Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Blake Stadnik (This Is Us), Matt Monaco (Public Theatre) To Star In RIFT


Blake Stadnik (This Is Us) and Matt Monaco (Public Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre) will star in the World Premiere of RIFT or White Lies at Luna Stage.

Most well known for his time as Jack Damon on NBC’s This Is Us, Stadnik will debut on the Luna Stage after making West Orange his home this past summer. As a an actor who’s  legally blind, Blake strives to raise the industry’s awareness of disabled artists’ true and formidable abilities, and he hopes to be an example and resource for young people with disabilities hoping to thrive in the arts. His theatre credits include Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables, 42nd Street, and Love’s Labors Lost. Blake holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Penn State University.

Monaco’s theatre credits include Lorin in Gloria at American Conservatory Theatre, Murderer/Henry VI/Bishop of Ely in Richard III at The Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park, Fred in Christmas Carol at McCarter Theatre, Bill in Lobby Hero at Florida Repertory Theatre, Young Scrooge in Christmas Carol at American Conservatory Theatre, Mike in Seared at Gloucester Stage Company, Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet at Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, George in Stop Kiss at TheatreFIRST, and Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross and Altarena Playhouse. He holds a BA in Drama from San Francisco State University and an MFA in Acting from American Conservatory Theatre. A Montclair resident since September, Matt makes his Luna debut with this production. 

Stadnik and Monaco play estranged siblings in this World Premiere by Gabriel Jason Dean commissioned by Luna Stage, directed by Ari Laura Kreith


WHEN: February 8-March 3, 2024, Fridays at 8:00 p.m, Saturdays at 3:00 p.m and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 3:00 p.m., with a special midweek matinee on Thursday, February 15 at 1:00 p.m.
Luna Stage, 555 Valley Road, West Orange
TICKETS: $40 at, with a limited number of $20 and $10 tickets available as part of Luna’s commitment to ensuring access for all.

Two brothers—one a progressive novelist, the other a convicted murderer and high-ranking member of a white supremacist prison gang–are united through their traumatic childhood. Now adults, these men navigate the edges of their brotherly bond. Are they truly so different? Is it possible to love someone whose beliefs you hate? RIFT is a story of estrangement, ideological divide, and the fight to change one another.

A work of fiction, RIFT or White Lies is inspired by playwright Dean’s relationship with his brother, a currently-incarcerated high-level member of the alt-right. The two had been estranged since Dean’s discovery of his brother’s affiliation in 2010. In creating the piece, Dean reconnected with his brother to explore the roots of their ideological differences and try to find common ground.

The play is the live culmination of a two-part project commissioned by Luna. Part 1, #RIFT: A Play Over Text Message, an eight-week interactive virtual experience blending text message conversations, audio files, and images, was delivered to subscribers’’ cell phones across the country during the height of the pandemic. The project was awarded grants from the Venturous Theatre Foundation’s Plays For Now program and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance STAGES Festival, and was featured as part of the National Day of Racial Healing.

This is Dean’s second in-person production at Luna Stage. His play Heartland, also directed by Kreith, explored familial estrangement across geographic and cultural boundaries, and was selected as one of NJArts Top 12 NJ Theater productions of 2019. 

For tickets and more info visit



LUNA STAGE is a professional regional theatre dedicated to developing and producing vibrant plays about local and global experiences. Firmly rooted in New Jersey's Valley Arts District—a crossroads of cultures—Luna brings its communities together for artistic events that spark conversations and create understanding and change.

Luna received the JerseyArts People's Choice Award for Favorite Small Theatre in New Jersey and has contributed to the development of over 100 new works for the stage, many of which premiered at Luna and have gone on to be produced in New York, regionally, and internationally.

As producer, innovator, and educator, Luna is dedicated to eliminating barriers to participation and allowing all community members to nurture their own creativity and vision. Luna offers classes for children and adults, as well as opportunities for early-career and established theatre artists to develop and incubate new work.

All programs and productions at Luna are pay-what-you-choose to support equity and access to professional arts experiences in our region.

For more information, visit or email


Luna Stage | 555 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ 07052 | Instagram @luna.stage