Thursday, March 17, 2022

Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Launches Community Theater for Adults

Defying Gravity 
by Jane Anderson

WHEN: June 17, 18, 24 & 25 at 8:00 p.m. and June 19 & June 26 at 2:00 p.m.
Wharton Black Box Theater located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights
For more information on Lifelong Learning at Wharton Arts, visit

The Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts announced today the launch of Wharton Community Players, its first-ever adult community theater program at the Wharton Performing Arts School. 

Part of the newly minted division of study for adults, Lifelong Learning, the Wharton Community Players strives to foster a space of creativity, expression, and inclusion. Wharton’s black box theater is the perfect setting to explore the artistry of acting and experiment with performing in an intimate setting. 

The program is free, but an audition is required to join the cast

WHEN: Auditions will be held on Sunday, March 27, at 2:30 p.m. and Monday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m.
Audition requirements and details can be found online at
For more information, call (908) 790-0700 or visit

Jane Anderson’s Defying Gravity, the first production of the Wharton Community Players, examines the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster through the experiences of Teacher, who died in the crash, and her daughter Elizabeth. It weaves through time, going from life on the day of the crash to life twenty years after Elizabeth has lost her mother to the incident. 

The production team includes Timothy Maureen Cole, Producer; Jackie Jacobi, Director; George Seylaz, Stage Manager; and Steve Catron, Set Design.

Said Defying Gravity Director Jackie Jacobi, "I'm so excited to direct the first production of the Wharton Community Players. Minimalism, with an emphasis on character and rich storytelling, is my favorite kind of theatre, and I'm ecstatic to get to share this passion with the Wharton community."

"It's an honor to bring community theatre to Wharton Arts for the first time. As an educational institution, we're committed to creating an atmosphere of creativity and performance opportunities for all ages, and the Wharton Community Players is the perfect way to give our adult population that opportunity" said Producer and Director of Theater Programs, Timothy Maureen Cole.

Said Artistic Director Helen H. Cha-Pyo, “We are extremely excited about our new Lifelong Learning division here at Wharton Arts. Wharton Community Players is one of many wonderful opportunities for learners of all ages to improve quality of life and stay engaged in an inclusive community through performing arts. We offer private and semi-private lessons on both instruments and voice as well as a variety of group classes designed for adults.”

The Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts’ mission is to offer accessible, high quality performing arts education that sparks personal growth and builds inclusive communities.

Wharton is New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts education center serving over 1,500 students through a range of classes and ensembles including the 15 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, which serve 500 students in grades 3 – 12 by audition. Beginning with Pathways classes for young children, Wharton offers private lessons, group classes, and ensembles for all ages and all abilities at the Performing Arts School. With the belief in the positive and unifying influence of music and the performing arts and that arts education should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability to pay, Wharton teaches all instruments and voice and has a robust musical theater program. Based in Paterson, New Jersey, the Paterson Music Project is an El Sistema-inspired program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts that uses music as a vehicle for social change by empowering and inspiring children through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing.

Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, NJ and reaches students from 10 counties. All of Wharton’s extraordinary faculty members and conductors hold degrees in their teaching specialty and have been vetted and trained to enable our students to achieve their personal best.