Thursday, July 21, 2016

2-FOR-1 TIX @ PREMIERE STAGES AVAILABLENOW!

ONLY 6 PERFORMANCES LEFT TO SEE “CORIOLANUS” @ STNJ

Shakespeare Theatre Image

Only 6 performances left to see CORIOLANUS, the show The New York Times calls "a resonant production"!

FINAL PERFORMANCES THIS WEEKEND

BUY TICKETS NOW

ShakespeareNJ.org | Box Office (973) 408-5600

"Antaramian and Derelian combine to make two mother-son scenes passionate standouts, underscoring the humanity embroiled in a political and military whirlwind." —The Star-Ledger

"How does STNJ do it, every time? Coriolanus leaves you breathless—riveting live theater at its best."— Blasting News

"Coriolanus offers no solutions to political unrest, but in the hands of Crowe and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, the play offers a stark warning about the delicate balance between divisive politics and chaotic social upheaval."— The Star-Ledger

Coriolanus, William Shakespeare's intense political drama is now running at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison. Performances are as follows:

  • Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday matinees: 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 7:30 p.m.

For tickets, call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit ShakespeareNJ.org

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

CHATHAM PLAYERS TO HOLD AUDITIONS FOR “TALK RADIO”

AUDITION NOTICE:

ImageTALK RADIO
by Eric Bogosian

WHEN: Monday, August 1st and Tuesday, August 2nd at 7:30pm.
WHERE: The Chatham Playhouse 23 North Passaic Ave.

Production dates are September 30 thru October 15, 2016 with rehearsals to begin mid-August. Michael Hegarty directs.

Barry Champlain, Cleveland’s most controversial radio host, is on the air doing what he does best: insulting the pathetic souls who call in the middle of the night to sound off. Tomorrow, Barry's show is going into national syndication and his producer is afraid that Barry will say something that will offend the sponsors. This, of course, makes Barry even more outrageous.

Funny and moving, off beat, outrageous and totally entrancing, Talk Radio had a long run at New York's Public Theatre starring the author, Eric Bogosian. It was adapted into a 1988 film by director Oliver Stone and premiered on Broadway in 2007 with Liev Schreiber as Barry.

"Imagine Lenny Bruce at the height of his notoriety becoming a popular talk show host and you may begin to have an idea of the whiplash intensity and black, hard edged cynicism of Talk Radio." – The New York Times

Director Hegarty seeks eight men / four women to fill out his cast. He asks that you prepare a monologue of your choice or choose one from the show, which can be found on Chatham Players’ website. To access sides of the monologues and the audition form, please visit our website at http://www.chathamplayers.org/auditions.html .

Character Breakdown

Barry Champlain: (30s – 40s) The outspoken, fast-talking, sharp-tongued, chain-smoking, coke-snorting host of “NightTalk.” He is bitter, jaded, prone to violent bursts of emotion, and the added pressure of national syndication only serves to amplify it all. Looking for an actor with an outstanding “radio” voice and the ability to carry a show on his shoulders.

Stu Noonan: (30s – 40s) Barry's long-time friend and operator, he screens callers to the show and puts them through to Barry. In many ways he and Barry are very similar. He’s an ex-DJ. The two of them used to party back in the day. But now Stu’s married with a kid and his friendship and working relationship with Barry have soured over the years.

Linda MacArthur: (20s – 30s): Barry’s assistant producer with benefits. Smart, beautiful, hard-working and dedicated. She always makes sure that Barry has everything he needs to do his show. But Barry isn’t the easiest person to get along with and she is often frustrated by his behavior, both at and away from work.

Dan Woodruff: (30s – 50s) The executive producer of WTLK. A confident, slick, well-dressed businessman. He created the station's all-talk format and also Barry's persona and back-story. The syndication of "NightTalk" is a very big deal for Dan, and he’s not about to let Barry mess things up for him.

Kent: (Character age: 18) A "NightTalk" caller and in-studio guest. Barry is the only one who knows Kent’s call about his overdosing girlfriend is a prank. He’s a typical late-80s metal head or punk rocker who likes to get high and rock out. He worships Barry, and thinks he’s just like him. At first Barry is amused by Kent (or maybe it’s that Kent makes Dan uncomfortable) but it doesn't last long.

Spike: (20s – 30s) WTLK's sound engineer. From his place in his control booth, he is responsible for operating and maintaining all sound and technical equipment for the radio station. Though he doesn’t say much, he is present through the entire show and never leaves the stage.

Sidney Greenberg: (30s – 60s) Host of WTLK's financial show "Your Taxes and You” which airs before “Night Talk.” On the air he doles out financial advice, hardly pausing to let his callers get a word in. Off the air, he spends his time at the track with his operator Bernie. This actor also plays about a half-dozen “Night Talk” callers. Looking for an actor with the talent to create many distinct character voices.

Bernie: (20s – 40s) Sid's operator, who screens calls and puts them through to Sid. He and Sid go to the track together. This actor also plays about a half-dozen “Night Talk” callers. Looking for an actor with the talent to create many distinct character voices.

Dr. Susan Fleming: (30s – 60s) Host of a radio psychology show that airs after “Night Talk.” Smart, confident and compassionate. This actor also plays about a half-dozen “Night Talk” callers. Looking for an actor with the talent to create many distinct character voices.

Rachael: (20s – 40s) Dr. Fleming's operator, who screens calls and puts them through to the Doctor. This actor also plays about a half-dozen “Night Talk” callers. Looking for an actor with the talent to create many distinct character voices.

Additional Roles: Two additional actors to provide caller voices to the radio show.

The Chatham Players have an open call casting policy. ALL roles are open, none are precast, and everyone is encouraged to audition.

Any questions, please call Gus Ibryani at (201)-563-0362 or email casting@chathamplayers.org. For directions or additional information, please visit www.chathamplayers.org

ONE-MAN PLAY TO RECEIVE WORLD PREMIERE IN HOBOKEN

 

LONG GONE DADDY
written and performed by Joseph Gallo

Becoming a father. Being a dad. One man learns the difference (an adult comedy).
In this follow-up to his critically acclaimed Off-Broadway solo play My Italy Story (“…a compelling page turner.”—The New York Times), Mile Square Theatre playwright-in-residence Joseph Gallo checks in with his alter-ego Thomas DaGato—now a reluctant father, fighting for his right to be called Dad.

Tickets are $20
($18/students and seniors)

WHEN: July 20—August 7. Thursday through Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays @ 3pm, Preview performance ($18)
on Wednesday, July 20 @ 8pm

WHERE: Mile Square Theatre, 1400 Clinton Street (and 14th Street)
Hoboken, NJ

 

Long Gone Daddy is recommended for adult audiences.

milesquaretheatre.org

JOSEPH GALLO (Playwright/Thomas DaGato) is the playwright-in-residence at Mile Square Theatre where he developed Long Gone Daddy, which was originally produced in a Salon Tour of homes around Hoboken, NJ. Prior work at MST includes the workshop of his play Two-Man Kidnapping Rule, which was later produced in New York City at the New Ohio Theatre, and published in Smith & Kraus’s anthology 2012 Best Men’s Stage Monologues and Scenes. Other MST productions include: Ya Gotta Believe! in the 5th Annual 7th Inning Stretch; and the extended run of My Italy Story, starring two-time Emmy Award-winner Tom Pelphrey, which transferred to Rutgers University, and later played at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York City.

As a solo writer/performer he appeared in the original production of My Italy Story at Penguin Rep, which later had its debut Off-Broadway at the 47th Street Theatre in New York, starring Danny Mastrogiorgio (“…a compelling page turner.”—The New York Times). Other solo shows include Whizzy and The Jealousy Piece, both of which premiered in the American Living Room festival at HERE. He is also a frequent participant at The Moth in New York City where he is a StorySLAM champion.

He currently serves as Coordinator of Theatre and Film at Hudson County Community College, where he founded and developed the college’s Liberal Arts: Theatre Arts – Associate in the Arts program. Most recently he was named the 2016 recipient of the Lincoln Center Prize for Innovative Teaching in Theatre. Training: MFA in Playwriting, Ohio University.

CHRIS O’CONNOR (Director/MST Artistic Director) Chris is the Founder and Artistic Director of Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken, NJ. He conceived of and produces the annual 10-minute play festival 7th Inning Stretch, which over 10 years time has commissioned and premiered nearly 70 new short plays on the subject of baseball by some of America’s best playwrights. His MST directing credits include Neil Labute’s Squeeze Play, Charlie Peter’s Striking Out the Babe, Warren Leight’s The Love of the Game, and Cyrano; he co-directed The Scams of Scapin, for which he played the title role; Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Core Values, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi, God of Carnage, The Pavilion, and Circle Mirror Transformation.

As an actor, Chris has been associated with Maltz Jupiter Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, The Culture Project, Soho Rep, Hudson Stage Company, 12 Miles West, Franklin Stage Company, the 78th Street Theatre Lab, Target Margin, Gloucester Stage, Book-It Repertory, City Theatre, Provisional Theatre, The Bathhouse, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Zoetic Stage, among others. He originated the role of Peter in Craig Wright’s Pulitzer-nominated play The Pavilion in its world premiere at City Theatre in Pittsburgh. He recently appeared as George in Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s acclaimed production of Billy Elliot the Musical. Recent television appearances include Magic City and Burn Notice. His original plays for young people have been produced at The Seattle Children’s Theatre and in schools in the Puget Sound area. His play The Mascots is published in Smith & Kraus’s 2011 Best 10-Minute Plays and his play Miss Ring Has Lost Her Phone was a finalist in the 2016 City Theatre’s National Award for Short Playwriting. Chris holds a BFA in acting from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MFA in Directing from Rutgers University. He joins the theatre faculty of Molloy College this fall.

 

Mile Square Theatre is supported by CSBK, The Rockefeller Group, Jet.com, Monroe Center for the Arts, Ironstate, Bijou Properties, The Brummette Family, The Kocis Family, Hufnagel Landscaping, Party with Purpose, the Hoboken Family Alliance, and by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY FUNDS FROM THE NEW JERSEY COUNCIL ON THE ARTS/DEPARTMENT OF STATE, A PARTNER AGENCY OF THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS AND BY FUNDS FROM THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS, ADMINISTERED BY THE HUDSON COUNTY OFFICE OF CULTURAL & HERITAGE AFFAIRS, THOMAS A. DEGISE, COUNTY EXECUTIVE, AND THE BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS.

 

PRINCETON SUMMER THEATER's 47th SEASON CONTINUES

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD
by Tom Stoppard

WHEN: July 21-24, and July 28-31 with shows at 8pm Thursday through Saturday, and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays
WHERE:
Hamilton Murray Theater located on Princeton University’s campus.
ADMISSION:
$29.50 for general admission, $24.50 for students and matinees. To order tickets, visit http://www.princetonsummertheater.org/tickets or call the PST box office at 1-732-997-0205.

Praised as Tom Stoppard’s modern tragicomic masterpiece and directed by Annika Bennett (Princeton University Class of 2015), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a wonderfully inventive behind-the-scenes look into Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Told through the worm’s-eye view of the once minor characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Stoppard’s play takes us to a place where reality and illusion intermix. Join the protagonists on an absurdist tale of musings and misadventures as they discover their inevitable fate.

This summer focuses on the theme of the “Other,” as each of the four shows in the 2016 season delves into the other side of a story or character and brings the audience to a deeper understanding of human nature. The theater goers will come away with a souvenir – a new perspective on what was once an old familiarity and an appreciation of the differences in all of us. The season continues with Sam Shepard’s drama Fool For Love in August.

JULY PROGRAMMING @ THE MORRIS MUSEUM FEATURES JAZZ, STUDIO ART

The Morris Museum jumps into summer with a variety of exciting programs and performances for adults. The events include jazz performances by the Full Count Big Band and Dan Levinson; a pastel studio art workshop; and a lecture on Ancient Greece.

Further program and ticket information is available by calling 973.971.3700 or online at morrismuseum.org.

Image result for Plein AirStudio Art Workshop: Plein Air Pastel Painting Workshop
WHEN: Saturday, July 23, 10:00AM–4:00PM
WHERE:
6 Normandy Heights Road (at the corner of Columbia Turnpike) in Morristown, NJ
TUITION: Registration fee: $90 for Museum-members, $100 for Non-members
Ages 16–Adult

Pastel is an exciting medium with seductive color and relatively quick results. Plein air takes you and your pastels outdoors to work on the excellent subject matter of landscape! This workshop welcomes all levels, whether you are learning a new medium, or improving your technique. Beginners encouraged!

dan-levinson-seth-cashman-2Jazz Showcase: Dan Levinson’s Midsummer’s Night Jazz Party
WHEN: Monday, July 25, 8:00PM
TICKETS:
$17 in advance; $20 at the door 

It wouldn’t be summer without Dan Levinson and his friends musically lighting up the night sky. Helping to heat up the evening with cool jazz will be Mike Davis (cornet), Jim Fryer (trombone), Conal Fowkes (piano), Brian Nalepka (bass), Kevin Dorn (drums), and of course the charming, evocative vocal stylings of Molly Ryan.

About the Morris Museum

Founded in 1913, the Morris Museum is an award-winning, community-based arts and cultural institution which serves the public through high caliber exhibitions in the arts, sciences and humanities.  The Museum also offers educational programs, family events, and is home to the Bickford Theatre and its wide range of performing arts offerings. Continuously serving the public since 1913, the Morris Museum has been designated a Major Arts Institution and has received the New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ Citation of Excellence, among other awards. The first museum in New Jersey to be accredited, the Morris Museum was re-accredited in 2013 by the American Alliance of Museums. 

The Morris Museum is a Blue Star Museum, offering free admission to active duty military personnel and their families, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Location & Hours

The Museumis open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00pm. In addition, the Museum is open evenings from 5:00 to 8:00pm on the second and third Thursday of the month. Admission to the Museum is $10 for adults and $7 for children, students and senior citizens. Admission is always free for Museum members.  For more information, call (973) 971-3700, or visit www.morrismuseum.org.

FAMED GEORGE STREET PLAYHOUSE ANNOUNCES 2016-2017 SEASON!

SUBSCRIBE NOW ONLINE OR CALL 732-246-7717

HUDSON SHAKESPEARE COMPANY TOURS WITH SHAKESPEARE’S LOST HISTORY IN JULY

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Shakespeare’s Lost History Romance

Hudson Shakespeare Company returns with the second installment of its 25th annual Shakespeare in the Parks tour with the lost history and romance play “Edward III” written by William Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd coming to parks, libraries in North Jersey and Stratford, Connecticut.

WHEN & WHERE:

  • Thursday, July 21st @ 7pm, Hamilton Park, Jersey City, NJ
  • Tuesday, July 26th @ 7:30pm, Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
  • Wednesday, July 27th @ 7:30pm, Atlantic Street Park, Hackensack, NJ
  • Thursday, July 28th @ 7pm, Van Vorst Park, Jersey City, NJ
  • Saturday, July 30th @ 2pm, Stratford Library, Stratford, CT

ADMISSION: All park and library shows are free, with the public is encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to the outdoor shows and register for the library showings as seating is limited.
For more information call 973-449-7443 or visit www.hudsonshakespeare.com.

Story of the Play
Hudson Shakespeare Company continues the saga of the Plantaganet family which began with last month’s “Richard II” and concluding with “Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 in August, which follows the of downfall of Richard II and the rise of his cousin Henry Bolingbroke and the coming of age of his son Prince Hal. This month the company takes a different twist on the history format and instead flashes back to the story Richard and Henry’s grandfather, the man who started the Plantaganet dynasty Edward III and his son Ned, the Black Prince.

“In typical Shakespeare history play fashion England and France are on the warpath once again but this time we have an intriguing and unexpected love story that thrown into the mix with the swordplay and pageantry and quite a bit of comedy”, said Jon Ciccarelli, the play’s director.

eddie 3Edward III (Ben Forer) is a career warrior king who is interested in pressing his claim to the French throne but also getting even with the snarky and condescending King John of France (Keith Hale) and his equally over the top son Charles (Issac Andrew) for embarrassing him in his own court. As Edward readies his forces along with his wet behind the ears son, Prince Ned (Rhiannon Lattimer), for the invasion of France, a border skirmish diverts the army to protect a strategic castle. What starts out as a minor diversion for King Edward becomes an expected romantic encounter when he meets the bewitching and fiery Countess Catherine of Salisbury (Rachel Matusewicz). The Countess has been holding out against the invading Scottish king but is relieved when the English army comes to her rescue and is equally taken with the dashing king. The mutually attracted pair celebrates the saving of the castle at a rowdy party there’s only one hitch in this promising relationship - both Edward and the Countess are married to other people.

“Love and relationships are hard enough in Shakespeare but it adds an extra wrinkle when you and the person you are attracted to are already married,” jokes Ciccarelli. “Neither Edward or the Countess are bad people but war can place you in strange circumstances and make you explore possibilities that you may not normally entertain and that’s where our star-crossed pair find themselves. Edward and the Countess find a release in each others’ company and their respective spouses are never far from their minds,” Ciccarelli said.

The war eventually calls and Edward heads to France and the attention shifts to the coming of age story of the spunky Black Prince, called so because of his penchant to wear black armor. Much of the play's humor comes from the mustache twirling counterparts in the French King (Keith Hale) and prince (Issac Andrew).

Setting and Lesser Done Play.
Because his play is set a couple of generations earlier than their recent ”Richard II” production which was very colorful and had a very traditional medieval look, the company decided to give the show a more Viking and early medieval feel. “Audiences that joined us for Richard II, will see a completely different look with our Viking ‘Edward III’ but also there are subtle callbacks to that production and our upcoming Henry IV. Each show has its own look but the sharp eyed audience member will be able to pick out the connective tissue,” said Ciccarelli.

“Edward III” follows the Hudson Shakespeare’s long tradition of featuring lesser done Shakespeare plays and even those that may or not be by the Bard. “Edward III” was not included as part of Shakespeare’s First Folio when it was first published in 1623 and was an anonymous and mostly forgotten play for nearly 200 years. In the mid 1700s it was revisited and the scenes with Countess of Salisbury caught scholars’ attention. Stylistic similarities had caused many to attribute at least these sections and sometimes the entire play to Shakespeare but it wasn’t until the 2000s that play won general acceptance into the Complete works. Today “Edward III” is regularly printed in standard collections such as the Arden and Riverside as a collaboration between Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd.

2 FAMED ROCK & ROLLERS TO APPEAR @ MPAC IN MORRISTOWN

Dion DiMucci June 17, 2011Rock and Roll Hall of Famer: Dion
WHEN: Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 8:00 PM

WHERE: Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown
TICKETS: $59 - $99

A street poet and singer of extraordinary versatility, range and resonance, pioneer of rock and roll, Hall of Fame artist Dion defined Rock 'n' Roll for a generation. Enjoy classic hits such as "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer," from this Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer whose music remains creative and relevant through the decades.

LyleLovett_pressAn Evening with Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
WHEN: Monday, August 1, 2016 at 8:00 PM

WHERE: Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown
TICKETS: $59 - $99

Enjoy an evening with legendary artist Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. A singer, composer and actor, Lyle Lovett has broadened the definition of American music in a career that spans 14 albums over three decades. His works, rich and eclectic, are some of the most beloved of any living artist working today. This will be the first time Lovett performs with his Large Band at MPAC!

24 PAINTINGS ON VIEW @ THE KAPLEN JCC IN TENAFLY THROUGH AUGUST 31

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anti-Landscapes
24 Paintings by Win Zibeon

WHEN: July 1 – August 31. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, 9 am - 10 pm; Friday and Sunday, 9 am – 5 pm; closed Saturday and Jewish holidays.
WHERE: 
Waltuch Art Gallery, at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 E. Clinton Avenue, Tenafly, NJ.
ADMISSION: Admission is free and open to the community.
For more information contact Esther Mazor, 201.408.1456 or visit the JCC website at www.jccotp.org.

Win Zibeon is known for his trompe l’oeil paintings that not only fool the eye and create startling Illusions, but illustrate his wry sense of humor and playful ability to visually interpret wordplay. Upon close inspection you will notice that none of his paintings are conventionally framed. He paints the frames he wants to see on his work. In fact one of the works in the exhibition is titled, “Homage to Framers” and most of the painting consists of a very impressive frame. Another, very different, small painting shows a black cat looking out onto a formal landscape which turns out to be Hadrian’s Villa outside Rome, this one is titled, “Cat Scan.”

Win says, “Several themes have surfaced in my paintings. I've been painting in the trompe l'oeil style surreally creating optical illusions. I paint objects with real shadows: perhaps an insect, perhaps water drops. I am successful when my viewer is confused. I enjoy it when birds and insects are fooled and mistake my painting for the real thing. The theme I return to is the changing environment. A sheep is looking at a woman, one of them is in captivity, but which? A beautiful seascape is cracked in two.  A toy is balancing over a Florida swamp. A Hudson River landscape is emerging fully formed out of a paint tube.  If on first glance my paintings look conventional, a closer inspection will tell you that they give a subtle reminder that all is not well in the world of nature.”

Win Zibeon was born in Brooklyn, NY and was one of the first men to attend Hunter College at a time when major New York artists were teaching there. He worked through an abstract phase right through to his present day trompe l’oeil style. He lived in downtown Manhattan for a number of years before moving to his present studio which is a barn in Rockland County, New York. He has won many prizes and is included in collections both in the US and overseas.

Recent group exhibitions include “Current Hues of the Hudson” at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY; “Between Realities” at the Peter Marcelle Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY; “Saints & Sinners” at BAU Gallery, Beacon, NY; “Artists Untamed” at CAS, Livingston Manor, NY; “Trompe L'Oeil, A Major Show” at Francesca Anderson Fine Art, Lexington, MA; “Winners' Show” at East End Arts, Riverhead, NY; “Small Matters of Great Importance: En Route” at The Edward Hopper House Nyack, NY; “Reality Check” at View Arts, Old Forge, NY; “26th Annual Small Works” at The Mikhail Zakin Gallery, Demarest, NJ; “Light and Shadow” at The Edward Hopper House Nyack, NY; “Survey of Regional Artists” Gallery 66, Cold Spring, NY; “Far & Wide” at WAAM, Woodstock, NY; and “Human Impact” at the CCCA Gallery, Hudson, NY. He is currently exhibiting in the “2016 Peto Biennal” at the John F. Peto Museum inIsland Heights, NJ.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

REVIEW: CONFUSING “WATER BY THE SPOONFUL” WELL ACTED, STAGED @ PREMIERE STAGES IN UNION

By Ruth Ross

Under the Artistic Direction of John Wooten, Premiere Stages has, in its 12 years of existence, produced plays that fearlessly tackle such controversial social subjects as physical disabilities, natural disasters, immigration. With so many of them written by young playwrights, often coming out of theater workshops, there is an element of dramatic risk in such productions, many of them stemming from inexperience or a lack of technique.

But with their first production of the 2016 season, the New Jersey Premiere of Water by the Spoonful, that should not hold true. For one thing, the playwright, Quiara Alegria Hudes won a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for it and was a finalist in 2007 for the same prize for the first play, Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue, in her acclaimed "Elliot trilogy," all of which makes me wonder whether I missed something.

While the acting and staging were superb, I found Water by the Spoonful diffuse, confusing and long, even though it tackles the current scourge of opiate addiction—in this case, addiction to crack. In fact, the significance of a puzzling Arabic phrase uttered and translated in the opening scene ("May I please have my passport") is not revealed until the very last scene, despite the frequent appearance of the ghost of an Iraqi man that haunts the protagonist. And it took some figuring out that the four people seated apart from each other onstage—three of whom bear the odd names or Orangutan, Chutes&Ladders and Fountainhead—are participants involved in an Internet chat room site for addicts administered by Odessa, herself a recovering crack addict. Unless you are familiar with Internet chat rooms, what's going on onstage in those scenes is a mystery. The New York Times called the play "a moving collage of lives in crisis," which it is, but it still remains bewildering for too long.

Water by the Spoonful focuses on Iraq War vet Elliot Ortiz and his newly divorced musicology professor Yazmin who must deal with the relapse into addiction of Odessa, Elliot's estranged mother, and the death of his adopted mother Ginny. With Jeannie's death, this fractured family confronts pressing problems of loyalty, family, friendship and community and examines just how elastic these bonds can be.

While director Kel Haney moves her actors around a bare stage that becomes populated by movable furniture pushed from sliding wall panels and demands (and gets) superior performance from the seven actors, for me the writing lacked clarity. I don't look for easy understanding, but I think that older audience members might have to work a bit hard to make sense of the plot.

Sean Carvajal portrays Elliot with sensitivity and yearning. He's a talented 31-year-old actor recovering from war wounds (and, we learn later, a dependence on pain medication) while coming to grips with personal tragedy. Can he forgive his birth mother for her use of crack causing the death of his little sister from dehydration many years ago? Can he move on with his life with the death of his beloved Ginny?

As his cousin Yazmin, Emma Ramos is a competent, take-charge woman, the perfect companion to usher Elliot along on this life journey. She delivers complex lectures about jazz to undergraduates (at Swarthmore College?), organizes Jeannie's funeral and in the end chucks her academic success to take over Jeannie's role of the mater familias who kept a troubled family from running off the rails. As I have not read or seen the third play of the Elliot Trilogy, I cannot tell whether or not she succeeds.

KEAN20160712_HOCKSTEINIn the pivotal role of Odessa, Zuleyma Guevara is convincing and helpful to others, although she cannot help herself conquer her own addiction. She attempts to maintain a sense of civility in the chat room, censoring bad language and calling out members when they spout baloney. Kana Hatakeyama (right, with Mangan) is the lonely Orangutan, who's gone off to Japan to experience her native culture, teach English there and find friendship. Jamil A.C. Mangan is an avuncular Chutes&Ladders, estranged from family and seeing a friend himself. These two form a bond across the World Wide Web that is touching and optimistic.

KEAN20160712_HOCKSTEINAlso hopeful is the fate of Fountainhead, the tech exec addict attempting to get clean without letting his family know of his addiction, portrayed by Zack Calhoon (left with Guevara). His meeting and caring for Odessa in person at the end gives us some confidence that he will succeed. Ethan Hova is fine in the small roles of the Ghost/Professor/Policeman. (Photos by Steve Hockstein/Harvard Studio)

Dori Morgan's costumes are rather nondescript but entirely appropriate for these ordinary folks. Lianne Arnold's scenic design turns a bare stage into a variety of locations merely by adding furniture and computer projections that appear on the playing space ceiling.

Premiere Stages is well known for tackling topical issues—not your usual summer fare. Despite its being confusing, Water by the Spoonful is ultimately an optimistic play about redemption and love. It offers us some consolation in the midst of the terrible problem of opioid addiction.

Water by the Spoonful will be presented at the Zella Fry Theatre in the Vaughn Eames Building on the campus of Kean University, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, through July 31. For information and tickets, call the box office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) or visit www.kean.edu/premierestages  online.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

PHOENIX PRODUCTIONS TO HOLD AUDITIONS FOR “GYPSY”

Extra! Extra!

Auditions are coming up THIS WEEK for Phoenix's revival of Gypsy, coming to the Count Basie Theatre in September!

Producer: Lindsay Wood
Director: Tom Martini
Musical Director: Bob Sammond
Choreographer: Elise Klinger

WHEN: Saturday, July 16th, 1pm - 2pm for ages 7 to 13; 2pm - 4pm for everyone else. Monday & Wednesday, July 18th & 20th, 6:30pm - 7pm for ages 7 to 13; 7pm - 9pm for everyone else
WHERE:
Phoenix Performing Arts Center, 59 Chestnut Street in Red Bank.

Set in the 1920s (when the Basie was built), Gypsy is based on a true story that follows the life of a shy young child performer in vaudeville (with a domineering stage mother) who grows up to become the most famous burlesque star of all time, Gypsy Rose Lee.

All auditioners are asked to prepare 16 bars of a ballad or an up-tempo selection in the style of the show that demonstrates both their vocal and storytelling abilities. There will be a dance audition for those being considered for a role that requires movement.

The show will play at the Count Basie Theatre September 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25.

For answers to specific questions, email lindsay@phoenixredbank.com.

Click HERE for Character Breakdowns! 

Phoenix Productions is a non-profit community theatre organization. We re-create your favorite broadway musicals in full scale revivals.