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Review: Chatham Players' Annual ‘Jersey Voices One-Act Festival’ Program B

As we stated in our review of Program A last week, a highlight of the summer community theatre season for the past 20 years has been the Chatham Community Players' annual "Jersey Voices One-Act Festival."

Scene from Jersey Voices 2014
Howard Fisher

This year, the 20th season, they presented 12 one-act plays selected from the 112 original plays they have presented over the past 19 seasons. This impressive production included ten original short plays written by New Jersey playwrights as well as two original dance pieces. The plays were presented in repertory style in the comfortable black box theater in the Chatham Playhouse.

The schedule the first weekend was Friday Program A, Saturday Program B, and Sunday Program A. The second week (last weekend) it was Friday Program B, Saturday Program A, and Sunday Program B. The themes ran from broad comedy to heart tugging drama to the challenges of love (and marriage!).

As with our two prior "Festival" experiences, the play selection, staging and performances were impressive. The playwrights this year were: Eric Alter, Ian August, Frank Brimonte, Desiree Caro & Anthony Rubolotta, John P. Dowgin, Donald Earle Howes, William C. Kovasik, Amanda Mayer, Henry Meyerson, Margaret Ruvoldt, Mary Jane Walsh and Grace Wessbecher.

The six directors were: Arnold J. Buchiane, Joann Lopresti Scanlon, Stephen Catron, Marybelle Cowan-Lincoln, Donald Earle Howes, and Jon DeAngelis. Each director was responsible for their own casting.

The Jersey Voices One-Act Festival was a delightful, enjoyable evening of theater. The entire event is another example of the marvelous acting, directing, and oh yes...writing talent we have in the Garden State. Congratulations to the Chatham Players and in particular Producer Bob Denmark and Artistic Director Bob Lukasik.

The six programs were as follows:

​​Ping by Mary Jane Walsh

A one-woman play that depicts, in a riveting fashion, a mother's unwavering love for her grown child. This production featured Teri Sturtevant. Directed by Arnold J. Buchiane. Teri Sturtevant won the 2012 ‘Best Actress’ Perry Award for this role. She is not only a marvelous comedy actress, but in Ping wins our hearts with this showstopping dramatic performance. Much credit should also go to director Buchiane, and playwright Mary Jane Walsh. There wasn’t a dry eye in the theater. The play and Teri can best be described with one word…”WOW.”

Ties by Eric Alter

A father and son cannot communicate with or accept each other until forgiveness for either of them weighs too heavily. This production featured Frederick Gallo, Matthew Cronin and Michael King. Directed by Jon DeAngelis.

Michael King delivered another powerful performance as the dying father who seeks the forgiveness of his gay son Andrew, well played by Matthew Cronin.

Tech Support by Henry Meyerson

A tongue-in-cheek look at what we suspect is really happening when we call the Tech Helpdesk. This production featured Liz Royce and Kristin Bennett. Directed by Maybelle Cowan-Lincoln. Very funny skit of extremely frustrated woman who simply wants to have her home phone repaired. Unfortunately, she deals with the support woman from Hell. Liz Royce and Kristin Bennett are both wonderful. Bennett (above right) displays a great talent for accents. She clearly was having a ball with this hilarious part.

Couples Therapy by Amanda Mayer

What goes on when a wife drags her husband to a marriage counselor? This production featured the perfectly teamed Colleen Grundfest and Lewis Decker. Directed by Steve Catron. Hilarious is the word that best applies to this piece perfectly directed by Steve Catron.

The Fruppum, Alabama, Chamber of Commerce by John Dowgin

Two old codgers run gas stations across the street from each other since forever. One talks a blue streak, the other mumbles answers. One thinks they are identical copies of each other, the other knows different. When modern life enters the differences begin to show and the quiet one wins the day. This production featured Jim Clancy, Kevern Cameron and Chip Prestera. Directed nicely by Jersey Voices vet Joann Lopresti Scanlon. Funny, funny tale of two gas station owners…Kevern Cameron is Rufus who sees no reason to sell anything other than gas and Jim Clancy as Zeke who quietly has embraced 21st Century marketing even to selling Evian bottled water. A big Chatham favorite, Chip Prestera has fun as three very different motorists. Prestera is the go to guy for comedy at the Chatham Playhouse.

Executive Dreams written by Don Howes

This is what happens when inattention meets imagination in this rocking dance piece. This production features Rachel Fikslin, Kimberly Jackson, Michael Efron, Melissa Kaplan and Gabriel Malo. Written, directed and choreographed by Don Howes. Business man has erotic daydream about three attractive women who are making a sales pitch. Includes sensual dance and a gorilla! Pleasant piece that seems a bit out of place in this Jersey Voices arena.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio August 3, 2014

Photos by Howard Fisher

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