Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Synergy Spa is proud to sponsor this year's production of A Christmas Story at the PECPA in Downtown Raleigh, December 7-24. Bring in your ticket stub and we will give you a $25 credit to use towards your purchase of any holiday spa gift certificate as our way of thanking you for supporting your local performing arts!
Click here to buy tickets!
(Offer valid through 12/24/10.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

[title of show] Review: mysteriously monikered musical fun


If television can have a big hit show about nothing — why can’t musical theater?

There’s one playing at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. “[title of show]” concerns Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, “two nobodies in New York.” Jeff composes songs that few hear. Hunter writes plays no one sees. But when the two hear that the New York Musical Theatre Festival is looking for new work, they decide to spend their next three weeks writing a show about — writing a show.

“We could put this exact conversation in the show,” Hunter suggests.

“Wait,” Jeff says, trying to understand. “So everything I say from now on could actually be in our show?”

“Yeah,” replies Hunter.

“Like this?” Jeff tests.

“Like this,” Hunter agrees.

And so it goes. Where the application asks for “[title of show],” Jeff and Hunter fill in the space with those exact three bracketed words.

Every quip, observation, complaint and profane word becomes part of their musical.

So do actresses Heidi and Susan. Heidi is held in great esteem because she has – wow! – appeared on Broadway. Susan has less luster because she works in an office.

“[title of show]” is the great-grandson of those Mickey-and-Judy “Let’s put on a show!” movies. This one, however, has a far more realistic take on the jealousy, rivalry and treachery found backstage. And there’s never been a musical with so many inside jokes; indeed, the program includes a two-page glossary. Some frequent theatergoers will pick up the references to “Wicked,” “Into the Woods” and “Rent,” but many will ask, “What are they talking about?”

Bowen and Bell themselves performed the show from its first days in a basement all the way to the 2008 Broadway production. Now they’ve bequeathed their roles to two very winning performers. Insiders will be amused and thrilled to see Seth Rudetsky — the beloved show-tunes deejay on Sirius Radio — portraying Jeff. The irony is that while Rudetsky’s on-air persona is the ultra-fast talker, here he plays (you should pardon the expression) the straight man. Tyler Maynard’s Hunter is the far more flamboyant of the two. But this casting gives Rudetsky the chance to show that he can deliver a full-bodied, finely disciplined and honest performance.

Maynard, whose vocal cords seem to have been dipped in helium, plays flamboyant exceptionally well. Watch him as he pitches his confederates a new idea — that he knows is bad before the sentence is halfway out his mouth. As Susan, Susan Mosher has an expressive face; Al Hirschfeld would have loved to draw her. When singing a song about second-guessing one’s self, she’s first-rate. Lauren Kennedy’s Heidi is equally impressive and provides the show with its greatest drama when there’s talk she may be replaced. Kennedy expertly shows that she’s hurt, but she’ll be steely and strong. She knows the business, and while she’s disappointed, well, that’s life in the theater.

That’s part of [title of show’s] strength. Just as there’s cinema verite, here’s musical theater verite. It offers a reality check for young writers and performers, showing that Irving Berlin lied when he wrote about show business — everything about it is NOT appealing. What is appealing, however, is director Matt Lenz’s top-notch production of “[title of show].”

[title of show]
Where: George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick
When: Through Dec. 12. Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m., Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 and 7 p.m.
How much: $26.50-$63.50. Call (732) 246-7717 or visit

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

REVIEW [title of show] From NJ Arts Maven


posted by Ruth Ross
I’m a sucker for plays about the theater. As a fan, I love the references to other plays and productions, not to mention the inside jokes often included in the script. And if the self-referencing play is a musical comedy, so much the better! You’ve probably guessed that I really liked [title of show], now onstage in a charming production at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick.

[Title Of Show] Music and Lyrics by Jeff Bowen Book by Hunter Bell Directed by Matt Lenz George Street Playhouse  11/16-12/12/10 Set Design by R. Michael Miller Costume Design by Michael McDonald Lighting Design by Philip Rosenberg Projection Design by Michael Clark  © T Charles Erickson photoshelter.com/c/tcharleserickson tcepix@comcast.net
[title of show] involves Jeffrey, a composer, and Hunter, a writer, who decide to write a “play about two guys writing a play about two guys writing a play” for submission to the New York Musical Theater Festival (a real, honest-to-God NYC festival held in September) only three weeks away. Four actors, four chairs and one accompanist is all that it takes to put on this show, but the play’s gestation lasts much longer and is quite difficult. Foremost is the duo’s decision to write an “original” musical, difficult to do because they do not have a film, play or novel upon which to base their efforts. And although the show runs just 100 minutes, the time covered from suggestion to Broadway production covers more than a year of writing, rewriting, facing the demons (here called “vampires”) that stand in the way of success, changing details to attract a wider audience—all the while remaining collaborators and friends.

To help write and perform in [title of show], Hunter and Jeffrey recruit two female friends/actors: Susan, a former actor turned “corporate whore” office manager to pay the rent, and Heidi, an actress whose auditions have only landed her roles in the chorus/ensemble or as second understudy to the understudy. The fact that Jeff and Hunter have never penned a show before doesn’t help matters much either.
[Title Of Show] Music and Lyrics by Jeff Bowen Book by Hunter Bell Directed by Matt Lenz George Street Playhouse  11/16-12/12/10 Set Design by R. Michael Miller Costume Design by Michael McDonald Lighting Design by Philip Rosenberg Projection Design by Michael Clark  © T Charles Erickson photoshelter.com/c/tcharleserickson tcepix@comcast.net

With music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and book by Hunter Bell (yes, the two guys portrayed onstage),[title of show] addresses the creative process: how to write with a pencil on a blank paper when your computer has died (right, Rudetsky and Maynard); the source of one’s inspiration; whether to include a dream sequence so popular in classic musicals; how to fight those thoughts or persons who sabotage your dreams; and how to make the resulting product more palatable for group sales or the little old ladies who come to matinees. All of it delivered with great humor and a bit of self-deprecation. And Matt Lenz’s direction is never fussy—or even evident—so smoothly does one scene flow into another. He’s come up with some nifty and agile choreography too.

Seth Rudetsky and Tyler Maynard are terrific as Jeff and Hunter, respectively. Rudetsky’s website designer Jeff is a grammar freak, a composer who balks at changing even a minor detail to satisfy producers who might be interested taking the show to Broadway. Maynard’s Hunter is a “porncastinator,” a television fiend who would rather watch the new season of The Bachelor or the film Doc Hollywood (which runs ad nauseum on TBS) than sit down and write. But he also wants the fame and notice from having a show on the Great White Way, so he is forced to sit down and confront the blank legal pad to write “An Original Musical.”

[Title of Show] GSP 321
Susan Mosher as Susan and Lauren Kennedy as Heidi (left, with Mosher, Rudetsky and Maynard) are delicious as the two actors, originally strangers, who forge a sisterly bond throughout the process. Mosher is especially fine leading the others in “Die Vampire, Die” in which they confront their inner demons, and Kennedy reminds them (and the audience) of what life was like as they attempt to find “A Way Back to Then.” Finally, the duet between the two women as “Secondary Characters” is sweet and true. Jesse Vargas, who plays Larry the pianist, provides first-rate accompaniment and even gets a few words of dialogue in edge-wise.

Sound production values, something Jeff and Hunter worry about, abound in this production. R. Michael Miller’s set might not look very elaborate, but along with the projection design by Michael Clark, a bare rehearsal hall turns into a myriad of locations. Philip Rosenberg’s lighting and Michael McDonald’s basic but evocative costumes complete this fine production.

You’re probably wondering about the play’s title, [title of show]; well, I won’t spoil your delight at finding out what it means. Theatergoers have seen a spate of plays about the theater this season, A.R. Gurney’s The Fourth Wall, Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound and the more recent Moonlight and Magnolias, which is about writing the script for Gone with the Wind in five days.[title of show] is a worthy and delicious addition to the genre. If you love musicals and wonder how the original ones came into being, [title of show] will lift the curtain and give you a peek at how it’s done. These guys may not be Rogers and Hammerstein or Jerry Herman and Stephen Sondheim, but their “play about two guys writing a play about two guys writing…” will make you laugh and appreciate what goes into writing a Broadway hit.

Note: some of the language in the show—mostly common four-letter words used primarily for emphasis or punctuation—might offend theatergoers, especially those of a certain age. But as one character puts it, “Those little old ladies who come to matinees have seen it all—death, divorce, you name it—so they won’t be offended.” I agree.

[title of show] will be performed Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 PM (no performance Thanksgiving, November 26) and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 PM and 7 PM through December 12. A Buy One Get One Free offer is available for November 21 at 7 PM; November 23, 24 and 26 at 8 PM; and November 24 at 2 PM. Use THANKSGIV as the code when ordering online. The George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick. Parking is available in the parking garage behind the theater on Kirkpatrick Street ($5 flat fee). For information and tickets call 732.246.7717 or visit GSPonline.org.
Photos by T. Charles Erickson.

REVIEW (title of show) at George Street Playhouse a laugh riot

(title of show) at George Street Playhouse a laugh riot



If Tyler Maynard had one more ounce of talent, he might explode.

Put him in the Jeff Bowen/Hunter Bell musical "[title of show]" with an ensemble that includes the equally versatil

Seth Rudetsky, and you've got fireworks onstage.

That's what's happening at George Street Playhouse, where Maynard and Rudetsky are performing the unique and popular musical along with Susan Mosher, Lauren Kennedy and pianist/conductor Jesse Vargas.

"[title of show]" was launched in 2004 when Bowen and Bell submitted the script and a demo recording to the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Bell had written the book and Bowen the songs in about three weeks.

They were determined to write something original; as they wrestled with the challenge they had taken on, they decided that what they were going through to write the show would make just as good a script as anything else they could write. Hence, "a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical."

The festival accepted the play, which was later performed both off and onBroadway — with Jeff and Hunter playing themselves.

As the play itself relates, that didn't happen without some soul searching about the clash between the commitment to being original and the perceived expectations of commercial backers and audiences.

Jeff and Hunter set out to show with this project that a successful musical play was possible with only "four chairs and a keyboard," a point which Jeff stubbornly defends when Hunter talks of compromises in order to get "my show" to Broadway.

We see at George Street how right they were in the first place, with Maynard as Hunter, Rudetsky as Jeff, Mosher and Kennedy as Susan and Heidi — performers who signed on to "[title of show]" at the start — and Vargas at the onstage piano.

There's more to it now than four chairs and a keyboard. R. Michael Miller's set is appropriately spare, leaving plenty of space for the wittychoreography carried out under Matt Lenz's direction.

Meanwhile, changes in time, locale, mood and theme are established through an imaginative series of rear projections by Michael Clark — from a parade of playbills from past Broadway turkeys to a swarm of bats to accompany "Die, Vampire, Die," a song in which Susan leads her colleagues in confronting the insecurities and doubts that can plague creative people.

Maynard's performance is a breathtaking display that combines sharp comic timing, a thrilling singing voice, fluid movement, and a magnetic personality. His campy turn as the pseudo-character Blank Paper, reminding Jeff of both the benefits and hazards of starting from scratch, is side-splitting funny.

Rudetsky is equally as effective as a website designer who compulsively corrects his friend's grammar. A man with multimedia entertainment experience, Rudetsky makes the often complicated dialogue and stage business seem natural. He delivers his share of this show's many crackling lyrics with wit and bombast worthy of a man who happens to be an authority on Broadway songs.

Susan Mosher as an office manager who had given up on a stage career, and Lauren Kennedy as a competent actress who hasn't gotten past understudy status are both full of sass and energy to go along with their considerable dramatic and musical powers. Kennedy makes the most one of the more touching moments in the program — the song "A Way Back to Then" in which Heidi recalls the dreams she had as a little girl.

'[title of show]" has a special appeal to theater junkies, and some in the audience might find some of the references and gags obscure. That might not matter much, though, because this show, in its unusual premise, its satirical and bawdy material, and its dynamic execution on the George Street stage is simply a riot.

Award-winning "[title of show]" opens at The George Street Playhouse

Award-winning "[title of show]" opens at The George Street Playhouse

The OBIE award-winning musical comedy, "[title of show]", yes, that's the show's title, opened this week at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. It is a light, charming, contemporary back-stage musical comedy loaded with clever, funny lines and physical comedy. Anyone who is a hardcore fan of theater, student or aspiring thespian will particularly enjoy this glimpse of back-stage life and the creative writing process.

The four marvelous performers take us on a joy ride as we witness their efforts to create a musical in three weeks and how their relationships are changed. The story? It is about two struggling writers, Jeff and Hunter, who make a commitment to write something new in three weeks for a festival, however they quickly find that writing a musical comedy about the process of writing is more interesting than anything else they could write. Where did the title come from? Since the boys want to enter the competition, but don't have a clue about a subject they simply entered on the 'title of show' line of the application form........[title of show].

The four terrific actors are Seth Rudetsky, as Jeff; Tyler Maynard, who's excellent physical comedy is reminiscent of Pee Wee Herman and Jerry Lewis, is Hunter; the two lady friends (not girlfriends) of the collaborators areLauren Kennedy as Heidi, an actress/dancer waiting for her big break, and Susan Mosher who plays Susan, who works by day 'at a real job,' while seeking her break.

Note that [title of show] clearly is not descended from the musical world of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Fans of the more traditional musical may have difficulty relating to this production, however to help in understanding many of the terms and references... the program contains a 'must-read' glossary of terms e.g. "The O'Neill Center"- a

Connecticut-based summer camp for grown-up theatre nerds Hunter may say, "I made out hard with that dude at The O'Neil Center.")

Creating the world of [title of show] is director Matt Lentz (Hairspray at the Paper Mill Playhouse); Jeff Bowen, music and lyrics; Hunter Bell, the book; scenic designer R. Michael Miller; costume designer Michael MacDonald; lighting designer Phillip Rosenberg; sound designer , Walter Trarbach; projection designer Michael Clarke. The use of rear screen projection is very effective.

Bottom line: The show is a fascinating look behind the scenes of the creative process. While you may not come away humming any of the15 tunes, they are fun to hear and sung by excellent voices. [title of show] is probably best enjoyed by a young adult, or a young at heart, hip audience.

Will the [title of show] be selected for the Festival? Will it succeed? Go to Broadway? To find out..contact theGeorge Street Playhouse Box Office, 732-246-7717 or online at www.GSPonline.org. Tickets begin at $25.

Performances run to Sunday, December 12, 2010. The George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, New Jersey just steps from public transportation, convenient parking and some of the area’s finest restaurants for every taste and budget. The theatre seating is of the excellent stadium variety.

Raleigh Winterfest Kicks off December 4th; A Christmas Story to open December 7th

Raleigh Winterfest 2010 kicks off on December 4th with A Christmas Story to open on December 7th at the Fletcher Theater in the Progress Energy Center.

Broadway Series South in association with Hot Summer Nights present the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Story, December 7 – 24, 2010 in A.J. Fletcher Theater at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts; General Managed by North Carolina Theatre. Tickets are on sale now!! The presenting sponsor of this production is Barton College.

Written by Jean Shepherd and adapted by Philip Grecian, A Christmas Story follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher and even Santa Claus himself, at Goldblatt’s Department Store. The consistent response: “You’ll shoot your eye out.” All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the family’s temperamental exploding furnace; Scut Farkas, the school bully; the wet tongue on a cold lamppost experiment; the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin; Ralphie’s father winning a lamp shaped like a woman’s leg in a fishnet stocking and much, much more. This beloved holiday movie seen by millions is destined to become a theatrical holiday perennial here in the Triangle for years to come!


A Christmas Story will play A.J. Fletcher Theater December 7 – 24. Show times are Tuesday – Friday, 7p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 2 & 7p.m. Tickets will range from $26 - $46 and are on sale at the Progress Energy Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations. Purchase by phone at 1-800-982-ARTS. Tickets for groups of 10 or more, please call (919) 857.4565 for group information.

For more information log on to www.broadwayseriessouth.com, www.nctheatre.com orwww.hotsummernightatthekennedy.org.


Barton College is located in Wilson, North Carolina, Barton College is an academic community of approximately 1,130 students and 200 faculty and staff. Nationally recognized for its programs in education, deaf education, nursing and social work, its championship men's athletics teams, and most recently, its outstanding contributions to theatre and the performing arts of the region, the school maintains a close-knit atmosphere and emphasizes individual attention and engaged learning. Their 65- acre campus is home to Barton Bulldogs varsity athletics and boasts five residence halls, the W.N.Hackney Library, the Kennedy Recreation & Intramural Center, the new Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre, and many other state-of-the-art facilities. President Norval Kneten expressed "Barton College is committed to supporting the performing arts in this region and we're proud to sponsor this outstanding production that will launch an exciting new holiday tradition for the community!"

“Play by Philip Grecian, based upon A Christmas Story, ©1983 Turner Entertainment Co., distributed by Warner Bros., written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark and In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lauren Kennedy to open [title of show] at George Street Playhouse on November 16!!!

Lauren Kennedy to open [title of show] at George Street Playhouse on November 16!!!

Musical comedy [title of show] next at George Street Playhouse

Rick Busciglio
Northern New Jersey Theater Examiner

George Street Playhouse's David Saint, Artistic Director, is set to premiere the theatre's second production of its 2010-11 season, OBIE award-winning musical comedy, [title of show] Tuesday November 16, 2010.

Musical theatre maven, musical director (he recently collaborated with Betty Buckley in a series of concerts), author and host of “Seth’s Big, Fat Broadway” on Sirius/XM radio Seth Rudetsky, will play the role of Jeff. Joining him in the role of Hunter, is Tyler Maynard from Altar Boyz, Broadway’s The Little Mermaid and the new off-Broadway musical The Kid. Lauren Kennedy, from Broadway’s Spamalot, Sunset Boulevard and Side Show, and Susan Mosher seen on Broadway in Hairspray and on television in a recurring role on The L Word, play two friends of the collaborators. Matt Lenz , who recently directed the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Hairspray, and also served as the Broadway production’s Associate Director, will helm[title of show]. Jesse Vargas will music direct and play the role of Larry, the music director.

“I am so thrilled to welcome this extraordinary group of artists, including my old friend Seth Rudetsky. As this season has come together, a theme has emerged common to all five plays: the importance of discovering one’s true self and what one truly desires as opposed to what the world tells us we should want,” said Artistic David Saint. “The other prevalent theme in [title of show] is relationships and how they evolve as life happens. The truly remarkable thing about this musical is how these very profound ideas are conveyed, and the show is truly hilarious and touching. This is a perfect show for our audiences.”

Creating the world of [title of show] are scenic designer R. Michael Miller; costume designerMichael MacDonald; lighting designerPhillip Rosenberg; sound designer, Walter Trarbach and projection designer Michael Clarke.

[title of show] is a musical comedy for anyone who has followed a dream. When two struggling writers, Jeff and Hunter, make a commitment to write something new in three weeks, they quickly find that writing a comedy about the process of writing is more interesting than anything else they could write. A show about four friends taking risks, creating art, killing Vampires (the dream-destroying kind, not the Dracula kind) – and how relationships change when life happens.

Tickets beginning at $25 as well as various flexible subscription packages are available. Performances run from Tuesday, November 16 to Sunday, December 12 and Opening Night set for Friday, November 19. To purchase, or for further information, contact the George Street Playhouse Box Office, 732-246-7717 or shop online at www.GSPonline.org. Groups of 10 or more are entitled to a discount; for further information contact the GSP Group Sales Department at 732-846-2895, ext.134.

George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick NJ, just steps away from public transportation and some of the area’s finest restaurants for every taste and budget. Ample parking is available, including on-street parking.

(left) Candid moment with cast members
during rehearsal.
(right) The fabulous Tyler Maynard
Photos : Lauren Kennedy