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Casts Announced for Initial SOMA Backstage Reading Series Productions

originally published: 04/27/2023

Casts Announced for Initial SOMA Backstage Reading Series Productions

(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) has announced the casts for the inaugural SOMA backStage Reading Series productions: Revival by Broadway veterans Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen and Still by Juilliard Fellow Lia Romeo. The casts are filled with Broadway professionals local to the New Jersey community including Tony Award Nominee Christiane Noll.  Performances take place June 3-4, 2023.

The SOMA backStage Reading Series is in partnership with local theater company SOMA Stage. The program emerged from SOPAC’s Creative Community Brain Trust, a collaboration of five arts leaders bringing innovative programming to the center. All readings in this series are free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $15. Advanced registration for tickets is required.

"SOMA Stage is thrilled to be partnering with SOPAC for the launch of this series,” Artistic Director, Dana Spialter said. "There is something really special about SOMA.  With all of the theater professionals who live in our community as well as the close proximity to NYC, being only a short 35-minute train ride away, it is the perfect place to be an incubator for new theatrical shows. My goal is that over time, the SOMA backStage Reading Series will become one of the next major players for the development of new works.” 

Spialter created the SOMA backStage Reading Series provide the opportunity for new plays and musicals to be showcased to the public. The program particularly uplifts SOMA-based creatives, with both playwrights calling SOMA home and the casts being almost entirely New Jersey locals. The backStage Reading Series also offers a unique experience for audience members, who have the chance to view the new works in their earliest form and provide feedback to help shape the future of their development.

Casts Announced for Initial SOMA Backstage Reading Series Productions

Revival - Saturday, June 3 at 7:30pm and Sunday, June 4 at 3:00pm. In a small prairie schoolhouse at the turn of the last century, the leader of a religious sect persuades Elin Hermannson, wildest troublemaker and greatest fiddler on the Nebraska frontier, to renounce sin and destroy her violin. Two years later, visiting Manhattan socialite Margaret Elliott encounters the now taciturn Elin and vows to save her from her ascetic existence and reawaken her passion for music. Margaret’s undertaking proves more dangerous than she thought, as both her and Elin’s lives are forever changed. Based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize winning author Willa Cather. (Directed by Lisa Peterson, with musical direction by Vadim Feichtner.)

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Revival features Music & Book by Chris Miller; Book & Lyrics by Nathan Tysen; Directed by Lisa Peterson. The cast includes Danielle Ferland, Lauren Hooper, Autumn Jones, Jamie LaVerdiere, Ross Lekites, Charlie Pollock, Allison Posner, Ashley Spencer, Lauren Jeanne Thomas, and Jacob Keith Watson.

Chris Miller (music & book) - Tuck Everlasting (Broadway 2016): The Burnt Part Boys (Playwrights Horizons/Vineyard Theatre, Lucille Lortel Nominee Best Musical 2011); Fugitive Songs (Drama Desk Award Nominee Outstanding Revue 2008); all have cast albums available at iTunes and Amazon. Television: Sesame Street, Elmo’s World & The Electric Company. Co-arranging and co-orchestrating Swept Away, a musical with a score by popular band The Avett Brothers and book by John Logan, directed by Michael Mayer. Upcoming: the book, music & lyrics for Ravello (Signature Theatre (VA) American Musical Voices Project);  Prairie Songs &April Twilights, a song cycle for soprano & orchestra using the poetry of Willa Cather; Cities an eight movement work for 2 pianos and chamber ensemble; The Goats, a commission for producer Barbara Whitman & Grove Entertainment; with Nathan Tysen, Blown Sideways Through Life (book by Claudia Shear) and Dreamland, for the Educational Theater Association & Concord Theatricals, which released a studio cast album on Craft Recordings available wherever music is sold or streamed. Proud graduate of Elon University and NYU.

Nathan Tysen (book & lyrics) - Broadway: Paradise Square (Tony Nomination), Amélie, Tuck Everlasting. West End: Amélie (Olivier & Grammy Nominations). Off-Broadway: The Burnt Part Boys, Fugitive Songs, Stars of David. Regional: Paradise Square, Dreamland (or a musical riff on Shakespeare’s Midsummer set during the declassification of Area 51), Stillwater, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, two circuses for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey. TV/Film: A Killer Party, Sesame Street, Elmo’s World, The Electric Company. Upcoming: The Great Gatsby and a musical adaptation of Claudia Shear’s Blown Sideways Through Life. Awards from the Kleban, Ebb, Rodgers, and Larson Foundations. Writer and director for Lovewell Institute, creating original musicals with young adults. MFA NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, BFA Missouri State Univ. Husband to writer Kait Kerrigan, father to Lucy and Tess. Proud SOMA resident.

Casts Announced for Initial SOMA Backstage Reading Series Productions

Still - Saturday, June 3 at 3:00pm and Sunday, June 4th at 7:30pm. Thirty years ago, Helen and Mark broke up. Now he’s running for Congress, and she has a secret that could derail his bid. A play about lost love, reproductive rights, political differences, and the ways people change… or don’t. (Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt.) 

Still by Lia Romeo is directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt and stars Christiane Noll and Jeff McCarthy.

Lia Romeo is a playwriting fellow at Juilliard. Her plays have been developed at the O’Neill, La Jolla Playhouse, the Lark, and elsewhere, and have been produced off-Broadway at 59E59 as well as regionally around the country. Four of her plays have been recognized by the Kilroys List. Her plays are published by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW), Broadway Licensing, and others. She is the associate artistic director with Project Y Theatre Company, and she teaches playwriting at Primary Stages/ESPA and in the M.A. program in creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, New Jersey.

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