Friday, April 18, 2014


By Dennis Gribben
A staged reading
WHEN: Saturday, April 26, 2 PM

By Nicholas Ryan and Julie Murtha
A book-in-hand production of a musical drama
WHEN: Saturday, April 26, 8 PM

WHERE: Coastal Artists Productions in the Jersey Shore Arts Center (the old Neptune High School), 66 South Main Street, Ocean Grove New Jersey.
TICKETS: $10 and $7 for Students and Senior Citizens with ID
To purchase tickets for A WITCH’S TALE or RIPPLED REFLECTIONS please visit or For more information about LaStrada Ensemble Theater of Monmouth, send an email to  or call 732.455.2748.

Oscar Wilde may have said “Youth is wasted on the young,” but LaStrada Ensemble Theater of Monmouth begs to differ in the case of young playwrights Dennis Gribben, 20, and Nicholas Ryan, 18, and composer Julie Murtha, 16—all of them from Brick Township, N.J. 

Gribben’s play A WITCH’S TALE takes place long, long ago, when a Witch finds a Lost Boy in the Dark Forest and raises him as her own son, whom she names Todd. Seventeen years her Magical Crystal Ball tells her that Todd is fated to kill her. Meanwhile, Todd meets some Royal Knights who tell him he is the long-lost Prince, and he must decide which is stronger – the lure to be a Prince—or the love of a mother (even if she is a Witch)?

140418-1_Dennis Gribben“I’m usually more comfortable writing comedy, but with A WITCH’S TALE, there is a step-up in drama,” said Gribben. "I have been working on the play for over a year now. I wanted to make sure that not only the story had a strong conflict, but that the focus was on the characters, their motivations, their overall purpose in the story—and how they grow from the beginning to the end of the play."

“I am blown away that someone so young could write such a fully-realized play that is not only extremely funny, but is also chock-full of conflict and with such rounded characters,” said Stephen Larsen, LaStrada’s Managing Director, who worked with Gribben as dramaturge for A WITCH’S TALE. “The spirit, and sense of drama, of Dennis’ play reminds me of the movie A Princess Bride, but with a little Mel Brooks-type humor sprinkled into the cauldron,” added Larsen.

140418-2_Nicholas Ryan (left) and Julie Murtha (right)Ryan’s and Murtha’s musical RIPPLED REFLECTIONS is the story of two young men, Hal and Tom, who are in love, but a dark secret from the past threatens to tear their relationship and lives apart. The story asks the question: Will Tom and Hal have the courage to be who they are in a world that can be brutally intolerant?

"RIPPLED REFLECTIONS was born from staring into a puddle on a rainy day, two years ago; I approached Julie, who wrote a breathtaking score, and here we are,” said Ryan. “I think it is truly a story that needs to be told, about how difficult it is to be comfortable in your own skin, and to be proud of who you are."

“First off, I am amazed at the fact that anyone can write a musical,” said A.J. Ciccotelli, LaStrada’s Artistic Director, who worked with Ryan and Murtha as dramaturge for RIPPLED REFLECTIONS. “But with this musical, we have two teenagers who are tackling serious subject matter – homophobia, bullying, friendship, love and commitment. Strip away the fact that it was written by two youngsters and what you still have is a solid, hit-you-in-the-gut, well-crafted and superbly-executed tragedy on the highest scale."