Sunday, September 30, 2012



Luna Stage Presents a Scene from Vita and Virginia  

WHEN: Monday, October 1, at 7 PM
West Orange Public Library, 46 Mt. Pleasant Avenue, West Orange

The new play at Luna Stage sheds an intimate and provocative light on two visionaries: Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. The women shared a long and complex relationship. Enjoy a free preview of this witty and insightful play when Luna presents a scene at the Library. Click here to reserve your seat.      


WHEN: Thursday, October 4, at 7 PM
Reserve your seat to this free event online or by calling 973.736.0198

Meet author Cathi Hanauer when she visits the Library to discuss her new book Gone. Hanauer's fourth novel, Gone, has received rave reviews. The book tells the story of a woman whose husband vanishes after driving the babysitter home. Vanity Fair said "Gone offers a clear-eyed vision of what is gained and lost in a contemporary marriage when the wife and mother begins gaining power outside the home."

CREATIVE CONNECTION: A Catalyst for Inspiring Creative Growth

WHEN: Wednesday, October 10, at 7 PM

Join us for the first meeting of the Creative Connection, a partnership with the West Orange Arts Council.  This monthly discussion group will focus on the creative process. Topics will include many things that affect artists, such as creative blocks, preparing for projects and competing in the marketplace. The group also offers a place to receive constructive feedback on your work. Everyone who enjoys the creative process is welcome. 


WHEN: Thursday, October 11, at 7 PM

The Library will screen a documentary that explores poverty in Camden, NJ.  Narrated by Martin Sheen, this powerful film is built around the letters of Msgr. Doyle, pastor of the Sacred Heart Parish in Camden. This program is funded by the NJ Council for the Humanities. 


WHEN: Fridays in October at 2 PM

Friday afternoon programming is especially for senior citizens! Drop by and spend the afternoon with us. Here's what we've planned for this month: 

  • October 5 - Film and Dessert
  • October 12 - Shop Rite's dietician shares tips for healthy eating and provides some free snacks to sample!
  • October 19  - Film and Dessert
  • October 26 - Wii Sports

TOUR STEAMPUNK CITY @ HISTORIC SPEEDWELL (link on graphic will not work)

WHERE: Historic Speedwell Village, Speedwell Ave., Morristown


Beyond Unison web photoBucknell University’s a Cappella Choir


WHEN: Sunday, October 7, 5 PM
Farmstead Arts historic farmhouse, 450 King George Road, Basking Ridge 
ADMISSION: suggested donation of $10 per person will benefit Beyond Unison and Farmstead Arts.
Space is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged.
To make reservations, visit Space permitting, tickets may also be available at the door.
For more information, write to or call 908.642.8691.

Founded in 2004, Beyond Unison is dedicated to creating high quality a cappella music.  The 18 member group, which includes Ridge High School alum, Annie Schulenburg, arranges all of their own music. Their repertoire includes songs by artists such as Ingrid Michaelson, Katy Perry, Regina Spektor, Mumford and Sons, and more. Besides performing live, they also dedicate time to a cappella recording and production. With the help of Liquid Fifth Productions, they recently released their latest CD Stop or Go, which can be found on iTunes. Their CDs will be available at the reception following the concert.  

The farmhouse is wheelchair accessible.  Anyone anticipating the need for additional accessibility services is requested to make a request by sending an e-mail to the in advance.

Funds for these events have been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, through the State/County Partnership Local Arts Program Grant administered by The Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission.


By Sheila Abrams

There was a strong feeling that jazz has made the big leagues, as the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performed Gershwin, Ellington and more in its first concert of the season at Morristown’s Mayo Center for the Arts Saturday afternoon. A program of jazz-inspired “classical” music was presented under the baton of the orchestra’s Quebec-born music director, Jacques Lacombe, and featuring as a soloist the internationally-acclaimed French pianist, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, playing two works by George Gershwin.

This is the first of four concerts the NJPAC-based orchestra has scheduled this year in the Morristown venue. The next one coming up is in January, followed by visits in April and June. The house on Saturday was pretty much packed.

Some of the music was pretty familiar, though the opening piece, “Remembering Gatsby: Foxtrot for Orchestra” by John Harbison, was new to me. A New Jersey native who currently teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harbison is a jazz pianist and a lot more in terms of his musical inclinations. As a lover of literature, though, he certainly found a jazz inspiration for his tribute to the F. Scott Fitzgerald character. The 7-minute piece calls to mind Astaire and Rogers dancing on air.

The original program was rearranged to put the Gershwin-Thibaudet pairing in the second half, and the Harbison piece was followed by the well-known, one might say iconic piece, the “Grand Canyon Suite,” written while the composer, Ferde Grofé, lived in Teaneck.

In five parts, the suite paints vivid musical pictures of the Arizona landmark, beginning with sunrise and not quite ending with sunset (a cloudburst follows). Between are a depiction of the Painted Desert and the popular “On the Trail,” featuring the clip-clop of the burro’s hooves. A program note mentions that Grofé originally asked the percussionist in Paul Whiteman’s orchestra to create the sound with coconut shells muted by leather. “On the Trail” is one of the most familiar pieces of American music, having been used in several movies and numerous commercials. We hope the composer collected all the appropriate royalties.

The intermission was followed by the placing of the grand piano center stage, and the introduction of Thibaudet. The pianist is well-known as an interpreter of Gershwin, reporting that he first played the composer’s work in France when he was 14. He has played “Rhapsody in Blue” with several orchestras and conductors, and in 2010 released a well-received recording with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony orchestra.

Thibaudet is a lover of jazz and of Gershwin. He has been quoted as saying, “You can’t play Gershwin if you don’t know jazz.” Obviously this Frenchman knows jazz. He opened with a performance of a short piece, Variations on “I Got Rhythm.” Composed ten years after “Rhapsody in Blue” created a sensation, the variations are fun to listen to and provide a great lesson on how a composer can play with a tune. Because the tune is so familiar, the variations are very easy to follow. It did make me wonder, though, what Mozart would have done with that melody.

The soloist is quite a showman and his legendary technique is wedded to a great sensitivity to the subtleties of the music. The feelings and images Gershwin evokes are warm, emotional and visual. The opening notes of the wailing clarinet, for example, has to be the sound the rising sun would make if the sun made a sound. This music is full of human emotion. Thibaudet, Lacombe and the orchestra brought this out.

The program ended with a performance of Duke Ellington’s “Harlem.” Interestingly, it was composed not for Ellington’s own band but for Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony. Running 18 minutes, it includes 20 distinct musical pictures of the neighborhood the composer was memorializing. A very interesting piece we would like to listen to again. And by the way, the program points out that Ellington also had a New Jersey connection. He lived for many years in Edgewater and recorded at studios in Englewood.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


423724_10151060762897601_651499476_n[1]blog photo_thumb[1]By Ruth Ross

There was Molly Goldberg's neighborhood (actually a New York apartment house where everyone visited by leaning outside the windows to converse). There was Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (you may still be able to visit on reruns). And there was ( and still is) the neighborhood of Sesame Street.

Now, we have The Neighborhood, an original musical written by the folks at Dreamcatcher Rep and performed with great élan at their new digs in Summit. It is a delight to visit and meet the denizens who populate this fictional place! (Top L-R: Scott McGowan, Jason Szamreta, Laura Ekstrand, Noreen Farley, Harry Patrick Christian, Harriett Trangucci, Jessica O’Hare-Baker, Dave Maulbeck)

These eight actors have performed together for so long that their relationships are totally convincing, whether they be family, lovers, friends or, in this case "a bunch of strangers who happen to live" near each other—in other words, neighbors! Using stories of Dreamcatcher’s resident acting company to create a show of vignettes, monologues and songs, Artistic Director Laura Ekstrand has penned a book and lyrics set to music by Joseph Zawila that was so easily recognizable that, as the actors sang and performed their interactions with each other, the audience nodded its collective head in agreement.

Lauren Moran Mills (who often directs at the Women's Theater Company) makes her directorial début at Dreamcatcher Rep to great success with a flair that allows one number to segue smoothly into another and showcases each performer very well.

We've all met these people in neighborhoods we've lived in. There are the newcomers from the city looking for a better life (and better schools) for their children. You know, the young man (Dave Maulbeck) who can't wait to join the PTA or coach something—anything—even though he doesn't even play a sport! There is the aspiring actor (Jason Szamreta) who commutes by train to auditions, trying to study lines while fielding inane comments by a fellow from his neighborhood. There are the new parents, one (Maulbeck) laid back and enamored by his offspring’s beauty , the other (Ekstrand) hilariously working hard to prepare her infant for college admission. Would-be homeowner Jessica O'Hara-Baker, looking for the "perfect house," lists the odd features of houses she's looked at, like carpet in the bathroom and rooms the size of closets! Harry Patrick Christian extols the joys of being single ("Just One") in the suburbs while Noreen Farley, a "relic" in a neighborhood of young families, searches for a gray-haired gentleman for companionship. And of course, there's the dog whose annoying bark early every Sunday morning wakes up a neighbor (O'Hara-Baker) and drives her to distraction and stern measures.

There are many more situations in this two-hour show that will strike a familiar chord. Scott McGowan and Harriett Trangucci drolly portray Lawrence and Sandi, a couple that fights and loves, both very loudly! Their thick New Yawk accents mark them as city émigrés! Farley and Christian are a stitch as a snooty couple who invites their neighbors over for a PowerPoint of their trip to Tuscany! And everyone will recognize the contest that goes on each Christmas to see who will have the largest and most elaborate holiday decorations.

The intimate space at the Oakes Center and Zawila's piano accompaniment are perfect for this "little" musical. Though not necessarily known for their singing, the actors do a fine job and certainly "act" the clever lyrics so convincingly that we forget they are “performing.” Musical director Jack Bender is to be commended for guiding the actors through the appealing music. Wesley Krantz's set features silhouettes of houses that suggest a neighborhood without being too fussy. Lighting (Zach Pizza), sound (Jeff Knapp) and costumes (Laura Ekstrand) unobtrusively add to the easily identifiable ambiance.

The finale certainly sums up just what "that weird thing-a-ma-bob" called neighbor really is. Facing a catastrophe in the middle of the night, the neighbors gather in the street where the line between "a stranger and a friend" blurs to become a fellowship, a community. To paraphrase the lyrics, “our old neighborhood may not be like the one in our memories, when we look back on our neighborhoods, this is the one we see.” I certainly recognized mine; you will too—and it will delight you!

The Neighborhood will be performed at the Oakes Center, 120 Morris Avenue, Summit, through October 14, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There will be talkbacks with the artists after the September 30 and October 7 matinee performances. Parking is available in the lot behind the theater on Ashwood Avenue and at the Summit Recreation Center on Morris Avenue. The facility is wheelchair accessible. Assistive Listening devices for the hearing impaired and advance large print scripts are available by prior arrangement. To purchase tickets or for information on any of Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre's programs, please visit or call 908.514.9654.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Vita and Virginia

Starring Mona Hennessy (Virginia Woolf) and Rachel Black Spaulding (Vita Sackville-West). Photo Credit: Steve Lawler.


Vita and Virginia
By Eileen Atkins
Based on correspondence between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West
Directed by Jane Mandel

WHEN: September 27-October 28
Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange
TICKETS: Call 973.395.5551 or Buy Online!


I know this production is in New York, but it sounds very interesting. I served on the selection committee of the Jewish Plays Project last spring and they alerted me to it. It is not often that an original opera is written. This production is a concert staging using multimedia!

3 Weeks Image

For tickets: (link on graphic will not work)




The Yates Musical Theatre for Children

WHEN: Thursday, October 4, 2:30 PM
The Giggles Children’s Theater @ St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, 2nd floor, Seton Building, 703 Main Street, Paterson


Join us for a FREE performance of the beloved tale of “PINOCCHIO!”

Contact:  Giggles Director Marie Caliendo at 973.754.4623 or

This show is made possible by the generous support of





Saddle River Youth Theatre

Teen Showchoir

WHEN: Tuesday, October 2, 6 PM
WHERE: Giggles Children’s Theater @ St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital,  2nd floor, Seton Building, 703 Main Street, Paterson

Join us for a FREE show “Awesome 80‘s!” by the talented singers of the SRYT!

For more information, contact Giggles Director Marie Caliendo at 973.754.4623 or

Thursday, September 27, 2012


George Street Playhouse

Join George Street Playhouse for a Free Outdoor Performance of 

austin the unstoppable

By Barry Wyner & Daniel Israel


WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 29, 4:30 PM
Boyd Park, New Brunswick


Reigning master of the X-box and junk food junkie, eleven-year-old Austin must face the long-term consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle when he learns his mother has been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.

This fun, upbeat musical engages students in the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise by celebrating how positive change can occur through the power of love, hard work and support. 


Stop by the New Brunswick Cultural Center table for free giveaways and info on our touring productions, theatre classes and mainstage performances sponsored by The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey

Watch a preview of Austin the Unstoppable
Click here for free parking information and directions


I Saw Zero Hour in New York a couple of years ago. Jim Brochu is fabulous as Zero Mostel. And I learned so much about the man who was black-listed during the McCarthy era. A tour de force that is not to be missed!

WHERE: HAMILTON STAGE, 360 Hamilton Street, Rahway

American Theater Group at Hamilton StageZERO HOUR  October 3 - 21


Ballets with a TwistCOCKTAIL HOUR  October 26 - 28


Groups of 10 or more may be entitled to a discounted ticket price. Limited discounted tickets are available. Call the box office today to make your reservations.

Patrons needing assistance should contact UC PAC at least three weeks prior to the performance for which you have tickets. Call the box office for details.


Parking is available to our patrons at Rahway's multi-level parking deck, located on the corner of Main Street and Lewis Street (across from the Rahway Train Station and behind Hotel Indigo). A free shuttle is often available to and from the theatre.

Click here for directions to the Union County PAC.
Call the box office for more information.


For an up-to-date listing of UC PAC events visit the Calendar of Events page of the website at

Programs, artists, dates, times and prices are subject to change without notice.

Please contact the Box Office for further details (732-499-8226).


Union County Performing Arts Center's five performance venues: Mainstage, Hamilton Stage, Loft, Front Room and 1591

ARB presents 4 FLAVORS 9/28-9/29 at Hamilton Stage.American Repertory Ballet presents


Choreography by Artistic Director Douglas Martin,
Resident Choreographer Mary Barton and Guest Choreographer Trinette Singleton
Music by Prokofiev, Barber, Flexer and Shostokovich

WHEN: Friday, September 28, at 7 PM; Saturday, September 29, at 2 PM and 7 PM
Hamilton Stage, 360 Hamilton Street, Rahway
TICKETS: $35 Regular / $20 Seniors and Students with ID
(Ticket price includes all fees.)

Come taste an exquisite sampling of four delectable dance delights: Douglas Martin's elegantly expressive Ephemeral Possesions, set to Barber's haunting score, was described as ''wonderfully candid'' by The Star Ledger's Robert Johnson. Mr. Martin will also unveil a new scene from Romeo and Juliet, set to the lush score by Prokofiev. Resident Choreographer Mary Barton's playfully sensual Straight Up With a Twist will be performed to live music by Kaila Flexer, thanks to a generous grant from America Music Center. Rounding out the evening will be Trinette Singleton's furiously athletic Capriccios, set to Shostokovich's driving score.

Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors performs live at the Union County PAC on Saturday, September 29.

WHERE: Mainstage at UC PAC, 1601 Irving Street, Rahway
TICKETS: $34.50 - $74.50 (Ticket price includes all fees.)

Amphion Sting Quartet performs at Hamilton Stage on Sun 9/30

pianist FEI-FEI DONG

WHEN: Sunday, September 30, at 8 PM
Mainstage at UC PAC
TICKETS: $29 (Ticket price includes all fees.)

Amphion String Quartet is a winner of the 2011 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition.

One of Classical music's rising stars, Fei-Fei Dong was a stunning performer at the most recent Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. 

More events at

Groups of 10 or more may be entitled to a discounted ticket price. Limited discounted tickets are available. Call the box office today to make your reservations.

Patrons needing assistance should contact UC PAC at least three weeks prior to the performance for which you have tickets. Call the box office for details.

Parking is available to patrons at Rahway's multi-level parking deck, located on the corner of Main Street and Lewis Street (across from the Rahway Train Station and behind Hotel Indigo). A free shuttle is often available to and from the theatre.

Click here for directions to the Union County PAC.
Call the box office for more information.


For an up-to-date listing of UC PAC events visit the Calendar of Events page of the website at

Programs, artists, dates, times and prices are subject to change without notice.

Please contact the Box Office for further details (732-499-8226).


This little theater is a real gem, and the productions they mount are first-rate. If you saw Henry IV, Part 1, at STNJ (and followed up with the reading of Henry IV, Part 2 there as well), here’s a chance to round out your viewing pleasure with Henry V!

BUY TICKETS HERE (links on graphic will not work)

Two Great Shows This October!

Learn More About HENRY V

Learn More About NO PLACE TO GO

Learn More about RED-HANDED OTTER



Look! The NJ Arts Maven is quoted in the critiques! Loved this show!

WHEN: September 28-30, Friday & Saturday at 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM
Women’s Theater Company, 1130 Knoll Road, Lake Hiawatha (in the Parsippany Playhouse in the Parsippany Community Center)
CLICK HERE TO ORDER TICKETS (link on graphic below will not work)


I have a special place in my heart for this venue. I grew up in Bound Brook and went to the movies in what is now the arts center. It is an old vaudeville hall from 1925; it was damaged in the flood of 1999 and they have been working mightily to get it back shape for our entertainment. Here are some of the events in store for the Fall at the Brook Arts Center. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more:

WHERE: Brook Arts Center, 10 Hamilton Street, Bound Brook, NJ 08805
Phone: 732.469.7700


The Bound Brook Fire Department will be hosting a Comedy Night Fundraiser to benefit the Education Fund of Elizabeth "Izzy" Schupper, daughter of Volunteer Firefighter Jim Schupper.

Comedy Night

WHEN: Friday Sept 28, 8 PM
Brook Art Center, 10 Hamilton Street, Bound Brook
Tickets are available through Bound Brook Fire Department Members, at the door or by e-mailing and on the Brook Arts Center website through Ticketweb

Featuring 9 Comedians:

  • "Uncle Floyd" Vivino
  • Eric Potts
  • Stefan Romanyszyn
  • Everett "E.C." Winkler
  • Nicole Yates
  • Danelle Lemar
  • Rich McDonald
  • Will Vaughan
  • Mike Bonner

Refreshments will be sold along with T-shirts and other items.
All proceeds to benefit the Elizabeth “Izzy” Schupper Education Fund

Please help us spread the word—SHARE this event on your FB page and with your friends list!

Event tickets may be purchased at:
Locally along Bound Brook's Main Street at:

  • Lou's Sub Shop
  • Mama Rosina's Restaurant
  • Pranzatelli's Audio Outlet 

Call: 732.469.7700

Wednesday, September 26, 2012




LEO at RVCC Theater
Circle of Eleven
WHEN: Friday, September 28 at 8 PM
RVCC Theater, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg
TICKETS: $22 & $32

What would happen if the laws of gravity were to suddenly change?

LEO, the award-winning new show from the acclaimed German company Circle of Eleven, attempts to answer this question as the hero explores a world where gravity has woozily shifted and undertakes a logic-defying adventure that not only reveals his dreams and desires but his lust for life.

Through a clever juxtaposition of live performance with projected film, two Leos move through identical spaces governed by opposing physical laws. LEO is a funny, surreal, and surprisingly touching work that challenges the senses and tests perceptions of reality.


I know many of my readers have Kindles or Nooks, but there is nothing like a real, good old-fashioned book to hold in your hands and read:


WHERE: Bridgewater Library, 1 Vogt Drive, Bridgewater

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


If you missed this show on Broadway or at George Street Playhouse, not to worry. A new production opens nearby in Chatham.


Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan
Based on the 1935 movie by Alfred Hitchcock
Directed by Bell Wessel

WHEN: October 5-20; Friday and Saturday 8 PM; Sunday, October 14, at 3  PM
Chatham Playhouse, 23 N. Passaic Ave., Chatham
TICKETS: $20; $18 students/seniors
The box office will begin accepting phone reservations on September 25 at 973.635.7363
Order tickets online 24/7

The play, adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan, features more than 150 characters brought to life by a cast of just four actors in this 2008 Tony Award winning play. It is part juicy spy novel, part Monty Python, and it preserves the brilliance originally created by the master of suspense.

The_Cast_-_The_39_StepsDavid Cantor of Berkeley Heights plays suave hero Richard Hannay who learns from a beautiful spy about a plot of international espionage. The woman is killed in Hannay's flat and he suddenly finds himself caught up in a race from London to Scotland in hopes of stopping military secrets from being smuggled out of the country. As he searches for the secret of "The 39 Steps" he is doggedly pursued by the police who believe he is a murderer. Three of the female roles will be played by Erica Knight of Clinton Twp, while the remaining multitude of characters (spies, policemen, inn keepers, traveling salesmen, etc.) are played by just two actors credited as Clown #1 (Glen Post of Boonton) and Clown #2 (Chip Prestera of Stirling). Photo taken by Howard Fischer.

Leading the artistic team is Director Bell Wesel, who is directing her first show at the Chatham Playhouse, having directed previously at Maplewood’s What Exit? Theatre Co. Scenic Designer is Roy Pancirov, Scenic Painting by Andrea Sickler, Costume Designer is Tom Marshall assisted by Bev Wand, Lighting Designer is Richard Hennessy and Sound Designer is Joe DeVico.


By Agatha Christie
Directed by Carl Wallnau

WHEN: October 5-21; Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM. There are 2 PM matinées Wednesdays October 10 and 17 and for the Preview Performance on Friday, October 5 at 2 PM.
Sitnik Theatre, Lackland Center, 715 Grand Ave., Hackettstown (on the Centenary College campus)
TICKETS: $17.50 to 27.50 with discounts for students and seniors. Every Thursday night is “Family Night,” which offers a 2-for-1 rush ticket price when purchased at the door
To purchase tickets or to find more information on any of the events listed, visit or call the box office at 908.979.0900.

Broadway veterans and an Emmy winning designer create a world of murder and mystery on the Centenary Stage. This year celebrates the 60th anniversary of the longest running show of the modern era, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Since its opening in 1952 on the West End of London’s theatre district, this classic has had more than 10 million patrons try to solve the mystery. On the first ever performance, The Daily Telegraph called it ''the cleverest murder mystery ever written for the British theater.'' Today, critics the world over are still raving about this masterpiece written by one of the greatest crime writers of all time.

The cast features Kathleen Huber playing the part of Mrs. Boyle. Bringing to life the character of Major Metcalf is Broadway veteran Alan Coates. David Edwards is bringing his numerous talents to the Centenary Stage to play Mr. Paravicini. Kevin Sebastian (Currently Jersey City, Hometown Hazlet) as Detective Sergeant Trotter is returning to the Centenary Stage after appearing as Sir John Melvil in The Clandestine Marriage in 2009.

The cast also includes Megan Davis (Hackettstown) and Jon Mulhearn (Pennsylvania) playing Mollie and Giles Ralston, respectively. Thomas Leverton, playing Christopher Wren, has worked with American Theatre of Actors in New York and regionally with Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, playing Peter in Peter Pan. And Miss Casewell is being played by Ashley Kowzun (Kenvil).

The David and Carol Lackland Center’ Sitnik Theatre is being transformed by Emmy Award-winning set designer Bob Phillips.

The Centenary Stage Company is a not-for-profit professional equity theatre, in residence at Centenary College, dedicated to serving as a cultural resource for audiences of the Skylands Region with professional music, theatre and dance events and arts education programs throughout the year. Performances at the Centenary Stage Company are made possible through the visionary support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts, and CSC members, friends and sponsors, including Premier Sponsor Heath Village, Silver Sponsors Hackettstown Regional Medical Center and The Holiday Inn, and Series sponsors, Fulton Bank, Mamas and Café Bacci, and Restaurant Village in Long Valley.

Monday, September 24, 2012


See a video preview of "Senses" from "Kookspeak" on YouTube

WHEN: Thurs., Sept. 27 at 8 PM and Sat., Sept. 29 at 10:30 PM
WHERE: Art House Productions 1 McWilliams Pl., Jersey City, NJ.
The entire festival runs Sept. 27-30. Tickets are $6 online and at door.
For more info, visit my website or hit me up.

Just a reminder—my new show "Kookspeak" is premiering Thursday at the So Low Theater Festival in Jersey City!

Check out a video from one of my comedic monologues shot by Brett Wilshe in the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre.

In Senses, a woman’s mischievous mind refuses to let her deny her love for her soulmate. Here, she imagines performing at the Grammys with him, a FIFA World Cup star/YouTube phenomenon played by local musician John Feuerbach, by her side.

This was a super fun shoot and I'm super psyched to do it live! Hope you can come out to see me!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


That drama has the ability to make us feel uncomfortable is one of its great powers. Several recent plays have shined a light on the effect of a tragedy on parents of a young child; Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay Abaire comes to mind wherein a husband and wife deal very differently with the death of their young son.

Add to that list the dark comedy Smudge by Rachel Axler opening the 2012-2013 season at Alliance Repertory's new outpost in Berkeley Heights. Stunningly and lovingly directed by Michael A. Driscoll, this 80-minute play targets the response of two young first-time parents when their child is born severely malformed.

267393_10151172183949432_1362813383_n[1]The music Driscoll has chosen to open the show, a vocal arrangement of Shakespeare's "Oh, what a piece of work is man" speech from Act II of Hamlet, sets the scene for what follows. Trouble looms on the horizon when an ultrasound reveals an indeterminate shape, a "smudge" as Colby Stillman, the mother, calls it (left). She's been suffering from terrible nightmares which she thinks presages disaster. Unfortunately, she's right, for the child, who Nick, the dad, names Cassandra, has no limbs and one eye. Of course, we never actually see the baby, but Colby's reaction is enough to tell us that catastrophe has struck.

251021_10151172198609432_1078712060_n[1]Before you think, what a bummer, rest assured that Axler has used black comedy to great effect to lighten the dark theme. There's the relationship between Nicholas and his brother Peter, who is forced to run interference between Nick and their mother because he has failed to call her or share photos of the new baby. Not that Peter is too pleased at being left out of the loop, either. And Cassandra's response to Colby—communicated via blinking lights and an increasingly beeping monitor—are both funny and touching. (Right: Lilli Marques)

487498_10151172200119432_1408002092_n[1]The three actors Driscoll has cast are long-time Alliance Rep Company members, and they perform with their usual professional aplomb. As Colby, Lilli Marques has a difficult, rather unsympathetic, role, for she rejects the baby, taunts it and even calls it "entrails encased in a hot dog." Nevertheless, she ably communicates the young woman's pain at having produced a less-than-perfect child. Gus Ibranyi's Nicholas at first appears to fare much better. He bonds with the child, tries to get it to exercise its eye by moving a stuffed carrot toy in front of it and actually looking at the baby (left). 10458_10151172194119432_170123953_n[1]When he finally calls Cassandra "the little monster," we sense his hopelessness. It falls to Brad Howell as Peter to deliver most of the very funny, profane and often outrageous lines. Just watching him read messages from their mother that he's scribbled on sticky notes (and sticking them to different parts of his body) is a real howl (right). Yet when he shows up uninvited to visit his new niece, his reaction at seeing her tells us all we need to know. Best of all, the fraternal chemistry between Howell and Ibranyi is totally believable.

As Alliance Rep Artistic Director, Michael Driscoll often picks unusual plays not often seen, many of which have a dark side. However, they do offer a glimmer of light through all the darkness. So too does Smudge. Without giving away the ending, suffice it to say that a detente between the two parents is reached in a very sweet ending.

Alliance Rep has recently moved from its home at the Loft above the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway to the Wharton Music Center in Berkeley Heights. The new performing space is quite attractive (and resembles that of the Loft), but its location is a bit off the beaten path, and there is no lit sign outside the building advertising Smudge. If you are a fan of theater that does not present the same old, same old, it is worth a trip to 60 Locust Avenue (off Snyder Avenue, which is off Springfield Avenue) in Berkeley Heights. I promise you that it is worth the trip.

Smudge will be performed at Alliance Repertory at the Wharton Music Center, 106 Locust Avenue (in an industrial park of office buildings, not residential) in Berkeley Heights through September 29, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM. For information or tickets call 908.472.1502 or visit the website:

Photos by Howard Fischer.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Another Hundred People AdrianneEric Hafen is foremost a director of plays, so words are important to him. That's probably why, as Artistic Director of the Bickford Theatre, he chose to open the 2012-2013 season with You're Gonna Love Tomorrow, a revue with songs by Stephen Sondheim, Hafen's favorite composer and lyricist, and an artist for whom the story told in words really matters. (Left: Adrianne Wick sings “Another Hundred People Get Off the Train” from Company)

On a minimal stage comprised of several platforms (all painted black), a video screen on which scenes and titles (and a video of Sondheim himself at the piano) are projected, and a white sail-like sheet stretched rather incongruously across the back, six talented singers perform tunes from a variety of Sondheim musicals for which he wrote both the music and lyrics by himself.

For 90 minutes we are treated to 22 Sondheim songs sung by six very talented performers. Hafen keeps them moving effortlessly around the stage, segueing from one number to another with nary a moment to breathe. Best of all, the singers actually act the lyrics, so that we get a poignant "Being Alive" (Company) sung by Adrianne Hick (it's actually sung by the male lead in that show) and a heart-wrenching rendition of "Not a Day Goes By" (Merrily We Roll Along) warbled by Tamara Hayes. That the latter is sung before a divorce proceeding, as the narrator tells us, makes her pain even sharper.

Invocation to the Audience Full CompanyThere is great fun in this production, too, provided most often by the men singing selections from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a musical version of Aristophanes' The Frogs (first performed in a Yale University swimming pool) and a little-known play called Saturday Night. This mood is set in the opening moments when the cast calls upon the gods of the theater to smile on them and then launches on a list of don'ts for theater patrons (Above). Among them are don't cough, don't leave, don't say, "what?"

Saturday Night Danny Patrick MichaelThree guys on a stoop lamenting being alone on a Saturday night ("you might as well be dead") recalls the classic film Marty, and the meeting at a dance by one of the guys (Michael Padgett) with a pretty girl (Lindsay Wood) has a bittersweet quality as they intone "This is Nice, Isn't It" before the whole thing fizzles. Hilarity is omnipresent in selections from Forum, especially "The House of Marcus Lycus," where Danny Arnold as the slimy procurer Lycus attempts to "sell" one of his courtesans (sinuously danced by the women) to the slave Pseudolus, aptly portrayed by Patrick John Moran, with a great voice and expressive face. Michael Padgett's General Miles Gloriosus has a fine time telling us "There's Something About a War," the humor of which is undercut by thoughts of Iraq and Afghanistan. How true the line that with war, the generals have the "knowledge they'll never be out of work." It gives one something to think about. (Above L-R: Danny Arnold, Patrick Moran and Michael Padgett)

What So Little to Be Sure Of- Michael & LindsayOther standout selections are Lindsay Wood's interpretation of "The Miller's Son" (A Little Night Music) wherein she sings the praises of sowing her wild oats before settling down to what will probably be a boring, prosaic life. In "Johanna" (Sweeney Todd), Michael Padgett conveys the longing a man feels for his lost love. "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow"/"Love Will See Us Through" gets the full vaudeville treatment, with four singers (two couples) singing the separate melodic lines at the same time while dancing nimbly around the stage. (Right: Lindsay Wood and Michael Padgett sing “So Little to be Sure of”)

For me the most interesting moments came in the performance of two songs from Pacific Overtures, the only Sondheim show other than Saturday Night that I have not seen. Its premise is the opening of Japan to the West—in this case the Americans—in 1853; doesn't sound like an topic for musical theater, but once again, Sondheim's lyrics tell the compelling story of the clash of two very different cultures. In "Poems," an American ship captain (Patrick Moran) and a Japanese samurai (Michael Padgett) pass the time taking turns composing poems about rain, haze, wind, dawn. The samurai's are artful and detached while the American's express his homesickness for Boston and his family there. It is very touching and a bit droll. The other song has to do with the treaty itself, recounted by an old man (Danny Arnold) who as a ten-year-old boy (Tamara Wood) observed the goings on from his perch in an overhanging tree and a samurai (Patrick Moran) who, hidden under the floor of the tea house, overheard the conversations. Their memories put together give a credible account, but what was said there is less important than the recollections of the two men.

Musical accompaniment by Jim Donica on the bass and Jonathan Gleich on percussion at first was quite loud and made it hard to hear the singers, but it quieted down as the performance progressed. They are joined from time to time by Adrianne Hick on cello and Lindsay Wood on violin to fill out the sound. Andrea Dante has dressed the women in jewel-toned jersey dresses that stand out against the black background. Lighting by Thomas Rowe was a tad spotty; several times singers were in shadows until they moved to a lit section of the stage.

You're Gonna Love Tomorrow is an interesting glimpse at the ability of Stephen Sondheim to tell a story through his lyrics, words that, in this case, are acted by the talented singers performing them. Without the glitz and glamour, it is easy to focus on the words. My only complaint: at an hour and a half (no intermission), the show felt a bit too short. I was left wanting more.

You're Gonna Love Tomorrow will be performed through October at the Bickford Theatre, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM. For information and tickets, call the box office at 973.971.3706.