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Review of "Ants" at New Jersey Repertory Company
By Gary Wien
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- As a guy married to someone in academia, I never imagined the concept of a college professor sleeping with a student very funny; yet, there I was last Saturday night laughing -- quite often -- during the world premiere of "Ants" by Saviana Stanescu at New Jersey Repertory Theatre. This quirky comedy takes a look inside the world of ants, offspring, and how our two species are more alike than you'd think.
The play revolves around Kara and Mia, two sisters who have emigrated from Eastern Europe to a college town in America. Mia is a doctoral student currently working on earning her PhD in biochemistry. As the play opens, we see her practicing the speech she hopes to give someday when she wins the Nobel Prize for her work with ants. Shortly thereafter, Kara returns home. She tells her sister that she's just been fired from her job at the factory -- a place where she toiled for years, struggling to make payments on everything from the mortgage to her sister's education. As the two are knee deep in bills, Kara tells Mia it's her turn to be the breadwinner. Adding to the equation is the news that Kara is pregnant.
"I'm so tired of pushing toward the American Dream, I'd rather have my own little nightmare," says Kara.
As much as Mia loves ants, her sister despises them. She isn't even sure if she wants to keep the baby, but Mia does. She constantly draws parallels between the ant world and humans, and drives Kara nuts with her talk -- much of which does sink in. Mia says Kara is a "queen" now and promises to find a way to earn money. While doing so, she comes up with a hilarious outreach program to prevent Kara from getting an abortion. Meanwhile, Kara spends most of her time being sick or reading her fortune from tarot cards.
The pregnancy lights a fire under Mia to earn the fellowship she's been after, which would solve their economic dilemma. Meanwhile her advisor/professor teeters on sexual harassment charges with playful slaps of her butt and sexual innuendo remarks. Mia devises a plan to utilize these advances to blackmail her advisor while simultaneously changing the project she's working on with her instructor to the one she really wants -- radically altering nature by converting worker ants into queens -- a project she believes will ultimately lead to the Nobel Prize for her.
I'm someone that wouldn't normally find the subject of ants very interesting, but I was captivated by the project and the larger issue of nature versus nurture. Are the lives of ants really pre-determined based on their social class? Are the lives of humans? To really understand the implications of her project, Mia decides she must learn more about mating itself. With flyers around campus, she offers herself up to anyone who wishes to take part. One person responds, and the night changes Mia's life in more ways than one.
Throughout the play, Mia lives her life as one would imagine a scientist to. She feels she can control her environment and change real-life situations as easy as she does in the lab. While nice in practice, she soon learns that life doesn't work that way.
This highly enjoyable play stars Maria Silverman as Mia; Carol Todd as Kara; and Michael Samuel Kaplan as Adam Kohn, the professor. Jeff Zinn directs. "Ants" runs at New Jersey Repertory Theatre (179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ) through March 10.
Photo: Maria Silverman and Michael Samuel Kaplan by SuzAnne Barabas
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Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) -- Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(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 from December 5 to December 30.
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
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.
Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
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!
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018
@ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm
@ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm
|Apples In Winter
@ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm
|Kiss Me Kate
@ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm
|Into the Woods
@ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm
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