New Jersey Stage

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Crowns" Opens at Cranford's The Theater Project on September 23

(Cranford, NJ) -- The Theater Project, Union County College's Professional Theater Company, will proudly present its first ever musical, "Crowns," with a four-weekend run opening Thursday, September 23 and running through Sunday, October 17, 2010.

Performances will take place in the Roy Smith Theater at the Cranford campus of Union County College, 1033 Springfield Avenue. Performance times are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sunday matinees at 3pm. Tickets range from $10-30 and can be reserved by contacting Brown Paper Tickets either online at or by telephone at 800-838-3006. Information is also available at

"Crowns" is a moving and celebratory musical play in which hats become a springboard for an exploration of black history and identity as seen through the eyes of a young black woman who travels down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn. Gospel music, rap and dance underscore her story as she explores her cultural identity and the significance of her roots in a very energetic, colorful and theatrical depiction of African-American life.

Originally produced in New York City with McCarter Theatre in association with Second Stage Theatre in 2002, "Crowns" is based on the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marbury and adapted by Regina Taylor. Hailed as ‘an artful amalgamation of oral history, fashion show, and musical theatre' by, the musical play is based on the book: Crowns. Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats.

"All of us at The Theater Project are excited about presenting this deeply moving and celebratory musical play that features a great story, inspirational gospel music, and characters to which our audiences will certainly relate," said director and Theater Project Artistic Director Mark Spina. "Our talented cast of ‘Crowns' will delight our audiences and we expect to raise the roof of our theater each and every performance," added Spina.

The production's musical director is Gail Lou, an accomplished recording artist, actress, songwriter, and arranger. She recently performed off-Broadway as Lena Horne in "Mama I Want to Sing" and has received critical acclaim from the Grammy Committee for her recordings. The production's choreographer is Juson Williams.

Special accessibility performances will be held throughout the run of "Crowns." Opening night September 23 will be audio described to better serve blind audience members of our community. Sunday matinee performances on October 3, 10 and 17 will be sign interpreted for deaf audience members from our community. As is done for all shows presented by The Theater Project, the cast will be available after each performance to take up individual Q&A with interested audience members as our way of furthering the uniqueness of live theater versus other entertainment options.

Begun in 1994, The Theater Project is known as Union County College's Professional Theater Company and is celebrating another season of producing new works and contemporary classics. An award-winning Associate Member of the New Jersey Theater Alliance, The Theater Project is recognized for its color-blind casting policy and provocative "actor's view of theater" seating where the audience literally sits on stage with the actors "where the action is." The Theater Project has recently received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the New Jersey State Council for the Arts, and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. More information is available at