New Jersey Stage

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The World is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cezanne

By Lisa Iannucci

While the relocation of the renowned Barnes Foundation from its home in Merion, Pa. to Central Philadelphia in 2012 may, for some, still be controversial, the treasures within its walls most certainly are not. The Barnes is home to the one of the largest single collections of works by the great Pierre-Auguste Renoir, stunning Matisse murals, and one of the world's most important assemblages of the great Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne, and a visit to the singular collection amassed by Albert C. Barnes is both an educational experience and a sensory delight. 
The recently-opened exhibit titled "The World is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne," is a special collection of works representing the artist's experimentation with the use of varied and multiple perspective within the still life genre. "I want to astonish Paris with an apple," he famously declared, and this quotation at the entrance to the exhibit sets the stage for a small but carefully constructed collection of 23 works that span the artist's career. Cézanne is considered to be the bridge between impressionism and modernism, and was a key influence on the work of avant-garde artists like Picasso and Matisse. This exhibit of his still life work illustrates his movement from impressionism to a more modernist use of color to flatten shapes and alter perspective by focusing upon key thematic elements: apples, a vase, a tablecloth or drape. Foreground and background begin to advance and recede in the viewer's eye; three-dimensional effects become one-dimensional, setting the stage for abstraction and cubism of Cézanne's successors.

In amassing and arranging his vast collection, Barnes' emphasis on visual instruction and thematic appeal over formal presentation of the works resulted in installations that mix genre, form, period, size and shape; each wall is its own collection within the collection, and includes not just paintings, but furniture, sculpture, pottery and metalwork. These visual statements are designed to encourage visitors to see patterns of shape, theme and color, to recognize how seemingly unrelated works can gain meaning and coherence when presented as a group. Newcomers to the Barnes Foundation may find the collection overwhelming, however, especially given its unique presentation of the works. The limited size and scope of this exhibit is an excellent format within which to learn how to approach individual works; on their own or with the help of a docent, visitors learn to see details like changes in brush technique, color mapping, and perspective, to recognize theme and composition, all skills that serve to greatly enhance their experience of the Barnes collection and its dense, diverse installations.

Visitors both to the Cézanne exhibit and the main collection have the option of a docent-led tour, which is well worth the extra money; docents are well-schooled not just in the ins and outs of the Foundation, but on the lives of the artists and in general art history. Visitors may also use an audio tour guide, but it only covers selected works, and can be distracting. A morning visit is best, as space is limited and the building tends to fill up later in the day. The complex boasts both a full service restaurant and a café, but there are several restaurant options in the neighborhood as well as a Whole Foods with outdoor seating area for dining al fresco. There is also a small bookstore/gift shop featuring items related to the collection and exhibit.

The Barnes Foundation's permanent art collection contains 69 works by Cézanne, and related programming and lectures are scheduled throughout the duration of the exhibit; see website for details. The Foundation is located at 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, about one hour and 20 minutes from the Monmouth County area. Building hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, until 9 p.m. Fridays, until 8 p.m. Saturdays. Hours change in September. Admission to the collections and exhibition is $29, $27 for seniors, $15 for youths/students, $14 for Cézanne-exhibit-only tickets, free for members. Tickets are available onsite, but advance purchase by phone or online is recommended. Call (215) 278-7200 for information, or visit or on Facebook.

Photograph © 2012 The Barnes Foundation

Paul Cézanne, Pitcher and Plate with Pears (Pichet et assiette de poires), 1895–98, oil on canvas, 19 5⁄16 × 23 3⁄16 in. (49 × 59 cm), Private Collection (Courtesy Nancy Whyte Fine Arts, Inc)

INSIDE MUSIC: Crowdfunding the Arts

By Rosemary Conte

Zak Danger Brown, Columbus, Ohio, an Internet jokester, ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10 to make a bowl of potato salad. Four days into the month-long campaign, he had raised $32,000. It ended at $44,000! Another Kickstarter campaign was for promoting rape-based card game that has players rape their way through an all-girls school. It raised $30,000 before it was cancelled by Kickstarter for being too sexy.

Reading this, a serious singer/songwriter, author, or painter might think that if stupid and depraved can attract great sums of money, surely an attempt to drop something beautiful upon the masses could do as well. But---as the song says, "It ain't necessarily so."
I've supported and followed some Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, and have done some research. I've found that the crowdfunding craze has grown a pioneer mentality. Campaigners are eager to share lessons they've learned, to help others succeed. An Internet search will find such pioneers as well as many crowdfunding sites that feature tutorials and offer strategies for a successful campaign.

Filmmaker Jack Ballo is running an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for licensing of music, and distribution of his indie documentary, Destiny's Bridge, about homelessness and a solution for it. He's raised $10,000 in 30 days and has opted to extend it for another 30. Jack has worked 16 hour days for months, preparing and executing his campaign. When he looks at it in terms of time and money spent, he feels he's worked for something like 25 cents an hour---and he misses his wife. (Not every artist will have Jack's endurance.)

In case you want to try this "Next Big Thing", you'll find a book with that name. And among the huge number of other books about it CF, there is, of course, "Crowdfunding for Dummies."


A collaboration between Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre and two exciting stars of the New Jersey Tap Dance Ensemble (Maurice Chestnut and Karen Callaway Williams) will take you on a vibrant, historical dance/music journey in the year 1929; a time when Spanish Poet Laureate Federico García Lorca visited New York and wrote a poem entitled "The King Of Harlem", exploring the search for identity of African Americans and the Spanish Gypsies at this time in history. 

"A Flamenco Tap Happening" will take place on Saturday, September 13 at 7:30pm at Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick. Audiences will experience the cultural similarities and the communal rhythmic patterns and language involved in Flamenco and American Tap dance. 

Highlighting the production is live music with saxophone player James Brook and Alborada's flamenco guitarists and singers, a fusion piece involving Tap dancing accompanied by Flamenco guitar, and Flamenco dancing performed to Swingmusic, a lovely period piece of dance and song from Madrid, as well as exuberant Gypsy flamenco, Spanish dances and Tap dances.

ARB's Fall Kick-Off

American Repertory Ballet returns to Rider University's Bart Luedeke Center to present an evening of compelling narrative works on September 19-20 at Bart Luedeke Center Theater at Rider University(2083 Lawrenceville Rd in Lawrenceville, NJ).

ARB's Fall Kick-Off Performance will feature ballets choreographed by former Joffrey Ballet dancers: Philip Jerry's poignant Our Town, a ballet based on Thornton Wilder's timeless play and set to music by Aaron Copland; Mary Barton's frothy and fanciful Fantasy Baroque, set to music by Bach; and Trinette Singleton's dark psychological pas de trois Dreams Interrupted, set to an original score by Pierre Bohemond.

The program will also feature Confetti, choreographed by Joffrey Ballet co-founder and great choreographer of the 20th century Gerald Arpino. Confetti is a virtuosic ballet created in the spirit of the tarantella, set to Gioachino Rossini's Semiramide Overture.

Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Tickets go on sales Tuesday, September 2, 2014. For more information click here


By Eric Hillis,

Newly single Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan) at a friend's party and the two instantly form a connection. Chantry gives Wallace her phone number but lets him know she has a boyfriend and is only interested in a platonic relationship. Wallace claims to be fine with this arrangement, but immediately begins a campaign to split up Chantry and her boyfriend (Rafe Spall).
The mainstream romantic comedy genre arguably finds itself at the lowest point of its long existence, thanks to a series of rom-coms, starring the likes of Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Aniston, that prove short on comedy and equally bereft of romance. The art of storytelling seems to have been forsaken by the genre, with the same generic "when will Boy A and Girl B realise how perfect they are for each other?" plotline trotted out ceaselessly. What If serves up this tired platter once more, but while there's little in the way of romance, there is a healthy dose of comedy on offer.

The film's charm exists thanks in no small part to its talented cast. The likes of Kazan, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis and Spall deliver comic timing par excellence, but it's Megan Park - who this reviewer last noticed in George Romero's under-rated found footage zombie satire Diary of the Dead - who steals the show as Kazan's sexually ravenous sister, determined to sink her claws into Radcliffe, much to sis's chagrin. Radcliffe is the odd one out, however, and feels lost among such more naturally gifted comedic performers. Luckily he possesses a breezy likability that papers over the comic cracks.

The film is admirable for how sex positive it is, and it never feels like it's pouring scorn on its sexually confident female characters. In this regard it's the anti-thesis of this year's earlier risible misogyny fest That Awkward Moment. Compare the idiotic wet blanket MacKenzie Davis, one of the most promising young actors to emerge in recent years, played in that movie to the feisty tigress she portrays so well here.

Relying on the charm of its cast rather than pulling you into anything approaching a story, What If feels like a pilot for a TV comedy series. It promises much but delivers little, yet you're left wanting more from its infectious characters.

6 out of 10

FILM REVIEW: The Expendables 3

By Eric Hillis,

Barney Ross (Stallone) and his team of crack mercenaries break a former member of their crew, Doctor Death (Snipes), out of a middle-eastern prison before embarking on a mission to take down the arms dealer who has been supplying a Somali warlord. Turns out said arms dealer is no less than Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), a former Expendable himself who had previously been presumed dead. When Stonebanks escapes, Ross disbands his crew and recruits a fresh bunch of young grunts to hunt the traitor down.
It took three movies, but the Expendables has finally delivered on its promise of recreating the dubious thrills of the star-led 80s action movie. The first edition took itself far too seriously and the result was a drab, lifeless affair, while the sequel veered too far in the other direction by taking on the walking memes of Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme. This third installment finds a merry balance. It doesn't take itself seriously one bit, but the winking at the audience is kept to a minimum, the comedy instead coming from a cast of actors delivering a masterclass in scenery chewing and comic timing.

If you're looking for a well executed action-fest, you'll be sadly disappointed, as director Patrick Hughes, whose only previous credit is the 2010 Aussie thriller Red Hill, is severely lacking when it comes to staging action. Like every other director who finds themselves out of their depth on a big budget action movie, Hughes falls back on the cliches of quick cuts and shaky-cam, hoping a blur of motion will fool us into believing we're seeing something more exciting than we actually are.

Where the movie succeeds is in the scenes in between the dull set-pieces, as the actors have a blast riffing off each other in their over the top roles. It's difficult to decide who ultimately steals the show, with everyone determined to outdo one another. Gibson relishes his snarling panto villain, Ford plays a riff on his Late Show with Letterman persona, all snark and gruffness, Banderas is a comic revelation as a character who feels like a live-action version of Eddie Murphy's Donkey from Shrek, and Grammer delivers his best comic performance post-Frasier.

I should really be old enough to know better, but it's hard for an 80s kid not to feel a pang of delight at getting to see Mad Max fight Rambo while Han Solo pilots a chopper with a cigar-chewing Arnie as his Chewbacca. With the younger cast members (Lutz, Rousey et al) roundly displaying a complete lack of charisma, it's a sad reminder of how Hollywood no longer produces movie stars.

Like Steven Soderbergh's Oceans movies, The Expendables 3 feels like you've gatecrashed someone else's party. With Soderbergh's series it was a party you never felt quite welcome at, but here Stallone greets you at the door, cracks you open a can of beer and shoves a hot dog in your face. Like the best parties, you won't remember a thing about The Expendables 3 the following morning, but you'll be glad you were there.
7 out of 10

How The Road To Voyage Led Elsewhere: Author And Media Commentator Eric Deggans

By Dw Dunphy

Sometimes unfortunate things happen for a reason, or so we're told. The brass ring that is so close to being grasped may not be the one meant for us. It is a comforting thought in moments of disappointment, but there are often far too few real-life examples to justify the shiny aphorisms. Here's one. 
Eric Deggans is a respected media commentator for NPR as well as an accomplished journalist. His book Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation brought Deggans to wide acclaim and to prominent television programs like the esteemed public television forum The Open Mind with Richard D. Heffner.
In mid-July, Deggans and fellow NPR correspondent Michele Norris discussed the impact of the music and film of Prince's Purple Rain, celebrating its unfathomable 30th anniversary in 2014. Deggans mentioned how the story of "The Kid" and "The Revolution" strangely mirrored his own dreams of pop stardom.

Most of us will not likely become NPR commentators or authors of social and media dissection. Yet, many of us have had the dream of becoming a music star. This is the story of how Deggans and Voyage, the band he was a member of, got to live out that dream and to be signed to the famed Motown Records label, and how there's never really such a thing as a "sure thing."

One key proviso: Deggans stipulated that, "These are my recollections only, without consultation from anyone else in my band or our management from back then. So it's basically what I knew then to the best of my recollection; others may have different memories."

How did the Voyage Band start out and what did you play?
I was the drummer, drum programmer and occasional backing vocalist. I was taking a class at Indiana University called the IU Soul Revue, where we put together a show through the African American Studies Department which showed off the history of black music. There, I met a bass player named James Strong; he had some other friends at the school who played other instruments and eventually we decided to form a band that we eventually called Voyage.

What was the process of putting together "Strange Situation" which was the band's initial regional hit?
In 1986, a few years after we formed, we were approached by students in IU's audio engineering program. They were helping with a charity project called Live From Bloomington. The idea was to record an album featuring one song each from a host of local bands, then show off the bands in a giant performance at two local nightclubs, sort of as a local version of Live Aid. We presented a new song for the album called "Strange Situation"; as I remember, it was basically a way for us to get this new song recorded for free, at a time when it still wasn't quite possible to equal the quality of a studio recording in your home or practice space. But when the charity record came out, "Strange Situation" was lead track on the album and it became a huge hit, earning lots of airplay on stations in Bloomington, Indianapolis and eventually across the Midwest. The charity album sold out and the success of the song revitalized the band's career, causing huge crowds of fans to come to our shows.

"Strange Situation" did well, and afterward, did the band pursue Motown? Did Motown pursue you? What was that like?
My understanding is that our management got an intermediary to get a tape of "Strange Situation" to an A&R executive at Motown. We were signed and given a small amount of money to record an album on our own, producing the record ourselves. (We had to change our name to The Voyage Band because there was already a French disco band which used the name Voyage.) We went to Chicago and recorded the album and created rough mixes of all the songs, with the hope that Motown would connect us with someone who could polish the final mixes better. But we kept getting the runaround from the company and eventually the whole world heard that Berry Gordy had decided to sell Motown to MCA. Eventually, almost all the acts on the label were dropped, except for a few big names. So our brief time as Motown Recording artists ended with no album or single release.

We were, of course, very disappointed. But we learned a lot in recording those songs and left the experience much more knowledgeable about the record industry than when we were signed. I had taken a couple of years off from college when the Motown deal happened, promising myself and my parents that I would return to finish my degree after following this dream as far as I could. So not long after the Motown deal ended, I returned to school and finished my journalism degree, earning my final three credits by correspondence while playing with the band in Japan. In mid-1990, I graduated college and moved to Pittsburgh to start work as a newspaper journalist; most of the other members of The Voyage Band moved to Los Angeles to continue their music careers not long after.

You spoke with Michele Norris about the parallels you felt about your own experience, and seeing that played out on the screen with "The Kid" and "The Revolution". What was it like watching Purple Rain when that feeling kicked in for you?
As I remember, I went to see the film with some friends from IU at a theater near my hometown of Gary, Indiana. I would later see it several more times, and liked the way life in a band was depicted. I was also a huge Prince fan, so seeing him reveal a little bit of himself in a storyline which seemed somewhat autobiographical was also a treat. There were several bands in Bloomington which competed for prime weekend slots at the two big local clubs in town, along with competing for lucrative work playing fraternity and sorority parties, so the film's storyline of competition for gigs felt like a slice from my life. And when "Strange Situation" turned Voyage into a local phenomenon, it felt a bit like we were living the story of the movie.

Obviously fate has served you well. How did you transition from "making pop music is my dream" to "I'm looking on to a different direction from here on out"? Do you still speak to members of the band or has everyone moved on to their new lives?
I came to college planning to marry my talents as a musician and writer by becoming a music critic. So I always felt my work in the Voyage Band was a great way to support myself in school, learn how the business works for my later career and have amazing experiences. Eventually, I knew that, unless the band had a significant amount of national success, I would leave the group to finish my studies and start my journalism career. If pop music had been my dream from the start, I would have chosen to be a musician for my career, as all my other friends from the band did. Most of us keep in touch; my friends from Voyage who are still musicians have worked with Burt Bacharach, LeAnn Rimes, Babyface, LL Cool J, Little Richard, Kenny Rogers and many other great artists. And we were part of a generation of musicians who came through IU in the 1980s that includes names like Chris Botti, Kenny Aronoff, Bob Hurst, Shawn Pelton, Crystal Taliefero, Everett Bradley and many more. So I feel like I'm part of a great musical legacy, even though my own time as a professional musician was relatively short. I also still play drums, and have added bass guitar and singing to my skills, performing around the Tampa Bay, Florida area with a variety of musicians in my spare time.

Genetic Testing Sends Janice Underwater

By Gary Wien

Tell me about the play.
Clare Drobot, resident dramaturg and producing associate for Janice Underwater, described it as sort of a coming of age story for a woman in her thirties. I think that's a good way of looking at it.

Janice is going through hard times. She gets a letter from her schizophrenic mother, whom she hasn't seen in twenty years. Her father shows possible early signs of Alzheimer's disease. She avoids dealing with either situation. Instead, she mails out some genetic tests she got online and the anxiety this creates leads to a blowup at work and triggers visions of her mother, which occur throughout the play. She tries to find paying work as a visual artist (her true passion), make her rent, maintain her sanity, and make the right choices for herself and her family as she waits for these test results. She even initiates a romance with her troubled super along the way. Things don't turn out as she expected. 
A number of the scenes actually take place in parts of Union County.   Were those locations originally in the script or did you change them for the production?
These locations were originally in the script. I grew up in Hillside and know all these places described in the play. I wouldn't change these locations for a different production. There's something important about naming Conant Avenue or Bloy Street or the Pulaski Skyway. Some of these places conjure up old memories for me, not all of them pleasant. This deep ambivalence felt right for Janice. Whether she'll need to move back to Hillside is a question for her.

How do you personally feel about genetic testing?  Do you think the benefits outweigh any moral questions? Or is it something we shouldn't be playing around with?
It's great that people can get a glimpse of their heritage through genetic tests, or that people who find out they have a predisposition towards coronary artery disease, for example, might be inspired to make lifestyle changes to prevent sudden death. But I'm not sure how I feel about this as yet another commodity in a free market. Direct to consumer genetic tests should be regulated to make sure that people aren't exploited and given inaccurate or unverified health information. That's happening with some recent FDA intervention and that's a good thing. It raises moral questions on a personal level too. After receiving results, should the consumer feel an obligation to tell close family members, for their own sake, if they want to know? Would sharing those personal results with a close relative be irresponsible without physician guidance? Even with physician guidance, there are questions. If people find out they have the gene for something like early-onset Alzheimer's, what can they do with that information? Would a positive result lead to problems with health or life insurance? Would it help a family to plan a course of action? I know it would stress me out to get tested for certain family illnesses. It would make my mind spin. I wouldn't use that as an argument against other people doing this. People should be able to find out these things if they want, and make their own decisions, to a degree. But I believe in oversight.

Have you ever noticed that people losing their mind is one of the few aspects of our every day life that remains a good source of comedy for theatre and films but hasn't fallen prey to political correctness for such a sensitive topic?  Any ideas why that might be?
I'm not sure. My play is a comedy-drama. Parts of it are funny; parts of it should hurt. Much of what these characters are going through is painful and horrifying. It's my intention to treat the topic with sensitivity. I have close family members who suffer from various mental illnesses. These conditions aren't a joke. But sometimes it's important to laugh. Humor can be avoidance or a way of not feeling. It can be cutting and glib and hollow. It can also be recognition of the absurd, expression of bitterness, and a way of coping with pain. It can be character-based. It can give voice to the dead, who have funny things to say. That's what I'm trying to do in this play. I see comedy where my own obsession and fears and poor decisions intersect with these characters. This is when the humor feels important to me, when it's true and finds a communion with people in my play and in my life. Much of the humor in the play revolves around terror and humiliation in ordinary situations. Those moments are not bound up in the topic of mental illness exclusively.

originally published: 2014-08-18 11:49:16

Cape May & Ghosts... Perfect Together

By Gary Wien

There's just something about ghosts and Cape May. The seashore town has ghost walking tours, ghost trolley tours, even haunted restaurants. And from now through September 19, the town also features a production of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" - a play about a zany medium (played by Jennifer Harmon) that accidentally stirs up the temperamental ghost of a novelist's first wife after a seance that goes awry.
Harmon is a veteran of stage, television, and the silver screen including roles on Broadway and an Emmy nomination for her role on One Life to Live. When told about the role ghosts play in the Cape May tourism trade she replied, "Seems like the perfect place for us to do the play. We should fit right in."

As a child, Harmon grew up in New Orleans, a city well aware of ghosts and spirits.

"I grew up in the French Quarter til I was 12 and then we moved up to the Garden District," recalled Harmon. "It was certainly something that was part of the culture. Ghosts, voodoo. A lot of people talked about having ghosts in their houses. You heard about it a lot in the music, the literature, and just living in the French Quarter -- it's so old and it has such an old world charm... You do have a feeling of the past and in things being haunted. I find it very interesting that Cape May has the same thing. It also has the feeling of the Civil War, doesn't it?"

Harmon describes "Blithe Spirit" as a play full of gaiety, great wit and humor. "It's very frothy," she adds. "It's incredibly sophisticated, light and fun. I think the language just sparkles. It's wonderfully witty and fun and also incredibly human. It's about relationships and the complexities of relationships and the complexities of marriage. How do you go forward?

"One of the things I love about Madame Arcati is that she's full of such spirit," Harmon continued. "She has these wonderful phrases like 'Down with your head, up with your heart, and you're over the top like a flash and skimming down the other side like a dragon-fly.' She's full of great spirit and not giving up, just moving forward. I think it's interesting that Coward wrote the play during a time when the nation was being so challenged in every way. He wrote it during the Blitz and when times were terrible in London. They were being bombed and there was rationing going on. So I think there was a sort of message under there of 'spirits up', that very British sort of 'chin up and keep at it', 'down with melancholy, move forward'... but done in a very witty, fun, optimistic way."

Harmon points out that human nature really hasn't changed much through the years, which is why plays like "Blithe Spirit" can be revived and still be relevant and fun.

"It was written in a war and we've been in the midst of a war," she points out.

While this is her first time performing in Cape May, she has been to productions in town before. She loves walking around the town and seeing sidewalks being pushed up by the roots of trees and houses with beautiful iron work - just like New Orleans.

"It's really an exquisitely beautiful place," said Harmon. "It's a wonderful place and a wonderful theatre."

In a strange way, New Jersey is like a second home for Harmon. In 2001, she had a kidney transplant at the Robert Wood Johnson hospital in New Brunswick.

"A dear, dear friend of mine - my Guardian Angel - gave me a kidney and I've been doing marvelously ever since."

Would she say New Jersey gave her a second chance?

"New Jersey gave me more than a second chance... a second life. Talk about spirits!"

Cape May Stage presents "Blithe Spirit" by Noel Coward now through
September 19 at The Robert Shackleton Playhouse (405 Lafayette Street, Cape May).
For more information visit
Photos by Aleksey Photography.

The Kings of Suburbia: A Rock 'n' Roll Dynasty

By Jennifer Pricci

When Jon Bon Jovi holds court with his Kings of Suburbia, it's not an internationally renowned rock star that you see, and not a front-man of a rock n' roll band, or, more formally, the CEO of the 13th highest grossing band on the Forbes Top 100 list. Think Jon Bon Jovi, music fan.

His most loyal fans outside of the Jersey Shore really have never seen this side him. Women travel thousands of miles to see their icon, their hero. And many leave asking... Who is this man and why is he confusing me like this?

They understand the strength of a song like "Wanted," treating it as some kind of gift just for them, part of his namesake's band bestselling album Slippery When Wet, a collection that went platinum to the 12th power; not a bad way to launch a megastar career.

Jon's is an act that fills stadiums around the world until every seat has a fanny in it. But despite such commercial success, he never forgot where he came from. So when he set his sights on a new project, he collected the kind of musicians that spoke to him as an artist. The result is The Kings of Suburbia.

For most Jersey Shore residents, to live here is to be immersed in the musical culture. To visit is to have no context. And this holds true whether one comes to the Shore or the Shore comes to you. So for those nomadic women who purchase a ticket to a Kings of Suburbia show because it's adorned with the name "Jon Bon Jovi;" here are the keys to the castle.On July 30th Jon brought his Kings home to Red Bank, New Jersey to play a benefit for the Parker Family Health Clinic, a local nonprofit that extends medical services to the uninsured, a cause Jon and his wife Dorothea have been a part of since before he dug in his first shovel at groundbreaking.

The historic Count Basie Theatre, just a few blocks east of the JBJ Soul Kitchen — a restaurant run by Jon's Soul Foundation serving free food in exchange for volunteer work -- was filled to the brim with both women on pilgrimage and residents of the suburb baited by its many local music heroes and a prodigal son.

The band was relentless. Soaring vocals by Jon and the 14-piece Kings of Suburbia rocked 'n' rolled between bar band torque, think Nick Lowe's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding", or the gritty R&B of Ray Charles' "Night Time is the Right Time", or the artful soul of Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People", Queen's classic rocker "Under Pressure." Add a measure of symbolism with Don McLean's venerable sing-along "American Pie" as a finale and you find a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.

The Kings' lineup is a veritable who's who of the kind of musicians that have given the Jersey Shore its rich musical heritage. Bobby Bandiera, one of the more recognizable Kings and a tie that binds the group together, is a beloved local attraction.

A badly kept Shore secret for decades, Bandiera began playing in clubs 50 years ago at 16. His first outfit was a band from Orange, New Jersey called Holme. They debuted in 1970, and were the house band for years at Dodd's and D'Jais in Belmar, where it's still possible to find the 21st century version on any given summer Sunday.

In the early '80's he became lead vocalist and guitarist for Cats on a Smooth Surface, the only group to ever achieve house band status at the famed Stone Pony. It was the spring of '82 when Springsteen could often be found appearing unannounced with the Cats. The Boss loved jamming with the Cats.

In 1985, Bandiera joined Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, a position he still unofficially holds -- he's been on "permanent loan" to Bon Jovi since 2005... it's safe to say even Springsteen's been getting his voicemail.

Bandiera's performance credits include countless benefits, he's found the time to record four solo albums and has over 40 recording credits including the "A Very Special Christmas" albums to benefit the Special Olympics, recorded under his musical direction live from the White House in front of President Clinton. He's shared the stage with B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne, Keith Richards, Dr. John, Levon Helm and many more.

When Bobby's front and center, one can truly comprehend his value. His standing-room-only performances with The Bobby Bandiera Band delivers with the same vigor and exactitude of his popular Rock-N-Soul Revues, a concert series born in 2005 that pays tribute to some of rock 'n' roll's greatest artists.

Along with Bandiera, Lorenza Ponce, of the habitual smile and feisty fiddle, is also a staple on Bon Jovi's tours. The multi-talented musician has toured the world playing violin alongside Ben Folds, Sheryl Crow, John Tesh and more.

As Lorenza explains, her extensive qualifications are founded in "a style change from the classical training and new age music of (her) past, while incorporating the 'graduate degree' (she's) earned at the school of rock star employers and mentors."

There may be no better way to feature Lorenza among the Kings than with The Who's "Baba O'Riley," a cover that stops every show. The tune showcases Bandiera on lead vocals and guitar but it is Lorenza's rock violin solo that elevates it to an exponential level. And when Bandiera and Ponce treat the audience to a duel; the two are the musical equivalent of a beast with two backs.

For the evening's Bon Jovi originals you could again count on Bobby to move the songs over toward the Southside. The immortal "Bad Medicine," bolstered further by brass.

Tommy Meares on trombone, Tony Perruso on trumpet, John Berry on trumpet, Tommy LaBella on sax and Doug DeHays on baritone sax transformed the Jon Bon Jovi led show to an even greater Jersey Shore bread sound. The combined credits of this group, simply too many to list, include stints as Springsteen sidemen, Asbury Jukes, The Motor City Review, Glen Burtnik's Summer of Love Series, Bandiera's Rock-N-Soul Revues and more.

The Kings' brass roster, who set The Boxtops' "The Letter" ablaze, must bring great satisfaction to Jon, the music fan, who in his very beginning struggled pounding the pavement for a deal because labels felt the market was already saturated with the "Jersey Shore Sound;" Springsteen and Southside's Jukes cornering the market. 

"I want to grow up to be Southside Johnny," Jon has proclaimed on many occasions; even admitting to lifting Southside's "Hearts of Stone" to cushion Bon Jovi's "Never Say Goodbye" to #1 on the Billboard charts. The Jukes horn section has always set them apart, so there's no denying how much The Kings' lineup of spinning and dancing brass must be his moment of self-actualization.

Rhythm Guitarist and Backing Vocalist Jim Celestino and Bass Player Graham Maby, more key players responsible for making the overall performance blow through the walls of The Basie and onto the side streets of Red Bank. Celestino, whose resume includes The Jersey Shore Rock-N-Soul Revue, has shared the stage with a range of artists including Springsteen, Ben E. King, Gary "US" Bonds, Daryl Hall and Rob Thomas among others. Graham Maby, longtime bassist for Joe Jackson, is looked upon by those who know his work as a scene stealer. He's toured with Graham Parker, Garland Jeffreys, and Darden Smith and has recorded and toured with Natalie Merchant's band. Maby has also appeared on recordings with Marshall Crenshaw, Joan Baez, and more.

Drummer Rich Scanella, an obvious choice for The Kings, was snatched up by Jon after Bon Jovi drummer, Tico Torres, underwent an emergency appendectomy right before a show in Mexico City on their last tour. He got the call the day of the cancelled show as Torres was admitted. That gave Scannella about one week to learn the entire Bon Jovi repertoire so that he could to join the band for immediate concert dates that included the famed Rock in Rio festival in Brazil. It is no wonder he's so obviously suited to bring that monstrous stadium sound. Bon Jovi originals such as "We've Got It Going On," would not have translated without him. Scannella, just as much in demand in studio as on the road, has worked with Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Adam Duritz, Joe Elliot, Michael Anthony, Neal Schon, Hubert Sumlin, Tommy Shaw and more.

Another show highlight features, not only "the most famous finger snaps in rock 'n' roll," but our keyboard players; Arne Wendt and Carl Gentry. When Queen's "Under Pressure" kicked off with that notable bass hook and keyboard sprinkle, so did the audience's great anticipation. The energetic Arne Wendt has occupied the keyboard seat for a dynamic range of artists such as Ben E. King, Gary "US" Bonds, Noel Redding, Rob Thomas and more. This night was Carl Gentry's debut as a King. In addition to leading his own Carl Gentry Band, he's also been tapped to play with Bandiera and Marc Muller's critically-acclaimed Grateful Dead Revue Concert Series. We'll be seeing Gentry again in this role.

It should also be put on record for those critics in the cover and tribute circle who say nobody should try their hand at Freddie Mercury; Jon thrives on this song as it sits perfectly in the nook of his 52 year-old range. 
"Under Pressure," immediately followed by the dimmed room intro to "Baba O'Riley" is where we again find Wendt and Gentry under no pressure at all, prepping the room for the aforementioned eruption of violin and guitar.

And just as the audience may feel they've reached their own peak, Jon welcomed to the stage his mentor Southside, another common denominator among most of the Kings. Jon introduced him as "the reason I do what I do," and sat back in deference as Southside took over, performing a mini Ray Charles tribute beginning with "Big Boss Man" with backing vocalist Jillian Rhys McCoy. Jillian's voice may be what you call "retro." Think 1963. Ronnie Spector, The Shirelles -- one of the great branches to the roots of rock 'n' roll music.

Our welcomed guest continued to keep the house agroove with local R&B 'Queen' Layonne Holmes, performing "Night Time is the Right Time." Enjoying Layonne solely as a backup singer is a crime. The size of her rich alto voice pales only in comparison to her command of soul and stage as she outshines every spotlight she steps into. Her first paid session work came from E Street Band member, Danny Federici at the age of 22. More impressive session credits followed but it is in performance where Layonne's love for music can be felt, even in your own gut, as you listen.

Layonne has parlayed her experience launching outfit after outfit into a calendar full of engagements with her groups RAIN, the Grand Ladies of Jazz concert show, the New Standard, and the 11-piece Motor City Revue who has built such a strong following that they sell out every performance.
Layonne has shared the stage with many music industry luminaries including Darlene Love, Phoebe Snow, Gary U.S. Bonds, Ben E. King, Leslie Gore and Beth Nielson Chapman. In 2001, Layonne and her late Mother – the celebrated Delores "Miss Dee" Holmes – were selected to back Bruce Springsteen on the internationally-televised "9/11 Tribute to Heroes" telethon and appeared on the album of the same name.

An incestuous group of bona fide, qualified and unequivocal musicians amplified the Count Basie stage that night and, along with a revolving group of even more area artists who rotate based on Jon's vision, deliver the superb sounds of this Suburb to stages around the world. Grand scope, thanks to the veritable, viable and commercially authoritative Jon Bon Jovi. So in addition to appreciation for his philanthropy, he is due gratitude for enlightening the world, and what may be an otherwise bewildered group of well meaning fans, about why the Jersey Shore is a time-honored dynasty from where Kings reign supreme.

Line-Up: Jon Bon Jovi / Bobby Bandiera – Lead Guitar / Jim Celestino – Rhythm Guitar / Graham Maby – Bass / Lorenza Ponce – Violin, Backing Vocals / Layonne Holmes – Backing Vocals / Jillian Rhys McCoy – Backing Vocals / Tommy Meares – trombone / Tony Perruso – trumpet / John Berry – trumpet / Tommy LaBella – sax / Doug DeHays – Baritone sax / Rich Scanella – drums / Arne Wendt – keyboards / Carl Gentry – Keyboard

Special Guest: Southside Johnny Lyons


 Setlist: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles) / Ain't Nothin' But a House Party (J. Geils Band) / Lost Highway (Bon Jovi) / Whole Lot of Leavin' (Bon Jovi) / Oh, Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison) / Everyday People (Sly & the Family Stone) / Old Time Rock & Roll (Bob Seger) / You Give Love a Bad Name (Bon Jovi) / (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (Nick Lowe) / I'm Your Man (Leonard Cohen) / We Got it Goin' On (Bon Jovi) / Under Pressure (Queen) / Baba O'Riley (The Who) / Big Boss Man – Southside Johnny Lead Vocals (Ray Charles) / Night Time is the Right Time – Southside Johnny Lead Vocals (Ray Charles) / What'd I Say? – Southside Johnny Lead Vocals (Ray Charles) / The Letter (The Boxtops) / Who Says You Can't Go Home (Bon Jovi) / Bad Medicine (Bon Jovi)

Encore: Prayer '94 (Bon Jovi) / Because We Can (Bon Jovi) / Talk To Me – Southside Johnny Backing Vocals (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes) / 634-5789 – Southside Johnny Backing Vocals (Wilson Pickett) / American Pie (Don McLean)

The Hopeful Romantic in Red Wanting Blue

By Gary Wien

Most of the country may know Scott Terry as the lead singer in the Columbus, Ohio band, Red Wanting Blue, but the friends and family members that will pack upcoming shows in the tri-state area still think of him as a Jersey Boy. Born and raised in Moorestown, Scott's band released their latest album, "Little America", on July 1.  A lot has changed since Scott left the state, but one thing that hasn't is his hopeful romantic writing style, although now with a twist... 

"I've been in a relationship for a long time," said Terry in a phone interview conducted while the band was traveling to Denver for a show. "I think what a lot of people hear when they listen to songs about love or relationships is songs of young love or new love. It was interesting to me to touch down on the idea of a longer relationship. Songs like 'Hotel Oblivion' are tough ones for me because there are lines that I slide in and I wonder if people really pay attention to. Like, 'you and me / me and you / oh, I guess we're all we've got / I know that we're not / what you envisioned.'

"There's an image of people being together as they picture their lives. You look back years later and realize that we are nowhere near that image you had in your head of what we thought we would be like. And you only hope when you have these thoughts running through your mind that you're not alone. I've got to give some of that up, hoping that people also feel the same way."

Scott is a very biographical songwriter and has been since the beginning of the band back in 1996. Several albums later, he knows that the stuff he personally doesn't want to talk about is exactly what the audience wants to hear the most. With "Little America", he includes some of his most personal songs, such as "Leaving New York" which deals with the struggles of being in a long-term relationship with someone hundreds (and sometimes thousdands) of miles apart and never wanting to leave her.

"'Cause never before...was my heart as sore
as it was when I was leaving New York"
"Leaving New York"

"I remember writing that song in two parts," he recalled. "I wrote the chorus when we were driving through the night from Boston to Asbury Park. It was one of those times I knew I wasn't going to see her and I knew I wasn't going to be able to swing back through the city. We have to drive through the night because the traffic is so terrible for a bus and a trailer. As soon as you drive through the day you never know what catastrophe might happen.

"The other part was when we were touring out west and we were in Portland. We played the Crystal Ballroom and I just remember it being rainy and shitty."

Scott recalls an interview recently in which he was questioned about why a band from the mid-west would have lyrics like "tired of hearing about New York and L.A." and then put out a song called "Leaving New York."

"New York isn't just a place... for me, it's also a person" he said.

One of the most difficult aspects of being an autographical writer is knowing what should be put down on paper and what should remain a secret.

"I'm an emotional writer," he says. "It's what gets me off. I enjoy writing stuff that asks questions or could be thought provoking. To some degree, I've always felt you have to open up the medicine cabinet and see what you've got."

"You are an uncontrollable, inconsolable woman
and I'm a bullheaded, egomaniacal man"
"Keep Love Alive"

He worried about going over the line with the lyric shown above from "Keep Love Alive" but his girlfriend loved it.

Scott says choosing what to write about can be difficult. He knows you can't always write about love and can't always write about heartbreak. For him and the band, the answer is clear -- write about their other passion, traveling.

Red Wanting Blue has done their share of traveling over the years, working as a DIY band for over a decade before signing a record deal with Fanatic Records a few years ago. In fact, the latest release got its name from one of the band's memorable days on the road.

Red Wanting Blue was driving from Salt Lake City to Denver during a brutal snowstorm a year ago when the band's converted mobile home nearly hit a jackknifed tractor-trailer.

"The truck came to a halt just before getting to us," said Terry. "There was debris everywhere and we sat in awe for a moment before we maneuvered around the wreckage and slowly made our way down the mountain. We pulled off at the first truck stop we saw – it happened to be named 'Little America.'"
The title is also bit of a metaphor for the way Scott and the band have bonded with each other and their fans across the country. He's seen more of the country than he ever dreamed he would.

"As a child, America was the most enormous thing I knew, and as I got older, it became an epic and unconquerable wilderness that I thought I would spend my whole life discovering," he explained. "My relationship with America has gotten so much more intimate than I ever could have dreamed. It's 'Little America,' like the nickname you can only give to someone after you've really gotten to know them."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New Jersey Stage Announces Free Advertising For "Stagehands"

(BELMAR, NJ) — New Jersey Stage wants to create a network of virtual newspaper boxes across the internet to help promote and distribute its new digital magazine. Traditionally, arts & entertainment weeklies have placed newspaper boxes at busy street corners to serve as distribution points. Since New Jersey Stage is a digital magazine without any physical copies to distribute, the publication is introducing a new program to simulate the newspaper box approach in the virtual world. Appropriately named "Stagehands", the program offers artists, organizations, and businesses free advertising in exchange for helping to spread the word about the new magazine. 
New Jersey Stage blends the best features of the web with the look and feel of a magazine. Each issue covers the arts with audio, video, and interactive elements that help the stories and advertising come alive. The first issue contained a poet reciting a poem within a beautifully shot video, tv clips from the past, a short indie film, a photo gallery slideshow of art, and a music video. Several ads even included video to go along pop-up driving maps and links back to websites and social media networks. Yet, the issue is designed to read just like a magazine with pages that actually turn, whether they're being read on a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.

"Our Stagehands program offers a free 300x250 pixel ad on in exchange for helping to spread the word about our digital magazine," explained Gary Wien, publisher. "Stagehands may choose to add one of our banners or buttons to their website, add a text link to the magazine, or simply share the link to the magazine on their social network sites each month.

"Essentially, the Stagehands help form a key element in our digital magazine's distribution network," said Wien. "As a way of showing our appreciation, we have set up a special ad rotation on our website solely to run ads by the Stagehands."

There are no costs involved in the Stagehands program. Interested parties simply notify that they will be helping to spread the word, send over a 300x250 ad, and the ad will be put into rotation on the website. A link will also be added in a special section listing all of the Stagehands.

"By helping more people learn about New Jersey Stage magazine, the Stagehands are actually helping to keep arts journalism alive in the Garden State," added Wien. "Mainstream newspapers have been steadily decreasing the amount of their arts coverage over the years and, with so many publications struggling to stay afloat, independent arts magazines like New Jersey Stage are the answer."

For more information on the Stagehands program visit Click Here

New Jersey Stage magazine is a monthly digital publication published by Wine Time Media that covers the arts throughout the Garden State. The magazine seeks to bring coverage and inexpensive advertising to the arts. Advertising rates range from $20-$100 to reach over 25,000 fans of the arts each month. For more information visit

originally published: 2014-08-05 13:04:11

Lucky Me? Lucky Us!

By Diego Allessandro

Luck is hard to come by, especially in the state home to the casinos of Atlantic City and the crane games on boardwalks up and down the shore. Just a short drive from the beach, The New Jersey Repertory Company has long presented new plays into the long and illustrious history of the American Theatre. From playwright Robert Caisley and director by SuzAnne Barabas comes Lucky Me, a delightful new romantic comedy debuting this month in Long Branch and is a must see for those who enjoy stories of love, family, AWOL cats, mustard and airport security.

Lucky Me follows the seemingly cursed Sara Fine (Wendy Peace) who slipped off the roof on a cold, icy New Year's Eve in Denver and fractured the 5th metatarsal in her foot. To her rescue is the nice and slightly awkward TSA agent Tom (Michael Irvin Pollard) who has just moved in across the street after being transferred from Juno, Alaska. He brings her to the hospital and helps her back to her apartment only to meet her aging father Leo (Dan Grimaldi) who instantly distrusts the kind hearted Tom. Despite the warnings of her landlord Yuri (Mark Light-Orr) and Leo's constant attempts to either scare or annoy him away, which ever works quicker, Tom pursues Sara's affections.

Robert Caisley's writing is brilliant, witty and insightful in what can be described as modern day Glass Menagerie. Lucky Me is pleasing mixture of great sitcom and vintage Neil Simon with a dash of Aaron Sorkin. Caisley, a Professor of Theatre and Head of Dramatic Writing at the University of Idaho, crafts a story that is both relevant and heartfelt while maintaining big laughs at the expense of family dynamics, romantic histories and the TSA. The scenes make masterful use of the stage space and great comedic timing under the direction of SuzAnne Barabas. The apartment's wallpaper adds a timeless feel to the set which allows the audience to further invest themselves emotionally in the characters and the story.

The cast have great chemistry and make the comedy feel both effortless and natural. Dan Grimaldi, known to many as twin mobsters Philly "Spoons" & Patsy Parisi on HBO's classic drama The Sopranos is brilliant as Leo, who comes off like a mix of Jerry Stiller's King of Queens quirky father character Arthur Spooner and Carrol O'Connor's classic Archie Bunker from All In the Family with the mischievous scheming of Family Guy's Stewie Griffin. Leo becomes more loveable the more he lays into Tom and shines that boy like smile when he knows he's gotten over on him. In researching the role of Leo, who lost his sight after he retired, Grimaldi admitted to observing blind people and watching Scent of A Woman and USA's espionage thriller Covert Affairs while crafting his own take to bring the character of Leo alive.

Wendy Peace, who portrays the accident prone and loveable Sara, sees her character as someone fighting for optimism and commented "there's not a sense of inevitability about her." At first Sara is not willing to accept anyone or anything new into her life; she refuses to name her pets because she expects them to die or run away within 3 months of her bringing them home and tries to keep Tom at bay despite her attraction to him. Sara's most remarkable scene comes in the second act after a cathartic moment in which Tom, Leo and Sara lay their cards on the table when she begins to accept her fate and allow herself to let Tom to get close to her. For Peace, Sara embodies an important life lesson, "open yourself up to love and you never know the possibilities that can come to you."

Michael Irvin Pollard is no stranger to NJ Rep having appeared in previous productions of Big Boys, Ten Percent of Molly Snyder and six other productions. His performance of Tom, the TSA agent next door, is inspired. Tom is a divorcee who admits he's been closed off to the possibility of love since he and his ex-wife split until he met Sara. His affection for Sara is immediately genuine as he takes it upon himself to help Sara take care of herself and Leo after falling off the roof. His ability to be open with her even when she asks him not to ask questions creates an interesting tug of war under the surface of their relationship. Tom, a usually easy going guy with a good sense of humor, is no push over as displayed when he stands up to Leo after taking weeks of Leo's teasing with a grain of salt. With the help of Sara's quirky, hungry and straightforward Ukrainian landlord Yuri, played masterfully by Mark Light-Orr, Tom seems determined to win Sara's heart and learn how to deal with Leo, the scars, the bruises and the constant barrage of sporting goods flying through the windows.

Lucky Me is a play sure to bring laughs aplenty to audiences this month. With its wit, charm and stellar cast it's serendipitous that it has come to debut here in the Garden State. Lucky Me plays each Thursday through Saturday at 8pm with matinees at 3pm on Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays through August 31 at NJ Rep (179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ). Tickets are available at and over the phone at 732-229-3166. And if we're lucky, it'll come back around soon.

originally published: 2014-08-04 13:42:36

2014 Perry Award Nominees Announced

(WEST WINDSOR, NJ) -- The nominations for the 2014 Perry Awards were announced on August 2nd during a ceremony held at the Kelsey Theatre on the Mercer County Community College Campus. Awards will be presented during the 41st Annual New Jersey Association of Community Theaters (NJACT) Perry Awards Gala on Sunday, September 21, 2014 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Somerset Hotel and Conference Center (200 Atrium Drive, Somerset, NJ).

The NJACT Perry Awards are given for outstanding achievements in New Jersey Community Theater. At the beginning of each season, NJACT Member Theaters submit their shows for award consideration. Two NJACT Reviewers attend each production, evaluate all on-stage aspects of the performance, and provide separate numerical scores for over 50 different criteria across 10 different review categories. More than 200 shows produced by theater companies around the state are submitted each year, which require over 400 reviews by trained NJACT volunteers.
NJACT bestows Perry Awards in 33 performance and technical categories based on NJACT reviewer scores. Candidates with the top seven scores in each category are considered nominees. The nominee with the highest score in each category receives the Perry Award. There are also four Special Perry Awards available each year: Community Theater of the Year Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, the David P. McMenemie Award, and the Perry Award for Outstanding Stage Management. Candidates for these awards are nominated by members of the community, and the recipient is determined by NJACT Board vote of those nominated. 

Tickets for the gala are $75. Visit for more information.

Complete list of 2014 Nominees

Outstanding Direction of a Play
Carol Fisher, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Claudia MacDermott, Race, Players Guild of Leonia
John Dowgin, How I Learned to Drive, Circle Players
Judi Parrish, Agnes of God, Villagers Theatre
Marie Fiorello, Wedding Secrets, Somerset Valley Players
Marjorie Sokoloff, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages at Camden County College
Todd Bennington, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players 
Outstanding Direction of a Musical
Andrew DiPrisco, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Camille DiLorenzo, Ragtime, Pleasant Valley Productions
Carolyn Newman, Shrek: The Musical, Showkids Invitational Theatre
Deborah Bradshow, Les Miserables, Cumberland College Theatre
Howard Whitmore, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Michael Haber, Les Miserables, New Vision Players
Patrick Starega, A Chorus Line, Villagers Theatre 

Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play
Allan Seward, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
John Corall, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages At Camden County College
Michael Rapelye, A Piece of My Heart, Somerset Valley Players
Patrick McGlone, Agnes of God, Villagers Theatre
Richard Hennessy, Angels in America: Part 1- Milleneum Approaches, Chatham Community Players
Robert Rutt, The Diary of Anne Frank, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Wendy Roome, The Games Afoot, Summit Playhouse 

Outstanding Lighting Design of a Musical
Corey Rubel, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Villagers Theatre
James Kudless, Shrek: The Musical, Showkids Invitational Theatre
Joe McKie, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Mary Reilly, Spring Awakening, Cranford Dramatic Club
Robert Rutt, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Robert Tarrano, Starrika McCloud, Les Miserables, Playful Theatre Productions
Zach Pizza, Raul Barcelona, Next to Normal, Porch Light Productions 

Outstanding Sound Design of a Play
Gerry Gironda, The Diary of Anne Frank, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Jim Higgins, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Joseph DeVico, Angels in America: Part 1--Millenium Approaches, Chatham Community Players
Judi Parrish, Agnes of God, Villagers Theatre
Pat DeFusco, A Christmas Story, The Road Company
Paul Kaytes, A Piece of My Heart, Somerset Valley Players
Tim Larson, Around the World in 80 Days, Bergen County Players 

Outstanding Sound Design of a Musical
Andrew Rivenbank, Assassins, The Road Company
Charles Santoro, Gypsy, Old Library Theatre
Darren Gage, Bare, Collective Youth Theatre Company
Joseph Halajian, Ruthless, Bergen County Players
Marc Rogol, Monty Python's Spamalot, Playhouse 22
Pat DelFusco, The Producers, Haddonfield Plays & Players
Thomas Newman, Fritz Doddy, Shrek: The Musical, Showkids Invitational Theatre
Tom Seeland, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players

Outstanding Costume Design of a Play
Anne Lowe, The Games Afoot, Summit Playhouse
Dan Schultz, Meg Gilbert, Kate Soriano, Roseanne Keenan, The Importance of Being Earnest, interACT Productions
Elizabeth Mahon, Blithe Spirit, Main Street Theatre Company
Faith Dowgin, Ravenscroft, Circle Players
K. Whitney Rodgers, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages at Camden County College
Katie Lupfer, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Louisa Muder, Marge Swider, A Flea in Her Ear, Yardley Players 

Outstanding Costume Design of a Musical
Fred Amyo, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Howard Whitmore, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Jacquie Rivier, Annmarie Matseur, Dani Sobolka, Donna Gigante, Mike Patierno, Spamalot, Playhouse 22
Jeffrey Fiorello, Christine Hahn, Spring Awakening, Cranford Dramatic Club
Leolie Romanuski, Lauri Hudson, Spamalot, The Road Company
Lois Steeves, Cindy Pellis, Shrek: The Musical, Showkids Invitational Theatre
Susan DiMinico, The Producers, Haddonfield Plays & Players 

Outstanding Properties of a Play
Cathy Hawrusik, The Games Afoot, Summit Playhouse
Cindy Alexander, Penny Hoadley, Moon Over the Brewery, Chester Theatre Group
Dave McGrath, Shop Around the Corner, First Avenue Playhouse
Jeff Pieper, Around the World in 80 Days, Bergen County Players
Julie Fetter, King Lear, Troupe-of-Friends
Pam Lindson, Ravenscroft, Circle
Susan Holtz, The Importance of Being Earnest, interACT Productions 

Outstanding Properties of a Musical
Christopher Totora/Greg Hambledon, Les Miserables, Cumberland County College
Debbie Mitchell, The Producers, Haddonfield Plays & Players
Dotti Farina, John Maurer, Shrek: The Musical, Maurer Productions Onstage
Howard Whitmore, Meredith Schacter, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Jessica Kimberlin, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Villagers Theatre
Robin Adams, Lisa Plinio, Shrek: The Musical, Showkids Invitational Theatre
Susan Bloir, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center 

Outstanding Choreography
Ashleigh Eighbauer Newman, Shrek: The Musical, Showkids Invitational Theatre
Erica Paolucci, The Producers, Haddonfield Plays & Players
Jillian Kimberlin, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Villagers Theatre
Jillian Kimberlin, Anything Goes, Villagers Theatre
Megan Ferentinos, Spring Awakening, Cranford Dramatic Club
Melanie Jefferson, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Patrick Starega, A Chorus Line, Villagers Theatre 

Outstanding Music Direction
Anthony Bevilacqua, Les Miserables, New Vision Players
Ilene Greenbaum, Ragtime, Pleasant Valley Productions
Jeffrey Unger, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Rory Chalcraft, Monty Python's Spamalot, Playhouse 22
Rory Chalcraft, Falsettos, Villagers Theatre
Rosalind Metcalf, Les Miserables, Cumberland County College
Shannon Ferrara, Les Miserables, Playful Theatre Productions

Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play
Crystal Coddington, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players
Ellen Fraker-Glasscock, Stephen Catron, Moon Over the Brewery, Chester Theatre Group
Judi Parrish, Emily Russoniello, Agnes of God, Villagers Theatre
Michael Smith, Marci Weinstien, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Nicholas J. Clarey, The Importance of Being Earnest, InterAct Theatre Productions
Roy Pancirov, Kaver Cameron, Risha Walden, Harvey, The Summit Playhouse
Tony Casciano, Hit The Road Jack, First Avenue Playhouse 

Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical
Barry deVersterre, Margaret Villegas, Amy Whitmore, Shrek: The Musical, Showkids Invitational Theatre
David Mortelito, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Ellen Essig, Michael Smith, Ruthless, Bergen County Players
Fred Sorrentino, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
J.C. Gibriano, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Villagers Theatre
Laurie Hudson, Paula Farrar, Assassins, The Road Company
Patrick Ahearn, Les Miserables, Cumberland County College 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
Dale Monroe, The Elephant Man, Chester Theatre Group
Erik Gaden, The Importance of Being Earnest, interAct Productions
Fernando Gonzalez, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages at Camden County College
Gus Ibryani, Angels in America: Part 1--Millenium Approaches, Chatham Community Players
Ken Bigelow, King Lear, Troupe-of-Friends
Peter James, As Bees in Honey Drown, Hudson Theatre Ensemble
Robert Barwick, Race, Players Guild of Leonia 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical
Anthony D'Amato, Evita, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Elio Edward Lleo, Les Miserables, Playful Theatre Productions
Frank Hughes, Les Miserables, New Vision Players
James W. Guido, Big River, Pennington Players
Jeff Price, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
John Baccarro, Spamalot, The Road Company
Michael Scibilla, Les Miserables, Playful Theatre Productions

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play
Frank Osmers, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
James Houston, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players
Jim Lesko, Around the World in 80 Days, Bergen County Players
Joe Zedney, A Flea in Her Ear, Yardley Players
John Lucash, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players
Mark Kalet, Wedding Secrets, Somerset Valley Players
Ted Cancilla, The Importance of Being Earnest, interACT Productions 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
A.J. Mendini, Les Miserables, Cumberland County College
Dave Maglione, Spring Awakening, Cranford Dramatic Club
Guss Ibranyi, Spring Awakening, Cranford Dramatic Club
John De Groot, Spamalot, The Road Company
Patrick Starega, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Peter Fournier, Next To Normal, Porch Light Productions
Sean Puzzo, Shrek: The Musical, The Summit Playhouse

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Chris Russonniello, A Piece of My Heart, Somerset Valley Players
Dave Harris, Pajama Tops, First Avenue Playhouse
Don Swenson, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages at Camden County College
Filipe Valente, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Jason McDermott, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages at Camden County College
Jim Clancy, The Games Afoot, Summit Playhouse
Kevern "KC" Cameron, The Elephant Man, Chester Theatre Group
Matt Reher, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages at Camden County College 

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Ben Meneham, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Claudio Venacio, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Eric Parkin, Gypsy, Old Library Theatre
Kevin Hack, Les Miserables, New Vision Players
Scott Baird, Les Miserables, New Vision Players
Thom Boyer, Spamalot, Playhouse 22
Wesley Loon, Anything Goes, Villagers Theatre 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
Casey Williams Ficarra, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages at Camden County College
Diane L. Parker, A Piece of My Heart, Somerset Valley Players
Gloria Lamoureaux, Good People, Chester Theatre Group
Lauren Muraski, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Lynn Langone, The Scene, Fearless Productions
Shaiva Kaiani, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Tracey Fama, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
Alicia Cordero, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Andrea Brooks, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Bre Cade, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Cindy Chait, Spamalot, Playhouse 22
Nicole Corigliano, Les Miserables, Cumberland County College
Rachel Burghen, Les Miserables, Cumberland County College
Sindy de la Cruz, Rent, Porch Light Productions 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play
Marie Fiorello, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players
Alicia Harabin, King Lear, Troupe-of-Friends
Heidi Hart, How I Learned to Drive, Circle Players
Rosemary Wall, The Importance of Being Earnest, interACT Productions
Megan Halvorsen, Agnes of God, Villagers Theatre
Lisa Jones, Love, Sex and the IRS, Our Gang Players
Stephanie Long, Blithe Spirit, Main Street Theatre Company 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical
Alexandra Vecchio, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Pleasant Valley Productions
Jenna Zielinsi, A Chorus Line, Villagers Theatre
Julie Galorenzo, Les Miserables, New Vision Players
Lani Campagno, Spamalot, The Road Company
May Beth Thieroff, White Christmas, Off Broadstreet Players
Melissa Timpson, Spring Awakening, Cranford Dramatic Club
MiMi Francis, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Natalie Pinerio, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Allison DiBiase, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players
Ana Kalet, Wedding Secrets, Somerset Valley Players
Claudia Metz, Good People, Chester Theatre Group
Mara Karg, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Rosemary Wall, Angels in America: Part 1--Millenium Approaches, Chatham Community Players
Stacey Beth Block, The Vagina Monologues, Old Library Theatre
Stacey Petricha, The Games Afoot, Summit Playhouse 

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Amanda Mancino, Shrek: The Musical, Maurer Productions Onstage
Barbara Gurskey, Falsettos, Villagers Theatre
Carleigh Chirico, Evita, Axelrod Arts Center
Christa Dilalo Petti, Anything Goes, Villagers Theatre
Christy Miller, Falsettos, Villagers Theatre
Helen Boyadijan, Ruthless, Bergen County Players
Jenna Sachs, Les Miserables, New Vision Players
Lauren Kolmer, Anything Goes, Villagers Theatre
Lindsey Jordon, Anything Goes, Villagers Theatre
Natalie Romeo, Anything Goes, Villagers Theatre 

Outstanding Youth Actor in a Play
Alex Carr, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players
Dillon Spear, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players
Lewis Friedenthal, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Porch Light Productions
Max Natanagara, The Diary of Anne Frank, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Patrick Marhold, All My Sons, Center Players Freehold
Sam Brady, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Porch Light Productions
Scott Bonerbo, A Christmas Story, The Road Company 

Outstanding Youth Actor in a Musical
Andy Kapetenakis, Shrek: The Musical, Show Kids Invitational Theatre
Danny Cancel, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players
Darius Delk, A Chorus Line, Villagers Theatre
Jared Parker, Shrek: The Musical, Show Kids Invitational Theatre
Matthew Cox, Falsettos, Villagers Theatre
Matthew Mucha, Next To Normal, Porch Light Productions
Mitchell Epstein, Bare, Collective Youth Theatre Company
Zachary Bispo, Les Miserables, Cumberland County College 

Outstanding Youth Actress in a Play
Cassidy Terracciano, The Diary of Anne Frank, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Devonn Duffin, A View From the Bridge, Haddonfield Plays and Players
Felicity Howard, Wedding Secrets, Somerset Valley Players
Kristin Bennett, Moon Over the Brewery, Chester Theatre Company
Lauren Arnold, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Porch Light Productions
Sam Brady, A Midsummers Night's Dream, Porch Light Productions
Sherilyn James, Steel Magnolias, Mystic Vision Players 

Outstanding Youth Actress in a Musical
Abby Oliver, A Chorus Line, Villagers Theatre
Brianna Brice, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Villagers Theatre
Courtney Straub, Wizard of Oz, Sketch Club Players
Frankie Alicandri, Next To Normal, Porch Light Productions
Hannah Mehl, Shrek: The Musical, Show Kids Invitational Theatre
Jessica Turk, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Natalie Romeo, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Villagers Theatre

Outstanding Production of a Play
Andrea Sickler, Angels in America: Part 1-Millenium Approaches, Chatham Community Players
Joe Buz, Agnes of God, Villagers Theatre
Kathia Robitz, A Shayna Maidel, Bergen County Players
Lost in Yonkers, Crystal Coddington, Somerset Valley Players
Marjorie Sokoloff, Much Ado About Nothing, Stages at Camden County College
Meri Frank Apfel, Geri Berhain, Around the World in 80 Days, Bergen County Players
Ryan Pifher and Jenn Pifher, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Porch Light Productions 

Outstanding Produciton of a Musical
Carolyn Newman, Diane Lenhert, Shrek: The Musical, Showkids Invitational Theatre
Deborah Bradshaw, Les Miserables, Cumberland County College
Donna Kimberlin, Howard Gross, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Villagers Theatre
Jen Greg, Big River, Pennington Players
Jess Levy, Into The Woods, Axelrod Performing Arts Center
Rhea Smith, Ruthless, Bergen County Players
Rita Greco, In The Heights, Mystic Vision Players 

Outstanding Stage Manager of a Play
Aaron Ratzan, God of Carnage, Villagers Theatre
Bryn E. Farace, Dividing The Estate, Ocean County College Theatre Company
Christopher Chalcraft, Defying Gravity, Circle Players
Kate Murray, Lost in Yonkers, Somerset Valley Players 

Outstanding Stage Manager of a Musical
Christine Szemis, Peter Pan, Yardley Players
David Mannarino, Broadway, Alive and In Love, Blue State Productions
David Mannarino, Broadway-The Blockbusters Reversed, Blue State Productions
Diana Gilman Maurer, Spamalot The Musical, Maurer Productions Onstage
Judi Silver-Thaw, A Chorus Line, Villagers Theatre 

Hall of Fame 2014
Ken Paris
Andy Gordanier
Eileen Hladky
Tony Greco
Gina Lupi

Outstanding Production of an Original Play
Karen Abbattiello, Producer Marie Fiorello, Director Joe Starzyk, Playwright, Wedding Secrets, Somerset Valley Players
Bob Denmark, Producer Bob Lukasik, Producer Ron Mulligan, Director Arnold Buchaine, Director Joann Lopresti Scanlong, Director Stephen Catron, Director Megan Ferentinos, Director Paul Bettys, Director Roxanna Wagner, Director Eric Alter, Playwright Jerrod Bogard, Playwright Karen Howes, Playwright Omar Kozarsky, Playwright Mark McCarthy, Playwright Loretta Napolitano, Playwright, Jersey Voices, Chatham Community Players
Craig M. Tiede, Producer Linda Wiekholtz, Producer Marilyn Schilkie, Director Michael Sheehan Jr., Director Gregory Liosi, Director Rachel Lichter, Director Will Sandoval, Director Michael Eden, Playwright Rachel Lichter, Playwright Will A. Sandoval, Playwright John Sworney, Playwright Jonathan McDevitt, Playwright, 3rd Annual One Act Play Festival, Old Library Theatre
Thomas Baldinger, Producer and Author, Triple Play, 624 Productions 

Outstanding Production of an Original Musical
Kathleen Currie, Producer Kathleen Weaver, Director C.C. Warner, Playwright, The Emporer and the Nightingale, Rizing Theatre Company
Ryan Pifher, Producer Jenn Pifher, Producer Ryan Pifher, Book/Lyrics John Provan, Music, Stage Fright, Porch Light Productions
Thomas Timbrook, Producer Richard Witenberg, Producer Lawrence Francis, Author/Playwright Sharmon Nittoli, Compose Alfred Nittoli, Lyricist, Last Call: The Pat Galo Story, The Darress Theatre
Victoria Hollis, Producer Joseph Shreck, Jr., Producer Mac McCormick, Author, Broadway: The Blockbusters Reversed, Blue State Productions
Victoria Hollis, Producer Joseph Shreck, Jr., Producer Mac McCormick, Author, Broadway: Alive and In Love, Blue State Productions 

"New Jersey Stage congratulates all of the actors, actresses and theatre companies who have received Perry Award nominations this year," said Gary Wien, publisher. "These nominations represent some of the finest productions held in the Garden State in the last year."

The Perry Awards are named in honor of William Perry Morgan. Perry, as his friends have always known him, was a gifted director, actor, composer, and musician who was once a driving force in New Jersey Community Theater. During his time in New Jersey, Perry and several of his close colleagues came to the realization that there was a need to recognize the many great accomplishments of their fellow thespians, who gave so freely of their talents to enrich the lives of theater patrons in New Jersey. And so the AVY Awards were born in 1973, named after the town of Avenel, NJ, where Perry lived. The Avy Awards were held every June and the announcement of each year's nominees was always a much-anticipated event throughout New Jersey's theater community. Perry continued to produce the AVY Awards for more than 20 years until, in 1994, he announced that he and his wife were relocating to Memphis, TN

The New Jersey Association of Community Theaters (NJACT) is a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting local theater around the state. The group's core mission is to celebrate outstanding achievements by artists of all disciplines involved in the performance and production of New Jersey Community Theater. This is accomplished through the NJACT Perry Awards, New Jersey's premiere community theater awards program. Originally founded as the AVY Awards over 35 years ago by William Perry Morgan, the organization has transformed itself several times, but has always kept its focus on celebrating creativity, craftsmanship and community in local theater.

Today, NJACT is led by a volunteer board of directors. These eight theater veterans are aided by over 100 volunteers across the state. Together, they work to identify the best and the brightest that New Jersey community theater has to offer and celebrate their work with an awards ceremony every fall.

An Interview With Dom Irrera

By Gary Wien

Comedian Dom Irrera first made a splash nationally from a spot on a Rodney Dangerfield special in the 80s. He's gone on to earn two CableACE Awards for Best Stand-Up Comedy Special and has been seen in films like "Hollywood Shuffle", "The Big Lebowski", "The Fourth Tenor", and "The Godson." He also received a CableACE nomination in the writing category for his work on Comedy Central's animated series, Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.Thanks for taking some time out to talk to us.
Sure, from my busy schedule on the couch. I turn over every hour so I don't get bed sores. It's very important.
You just got back from The Cat Laughs Festival in Kilkenny, Ireland, right?
I did. "The Godfather of Kilkenny" — that's what they call me.
And you've got the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal coming up. What is it about your material, which generally stems from your experiences growing up in an Italian-American household, that goes over so well all around the world?
I think there are certain threads through our cultures and it doesn't matter where you're from. One thing about comedy is you've got to be able to relate. I guess people relate to family stuff and human weaknesses... the human spirit. What we all have in common is that we're human beings and we go through a lot of the same stuff. No matter who you are — and I know movie stars and I know people who haven't made it at all in show business — people have the same problems and insecurities; thoughts that go through their head that they don't think anybody else has. I think if you can expose those human frailties people can relate.

Do you notice a difference between audiences in clubs and those who go to comedy festivals? Are they comedy die-hards?
No, they're exactly the same. People who like comedy... people who are going to make the effort to come out and watch standup are fans of... dare I say the art form?

Everything's changed you know. It used to be if they saw you on The Tonight Show or one of those late night shows they'd come out to see you, but now nobody cares about those shows, it's all about podcasts. I do Joe Rogan's podcast, Marc Maron's podcast, Adam Carolla's, and I've got my own - "Live From The Laugh Factory". Those podcasts get me more people than all of the talk shows combined. People who go to see comedy are the ones who listen to podcasts. People who watch the late night shows are like a lonely wife in Ames, Iowa whose husband is getting drunk after bowling so she puts on one of the late night shows to keep her company.

There used to be the idea that a spot on Carson could make or break a career. Is there any show with that power anymore?
Not even close. I mean, they're so unimportant it's unbelievable! And I still do them. I don't mean to put that down... it's not their fault, but times have changed. First of all, there are 700 channels now. When people used to make it big on The Tonight Show, a third of the country was watching the same show.

Tell me about your podcast.
I'm lucky because I can get the guys people will listen to. Guys like Marc Maron and Bill Burr, Rogan and Greg Fitzsimmons... David Spade. I've known these guys for so long. The bad thing about being around for a long time is you're closer to death, but the good thing is that you know everybody. If you were nice to people they'll be nice to you and they'll remember.

After a podcast I said to Marc Maron, "Thanks for coming in, I know you're busy." He goes, "Dom, I'll do anything for you. When I was a doorman at The Comedy Store you were always nice to me." I said you're supposed to be nice to people, he goes, "Yeah, but I don't forget that."

You're playing the Tropicana on August 2nd. That's one of the few casinos on the upswing.
The Tropicana is the best place I've done standup since the Sands closed. They're one of the only casinos in the black. I can't explain why, but they have the whole spectrum of ages. They're not like a young hip club and they're not like an old, fuddy-duddy club. You go to the bar there and it's like being in Ireland. You'll see an 80-year-old couple sitting next to teenagers. It's a really different vibe there. It's not an elitist vibe or a big money vibe, it's got everyone and I think that helps it.

To me, doing Atlantic City is the ultimate, coolest thing for me and my career because I grew up in Philly. I grew up down the Shore and to be headlining a casino, I never lose sight as to how cool that is. I mean it's so weird to be on a billboard on the Atlantic City Expressway next to someone like Eminem or Gladys Knight!