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Bergen County Players to present "Master Class"

originally published: 10/05/2023

Bergen County Players to present "Master Class"

Joanne Guarnaccia as Maria Callas, photo by Richard Frant

(ORADELL, NJ) -- Bergen County Players (BCP), one of America’s longest-running little theater companies, is excited to present the intense and powerful Tony Award-winning Master Class, weekends from October 28 to November 18. Under the direction of Alan Demovsky, this dramatic and profound play by Terrence McNally, one of America's preeminent playwrights (Love! Valor! Compassion!, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Ragtime, The Full Monty), is regarded as "rich, vivid," and "satisfying" by The New York Times. The drama about famed opera singer Maria Callas will coincide this year with the 100th anniversary of her birth.

Terrence McNally is a distinguished American playwright and the winner of four Tony Awards, two Guggenheim Fellowships and a Rockefeller Grant, among other distinctions. Regarded as a “total triumph” by the Star-Ledger, Master Class is based on a series of Juilliard School master classes taught by the great opera singer Maria Callas, one of the most compelling and controversial artists of our time. Vividly and often comically, McNally’s play captures the essence of Callas as she alternately destroys and inspires three eager Juilliard opera students with her brutally honest critiques, recollections of her illustrious career and turbulent life, and unwavering commitment to the sacrifices artists make for their creations. During the sessions, the music of the arias drop her into memory, and she relives her bitter childhood in wartime Greece, phenomenal acclaim at the great opera houses like La Scala, her triumph over her enemies, and her tumultuous and tragic love affair with another giant, Aristotle Onassis. Onassis, who was married to Athina Mary Livanos, had a nine-year affair with opera singer Maria Callas. Onassis later left Callas for Jackie Kennedy, the widowed first lady.

The play was originally staged by the Philadelphia Theatre Company in March 1995, the Mark Taper Forum and the Kennedy Center. The play premiered on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre on November 15, 1995 and closed on June 29, 1997 after 598 performances and 12 previews.

Master Class is directed by Alan Demovsky of Fort Lauderdale, Florida who has directed 25 plays, musicals and dramas in the New York/New Jersey area in as many years. New York City Training includes the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, HB Studios, and Fordham University, and he directed original plays for the New York Chapter of the Emmy Awards at the HBO Headquarters in Manhattan.  Alan spent many years as the agent for the late Robert Osborne of TCM, Turner Classic Movies.

“My objective was to showcase the importance of Maria Callas and to ensure that her career is remembered front and center,” said Demovsky. “The play is about how a person who has courage and perseverance can overcome any obstacle in order to achieve their God-given talents to succeed in their dreams.”

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The talented cast includes veteran performers Joanne Guarnaccia of Englewood Cliffs, Christian Davakis and Elizabeth Marino of New York City, and Grace Callahan and Rich Ciero of Oradell. 

Joanne’s appearances on the BCP stage include roles in 33 Variations, Veronica's Room, Getting Away with Murder, and Beehive The 60’s Musical. Rich’s appearances onstage at BCP include roles in The Emperor’s New Clothes, Night Watch, and A View from the Bridge, among others. Grace’s appearances onstage at BCP include The Velveteen Rabbit as well as appearances elsewhere in Godspell and The Wizard of Oz.

Elizabeth and Christian are making their BCP debut. Christian’s recent operatic performances include Goro in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Gastone in Verdi’s La Traviata with NJ Lyric Opera. Christian also sang with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in a production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Elizabeth’s credits include The Threepenny Opera, Mozart’s Opera Così Fan Tutte, Damn Yankees, and Follies.

David Maiullo serves as the show's accompanist. He is an avid accompanist/coach and conductor in the New York City metropolitan area, where he has performed in over 4,000 recitals and programs.

The production team is comprised of Alan Demovsky (Director), Vicki Casella (Vocal Coach), David Maiullo (Accompanist), David Luke (Producer), Geri Berhain (Assistant Director), Jacqueline Poquette (Advisor to the Director), Michele Roth (Stage Manager), Gerard Bourcier (Set Designer/Lighting Designer/Projection Design), Lynne Lupfer (Décor), Rich Ciero (Props), Bunny Mateosian (Costumes), Ray Poquette (Lighting Designer), Allan Seward (Lighting Operator), Tim Larsen (Sound Designer), Barry Reed (Sound Operator), Richard Frant (Photography), Christopher Nelson (Programs), Marci Weinstein (Program Notes), and Janica Carpenter (Member-at-Large).


* All performances take place at The Little Firehouse Theatre at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell, home to the Bergen County Players since 1949. Performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at


* Tickets for Master Class are $25 for Friday and Saturday performances, and $23 for Sunday performances. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling 201-261-4200 or by visiting the box office at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell during regular box office hours. Visa, Master Card, and American Express are accepted.

Those interested in Group Sales or benefit theater parties can call (201) 261-4200 (option #6).

* BCP offers seating to accommodate patrons who are mobility impaired and can transfer from a wheelchair. These seats can be purchased by calling the box office at 201-261-4200 and will be released for public sale two weeks prior to performance.

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* BCP's popular Questions & Artists talkback session with cast and crew will be held following the performance on Friday, November 3.

* Advance discount tickets for students aged 25 and under with proper ID are available for $18 by phone or walk-up at every performance, pending seat availability. Not available online. There is a limit of one discount ticket per student ID.

* 'Rush' discount tickets for students aged 25 and under with proper ID are available for $5 at the box office window, starting 30 minutes prior to curtain. There is a limit of one Rush ticket per student ID and cash is the only payment method accepted.

* A new program is now available for qualified non-profit organizations to use one performance of each production as a fundraising event. The group will book all 200 seats at a deeply discounted price and then resell the tickets at a price of their choosing, with the difference in price kept by the group. The available date is the Thursday of each show’s final weekend. Interested groups can email for more information.

* Parking is free for their patrons at the Park Avenue municipal lot, across the street, one-half block north of the theater, as well as street parking on Kinderkamack Road and various side streets, all within easy walking distance.

The Bergen County Players, Inc. is a non-Equity, non-profit community theater company dedicated to presenting quality productions for the enrichment of the community.



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