(NEW YORK, NY) -- A Tomato Can't Grow in the Bronx, an acclaimed drama by playwright/novelist Gary Morgenstein, opened at the Chain Theatre in New York City on Friday, December 2nd for a limited engagement through December 17th. The play premiered at Center Playhouse on South Street in downtown Freehold, NJ, in April, 2022. Center Players’ Artistic Director Bernice Garfield-Szita will once again direct the play, which was named “Best Original Play” at the 2022 Perry Awards by the NJ Association of Community Theaters (NJACT). Photographer John Posada was on hand to take photos.
Set in a working-class neighborhood of the Bronx during the racial and political unrest of the 1960s, the multi-generational play portrays the dysfunctional family dynamics between married couple Sammy and Eleanor and her overbearing parents Harry and Gladys, who live in the apartment next door. When the couple's rebellious teenage son Elliot gets mugged, it triggers Sammy’s desire to defy his powerful father-in-law and move to Long Island to claim his share of the American Dream.
The cast features Jackie Kusher* (Joyland) as patriarch Harry, Andrea Bell Wolff* (2022 Perry Award Winner, Best Actress) as Gladys; Mike Roche* (Night Over Taos at INTAR, Estelle Parsons director) as Sammy; Holly O'Brien* (Two by Two, Martin Charnin director) as Eleanor; Marina Rebecca Chan (Asian American Girl/developed at Pan Asian Rep) as realtor Madeline and Spencer Neumann (Les Miserables) as Elliot. (*Members of Actors Equity).
“Although the play takes place during 1968, a particularly tumultuous year, these richly identifiable and flawed characters confront many of the same social issues that we face today, struggling to communicate, connect and love each other. Their hopes, fears and dreams belong to any family, and to any age,” notes Garfield-Szita. “We were so proud to discover and present this new work at Center Playhouse this past spring, and are beyond thrilled to have the unique opportunity to bring it to off-Broadway and expose it to a greater audience in New York City.”
The production’s NJ contingent includes Bernice Garfield-Szita who resides in Manalapan, Andrea Bell Wolff who lives in Holmdel and Jackie Kusher who resides in Monroe.
A Tomato Can't Grow in the Bronx runs at the Chain Theater (312 W. 36th Street, 4th floor) from Friday, December 2nd through Saturday, December 17th. The performance schedule is as follows: Friday 12/2, Saturday 12/3, Thursday 12/8, Friday 12/9, Saturday 12/10, Friday 12/16 and Saturday 12/17 at 7:30pm with matinees on Sunday 12/4, Sunday 12/11 and Wednesday 12/14 at 2:00pm. All tickets are $25 and are available for purchase online.
The play was performed to sold-out houses at Center Playhouse last spring, winning three 2022 Perry Awards from NJACT including Best Original Play and Best Actress. Morgenstein’s plays include the award-winning play A Black and White Cookie and Free Palestine. His seven novels include a critically acclaimed dystopian political trilogy culminating with A Dugout to Peace soon to be published by BHC Press.
Here are more photos from the production.
Center Players is a respected, award-winning organization, presenting high quality, engaging productions featuring local talent in downtown Freehold. In addition to their signature plays, the group also sponsors free play reading events and offers dinner and theater packages with several local restaurants.
John Posada is a New Jersey based photographer specializing in live theatre and music performances. For more than 10 years, John has photographed live music events where he mastered the techniques of timing and capturing fast moving action under challenging lighting conditions to capture that perfect moment that tells a story in a single image. Currently, John has photographed over 70 productions for over 40 different theatres. Click here for John's website.