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"Broomstick" Rides Into Long Branch

By Gary Wien


(LONG BRANCH, NJ -- SEPTEMBER 21, 2013) -- NJ Rep's latest premiere, "Broomstick", opened last weekend. Set in a remote cabin deep in the woods, the one-woman play is a fascinating study into the mind of a serial killer told as if it was a fairy-tale. It's sort of like Dahmer meets Hansel and Gretel. It's spooky, funny, and extremely well acted -- perfect to get you into the spirit of Halloween.

Andrea Gallo stars as an old, single woman who has lived in that cabin for years. Yet, oftentimes, she hasn't lived alone. The self-proclaimed witch has had a series of children be her guest for spells at a time. Some were runaways; others simply found lost in the woods; regardless of how they arrived, the witch convinces them they don't have anyone who cares for them on the outside. As the play opens, she wakes in the night to the sounds she thinks are of someone at the door. When she looks outside, she believes it's one of her kids returning home, years later as an adult.

Written by John Biguenet, the play is a masterful look inside the psychological problems that could cause someone to go off the deep end and venture where evil lurks. For the witch, this involves a series of "coincidences" through the years where she was blamed for someone else's misfortunes. There were crops that wouldn't grow, skin rashes that caused itching to the point of anguish, and strange insects that appeared to be under her control. Just enough history to have people swear they had a witch in their midst.
"When things go wrong, it's always me they blame," she says.

In her mind, all she was ever trying to do was keep the children from harm. Yet, something bad always seems to happen. She's haunted by the memory of each former guest and she's haunted by the memory of her one true love; a loss that led her to becoming the woman she is today.

Biguenet's script is often read in rhymes, furthering the nursery rhyme effect. As the play moves forward, it becomes more and more entangled into the world of schizophrenia and real-life horror. You'll likely find yourself remembering just how warped the lyrics in your old nursery rhymes really were...



Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all


Gallo is tremendous. She's got the role down so well it's one of those performances you couldn't imagine followed by anyone else. Equally amazing is the incredible lighting and sound effects within the play (by far the best I've ever seen at NJ Rep) and a stunning stage design. The special effects for the mirror alone are worth the price of admission. Between the effects, Gallo's breathtaking performance, and superb direction by SuzAnne Barabas, "Broomstick" is a clear winner for the season! Highly recommended!

Note: while the subject matter revolves around a witch, it is clearly meant for older audiences. The play runs about 90 minutes straight, no intermission. It runs at NJ Rep through October 13 and then will move on to three additional venues as part of its rolling world premiere from the National New Play Network. Next up is a run at Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey in January, Southern Rep (New Orleans) in June 2014, and Montana Repertory Theater next September.

NJ Rep is located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch, NJ. For more information visit http://www.njrep.org



PHOTO: SUZANNE BARABAS



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Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.
Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  


Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!
"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
On stage now through November 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Charley’s Aunt” is described as “part Oscar Wilde, part ‘Fawlty Towers,’ with a dash of South American spice!” This side-splitting British farce from 1892 has drag, mistaken identity, romance and plenty of physical comedy. Join Jesse and Dave at rehearsals in Florham Park to hear from the cast and director what makes this such a hilarious and enduring show.






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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