Tuesday, February 14, 2023


As its first production of 2023, Center Players proudly presents Neil Simon’s classic comedy, 

The Prisoner of Second Avenue 
Directed by award-winning filmmaker and playwright Anthony Marinelli of Manalapan

WHEN: Feb. 10-26Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm
WHERE: Center Playhouse, 35 South St., Freehold.
$28-30 and are available online at or by calling 732-462-9093.

The play centers around Mel Edison, an advertising executive who is at war: with New York City, with his neighbors, and most of all with himself. After being laid off from his job of 22 years, he has a hard time breaking the news to his devoted wife, Edna, but after their apartment is robbed and it doesn’t seem possible that things can get any worse, Mel has a nervous breakdown. Soon, Edna goes back to work to support the family while Mel becomes a virtual prisoner in his own home, feeling worthless and unsure of what the future holds. This dark comedy shows how a husband and wife can weather any storm as long they have each other’s love, support — and a very big shovel.

“Even though the original Broadway production opened in 1971, I found a lot of similar themes to what we’re experiencing now in this country with layoffs, inflation, and a general insecurity about the future,” noted Marinelli. “Plus, ageism is still very real, so the fact that Mel is worried that he won’t be able to find another job at age 47 is still a concern to many. Of course, Neil Simon handles these issues with humor, which is what makes the play so enjoyable and relatable.”

The cast features Michael Tota (Wall), Rebecca Grossman (Hoboken), RoseMarie Franklin (Ocean Grove), Jerry D. O’Donnell (Manalapan), Maureen Blair (Avon) and Tracy Howard (Manalapan).

Over the past 15 years, Marinelli has written and directed for both stage and screen including his upcoming film, Why I Had To Kill You While You Slept. On the NYC stage, he produced and directed Fool for Love and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. His original one-act plays include Acoustic Space (Winner Best Play, 2014 Strawberry One-Act Festival), Another Famous Dead Artist, Max & Domino, and Visitors. His film adaptation of Acoustic Space won Best Short in the 2018 Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival and Best Original Screenplay in the 2016 Richmond International Film Festival. Another short, Walt Whitman Never Paid for It, by Angelo Berkowitz, won the Audience Choice Award at the Richmond International Film Festival.

At Center Players, Marinelli has directed staged readings of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Speed-the-Plow as well as Signature Series Presentations Play It Again Sam, Chapter Two, Butterflies Are Free, Same Time Next Year, Prelude to a Kiss and Crimes of the Heart.  

Center Players, currently celebrating its 21st season at Center Playhouse, is a respected, award-winning organization. The group presents high quality, engaging productions featuring local talent in downtown Freehold. In addition to their signature plays, the theater also sponsors free play readings and other special events and offers dinner and theater packages with several local restaurants. More information can be found at