New Jersey Stage

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cape May Stage Presents Jeanne Ruddy Dance

(Cape May, NJ) -- Cape May Stage is thrilled to announce an original offering to Cape May audiences!  For the first time, Cape May Stage is opening its doors to a world-renown dance company: Jeanne Ruddy Dance.  Performing pieces entitled No Fear of Flying (excerpts), Enfold, Four Screaming Women, and The System, this stellar performance will take place Sunday, November 7th at 3pm at the Robert Shackletonlayhouse at the corner of Bank and Lafayette Streets in downtown Cape May.

Now it its tenth year, Jeanne Ruddy Dance began with a grant from the Pew Charitable Trust Foundation for a project called Dans Project 4 Philadelphia, featuring choreography by Igal Perry with Ms. Ruddy and three other Philadelphia dancers.  Since then, the company has been renamed "Jeanne Ruddy Dance" and has founded Philadelphia's first "studio theatre" dedicated exclusively to modern dance. The Performance Garage at 1515 Brandywine St. serves as both a showcase for emerging and established artists and as a critical springboard for the growth and vitality of smaller dance companies and artists throughout the community.

The concert at Cape May Stage features selections from No Fear of Flying, Enfold, Four Screaming Women, and The System.  The works touch on love and romance, the Equal Rights Amendment, and strong female characterizations, ranging from 1960s-era "diva" to modern-day "really desperate housewives." Grammy award winning composer, arranger, producing pianist, Barry Miles, will accompany the performance. Miles has recorded as keyboardist on hundreds of albums with artists including: Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight, Al Di Meola, Mongo Santamaria, Esther Phillips, Patti Austin, Martha Reeves, Gato Barbieri, Glen Campbell, Englebert Humperdinck, Joe Simon, Esther Satterfield, Mel Torme, Michel LeGrand, Richie Havens, Luther Vandross, Eddie Kendricks, Peabo Bryson, Phil Woods, and more. The Philadelphia City Paper has called Jeanne Ruddy Dance "a first-rate contemporary dance company" with "the city's best independent dancers."

Jeanne Ruddy (Founder, Artistic Director, Jeanne Ruddy Dance) is a former Principal Dancer with the Martha Graham Company where she performed throughout the world and was featured in the PBS Great Performances series in Graham's Cave of the Heart. She also performed leading roles in such Graham works as Andromache's Lament, Diversion of Angels, Deaths and Entrances, Seraphic Dialogue, Clytemnestra, Cortege of Eagles, Embattled Garden, Herodiade, and Appalachian Spring. She has also danced on Broadway in The King and I, starring Yul Brynner and was an original member of Agnes de Mille's Heritage Dance Theatre. She received her early dance training in Miami, earning her B.F.A. from North Carolina School of the Arts and her Masters of Arts degree from New York University. She directed the Graham-based modern department at The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center from 1986 to1995 and was a faculty member of The Juilliard School from 1988 to 1998 under the direction of Martha Hill, Murial Topaz and Benjamin Harkarvey.

In addition, she directed, choreographed and danced in her own company, Jeanne Ruddy and Dancers, in New York City. Ms. Ruddy has been invited to numerous international symposiums: The Congress of the Dance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; The International Sommerakadamie des Tanzes, Cologne, Germany; and The American Dance Festival in Moscow, Russia, where she was the first to teach the Martha Graham Technique to an advanced group of young Russian artists after Russia opened in 1993. She has been a guest artist where she has taught and choreographed in many of the United States' leading colleges and universities of dance such as Sarah Lawrence College, Connecticut College and Florida State University. Local teaching appointments have included Temple University, The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, and as company teacher at Philadanco. Ms. Ruddy served as Co-chair of the Executive Council of The Rock School from 1994 to 2001 and served for six years on the board of Dance Affiliates. In August 2008, Ms. Ruddy was selected to represent Philadelphia artists in the American delegation that attended the Tanzmesse conference in Düsseldorf, Germany, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by Dance/USA.

Part of Cape May Stage's acclaimed Second Stage Series, Jeanne Ruddy Dance will perform for one day only on November 7th at 3pm at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse at the corner of Bank & Lafayette Streets in downtown Cape May.  Tickets are $20.  Call (609) 884-1341 for reservations and information or visit the theatre's website,

Cape May Stage's Second Stage Series is presented through the gracious support of Chris and Dave Clemans.

State Theatre and AM Productions present BENISE: The Spanish Guitar

(New Brunswick, NJ) —- State Theatre and AM Productions present music star BENISE and his Emmy(R) Award-winning PBS Special Nights of Fire cast in the new music and dance spectacular, The Spanish Guitar on Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 8pm. Part of a 45-city tour, this event follows a PBS special and an acclaimed performance on Dancing with the Stars. Tickets range from $27-62.

The Spanish Guitar features Benise's guitar as protagonist in a story of lost love and mysterious workings where the enchanted Spanish Guitar can transport Benise to the far ends of the world. Hailed as the Latin equivalent of such beloved theatrical music and dance spectacles as Riverdance and Celtic Women, the show incorporates an ever-changing multi-media stage set with actual footage of Benise in his voyage across the globe. This epic tale was filmed over three years and across 10 countries with scenes from the cobblestone streets of Old Havana, an Arabian Desert, the romantic canals of Venice, the oldest bullring in Spain, a Parisian café, and a 2,000 year-old sacred Buddhist temple in India.

The Spanish Guitar is directed by Raj Kapoor (Josh Groban, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and Britney Spears) and choreographed by Alex Magno (Madonna, Yanni, Pussycat Dolls, Ballet Hispanico) with lighting design by Bud Horowitz (Bette Midler, Natalie Cole, Yanni).  Benise's band is made up of such world-class musicians as violinist Karen Briggs (Yanni), percussionist Daniel de los Reyes (Sting, Shakara, Jennifer Lopez), and Latin jazz singer, Karina Nuvo. The Gitanas, Benise's female dancers in The Spanish Guitar, were carefully handpicked from a global pool of some of the most brilliantly diverse talent to be found including traditional Flamenco dancers, Broadway dancers, and featured soloists from Madonna, Celine Dion, and Ricky Martin. Breathtaking couture fashion and the unparalleled beauty of the dancers themselves complement the beautiful Spanish dancing.

Accompanying the tour is the release of The Spanish Guitar CD and DVD via Rosanegra Music and PBS video.  Guest artists featured in the filming of The Spanish Guitar include smooth jazz icon Dave Koz; from her own PBS special, Giorgia Fumanti singing Evermore ("The Wedding Song"); American Idol's Kimberly Locke with the Los Angeles Gospel choir singing "Spanish Guitar;" and a Parisian waltz by Dancing with the Stars couple Nick Kosovich and Lena Bacheva. The Spanish Guitar is Benise's eighth CD, third DVD and second PBS special (he won an Emmy(R) for his first, Nights of Fire).

A former street musician, Benise began composing original works with powerfully emotional arrangements that are both wild and refined, producing a sound that is as edgy and exotic as it is romantic and sensual.  Benise redefined the ordinary and started to promote his own concerts. His grassroots approach led to sold out 2000-seat theaters and now to multi-city national tours.

For tickets or more information, call the State Theatre ticket office at 732-246-SHOW (7469), or visit us online at The State Theatre ticket office, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10am to 6pm; Wednesday 11am to 7pm; Saturday 1pm to 5pm; and at least one hour prior to curtain on performance dates. For information on group outings and discounts, call 732-247-7200, ext. 517.

The State Theatre, a premier nonprofit venue for the performing arts and entertainment. The theater exists to enrich people's lives, contribute to a vital urban environment, and build future audiences by presenting the finest performing artists and entertainers and fostering lifetime appreciation for the performing arts through education. The State Theatre's programs are made possible, in part, by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. Continental Airlines is the official airline of the State Theatre. The Heldrich is the official hotel of the State Theatre. Magic 98. 3 is the official radio station of the State Theatre. The Star-Ledger is the official newspaper of the State Theatre.


(CINNAMINSON, NJ) -- Burlington County Footlighters continues its 73rd season with author and journalist Mitch Albom's comic play And the Winner Is…, November 5 – 20, 2010. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; and Sundays at 2 pm at The Playhouse, 808 Pomona Road in Cinnaminson, NJ. Albom, a New Jersey native noted for his books "Tuesdays with Morrie," "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and more, has also written for the theatre.

And the Winner Is... debuted in 2005 and tells the comic story of Tyler Johnes, a self-obsessed movie star who is finally nominated for an Oscar after many years in the business. Then he dies the night before the awards ceremony. Outraged at his bad luck and determined to know if he wins (even though he's dead), he bargains with a heavenly gatekeeper to return to Earth for the big night. Along the way, he drags his agent, his acting rival, his bombshell girlfriend and his ex-wife into a journey that is a wildly twisting tale of Hollywood, the afterlife and how we are judged.

Director Jennifer Staffenberg of Cherry Hill, along with assistant director Brian Peeke of Medford, leads a cast that includes Roman Lupan of Marlton as Tyler with Dan Brothers of Maple Shade as Seamus, Jason Cutts of Riverton as Kyle, Valerie Mazzagatti of Maple Shade as Sherri, Siobhan O'Brien of Mount Laurel as Serenity and Tim Sagges of Oaklyn as Teddy.

Tickets are $15. For reservations or additional information, call 856-829-7144 or visit

Funding has been made possible in part by the NJ State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, from a grant to the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Department of Resource Conservation, Division of Cultural Affairs & Tourism.

Winners of the Fall 2010 New Jersey Film Festival Competition Announced

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- All the works that were part of the NJ Film Festival Competition  were selected by a panel of judges including media professionals, journalists, students, and academics. These judges selected the 38 finalists which were publicly screened at our Festival. The finalists were selected from 266 works submitted by filmmakers from around the world. In addition, the judges chose the Prize Winners in conjunction with the Festival Director.

Winner Best Documentary Film = Professional Membership from Writers Boot Camp valued at $1000
Beijing Punk - Shaun Jefford

Winner Best Feature Film = Professional Membership from Writers Boot Camp valued at $1000
Fanny, Annie & Danny - Chris Brown

Winner Best Short Documentary Film = Professional Membership from Writers Boot Camp valued at $1000
Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean - Curt Fissel

Winner Best Short Film = Professional Membership from Writers Boot Camp valued at $1000
The Cycle – Roy Clovis

Winner Best Animation Film = Showbiz Software valued at $1000
Prayers For Peace – Dustin Grella

Winner Best Student Film = Gorilla Software from Jungle Software  valued at $500

A Complex Villainelle - Bart Ovaitt, Nate Billington, Rebecca Forth and Ryan Porter

Honorable Mention Winners:
Yankeeland: In the Shadow of the Stadium - Michael Gartland and Robert Weiss
Sunset to Sunset - Kent Hayward
Chosin - Brian Iglesias
Calling My Children - David Binder
Dreaming Mali – Barbara Kowa
Lights - Giulio Ricciarelli
Overload - Robert Fritz
5...6...7...8 - Andy Milkis
Dvojka (Twosome) - Jaroslav Fuit

Broadway's Jim Stanek Returns to Star In Skyline's "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play"

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(Bloomfield, NJ) -- 4th Wall Theatre will hold open auditions for all roles in Funny Girl in Concert, book by Isobel Lennart, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Bob Merrill.  The production will be directed by Josh Penzell and music directed by Markus Hauck. The concert will be staged at The Westminster Arts Center, corner of Franklin and Freemont Streets in Bloomfield, NJ, where the company is in residence.

Auditions will be held on Saturday, November 13 at 4:00 and Sunday, November 14 at 6:00 pm at the New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts, located at 593 Bloomfield Avenue (corner of Broad Street) in Bloomfield, NJ. Sign-up starts half an hour prior to the start of auditions; please do not arrive before then. Callbacks will be held on Monday, November 15 beginning at 7:00 pm at the same location.

Funny Girl is the story of Broadway/film star and comedienne Fanny Brice and her stormy relationship with entrepreneur and gambler Nick Arnstein.  In this concert version, several of the women in the ensemble of 15-16 will share the role of Fanny, who sings more than half the score.  Songs include "People," "Don't Rain on My Parade," "The Music That Makes Me Dance," and "Cornet Man."

Auditioning actors and actresses should prepare their own song (NOT from the show) that is appropriate to the role(s) for which they want to be considered; please bring legible sheet music in your key.  Callback material (songs and sides) will be provided at the audition.  Auditioners are encouraged to become familiar with the show or film in advance.  All roles are open, and adult actors of all ages and ethnicities are encouraged to attend.

The production runs January 21-23, 2011. Non-union/small stipend paid.  Please bring a headshot and resume stapled together, and be prepared to provide a list of any conflicts you might have during the rehearsal process.  A complete breakdown of roles, vocal ranges, and downloadable sides is available at

4th Wall Theatre sets the highest standards of excellence in producing diverse, seldom performed and original productions, celebrating a wide spectrum of visions and voices in theatre. 4th Wall is committed to breaking through the wall of imagination, to make cutting edge works accessible, and to foster a positive theatre experience for our artists and audience.

Cape May Stage & PNC Arts Alive Host Several Special Evenings for "Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)"

(Cape May, NJ) -- Take advantage of the Fall holiday savings offered this month at Cape May Stage, with several special events scheduled for the latest comedic rollercoaster ride of a show, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) now playing at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse through November 20.

Through the generous support of PNC Arts Alive, the Equity theatre is pleased to host a half-price senior matinee at 3 pm on Sunday October 31st. All seniors 62 and older can attend a "Senior Savings" performance at the discounted rate of $15 per ticket – a 50% discount off regular box office prices and still make it home in time to greet those trick-or-treaters or attend a Halloween party.

In addition to the discount on the 31st, Cape May Stage annually observes Veterans' Day on Thursday, November 11 by offering a half-priced evening performance at 8 pm to all Active Duty and Veterans at a discounted rate of $15 per ticket (regular ticket rate is $30.00). Veterans' Night was created to give retired service men and those still on Active Duty and opportunity to see a professional Equity theatre production at a discounted rate.

Cape May Stage and PNC Arts Alive continually strive to make performances open to all regardless of the ability to pay by offering a pay-what-you-can performance for the main stage show and Complete Works… is no exception. On Sunday, November 14, at 3pm, patrons of all ages are encouraged to attend this hilarious show at an admission price of their own choosing! Tickets for designated pay-what-you-can performances go on sale at the box office a 2:45PM prior to a 3PM curtain time. Whatever tickets have not sold for that afternoon's performance will be on a first-come first-serve basis. Cash sales and exact change o|Ly. Seating for all pay-what-you-can performances is subject to availability and is not guaranteed. Call (609) 884-1341 for more details.

Lastly, interpreters Celeste Herse and Anne Maselli return once again to translate the spoken parts of the show into American Sign Language (ASL) for Deaf audiences on Friday, November 19 at 8 pm.  Complete Works… is a hilarious comedic romp through all of the Bard's 37 timeless tales in only 97 minutes. Call (609) 884-1341 for reservations and discount information.

PNC Financial Services Group is the presenting sponsor of Cape May Stage's "Senior Savings Series." The support is part of PNC Arts Alive, a five-year, $5 million investment from The PNC Foundation to help area residents gain access to the arts, and to help arts organizations expand and engage audiences.

Directed by Harland Meltzer and starring Mark Irish, Jake Paque, and David Schmittou, Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse on the corner of Bank and Lafayette Streets in downtown Cape May. The final public performance of the current run is 8pm on Saturday evening, November 20.

Tickets are $35 adults, $30 seniors, and $12.50 students. Call (609) 884-1341 for reservations and information or visit the theatre's website,

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is presented through the gracious support of Study Savings Bank and The Fudge Kitchen.  This season's sponsors include 410 Bank Street/Frescos, Exit Zero, The Washington Inn, Cape May Winery, and Lucky Bones.

Young Scientists Explore the Arts at the State Theatre With Support from National Starch

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Aimee Mann Comes To Strand Theater

(Lakewood, NJ) -- Coming to The Strand, Sunday November 21st at 7:30pm is new wave pop singer Aimee Mann.  During the 1980’s she was the in the group 'Til Tuesday. Today she establishes herself as one of the most prominent singer-songwriters of her generation. Her successful solo career has spanned across several critically acclaimed albums, including the massively popular soundtrack for the film Magnolia. This movie garnered her an Academy Award nomination for Best Song in 2000.  

Time magazine has said of her, "Mann has the same skill that great tunesmiths like McCartney and Neil Young have: the knack for writing simple, beautiful, instantly engaging songs." Do not miss this one performance and join us for a night of music and memories. Ticket prices range from $49 (Orchestra/Loge), $39 (Mezzanine), and $29 (Tier), plus service charge.

For more information about this performance, future performances and more visit Aimee Mann’s official website at For more information call the box office at 732-367-7789 or visit the website at

The Strand Theater is located at 4th Street and Clifton Avenue, Lakewood, NJ.


(New Brunswick, NJ) -- In 2010-2011, the State Theatre brings orchestras from around the world to the New Brunswick stage. Kicking off the classical series is the BBC Concert Orchestra (11/7/10), featuring Maestro Keith Lockhart, best known as the conductor for the Boston Pops. Classical performances to follow include Salute to Vienna—World's Greatest New Year's Celebration (12/31/10), is back by popular demand; the Budapest Festival Orchestra (1/27/11) in a program of Haydn and Stravinsky; and the Philharmonic of Poland (2/13/11) in a program of Strauss, Liszt, and Chopin. This performance is part of the Philharmonic of Poland's first U.S. tour. Rounding out the year will be a pops performance by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in A Salute to Oscar(R) and Golden Globe(R) composer John Williams (4/17/11). The 2010-2011 Symphony Series is sponsored by The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation.

2010-2011 Classical Performances

BBC Concert Orchestra
Conducted by Keith Lockhart
Sun, November 7, 2010 at 4pm
Program: Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro: Overture; Mendelssohn, A Midsummer Night's Dream: Scherzo, Nocturne, Wedding March; Mendelssohn, Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25 with pianist Ilya Yakushev; Vaughan Williams, Symphony No. 5 in D major
From its humble beginnings as a radio orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra has grown into one of the world's most respected and versatile orchestras, with an enviable reputation in the fields of light music, opera, ballet and musicals, on radio, television, and in the concert hall. Tickets range from $32-72.

Salute to Vienna
New Year's Concert 2011
Fri, December 31, 2010 at 6pm
Featuring: The Strauss Symphony of America; Klaus Arp, conductor (Vienna); Katarzyna Dondalska, soprano (Warsaw); Dániel Vadász, tenor (Budapest); and dancers from Kiev-Aniko Ballet of Ukraine.
Inspired by Vienna's world-famous Neujahrskonzert (New Year's Concert), this holiday tradition brings the same splendor, charm and beauty to the State Theatre once again. A brilliant new cast of over 75 musicians, European singers and dancers inspire and delight with popular Strauss waltzes, polkas and operetta excerpts.  Tickets range from $47-97.

Budapest Festival Orchestra
Thu, January 27, 2011 at 8pm
Iván Fischer, founder and conductor
Alexei Lubimov, piano soloist
Program: Haydn, Symphony No. 102; Haydn, Piano Concerto in D Major, Hob.XVIII:11 with pianist Alexei Lubimov; Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring "D
A*national treasure for 27 years, the BFO and founder/conductor Iván Fischer, have represented Hungary in some of the world's great concert halls including Zürich's Tonhalle, New York's Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl, Tokyo's Suntory Hall, and Paris' Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. In the past 30 years, Fischer, known for his intense rehearsal methods, has conducted the likes of the London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, and the Munich Philharmonic, among others. Tickets range from $32-72.

Philharmonic of Poland
Direct from Opole, POLAND
Sun, February 13, 2011 at 3pm
Boguslaw Dawidow, music director and conductor
Program: R. Strauss, Don Juan, Op. 20; F. Liszt, Mazeppa Symphonic Poem No. 6; and F. Chopin, Piano Concerto No.1, Op.11
The history of the National Philharmonic of Poland can be traced back to the years immediately following World War II when it was founded in 1947, becoming the resident Orchestra of Opole. This will be the orchestra's first transcontinental tour of the U.S. Tickets range from $32-72.

A Salute to John Williams
Sun, April 17, 2011 at 3pm
Gerald Steichen, conductor
Presented by State Theatre and NJSO
Oscar(R) and Golden Globe(R) winner John Williams has written the soundtracks for some of the most defining films of the last 50 years. It takes only a few notes to recognize the themes from Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Schindler's List. Hear these and more, like Superman, Memoirs of a Geisha, and The Cowboys, as we salute this incredible talent. Tickets range from $20-65.

The 2010-2011 Symphony Series is sponsored by The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation.

For tickets or more information, call the State Theatre ticket office at 732-246-SHOW (7469), or visit us online at The State Theatre ticket office, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10am to 6pm; Wednesday 11am to 7pm; Saturday 1pm to 5pm; and at least one hour prior to curtain on performance dates. For information on group outings and discounts, call 732-247-7200, ext. 517.


(GLASSBORO, NJ) -– Music inspired by Scottish legends and themes is at the heart of Bay Atlantic Symphony's "No Bagpipes!" concert at Rowan University on Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8 pm in the university's Pfleeger Concert Hall. The performance will be preceded by a one-hour "Conversation with the Maestro" beginning at 7 pm.

Led by musical director Jed Gaylin, the evening features selections from Donizetti's opera Lucia di Lammermoor, performed by members of Opera Vivente. This celebrated bel canto opera is based on Sir Walter Scott's historical novel, The Bride of Lammermoor. The performance includes the haunting "Sextet," one of the most famous ensemble pieces in all of opera, and the "Mad Scene," a coloratura tour de force for the title character. Mendelssohn's spirited and richly-hued Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 ("Scottish") is part of the program as well. At turns mystical and snappy, this symphony provides an alternate mood and style.

"There is everything in this opera: love, murder, insanity; juicy stuff," Gaylin states, also noting that "Mendelssohn's Symphony is a masterpiece of form. The program is a study in contrasts."

The concert is the first of two performances BAS will give at Rowan this season, with a return on Friday, May 6 at 8 pm for "Soave and Scorching" featuring Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Op. 55 in Eb (Eroïca) and Ravel's Mother Goose Suite and Piano Concerto in G Major, with guest pianist Cong Fan. Again a pre-concert begins at 7 pm.

Bay-Atlantic Symphony, ensemble-in-residence at Rowan, is a professional orchestra that offers symphonic and chamber music concerts and sponsors educational experiences for student, adult and special populations throughout southern New Jersey. This region-wide outreach is unique among orchestras the size of BAS, exhibiting the Symphony's mission of exposing the citizens of southern New Jersey to the beauty and power of classical music through live performance and education.

The Symphony's first commercial label recording, She Comes to Shore – a concerto for improvised piano and orchestra by the contemporary Hong Kong-born/Canadian-based composer and pianist Lee Pui Ming, was recorded at Rowan University in August and will be released in December on the Innova label, distributed by Naxos.

Thanks to a generous grant from PNC Arts Alive, tickets for all BAS concerts are $25. Admission for Rowan students is free with valid ID. Pfleeger Concert Hall is located in Wilson Hall on the campus of Rowan University, Route 322 in Glassboro. For reservations or additional information, call the box office at (856) 256-4545, email or purchase online at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Ladies of Song and Soul Come To Lakewood

(Lakewood, NJ) -- Coming Friday, November 19th, at 8pm, The Ladies of Song and Soul! It will be a night of eclectic mix of blues, Americana, folk, and rock and roll as NJ singer/songwriters come together for a night of women in music series. 

Featuring, Jo Wymer, Melissa Chill, Aster Pheonyx, Virago, Paige Chaplin and hosted by Christine Martucci. A singer/songwriter right from central New Jersey, Aster Pheonyx began her music career performing at The Stone Pony, Maxwells, and the Starland Ballroom. In Christine Martucci's second album "I'm All In", the song "There You Are" has been featured on VH1, MTV, and Logo.

Tickets for all seats are $25.00, plus service charge. This will surely be a night you will not want to miss. We hope to see you there! For more information about certain singers like Christine Martucci visit her website at Want to follow Jo Wymer? Visit her Facebook page at Look to for performances by Paige Chaplin and Melissa Chill.

For more information call the box office at 732-367-7789 or visit the website at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Glen Burtnik To Headline Asbury Park Musical Heritage 2011 Celebration

The city of Asbury Park is excited to announce the launch of its Asbury Park Musical Heritage 2011 Celebration on November 18 with a special fundraising concert at the Stone Pony.  Headlined by popular singer-songwriter and former Styx band member Glen Burtnik, the concert will kick-off what will be a year-long celebration of the city's rich musical heritage happening in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution's New Harmonies exhibit coming to Asbury Park in March 2011.

Burtnik, known for his rock-opera compositions and role in "Beatlemania" as Paul McCartney, will be joined on the legendary Stone Pony stage by the city's former mayor, and notable Asbury Park musician, Kevin Sanders and his band, The Mayor's Players.  Popular performers who call Asbury's music venues home, including Outside the Box, will also join Burtnik as the evening's special guests.  City officials are looking forward to announcing additional plans for the Asbury Park Musical Heritage 2011 Celebration to the Stone Pony crowd on November 18.

The Asbury Park Musical Heritage 2011 concert will begin at 7:00 p.m.  General admission is $50.00 and VIP tickets are $100.00.  Interested parties can reserve tickets now via Ticketmaster ( and 800-745-3000) or by calling the Stone Pony box office at 732-502-0600.

Friday, October 15, 2010

3rd Annual Banding Together Internet Benefit Concert For Spondylitis

For the third consecutive year Banding Together: A Benefit For The Spondylitis Association of America will air on internet radio stations and

During the weekend of October 15th through 17th Banding Together will broadcast over 50 concert performances to help raise awareness and money for this good cause. Artists include some of the best up-and-coming artists as well as nationally known artists.

"The webathon will be the internet radio equivalent of the Jerry Lewis telethon, only with better music," says Lazlo, the founder of and the organizer of Banding Together.

During the course of Banding Together, listeners will be encouraged to donate money via a secure on-line section of the Spondylitis Association Of America's website. Everybody donating during the webathon will receive a free digital download of the box set, " - the First Ten Years 2000-2010", as a thank you gift. The collection features over 6 hours of music, with over 100 songs from New Jersey bands that has played since it's inception in late 2000. A complete track listing is available at

Artists scheduled to perform during Banding Together include:
Analogue Transit, Bastards Of Melody, Bern & The Brights, Brett Fuentes, Brett Harris, Christian Beach, Colie Brice, Copesetic, Drew & The Medicinal Pen, Eryn Shewell, Fairmont, Greg D, Harvey Brice, J Orellana, Jeannie O'Neill & Thomas Martin, Jim Testa, Joe Canzano, John Raido, Jon Caspi, Jonathan Andrew, Keith Monacchio, Little Dipper, Logs In The Mainstream, Mark Parker, Matt Colligan, Matt Wade, Megaphone, Michael Scotto, Mike Ferraro, Mike Grau, New Day Dawn, Paul Rosevear, Pete Jager, Red Flag Fleet, Rik Mercaldi, Scott Lurker, Scruff, The Accelerators, The Amboys, The Break Evens, The Crayons, The Femurs, The Raving Knaves, The Successful Failures, The Wag, The Winter Sounds, Tony Tedesco, Zigman Bird...with more to be announced shortly, as well as re-airing some popular performances from previous years.

The Spondylitis Association Of America (SAA) is a non-profit organization that was the first and remains the largest resource for people affected by spondylitis. Through their efforts, they help advance education, research and treatment for ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and related diseases. More than 50,000 people per month visit SAA's interactive website to access over 1600 pages of up-to-date content for information and support. For more than 25 years SAA has dedicated all of its resources to help improve the lives of people coping with spondylitis.

"This is a very personal benefit for me as my wife, Naomi, suffers from ankylosing spondylitis (AS).", says Lazlo, "I have seen the debilitating effects of this disease and the chronic pain and discomfort it causes. This benefit is the least I can do to help my wife, and over a million others who suffer from AS."

The benefit runs Friday night October 15th through Sunday night October 17th. It will be broadcast on and

The complete schedule is below.

For more information go to


Friday October 15th
6:00 PM - Scott Lurker
6:30 PM - The Accelerators
7:05 PM - Mark Parker
7:35 PM - Jim Testa
8:05 PM - Bern & The Brights
8:35 PM - New Day Dawn
9:05 PM - The Raving Knaves
9:40 PM - Red Flag Fleet
10:15 PM - Colie Brice
10:50 PM - Paul Sanchez (2008)
11:35 PM - Val Emmich (2009)

Saturday October 16th
12:00 AM - The English Beat (2009)
2:00 AM - Beloved Binge (2009)
2:35 AM - The Winter Sounds (2009)
3:05 AM - Crewman Number Six (2009)
3:45 AM - Downshallow (2009)
4:30 AM - Ben Godwin & Dan Costello (2009)
5:05 AM - Domenick Carino (2009)
5:35 AM - Frank Bressi (2008)
6:05 AM - Bobby Strange (2009)
6:40 AM - George Wirth (2009)
7:10 AM - Kate Hart (2008)
7:45 AM - Anthony Fiumano (Walker) (2009)
8:15 AM - Hey Tiger (2009)
8:45 AM - Joshua Van Ness (2009)
9:25 AM - The Cucumbers (2009)
10:00 AM - The Wag
10:35 AM - Greg D
11:10 AM - Jeannie O'Neill & Thomas Martin
11:45 AM - Matt Colligan
12:20 PM - Scruff
12:50 PM - Logs In The Mainstream
1:20 PM - The Subterraneans
1:50 PM - Brett Fuentes
2:20 PM - Mike Ferraro
2:50 PM - Jonathan Andrew
3:25 PM - Michael Scotto
3:55 PM - Brett Harris
4:30 PM - Christian Beach
5:05 PM - Megaphone
5:35 PM - Matt Wade
6:15 PM - Analogue Transit
6:55 PM - Zigman Bird
7:20 PM - The Successful Failures
8:10 PM - Bastards Of Melody
8:55 PM - The Break Evens
9:25 PM - Little Dipper
9:55 PM - Crosstown Country Allstars
10:55 PM - Marcy Playground (2009)
11:15 PM - Spiraling (2008)
11:50 PM - Miles Hunt & Erica Knockalls (2009)

Sunday October 17th
12:55 AM - Kaiser Cartel (2009)
1:35 AM - Rick Barry (2009)
2:15 AM - Grover Kent (2008)
2:40 AM - The Heshers (2009)
3:20 AM - ReachDown (Dead Fish Handshake) (2009)
3:55 AM - Synthetic Sympathies (2008)
4:20 AM - Randy Morning (2009)
4:50 AM - J Stanley (2008)
5:25 AM - Tris McCall (2009)
5:55 AM - Wiser Time (2009)
6:25 AM - Arlan Feiles (2009)
7:00 AM - Kimon (2009)
7:35 AM - Jon Dacks (2008)
8:05 AM - The Anderson Council (2009)
8:35 AM - Lloyd United (2009)
9:00 AM - Second Dan (2009)
9:40 AM - The Crayons (2009)
10:00 AM - Brian Vander Ark (2008)
11:10 AM - Keith Monacchio
12:00 PM - Harvey Brice
12:35 AM - Copesetic
1:15 PM - Fairmont
1:50 PM - J Orellana
2:25 PM - Pete Jager
2:55 PM - Tony Tedesco
3:30 PM - Happy Joe
4:00 PM - Foggy Otis
4:30 PM - Mike Grau
5:00 PM - Paul Rosevear
5:30 PM - Jon Caspi & The First Gun
6:05 PM - ? TBA

State Theatre Presents Penn & Teller

(New Brunswick, NJ) —- State Theatre presents the magic duo Penn & Teller on Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8pm. Known worldwide for their outrageous blending of comedy and magic, Penn & Teller's live show has been a hit on Broadway, Las Vegas, and all around the country. Edgy, provocative and hilarious, Penn & Teller's live show can involve knives, guns, a fire-eating showgirl, and a duck. Tickets range from $35-75.

Known as the "Bad Boys of Magic," for supposedly revealing the secrets to their tricks, they may show you how it´s done, but they still manage to leave you startled. For 35 years Penn & Teller have defied labels—and at times physics and good taste—by redefining the genre of magic and inventing their own very distinct niche in comedy. With sold out runs on Broadway, world tours, Emmy®-winning TV specials and hundreds of outrageous appearances on everything from Letterman to Leno, Friends to The Simpsons, Chelsea Lately to Top Chef, contemporary comedy's only team show no signs of slowing down.

With an amazing five wins as "Las Vegas Magicians of the Year," their almost 10-year run at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino makes them one of the longest running and most-beloved shows in Las Vegas history, outselling every other resident magician on The Strip. Their acclaimed Showtime series, Penn & Teller: BullSh**! has been nominated for 13 Emmys® and is the longest-running series in the history of the network. The show tackles the fakes and frauds behind such topics as alien abduction, psychics and bottled water.

Along the way, they've written three New York Times Best-Sellers, hosted their own Emmy® nominated variety show for FX, starred in their own specials for ABC®, NBC® and Comedy Central® and produced the critically lauded feature film documentary The Aristocrats.

As individuals, they are just as prolific. Currently, Teller is opening a show Off- Broadway on November 10 called Play Dead. The play was written and directed by Teller. Teller has also directed a version of Macbeth that toured the East Coast to raves from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and has written two books. Penn has written two novels, hosted the NBC® game show Identity and donned his ballroom shoes for the 2008 season of ABC's hit Dancing With The Stars.

For tickets or more information, call the State Theatre ticket office at 732-246-SHOW (7469), or visit us online at The State Theatre ticket office, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10am to 6pm; Wednesday 11am to 7pm; Saturday 1pm to 5pm; and at least one hour prior to curtain on performance dates. For information on group outings and discounts, call 732-247-7200, ext. 517.

The State Theatre, a premier nonprofit venue for the performing arts and entertainment. The theater exists to enrich people's lives, contribute to a vital urban environment, and build future audiences by presenting the finest performing artists and entertainers and fostering lifetime appreciation for the performing arts through education. The State Theatre's programs are made possible, in part, by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. Continental Airlines is the official airline of the State Theatre. The Heldrich is the official hotel of the State Theatre. Magic 98. 3 is the official radio station of the State Theatre. The Star-Ledger is the official newspaper of the State Theatre.

State Theatre presents Leo Lionni's Swimmy, Frederick & Inch by Inch

(New Brunswick, NJ) -- On Halloween, the State Theatre presents Leo Lionni's Swimmy, Frederick & Inch by Inch performed by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia on Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 11am. Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia transforms three of Leo Lionni's Caldecott Honor books into an enchanting theatrical experience for kids. Also, parents and kids can kick off their Halloween festivities with us by coming in costume to the show to receive free candy and goodies! Tickets range from $15-25.

Swimmy is the story of a tiny fish that uses ingenuity to fend off danger. In Frederick, a poetic mouse makes everyday life an artful experience. Finally, Inch by Inch features a lovable inchworm with a knack for measuring absolutely everything. The production incorporates an assortment of innovative puppetry styles, imaginative lighting techniques, and an original musical score.

About Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia
Founded in 1972, Mermaid Theatre's unique adaptations of children's literature have delighted more than four million young people on four continents. The company ranks among North America's most respected theatres for the young, and has won widespread recognition for its important ambassadorial role.

About the Author/Illustrator
As a child, Leo Lionni, born in Holland in 1919, taught himself to draw by copying the work of the masters in Amsterdam's museums. Following his immigration to the U.S. in 1939, he embarked on a highly successful career in the world of graphic design. Shortly before retiring, he turned to the creation of children's literature, a field in which he could combine his interests and talents in both applied and fine art. He subsequently earned worldwide popularity as the author and illustrator of more than 30 books, many of them translated into numerous languages. Among other honors, Leo Lionni was a four-time winner of the prestigious Caldicott Honor Book award. He died in Tuscany in 1999, at the age of 89, leaving a remarkable legacy for future generations.

For tickets or more information, call the State Theatre ticket office at 732-246-SHOW (7469), or visit us online at The State Theatre ticket office, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10am to 6pm; Wednesday 11am to 7pm; Saturday 1pm to 5pm; and at least one hour prior to curtain on performance dates. For information on group outings and discounts, call 732-247-7200, ext. 517.

The State Theatre, a premier nonprofit venue for the performing arts and entertainment. The theater exists to enrich people's lives, contribute to a vital urban environment, and build future audiences by presenting the finest performing artists and entertainers and fostering lifetime appreciation for the performing arts through education. The State Theatre's programs are made possible, in part, by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. Continental Airlines is the official airline of the State Theatre. The Heldrich is the official hotel of the State Theatre. Magic 98.3 is the official radio station of the State Theatre. The Star-Ledger is the official newspaper of the State Theatre.

Cape May Stage Presents The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

(Cape May, NJ) -- Cape May Stage, South Jersey’s premier professional Equity theatre, is excited to announce a production of classic theatre presented as you've never seen it before!  The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) presents all of the Bard's 37 plays and 154 sonnets in about two hours!  Directed by Harland Meltzer and starring Mark Irish, Jake Paque, and David Schmittou, Complete Works will open October 27th and run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse on the corner of Bank and Lafayette Streets in downtown Cape May.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was written and performed by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987.  From there, it moved to the Criterion in London's West End, running for nine record-breaking years.  Complete Works is a madcap romp through everything ever written by the greatest writer of the English language.  Three actors perform each of Shakespeare's plays in the first act, in styles wildly divergent from their original: Titus Andronicus, for example, is performed as a cooking show and Othello is told through gangsta rap.  All of Shakespeare's histories are told as a football game using the British Crown as the football, and all of his comedies are reduced to one reading, the justification being that they all use the same plots, anyway.  At the end of the first act, the actors realize they've left out the greatest play of them all -- Hamlet -- and the second act is spent rectifying this.  In all, it's two hilarious and enlightening hours of theater that you're unlikely to experience anywhere else!

<b>About the Cast and Director</b>
Director Harland Meltzer has extensive Shakespearean experience, as the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of The Colonial Theatre and Shakespeare Festival, a founding member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association of America, where since 1985 he has directed or produced  over 200 Main Stage and Shakespeare in the Park productions.  He directs at theatres regionally and in New York, where he has also received awards for his work with new plays.  Meltzer has assembled a troupe of actors well versed in Shakespeare.  Jake Paque received his BFA in Acting from the University of Wisconsin, toured nationally in Mornings of April and May and now resides in NYC. He has several Shakespearean shows to his credit, including George, Duke of Clarence in Henry VI part 3 and Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Actor Mark Irish devoted the last four summers to the Northeast Shakespeare Ensemble where he played Oberon in Midsummer, Edgar in King Lear, Don John in Much Ado, and Vladimir in Waiting for Godot among other roles.  He also spent four seasons at the Colonial Theatre in RI where roles included Demetrius in Midsummer and Sylvius in As You Like It.  Actor David Schmittou has portrayed Lysander in Midsummer as well as Fabian in Twelfth Night.  In addition, he has toured Europe playing Brad in The Rocky Horror Show and won the Kevin Kline Award playing Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone at Stages St. Louis.

<b>Show Information</b>
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) opens Thursday, October 28, 2010, at 8:00 pm at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse at the corner of Bank & Lafayette Streets in downtown Cape May.   Performances thereafter are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm through November 20th.  Tickets are $35 adults, $30 seniors, and $12.50 students. Call (609) 884-1341 for reservations and information or visit the theatre’s website,

During the current run Cape May Stage is participating with four Cape May gourmet restaurants in a money-saving “Dinner & A Show” package promotion - a special night out. Restaurants involved in the promotion include The Blue Pig Tavern, The Ebbitt Room, The Mad Batter, and The Washington Inn. Call the individual restaurants for reservations and information.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) is presented through the gracious support of Study Savings Bank and The Fudge Kitchen.  This season’s sponsors include 410 Bank Street/Frescos, Exit Zero, The Washington Inn, Cape May Winery, and Lucky Bones.

Chester Theatre Group Presents Reading of "The Women"

(CHESTER, NJ) -- The Chester Theatre Group, of the Black River Playhouse, in Chester will present a reading of Claire Boothe Luce's classic play "The Women." The dates are November 5 and 6 (Fri. & Sat.) at 8 pm. Tickets are $10. The theatre is located at Grove and Maple in Chester Borough, New Jersey. Reservations: 908.879.7304 Website: For more information, please visit

Welcome to a secret society – the world of women. In The Women, a 1930s Broadway hit by Clare Boothe Luce, a Manhattan socialite finds out her husband is cheating on her, and her girlfriends are no help at all. With manicured claws, these women are fighting to maintain their status while scheming to leave, steal or win back their own husbands. This classic play captures a world that only half the population ever really gets to see. A revealing look into the lives of the ladies-who-lunch that is clever, cut-throat and full of outrageous humor. "The Women" had an initial Broadway run of 657 performances before touring for two years. It was later adapted for the big screen in 1939.

"A play that takes place in women's boudoirs, salons, bubble baths and powder rooms – information for the men in the audience, confirmation for the women and a true celebration of the extraordinary actresses in our company." "I don't ask any man to understand me. How could he? I'm a woman."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Two River Theater Company Presents OPUS

(Red Bank, NJ)-- Two River Theater Co. is proud to present Opus, a play about a renowned string quartet, written by Michael Hollinger and directed by Little Silver's Matthew Arbour. Opus is the story of an esteemed string quartet that, days before the most important performance of their careers, fires a member of the group, and must quickly find a replacement. The play runs from October 26 through November 14, 2010.

The play explores the shockingly difficult dynamics of a string quartet, and how far people will go to create great art. Based in part of the playwright's own experience as a violist, as well as the experiences of the world famous Guarneri quartet, the play is infused with the music of Bach, Bartok, and Beethoven, and has been called "vibrant", "astounding", and "truly remarkable" by critics across the country.

Says Two River Theater Artistic Director John Dias, "The beauty of this play is that although it is ostensibly about the world of classical music, it's getting at something much more universal: the struggle we all face trying to find harmony in our families, our work, our lives. This play has been such a success across the country precisely because you don't need to be a music buff to enjoy it—we can all relate to Opus."

Director Matthew Arbour, who grew up in nearby Little Silver, has this to say about the production:  "Opus is, at its core, about the paradoxical idea that to succeed most well as an individual, one must work collectively and collaboratively with others, and about how difficult it is to achieve that balance." He draws a comparison between the characters that inhabit this play and a recent cover of Sports Illustrated, with four members of the New York Yankees—Rivera, Pettitte, Posada, and Jeter. "These guys have been making their career together for over a decade," he explained. "They are the core of the team. Their bonds are so powerful that any shift in dynamic affects the outcome of the game. Their lives are on top of each other, but they are still individuals. That is exactly the relationship of the musicians in this quartet."

It is a particular pleasure for Arbour to be directing this show here at Two River Theater Company. He grew up in nearby Little Silver, where his parents still live, and was a student at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft. Today, Arbour directs across the country but acknowledges that there is nothing quite like directing a piece for an audience he knows and loves so well. "When I was growing up in Monmouth County," he said, "there was no theater of Two River's caliber in the area. I am thrilled to come home and be a part of this amazing institution."

He is delighted by the cast he has assembled, calling them "extraordinary, distinct individuals".  The cast is headed up by Geoffrey Owens, renowned actor of stage and screen, most well-known for his role of Elvin in The Cosby Show.

He is joined by Saxon Palmer (Three Sisters on Broadway), Two River Theater alum Kevin Kelly and Craig Baldwin (who were both in Twelfth Night at New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater), and Anjanette Hall in her LORT theater debut.

Opus begins previews on Tuesday, October 26, opens Saturday, October 30, and runs through Sunday, November 14.


Matthew Arbour, Director: Matthew's work has been seen at PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chautauqua Theater Company, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Two River Theater Company, New Jersey Repertory, 78th Street Theatre Lab, Ohio Theater, Washington Ensemble Theater, Portland Stage Company, Hangar Theatre, Theatre at Monmouth, and the Penobscot Theatre Company among others. Matthew served as resident dramaturg and literary manager of Portland Stage Company from 1992 to 1998. He is a member of the First Look Theatre Company at NYU, an Associate Artist of the Washington Ensemble Theater, a Usual Suspect of New York Theatre Workshop, and Drama League Directing Fellow.  MFA: University of Washington, Seattle.

Craig Baldwin*, Dorian: This is Craig's first appearance with Two River. New York: Twelfth Night for NYSF/ Public Theater at the Delacorte; Age of Iron, An Oresteia, The Tempest, Richard III and Richard II, Classic Stage Company; Septimus & Clarissa for Ripetime and Red Bull Theater; The Field for Irish Repertory Theater; Murder by Poe and Richard III for The Acting Company; The Passion of George W. Bush for NYCFringe and Joe's Pub; and more. Regional: Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Shakespeare & Company, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Connecticut Rep, Berkshire Theater Festival; and more. Screen: Title role in Charles Gilpatrick: Front Desk Clerk; and As the World Turns. Craig is the Associate Artistic Director at Red Bull Theater, an Associate Artist with Classic Stage Company, Resident Director of Outhouse Theatre Company and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors' Lab. Training: Juilliard

Anjanette Hall*, Grace: Two River Theater Company debut in Opus. Credits include: Ilse in Spring Awakening, Sarah in J.B. with Red Stage Theatre Company. Emily in Our Town and Turtle in A Year with Frog and Toad with Cardinal Stage Company.  Emma in Betrayal, Lydia in Big Love, Carol in Oleanna with Rutgers Theatre Company. Film/Television: Gretchen Huber on NBC's ED, Josie in Be Still. Anjanette's favorite role to date is mother to 6 year old Jack. BFA Western Michigan University, MFA Rutgers University.

Kevin Kelly*, Alan: Previously at Two River Theater Company: Accidental Death of an Anarchist and All My Sons. New York appearances include Public Theater (The Brother/Sister Plays, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing) the Acting Company, HERE, Lincoln Center Institute, and 59E59. Regional appearances include Arena Stage, Great Lakes, the Guthrie Theatre, National Playwright's Conference, Peterborough Players, Portland Stage, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Triad Stage, and this past summer, The Adirondack Theater Festival. Film/TV—includes Law & Order, As the World Turns, All My Children, Guiding Light, One Life to Live. As an accordionist appearances include Erin and Her Cello, Zibaldone, and particular subway stations around the city. Education— NYU/Tisch Grad Acting.

Geoffrey Owens*, Carl: Theater: Salome (with Al Pacino); Romeo and Juliet (Romeo), As You Like It (Orlando) and Macbeth (Ross) at The Belasco Theater (director Estelle Parsons, producer Joseph Papp); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Puck), Timon of Athens, Pericles, Richard II at The New York Shakespeare Festival; Arms and the Man (Bluntschli) at Dallas Theater Center; Tartuffe (Valere) at Hartford Stage; The Misanthrope (Acaste) and Much Ado About Nothing (Don Pedro) at Long Wharf Theatre. Television: The Cosby Show, Boston Legal, Medium, Flash Forward, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Journeyman, Las Vegas, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Built to Last, and That's So Raven. Film: The Paper (director Ron Howard); Play the Game (with Andy Griffith); Salomaybe? (director Al Pacino).

Saxon Palmer*, Elliot: Broadway: Three Sisters and Design For Living (Roundabout). Other NY theatre: Measure for Pleasure (Public), Ohio State Murders, Merchant of Venice, and The Jew of Malta (TFANA), The Glass Cage (The Mint). Regional: The Pillowman (Wilma), Tonight at 8:30 (Williamstown), and Tragedy: a Tragedy (Eno, Inc.). TV/Film: The Dark Fields, various soaps. Education: FSU and Florida School of the Arts.

*Denotes a member of Actors' Equity Association.

The creative team is made up of Lee Savage (scenic designer), Lesley Sorenson (costume designer), who is also the resident costume supervisor at Two River, Tyler Micoleau (lighting designer), who most recently designed Orestes A Tragic Romp last season at Two River, and Zach Williamson (sound designer), who was most recently at Two River with You're A Good Man Charlie Brown and 26 Miles.

Opus is scheduled to run Tuesday, October 26 through Sunday, November 14.  Tickets start at $35. Get more information online at, call 732.345.1400, or visit the Two River Theater Company Box Office in Red Bank, located at 21 Bridge Avenue. Box Office Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10am-6pm; Sunday: 12pm-5pm.

Local musician and music scholar Tom Avakian, who works frequently with the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra, will lead Before Play. This pre-show discussion series is scheduled 45 minutes prior to every performance and will explain and celebrate some of the great works of classical music that are heard in the play.

Post-show discussions are scheduled following the 8pm performance on Wednesday, November 3 and following the Sunday matinees: November 7 and November 14 at 3pm, as well as Wednesday, November 10 at 1pm. There are two student matinee performances scheduled on Tuesday, November 2 and Tuesday November 9 at 10am. Discounted group rates are available through the Box Office.

Two River Theater Company is accessible to people with disabilities, including wheelchair accessibility, assistive listening devices and large print programs at every performance. Accessible seating is available by reservation. For more information call the Box Office at 732.345.1400.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Emmy® Award Wins for WAR/DANCE: Kean University Prof. Dr. Susan MacLaury, Executive Producer

(UNION, NJ) -- WAR/DANCE was honored as best documentary and best cinematography at the 31st Annual News and Documentary Emmy® Awards ceremony in New York on September 27. Dr. Susan MacLaury, professor in the Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Health at Kean University, served as executive producer for the winning feature documentary.

The film was directed by Sean and Andrea Nix Fine, and produced by MacLaury and her husband, Albie Hecht, of Shine Global, Inc. The awards join an Academy Award nomination and more than twenty other festival recognitions for WAR/DANCE.

"WAR/DANCE reflects the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and was a labor of love for all of us involved," said MacLaury of Montclair, N.J. "To have the film recognized in this amazing way is truly an honor. We sincerely hope that our work contributes to peace dialogues around the planet."

WAR/DANCE follows three remarkable children, Nancy, Rose and Dominic, in the northern Uganda war zone, as they transform from victims of war into triumphant young adults. For the past two decades, the children of the Acholi tribe in northern Uganda have been caught in the middle of a horrific war between the country's leadership and a rebel force, the Lord's Resistance Army. But when the internally displaced persons' camp's primary school unexpectedly wins a regional music competition, the opportunity to compete nationally in Kampala brings with it the forgotten chance to dream.

A longtime social worker and health education professor, MacLaury appreciates the opportunity to combine her love for teaching and her interest in young people with the power of documentary film. "My two passions – for teaching and now for filmmaking through our non-profit organization, Shine Global – juxtapose beautifully as the films we make all profile children whose health and well-being have been seriously challenged but who survive, and often triumph, despite their problems," added MacLaury. "I believe strongly in the power of film to educate, both in and out of the classroom, and to promote genuine social change."

The Emmy® Awards were attended by more than 900 television and news media industry executives, news and documentary producers and journalists. Emmy® Awards were presented in 41 categories, including breaking news, investigative reporting, outstanding interview, and, of course, best documentary.

Shine Global is a non-profit film production company dedicated to ending the exploitation and abuse of children worldwide through the production of films that raise social awareness. To learn more, visit

Founded in 1855, Kean University is one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment, offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees and more than 45 options leading to a master's degree, doctorate, professional diploma and/or state certification(s). Five undergraduate colleges and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College now serve more than 15,000 students.

New York City Opera Wardrobe Master and Costume Designer for The Theater Project’s "Crowns" to Lead Lecture Prior to Thursday, October 14 Performance in Cranford

(Cranford, NJ) -- Veteran theatrical costume designer Bettina Bierly of Harding Township, New Jersey, will lead a behind-the-scenes lecture on costume design prior to The Theater Project's Thursday, October 14 performance of ‘Crowns'. Admission is free and is open to all attendees of that evening's performance. In addition, ticketholders for any performance that weekend may attend the lecture.

The lecture will begin at 6:30pm in the Roy Smith Theater at the Cranford campus of Union County College, 1033 Springfield Avenue. Ms. Bierly will share insight into the costume design process from start to finish and recount experiences from her many theatrical design endeavors, including her work on the colorful costumes of The Theater Project's current production of ‘Crowns' now running in Cranford. She is currently the Wardrobe Master for the New York City Opera in residence at Lincoln Center and the owner of Bettina Bierly Inc. design studio. Ms. Bierly previously served as New York City Opera's Costume Director and has also recently designed costumes for New Jersey stage productions at George Street Playhouse, Playwrights Theatre of NJ, Bickford Theatre, Luna Stage and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

The Theater Project is Union County College's Professional Theater Company and its production of its first ever musical, "Crowns," continues with performances Thursdays through Sundays until October 17, 2010.

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.

Special accessibility performances will be held throughout the run of "Crowns." All remaining Sunday matinee performances 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


(GLASSBORO, NJ) -– Putting an original spin on a classic American drama, the Department of Theatre & Dance at Rowan University brings out the darker themes of Thornton Wilder's Our Town in a unique production running October 29-November 7, 2010. Performances are Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm in Tohill Theatre on the Glassboro campus.

This legendary play explores human nature through the daily lives - love, marriage, death and loss - of people in a quintessentially American town at the start of the 20th Century. Rowan's production moves beyond the more well-known approaches to examine what might have shaped Wilder's storytelling.

"I think the playwright was at something else," director Lane Savadove states, reflecting on his own research into Wilder's influences, such as his experiences during World War I.

"One goal is to take a play we're familiar with and make it essential again," he says.

Set in a bombed-out church during World War I, Rowan's Our Town becomes a "play-within-a-play" as the chaplain of a rag-tag New Hampshire regiment leads a reenactment of life back home as they deal with issues of misery, mortality and more.

The cast features Dexter Anderson of Salem (MA) as Howie Newsome, Chris Bratek of Mullica Hill as George Gibbs, Roshawn Briscoe of Wilmington (DE) as Joe Stoddard, Felix Cori of Sewell as Mr. Webb, Carly Dufford of Jackson as Mrs. Gibbs, Dane Eissler of Franklinville as Prof. Willard/Wally Webb, Jade Froeder of Williamstown as Mrs. Webb, Jaried Kimberley of Westville as Simon Stimson, Jenna Kuerzi of Mullica Hill as Emily Webb, Alex McCarty of Chatham as Sam Craig, A.J. Mendini of Buena as the Stage Manager/Chaplain, Michele Mizeski of Califon as Rebecca Gibbs, Bryan Neel of Westmont as Joe/Si Crowell, Juan Sanchez of Teaneck as Doc Gibbs and Katie Verde of Toms River as Mrs. Soams.

Savadove, a professor at Rowan and the award-winning founder and artistic director of Philadelphia's EgoPo Classic Theater, is joined by resident designers Bart Healy (set) and Robert Thorpe (lighting) as well as guest costume designer Brian Strachan in bringing this vision of the show to the stage.

Tohill Theatre is located in Bunce Hall on the campus of Rowan University, Route 322 in Glassboro, NJ. Tickets are $10, general admission; and $5 for seniors, non-Rowan students, Rowan staff & alumni. Rowan students are admitted free with valid ID. For tickets and information, visit or call the box office at (856) 256-4545.

Chester Theatre Group Presents "Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks"

(CHESTER, NJ) -- The Chester Theatre Group of the Black River Playhouse will be presenting its November 2010 production of SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS by Richard Alfieri. This warm and endearing show, directed by Roseann Ruggiero and produced by Penny Hoadley, features CTG veteran Eileen Waite of Randolph as Lily Harrison and CTG newcomer Matt Cotton as Michael Minetti. The play runs Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm beginning November 19th thru December 5th with 2 Sunday matinees at 2 pm on November 28 and December 5. Tickets are $18, student and senior discount tickets at Friday and Sunday performances are $16. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 908-879-7304.

SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS is a touching and human comedy about what happens when an antagonistic relationship blossoms into an intimate friendship as two characters from very different backgrounds reveal their secrets, fears, and joys while dancing the Swing, Tango, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, and Contemporary Dance. A comedy with music and dance, the play also addresses the serious issues of ageism and intolerance.

Since its Los Angeles premiere and Broadway opening, SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS has been translated into 12 languages and has traversed the globe with productions in over 20 countries. With over 50 productions and two national tours in Germany alone, the play has established itself as an international hit and one of the most produced plays in the world.

For more information, please visit the CTG website

Friday, October 8, 2010

CD REVIEW: "Down Wires" by Anthony D'Amato 4 Stars (out of 4)

by Gary Wien
One of the greatest compliments I can give an artist is to say that I believe they carry the spirit of John Lennon in their work.  Anthony D'Amato carries that spirit.  He's got that Lennonistic ability to be daring musically through different styles while offering provocative and insightful lyrics that can inspire or make one truly think.  He's also got John's ability to tear down the walls and strip everything down to its bare skeleton – revealing one's true essence, warts and all.  On Anthony's latest release, "Down Wires", the young songwriter continues his progression as one of the most impressive talents of his generation.  It's a journey that I am thoroughly enjoying.  One reason why I listen to so much new music is because there is something magical about discovering artists while they are just beginning to hit their creative stride.  Anthony had a coming out party with his last release and "Down Wires" shows he's just getting started.

The record floats in and out of a mix of rockers, ballads, and adventurous tunes.  It's a blend that reminds me an awful lot of Lennon's wonderful, "Imagine" album.  As with "Imagine", this album contains a few masterpieces of its own.  Songs like "My Father's Son", "Let Me Tell You Something", "Down Wires", and "Once" are all amazing tracks.  "California Girls (Ain't So Great)" pokes fun of one of rock and roll's favorite bits of imagery and even calls out The Beach Boys to "get it straight – California girls ain't so great".   The track, "Southern Stars", may be one of the most radio friendly songs I've ever heard from Anthony and one that should find lots of radio airplay along with "One Good Time", an upbeat rocker that features the Canadian star Sam Roberts on backing vocals.  But it's a trio of tracks – "Ballad of the Undecided", "Holy War", and "Never Grow Old" that are the true masterpieces in my opinion. 

"Holy War" is flat out brilliant.  It's an instant classic and the best song about war I've heard since Rick Barry penned "Courage for a Rainy Day" several years ago.  Featuring beautifully melodic guitar, wonderful harmonica, and crushingly honest lyrics that makes its point extremely clear, it's a song I sincerely hope finds a wide audience.

<i>"Captain, captain, my aim is true
Shot those men like you told me to
Because they don't pray the way we do
Captain, captain, my aim is true

But I don't know
 what I'm fighting for
And I don't know
What to feel no more
And I don't know
Why they bother keeping score
‘cause there ain't no winners in a holy war"</i>
-"Holy War"

In "Never Grow Old", Anthony displays his true Lennon spirit.  The song contains a narrator who doesn't feel like he's part of the world around him.  It's a scenario that is all too familiar to me and probably is to many fans of Lennon as John was the ultimate outsider.  Lennon often wrote amazingly personal songs that reflected on his place as one who didn't quite fit in ("Nowhere Man", "Help!", and "In My Life" quickly come to mind) and many of those songs were written when John was around the same age as Anthony.  On "Never Grow Old", Anthony recognizes the world collapsing around him; yet, he clings to the hope that he can still hold on to the innocence of his youth.

<i>"I'm gonna shout
I'm gonna scream
I'm gonna go out and maybe lose my body
I wanna run
Into a dream
I wanna wake up in a world that wants me
Ohhhh, promise me we'll never get old
Run away and never come home"</i>
--"Never Grow Old"

Later in the song, the narrator sounds a wakeup call – desperately trying to reach people or possibly find someone who is like himself, so he'd know he wasn't purely alone.

<i>"Brothers awake, sisters awake
Why can't you see, we're just the same?
Lovers awake, sinners awake
Why can't you see, we're just the same?
Mothers awake, children awake
Why can't you see, we're just the same?
Brothers awake, sisters awake
Why can't you see, we're all the same?</i>
--"Never Grow Old"

It's an amazingly daring song that succeeds.  I absolutely love how Anthony is not only unafraid to take chances with his music, but finds a way to succeed more often than not.  As with Lennon, he has that rare ability to do craft songs that blend two worlds (or two songs) into one.  It makes for truly powerful songs.

The opening track of the record is "Ballad of the Undecided" – a blistering rocker that sends the message Anthony is not content to be known simply as a folk artist.  As he does throughout the record, this song contains killer lines like "I'm not religious, I just like playing God" that really stay with you.  It's a trait Anthony has developed well.

<i>"I'm not your lover just because I spend the night
I'm not a liar just because I'm never right
I'm not accustomed to adjusting any of my thoughts
I'm just a man who doesn't know what he wants"</i>
-"Ballad of the Undecided"

I'd say Anthony knows exactly what he wants and it's wonderful to see him succeed this way.  It's always a bit difficult reviewing his work because he used to write for my magazine many years ago.  I've not only known him for a long time, but have seen him grow – both as a9writerand songwriter.  Releases like "Down Wires" bring a smile to my face because Anthony is the kind of guy you want to see succeed.  He's not just a good guy, but I think he's got something important to say and it shows through his music.  I'm not trying to compare him to Lennon, but he has that spirit.  It's the kind of spirit that can do great things...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Interview with George Wirth

George Wirth is one of the area's best songwriters.  With vivid descriptions, his songs come to life with characters that live and breathe in ways few songwriters can match.  His first record, "Lights of Brigantine" was one of the best records I've heard in the past decade.  His latest disc, "The Last Good Kiss", was released over the summer and is just as good.  I had the chance to interview George via email recently to talk about his career, his music, and Asbury Park.

You seemed to come out of nowhere a few years ago.  I think I may have  first come across you at the Indigo Coffeehouse.  Had you been playing out  all these years?
I've been a closet guitar player since I was a kid, but didn't start writing or playing out until about eight years ago. I'm 63 now, so it took a while to get around to it. Writing, performing live and recording albums were the furthest thing from my mind, believe me.  But the songs kept coming, and one thing led to another. The Indigo is where a lot of us hooked up for the first time and where I made some good friends. Michael Brett, Janey Todd, Bobby Strange, Patti Bramson, Anthony Fiumano, Sheli Aarden, Michael Patrick, Bob Denson, Keith McCarthy, Abbie Gardner, Red Molly and Danny White all played there at one time or another. It was one of the few outlets for live acoustic music at the time and a great place to try out new stuff.

I've never been good at being part of a crowd... nothing intentional about it, that's just me. I tend to avoid uncomfortable situations if possible and if given a choice on the night of a gig I'd probably choose staying home, though I'd end up regretting it later. Once I get there and start playing I'm fine and end up having a good time. It's strange to me and anyone who's known me for a while how relaxed I am once I'm onstage. It's the last thing any of us would have expected.

Recording, on the other hand, is a whole other game. It's a long drawn out learning process that seems to start at square one with every song. I record myself at home with a very simple setup so you'd think it would be easy and it probably would be for someone less obsessive. In my case, it usually turns into a nightmare of my own making. I suspect it would be easier to go to a studio where someone else pushes all the buttons and says, "We're done! Let's go home!".  But that's beyond my means and, truth be told, I'm not sure I'd get what I want.

You're often referred to as a "storyteller".  If you were pinned down and force to provide a label for your work what would it be and why?
I don't think labels mean much anymore. Calling yourself a "singer- songwriter" carries about as much weight as calling yourself a "trapeze artist". Less, in some circles. Without delivering the goods they're both meaningless and the final determination of that rests with the audience, not the performer. I got tagged as a "storyteller" back in The Indigo days and I guess it stuck. I never really thought of myself that way but I'm fine with it. I suspect it comes from the fact that most of my songs are in narrative form and have a certain continuity to them. I honestly never thought about it and still don't. Same goes for the song structure...or lack of it...that form my songs. If the song ends up with a chorus or bridge, fine. If not that's OK too. Hell, some of them don't even rhyme.

I know you have a wide variety of musical influences.  Who are some of the artists that first attracted you to music and who are ones you came across throughout the years?
Well, 60 years covers a lot of ground. My old man came home from WW II with a love of country music, called hillbilly music back then. He'd go on about Roy Acuff and others. In the 50's, Red Foley had a show on TV with country guests, and we'd watch that. The image of one guy with a guitar always appealed to me, and when Elvis appeared on TV, that really brought it into focus. At the same time, I was listening to late-night radio out of New York on a little crystal radio I made; with guys like Alan Freed playing more urban sounds of doo-wop, blues and rockabilly.

By the 60's folk music became popular and I was as drawn to it as everybody else. Not only was there one guy with a guitar but he didn't even have to be particularly talented. Then Dylan came along. By 1965 he turned the institution of American popular music inside out and upside down and changed us all along with it. I don't think it's possible to overstate his influence on our current perception of American music. Ten years later we had Springsteen who took the best of everything that came before, made it his own, and brought it all back home. Along with Tom Waits, arguably the best American songwriter we have, these guys have produced a body of work that speaks for itself. They're all still huge influences on me. For the last few years I find myself drawn more to local artists for inspiration.

Some artists complain that there aren't enough "listening room" opportunities for them in New Jersey, but you and your wife have actually been proactive with the "Rosie's Cafe" shows in trying to change the situation.  How important is it for songwriters like yourself to be able to perform before an audience that not only is paying attention but quiet enough that people can truly hear each word?  Do you ever feel as though you have to change your performance a bit when playing a noisy club?
Asbury Park has been a rock and roll town for the 50 years I've lived in the area but there's always been a niche spot for acoustic artists. The Twisted Tree Café is probably the best known acoustic room right now but Scott Stamper deserves a lot of credit for his regular acoustic shows at The Saint. In my opinion it's the best music venue in town, acoustic or electric. Sonny's Espresso Joe's in Keyport is another great place to play, with Anton Daub running one of the best acoustic open mics around. It's always a pleasure to play somewhere where the owners actually like music and both The Saint and  Espresso Joe's work hard at providing good sound and a good listening environment.

I've learned to avoid most noisy clubs because I'm just not comfortable in them, but if I find myself in one, I just do what I do. Playing louder usually makes things worse, so I'll typically do a quiet tune instead. Sometimes you just have to accept that it comes with the turf. I've never asked an audience to quiet down while I'm playing and never will though I might say something if someone else is playing.  It's always nice to play for an attentive audience, but if you can connect with a rowdy crowd it can be more fun. People around here are great, but I've played some "folk" venues where you could choke on the seriousness of the audience.

Speaking of Asbury Park, I personally believe "Memorial Drive" is one of the best songs ever written about the town. I love how you tie the past, the present, and the future together within the song through tales of Joe Harvard and the redevelopment.  When did you first go to Asbury Park and what brought you there?
I think I was 11 years old the first time I saw Asbury Park. This would have been around 1958 or so. We were living in a small town up north, and in the summer, I'd spend a few days with my grandmother in Newark. She hated kids; always burned the toast and once gave me a Scotch Tape dispenser for my birthday. On the other hand, she let me watch TV as late as I wanted, as long as I kept the volume down and promised she would take me to "The Shore".

Next day we got on a bus that finally dropped us off between The Palace and the carousel in Asbury. It was the kind of bright summer day you can only experience as an 11 year old - sounds from everywhere, the Ferris wheel coming through the roof of The Palace, paddle boats on the lake, kids laughing and screaming all in one breath, all mixed with the smell of food, suntan lotion, sand and ocean. Of course, there was a dark side to all this, but when you're a kid, you don't think about those things. Two years later, my family moved to South Jersey and I've lived around here ever since, always in small coastal towns.

When the riots hit on July 4th of 1970, I had just gotten out of the Coast Guard. My wife Brenda and I had been married for about a year and were still living in a small apartment in Highlands, I think. Most of my knowledge about the trouble in Asbury came from the radio, TV and newspapers. The place itself was locked down pretty tight with curfews and roadblocks. In retrospect, it was pretty obvious that this was a long time coming and could have been avoided, not through concessions but by a policy of inclusion for all citizens. As it turned out, promises were made and minimally kept. And Railroad Avenue was renamed Memorial Drive.

Joe Harvard made his way into the song "Memorial Drive" because I was working on it at the time he ran into trouble. He's never specifically mentioned in the song, and my intention was to keep his identity vague, while focusing on the event itself. I guess that didn't work out too well although anyone from outside the area won't have a clue as to whom I'm talking about. I love and respect Joe, and sincerely hope he'd tell me if he had a problem with it.

My connection to Joe, Mal and The Long Weekend is strictly as a fan and observer, though I wish I could make myself get up and join them. To my mind they run the best ongoing show in town and should be supported by listeners and musicians alike. Joe himself is brilliant, and I don't use that term lightly. He's also irreverent and fearless; two traits, that when combined, tend to get him in a lot of trouble. It's ironic because those are exactly the things that rock and roll was founded on. For anyone not aware of it, The Long Weekend takes place every Monday night in the Parthenon Lounge at Synaxis on Cookman Avenue.

One of your songs - "Eisenhower Summer, 1952" - was included in Sing Out Magazine. Was that something that came out of nowhere for you?  Did that sort of stamp authenticity in the industry for you?
That was kind of a nice surprise. They were looking for songs, heard mine and got in touch with me. It was cool. I was on their CD and in the magazine, along with their take on the song. They saw it as a piece of nostalgia and pretty much ignored the dark side of it. To me it was always about the girl in the first and last verses. I got $50 and a year subscription.

I think "The Last Good Kiss" is simply one of the two best love songs written by a Jersey artist in my humble opinion (Glen Burtnick's "Perfect World" is the other).  Your songs really bring the listener into the characters and the story. The characters live and breathe and are easy to picture. Are songs like this usually based on your life or solely fiction?
Thanks for saying that about "The Last Good Kiss". It was really special having Amanda Shires play fiddle on that tune and "In Your Arms". I should also mention the wonderful Abbie Gardner, who added dobro, vocal and lap steel on two tracks and my good friend Jim McCarthy who played on Janey Todd's "Dreamland".  And, of course, thanks to Janey for letting me do her tune and for singing on the record.

The first record, "Lights of Brigantine", was largely autobiographical. On the new one, I tried to take a step outside of that. That's where "The Last Good Kiss" came from, as well as other songs on the record. I wouldn't call any of these songs purely fiction, though. The characters and situations in the songs are very real, all drawn from the lives of people I know or have known. I'm not the guy in "The Last Good Kiss", "Great Wide Blue" or "Power Lines", but I very easily could have been. I think it's important on any song to not make it too specific and not focus too much on yourself. I try to leave room for the listener to fill in the blanks and make the song his own. Even on songs that are autobiographical and told in first person, I do my best to tell the story in a way that the listener can relate to.

I don't know the right or wrong way to do any of this stuff and if anyone's looking for songwriting tips, I'm flattered, but I'm not your guy. There are plenty of writers out there who would be more than happy to pass along suggestions. I just do what I do, which is basically tell a story within a simple framework of chords and mood. Everything else comes out of that. There's always a point of view in these songs, but it's never expressed as "Here's what I think" or "Here's what you should do". I'm not interested in that kind of song; not as listener and not as a writer. Life is complicated, life is messy, and personally, I'm suspicious of anyone who claims to have all the answers.

One thing I find interesting about your songs is that you are one of the few artists (locally and nationally) that isn't afraid to include religion in your lyrics.  Is this something that comes naturally to you or does religion pose somewhat of a block for songwriters?
Well, if I'm working on a song, I never think, "Oh, this would be a great place for a religious reference".  It just happens. I didn't really think about it and never kept score, but I guess there are quite a few on the records, though I haven't been to church for a Sunday service since I was a kid. I'm certainly not afraid of the subject, and looking over the new record I see that at least half of the songs have at least one religious reference. The album has it's light spots, but overall, it's pretty dark. Many of the songs are about loss, bad choices, conflicts and regrets. The Bible is pretty much a textbook on those themes, and I suspect that's where the religious overtones come from.

Tell me about how Brenda has influenced your career.  You two have become one of the most recognizable couples in the area.  How has that support kept you going? Influenced you?
Well, first off, thanks for referring to what I do as a "career". <smile>  If Bren and I are recognizable, it's probably because we've been together so long. We met when we were kids and have been married for over 41 years. Before I started playing out regularly, I was pretty much known as "Brenda's husband".  Now, she'll sometimes meet someone new and they'll say, "Oh, you're George's wife.", which is pretty funny. I have no idea where I'd be without her. Nowhere good, I'm sure.

Well your "career" has led to several Asbury Music Award and Jersey Acoustic Music (JAM) Awards and nominations. How important is it to be recognized for your work?
You have to keep these things in perspective and not take them too seriously, but I confess it's nice to be recognized for something you've done. I see these events as celebrations of local music and performers rather than typical "Best Of" award shows. They're good for the town, the venues and the artists, and are usually a lot of fun. As for gaining mainstream recognition, I'm not even sure what that means anymore. I do know you can live a perfectly good life without it.

Finally, you've seen an awful lot of what goes on in the Asbury Music Scene over the past few years.  Drawing a broad stroke, what do you think of the talent in the area? Are there too many egos running around or do you think you'd find that anywhere?
As I said earlier, Asbury has always been a great music town, and even though there are fewer venues than in the past, it still is. That's one reason musicians in the surrounding areas are drawn to it. Anyone who get's onstage to perform is going to have a decent-sized ego; that's just a given. It's how they behave offstage that's most revealing. There may be one or two people I'd rather not perform with, but that's probably as much my problem as theirs. I find most folks around here are great and a pleasure to be around.

What do you think the Asbury Park music scene needs to do to really become a force nationwide rather than just locally?
Frankly, I'm not sure how important it is for Asbury to make an effort to become a national force in the music business. The whole business model is changing daily, and if you try to keep up, you'll find yourself chasing a lot of ghosts. These "hot spots" come and go, and Asbury's had at least one good shot at it. It's both ironic and disheartening that often an artist's local success is measured by how fast they can get out of town, but that's the nature of the beast. I understand it.... a lot of kids here dream of becoming successful on a national scale. That's always been the case, and if I were a young man, I'd probably be the same way. Right now, I'm way past that stage. I think I may have one more record in me, but other than that I'll just keep writing and playing as long as folks show up.