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REVIEW:" Skeleton Crew" by Premiere Stages at Kean University

By Gary Wien

originally published: 07/17/2017

REVIEW:" Skeleton Crew" by Premiere Stages at Kean University

(UNION, NJ) — Imagine working in an industry that is seemingly falling apart with plant closings announced each month and the threat of your own job being eliminated weighing heavily on your mind each day.  That’s the premise behind Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau, which takes place in Detroit (circa 2008) when auto plants were downsizing, shutting down, and moving outside of the area.

Skeleton Crew is being presented at Premiere Stages (located at Kean University) now through July 30.  About six years ago, Premiere Stages presented the playwright’s first work, Follow Me To Nellie’s.  Since then she has become one of the most respected playwrights in the country and for good reason.  The characters in Skeleton Crew are extremely well defined and the subject matter is powerful and timely.  Her work is often compared to that by Arthur Miller and August Wilson; while those are lofty names to be compared to, her work is definitely at that level.

Directed by John J. Wooten, Skeleton Crew stars Patricia R. Floyd as Faye, Daniel Boisrond as Dez, Kristen Adele as Shanita, and Shane Taylor as Reggie.  The latter is the supervisor; Dez and Shanita are extremely talented and skilled workers; and Faye is the elder of the group - someone who has worked within several positions at the plant for nearly three decades.  In fact, she’s just one year away from her 30th, which means a great deal for her pension.  She is a Union representative, a leader, and a mother figure to the other three.

Early in the play, Faye picks up signals from Reggie that the situation is dire. She gets the full story that the plant is scheduled to close within the year, but promises Reggie she won’t tell the others until he has a chance to make things right.  Faye is worried about their futures, healthcare, and her pension.  She wants Reggie to fight for them with management.  Patricia Floyd is tremendous as the “mother figure” for Dez, Shanita, and Reggie (who is the son of one of Faye’s best friends).  Her character has to be tough, while fighting lots of personal problems at the same time.  Floyd nails it.

REVIEW:" Skeleton Crew" by Premiere Stages at Kean University

Dez is a young street tough guy who might have the broadest character definition.  Even though he can look and sound like a guy from the hood, he’s also planning for his future (saving money to start his own company), is an extremely talented worker, and has a very sensitive side - especially when dealing with Shanita. Daniel Boisrond is terrific in this challenging portrayal.



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Shanita is pregnant and preparing for life as a single mother.  She has a firm belief that her child will make things clear for her in life.  While she has an opportunity to work at a copy center, Shanita wants to stay at the plant where she has unique skills.  She believes she is doing important work.  Although Shanita is mostly a side character, Kristen Adele has a few moments where she truly shines - mostly by balancing her vulnerability with strength.

Reggie is seen the least.  Early on, he is mostly a supervisor posting flyers about company rules.  As the play develops, his role takes on a greater importance as he straddles the line between saving their jobs and saving his own.  One could say he has the most challenging scene of all.  Shane Taylor does a good job here - especially when the role takes center stage.

For many years, I covered the auto industry and have met workers whose lives revolve around the auto plant floor.  Dominique truly captures the spirit of these workers who desperately wanted to keep doing what they believed was not just honest work, but important work.  These workers took pride in the cars they made just as much as the Skeleton Crew does.

I also liked how the playwright accurately captured the relationships within the workplace.  People can be close and far away to their co-workers at the same time.  They may think they know everything about a person, yet fail to know the names of someone’s children. Still, there is a bond, and that bond is clearly shown in this play.

Overall, Skeleton Crew is a very powerful play with a few twists in the second act that will likely take you by surprise.  The acting is superb and Wooten’s direction keeps the play moving at a crisp pace.  The play may take place in 2008, but its message is as timely as ever.  Highly recommended!

REVIEW:" Skeleton Crew" by Premiere Stages at Kean University

All photos by Mike Peters.




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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
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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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