Articles By Karen Nowosad
'Joy' the Musical that Inspires as it Entertains
A new show called Joy is a musical enjoying a premiere run at George Street Playhouse. The show is about Joy Mangano, known to the world as an entrepreneur who invented the Miracle Mop. Although she continues to be a major success, it was a rough road getting there. With a book by Ken Davenport, Mangano’s inspiring story unfolds through good storytelling, an original score and a fine cast.
published on 12/26/2022
'Twelfth Night' Shines Brightly at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
You can always count on The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey to deliver an exceptional production for the December Holiday Season. This year is no exception as they present one of Shakespeare’s comedies, Twelfth Night. The play provides a delightful visit to the theater as a strong acting ensemble provides many funny scenes, some touching moments, and original music using Shakespeare’s own words.
published on 12/16/2022
'Florence and Mojo' Two One-Act Plays
One-act plays use unique formats to tell the story in a more condensed manner than the usual multi-act play does. On stage now through November 13 at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is Florence and Mojo. Each name represents a one-act play written by American playwright Alice Childress.
published on 11/03/2022
"Certain Aspects of Conflict in the Negro Family" Focuses on NJ History of 1967
(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages at Kean University presents a new play, Certain Aspects of Conflict in the Negro Family, by TyLie Shider. Mr. Shider is the recipient of the 2021/22 Liberty Live Commission. The Commission is awarded biennially, in partnership with Kean University’s Liberty Hall. It seeks to develop and produce new plays that celebrate New Jersey’s rich and diverse history.
published on 10/20/2022
'Scab' -- The Human Side of Job Changes and Loss
Scab is a Study of What Happens When Jobs Change Hands
published on 09/18/2022
Union Summer Concert Series Rocks with Foreigners Journey
I enjoyed my outdoor experience at Shakespeare Theatre of NJ’s presentation of Much Ado About Nothing so much that I continued on the next week to an outdoor concert. Next stop: GSP Exit 141 where the Township of Union Summer Concert Series at Rabkin Park plays through July.
published on 07/29/2022
A Summer Delight - "Much Ado About Nothing"
When summer arrives, outdoor theater beckons to us. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) traditionally runs a play a year outdoors. This practice which started in 2002 continues this year with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Bring your blankets, low back chairs, and picnic dinner to the Outdoor Theatre on the campus of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station. The Greek-style amphitheater has a charm all its own as patrons can enjoy an outstanding production.
published on 07/14/2022
"American Idiot" in Asbury Park is a Winner
Live theater returns to Asbury Park this month as the Asbury Park Theater Company presents American Idiot. An exuberant version of the Green Day Broadway hit show plays one more weekend in the Kingsley Theater at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel. Directed by William Whitefield, this show features a cast with singing voices that will knock your socks off! Green Day’s music and Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics are in good hands with Music Direction by Andrew Macirowski. Equally as exciting is the choreography provided by Serena Soffer as the cast puts on a first rate production. This show is a winner that theater goers will love seeing.
published on 07/09/2022
“Enchanted April” Delightful at Shakespeare Theatre of NJ
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey celebrated a very special season opening on Saturday, June 11 with Matthew Barber’s play Enchanted April. It was the first time in two years they have opened a new season. It is also significant because the Madison based theater group also celebrates their 60th Year Anniversary this season.
published on 06/18/2022
"A Walk on the Moon" in the Summer of 1969
There continues to be new joys each week as live theater comes back. Such is the situation at New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse where a wonderful new show is now playing through May 21, 2022. A Walk on the Moon is a musical based on the 1999 movie of the same name. The story takes you back to the summer of 1969 when two significant events occurred as America’s involvement in the Vietnam War was still taking place.
published on 05/13/2022
“Little Girl Blue” Honors Nina Simone
A new musical is now playing at New World Stages. Little Girl Blue is a retrospective of American singer, songwriter, arranger, pianist, and civil rights activist Nina Simone. The production informs, entertains, and engages the audience. The excellent direction of this show is by Devanand Janki. Before opening in NY, this show premiered at George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick, NJ in February 2019. In summer 2021, it was part of the Goodspeed by the River series.
published on 03/19/2022
Baipás Examines Life vs. Death Issues
What happens when a person is in a coma or is under anesthesia during an operation? Are they aware of the state their body is in; do they have any sense of whether they will live or die? Can they see and view their life? These questions has been debated for years with few substantial facts offered to provide answers. The play Baipás, written by Jacobo Morales, now at George Street Playhouse, centers around these issues. Under the direction of Julio Monge, the production provides a fascinating look at two people waiting to hear their fates. In addition to the cast of two delivering very poignant performances, the production uses special stage effects and directed lighting to make the tale come alive.
published on 03/08/2022
‘Snug’ Plays Under the Stars
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) returns to their outdoor summer home this month. Since 2002, STNJ has performed in the outdoor Greek-style amphitheater on the campus of St. Elizabeth University with one exception: 2020 when the CoVid pandemic restrictions prevented its use. But now they are back with two glorious productions available until Aug. 1. Running are Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors and a new play, Snug, written by Bonnie Monte. Both are comedies and both shows are appropriate for all ages.
published on 07/23/2021
"Bad Dates" is Good Virtual Viewing
New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse launches their new Digital Productions with a one woman show that is sure to please. Bad Dates runs until March 14 and it marks the first of four productions being planned for the Playhouse’s 2021 Streaming Season. Written by Theresa Rebeck, Bad Dates stars Andrea Burns as divorcee and single mother Haley Walker. Peter Flynn, Ms. Burns real life husband, directs and their son, Hunter Flynn, edited this filmed production. If you are looking for something that is a cross between all those Netflix movies you’ve probably been watching and live theater, this production fills the bill.
published on 03/04/2021
Shakespeare Theatre Of NJ's Pandemic Playhouse Gives Quality Productions
In the midst of the live theater drought, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) introduces a new remedy: Pandemic Playhouse Entertainment (PPE). This initiative was described by Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte as being inspired by the old television shows of the 1950s and 60s such as Playhouse 90, Masterpiece Playhouse, and Philco Playhouse. Ms. Monte also explained that the STNJ will use their Main Stage at the F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison, NJ and then provide the productions through an online platform which audiences can purchase to see.
published on 02/07/2021
The Doo Wop Project at Kean Stage: A Live Concert Review
Yes, that’s right. Your eyes are not deceiving you. This article is about a live concert held a few nights ago, Thursday, Oct. 22 to be exact. It featured The Doo Wop Project and it was held outdoors at Kean Alumni Stadium in Union, New Jersey. The concert was a part of Kean Stage’s Fall 2020 programs. Kean Stage is finding ways to keep live theater and shows going during this time of the CoVid pandemic.
published on 10/25/2020
"Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak on It!" -- Audience are Cheering
Premiere Stages at Kean brings life back to the live theater community with their production of Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak on It! The show is an opportunity to once again experience live theater but do it in a CoVid safe environment. It was thrilling to go out to the grounds of the Liberty Hall Museum which is on the other side of Morris Avenue from where Premiere Stages usually performs. The transformation to outdoor theater was thoughtfully done with remarkable results.
published on 10/17/2020
"The Weir" Shows Virtual Effectiveness
A few weeks ago, I watched a virtual performance of The Weir produced by the Irish Repertory Theatre. It still is resonating well in my thoughts because it was such a good experience. Watching this production made me feel like I had attended a new and effective method of presenting quality plays.
published on 08/17/2020
Mile Square Theatre – 2020 7th Inning Stretch
Every year, the Mile Square Theatre (MST) holds the 7th Inning Stretch. The fund raising event is named to honor the first official baseball game played in Hoboken back in 1840’s. The event has become a Hoboken tradition and is in its 17th year.
published on 06/26/2020
"Small Island" Looks at Racism and Prejudice
Through the end of July, the United Kingdom’s National Theatre is running online viewing of some of their most popular plays. Because of my own scheduling conflicts, I missed several of their earlier productions. Finally, this week, the planets were all in alignment and I was ready to go. I went to the National Theatre’s You Tube Channel and was awed by Small Island.
published on 06/23/2020
Red Bull Theater Live Reading Tonight: 'Tis Pity She’s a Whore
Tonight (April 20), the acclaimed Red Bull Theater kicks off special programming by launching a FREE LIVESTREAM presentation. The presentation is an online reading of John Ford’s classic play ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. The event features the complete cast of the Red Bull’s 2015 Off-Broadway production of this play originally directed by Jesse Berger, Founding Artistic Director.
published on 04/20/2020
Create Theater Gives Online Readings
In the midst of the current health crisis, theater lovers have to find new ways to get their fix! Last Monday, mine came in the form of a live play reading given by Create Theater. Live streaming of the event was through the ZOOM platform. The play in the reading was Zoe Comes Home by Melissa Bell. In a word, attending this was fantastic! Here’s what happened.
published on 03/30/2020
"Conscience" Shows a Strong Woman Leader
A friend and I went to see Conscience on March 7, 2020. The theater was pretty well filled except for an empty seat here and there. We thoroughly enjoyed the production. I looked forward to writing this review to share with my readers that a wonderful new play was running. However, as this review prepared for publication, the Coronavirus outbreak came into full focus.
published on 03/21/2020
REVIEW: "Unmasked" The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber Plays Paper Mill Playhouse
The Paper Mill Playhouse begins the new decade with the world premier of Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. As the name implies, the show is all about the music of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. His name is synonymous with some of the most successful shows musical theater offers. His Phantom of the Opera continues to be the longest running show on Broadway. The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar is back out on a new national tour after scoring huge success as a television live musical. These are only a few from the hugely popular portfolio attributed to this man.
published on 02/15/2020
"Midwives" Impressive Staging of the Novel
Playing at George Street Playhouse through February 16, 2020 is the world premiere of the stage adaptation of the novel Midwives. The book by Chris Bohjalian sold more than 2 million copies since its publication. It was an early selection of Oprah’s Book Club and in 2001 was made into an award-nominated film. Now the book really comes to life as a play also written by Mr. Bohjalian. George Street Playhouse does a remarkable job with this production. The stage set design, the story development, and the acting make this a play well worth going to see.
published on 02/01/2020
This Staging of "A Christmas Carol" At Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Stirs the Imagination
Charles Dickens’ time honored classic story of A Christmas Carol is a popular show at this time of year. Just check your local listings and you will find it playing in several locations in New Jersey and even on Broadway this season. However, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey can lay a claim on having one of the best and most unique to see. Adapted by Neil Bartlett and directed by Brian B. Crowe, this adaptation last played on the STNJ Main Stage in 2011. At that time, it received good acclaim from audience members and critics alike. If you are looking for a classic holiday show that stirs your imagination, this is the show to see. The staging, the lighting, the sound effects, and the work of a dynamic cast make it a memorable experience to see in this holiday season.
published on 12/21/2019
"Cinderella" is Filled with Music and Magic
If you are looking to enjoy some magic this month, plan a visit to the Paper Mill Playhouse to see their production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. This second show of the 2019 – 2020 season features music by the legendary team of Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Additionally, it features a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and original book by Oscar Hammerstein II. The cast is fabulous and the special effects that happen live on stage make for a show that is magical and one that the entire family can enjoy.
published on 12/03/2019
Heart Warming and Melodic: "Last Days of Summer" at George Street Playhouse
A Review: George Street Playhouse opens its new season and their new home venue with a new musical titled Last Days of Summer. This show is a total heart warmer and one that is sure to be an audience favorite. It is a well told story with appealing characters, some familiar moments in time and fabulous music that reflects the era. The story centers around the idea that the bonds which people lovingly develop between each other stay with them throughout their lifetime and even after death.
published on 11/03/2019
An Exuberant Opening Night at George Street Playhouse
George Street Playhouse opened their 2019 – 2020 season on Friday, Oct. 25th. This was more than the normal start with the excitement of a new season. After a two year residency in a theater on College Farm Road, George Street Playhouse is now in their new home in the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. Located at 11 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ, George Street is one of four major arts groups to take residence in the new facility. The new building is a triumph in planning, design, and completion. In addition to toasting the new location, it was also a night to celebrate the premiere of a new musical, Last Days of Summer.
published on 10/27/2019
Shakespeare Theatre of NJ Takes a Fresh Look at "Romeo and Juliet"
For many people, their first and possibly only exposure to Shakespeare is in high school when the play Romeo and Juliet is assigned. Ian Belknap, Director of Romeo and Juliet currently running at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, had a similar experience when he was young. In his Director’s Notes, he says he got the textbook and then, “My friends Kelly and Caitlin took the mildewed textbook and memorized Juliet’s balcony speech . . . and tried to get me to play Romeo. ‘No Way,’ I said. . . . They tried to sell me on its status. ‘It is a classic.’ . . .They were embarrassed that their friend failed to connect to Shakespeare. I preferred musicals.” Happily, for theater goers, Belknap reports that Shakespeare is now a constant companion. His enthusiasm shows in this production which plays on the Madison stage through Nov. 17, 2019.
published on 10/24/2019
"Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz" Opens in New Jersey
Paper Mill Playhouse begins their 2019 – 2020 with a big, new musical. Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz runs through Oct. 27, 2019 on the Millburn stage. This is a New Jersey premiere for this production which features a book by Marc Acito. Musical Adaptation and Additional Music is by David Libby. The show is conceived by Tina Marie Casamento who also does Additonal Lyrics.
published on 10/11/2019
"Yasmina's Necklace" Glows with Artistry
Producing new shows is never an easy task, but it is one that Premiere Stages does very well. Continuing in this fine tradition, the Company now presents Yasmina’s Necklace. This new production is truly one of Premiere Stages finest offerings yet. The subject matter is timely and relevant to all as the concerns of parents for the welfare of their children at any age plays out.
published on 09/17/2019
"The Rainmaker" Shines in Madison
Now playing through Aug. 18, 2019 is The Rainmaker at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. This play is inspiring and very enjoyable to watch. There is just something special about this production that totally held my interest. The story is one for the ages as it involves struggles many people go through in their lives. It is both moving and enchanting as it gives hope to anyone who doubts their own virtues and gifts. A brilliant cast performs, and the staging is very well done.
published on 08/14/2019
Mike Super Gives a Crowd Pleasing Show
Mike Super is a magician, an illusionist, and sometimes he’s called a mystifier. His website says that he has pioneered a new form of magic that transcends the “trick.” He has the right stage name (he claims it is not his real name) because that describes how he gives a show.
published on 07/19/2019
Constantine Maroulis Brings Broadway to Avenel Performing Arts Center
On Saturday, June 15, Tony Nominee Constantine Maroulis gave two concerts at Avenel Performing Arts Center. The APAC advertised the show as part of “Broadway Comes to Avenel” and his setlist reflected that theme. The singer/actor is well known for his strong tenor voice. The songs he sings and the personal touches he gives to his shows add much to the audience’s enjoyment. The show I attended at 8:00 was filled with people who remember Constantine Maroulis from Broadway as well as Season 4 of American Idol. From their reactions and post show comments, I would say they really enjoyed the show.
published on 06/25/2019
"The Three Musketeers" at STNJ A Swashbuckling Delight
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey opens their 57th season with a grand, swashbuckling adventure, The Three Musketeers. The play is an adaptation written by Ken Ludwig of Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale first written in 1844. This production moves smoothly with exciting sword fighting scenes, dialog well peppered with humorous tones, and an amazing variety of characters who will astound you. Add to that a generous helping of female characters who match their male counterparts both with swords and cunning and you have one fabulous production.
published on 06/20/2019
An Interview With Constantine Maroulis
He is the contestant from American Idol, Season 4, who looked into the camera and captivated millions of hearts. But Constantine Maroulis is more than that. His singing and performance style on the show was strong and memorable. His rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” still ranks as one of Idol‘s most popular performances. The night he was voted out in 6th place, his fans were devastated. But it all turned out well: Constantine began a post-Idol career that is still going strong all these years later.
published on 06/09/2019
‘Beauty and the Beast’ at Paper Mill Playhouse Offers Something for Everyone
The Paper Mill Playhouse completes their 2018-2019 Season with the Disney classic musical Beauty and the Beast. In a word, this production is Outstanding! Under the direction of the Paper Mill’s Artistic Director Mark Hoebee, Beauty and the Beast entertains and has something for everyone. It is a great family show that enchants the audience in a way that few shows do. If you missed seeing it on Broadway, come see this production as it is just as good as you would see in New York City.
published on 06/06/2019
The Arts Go Live at Avenel Performing Arts Center
A brand new venue for live performance in New Jersey is now open and in full operation. The Avenel Performing Arts Center is bringing a new vitality to the area. Located at 150 Avenel Street, the Avenel Performing Arts Center (APAC) brings the hope of enhancing the arts in in the area.
published on 05/24/2019
"Benny & Joon" the Musical Comes to Paper Mill Playhouse
In 1993, the movie “Benny & Joon” made its way to theaters. Starring Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson, the movie was well received. It continues to attract audiences through steaming services like Amazon Prime. According to the movie’s page on Rotten Tomatoes, it is about “Benny who runs a small car repair shop. He must also take care of his mentally ill sister Juniper, better known as Joon. After losing a bet, Benny is forced to bring another eccentric into his house: Sam, the cousin of a friend. Not inclined to conversation, Sam expresses himself by performing Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton routines . . . Not surprisingly, he immediately hits it off with Joon. . . . ”
published on 04/05/2019
"My Very Own British Invasion" Rocks the House
The 60’s reveled in rock and pop music. A major part of the music scene was dominated by groups from Great Britain. First the Beatles arrived in 1964. After a time, one band after another came to the U.S. with major hit records. This phenomenon, affectionately nicknamed “the British Invasion,” is the subject of a new show aptly titled My Very Own British Invasion. The show is in its World Premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse. The show is fast moving, filled with enjoyable music, and a very talented cast who sing many familiar songs and breath new life into them.
published on 02/13/2019
“Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical” A Superb Production
The World Premiere of Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical runs through Feb. 24, 2019 at New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse. On Opening Night, the sold-out audience showed their appreciation and enthusiasm for the show. And why not? It has everything a show needs to be a big hit: The multi-talented Laiona Michelle playing the title role, an outstanding band performing an eclectic set list, and a true story that needs to be told.
published on 02/09/2019