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Turning off the Morning News

originally published: 04/24/2018

Turning off the  Morning News

The award-winning playwright and New Jersey native, Christopher Durang, is back with Turning Off The Morning News - his third World Premiere commission for McCarter Theatre in Princeton. It serves as a follow up to his Tony Award-winning play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and runs from May 4th through June 3rd.

This time around, Durang is back with a new cast of eccentric characters - starting with Cliff and Salena, whose across-the-street neighbors are somewhere between peculiar and stark raving mad.  This decidedly dark and daring comedy takes aim at today’s absurd and dangerous world.

The cast includes Jenn Harris, Rachel Nicks, Nicholas Podany, Krisine Neilsen, Robert Sella, and John Pankow.  McCarter Theatre’s Artistic Director and Resident Playwright Emily Mann directs the production.

Mann and Durang have known each other for a long time and the story of their professional collaboration and friendship will be told before each performance via a 20-minute talk led by a member of McCarter’s artistic staff.  The Inside Story, as it is called, takes place 45 minutes prior to each performance.  It reveals what inspired Durang to write the play and the hallmarks of “Durangian comedy”; Mann’s directorial vision for the play; and offers a few things to look for during the performance.

In a letter to McCarter subscribers, Emily Mann detailed the origins of her relationship with Durang and her thoughts on Turning Off The Morning News.



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“I first met Chris when we were students in William Alfred’s playwriting seminar at Harvard, and I remember Alfred predicting that Chris was going to be a new voice for his generation,” recalled Mann. “Chris’s writing was unlike anything I had ever heard before, and I was amazed by his brilliance. It was a delight when we were reconnected many years later by fellow playwright and mutual friend, Wendy Wasserstein.”

“With this reconnection, my professional collaboration and close friendship with Chris began. McCarter commissioned him to write the play that would become Miss Witherspoon, which I had the pleasure of directing here and at Playwrights Horizons in New York City in 2005. On the opening night of Miss Witherspoon, I gave Chris another commission, which brought us his enormously successful Tony Award®-winning play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Now, I am thrilled to be directing his latest world premiere and McCarter commission: Turning Off the Morning News.”

“I love working with Chris Durang. He is clear sighted and generous. An absolutely unique voice in the American theatre, Chris is able to take on disturbing questions and issues that in another writer’s hands would take the form of tragedy and spin it into comedy. This is his own particular alchemy, his singular sense of humor and extraordinary craft as a playwright and a theater maker. I am honored that McCarter is an artistic home for Chris, and it is an exciting event to bring his newest play to life on our stage.”

“At its heart, Turning Off the Morning News explores the absurdity of our modern world. A fierce exposure of the ways that our personal and societal anxieties can bring out the worst in us, it also gently reveals the antidote—reaching out beyond ourselves to find connection with others. In the end, isn’t the desire for this kind of connection why we all go to the theater? Gloria Steinem once said: 'laughter breaks out when two thoughts come together and suddenly make a third, when we understand or learn something, when we recognize a truth.' Chris’s talent for dark comedy shows us recognizable truths of modern society, while keeping us laughing throughout.” 

Turning off the  Morning News

Director Emily Mann and Playwright Christopher Durang (center) with the cast of Turning Off The Morning News.  Photo by Matt Pilsner. The play runs from May 4th through June 3rd in the Berlind Theatre.






J CITY Theater Returns With "Bakersfield Mist"
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- J CITY Theater launches their first full season in four years with their Fall show: Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs at their new location – The Barrow Mansion, 83 Wayne Street.  The production runs Thursdays through Sundays from September 28th through October 13th. Set in a downtrodden trailer park in California, Bakersfield Mist is the story of Maude Gutman (Sandy Cockrell) who has recently purchased an ugly painting at Daisy’s Junk Shop for three dollars.  Turns out, the painting may actually be a lost masterpiece by Jackson Pollock.   
Old Library Theatre Presents "Parade"
(FAIR LAWN, NJ) -- Old Library Theatre, Fair Lawn Recreation Department's resident theater company, presents Parade. Six performances only: October 12, 13, 19 & 20 at 8:00pm and October 14 & 21 at 2:00pm.  Parade tells the story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-raised Jew living in Georgia in 1913, who is put on trial for the murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his employ.
The Lord Stirling Theater Company Presents "Treasure Island"
(BASKING RIDGE, NJ) -- The Lord Stirling Theater Company will present Treasure Island in the English Barn Theater at the Farmstead Arts Center October 5-7 and October 12-14. Adapted for the stage by award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You) from the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island follows the adventures of a boy named Jim Hawkins who comes into possession of a treasure map.
Premiere Stages to Present World Premiere of Liberty Live Commission "Black Tom Island"
(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages at Kean University will present Martin Casella’s Black Tom Island from October 11-21 at Liberty Hall Museum (1003 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J.). Originally commissioned over a two-year cycle through Premiere’s Liberty Live Commission, Black Tom Island will feature actors Damian Buzzerio, Mason Hensley, Jenna Krasowski and Bart Shatto. Producing artistic director John J. Wooten directs.
American Poetry Theater Presents "Gun Love"
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- The American Poetry Theater presents Gun Love from October 5-7.  The play, written by cast and community members, runs about one hour and is a collection of monologues and a skit dealing with gun violence in America.  


Two River Theater Presents The World Premiere of "Pamela's First Musical"
If anyone ever doubts that New Jersey is home to great theatre, just point them to the world premiere of “Pamela’s First Musical” at Two River Theater. The cast and creative behind this show by Wendy Wasserstein and Christopher Durang includes a combined total of more than 25 Tony Award nominations and seven wins. It’s a cast that would look impressive at any theatre – Broadway  or otherwise. According to one of the stars, the opportunity to work with the 10-time Tony Award nominee director/choreographer Graciela Daniele and to be part of a new musical was too good to pass up.
The Jersey Devil on stage: An interview with playwright Brandon Monokian
Up-and-coming New Jersey native Brandon Monokian has worked as an actor, writer, director, producer, and popcorn sample distributor. He wrote and starred in the film Happy Yummy Chicken and co-founded the production company Love Drunk Life with Katie Frazer. Together they have produced plays, films, books, and, to support their creative work financially, a product line: lovedrunklife.com. Monokian received national attention through Revolutionary Readings (his TEDx talk at Princeton Library), which was used to fight the banning of the book Revolutionary Voices from two New Jersey libraries. 
An Interview With Nicole Pandolfo
Nicole Pandolfo is a talented playwright from New Jersey whose work has been produced on four continents along with readings and productions throughout the Garden State. Her play, Brick City, is currently being presented at Premiere Stages at Kean University now through September 23rd. The play was commissioned and developed via the NJPAC Stage Exchange program. Premiere's production features Rafael Benoit, Jacqueline Correa, Madison Ferris and Chris Grant under the direction of Jessi D. Hill.
Ritz Opens Season With "Incorruptible"
Fun seems to be the operative word for “Incorruptible,” the production that opens the fall season at  the Ritz Theatre Company on Thursday, September 13.
"Bright Star" at Surflight Theatre
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Broadway musical “Bright Star” has come to Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven. The comedian and the songwriter created the show after collaborating on a Grammy-winning bluegrass album called “Love Has Come For You.” “Bright Star” is set in the American South in the 1920s and ’40s, and it’s on a similar musical wavelength. We recently spoke with Surflight’s Artistic Director Steve Steiner, actor Adrianne Hick and director Elizabeth Lucas about bringing “Bright Star” to Long Beach Island.






Event calendar
Saturday, Sep 22, 2018


MUSIC

Asbury Park Porchfest @ Booskerdoo, Asbury Park - 12:00pm

Carl Chesna & Co. @ Hotel Tides, Asbury Park - 1:00pm

Echoes @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Cole Swindell @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

GRUPO NICHE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

The History of Motown @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Drake Bell @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live feat. The Glimmer Twins @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Opera Theatre of Montclair Presents Hansel and Gretel @ Central Presbyterian Church, Montclair - 4:00pm


Oscar D’León with Tony Vega and Los Hermanos Moreno @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

SunDog Band at Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ @ Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ, Paterson - 9:00pm

Celtic Thunder X @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Young Person's Concert @ River Dell Middle School Auditorium, River Edge - 1:00pm


Tigerman record release show for “Descend Into Savagery” @ Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Hubby Jenkins @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 2 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Claire, Anton et Eux" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Assisted Living: The Musical @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 3:00pm


DANCE

SWAN LAKE - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

SOLE Defined @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


LITERATURE

Monthly Saturday Writing Retreats @ Tiferet Journal, Bernardsville - 9:00am

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