New Jersey Stage

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SOPAC's Midtown Direct Rep Premieres "RATED P" - A Musical Comedy about Parenthood

(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -— Presented by the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) and Midtown Direct Rep, RATED P makes its long-awaited premiere from Friday, May 5th to Sunday, May 8th at SOPAC.  With book and lyrics by Maplewood's own Sandy Rustin, this sketch musical comedy explores the wonders and lunacy of raising kids from conception to college drop-off.  Starring local Broadway veterans from SOPAC's Midtown Direct Rep theatre company, RATED P brings the audience along with the actors on a hilarious and touching journey of both the joys and the drama of parenthood.

As a mother of two, Rustin's own experience of parenthood serves as the impetus for RATED P.  "Becoming a mother has fueled my life in so many ways and has certainly provided a constant flow of loving, funny, and relatable source material," says Rustin, Co-Artistic Director of Midtown Direct Rep.  While awaiting her older son's first day of kindergarten, Rustin expressed her anxiety in the form of a poem about a mother's wish for her child on the first day of school.

"A Prayer for Ellie" has since evolved into a song in RATED P.  "Much of RATED P is inspired by my stories and my friend's stories – either from our childhoods or our lives now as parents."  Back in August 2010, the local community got a sneak peek of Rated P at the musical's first public reading, and subsequently provided valuable feedback, comments and criticisms.  After nearly a year of re-writes, revisions, and rehearsals, RATED P takes the leap from page to stage.

"We're thrilled to have served as the incubator of Midtown Direct Rep's first original musical production," says Michael Bollinger, Executive Director of SOPAC.

"We've nurtured RATED P and watched it grow from a staged reading to workshop, and now to a full production.  I'm jazzed to see it come to fruition!"

Rated P is truly a collective experience for both the audience and the cast.  In fact, in addition to Rustin, almost every artist of RATED P has been touched by parenthood.  Director of RATED P, Jeremy Dobrish, is a father of two living in Maplewood.  He promises that, "if you're parent, a grandparent, someone thinking about becoming a parent, or if you've ever HAD a parent, RATED P will resonate with you."  Cast members include: father of two/South Orange resident David Josefsberg (The Wedding Singer, Les Miserables, Altar Boyz); Millburn native Courtney Balan ([Title of Show], Cry-Baby, In My Life), father of two/South Orange resident Bradley Dean (A Little Night Music, Spamalot), and mother of three/Maplewood resident Joanna Young (The Drowsy Chaperone, Les Miserables, Grease). 

RATED P - Cast + Crew

Book & Lyrics: Sandy Rustin
Music & Lyrics: Dan Lipton & David Rossmer

Cast: Courtney Balan, Bradley Dean, David Josefsberg, & Joanna Young
Director: Jeremy Dobrish
Musical Director: Meg Zervoulis
Musical Staging: Rachel Bress
Set Designer: Steven Capone
Lighting Designer: Michael Gottlieb
Costume Designer: Bobby Pearce
Sound Designer: Jill DuBoff

About Sandy Rustin
Sandy Rustin is an actress & writer. She regularly performs at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in "Gravid Water" (named "Best Improv Show" by Time Out NY). Favorite NY credits include "Modern Orthodox" (New World Stages), "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" (Westside Theatre), Jolson & Company (Century Center), Sarah, Plain and Tall (Lucille Lortel), and Neil Simon's Hotel Suite (Roundabout). She's a player in "Don't Quit Your Night Job," and an "undercover agent" for Improv Everywhere. TV credits include "The Scariest Show on TV" (Comedy Central), "Law and Order; SVU," "As the World Turns (Kayley)," "All My Children" and "Guiding Light." Proud Co-Artistic Director of Midtown Direct Rep, the theatre in residence at SOPAC. Graduate of Northwestern University. RATED P is a love note to my parents, my husband, and my children.

About Dan Lipton & David Rossmer

Dan Lipton & David Rossmer are longtime collaborators who write both music and lyrics together. Their original musical comedy The Blonde Streak was commissioned by the Broadway Across America company. They are also working for the Araca Group on adapting a bestselling memoir, with playwright Jessica Provenz. Their dramatic fairy tale notes to MariAnne has been workshopped at New York Stage & Film and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Musical Theater Conference, where the team received the Georgia Bogardus Holof Award, for their lyrics. Their form-bending musical satire JOE! has been seen at the Kennedy Center's Theater Lab, Equity Library Theatre in Chicago and the NAMT Festival in New York. JOE! is currently in development as a 3D movie musical.  Other projects include: a historical project with television writer Janis Hirsch, a futuristic musical with Kirsten Guenther, and a show about B-movies with Wayne Rawley.  Lipton & Rossmer have written special material for singers including Kelli O'Hara (Lincoln Center American Songbook, CafĂ© Carlyle) and Sutton Foster (Joe's Pub). And the duo co-created, with Steve Rosen and Sarah Saltzberg, the comedy improv variety show Don't Quit Your Night Job, which began at Joe's Pub and ran off-Broadway.

About Midtown Direct Rep
Founded in June 2010, Midtown Direct Rep is a 32-member repertory theater company in residence at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC). Named for the New Jersey transit line on which local residents commute, Midtown Direct Rep is comprised of accomplished theater artists and seasoned Broadway veterans who call Maplewood/South Orange their home. Co-Artistic Directors are Jeremy Dobrish and Sandy Rustin joined by Acting Company Members: Jenny Bacon, Stephen Barker Turner, Julie Barnes, Ron Bohmer, D.B. Bonds, Ami Brabson, Catherine Brunell, Stephen Buntrock, Norbert Leo Butz, Mindy Catron, Lori Chase, Josh Coakley, Adam Dannheisser, Scott Davidson, Joel de la Fuente, Bradley Dean, Michelle Federer, Danielle Ferland, Jim Ferris, Evan Fleischer, Becky Gulsvig, David Hess, Joan Hess, Lily Hung, Casey Hushion, David Josefsberg, Kevin Kern, Marc Kessler, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Ken Land, Jamie Laverdiere, Megan Lawrence, Erin Maguire, Beth McCourt, Sean McCourt, Christiane Noll, Jeff Parvin, Michele Pawk, Christopher Mark Peterson, Charlie Pollock, Vanessa Pollock, Gayle Seay, Scott Seay, Matt Servitto, Robert Shaffron, Matthew Shepard Smith, Jeffrey Shubart, Corey Skaggs, John Steber, Ben Steinfeld, Elizabeth Ward Land, Thom Christopher Warren, Elyse Wolf, Joanna Young, and Meg Zervoulis.  Recent performance highlights include a reading of the musical "The Girl in the Frame" by Jeremy Desmon, and a benefit concert featuring TONY Award-Nominee Christiane Noll.

About South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC)
Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The multidisciplinary arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages.  To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC—a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory.  SOPAC is also a home for Seton Hall University Arts Council's performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz N' the Hall performances and Seton Hall Theatre productions.  SOPAC also presents performances by its theater company in residence, Midtown Direct Rep, and its dance company in residence, Lydia Johnson Dance.  For more information, visit