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"Who Am I: A Christmas Lullaby" Packs The House at UCPAC Loft Theater

originally published: 12/19/2016

"Who Am I: A Christmas Lullaby" Packs The House at UCPAC Loft Theater

(RAHWAY, NJ) -- From the eyes of a child, the true meaning of Christmas was expressed, in the uplifting original musical “Who Am I: A Christmas Lullaby”. Despite the snow fall that blanketed New Jersey on Saturday December 17, the musical debuted to a full house, at the Union County Performing Arts Center LOFT theater.

 

Audience members where entertained by a diverse cast of children, portraying a group of vivacious foster care kids; that expressed their ideals of Christmas through dance, song, and poetry. 

 

"I enjoyed this program so much! The talent was unbelievable! Everything was just fine, despite the weather, because those kids brought the sunshine inside," said Bernice Young, of Rahway, New Jersey.

 

"This was an outstanding production! It deserves to be on a larger stage next year," said Celeste Cafasso, a guest of actress Ruth Rocky, who portrayed the role of Ms. Lillian.

 


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Centered around the character, Abegail Heart, who unexpectedly became a foster child on Christmas Eve, the musical shed light on the realities of life as a foster child. Moments of laughter, singing, and dancing proved that there is always room for hope. The cast of children ranged from age 8 to 16-year's-old and consisted of aspiring performing artists from New Jersey.

 

"The venue was awesome, the setting was perfect; and most of all, I believe the characters were hand picked from God. From the very beginning, when the character Abegail enters the stage, we felt her hurt, we saw her pain in her eyes.  It was so heart felt, that the person in front of me cried all throughout the performance; and I cried right along with her.  The icing on the cake was when we were serenaded by the cast at the end. AWESOME!  Can't wait for the second season," said Minister Crystal McDaniel, mother of Adora McDaniel who portrayed the role of Abegail Heart. 

 

At the conclusion of the musical, world-renowned opera singer, Darren Stokes, delivered a powerful motivational speech, followed by a stirring vocal performance of "Dream the Impossible Dream". Stokes has performed in the Chicago Opera Theater, the New York City Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Washington National Opera, and the San Francisco Opera; and many more. 

 

"I was encouraged by what these kids did today. To all parents, I want you to know, that it is possible, to be successful as a musician, a poet, a writer. And to continue to encourage your kids in whatever arts they may be in. It does so much for the kids, the community, and their cognitive thinking. I remember what it was like for me; as a kid, seeing my first opera singer. I was so proud to do this for them," said Stokes, who recently returned from performing in Dubai.

 

A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to New Jersey foster care children. Minister Zakkiyah Green, founder/executive director of Beauty In Spirit, Inc.; collaborated with Reynolds-Clarke to identify specific foster care homes in Central New Jersey. The donation will be made along with a special mini-performance of the musical for the foster families.

 

"The show was inspiring and impactful; and delivered a positive understanding of why Foster care is an important, and selfless act of love, kindness, and compassion to children in need. I'm delighted I could help in giving real foster children hope by identifying homes that have given children the love they need. This donation will be an even bigger blessing to the children," said Minister Green. 


 

A key sponsor of the musical, Vicel Guzman of JAFRA Cosmetics, donated goody bags to each guest, as well as, beauty product giveaways. Guzman will also make holiday gift bags to accompany the donation to the foster care children.

 

"I participated as a sponsor to this musical, because JAFRA believes that 'love springs out of benevolence'. This production was an amazing opportunity to uplift and encourage children in the arts. As well as, celebrate the holiday season for all. I'm so impressed that real foster children will benefit this holiday from this musical," said Guzman, district manager of JAFRA New Jersey division.

 

Pictures of the musical can be found on the company's website and facebook page.

 

Plans are already underway for the 2017 season performance of "Who Am I: A Christmas Lullaby". The organization is actively seeking new aspiring young actors in New Jersey to join the cast. To request more information contact them at: justbeyou.contact@gmail.com.





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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