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Review of "Clever Little Lies"

By Gary Wien

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- Marriage is difficult. Ask anyone that's ever been married and they're bound to admit that there are moments in time that threaten to unravel all of the good memories accumulated over the years. "Clever Little Lies" is about such moments. An outrageously funny comedy, "Clever Little Lies" offers more than just laughs. This well-written play (making its world premiere here) evokes the relationship tension of Edward Albee, the non-stop barrage of one-liners a la Neil Simon, and the morality of Arthur Miller.

"Clever Little Lies" begins in the locker room of Bill's gym where he has just lost a tennis match to his father. This, in itself, worries Bill, Sr. His son never loses. It's clear he's got something distracting him. He's always prided himself on being as much of a friend as a father; a situation that backfires on him here when his son reveals he's not only been having an affair, but is in love with a much younger woman -- a relationship that began while his wife was deep into pregnancy with their first child.

"Maybe she's just a friend," his father suggests.

"Trust me dad, she's not a friend," Bill, Jr. replies. "We have sex all of the time."

The father is sworn to secrecy about the affair, but is afraid Bill's mother will pry it out of him. "She has ways of extracting things out of me," he said. The mother, played by Marlo Thomas, runs a book store and laments how nobody goes to bookstores to buy books anymore.

"There was a girl who came into the store and asked 'Where can I find an F. Scott Fitzgerald?' I said, which book? She said, 'No, a t-shirt.' The worst thing is I had one to sell her!"

Marlo's impeccable comic timing is on display throughout the play. Despite having plans for the night, Alice senses there is something wrong with her husband. She manages to pry enough information to realize it has to do with her son and his wife, Jane. She insists they come over for dinner tonight, talking Jane out of her book club meeting and screwing up her son's plans with his mistress.

When they arrive, the son confronts his father about what did he tell her? The father replies, "I told her you had a man problem."

"What's a man problem," the son replies.

"She thinks you're impotent."

The night is one of many surprises as it's revealed that Jane doesn't want to return to work, something that is a shock to Bill, Jr. who had already made plans to spend more time with his mistress with his wife out of the house. Meanwhile, the mistress (who expected Jane to be at her book club) keeps calling Bill's cell phone. Jane, who admits to sensing problems in the marriage surprises her husband with a huge gift that only makes things worse. A web of lies built up over lifetimes intersect during the night. Truths are told that were never meant to be revealed, making everyone struggle to accept the reality of the situation. At one point, Bill, Jr. tries to comfort his wife by saying, "I want the marriage my parents have." His wife replies, "I was hoping for something better."

"Clever Little Lies" was written by Joe DiPietro and directed by David Saint. The play stars Marlo Thomas as Alice (the mother), Jim Stanek (Bill Jr.), Greg Mulavey (Bill, Sr.), and Kate Weatherhead (Jane). George Street has once again put together a simply stellar cast, but for me Jim Stanek steals the show with some of the best non-verbal acting I've ever seen. His character does more with facial expressions, slumping, and the way he walks than any writer could ever describe.

There are intense, powerful things happening between the lines here. While the play is laugh at loud funny, it holds a bold message as well. If you have a good marriage, this play will probably make you appreciate what you have. If your marriage is struggling, this may sound a wake up call to you. It's what theatre should always strive for -- to hold meaning above and beyond the stage. Highly recommended, but with enough adult language that you should keep the kids at home.

"Clever Little Lies" runs now through December 22 at George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For more information on the theatre visit

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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


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


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


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


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

View all events

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