Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Newly opened The Loft


WHEN: Thursday, October 18

Paper Mill Playhouse and the company of The Color Purple support “Spirit Day 2018” in the video clip below.  This year’s Spirit Day is a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Pledging to "go purple" on Spirit Day is a way for everyone to visibly show solidarity with LGBTQ youth and to take part in the largest, most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world.



Paper Mill Playhouse, recipient of the  Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2016, is currently showing The Color Purple, directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle. The Color Purple is a Tony Award-winning revival based upon the novel written by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros./Amblin Entertainment motion picture with a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.

Cast members from the 2015 Broadway revival lead the Paper Mill Playhouse company, including Adrianna Hicks (Aladdin, Sister Act - Germany) as Celie, Carla R. Stewart (Ghost - National Tour, Rent - Regional) as Shug Avery and Carrie Compere (Holler If You Hear Me, Shrek the Musical - National Tour) as Sofia.

The Color Purple runs through October 21, 2018. 

Tickets available at

Reminder: Do You Have Your Halloween Costume Set?

Photo credits: Avery Brunkus, 2014.


by Ruth Ross

To (badly) paraphrase Tolstoy, “Happy families keep secrets. Unhappy families keep secrets so shocking that their divulgence could ruin images, reputations, relationships and—even worse—the way we view ourselves.”

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, shoes, living room, table and indoor

One such family, the Wyeths, is the focus of Jon Robin Baitz’s modern drawing room drama now onstage at the Chatham Players, whose carefully curated lives are about to blown apart. Daughter Brooke has returned to her parents’ home in Palm Springs, California, after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her brother and her aunt. The problem? Brooke has brought with her a draft of what turns out to be a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family's history—a wound they don't want reopened: the suicide of her late brother Henry, who had been involved with the radical underground subculture in Venice, CA and a horrific incident resulting from their advocacy. In effect, Brooke draws a line in the sand and dares them all to cross it. (Above L-R: Lynn Langone, Adriana Spizuoco, David Romankov, Terri Sturdevant, Scott Tyler)

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, people standing and indoorUnder Jonathan Wierzbicki’s taut direction, the layers of secrecy are peeled away bit by bit until a stunning confession is made in the play’s final scenes. For one thing, Polly and Lyman Wyeth are Reagan Republicans so fervent that photos of Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra and Barry Goldwater share the fireplace mantel with those of family. That their oldest child was involved in the bombing of a military recruitment center that killed a custodian rocked their world, so much so that many of their friends abandoned them. In addition, Brooke’s crippling depression and own suicide attempt, not to mention a failed marriage, have led her to believe that writing such a memoir is vital to her recovery and her family, whether they approve of it or not. Too, Polly’s Jewish background has been hushed up, and her sister Silda Graumart (Sturdevant, above, with Tyler) is a liberal alcoholic recently released from rehab who has helped Brooke write her book. The only family member who appears to have no secrets is son Trip, the creator and producer of a successful reality courtroom television show; trying to remain cheerful in the face of disaster, he attempts to broker peace between Brooke and her parents.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting and beardThe quintet of actors assembled by Wierzbicki is more than up to tackling Baitz’s riveting script. In what I believe is one of her finest performances, Lynn Langone (left, with David Romankov; Terri Sturdevant in background) is disapproving and cruel as the brittle Polly, determined to retain her place in Republican society. She maintains this demeanor until the final scenes, when she finally throws away pretense to reveal a woman who has suffered mightily and continues to do so. David Romankov’s Lyman is more loving toward his offspring, his sadness at losing a son more evident early in the play. GOP chair and former film actor (cowboys, police procedurals, much in the vein of Ronald Reagan), he sustains an almost noble stoicism in the face of adversity.

Image may contain: 2 people, people sittingScott Tyler (right) as Trip bounces around the Roy Pancirov’s sleek set like a tennis ball, trying to deflect the conversation from dangerous subjects. He clearly loves his sister and his parents, even though the latter (especially his mother) think he’s wasting his time and talent on a reality television show. And Terri Sturdevant has a grand time playing Silda, drunkenly careening around the living room, spouting Yiddish terms just to annoy Polly and sticking up for her beleaguered niece. Beneath her wisecracks is a woman at odds with her sister’s political views, sad that their one-time writing partnership dissolved over diverging ideals yet a bit gleeful to use Brooke to get back a bit of her own.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, beard, table and indoorAdriana Spizuoco (left, with Romankov) is wonderful as Brooke, the central character around whom the conflict swirls. Her angst is convincing, her sparring with her sibling natural and her reactions to her mother very believable. The loss of Henry, her best friend, is the root of her depression; in her dogged desperation to learn the truth, she’s unmindful of the others’ feelings, pushing them until the secret is revealed. She’s an actor to watch.

In his Director’s Notes, Wierzbicki notes that Baitz’s conflicted characters are “lovingly cruel, depressingly hopeful, happily woeful,” and I second that observation. The actors onstage feel like a real family. When the lights go down, we have confidence that, once the truth is out, they’ll come to terms with their grief and be more understanding of each other.

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, Other Desert Cities is a worthy addition to the more cutting edge plays the Chatham Players have presented over the past 20 years. This community theater once again proves that there are dramatic “gems” in the suburbs of New Jersey. Attracting superb actors, they remind us that we don’t have to pay hefty tolls and parking fees to enjoy top-quality theater. Don’t miss this production.

Other Desert Cities will be performed at the Chatham Playhouse, 23 N. Passaic Ave., Chatham, through October 20. For information and tickets, call the box office at 973.763.7363 or visit online.

Photos by Howard Fischer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


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WHEN: Friday, October 19, at 7:30 p.m.
Grace Episcopal Church, 4 Madison Avenue, Madison
ADMISSION: Admission is by freewill donation at the door, and a reception follows.
For more information about Grace Community Music call 973-377-0106 or visit

This eclectic concert has something for everyone. Versatile musician Max Morden will be joined by his trio, John Prioi, and Anders Bostrom, performing on a variety of trumpets, flutes, pianos, synthesizers, guitars & vocals, in a fusion of jazz, pop, rock, Broadway, movies and beyond, from Miles Davis, Al Jarreau, Chick Corea, to The Beatles.

Max Morden is a musician noted for his abilities to cross genres He has been heard in a variety of groups from orchestras to Broadway, and has performed with numerous artists such as Dave Brubeck, Wycliffe Gordon, Joe Locke, Billy Drummond, Rob Paparozzi, Wyclef Jean, Little Steven, Max Weinberg, Gloria Gaynor, and Bernard Purdie. Much of his professional performance is as the principal soloist for numerous churches. He serves as principal trumpet for Oratorio Society of New Jersey and Bergen Sinfonia, is trumpeter for Chico Mendoza Latin Jazztet, Cubano Be Cubano Bop, leads a trio called Max’d Out, and is principal cornet for Gramercy Brass. His work with rocker Glen Burtnik includes arranging for horns and strings, soloist, guitar, voice, and leading the horn section Glen calls the Maximum Horns. He frequently finds himself as a guest soloist with the world-renowned Celtic group Cherish the Ladies, and as conductor for an all-star big band comprised of members of the Lincoln Center, Duke Ellington, Vanguard, and Count Basie jazz orchestras. As a composer and arranger, many of his works have been published and featured on recordings, in schools, churches, bands, choirs, and for artists like Allen Vizzutti, Steve Turre, Canadian Brass, New York Philharmonic Brass, Dena DeRose, Dave Brubeck, and Scott Mendoker. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Eastern Michigan University, a Masters in Jazz/Commercial Music Performance from Manhattan School of Music, and Doctoral studies in classical performance from Rutgers University. Max has a dog named Zep, a cat named Ginger, a son named Matthew, a daughter named Amanda, and a wife named Robyn.

Anders Bostrom started his flute studies in Sweden at the age of 12. After finishing his studies at the music high school, Sodra-Latin in Stockholm, he recorded an album with the Swedish group, Sonant Space, on Caprice records. Further studies, at the Royal Academy in Stockholm in the jazz instrumental program, led to a desire for a higher level of jazz education and subsequently a transfer to Berklee College of Music, in Boston. At Berklee College of Music, Anders performed with a student group at the Norwegian Floating Jazz Festival with Gary Burton. While still in Boston, Anders won the Down Beat College Jazz Instrumentalist award and recorded with Ahmad Monsour, Sergio Brandao and Manga-Rosa, Jonatha Brook and the Story, Brian Ales and three albums with the world music group, Full Circle, on CBS records. After finishing his studies in Boston where he studied with Charlie Banacos and Jerry Bergonzi, Anders moved to New York City. In New York, Anders got to play, record, and tour with conga legend, Giovanni Hidalgo, along with other well-known jazz leaders: Walt Weiskopf, Donny McCaslin, and Roberta Picket. He additionally played with McCoy Tyner’s Latin band as a sub for David Valentin. Anders has appeared as a sideman on some 40+ albums and has for the last 20 years been playing on Broadway, where his extensive use of ethnic flutes has landed him positions in shows such as Shrek the Musical, Tarzan, Amazing Grace, and a 20 year continuing substitute at The Lion King.

John Priori, keyboards, received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Manhattan School Of Music. While living in New York City, he performed with many different groups until finally forming his own trio called Two Plus One. The group played in and around the New York area for seven years, including performances for numerous East River dinner cruises. Mr. Priori has played with such artists as Lionel Hampton, Sal Salvador, Curtis Fuller, Jon Faddis, Lenny Pickett, Randy Brecker and Frank Foster. He is in his 13th year of teaching at Valleyview School in Denville, NJ, continues to teach privately after school, and remains an active freelance performer with a variety of groups. Mr. Priori also enjoys his work accompanying concerts for Gateway to the Arts located in Boonton, NJ and as Musical Director for the Watching School in Montclair.

Free Centenary University Lecture: “Theatrical Make-up for Novice Halloween Face Painting Artists to Aspiring Performers”


WHEN:  Monday, October 22, 7 PM
Rutherfurd Hall, 1686 Route 517, Allamuchy

Monday, October 15, 2018


by Ruth Ross

Image may contain: one or more people and textUnfolding in the same playing space, the double dramatic arcs of Pirira, by J. Stephen Brantley, make for a challenging, yet ultimately satisfying, 70 minutes of theater—challenging for the writer, challenging for the performers and challenging for the audience. The title, a Malawi name meaning “endurance or perseverance,” is apt for the regional première of this, Luna Stage’s first offering of the season and Ari Laura Kreith’s inaugural production as the theater’s new Artistic Director.

Inspired by Brantley’s experiences as a writer for Madonna’s nongovernmental organization Raising Malawi, Pirira explores the challenges of international aid across interpersonal borders and asks how we can bridge seemingly impossible divides. “Bringing this play to Luna allows us to frame our first season as a series of powerful cross-cultural conversations about central issues that affect us all,” said Kreith. Indeed, the tribal politics so rampant today in this country makes it “useful to look beyond…both our national boundaries and our personal biases to consider how our choices can impact people, for good or bad, in far-off places,” she continued.

Photo Flash: FIrst Look at the NJ Premiere of PIRIRA

In the Malawian city of Lilongwe on July 20, 2011, American aid worker Jack and MBA auditor Ericka are forced to take shelter in the storage room of Jack’s struggling NGO as a government-incited riot against protesters rages outside. Concomitantly, in the workroom of a Manhattan florist, Malawian college student Gilbert and his gay coworker Chad begin another day. The problems of clean water, girls’ education, HIV/AIDs, homophobia, gender-based violence and personal responsibility link the lives of these four young people, as the action ping-pongs back and forth between their situations. (Above: Naja Selby-Morton and John P. Keller)

Playwright Brantley is to be commended for a literate script filled with natural-sounding dialogue that reveals his characters’ inner natures and anxieties, so that what could be considered talky enlightens us and makes us care about these four individuals. Kudos to Director Kreith who has choreographed the quartet’s movement around the black box theater’s intimate playing space. Kreith has experience with Pirira, having directed it in 2013 at Theatre 167, her previous gig; the play then transferred to Off-Broadway where it won the New York Innovative Theater Award for Best Premiere of a Play.

The four actors exhibit great chemistry, most evident when they are disagreeing with each other. John P. Keller’s Jack exudes a sad earnestness stemming from the tragic loss of his daughter and his failure to achieve the NGO’s hoped-for results: providing water for Malawians and educating girls. A sense of resignation hangs about him like a cloak, yet he perseveres. In contrast, Naja Selby-Morton’s Ericka is wound as tight as a clock, brittle and a bit of a know-it-all, even if she has just recently arrived. Her upper middle-class upbringing—private school and Columbia University—have not prepared her for the realities on the ground in Malawi, and she fights fiercely against what she sees as failures of the aid program. The bombshell she drops all but stops the plot’s thread in its tracks and links it to what is going on in America (and all over the world) today vis à vis gender politics.

Photo Flash: FIrst Look at the NJ Premiere of PIRIRA

The two young men in Manhattan, Gilbert and Chad, have nothing in common, so it first appears, other than working for the same florist. Gilbert, played by Kevis Hillocks (left) with shy gravity and a credible Malawian accent, is more closed off, clearly a stranger in a strange land, seeking a college degree in hospitality so he can open a nightclub in Malawi while working several jobs to send money home to his family. Hillock’s regal demeanor and quiet strength make him an actor to watch.

His coworker Chad, portrayed by David Gow (below), is an outspoken homosexual haunted by the murder of his boyfriend by a homophobic mob in Washington DC when Chad was a Georgetown University student. Photo Flash: FIrst Look at the NJ Premiere of PIRIRAHis incessant questioning of Gilbert is, to be sure, cringe worthy, but his sunny disposition is winning. Freer with body language than Hillock’s Gilbert, Gow sashays around the stage, eats a Ring-Ding fastidiously and sprays water on his underarms. It was difficult to take one’s eyes off him.

Over the course of the play, these four dynamic characters learn about others—and themselves. Gilbert gets to know Chad and feel sympathy for his loss, despite what his Bible-quoting pastor back in Malawi has told him about homosexuality. And through a revelation linking her to a little Malawian girl, privileged Ericka comes to appreciate what Jack has been trying so valiantly to do. “No, we are not the same, but I am sorry for your loss,” Gilbert tells Chad, beautifully communicating the empathy that can bridge cultural divides.

Photo Flash: FIrst Look at the NJ Premiere of PIRIRAOne of the delights of Brantley’s script are the places where the two plots intersect. The audience’s physical, emotional and psychological recognition binds the characters and awakens us to how much we share as human beings, despite our differences of color, culture, class, sexual orientation and political ideals.

Tautly plotted Pirira questions how and why we stand up to injustice and inequality at home and abroad. What could be preachy is rendered dramatically involving. Given Luna Stage’s mission to develop and produce thought-provoking theater, it is a worthy production to begin a new season under a new artistic director. While the action may seem challenging to follow at first, you will feel rewarded by the time the lights go down.

Pirira will be performed at Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange, Thursday through Sunday from October 4 to 28. For tickets and more information, call the box office at 973.395.5551 or visit online.

Note: The play contains some raw language and adult situations. Also, sitting in the upper rows of the theater will prevent your looking from side to side as if at a tennis match.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


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Haiti en Couleur
The Many Facets of Haitian Art Through the Eyes and Experiences of Ayitistik

WHEN: The exhibit will be on display through Sunday, October 28. The galleries will be open one hour prior to Luna Stage performances (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30pm - 8:00pm and Sundays from 2:00-3:30pm) and by appointment
: West Orange Arts Center at 551 Valley Road, and at Gallery Pink (directly above Luna Stage), West Orange

The West Orange Arts Council, together with Gallery Pink, will host Haiti en Couleur, an art exhibit of the artists from the group AYITISTIK: Mona Coichy Haigler, Jean Richard Coachy, Jean P. Blaise, Jerry M.C. Georges, Marc A. Gaston, and Jean C. Dominique.

The exhibit is intended to give the viewer a taste of the many facets of Haitian art through the eyes and experiences of the artists. One of the missions of Ayitistik is to promote Haitian art and artists locally nationally and abroad through exhibition of its member's work and maintain an active, viable art presence in the community. "Our land is one of vibrancy or 'Joie de vivre.'  We're happy to be alive and through all of our adversities, and are a happy and proud people," said  Jean C, Dominique, of AYITISTIK. The exhibit is a prelude to the group's annual exhibit "Haiti: 1-12-2010, We Remember"  to be held this winter at Caldwell University commemorating the catastrophic earthquake the country experienced.

For more information about the event visit or email and

The West Orange Arts Council was established in 1998 to cultivate, inspire, and support the arts in West Orange. Area artists and community leaders remain the core of this all-volunteer organization that operates the West Orange Arts Center gallery and gift shop at 551 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ. 

Welcome to the West Orange Arts Center! is this year’s exciting year-long celebration of the arts, representing various artists, workshops, exhibits, and activities strives to enhance the lives of the residents of the Township of West Orange and neighboring communities.



Evan Stuart Marshall: Weird Essex County

WHEN: Monday, Oct. 15, to Friday, Nov. 23. A reception will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27. The exhibit is available for viewing during regular library hours, which are Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Roseland Public Library, 20 Roseland Ave., Roseland
ADMISSION: The exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public.

Marshall stated, “I’ve lived in Essex County for many years and am fascinated with its history, especially of the ‘weirder’ places like Overbrook Asylum, Kip’s Castle and the Walter Kidde Dinosaur Park. It seemed only natural to feature these places in my new series of paintings.”

WOW (Words Open Worlds) Begins on Thursday, October 18

2018 Words Open Worlds Speaker Series 

WHEN: October 18th, with a cocktail reception.  The program begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by an opportunity to meet the speaker at 7:30 p.m. 
Rutherfurd Hall, 1686 Route 517, Allamuchy
TICKETS: $25 per program
Click Here for Tickets or to Sponsor

SPEAKER: Patricia Teffenhart, MPA Executive Director NJCASA,  New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Continued by popular demand is the WOW series with a new name and look—WORDS OPEN WORLDS.

Rutherfurd Hall and Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Warren County (DASAAC) will host the second installment of this season's WORDS OPEN WORLDS speaker series. Patricia Teffenhart, MPA, Executive Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) will speak about legislation, #MeToo, and public outcry for change.

The new-for-2018 Rutherfurd Hall/DAASAC speaker series is designed to inspire change.  The featured speakers will share stories that exemplify courage, creativity, and action. Although the topics may be especially sensitive, they are informative for both women and men and appropriate for audiences as 5th grade and older.



AUDITIONS: Open Auditions for "Biloxi Blues," Neil Simon's autobiographical comedy about a young Army recruit in 1943 in a boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi.

WHEN: Thursday, October 25, and Sunday, October 28, at 7 pm.  Callbacks TBD.
Somerset Valley Playhouse, 689 Amwell Road (Rte 514), Hillsborough

SHOW DATES:  January 25 - February 10, 2019

Director Todd Bennington is looking for:

  • 7 MALES (Ages 20s-50s)
  • 2 FEMALES (Ages 20s-40s)

Complete character breakdowns can be found on the Audition page of the SVP website, at

SPECIAL NOTE FOR AUDITIONERS: Actors playing the soldiers must have some physical stamina and also be comfortable performing scenes in just underwear and tee shirts.


Linda LevittFaces in Thread and Oil
the artistic creations of Linda Levitt of Livingston

WHEN: weekdays through November 5
: B’nai Jeshurun, 1025 South Orange Ave, Short Hills

Linda combines the art of oil painting with sewing to produce three dimensional and free standing artworks. “It is an arduous process that I am completely in love with - the sewing machine becomes the brush,” said Levitt.  Many of her works are in private collections.

For 25 years, she owned Dining In, a retail store in Livingston which specialized in everything for the dining room, including silk flower arrangements for the dining table and fresh flowers for weddings and large parties. 

Her many-faceted career has taken her on a fulfilling journey including creative cooking, home design and fabric dyeing, as well as painting.  

“I realized early on that I loved to make things exciting, different and beautiful,” she said.


NJ Rep presents the National New Play Network rolling world premiere of

Wolf at the Door
by Marisela Treviño Orta

WHEN:  This limited engagement will be presented October 18 - November 18, 2018. Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm; Sundays at 2pm, October 18 thru November 18. A special wine and dessert talk-back with the playwright and director will follow the first preview performance, Thursday, October 18. Opening night with reception is Saturday, October 20 at 8:00 PM.
WHERE: NJ Rep, 179 Broadway in Long Branch
For tickets call 732-229-3166 or click BUY TICKETS.

Inspired by Latino folklore, Wolf at the Door draws upon legend and mythology to tell an archetypal and magical story that navigates dangerous waters. It is about survival and the struggle to find the strength to achieve personal freedom by vanquishing a wolf in sheep’s clothing

Isadora, about to give birth to her first child, finds herself increasingly threatened by her once-charming husband. Only her loyal childhood nurse stands between her and his unpredictable outbursts. One night, an incident leads to the discovery of a strange young woman hiding in the barn. What is her purpose and why is there a pack of howling wolves lying in wait? 

Directed by Daniel Jáquez, Wolf at the Door stars Desiree Pinol, Oscar A. L. Cabrera, Alexandra Lemus and Liz Zazzi.

Due to the adult nature of the play, no one under 17 will be admitted.

Marisela Treviño Orta (Playwright) is working on her grim Latinx fairytale cycle—plays which include The River Bride (2013 National Latino Playwriting Award Co-Winner, 2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival world premiere), Wolf at the Door (2016 Kilroys List), and Alcira. Her other plays include: American Triage (2012 Repertorio Español Nuestras Voces Finalist); Ghost Limb (2017 Brava Theatre world premiere); Heart Shaped Nebula (2012 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Semi-Finalist, 2015 Shotgun Players world premiere); Braided Sorrow (2006 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama, 2008 world premiere at Su Teatro in Denver, CO, 2009 Pen Center USA Literary Award in Drama); and Woman on Fire (2016 Camino Real Productions world premiere).