New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


Tune into Radio Jersey with Lee Mrowicki every Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm
Broadcast on Asbury Music!

Two River Theater Presents The World Premiere of "Pamela's First Musical"

By Gary Wien, JerseyArts.com

originally published: 09/20/2018

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.

“When somebody like Graciela Daniele is involved, everybody wants to jump on board,” explained Howard McGillin, who is one of the cast members with Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations on his resume. “She has fantastic energy and is just so talented. I worked with her 30 years ago on a show called ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ for Broadway and it’s great to be with her again. Of course, you can’t overlook the fact that we have David Zippel and Cy Coleman writing the songs and Wendy Wasserstein and Christopher Durang with the book.”

Two River Theater Presents The World Premiere of "Pamela's First Musical"

The new musical tells the story of Pamela (played by 12-year-old Sarah McKinley Austin), an unhappy, imaginative young girl whose mother has died. Her father (McGillin), though well-meaning, doesn’t fully understand his creative, unusual daughter. When Pamela’s eccentric and fabulous Aunt Louise (a modern “Auntie Mame” played by Carolee Carmello) sweeps her away on her birthday to see her very first Broadway musical, Pamela meets many of the colorful personalities of the New York theatre world, including musical-comedy star Mary Ethel Bernadette (Andréa Burns), producer Bernie S. Gerry (David Garrison) and director Hal Hitner (Michael Mulheren). In meeting them and watching a clever musical-within-a-musical, Pamela discovers her tribe and the place where, as she sings, “all the pieces fit”—the world of musical theatre.

It may seem a bit risky to have a lead actress who isn’t even a teenager yet, but Sarah McKinley Austin has already been part of two national tours (“Matilda the Musical” and “Once”) in her young career. Being surrounded by this talented creative team is an incredible experience for her, but she is holding her own.

“She’s amazing,” said McGillin. “She is definitely holding her own. We’re all kind of in awe of her. She’s so solid and always thinking ahead. She’s a delight to work with.”

Two River Theater Presents The World Premiere of "Pamela's First Musical"

“Pamela’s First Musical” is based on the late Wendy Wasserstein’s children’s book and has taken a long path to reach this production. The musical was originally announced to have its premiere in November 2005 at Goodspeed Musicals’ Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut. That production was canceled when Cy Coleman died of a heart attack in November 2004. Two years later, a 2006 production announced at TheatreWorks in California was shelved after Wendy Wasserstein died from lymphoma complications. With two major creative members gone, the play remained in limbo for years. Eventually John Dias, artistic director at Two River Theater, contacted David Zippel about presenting the work in Red Bank.

“It’s rare that you actually get an opportunity to work on a new musical,” explained McGillin. “Obviously, this is a musical that’s been around, but it’s never had a production. I think that was part of the attraction, as well. The people not only wanted to work with Graciela, but felt that this was an opportunity to take a crack at a new musical that’s never been produced. Broadway has become a lot about revivals, which are always fun to do, but there’s something very special about being able to put your mark on the first production of something. It’s definitely exciting.”

Two River Theater Presents The World Premiere of "Pamela's First Musical"

The play may be based on a children’s book, but its music, a storyline and jokes that will appeal to all ages. Some of that can be attributed to the work of New Jersey native Christopher Durang.

“He has added so much to this show in terms of the rewrites,” said McGillin. “From what I understand, a lot of the focus of his work has been on the show within the show. What is so fun and delightful about this show is that it’s seen through the eyes of this little girl, which includes the imagination she brings to seeing her first Broadway show. It goes from her seeing the show to suddenly taking on a life of its own given her imagination; what she’s thinking about and dreaming is happening in the show.

“I play her father in the story that begins ‘Pamela’s First Musical,’ where we meet Pamela. And then suddenly she goes to see her Broadway show and she sees me up on the stage playing another character – in fact, a couple of different characters in the show. Other people in her life also appear on the stage as other characters, too. So, it’s fun and a great opportunity for an actor to play a variety of things.”

The show has led cast members to recall the first musicals they attended. McGillin said he remembers seeing his first musical from the orchestra pit while in high school. It was a production of “The Sound of Music,” which ironically is gently spoofed during the show within a show segment of “Pamela’s First Musical.” During the segment, McGillin plays a Captain Von Trapp character. During the first musical he attended, his older brother played Captain Von Trapp. McGillin laughs at the way that play has come full circle for him.

McGillin  says the audience at “Pamela’s First Musical” has been laughing out loud at the jokes and it’s great to hear that laughter. Based on the first performances, it’s clear that the play will remind audiences of classics like “Willy Wonka” or “Annie” – plays that appeal to adults as well as children.

It may have taken a long, strange journey to reach the stage, but “Pamela’s First Musical” is finally being introduced to the world, thanks to Two River Theater. In doing so, Two River has lured an amazingly talented cast to Red Bank and raised the theatre’s already lofty profile throughout the industry.

“Pamela’s First Musical” runs through October 7th at Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue in Red Bank, New Jersey. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.tworivertheater.org

All Photos by T. Charles Erickson 




About the author: Gary Wien is a music journalist from Belmar, NJ. A three-time winner of Asbury Music’s Music Journalist of The Year, his writing and photographs have been seen in publications like Upstage Magazine, Backstreets Magazine, Gannett Newspapers, and Princeton Magazine. He is the also the author of two books: Beyond The Palace (about the history of rock music in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? (his picks for the Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists) and is the publisher of New Jersey Stage magazine.

Content provided by Discover Jersey Arts, a project of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.






Women's Theater Company Presents "Love/Sick"
(PARSIPPANY, NJ) -- The Women’s Theater Company, a professional theater company in Parsippany, NJ, presents Love/Sick written by John Cariani from October 26-November 4. Sometimes love is messy in this romantic comedy where a unique cast of characters battle for love with heart warming optimism.
Fool Moon Theatre Company Presents "London Suite" by Neil Simon
(SOMERS POINT, NJ) -- Fool Moon Theatre Compay presents Neil Simon’s London Suite in November.  America's premier comic playwright crosses the Atlantic for a suite of hilarious comedies set in a deluxe London hotel, a sedate place until these characters check in.  Performances are November 2-4 and November 9-11 at the Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point.
Two River Theater Presents "King Hedley II"
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Marking the halfway point in its commitment to present all 10 plays of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle, Two River Theater announces the complete cast and creative team for its production of Wilson’s “exhilarating” (The New York Times) and incendiary drama King Hedley II, directed by Brandon J. Dirden. For the first time, the theater will be presenting one of Wilson’s plays in its intimate 110-seat Marion Huber Theater, with performances beginning on November 10 and continuing for an extended five-week run through Sunday, December 16. 
State Theatre Presents "Something Rotten!"
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents the 10-time Tony Award® nominated, including Best-Musical, Something Rotten!—“a deliriously entertaining new musical comedy that brings down the house,” says New York Post—onFriday, November 2 at 8:0pm and Saturday, November 3 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm. Tickets range from $35-$98.
Jennifer Valentine, Director of CASA, To Lead A Panel Discussion Following "The Shuck" at Cape May Stage
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- Jennifer Valentine, Director of Program Services for Court Appointed Special Advocates, will attend the world premiere of Cape May Stage’s “The Shuck” by Cape May County native Shawn Fisher and directed by award winning director Roy Steinberg on Saturday, October 20 at 7:30pm. Cape May Stage will donate one dollar from every ticket sold at this performance to CASA.


Playwright Walter Anderson Talks About "The Trial Of Donna Caine"
​​​​​​​The political climate in the United States—with its right and left, red and blue, conservative and liberal—prompts this question: Is reconciliation possible?
Assisted Living: The Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
The crowd is making it’s way inside Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts on this beautiful Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 afternoon for the first of two sold-out performances of Assisted Living: The Musical!
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Long before we had Twilight and True Blood, one vampire ruled them all - Dracula.  Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel brought Count Dracula from Transylvania to Victorian London.  In this blood thirsty tale of terror, the city seems helpless against his power, and only one man, Dr. Van Helsing, can stop the carnage.  But to do this, he must uncover the vampire’s lair and pierce his heart with a wooden stake.  
House On Haunted Hill
House On Haunted Hill is a classic B-movie by William Castle that came out in 1959.  It starred Vincent Price as a millionaire who offers $10,000 to five people who agree to spend the night locked in a house he’s rented on Haunted Hill.
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.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018


MUSIC

MUSIC OF CREAM @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

An Evening with Wyclef Jean @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 7:00pm

Newark Downtown District 20th Anniversary Concert @ Chambers Plaza @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 5:00pm

Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up The Girl 20th Anniversary Tour @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.