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A look at PL@Y & The Amboys

By Gary Wien


When Hurricane Sandy hit the area, J.D. Wilson and Nicholas Norcia found themselves stuck in a blackout for two weeks. With no power to use computers or watch television, they began writing the script for a play. The two had always been fans of the Jersey band, The Amboys, and were inspired to write a play based on the characters from the band's songs. The end result was a production entitled PL@Y which was first produced in 2013 and is being performed November 21-22 at The Strand in Lakewood, NJ.

"They've always been fans of our music and used our record Led Into The Woods as a spring board for all of this," explained Daniel Effenberger of The Amboys. "They'd take characters from the songs and incorporate them into their story. Then they started using our other albums for more material, and worked those songs into the script. They've created an alternate reality with all of this. It's hilarious, thought provoking, inspiring, and oddly enough family friendly. In a nutshell, PL@Y is a modern day Alice In Wonderland, mixed with themes from The Matrix, in the vision of Pee Wee Herman, sprinkled with bits of....Ahhh yea....you just gotta see it."

Throughout the play, The Amboys perform various songs live on stage, making the experience event more surreal. It's part theatre, part live concert — something unlike anything else you've ever seen.

"The experience was deeply gratifying for sure," said Effenberger, recalling the original production. "We were just extremely flattered that our music had inspired them to write this story. And as we got closer to opening night it turned into this surreal feeling of, whoa, this is really happening. We had a blast."

The Amboys have been in the studio lately recording what was originally intended to be a 3-song EP that has evolved into a full-length album. Effenberger says the band has been compiling a wide assortment of songs over the past two years and realized the songs were working well together. The record is expected to be available early next year.

"The alt-country/americana sound is still a piece of the puzzle, but we've moved into much wider territory," said Effenberger. "The songs have been picked apart and pulled back together and the structures are all over the board, from straight ahead indie-pop, to some things that I think will surprise a lot of people. If you've been an Amboys fan then I think you'll appreciate the progression we've made as a band. And if you've never heard of us, I think this will be a great first impression.

"A tour hasn't been set yet," he continued. "If the album does well and we can get some support through a record company, we'd love to hit the road again in some facet. We're just having fun creating and making albums at this point."

PL@Y is presented by Music is the Medicine Foundation (MITM), which was started a few years back by Daniel Effenberger and his brothers so the band's shows could have a greater impact on the local community. MITM has raised funds for organizations including the Wounded Warrior Project, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Oceans Of Love, Providence House Women's Shelter, and The Ashley Lauren Foundation.




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Daniil Trifonov performs Schumann's Piano Concerto in NJSO debut
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Daniil Trifonov, Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year, performs Schumann’s Piano Concerto in his NJSO debut, January 25–27, in the final program of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s 2019 Winter Festival, “Music Speaks.” Music Director Xian Zhang conducts the program, which also features Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra and the NJSO premiere of Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. Performances take place on January 25 at 8:00pm at NJPAC in Newark, January 26 at 8:00pm at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick and January 27 at 3:00pm at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.
Audible and NJPAC Present "Jazz in the Key of Ellison"
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and Audible have announced the first three national performance dates of “Jazz in the Key of Ellison,” celebrating the musical world of the esteemed African-American novelist, critic and scholar Ralph Ellison and his remarkable collection of jazz recordings.
Centenary Stage Presents Michael Davis and the New Wonders
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Centenary Stage Company’s annual January Thaw Music Festival returns to the Lackland Performing Arts Center featuring three musical guest artists throughout the month of January. The series launches on Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 8:00pm in the Lackland Performing Arts Center with Michael Davis and the New Wonders.
Billy Joel to Celebrate 70th Birthday at MSG
(NEW YORK, NY) -- The Madison Square Garden Company announced that the 64th consecutive show by legendary musician and MSG franchise, Billy Joel, on Thursday, May 9, 2019 takes place on his 70th birthday! The  show will be Joel’s 110th all-time performance at The Garden.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Presents Motor City Live: A Motown Christmas
(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City has extended Motor City Live: A Tribute to Motown through the month of December with a special Motor City Live: A Motown Christmas. Along with your favorite Motown classics, you’ll hear some Motor City versions of your favorite Holiday songs sprinkled in like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from The Temptations, Aretha Franklin’s “Winter Wonderland,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” from the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson’s “Jingle Bells” and much more.


Melissa Etheridge LIVE! at the State Theatre
The lobby of the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ, is buzzing with activity this Friday, November 30, 2018 evening as rock music fans ready themselves for a special Holiday Show by singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge!
Join The Greater South Jersey Chorus For "A Winter's Night" (Or Afternoon)
The holidays bring many special things and, for me, one of the best is the music. It sets a mood, invokes memories, soothes the soul and provides a seasonal soundtrack for my life.
An Interview with Chip Davis Of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
You can experience the magic of the holidays — Steamroller-style — when Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis makes a tour stop this Thursday, December 6, 2018, at New Brunswick, NJ’s historic State Theatre.
Max Weinberg’s Jukebox LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Something is different about tonight’s November 18, 2018 concert at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts starring Max Weinberg, celebrated drummer from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band!
PHOTOS: Matt O'Ree Band at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- The Matt O'Ree Band returned to The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Friday, November 16 and photographer Estelle Massry of Coucou Photography was on hand to take some photos.  David Bryan from Bon Jovi was one of the special guests that night.

From Our Magazine

Gooch & the Motion

Gooch & the Motion

This New Year’s Day will be 15 years to the day that Ryan Nelson’s life changed forever.  The Salem County musician crashed his pickup truck head first into a tree, smashing his C7 vertebra, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.  Doctors told him he died three times on the helicopter ride to the hospital.  He would move on to a second hospital for spinal cord surgery and a third for rehabilitation.  It was there that music literally saved his life by giving him a purpose.  


Featured Music Video: "Running Away" by The Weeklings

Featured Music Video: "Running Away" by The Weeklings

This month's Featured Music Video of the Month is "Running Away" by The Weeklings.


Bongo Boy TV - Issue 53

Bongo Boy TV - Issue 53

Each issue of NJ Stage Magazine contains the latest episode of Bongo Boy TV showcasing great music videos from around the world.


Roots Rock Legends: Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Roots Rock Legends: Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore

“Forty years on the highway, living on dreams and gasoline” That’s a line from the wonderful title track of the album  Downey to Lubbock  the first collaboration from Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.  The longtime friends embarked on a series of acoustic shows in Texas, which were so much fun and well received that they decided to create an album. 








Event calendar
Saturday, Dec 15, 2018


MUSIC

DOWNSTREAM @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

LIFE OF AGONY/SICK OF IT ALL @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 6:30pm

JOHNNY O @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00pm

WEIRD SCIENCE @ Hard Rock Cafe at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00pm

The THE BAND Band @ Darress Theatre, Boonton - 8:00pm

Brian Fallon @ Crossroads (Garwood), Garwood - 8:00pm

KASHMIR THE LIVE LED ZEPPELIN SHOW @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

Holiday POPS! @ Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton - 3:00pm and 6:00pm

TAKING BACK SUNDAY @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

The Beat Tells @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm

The Metropolitan Opera: La Traviata @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 1:00pm







THEATRE

Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 7:00pm and 7:30pm

A Christmas Story @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Seussical @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 7:30pm

Peter Pan @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 7:30pm

A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S THE KING AND I - BASED ON THE LINCOLN CENTER THEATER PRODUCTION @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

A Wonderful Life @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 1:30pm and 3:30pm

Hudson Theatre Works presents "And My True Love Gave To Me" @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Louie Anderson @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


DANCE

NEW JERSEY BALLET’S NUTCRACKER WITH NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 1:00pm and 6:00pm

Forces of Nature Dance Theatre with special guest Sweet Honey In The Rock @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 2:00pm and 7:30pm


FILM

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in Concert Live to Film @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 2:00pm and 7:30pm

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