Monday, October 24, 2016



CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO (link on graphic will not work)

video preview

rave review qutotes

WHERE: George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick


By Ruth Ross

It’s been said that one-act plays are notoriously difficult to write. After all, a playwright has to create what is essentially a slice of life in a very brief time. For the audience, the one-act play can be attractive. As the producer of The Last Sunset Eric Alter noted in his program notes, “If [an audience member] doesn’t like one, there is always another one 10 or 15 minutes later.”

Produced by Alter’s Apricot Sky Productions onstage at the Grove Street Theatre in Montclair, The Last Sunset is an evening of seven one-act plays and two monologues. Some of the playlets, which focus on romantic relationships, parenthood, terminal illness and aging, are interesting, but the acting is rather uneven.

The two most successful one-act plays are by Eric Alter. Set in an old-age home on New Year’s Eve, Decades (directed and choreographed by Kimberly Jackson) involves three old timers asleep in their chairs as midnight approaches. When the two attendants turn the radio on and leave them alone to pursue some hanky-panky, the trio suddenly comes to life and performs the various dance styles (jitterbug, mashed potato, the twist) to the appropriate music playing on the radio countdown. When the attendants return, however, the old folks have resumed their gorked-out positions as though nothing has happened. Lindsay Kopp, Melissa Kaban, Desiree Rubolotta, Michael McEntee and Kay Koch turned in fine performances, but the action dragged on for too long. With a little trimming, Decades could be a cogent comment on the humanity lurking behind those nearly dead facades presented by many old people.

The Second First Date, also by Alter (directed by Jon DeAngelis), focuses on a major case of mistaken identity. Senior citizen Seymour (Art Delo) is waiting in a restaurant for his blind date to arrive. Instead of Diane, a woman his age, a tootsie named Cheyenne arrives; each mistake the other for the person they are to meet. In direct contrast to Sy’s courtly manners, Lauren Einzig’s hooker Cheyenne is in-your-face vulgar, snapping her gum, twirling her hips and talking coarsely. When the two dance, she peps him up while he softens her rough edges. By the time Sy’s real date arrives, the lives of two individuals have been changed. Brian Carroll as the bartender/waiter and Stephanie Turner as Diane perform their small roles well, but its Delo and Einzig who really wow.

The other five playlets are less successful. Alter’s The Break-up King (directed by Helen Exel) uses a hokey device for its hero (Lou Pipon) to ditch his annoying girlfriend Lily (Christine Bielaszka). The Literary Merit of People’s Exhibit One (by Zames Curran, directed by Bob Lowy) reduces the work of a poet (Brian Carroll ) to an exhibit in a courtroom during an obscenity trial; I guess we never really thought about how a poet would feel about his work being reduced to a piece of evidence. In Lyle Landon’s Baby Rabies( directed by Bob Lowy), an annoying mother (Martha Day) nags her twenty-something daughter (Kay Koch) about having a child—a scenario many young people have experienced, to be sure. The daughter’s solution is priceless.

In The Last Sunset by Eric Alter (directed by Bob Lowy), a mom agonizes about her parenting, only to face terminal illness in the second section of the play—a difficult situation that requires superior acting. The scene would have been more poignant had the acting been better. And A Dog’s Life by Robert Scott Sullivan (directed by Gwen Orel) is enlivened by Niall Ng’s delightful portrayal of the dog RJ, but pulled down by Patrick Little’s morose philosophizing about terminal illness—until we realize that he’s talking about putting RJ to sleep!

The two monologues are an equally mixed bag. The more successful of the two, The Second Coming of Sliced Bread by George Ruthauser (directed by Bob Lowy) has an able Gary Martin at a funeral talking to an unseen mourner about eulogies and wondering what people will say about him at his funeral. In Drive By, written and directed by Phoebe Farber, Dan Johnson loudly and angrily addresses his unseen wife in the car about her affair with a math substitute in her school. Lots of shouting; not enough vulnerability.

Apricot Sky Productions is to be commended for giving these New Jersey playwrights a chance to have their efforts performed onstage. While it doesn’t approach the polish of, say, Chatham Community Theatre’s annual Jersey Voices, The Last Sunset is interesting although it could use a bit more polish.

The Last Sunset will be performed for one more weekend at the Grove Street Theatre, 130 Grove Street (in the Deron School), Montclair, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM. For information and tickets, visit


Sunday, October 23, 2016


Image result for upstairs inferno movieUpstairs Inferno

WHEN: Wednesday, October 26, 1-3 p.m.
Conference Center (Room C) 118 Lamington Rd., Branchburg
TICKETS: free of charge and open to the public

In commemoration of LGBT History Month, Raritan Valley Community College will present a screening of the award-winning documentary, Upstairs Inferno. The program is being presented at RVCC by the Committee to Internationalize and Diversify the Curriculum. A discussion will follow the screening.

Upstairs Inferno is a powerful film recounting the nearly forgotten arson tragedy that occurred at the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans. Prior to the June shooting at Pulse in Orlando, the 1973 tragedy was the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history. The film offers a unique opportunity for reflection and discussion about the current state of LGBTQI equality in the United States, especially when considering the many striking parallels between the two events and the notable discrepancies in the public’s response to these tragedies.

The film’s trailer may be viewed at For information about the documentary, visit

Refreshments will be served. For additional information about the program, contact David Chase,

Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 50 years, RVCC is an educational and cultural center that is nationally recognized for its innovative programming, service to the community and environmental leadership. The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, professional development and personal enrichment courses. The College also has a performing arts center and planetarium.

RVCC is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community’s businesses, and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit


Boris Ursula 1The Frog Princess

WHEN: Saturday, October 29 at 11am.
14 Alvin Place, off Valley Road near the Acme, in Upper Montclair.
TICKETS: $8; discounts available for groups of 20 or more that prepay.  Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 973-744-9752.

Studio Players of Montclair is presenting the theater’s first ever sensory friendly production of their latest Magic Trunk show, The Frog Princess. This performance is a first for the area in New Jersey community theater.

The production will feature fewer lighting and sound cues at this performance, and the theater will keep lights on during the show.  This performance is geared towards the families of children who react better to fewer visual and sound stimuli, including but not limited to children with autism or other disabilities.  This is the first production of this type in North Jersey community theater.

Queen Natasha is handing over her throne to one of her three sons—Boris the toughest son, Casimir the smartest, or Sacha, who isn’t quite good at anything.  Queen Natasha sends her sons to find a wife to make a great queen.  Boris and Casimir marry princesses, but Sacha marries…a frog?  To determine which of the three brides makes the best wife, they have to pass three challenges, but Sacha’s frog princess is hiding a secret.  Will she be able to pass Queen Natasha’s tests?

The Frog Princess is directed by Julie Anne Nolan, stage managed by Elena Bartlett.  Jillian Hayes is the assistant stage manager, and Judi Liebert is the associate stage manager. This charming and adventurous show for all ages is by Catherine L. Howard. 


Boris Ursula 1The Frog Princess

WHEN: Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 and 3:30pm on October 22 through October 30
Studio Playhouse is located at 14 Alvin Place, off Valley Road near the Acme, in Upper Montclair. 973-744-9752.
$8; discounts available for groups of 20 or more that prepay. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 973-744-9752.

The Frog Princess, a charming and adventurous show for all ages by Catherine L. Howard, comes to Studio Playhouse in Upper Montclair. Additionally, a sensory friendly show for children and families with special needs will be presented on Saturday, October 29 at 11am.

Queen Natasha is handing over her throne to one of her three sons—Boris the toughest son, Casimir the smartest, or Sacha, who isn’t quite good at anything. Queen Natasha sends her sons to find a wife to make a great queen. Boris and Casimir marry princesses, but Sacha marries…a frog? To determine which of the three brides makes the best wife, they have to pass three challenges, but Sacha’s frog princess is hiding a secret. Will she be able to pass Queen Natasha’s tests?

The Frog Princess is directed by Julie Anne Nolan, stage managed by Elena Bartlett. Jillian Hayes is the assistant stage manager, and Judi Liebert is the associate stage manager.

Top: The oldest prince, Boris (Peter Curley), and his warrior bride Ursula (Judy Wilson) prepare to fight for the kingdom.


This is how theater should connect to people."Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize winning critic 

“…drama, comedy, honesty and more… allows the audience to feel, rather than watch!”

Written and performed by actor playwright and New Jersey native Joanna Rush

WHEN: October 27 through 30; Thursday, October 27 at 7:30 pm; Friday, October 28 at 8 pm; Saturday, October 29 at 8 pm and Sunday, October 30 at 2 pm. 
Edith Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, 715 Grand Ave., Hackettstown
TICKETS: $15.00 to $25.00.  Thursday evening performances are $25.00 all seats with a buy one/get one rush ticket special when tickets are purchased in person at the CSC box office as early as two hours prior to performance.  Friday evening CSC is offering a special “alumni discount” of $10.00 off adult ticket purchases for alumni of Centenary University. 
Special offers and discounts cannot be combined. 
All ticket sales are final

Fringe Theater returns to Centenary Stage Company as Joanna Rush’s powerfully entertaining one – woman show, Kick, “kicks – off” the series and makes its New Jersey premiere.

“It's not how high - it's how strong”.  On her way to her first big New York audition, dancer Bernie O’Connell is tricked into a car and attacked in a vacant lot off the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.  Kick follows Bernie from a kick-line to “A Chorus Line” to Hollywood and back as she picks up the pieces and finds the glue to put herself back together.  Hailed as “riveting and truly worth seeing” by Kathryn Kitt of, Kick weaves a tale packed with wisdom and humor. 

Rush’s credits run the gamut of Broadway and Off – Broadway to television and film.  Kick is directed by Tony nominated Lynne Taylor – Corbett.  CSC audiences will remember Taylor – Corbett from her work on the 2014 world premiere of Joni Fritz’s In the Car with Blossom and Len and last season’s NJ premiere of Gina Gionfriddo’s Pulitzer Prize finalist Becky Shaw at Centenary Stage Company.  Taylor – Corbett was nominated for two Tony Awards for direction and choreography of Broadway’s Swing! in addition to a Drama Desk Award.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit or call the CSC box office at (908) 979 – 0900.  The box office is located in the Lackland Center; 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ.  Box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 5 pm and two hours prior to every performance.  Centenary Stage Company can also be found across social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Follow and connect with Centenary Stage Company to receive the latest news and updates.

The 2016 – 17 Season of performing arts events at Centenary Stage Company are made possible through the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council of the Arts, the Shubert Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, the Sandra Kupperman Foundation, and CSC corporate sponsors, including Premier Season Sponsor Heath Village Retirement Community, Silver Sponsors, Hackettstown Medical Center, Home Instead Senior Care (Washington), The Holiday Inn in Budd Lake, and Fulton Bank of New Jersey, and Centenary Stage Company members and supporters.




bergenPAC, 30 N. Van Brunt St., Englewood
TICKETS: $49-39-29
Tickets available at: or or
Box Office (201) 227 1030

It's Saturday Night Fever every night with The Australian Bee Gees Show—A Tribute to the Bee Gees. One of the most successful and adored acts in musical history is recreated on the Vegas stage in a 75-minute multi-media concert event. You'll hear hits like, "Staying Alive," "You Should Be Dancing," "How Deep Is Your Love," and "Jive Talkin.'"

The performers authentic take on the trio’s clothes, style and moves showcase five decades of the Brothers Gibb's success as rock and disco legends, while audiences groove to their memorable music and are immersed in the disco era.

The President of the Bee Gees Fan Club, USA has said, "In my opinion they are the best Bee Gees tribute in the world!”

To subscribe and order tickets, call the Subscription Manager at (201) 816-8160 x24 or email


Michael Feinstein at the Palladium in Carmel, Ind.,  Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010. (Photo by AJ Mast)

An Evening with Michael Feinstein: The Great American Songbook

WHEN: Friday, October 28, 2016 at 8:00 PM
WHERE: Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown
TICKETS: $60 - $100.

(Morristown) - Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling entertainer dubbed "The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook," comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center.

This performance is sponsored by the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.


Who's Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience

WHEN: Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 8:00 PM
TICKETS: $19 - $45.

(Morristown) - Pay tribute to the King of Pop at Who's Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience coming to Mayo Performing Arts Center. This power-packed tribute to Michael Jackson has ignited crowds on every continent! This jaw-dropping musical must-see is an unrivaled celebration of pop music's one true King.


The Witch Head Nebula

The Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium in Branchburg has planned some special programs in October in celebration of Halloween. To add to the magic, a special star show, “The Skies over Hogwarts,” also will be presented for Harry Potter fans.

WHERE: Raritan Valley Community College, 118 Lamington Rd., Branchburg

The following shows will be offered:

Fright Light (Family version)
WHEN: Saturdays, October 22 & 29, 4 p.m.
Enjoy a Halloween laser light show featuring such tunes as “Alive” by Meatloaf and “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. (Recommended for ages 6 to adult)

Fright Light (PG-13 version)
WHEN: Saturdays, October 22 & 29, 8 p.m.

This laser light show is not geared for young viewers or those who are easily scared. The show features such songs as “The Night Santa Went Crazy” by Weird Al, “Witch Queen of New Orleans” by Redbone, and “Time Warp” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Recommended for ages 13 to adult)

The Skies over Hogwarts
WHEN: Friday, October 28, 7 & 8 p.m.; Sunday, October 30, 6 & 7 p.m.

Join our eclectic group of witches and wizards as they guide you through a Harry Potter-themed tour of the night sky. Learn how author J.K. Rowling used astronomy as the inspiration for some of her characters' names. (Recommended for ages 8 and older)

TICKETS: $8 for one show or $14 for two shows on the same day. Reservations are strongly suggested for all Planetarium shows. For additional information or to make reservations, call 908-231-8805 or visit

Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit



WHEN: October 28* and October 30**
range from $25 - $45 and include performance, party, hors d'oeuvres, a live DJ, costume contest and much more.
WHERE: Chez Dubois in South Orange, NJ
TICKETS: range from $25 - $45 and include performance, party, hors d'oeuvres, a live DJ, costume contest and much more.
*The Friday night show is for those 21 and over.
**The Sunday afternoon performance is family friendly and appropriate for all ages.
To purchase tickets or to learn more about the event, please visit

Vanguard Theater Company announced its newest production to be presented over Halloween weekend. Fright Nights promises to be an exciting musical revue with selections from Broadway’s most spine chilling musicals including Sweeney Todd , Carrie,  Adams Family, Rocky Horror Picture Show,  Dracula, Phantom of the Opera and more.

Fright Nights is a weekend of performances and parties featuring musical acts from some of Broadway’s most spine tingling shows by some of our area's most talented and diverse performers,” says Vanguard Theater Company co-founder Janeece Freeman-Clark.  “Fright Night will be an exciting theatrical experience where, in addition to seeing amazing live theater in an unconventional space, patrons can come in costume to sing, dance and celebrate with a who's who of professional artists, arts enthusiasts and arts lovers. This event will be one of the most diverse, most exciting and most colorful Halloween offerings in Northern New Jersey,” says co-founder Daryl L. Stewart.

About Vanguard Theater Company: Vanguard Theater Company is committed to producing transformational theater and is dedicated to diversity, community engagement, education and professional artistic mentorship. Through dynamic storytelling, Vanguard produces works that reflect the various complexions of the 21st century artist and audience. Vanguard Theater Company is a registered 501 (c) 3 not for profit arts organization created by co-founders, Janeece Freeman-Clark and Daryl L. Stewart. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016


By Ruth Ross

When Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement hallway of the Dallas Police and Courts Building, 53 years ago next month, he deprived Americans—and the world—of an answer as to what motivated the scrawny young Texan to pull the trigger of his rifle in the Texas Book Depository and assassinate President John F. Kennedy that sunny November morning, thus giving rise to wild speculation, an entire raft of conspiracy theories and a good deal of armchair psychologizing. (Above, Michael Goldsmith as Lee Harvey Oswald)

Inaugurating Artistic Director David Saint’s 20th anniversary with George Street Playhouse, this polished production of Rob Urbinati’s Mama’s Boy may not answer the question definitively, but the playwright imaginatively fills in the gaps of Oswald’s familial history, specifically his relationships with his mother Marguerite and, later, his wife Marina, in an attempt to delineate and understand what led this young man to commit such a chilling, heinous crime. Eschewing political theory, Urbinati instead focuses on Oswald’s strained relations with his overbearing mother, making her the central character in the drama, further reducing this nonentity to even greater insignificance in a dysfunctional family of nonentities.

Framed by an appearance Marguerite Oswald at New York City’s Town Hall in February 1964, Mama’s Boy is her ostensible attempt to her son’s innocence of the president’s murder and vindicate herself as a doting, loving mother. During the course of the play—told in a flashback—Marguerite proves to be a monstrous, controlling, overbearing parent who, in the guise of making her youngest son feel good about himself, manages to emasculate him. With similar aid from Marina, Oswald devolves from a repatriated defector recently returned from Russia with high hopes of a “clean job” and rosy future, to become disgruntled at his low prospects for attaining the American Dream and flirting with the idea of moving to Cuba to better align his Communist beliefs with the life he hopes to lead. We hear very little about why Oswald lashed out at JFK (although Marguerite says he hated the president because he wanted to kill Castro), but Urbinati provides more than enough evidence that this powerless nobody committed the act to prove his personal worth.

On a revolving set designed by Michael Anania to represent the various apartments where the Oswalds lived, Director Saint moves the action along with whatever tension he can muster since we already know the outcome of the plot. Full of bravado, Michael Goldsmith’s Lee (left, with Aidem) diminishes before our eyes as his wife berates him for not providing for his growing family and his grasping mother tries to keep him her little boy forever. Torn between the two women, he speaks a credible Russian to his wife Marina, attempts to maintain domestic peace and carve out his own life, and descends to a physically abusing Marina when she stands up to him. Most of what appears to drive Lee is pretty surface stuff; minus any political motive, he’s not a very interesting character (as he probably was in real life). While we can sympathize with him regarding his mother’s meddling, the character ultimately remains a cipher, despite Urbinati’s and Goldsmith’s attempts to illuminate his inner life.

As his brother Robert, Miles G. Jackson (right) is a fine representative of a son who managed to escape and achieve success. Estranged from Marguerite by his own choice, he tries valiantly to save his weaker younger brother, but to no avail. In a small role, Jackson shows us what Lee might have become had the gumption to cut the apron strings.

But the two women characters are the heart of the play. Laurel Casillo(right, with Goldsmith) is superb as Lee’s Russian bride Marina, who finds that America is not such wonderful a place to live. Casillo conveys the young woman’s fierce rejection of her stupid mother-in-law’s interference and doesn’t hesitate to let Lee (who calls her, ironically, “Mama”) know that she will be the person he won’t. She’s not above pummeling him when he hits her and pushing his mother in a fit of pique. Best of all, her Russian sounds authentic and convincing. Of all the characters, she is the most worthy of our sympathy.

However, in the role of Marguerite, an extraordinary Betsy Aidem holds our attention every minute she’s onstage—which is most of the time. Talking incessantly in a grating voice with a thick Texan drawl (a scene where she tries to get Marina to repeat “soup” is especially droll), the woman’s domineering manner is made palpable. Aidem’s reaction to the news that Lee’s been shot is especially poignant, for whatever her faults, Marguerite loves her son, albeit in a twisted way. She sees conspiracy everywhere: Lee has been sent to kill JFK because the president is dying anyway; Robert and Marina are plotting against her; Lee is an agent working for the CIA or the FBI. Single-minded and narcissistic, she goes on a crusade to exonerate her boy, a battle that becomes almost laughable in the penultimate scene back at Town Hall where an unseen interviewer (Boyd Gaines) tears her credibility to shreds. Aidem’s Marguerite may not win our sympathy, but she gets points for persistence and grit.

Costumes designed by Michael McDonald are true to the period and help delineate the characters. It is especially telling that the clothing Marguerite “generously” purchases for Marina (from Woolworth’s!) are inappropriate for a young woman; the gesture is still another embodiment of the older woman’s desperate need for control. Michael Clark’s projections enhance Anania’s sets, as does Ken Billington’s lighting.

This New York area premiere of Mama’s Boy comes at an auspicious time. If they were alive today, the Oswalds would be among those living on the economy’s edge, feeling ignored by the government and looked down upon by successful people—prime material to support Donald Trump. Had Lee attended a Trump rally or two, the exhortations to “lock Hillary up,” exercise his2nd Amendment rights to “take her out,” and punch the opposition in the face might have resonated and incited this nobody to take matters into his own hands. As it is, in Mama’s Boy, the denigration of his manhood by his mother, wife, employer, society in general leads him to commit the crime that for many of us was, before 9-11, the defining event of our lives. Dramatically successful, Urbinati’s Mama’s Boy may not offer proof of Lee Harvey Oswald’s motivation, but it does illuminate the psychological forces that may have led him to do it.

Mama’s Boy will be performed at the George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, through November 6. For performance times and tickets, call the box office at 732.246.7717 or visit

Photos by T. Charles Erickson.

Friday, October 21, 2016



by Leslie Ayvasian
directed by Murphy Davis

WHEN: OCTOBER 27-NOVEMBER 13, 2016; Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3pm during the first weekend of a run, and Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 3pm and 7:30pm, and Sunday at 3pm during the second and third weekends.
The Mill Hill Playhouse is located at 205 E. Front Street, at the corner of Montgomery Street in Trenton, NJ.
TICKETS: 20 - $33 ($38 Saturday night). Student, group and senior discounts available.
To purchase tickets call (609) 392-0766, or visit www.passagetheatre.orgFree guarded on-street parking.

Passage Theatre Company, Trenton’s Barrymore Award-winning theatre company, will open its 2016-2017 season with Leslie Ayvazian’s smart and thoughtful comedy Out of the City.

Can one kiss change the whole picture? When two married couples in their 60s take a trip to celebrate a milestone birthday, they start pondering elusive romance and what comes next. This unorthodox romantic comedy, proves that rejuvenation can be found at any age.

Passage has previously presented four of Leslie Ayvazian’s plays: High Dive, Rosemary and I, Lovely Day and most recently Mention My Beauty as part of last season’s Solo Flights Festival. This production reunites the cast of a one-night-only performance in 2015: Ms. Ayvazian, Passage’s Artistic Director June Ballinger, Ken Land, and Grant Shaud.

“We’re excited to have our Artistic Director June Ballinger perform on Passage’s stage once again in this somewhat unorthodox comic production alongside playwright and actress Leslie Ayvazian,” says Damion Parran, Passage’s Managing Director. “This pairing, coupled with performances from Ken Land and Grant Shaud, will surely inspire belly laughs as well as recognition in all who see Out of the City.”

Leslie Ayvazian is the author of 8 full-length plays and seven one-act plays, published variously by Samuel French and Dramatists Play Service. Some have been included in annual anthologies of best plays. Nine Armenians won the John Gassner/Outer Critics Circle Award for best new American play, The Roger L. Stevens Award, and second place for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Rosemary and I received an honorable mention from the Susan Smith Blackburn jury.

June Ballinger has worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theatre and television, and has performed in many new works at theatres nationwide such as New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, Primary Stages, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Kennedy Center, New Harmony Theatre and Passage Theatre. She was a founding ensemble member of the Magic Carpet Play Company in San Francisco and was in the original Broadway cast of Pack of Lies starring Rosemary Harris. She is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC since 1993, a member of NYC’s The Actors Center, and Artistic Director of Trenton’s Passage Theatre Company since 1997. She also teaches acting to young adults and senior members of the Greater Trenton community.

Ken Land has appeared on Broadway in Promises, Promises, The Scarlet Pimpernel (all three versions), Victor/Victoria with Julie Andrews and Liza Minnelli and How The Grinch Stole Christmas at Madison Square Garden. Off-Broadway:  The Gig (Manhattan Theatre Club), Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. in Little Shop of Horrors (Orpheum Theatre), and The Death of Von Richthofen as Witnessed from Earth (Public Theatre).

Grant Shaud’s credits include Broadway: Relatively Speaking (three plays by Woody Allen, Elaine May, and Ethan Coen), Torch Song Trilogy (Harvey Fierstein). Off-Broadway: Writers Block (Woody Allen), Atlantic Theater Co., The Starry Messenger (Kenneth Lonergan) The New Group, Four Dogs and a Bone (John Patrick Shanley) Manhattan Theatre Club, After Ashley (Gia Gianfriddo) Vineyard Theatre, The Favor (Leslie Ayvazian) The Ensemble Studio Theatre, and others. Regional: Out of the City (Leslie Ayvazian) Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell, MA, Laughing Wild (Christopher Durang) Tiffany Theatre, Los Angeles, Out, Philadelphia Theater Co. Grant is a member of The Ensemble Studio Theatre (NYC).

Passage Theatre’s mainstage season is made possible in part by the N.J. State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the NEA; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Princeton Area Community Foundation; The City of Trenton; WIMG 1300; The Curtis McGraw Foundation; The James Kerney Foundation; PNC Bank; Trenton Thunder;  Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Mary O. Borden Foundation; Otsuka Pharmaceutical; George A. Ohl Trust and Wells Fargo; Investors Bank Foundation; The Garfield Foundation; NJ Council for the Humanities; The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey; The Shubert Foundation; and Mary G. Roebling Foundation.


Click here to buy online

Click here to buy online


Click here for sponsorship opportunities

Click here for sponsorship opportunities



Assembled-parties-sizedThe Assembled Parties
by Richard Greenberg
directed by Mark Liebert

WHEN: Sunday, October 23, at 6:30pm and Monday, October 24, at 7:30pm. 
Studio Players, 14 Alvin Place, Upper Montclair, NJ

“Welcome to the world of the Bascovs, a Jewish family living in a sprawling Central Park West apartment. In 1980, former movie star Julie Bascov and her sister-in-law Faye bring their families together for their traditional holiday dinner. But tonight, things are not usual. A houseguest has joined the festivities for the first time and he unwittingly – or perhaps by design – insinuates himself into the family drama. Twenty years later, the Bascovs’ seemingly picture-perfect life may be about to crumble.”

Performance dates are January 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, and 28.  Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are at 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm. 

No monologues required. 

Sides from the script will be provided and are available prior to auditions online at

For more information visit the Studio Playhouse website or call 973-744-9752

No Pay, No Fee


image2017 THINK FAST Short Play Competition
WHEN: November 18, 2016 Submission Deadline
WHO: Adult Playwrights, New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, 908 809-8865

The Theater Project, an award-winning, professional theater in Maplewood, NJ, is now soliciting short plays for THINK FAST, its fourth annual short play competition February 10-12, 2017. The contest is open to adult playwrights in the New Jersey-New York area.

The Theater Project, which also offers a competition for high school playwrights and presentations of original plays by New Jersey authors, sees this as a logical extension of its mission.

THINK FAST! Is the brainchild of the members of The Theater Project’s Playwrights’ Workshop, who act as judges for the competition.  “We were looking for ways to support other writers and Theater Project,” says alumnus Mike McGoldrick, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in playwriting at Arizona State University. “We designed the event to raise awareness about our workshop and the company, while giving writers what all us are looking for – the opportunity for our work to be seen.” 

“Our audience loves hearing new voices and seeing a range of characters, topics and plots. Nothing is more exciting than seeing new work take shape, and we’re happy to be able to bring this festival to our community.” says Mark Spina, artistic director of The Theater Project.

Plays can be either dramas or comedies but must be no more than 15 minutes running time. Plays selected are presented to audiences who for vote their favorite actors, directors and plays. One play is selected by a panel of judges to win the $500 Critics Choice grand prize. These performances will be open to the public and take place at The Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ

The competition accepts electronic submissions only. Complete submission details are available on the company’s web site:

The Theater Project, a professional theater company based in Maplewood, NJ, began in 1994 with the goal of bringing the best contemporary plays to our community. The company is known for presenting outrageous comedy as well as drama with social commentary.


Written by playwright Alfred Uhry
directed by Carol Fisher

WHEN: Saturday, October 22, ending on Saturday, November 12. Curtain goes up for Friday and Saturday performances at 8 pm, with Sunday matinees at 2 pm.
WHERE: Little Firehouse Theatre, 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell.
TICKETS: $21 for Friday and Saturday performances and $17 for Sunday matinees and can be purchased online at, by calling 201-261-4200 or by visiting the box office at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell during regular box office hours. Visa, Master Card and American Express are accepted.

Religious tolerance gets an intra-ethnic twist in the Bergen County Players production of The Last Night of Ballyhoo.

The Los Angeles Times called the play “achingly beautiful…luminous and powerful. Uhry draws his characters with so fine a pen, on such a solid foundation, that the story takes on the sharp poignancy of life.”

The play is set in Atlanta, Georgia in December 1939, on the eve of World War II. Its main characters are drawn from a largely upper middle class German-Jewish community.

“I’ve wanted to direct this play for a long time,” says Fisher, who has helmed a number of other BCP productions, most recently "A Shayna Maidel". “As a Jewish person raised in Oklahoma, I understand firsthand what it’s like to be the minority and have to try so hard to fit in. I understand why the characters in the play struggle to blend in to the greater society, and their need to make compromises.”

Adolph Freitag, (Mic McCormack of Tenafly) is the owner of the Dixie Bedding Company. He and his sister Boo (Sharon Podsada of Emerson) and sister-in-law Reba (Janica Carpenter of Old Tappan) along with nieces Lala (Emily Bosco of Closter) and Sunny (Emma Ruck of Tappan, NY) are highly assimilated. In fact, the action begins with one of the nieces singing “The First Noel,” as she decorates a Christmas tree in the home’s front parlor. Everyone in the family, along with Peachy (Darren Carfano of Suffern), known for his outspokenness, is looking forward to Ballyhoo, a lavish cotillion ball sponsored by their restrictive country club. Enter Joe Farkas (Allen Pines of Fair Lawn), an attractive Jewish bachelor who Adolph has just hired. Joe is from New York, and although he has experienced some prejudice, he is unable to fathom its existence within his own religious community and can’t understand why some members of the Freitag clan treat him differently because of his Eastern European roots. The play is lighthearted and funny, but it has its serious moments. As it unfolds, the attitudes of some characters shift underscoring “The Last Night of Ballyhoo” themes of acceptance and change.

The production team, besides Director Carol Fisher of Teaneck, includes Rhea Smith of Oradell (Producer/Program Notes), Michael Smith of Oradell (Set Design/Construction/Photography), Ellyn Essig of Rivervale (Décor), Michele Roth of New Milford (Stage Manager), Allan Seward of Bardonia, NY (Lighting Design), Rob DeScherer of Woodcliff Lake (Sound Design), Katie Lupfer of Tenafly (Costumer), Barbara Murtha of Allendale (Props), Kathleen Ruland of Lodi (Lighting Operation), Cliff Dreispan of North Bergen (Sound Operation) and Bill Wetzel of Maywood (Program Advertising/Photography). Crew members include Richard Ciero of Oradell, Judy Rosenberg of Dumont, Kahyo Eguchi of Edgewater and David Luke of Mahwah.


  • BCP’s popular Questions & Artists talkback session will be held following the performance on Friday, October 28. The session is included in the ticket price.
  • Those interested in Group Sales of 20 or more tickets can email or call the main number and press #6.
  • A new program is now available for qualified non-profit organizations to use one performance of each production as a fundraising event. The group will book the house at a deeply discounted price and then resell the tickets at a price of their choosing, with the difference in price kept by the group. The available date is the Thursday of each show’s final weekend.
    Interested groups can email for more information.
  • Parking is free at the Park Avenue municipal lot, across the street, one-half block north of the theatre.

The Bergen County Players has grown tremendously from its roots as a small community theatre when it was founded in 1932; today, more than 300 volunteer members, working on and off stage, make possible the nine productions presented each season.

Further information can be found at

Photo: (standing, l-r) Darren Carfano, Sharon Podsada, Mic McCormack, Janica Carpenter, Allen Pines and (seated, l-r) Emily Bosco and Emma Ruck. Photo by Michael Smith


ReelAbilities Film Festival

WHEN: Opening Night Double Feature
October 30, 5:00pm
JCC MetroWest, 760 Northfield Ave., West Orange

Shooting Beauty
Tells the story of fashion photographer Courtney Bent whose career takes an unexpected turn when she discovers a hidden world of beauty at a center for people living with significant disabilities.

On Beauty
Photographer Rick Guidotti left the fashion world, along with its restrictive parameters of the industry's standard of beauty, and re-focused his lens on those too often relegated to the shadows.

Rick is joining us for our post screening discussion!

Complimentary photo shoot with Jan Press Photo for ticket holders.
Limited availability--CALL TO RESERVE!

ReelAbilities Film Festival: 2E: Twice Exceptional
WHEN: November 3, 7:00pm

This documentary follows the personal journeys of a group of high school students who have been identified as "twice exceptional." 

ReelAbilities Film Festival

Closing Night--In Partnership with the New Jersey Jewish Film Festival

WHEN: November 5, 7:30pm

A Blind Hero: The Love of Otto Weidt

This docu-drama tells the story of a blind factory owner, Otto Weidt (Yad Vashem Calls him the unsung Schindler). Award-winning journalist and author, Inge Deutschkron, provides her incredible personal account of Weidt's shrewd efforts to save her, her Mother and the rest of his employees from the Nazis. 

The 17th Annual New Jersey Jewish Film Festival

Mark your calendars! The 17th Annual New Jersey Jewish Film Festival will run March 19-April 2, 2017.

Become a Sponsor now ( and enjoy Sponsor perks throughout the year! For more information, contact Carol Berman: / 973-530-3421

The Gaelen Galleries

Gaelen Gallery East

September 11-October 23
Lorraine DeProspo, painting and Ellen Hark, mixed media
Gaelen Juried Show award winners

Arts/Theater Lobby 

September 11-October 23
Cindy Klein, paintings

Steiner Court and Arts Lobby Showcases 

September 11-December 18
Book Arts Roundtable

For more information, contact Lisa Suss: / 973-530-3413

JCC MetroWest School of the Arts

Register NOW--only a few spots left


  • Painting Workshop - Tuesdays, 9:30-11:00am
  • Ceramics Hand Sculpting - FREE TRIAL CLASS AVAILABLE
  • Mondays, 7:00-9:00pm; Wednesdays, 10:00am-12:00pm

Grade School

  • Hip Hop/Acro - Mondays, 4:15pm
  • Creative Clay - Wednesdays, 4:15pm
  • Bollywood Blast! - Wednesdays, 4:15pm

Early Childhood 

  • Fun with Clay - Wednesdays, 12:45pm
  • Creative Clay - Mondays, 2:10pm
  • Environmental Art Explorers - Tuesdays, 2:10pm
  • Ballet/Tap - Tuesdays, 2:10pm



Dance on Film Festival
WHEN: Friday, October 28, 2016 at 7:00pm, Rain or Shine
: Grounds For Sculpture (GFS), located in Hamilton, New Jersey (midway between Philadelphia and New York
TICKETS: $15. Park admission day of film fest included. Advance purchase includes admission for Day of Dance on 10/30.

Dance on Film is an evening of stunning dance films from around the globe produced and created by women filmmakers and choreographers. The Dance on Film Festival will feature short films by Alissa & Joshua Baird, Jessi Jamz Colon & Bat-Sheva Guez, Monica Campbell, Nikita Dmitrievsky, Justina Grayman, Cara Hagen, Nikita Maheshwary, Katherine Maxwell & Jordan Taylor Fuller, Kailee McMurran & Dylan Wilber, Mayumu Minakawa & Tom Weksler, Mitchell Rose & Bebe Miller, Duston Spear, Tanin Torabi, and Jana Younes. These films come from locations as close as New Jersey to as far away as Russia, India, and Lebanon.

Day of Dance
WHEN: October 30, 2016, at 2pm, Rain or Shine
: Grounds For Sculpture (GFS), located in Hamilton, New Jersey (midway between Philadelphia and New York
TICKETS: Free with park admission: Adults $15, Senior (65+) $12, Students $10, Members and Children (5 and under) Free

This afternoon of gorgeous live performance is a dynamic, family-friendly journey through Grounds For Sculpture. Come to experience dance and sculpture in a whole new way! Rain or Shine. This year’s live performances are choreographed by Ishita Bhattacharya, Janis Brenner, Harika Chatlapalli, Delhi Dance Theater, Amanda Edwards, Jaclyn Gary, Ariel Grossman, Maré Hieronimus, Laura Katz, Fatima Logan-Alston, Boroka Nagy, Svea Schneider, Blythe Erica Smith, Meggi Sweeney Smith, Maxine Steinman, Kimberly Tate, Harlee Trautman, Blakeley White-McGuire, and Hee Ra Yoo.

Now in its 12th year, The Outlet Dance Project, is an annual festival of women-identifying artists sharing their vision through site-specific dance, film, and work created for the stage. Through partnership with Grounds For Sculpture, community outreach, interdisciplinary collaboration, and performance, The Outlet Dance Project strives to enrich the region with dance.

The following sculptures will be featured in site-specific choreography: Ex-haltations by Linda Fleming, The Awakening by Seward Johnson, da Vinci's knot by Robert Lobe, Split Ritual II by Beverly Pepper, Untitled (Steel Roots) by Steven Tobin, Arcs in Disorder by Bernar Venet, Eolith & Ode to a Possum by Isaac Witkin, and Wind, Water, Stone by Elyn Zimmerman.

Grounds For Sculpture (GFS), located in Hamilton, New Jersey (midway between Philadelphia and New York), is a forty-two acre not-for-profit sculpture park and arboretum founded by Seward Johnson. Its collection features more than 270 contemporary sculptures by renowned and emerging artists. Exhibitions change seasonally in six indoor galleries. With rich educational offerings, a robust schedule of performing arts, and fun family events, the park is open year-round. Shopping and dining options complement every visit.

For hours, admission prices, and a calendar of events, visit


Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker
Adapted by Jim Helsinger from Dracula by Bram Stoker
With John Keller
Directed by Melissa Firlit

WHEN: October 13 through October 30, Thursday, Friday and Saturday @ 8pm; Sunday @ 3pm
Mile Square Theatre, 1400 Clinton St., Hoboken
TICKETS:  $30 • $18/students and seniors

Jonathan Harker sets off on a mission to find and destroy Count Dracula, an undead creature of the night, in this tour-de-force thrill ride. John Keller stars in this captivating gothic horror tale.

"John Keller is a tour-de-force...this production is not to be missed."—

"The kind of good scare that theatergoers love to experience." —Cape May Star

Mile Square Theatre is supported by Academy Bus, CSBK, The Rockefeller Group,, 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.



Watch Out: A Juried High School Film Festival


WHEN: October 25th, 2016 at 5 PM
WHERE: Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Hgts. Rd., Morristown
TICKETS: $5 per person
Box Office: 973.971.3706

From showcasing artists in exhibitions, to theatrical or musical performances, the Garden State is ripe with talent and we wanted to share another fun event for high schoolers in the area.

The first annual WATCH OUT film festival at the Morris Museum, organized in collaboration with the Film Production Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, is especially for young filmmakers who are high school students.

This film festival celebrates the creative efforts of high school educators and students in the medium of film. This is a wonderful opportunity for young filmmakers to share their work in a public forum on the big screen in a 300-seat theater.

Please contact the with questions.


NJ Youth Poet Laureate Contest

We've decided to extend the deadline on our NJ Youth Poet Laureate poetry contest, so high school poets now have until December 1, 2016 (a few extra weeks) to enter!

There are three winners, one from each region of the state—North, Central, and South—and awesome prizes like the chance to perform your work at various poetry events throughout the state, a Governor's Award, and having your poems published in an anthology.

All you have to do is submit up to five poems to the contest—it's completely free!

But despite the extension, the deadline is coming up soon, so enter now! Entries will only be accepted up until December 1st, 2016 at 11:59 PM, so tell the high school poets in your life to submit now!

Head over to for all of the details and to submit online!


By Ruth Ross

WHEN: October 30 – November 5
Maurice Levin Theatre, JCC Metrowest, 760 Northfield Ave., West Orange
TICKETS: $5 per screening for $12 for a package that includes a ticket to each film screened there. Tickets may be purchased at
For more information about films and discussions at this venue, contact Carol Berman, Director of the New Jersey Jewish Film Festival, at or call 973.530.3421; you can also visit online.

Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act over a quarter century ago, public awareness of the disabled has increased, as has their greater acceptance in the workplace—even in the movies and on television.

Capitalizing on this interest, Montclair is the site of the ReelAbilities Film Festival, with screenings at Montclair State University and the JCC MetroWest in West Orange from October 30 through November 5, 2016. This event is part of the largest disability film festival in the country and is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. The festival will feature cutting edge and sometimes controversial films that challenge assumptions and promote discussion about ability and disability.


The festival kicks off with a collaboration with the New Jersey Jewish Film Festival, offering screenings at the Maurice Levin Theater in the JCC Metrowest Building, 760 Northfield Avenue, West Orange. The Sunday, October 30, screening at 5 p.m. will feature two films, followed by a discussion led by Rick Guidotti. “Shooting Beauty” tells the story of fashion designer who discovers a hidden world of beauty at a center for people living with significant disabilities. It is followed by “On Beauty,” a film by Guidotti, who left the fashion world and its restrictive industrial standard of beauty to focus his lens on people too often relegated to the shadows.

imageOn Thursday, November 3, at 7 p.m., the festival will show “2E: Twice Exceptional,” a documentary that follows the personal journeys of a group of high school students who have been identified as “twice exceptional.” The post-screening discussion will be facilitated by Rebecca Wanatick (moderator), Sonya Selig (community building, awareness, organizing & lead for parent support groups), Alison Brown (Advocacy For Kids), and Beth Manes, Esq.


imageThe final offering at this venue will be “A Blind Hero: Otto Weidt,” a docu-drama that tells the story of a blind factory owner who saved his employees from the Nazis. Among them was Award-winning journalist/author Inge Deutschkron, who provides an incredible personal account of Weidt’s shrewd efforts to save her and her mother. This film will be shown on Saturday, November 5, at 7:30 p.m. Elsa Zavoda (Program Director, Vision Loss Alliance of NJ) and another member of the VLA team) will lead the post-screening discussion.