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PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

NEWS | FEATURES | PREVIEWS | EVENTS

By John Posada


originally published: 06/23/2022

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- Can a twice divorced songwriter find love and happiness? Maybe a performing monkey from his Las Vegas extravaganza can show him the way. Find out when Jonathan Brielle Holtzman’s semi-autobiographical musical comedy, A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother premieres at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center from June 24-26, starring five-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh. Photographer John Posada was hand to take photos of a dress rehearsal.

“It’s a very human story about the problems I had with my mom and dad, and the decisions and compromises we make in order to stay true to ourselves,” said Holtzman, who goes by the professional name Jonathan Brielle. “It’s a very funny show, but the comedy has a lot of truth in it.” 

Brielle has had an interesting and unusual life; As a child, his was the only Jewish family in Brielle, at a time when the local golf club still restricted Jewish members from joining.  

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

“The only way we were able to buy a house in town is because someone was mad at a council member, so to get even, they sold their house to a Jewish family,” he said. 

The family later moved to Deal. While his mother was often busy performing in community theater, Brielle spent a lot of time alone writing songs and stories. But he turned those stories and songs into a career that eventually led him to Broadway, where he wrote the music and lyrics for Foxfire, as well as for Off Broadway’s Himself and Nora.  



 
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The monkey reference comes from a Las Vegas show called Enter the Night, for which Brielle wrote original songs. The show ran for 12-years at the Stardust Hotel. With 62 cast members, the 90-minute extravaganza contained magic, topless dancers, ice skaters, circus performers, tap dancers, female motorcyclists and live music, all with a tongue-in-cheek score. The Las Vegas Journal called it the “Best Show on the Strip.”

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

When Brielle’s mother was turning 90, his wife suggested he tell her all the crazy things he had been through that she had no idea about. That sparked his creativity and six months later, he had a show ready that he performed for her on her birthday. A Monkey and Me contains humorous tales of his years at Asbury Park High School, wrestling with gangsters, corporate America, two ex-wives, a monkey from his Las Vegas extravaganza and his overbearing, theatrical, Jewish mother. 

“The show starts with me explaining that the monkey is a voice in my head that tells me which way to turn and what to do,” he said. “It goes through the decisions I made in my life while trying to find true love.” 

Tovah Feldshuh (Golda’s Balcony, Lend Me a Tenor) portrays Brielle’s mother and Tony nominee Veanne Cox (An American in Paris, La Cage aux Folles) takes on the part of the monkey. The cast also includes Bruce Sabath (Company), Jennifer Sanchez (On Your Feet), Nancy Ticotin (Damn Yankees) and Kate Marilley (The Prom). Nathan Dame will conduct the eight-piece, hard-swinging band with a horn section. 

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

“It’s a brilliant cast, and Tovah is absolutely outstanding,” said Brielle. “I’m so excited to be collaborating with the Axelrod.” 

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is located at 100 Grant Ave., Deal Park. Tickets for A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother are available at 732-531-9106, ext. 14 or www.axelrodartscenter.com.  

PHOTOS from "A Monkey and Me: Stories I Never Told My Mother" at AxelrodPAC

If your theatre company is interested in having John Posada cover your plays, contact New Jersey Stage at info@newjerseystage.com.


ALL PHOTOS BY JOHN POSADA






EVENT CALENDAR

ART | COMEDY | DANCE | MUSIC | THEATRE | COMMUNITY

Much Ado About Nothing

Sunday, July 03, 2022 @ 4:00pm & 8:00pm
Shakespeare Theatre Of NJ - Outdoor Stage
2 Convent Road, Florham Park, NJ 07932
category: theatre

Click here for 4:00pm | Click here for 8:00pm

Much Ado About Nothing

Wednesday, July 06, 2022 @ 8:00pm
Shakespeare Theatre Of NJ - Outdoor Stage
2 Convent Road, Florham Park, NJ 07932
category: theatre

Click here for full description

FREE SUMMER EVENT: NAHSCHA

Wednesday, July 06, 2022 @ 6:00pm
Cauldwell Playground
1 Clyde Potts Dr, Morristown, NJ 07960
category: music

Click here for full description

Accidentally Brave

Wednesday, July 06, 2022 @ 6:30pm
Visual Arts Center of NJ
68 Elm Street, Summit, NJ 07901
category: theatre

Click here for full description

Laughs in the Loft

Wednesday, July 06, 2022 @ 7:30pm
The Loft @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC)
One Sopac Way, South Orange, NJ 07079
category: comedy

Click here for full description

Much Ado About Nothing

Wednesday, July 06, 2022 @ 8:00pm
Shakespeare Theatre Of NJ - Outdoor Stage
2 Convent Road, Florham Park, NJ 07932
category: theatre

Click here for full description



For more event listings, click here





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