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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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State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.
NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.


"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!










Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

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

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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