New Jersey Stage

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Jersey Rep Presents the World Premiere of Puma by Julie Gilbert and Frank Evans


(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -– The New Jersey Repertory Company, located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch, is proud to present the world premiere of Puma by Julie Gilbert and Frank Evans, February 24 thru April 3, 2011.

What happens when two heavenly bodies collide? That is exactly what we encounter in Puma, a play that explores the life-long, obsessive and tempestuous love affair between Marlene Dietrich, the German actress who became a Hollywood icon, and Erich Maria Remarque, the celebrated author of All's Quiet On The Western Front. As the inevitable conflagration of World War II loomed over Europe, both Dietrich and Remarque fled Nazi Germany to the United States. Remarque was already an acclaimed wunderkind and Dietrich had made her mark and had gained international fame with her performance as Lola in the film, The Blue Angel directed by Josef von Sternberg.

The play takes the audience through their unconventional relationship over the decades as they both work to establish themselves in their new homeland while struggling with the challenge encountered by all immigrants, displacement. Along the way they meet and sleep with an impressive cavalcade of Hollywood's luminaries while at the same time attempting to accommodate their respective marriages. Jimmy Stewart and Paulette Goddard are also featured in the play as they are pulled into the powerful and seductive orbit of these two larger-than-life characters. Puma provides a glimpse into a time in history when the true world order was being destroyed, and when long established cultures and societies were being swept aside while at the same time the fantastical illusion that we know as Hollywood was being created.

This compelling play is based on the personal diaries of Erich Maria Remarque that had been kept in a vault for years and were translated from the German and made accessible for the first time to Julie Gilbert, one of the playwrights. As a result it reveals previously unknown details about the lives of many of Hollywood's most famous personalities. The authors are seasoned writers. Julie Gilbert was born into a literary and theatrical family. Her mother was the actress, Janet Fox, and her great aunt was the renowned writer, Edna Ferber. Julie is a novelist and biographer who was nominated for a National Book Critic's Circle Award for her biography, Ferber, and also received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Opposite Attraction: The Lives Of Erich Maria Remarque and Paulette Goddard. Frank Evans is the lyricist for the off-Broadway musical, Abie's Island Rose and Back Home, The War Brides Musical.