production suitable for ages Pre- K to Adult. The Young Audience Series was developed in collaboration with The Centenary College Theater Department to produce a theater outreach program for neighboring communities and schools. The Young Audience Series educates and entertains young audiences with performances and workshops based on NJ core curriculum standards.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin is also available for tour, bringing the experience of theater right to your own school. Other productions available for tour include If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If you Give a Pig a Pancake and Shake It Up Shakespeare: Magic, Mystery & Mayhem. For more information on the YAS series touring productions contact the Centenary Stage Company Box office at 908.979.0900 or visit www.centenarystageco.org.

The 2014-15 season of performing arts events at the Centenary Stage Company is made possible through the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Shubert Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and CSC sponsors, including Premier Sponsor Heath Village Retirement Community, Silver Sponsors Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, The Holiday Inn in Budd Lake, Fulton Bank, and Centenary Stage Company members and supporters.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NEW MUSICAL ABOUT “LITTLE ROCK” PREMIERES IN TRENTON

Minnie Jean  Soldiers phLITTLE ROCK: AN AMERICAN PLAY
Written and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj

WHEN: October 2-26, Thursday-Saturday @ 8 PM; Sunday @ 3 PM
WHERE:
The Mill Hill Playhouse 205 E. Front Street, Trenton, NJ 08611.  On-street patrolled parking available.
TICKETS: $30-$35 (student and senior rates available)
Tickets may be purchased on line at www.passagetheatre.org or calling 609.392.0766 between 11 AM and 5 PM
Parking and Directions: Please refer to www.passagetheatre.org

Told in music and memory, Little Rock is the courageous story of the nine black students who fought for integration at Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The story hurtles from present to past, tragedy to triumph. They never planned to be change agents, and they didn’t consider themselves heroes. They just wanted to go to school.

“I cannot imagine a better story to tell in Trenton. Trenton actually has a community member living amongst us who was one of the students from the original group who started out for school that first day in 1957. Delois Harris, wife of The Reverend Harris of Galilee Baptist Church, was pointed out to me my first season at Passage 18 years ago,” remembers June Ballinger, Passage’s Artistic Director. "What set the course for the stand the Little Rock students took was a law that had been in existence for over 10 years but was being ignored—Hedgepeth and Williams vs. Board of Education, Trenton, NJ.  The 1944 NJ Supreme Court case was brought to the court by two mothers, Gladys Hedgepeth and Berline Williams, who sued the Trenton Board of Education over racial discrimination against their children…and won.  It was a precursor to the Brown vs. Brown decision that prohibited racial segregation of school systems throughout the United States. But Little Rock Arkansas in 1957, regardless of federal law, did not adhere.” 

Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj will direct the production which features a cast of nine actors hailing from New York and New Jersey. He started Rebel Theater Company in 2003 in New York City, and is currently Producing Artistic Director of that company. Maharaj has made an imprint as a director of very diverse, social and political theater about American history. He has directed regionally, including "The Wiz" and many other plays at Arkansas Rep. He directed George C. Wolfe’s “ A Colored Museum” in New Jersey at the Crossroads Theater. He is the former Associate Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage and Lark Play Development Center and has held artistic residencies with The Public Theatre, Freedom Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Kennedy Center, Crossroads Theatre, Lark Play Development Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and Amas Musical Theatre.

When asked why this story needs to be told now, director Rajendra Maharaj states, I think that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And if you look at our country today, from Sanford, Florida to Ferguson, Missouri, the need for racial equality and tolerance is vital as it was during the Civil Rights Movement. Education is, and will always be, the key to opportunity, access, happiness, and freedom in the United States of America. And Little Rock illuminates that through the eyes of nine children whose simple desire to go to school and follow the law, changed the trajectory of our country forever. Little Rock, at its heart, reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Thoreau, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you imagined.”

Passage Theatre’s mainstage season is made possible in part by the N.J. State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; The Schubert Foundation; The City of Trenton; WIMG 1300; The Curtis McGraw Foundation; PNC Bank; The Garfield Foundation; The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey; Mary G. Roebling Foundation; The Bunbury Company and many individual donations.

LAST CREATIVE GROVE ARTIST MARKET IN JERSEY CITY SEPT. 19

clip_image001

Massive art and music bash for the Last Creative Grove artist market in Jersey City, with Playmusician and a fantastic fusion lineup:

WHERE: Grove Street PATH plaza, Jersey City
WHEN: Sept 19, 3-9 PM

  • 3 PM Matty D
  • 3:50 PM Joe Taylor
  • 4:40 PM Kieran Sullivan
  • 5:30 PM Mark Aaron James with PmJamband
  • 6:30 PM Living in Time Machines
  • 7:30 PM GMJ Groove
  • 8:30 PM Jam Band and finale performance and words by Meredith and Uta

Art installations, lots of metro area artists! live art, paint a car, participatory art happening, performances, the eclectic Urban tribal market place, Creative Grove style!, food, lounge.

Art Bar with DORRIANS and LUCKY 7 BAR, to sip on drinks right there in the middle of the plaza.

  • 4 PM guided meditation with Kevon Inspires
  • 6 PM body sculpting with Pam the Guru.

Stream of consciousness to be part of one last time in JC before we cross the river..

Creative Grove with Playmusician are the instigators of a cultural scene, a life experience, a life style and a movement.

The Creative Grove artist & designer market has fostered a year-round outdoor presence with art and culture since 2009, these weekly artist markets with music, art and local artisan designers and makers have created a ripple effect in the community with activities, markets and events.

The creator of the event is Uta Brauser; the non profit Arts in Action, a public charity for the arts, has produced the events.

Playmusician with Texter Vaid promotes and produces events with live music in the community since 2010, including a biweekly stage at Dorrian's pub at Newport. Playmusician creates visibility for musicians and builds community with cultural programming!

web links: www.creativegrove.org

Event organizer for Sept 19: Arts in Action, Uta Brauser  646.573.7164

FEARLESS PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS A TIMELESS STORY OF SOUTHERN LIFE AND CHILDHOOD IN "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" FOR 9 PERFORMANCES ONLY

Atticus and ScoutTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
a dramatization of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird by Christopher Sergel
Directed by Steve Lemenille
Associate Producer: Jessica Foerst

WHEN: September 19, 20, 26, 27, October 3, 4 at 8:00 PM; September 21, 28, October 5 at 2:00 PM
WHERE:
UCPAC Hamilton Stage in Rahway, NJ
TICKETS:
$25.00.
To order tickets on-line: www.ucpac.org or call 732.499.8226

This timeless tale of the innocence of childhood and the shock of growing up, the drama provides a poignant look at justice and the human spirit, as told through the eyes of a young girl learning the mysteries and realities of adulthood. (Pictured above: Bram Akcay as Atticus and Maddie Barkocy as Scout.)

To Kill a Mockingbird is the only novel by Harper Lee. Born in 1926 in Alabama, Lee's childhood bears many similarities to Scout, the central character of Mockingbird, although it is not autobiographical. Lee drew on her own experience as a young girl in the South to create a rich atmosphere filled with the distinct voices of the people in the town of Maycomb. An intensely private and reserved woman, who rarely makes public appearances, Lee once stated "The novel is a love story pure and simple. My love of the South, a father's love for his children and the love they give in return."

She first approached a publisher in 1957 with a series of short stories, and he recommended that she re-work the manuscript into a novel. The novel was published in 1960. It quickly garnered acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961, making Lee the first woman to win the award since 1942.

The story was turned into a movie in 1962, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and winning numerous awards of its own. Dramatized for the stage in 1970, the play is continuously produced throughout the county, including an annual production in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. The dramatization retained more of the original novel's prose than the movie, which provide rich descriptive elements necessary for the theatrical requirements of live production.

In the cast are Vikki Missulli (Gillette, NJ) as adult Scout, Lauren Sudol (Ridgewood, NJ ) and Maddie Barkocy (Rockaway, NJ) sharing the roles of young Scout, Jacob Lesser (Gillette, NJ) as Jem, Scout's brother, Bram Akcay (Bloomfield, NJ ) as Atticus Finch, Jacob Canderozzi (Jackson, NJ ) as Dill, Scout and Jem's friend, Jenne Carey (Princeton, NJ) as Calpurnia, Russell Ortiz (from Iselin, NJ) as Sheriff Tate, Jim Broderick (Iselin, NJ) as Judge Taylor, Rod Belle (Linden, NJ) as Rev. Sykes, Corinne Chandler (Woodbridge, NJ) as Mayella Ewell, Howard Smith (Oceanport, NJ) as Bob Ewell, Alberta Thompson (Staten Island, NY) as Maudie Atkinson, Beatriz Esteban-Messina (Union City, NJ) as Stephanie Crawford, Jean Kuras (Glen Ridge, NJ) as Mrs. DuBose, Bob Goodwin (Highland Park, NJ) as prosecutor Horace Gilmer, LaMar Giles (Linden, NJ) as Tom Robinson, Michelle Thomas-Hanson (Hackensack, NJ) as Helen Robinson, Mark Douches (Scotch Plains, NJ) as William Cunningham, Mike Burdick (Linden, NJ) as Nathan Radley, Sue Roberts (Edison, NJ) as courtroom spectator.

Steve Lemenille (Clark, NJ), director of To Kill A Mockingbird, as well as Associate Producer Jessica Foerst (Westfield, NJ) also serve on the Advisory Board of Fearless Productions, LLC. Mr. Lemenille and Ms. Foerst serve on the Board of Directors of Westfield Community Players as President and Director of Playbill, respectively.

Brian Remo is the set designer for To Kill A Mockingbird. Mr. Remo is founder and Artistic Director of Fearless Productions, LLC. Mr. Remo also serves as Secretary of Westfield Community Players. Costuming is being done by Kristin Barber, who serves as General Manager of Fearless Productions, LLC. and Shiva Kiani, a member of Fearless Productions. Serving as Stage Manager and Ass't Stage Manager are Kristine Munchkin and Brad Flaker.

Both Mr. Lemenille and Mr. Remo are NJACT Perry Award nominees for Outstanding Directors. Ms. Foerst was a NJACT Perry Award nominee for Outstanding Lighting.

FEARLESS PRODUCTIONS... strives to create entertaining theatrical productions that walk on the very edge of the edge, leap enthusiastically with our hearts on our sleeves, and dare to be daring. We recognize that the responsibility of true art is to firmly grasp the attention of our audience for as long as we are asking for it. We accept this challenge with the courage that only comes with doing exactly what we feel we were born to do... Simply put... Our NAME is our MISSION STATEMENT...

For more information search for Fearless Productions on http://www.fearlessprod.com or contact fearlessprod@yahoo.com

LUNA CHILDREN’S CLASSES BEGIN SATURDAY, SEPT. 20: REGISTER TODAY

Children's Theatre Classes Begin Saturday September 20th!

CLICK HERE to Sign Up Today!

Little Luna
For Children Ages 4-7
WHEN: Saturdays, 10 AM-11 AM
WHERE:
Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange

Creative Drama
For Children Ages 8-10
WHEN: Saturdays, 11 AM-12 PM

Musical Theatre (NEW)
For Children Ages 4-7
WHEN: Saturdays, 11 AM-12 PM

For Children Ages 8-10
WHEN: Saturdays, 10 AM-11 AM

For More Information and Registration, Visit Our Website!

NJFO FEATURES YOONIE HAN ON PIANO @ 2 CONCERTS

EMPIRES FALL
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No.1
Featuring Yoonie Han

HOLST The Planets

WHEN: Saturday, September 20th at 7 PM
WHERE: Ridge Performing Arts Center, Basking Ridge

WHEN: Sunday, September 21st at 4 PM
WHERE: The Presbyterian Church, Westfield


TICKETS: $26 - $75 (Students $13)
BUY TICKETS NOW

"A simply phenomenal player! Absolutely Stunning!.." Helsinki Post

South Korean Pianist Yoonie Han has won top prizes in distinguished international competitions and the highest accolades for her performances in major concert halls around the world. Han made her solo debut at age 13 with the Seoul Philharmonic and since has performed with Berlin Symphoniker, Buffalo Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Houston Philharmonic, Banff Festival Orchestra, and I Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan. To learn more click here...

 

Yoonie's Debut Album

Yoonie Han signed with Steinway in 2012 and has released a full album Love and Longing which features several lush showpieces that show a willingness to move beyond the standard piano chestnuts and think in thematic terms with her programming.

Listen to Yoonie Han perform

LIVINGSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AUDITIONS 2 NIGHTS

image

OPEN AUDITIONS FOR LIVINGSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

WHEN: Tuesday, September 16, 7:30 PM; Tuesday, September 23, 7 PM
WHERE: Livingston High School Orchestra Room, Livingston High School, 30 Robert Harp Drive, Livingston, NJ.

Positions for upper strings, percussion and substitute winds are still available. For more information call 973.980.1809 or visit www.lsonj.org

The Livingston Symphony Orchestra’s begins its 2014-2015 season. Come share in the weekly joy of playing both familiar classical masterpieces and lesser known musical gems with other accomplished musicians from all parts of New Jersey.

In this, the 58th year of the orchestra’s existence, you will have the unique opportunity to work under the direction of five engaging conductors, each vying for the opportunity to become the principal conductor of the orchestra. Along with the group’s current core players, your input will be instrumental in guiding the orchestra’s exciting new direction.

Slated to rehearse and conduct the November 8th season opener is Vermont Philharmonic Director Louis Kosma. A former principal bassist with the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Kosma has submitted a program which includes the Wagner “Rienzi Overture”, “Nissun Dorma” and another piece performed by tenor with orchestra, the Vaughn Williams “Overture for Strings”, and either Dvorak’s Symphony #8 or Howard Hanson’s Symphony #2 (“Romantic”).

Monday, September 15, 2014

THE BAND RAEL TO PERFORM MUSIC OF GENESIS IN BOONTON THIS SATURDAY

Darress Theatre Logo

RAEL
to perform the music of Genesis

WHEN: Saturday, September 20,
8 PM
WHERE:
Darress Theatre, 615 Main Street, Boonton
TICKETS: $20.00

Tickets can be purchased at the box office (973.334.9292) or online through Brown Paper Tickets at: http://rael.brownpapertickets.com

Please check their website for details. (www.darresstheater.com)

NJSDA ENCORE! YOUTH PROJECT TO HOLD AUDITIONS FOR “RENT”

imageAUDITIONS NOTICE: New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts: ENCORE! Youth Project: A Teen/ Young Adult Musical Theater Ensemble

RENT
WHEN: Thursday, September 25 between 6 and 9:30 PM and Saturday, September 27 from 3 – 6 PM
WHERE: New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts, 593 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield NJ.

This musical teen / young adult ensemble will be comprised of 25 intermediate to advanced musical theater teens and young adults (ages 15- 20) who are ready for a professional-level experience. They will be directed by Alex Perez with musical direction by Terri Gorgone.

Mr. Perez is the winner of the Paper Mill Playhouse's Rising Star Award for Best Director and Overall Production in addition to his other 30 Rising Star nominations. Ms. Gorgone is the musical theater director / teacher at the Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing Arts. "We have created a place where musical theater teens and young adults can grow creatively as artists, and as people, and bring it all to the community," said NJSDA Co-Director Beth Baur.

You will be asked to:

  • Sing 32 bars from a musical theater song (please bring sheet music in the correct key)
  • Be prepared for a short dance audition.

Please note that this is a tuition based program.

Rehearsals will be Thursdays from 6:00 to 9:00 PM beginning October 2. There will also be rehearsals on select Sundays.

Performance dates are Friday, January 9 and Saturday, January 10 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, January 11 at 3 PM. The shows will be done at the Westminster Arts Center at Bloomfield College.

The NJ School of Dramatic Arts is a 501(c)3 not for profit educational organization. For more information, please call 973.566.9700 or visit their web site at www.njactors.org.

REVIEW: “ALLERGIST’S WIFE,” AT CTG, STIRS NON-STOP LAUGHTER

Sheila and OreoBy Sheila Abrams

There is not the least doubt that Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, is funny. In the capable hands of director Roseann Ruggiero and the Chester Theatre Group, running through Sept. 28 at the Black River Playhouse, the comedy provoked virtually non-stop laughter Saturday night, the kind of loud and prolonged laughter that one doesn’t hear very often.

What makes this hilarity head-scratching is that the wife in the title, Marjorie Taub, is deeply depressed. An upper-middle-class woman, living in an elegant Riverside Drive apartment, a quick bus ride to the high culture she claims to crave, Marjorie is nonetheless spending her time lying on the couch proclaiming the emptiness of her life. She has recently had an “accident” at a Disney store, where she shattered a number of pricey ceramic figurines, which certainly smacks of serious mental illness.

So why are we laughing? Consider a few more facts. Marjorie has two daughters who live as far away from her, and each other, as they can manage. Her husband, Ira, retired from practice, runs a clinic for homeless people with runny noses, is lionized on WBAI (New York’s progressive noncommercial radio station) and is absorbed by adoring students.

To make Marjorie’s life complete, down the hall lives her mother, Frieda, a geriatric sprite with a knack for graphic descriptions of her digestive system, her choice for mealtime conversations. Admittedly, Frieda is a great source of laughter. And, oddly, we are not laughing at Frieda, but rather with her. Her antics are quite intentional, designed to keep Marjorie off balance.

So what is missing in Marjorie’s life (assuming that neither Schopenhauer nor Kierkegaard is about to surface)? She needs a friend. Enter Lee Green, née Lillian Greenblatt. At the moment she is most needed, she appears at Marjorie’s door, apparently by coincidence, and turns out to be a long-lost childhood pal.

The mayhem Lee causes in the Taub household is varied and colorful. It ranges from culinary to political, existential to sexual. Who and what Lee is, why she is there and, finally, how the Taubs are going to deal with her is the subject of the unfolding of the story. (Left: Lauri MacMillan and Maryann Galife)

Why is this so funny? And it is funny, though at moments it hovers at the edges of bad taste and even strays over the line.

Well, one reason is that all the characters are stereotypes. We are used to this from television sitcoms. Even some of our most successful playwrights (Neil Simon?) have created stereotypical characters, but Busch’s people are way over the top.

We were intrigued to learn that Busch is well-known as a female impersonator who has played some of his own characters in drag. The women in this play, particularly Marjorie but also the toilet-obsessed Frieda and the name-dropping, predatory Lee could all be female impersonators. They are too much to be real.

This could explain why the character of Ira and the other male character, an Iraqi doorman-cum-handiman, are lower key and more realistic.

Ruggiero is superb when it comes to getting super-energetic performances from her actors. Lauri MacMillan is a whirlwind as Marjorie, beautifully turned out in flowing caftans and chic outfits. Marjorie may question her own sanity, but nobody can question her taste—or her credit cards. Maryann Galife Post is absolutely reptilian as Lee. Sharon Moran (top photo) is a natural scene-stealer and she projects physical vulnerability while breaking us up with lines that make us both laugh and cringe. And Rahul Sachdeva, a newcomer to CTG, is completely convincing as Mohammed, the doorman. (Above L-R: Sharon Moran, Maryann Galife Post and Lauri MacMillan)

We have to say, though, that the performance of the night was given by Steven Nitka, a CTG veteran, who is totally believable and also very funny as the low-key (but totally self-satisfied) Ira Taub. Because his performance is so subtle, he makes us believe that the crazy women around him are real. Just a brilliant job!

Negatives? Some might see them as political. Jokes involving the Holocaust are not funny and add nothing to what is otherwise hilarious. It was like enjoying a delicious confection and suddenly biting into something inappropriately bitter. That misstep was clearly by Charles Busch. And somehow, the ending was unsatisfying, the final scene peculiarly unrelated to anything that went before. We think he didn’t know when to stop.

The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife runs through September 28. For information and tickets, call 908.879.7304 or visit www.chestertheatregroup.org online.

Photos by Tom Glasscock.

WATCH A FILM & SEE A REAL MONUMENTS MAN @ THE JCC TOMORROW NIGHT

Monuments Men

Sunday, September 14, 2014

REVIEW: STUNNING “WITTENBERG” ROCKS THE HOUSE @ STNJ

By Ruth Ross

If you have ever wondered what a critic meant when he or she described a production as a tour de force, I suggest you run, do not walk, over to the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison to see one in the flesh. There, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has mounted the dazzling New Jersey premiere of a wickedly clever play about the Protestant Reformation (yes, the Reformation, really) called Wittenberg, penned by David Davalos, and it is a production you won't want to miss. Davalos has likened the University of Wittenberg as akin to Berkeley in the 1960s, "a center for intellectual ferment" and "a certain amount of invention"—a perfect setting for the exhilarating verbal pyrotechnics and war of ideas that play out before our eyes.

STNJ_Wittenberg_8334Over the course of two and a half hours, Davalos manipulates time and space to provocatively debate fate, existence, doubt and belief...and tennis. In this contemporary riff on the "big" questions that have eternally plagued mankind, we find Hamlet, after an eye-opening summer of studying abroad, beginning his senior year at the University of Wittenberg, where he studies with Dr. John Faustus and Martin Luther, indecisively contemplates which major to declare, and plays varsity tennis. That the action occurs just weeks before Luther nails his 95 Theses to the doors of a Wittenberg church, thus rupturing the Catholic Church forever, makes the debate even more hilarious and delicious. Never mind that the philosopher Faustus is a fictional character (as is Hamlet), for the three are fully drawn characters with a great deal to say, all of it witty and much of it familiar. (Above, Anthony Marble as Dr. Faustus regales Jason Coughtry’s Hamlet with his ideas.)

In his 24th season with STNJ, Joe Discher has directed this fast-moving, shape-shifting play with fluidity and style. The characters' words swirl around the auditorium in a mad, madcap assault on one's ears and brain; just as you get one allusion to Hamlet (among other works), you're off chasing another. Far from being confusing, however, the dialogue has a certain familiarity while it plays with meaning.

STNJ_Wittenberg_8322The brilliant cast Discher has assembled delivers these lines with wry humor. Jordan Coughtry's Hamlet (right) is the quintessential collegian, caught up in the intellectual foment around him while worried about an upcoming tennis match with a player named Laertes from the University of Paris. Torn between the theology of Luther and the philosophical pronouncements of Faustus, he has wild nightmares about a bottomless abyss upon whose edge he teeters; Coughtry's recital of his dream is a wonder to behold!

But it is the two actors playing Faustus and Luther who carry the brunt of the action as they struggle for the young man's attention. Anthony Marble (below, left) is excellent as a very contemporary Faustus (he STNJ_Wittenberg_8870plays guitar in a coffeehouse called The Bunghole), a lawyer and physician who dispenses coffee and special candies that contain a drug suspiciously like marijuana as antidotes to Luther's constipation and Hamlet's emotional turmoil. He cavorts around the stage, jumping on benches and tables, a veritable whirlwind of ideas and knowledge. As Luther, Mark H. Dold (right, with Coughtry center) wrestles mightily with his bowels and his faith, while dueling with Faustus over Hamlet's fate. He despairs over the Church's sale of Indulgences, get-out-of-Purgatory passes for sins, to raise money for cathedrals, a protest that eventually got him excommunicated.

STNJ_Wittenberg_8603Rounding out this quartet of talent is Erin Partin (left, with Marble and Coughtry) as the Eternal Feminine. As Helen of Troy, she rejects Faustus' marriage proposal, but allows him to make love to her in a wild scene that accompanies a lecture given by Luther on a Biblical text. She also appears in other female incarnations, all of them different, and all of them comical. The four actors exhibit spot-on comedic timing that keep the quips coming quickly and hilariously.

Brittany Vasta's set smoothly transforms itself from exterior to interior scenes by opening and closing halves that also revolve when pushed by stagehands dressed to match the time and place. Matthew E. Adelson's lighting, Steven L. Beckel's sound (especially appropriate during the uproarious tennis match) and Hugh Hanson's witty costumes are equally superb.

I had the good fortune to attend a reading of Wittenberg last year, followed by a discussion about whether STNJ should consider producing it. That they did is a tribute to their great ability, for the staged production is even better than I could have imagined it! Shape-shifting, time-bending Wittenberg is a true intellectual and artistic tour de force—a stunning success that will keep you talking after you've left the theater. You won't want to miss it.

Wittenberg will be performed at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre on the campus of Drew University, 36 Madison Avenue, Madison through September 28. For information and tickets, call the box office at 973.408.5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org  online.

Photos © Jerry Dalia.