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Mary Jane Is A True Original

By Gary Wien


Mary Jane Ajodah's New York debut is about a singer named Sally Clanton who has a dream of making something out of her life. After talking with Mary Jane, I have no doubts that she's not Sally. She may be still in high school, but she's already hitting it big.

Mary Jane is a 15-year-old playwright from Carteret whose original musical western "A Handful of Dust" is making its New York debut at The Grand Theater in August. The show will run from August 24-26.

The play is set in the old west and features hard rocking guitars and wild gun fights. Mary Jane previously staged it both in Carteret and as part of the Edison Fall Festival.

"It's a story about the American dream," explained Mary Jane Ajodah. "And you can see in the audience that the American cowboy spirit takes over."

The idea for a musical western came from a suggestion made at a senior center. Mary Jane and her brother had just finished performing an original rendition of "Beauty and the Beast" when they asked the audience what sort of play would interest them. One lady offered up a western and they decided to create one for her.

Mary Jane not only wrote the book but composed the music for the play and also stars in "A Handful of Dust". It probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to learn that one of her biggest inspirations is Mel Brooks, an artist who liked to dabble in all aspects of the business as well.

"I act, write, sing and compose music," said Mary Jane. "It's really the culmination of these things. I wouldn't be happy just acting alone or singing alone. The acting complements the singing and the composing complements the acting."

Her plays all feature the idea of friendship with family and storylines filled with action. She creates shows where a parent could bring their kid to see action without sex or nudity. "These are plays that I'd be able to watch with my parents and something I'd be interested in watching," she said. "They're not kiddie plays. They're something mature, but not too mature."

Mary Jane seems mature well beyond her years. Since breaking into theatre, she's been involved in every aspect of the business. She's acted, directed, written and directed plays. She even handles the casting. While her friends are struggling to find out what they want to do with their lives, Mary Jane has a pretty sound plan in place.

"I'm very interested in film," said Mary Jane. "Someday I hope to create my own movie company. That's where I want to head with this sort of thing, but, for now, I'm pretty much concentrating on stage work. Any time I've had a whim for anything, I just jumped right into it. Acting is where I found my niche after jumping into many different things. That's where I found I was happy."

She chooses not to act in her high school productions because the shows are always ones that have been done a thousand times before and that's not what she's about. She's not about heading down the path generally taken, she's a true original.



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The Panto Company Presents "Beauty and the Beast" at The Newton Theatre
(NEWTON, NJ) -- When you think of a dying rose and a clock, candlestick andteapot who talk... you are thinking Beauty and the Beast. One of this season's spellbinding family shows from The Panto Company USA stars Dame Dotty Potty, Loopy Louie, Gaston, Belle and of course The Beast!  The company brings their show to The Newton Theatre on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00pm.
La Strada Ensemble Theater Presents "La Bella Familia" by Edwin Sanchez
(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- La Strada Ensemble Theater presents La Bella Familia by Edwin Sanchez from January 18-20.  The play deals with a Puerto Rican hit woman and the gentlest man in the world move next door to the neighbors from hell and everyone learns, the hard way, that family comes first.
Art House Productions Presents "The Passion Project" by Reid Farrington
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Art House Productions presents the unique theatrical experience that is Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project performed by Laura K. Nicoll.  Eight performances will take place from February 21st to March 3rd. The Passion Project is a 30 minute vibration between performance, film, and installation. Carl Th.Dreyer’s 1928 immortal masterpiece, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is the main narrative along with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, the story of making this project, as well as Joan’s own story –– her trial, torture, and execution. The Passion Project explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next to Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.
4th Wall Theatre Presents "Intimate Apparel" by Lynn Nottage
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- 4TH WALL THEATRE continues its 22nd season with a one weekend run of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel.  The show will be presented as part of the Black History Month celebrations on February 22, 23, and 24 at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ.  The show is directed by 4th Wall Executive Director Gwen Ricks-Spencer.
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present Murder Mystery Weekends
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company, with The Henry Sawyer Inn and Twin Gables Inn, present Murder Mystery Weekends on February 15-16, March 8-9, March 22-23, March 29-30, and April 5-6. Participants can test their crime-solving skills while staying in one of these lovely Bed & Breakfasts. East Lynne Theater Company's Murder Mystery Weekends were cited among one of the top five in the country by "AM NY."  


It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 
REVIEW: "It's A Wonderful Life" At Mile Square Theatre
Nestled in a corner of Hoboken, on the second floor, lies the studios of radio station WMST.  It’s a wonderful art deco studio, replete with fine wooden walls, embedded with colorful lights an applause sign.  On stage, we’ve got a few chairs, several microphones and a whole corner wedged with all the necessary props – piano, men’s shoes, sheet metal – to create the audio effects for the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Betsy Aidem Puts A Woman's Touch On George Street Playhouse's "A Doll's House, Part 2"
Betsy Aidem is a veteran actress you might have seen on Broadway. Or maybe on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Or maybe on the big screen last year in “The Greatest Showman.” But over the next few weeks in New Brunswick, Aidem is adding a brand-new section to her résumé — by helming a sequel (of sorts) to a classic play that’s more than 100 years old.






Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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