M. Lennon Perricone

In addition to reviewing for NJACT for 9 years, Playwright M. Lennon Perricone has his work staged in New York, Kansas City, Flint Michigan and throughout New Jersey. He is currently writing his sixth novel.

  • Photo Credit: Circle Players

    PISCATAWAY, NJ—A contemporary drama set during that transitional period when the baby boomers yielded to Generation X, made its debut at the famed Actors Theater of Louisville.

    Taking place in suburban New York, "Dinner with Friends" has no trouble bringing to the surface the trauma couples experience when their best friends decide it’s time to lawyer up and divide property.

    Food writers Gabe and Karen are hosting another one of their dinners for Beth and Tom, but Tom is noticeably absent.

  • Photo Credit: George Street Playhouse

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—John Glover, a longtime favorite actor of this reviewer was on his game in his performance as America’s 28th president, Woodrow Wilson.

    Glover had no trouble taking his audience into the complex, and deteriorating mind of the ideological man who took the United States from a regional power to the dominant player on the world stage.

  • Photo Credit: Fearless Productions

    SOMERSET, NJ--Every now and again, a devotee of a particular art lets one slip by.

    During the days of broadcast television, irritated Star Trek or I Love Lucy fans would often lament about that one episode they kept missing.

    Such is the case with this reviewer when it came to Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama, "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds."

  • Photo Credit: Brian C. O'Hallaron

    EDISON, NJ—Bishop George Ahr (BGA) High School’s Summer Community Theater shed some light on the area’s current theatrical darkness with its production of Aaron Sorkin’s military courtroom drama, A Few Good Men.

    The production included a fine cast that consisted of professional, community, alumni and student actors.

  • Photo Credit: Edison Valley Playhouse

    EDISON, NJ—There are some wonderfully written stage-works that, for some reason, even after they become films, remain under the theatrical radar.  Wendy Macleod’s ‘House of Yes’ is one of them.

    Productions of The House of Yes remain far and few between.

    It's Thanksgiving, some thirty years after the JFK assassination in the Pascal’s McLean, Virginia home, located around the corner from the Kennedy estate.

  • Photo Credit: Fearless Productions

    FRANKLIN, NJ—After sitting through Fearless Production’s rendering of Martin McDonagh’s Tony award winning The Pillowman, a play festooned with child maiming, child torture, child murder, patricide, matricide and of course fratricide, this reviewer, who hasn’t smoked in twenty years, needed a cigarette.

    That need is not a complaint, it’s a compliment.

  • Photo Credit: George Street Playhouse

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--This reviewer would be lying if he didn’t admit that when Kat, played by Valerie Vigoda, first entered the snow filled stage, he wasn’t’ sure what to expect

    But not long after that moment, he realized he was in for a triumphant night of innovative musical theater.

    Musicals tend to be larger than life spectacles with big ensemble casts, choruses, choreographed movements, and elaborate sets.

  • Photo Credit: Crossroads Theatre Company

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--Theater is a collaborative art, requiring actors, a director and a tech crew to create a refined and finished work.

    But theater also starts with a playwright and it’s his or her vision that drives a drama, comedy or tragedy into a cohesive stage work.  Nothing solidifies this concept more than Crossroads’ current production of Richard Wesley’s Autumn.

  • Photo Credit: Photo Credit Holmdel Theatre Company

    HOLMDEL, NJ—With many area theaters winding down their seasons, the Holmdel Theater Company, some twenty miles south of New Brunswick, is just starting theirs.

    Confirming there is excellent theater in the Garden State year round, the somewhat countrified venue’s season kicks off with David Auburn’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning "Proof."

    The drama's first public performance was at New Jersey’s own George Street Playhouse’s 1999 Next Stage New Play Festival.

  • Photo Credit: Circle Players of Piscataway

    PISCATAWAY, NJ—Aside from attending the 2005 Broadway revival and several college productions, this reviewer has indulged himself in numerous non-equity productions of Edward Albee’s signature masterwork: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

    This reviewer can say with the highest of confidence Circle Players' spellbinding production from a non-equity standpoint has taken a commanding lead.

    Circle, compared to its theatrical neighbors has some decided disadvantages.

  • Photo Credit: George Street Playhouse

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Many theatrical comedies, dramas, and musicals use elaborate staging to set their themes, enhance their moods or help move their plot along.

    Jonathan Tolins’ rollicking "Buyer and Cellar" isn’t one of them and the show proves theater at its minimum is often theater at its best.

    Relying on almost nothing except the noted directorial prowess of David Saint, New Jersey native John Tartaglia brings us into the world of Alex More.

  • Photo Credit: Crossroads Theater

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--There are several important events in American history that, after a brief period of time don’t lose their significance, but head to near omission from the mainstream.

    Those events include the New York Civil War riots that forced African-Americans to take refuge on barges in the Hudson River, and the Klan Notre Dame riot, where an army of invading Klansman tried to take over that university but were driven away by the Irish-American student body.

  • Photo Credit: Playhouse 22

    EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ--There are some remarkable stage works that, for some reason, lose momentum in their film version, such as Joseph Kramm’s The Shrike, William Inge’s Picnic, and Sidney Kingsley’s Dead End.

    Regrettably, Peter Shaffer’s fictionalized account of the decline and last days of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart might be among them.

  • Photo Credit: George Street Playhouse

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—One of the most iconic lines in the film Gone with the Wind refers to Miss Ellen’s rosaries, reminding the audience that American slave owners were not all Protestant.

    In George Street Playhouse's eye-opening presentation of "The Whipping Man," we are introduced to Simon, a recently emancipated slave who follows the same religion of his former masters, Judaism.

  • Photo Credit: Edison Valley Playhouse

    EDISON, NJ—This reviewer is directly familiar with the commitment, the toil, and the expense that’s applied to a non-equity stage production.

    Those who participate in it should be commended for the time they dedicate to keep local theater alive and vital.

    That being said, Edison Valley’s choice to stage "Rehearsal for Murder" may not have been the most prudent of decisions.

  • Photo Credit: Edison Vaelly Playhouse

    EDISON, NJ—"Lucky Stiff," a farcical musical comedy based on the novel, "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo" comes to us from Ahrens and Flaherty, the same award-winning team that brought us such noted successes as Seussical, Once this Island and Ragtime.

    Hapless and dissatisfied shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon, well played by Will Sandoval, has his luck change when his rough and tumble Uncle Anthony from Atlantic City dies leaving a fortune…conditionally.

  • Photo Credit: George Street Playhouse

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—One would think that, in 2014, a musical comedy about a barbershop quartet would be dated.

    Not the case with the Fabulous Lipitones of London, Ohio.  Playwrights John Markus and Mark St. Germain have skillfully made this play contemporary.

    At the funeral for their lead voice, who died suddenly, the remaining middle aged trio are at odds about the fate of this fading group of harmonizing vocalists.

  • Photo Credit: R. Kowalski

    FRANKLIN, NJ—"Hair," the American Tribal Love Rock Musical, is nearing its fiftieth anniversary, and in that time it has run the gauntlet from shocking and controversial, to mainstream and accepted, and into its current and well-deserved status as a classic period piece.

    Credit must be given to the playwrights and composers for not updating or contemporizing it in the ongoing performances at Franklin's Villagers Theatre, as so many other writers have done trying to “Keep their stage works relevant”.

  • Photo Credit: George Street Playhouse

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Crossroads Theater, never afraid to gamble, has hit a jackpot.

    Written by Gabriellle Denise Pina, "Letters from Zora: In Her Own Words" is a witty, lyrical and clever monologue that has much to say, and says it wonderfully.

    Theater is one of the last remaining mediums of culture where one must listen.

  • Photo Credit: George Street Playhouse

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The George Street Playhouse has a nice habit of bringing current plays to our area just after the fanfare of the debut productions has quieted a bit.

    What the audience gets is an intimate and focused production that brings them in very close.  Outside Mullingar is no exception.

    The George Street Playhouse, located in the center of the city's bustling theatre district, last night presented their take on John Patrick Shanley’s Broadway success.

  • Photo Credit: Middlebush Reformed Church

    FRANKLIN, NJ—Never having seen Godspell in a theater, this reviewer happily finds himself every half decade or so in a church waiting for the most recent update of Stephen Schwartz’s accounting of the first book of the New Testament.

    The current 2012 version includes hip-hop, references to iPhones and a short parody of the Big Bang Theory, and is set in an abandoned New York City house of worship.  Most recently, the popular show played to sell-out crowds at Middlebush Reformed Church in Somerset.

  • Photo Credit: Richard Kowolski

    FRANKLIN, NJ—A major issue when staging an iconic drama, such as the one that takes place at 632 Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans’ Faubourg Marigny, is the ghosts of every past performance, be they film or live can hijack the stage.

    Director Judi Parish and a fine cast of actors exorcised those ghosts and kept them out of Villagers for opening night. Even the well-known “Stella” shout was exclusive to this performance.

  • Photo Credit: Kousik Bhowal

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—After the late August void, the area’s theater season is now in full swing.

    On Saturday September 6, New Brunswick's Crossroads Theatre hosted the 9th annual South Asian Theater Festival.

    Presented in conjunction with Epic Actor’s Workshop, this year’s focus was to bring to light the atrocities committed upon the multitudes of voiceless women of South Asia, and the challenges and conflicts South Asian women face assimilating into American Society and culture.

  • Photo Credit: Plays in the Park

    EDISON, NJ--Between the Korean and Vietnam wars, back when one needed the assistance of an operator to make long distance calls came along a popular play known as "Bye Bye Birdie."

    Apocryphally known by some as the anti-West Side Story, Strouse, Adams and Stewart’s parody about the drafting of Elvis Presley has become much more than that. It has rightfully earned its standing in the American musical theater.

  • Photo Credit: Villagers Theater

    FRANKLIN, NJ—Sometimes things work out in one’s favor, like getting an email from a theater announcing a production after its season had concluded.

    Assuming this was one of Villagers main-stage production, this reviewer and his wife found themselves at the Sunday matinee, pleasantly surprised to find not a main-stage production but rather one mounted by Teensvill, Villagers in-house youth company.

  • Photo Credit: Fearless Productions

    EDISON, NJ—At the Edison Valley Playhouse, Fearless Productions has mounted a production of "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," one of David Mamet’s earlier shock value works.

    The original play concerns itself with four urban 1970's twenty-somethings, but this version has been re-worked in a more contemporary vein and set in present day.

    This version replete with its signature colloquial dialogue and profanity that is far less shocking today than when the play first appeared in the mid-seventies, had a very talented cast.

  • Photo Credit: Center Players of Freehold

    FREEHOLD, NJ—Just because most of the local theaters have finished their 2013-14 season, doesn’t mean there still isn’t quality theatre close to Hub City.

    About a half an hour down Route 18 in Freehold is Center Players.  A jewel box theater with a large following also happens to be one of the best-run non-equity theaters in New Jersey, from a business standpoint.

    Directed by and starring Anthony Greco as Chris Keller, Arthur Miller’s tragedy All My Sons played to a full house.

  • Photo Credit: Plays in the Park

    EDISON, NJ—For decades, theater goers have waited for the return of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s pop operetta redo of Billy Wilder’s classic drama of Hollywood’s underbelly.

    Wrangled in legal ownership issues, cost overruns, a fired Patti LuPone, feuds, and being labeled one of Broadway’s flop hits, Sunset Boulevard’s non-equity rights were not available until recently.

  • Photo Credit: Villagers Theater

    FRANKLIN, NJ—Howard Whitmore, a longtime and valued component of New Jersey’s non-equity theater network has made another strong contribution with his version of Cole Porter’s nautical musical comedy of mistaken identity, lovable Gangsters, drunk Wall Street heavyweights and burgeoning romances.

  • Photo Credit: Villagers Theatre

    FRANKLIN, NJ—With impartiality, playwright Tiffany L. Wilson conveyed to a pleased audience both sides of the issue of gay marriage and its relationship to people of faith.

    "Her Dream My Nightmare," to its credit maintained its dramatic purpose throughout its reading without taking sides or being judgmental from either prospective on this issue.  That makes for clarity and clarity makes for true drama.

  • Photo Credit: George Street Playhouse

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—In January 1938, at a renowned New Jersey theater some twenty miles from The George Street Playhouse, "Our Town" celebrated its first public performance.

    Now, 76 years later,  the play about the people of Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire has been re-worked by another celebrated New Jersey theater, in collaboration with its local community.

  • Photo Credit: Playhouse 22

    EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Johnathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning rocked up reworking of Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème, is being staged at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center by its resident theater company, The East Brunswick Community Players/Playhouse 22.

    Instead of Paris’ Latin Quarter in the 1830s, we find ourselves in Manhattan’s Alphabet City during the AIDS crisis on Christmas Eve in the late 1980’s.

  • Photo Credit: Circle Players

    PISCATAWAY, NJ—It’s cautionary whenever a theater company or a director says they are going to “contemporize the immortal bard.”

    And like the version of Hamlet done at an established professional venue in Princeton some years ago, it usually doesn’t work and is often disastrous.  But there are exceptions and Circle Players' Romeo and Juliet is one of those exceptions.

    Set in a prep school festooned with smart phones and a cast in contemporary garb, this version was truncated just enough in the right places.

  • Photo Credit: Crossroads Theatre

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Theater is not dying.  And venues like New Brunswick’s Tony-Award-winning Crossroads Theater Company deserves credit for keeping it healthy and alive.

    It’s an enormous risk to stage a new work, even one by a celebrated author such as Walter Mosely.  Yet Crossroads consistently without fear of financial hardship or artistic ridicule moves ahead bringing another breath of fresh air to the American Stage.

  • Photo Credit: Villagers Theatre

    FRANKLIN, NJ—The current local theater season isn’t suffering from a lack of dark comedies.

    Villagers Theater made its own contribution to the genre with Billy Van Zant and Jane Milmore’s crowd pleasing Wrong Window.

    Stage and screenwriting partners, Van Zant and Milmore hail from in New Jersey, and are among the most-produced playwriting teams in the world.

  • Photo Credit: Villagers Theatre

    FRANKLIN, NJ--The Villagers Theatre in Somerset continued their series of free plays written by local up-and-coming playwrights on March 17 with a comedic performance that kept a packed house entertained.

    Penned by Mitchell Brodsky of Princeton and directed by Brian Remo, who also stars in the piece, "Buds" is a black comedy concerning two improbable strangers who form a relationship that leads to scheming, secret identities and eventually murder.

    Mitchell Brodsky’s dialogue was natural and flowed smooth though out the reading.

  • Photo Credit: Villagers Theatre

    FRANKLIN, NJ—Villagers Theater in Somerset, one of New Jersey premier non-equity theaters, held the thirteenth installment of its "New Playwrights" reading series last month.

    The series began in summer of 2001 and was the brainchild of Catherine Rowe Pherson, one of NJ Community Theatre’s most noted leading ladies.  The last three installments have been placed in the very capable hands of theater impresario Lluana Jones.

  • Photo Credit: Playhouse 22

    EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ--Unlike their dramatic counterparts that endure the test of time, stage comedies face a dilemma: how to remain fresh and funny decades after they've been written.

    Director Dave McGrath overcomes this with his hilarious interpretation of Ken Ludwig’s "Moon Over Buffalo."

    Upstate New York during the 1950's is where we find married and near washed up actors George and Charlotte Hay, played with wonderful chemistry by Joe Zedeny and Mary Sullivan.

  • Photo Credit: Circle Players

    PISCATAWAY, NJ—Many have been waiting a long time for one of the many community theaters in our area to stage Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize winning metaphoric drama about the near-tragic character Lil’ bit and Circle’s production did not disappoint.

  • Photo Credit: Circle Players

    PISCATAWAY, NJ—Despite its name,  this theater is in the shape of a rectangle.

    This doesn’t leave room for an elaborate set, forcing the audience to absorb both the action and dialogue.

    When done right, these  constraints can make one feels like part of the action. This was the case with Ravenscroft, and Director Alicia Harabin made excellent use of Circle’s confined space.