Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Everything you wanted to Know about David Saint, but were afraid to ask!

Ok, well maybe not EVERYTHING, but here's a great feature appearing in NJ Monthly next month on our Artistic Director, David Saint

The Saint of George Street

George Street Playhouse artistic director David Saint's innovative vision has helped the venue become one of the most popular in the state.

Posted December 14, 2009 by Linda Fowler

David Saint is the artistic director of The George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick.
David Saint is the artistic director of The George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick.
Photo by Frank Wojciechowski.

When David Saint’s long-ago ancestor, a sea captain from Wales, splintered his ship off the coast of Cape Cod, he must have reckoned it a sign. As the story goes, he built a house to replace the ship—on what eventually became Saint’s Landing Beach in Brewster, Massachusetts, a mill town—and it was in that same house that Saint’s grandfather and father were born.

Generations later, the same wanderlust infected David Saint, who was a journeyman stage director helming productions in 36 states. A dozen years ago, he was poised to direct the TV series Just Shoot Me when the call came from George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick: Would he come aboard as artistic director? He set a course for New Jersey—coincidentally, Milltown—where he’s been ever since.

The theatrical profession is often associated with ragged old steamer trunks, but Saint thinks of his 375-seat space as a designer handbag. Because of its intimacy, proximity to Manhattan, and solid reputation among actors, it has become a draw for top-tier playwrights and directors who often prefer the spotlight on their work rather than the spectacle of Broadway.

Under Saint’s stewardship, the 36-year-old theater has developed a niche for new chamber musicals and provocative plays. In the past decade, the musicals The Toxic Avenger and The Spitfire Grill had their world premieres under Saint’s watch before moving to the off-Broadway stage. David Auburn’s Proof was unveiled at George Street’s 1999 Next Stage Series for fledgling playwrights, then swept up three Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize during its subsequent off-Broadway and Broadway runs; it returned to George Street for a full staging in 2003.

As artistic director, the 46-year-old Saint likens himself to a nutritionist planning a balanced diet each season for his audiences: comedies for appetizers, dramas for the main course, and musicals as frothy desserts.

Next up for George Street is “a light soufflĂ©”: Barry Wyner’s new musical Calvin Berger, a modern take on the classic romance Cyrano de Bergerac, set in a high school. A-lister Kathleen Marshall is signed to choreograph and direct. Over the summer, Saint will turn his attention to rehearsing George Street’s production of Sylvia with Rachel Dratch. He’ll also be auditioning and rehearsing actors as director of the upcoming national tour of Broadway’s West Side Story. Saint is the New York production’s associate director under Arthur Laurents, his longtime mentor.

Saint, a former divinity school student who was attracted by mysticism of the theatrical kind, is amused by theater fans who feel compelled to travel to Manhattan. “It always kills me when people call me: ‘Can you get me a ticket to Toxic Avenger in New York, can you get me a ticket to Proof in New York?’ I say, ‘Yeah, but it’s going to cost you a lot more. Why didn’t you see it here for less?’”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vote Now and Make a Difference!

Two great campaigns are going on right now, and your vote in both can make a difference to George Street Playhouse.

First - Chase Bank is giving away $5,000,000 and allowing Facebook users to vote for their favorite charities. Yes, plural. Each user gets 20 votes, so you can certainly vote for all the causes you care about. Each lucky charity will win $25,000.

It takes seconds to do, and is very simple if you are a Facebook user. (While you're at it, become a Fan of GSP on Facebook!)

The second campaign is the JerseyArts.com People's Choice Awards. George Street Playhouse is nominated in two categories. Best Professional Theatre and Arts/Theatre Classes. Please vote for us and for New Brunswick as "Favorite Downtown Arts District". We also encourage you to vote for the State Theatre and Zimmerli Museum in their respective categories!

You can only vote once, so please support us and help spread the word!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jane Alexander discusses Frieda Lawrence and other roles

The following is a preview of Jane Alexander's interview in the Princeton Packet.

Ms. Alexander discusses the genesis of A Moon To Dance By which is officially opens this Friday!

A Little Moonlight
by Anthony Stoeckert

For Jane Alexander, 2009 has been a year spent on stage. The Tony- and Emmy-winning actress has performed in plays in Pittsburgh, New York and Connecticut, collaborating with writers like David Hare and actors like Stockard Channing.

It’s a contrast to 2008, when she worked exclusively in television and film (including a role in the latest Terminator flick). Still, she’s comfortable acting in different plays on different stages.

”I’ve been a regional theater actress from the very beginning,” she says before a day’s rehearsal at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. “In fact, when I first went to New York, I would say, ‘I want to do the classics, and the only place I can do the classics is in what’s called regional theater.’”

These days she’s acting in new plays like Thom Thomas’ A Moon to Dance By, which delves into four days Frieda Lawrence spent with the son she left in order to marry the writer D.H. Lawrence. Ms. Alexander played the part in Pittsburgh earlier this year with the same creative team that has brought it to George Street through Dec. 13.

The real-life Frieda was a German-born woman who married Ernest Weekly, a professor embedded in proper British society. In 1912, she ran off with one of her husband’s students, D.H. Lawrence. As Mr. Thomas writes in notes about the play, Victorian conventions were smothering, especially to women. But Frieda flaunted her affair and encouraged fellow unsatisfied housewives to follow her lead.

”Frieda was described, even at the time she was a little girl, as bold, impudent,” Ms. Alexander says before sharing a story about Frieda and Ernest’s honeymoon night. Prior to that night, physical contact between the two had been limited to a peck on the cheek. ”On the wedding night he went out of the room while she got herself ready,” Ms. Alexander says. “She climbed on top of the wardrobe in her camisole and panties — on top of the wardrobe like a little elf waiting for him to come in!”

To understand Frieda, Ms. Alexander considered how she grew up in Germany in the 19th century, where a sort of free love movement was going on. ”Frieda kind of grew up in that atmosphere, even though she was not part of the group, it was in the air in Germany,” she says. “So when she went to a very conservative English town of Nottingham with this husband who was probably a lovely guy but very straight-laced, I think she chaffed all the time. And when she met this man... David Herbert Lawrence, she just fell for him.” Frieda paid a price for her choice, losing her relationship with her son, Monty, who was 12 years old when she left England to live with Lawrence in America. She maintained relationships with her two daughters, but Monty, according to the playwright’s notes, grew to despise her. In July of 1939, nine years after D.H.’s death, Monty visited his mother at the New Mexico ranch she lived on with her younger lover, Angelo Ravagli. ”Thom Thomas just came across this fact, which was that Monty Weekly had visited his mother after a long estrangement for four days,” Ms. Alexander says of the play’s creation. “He came all the way from England for four days, to New Mexico.” Little is known about the visit other than the fact that it happened. No record was made as to what happened during the brief reunion. But Mr. Thomas read through letters between Monty and his mother written after the visit. “In trying to sense the unspoken feelings between the lines, I feel I have resolved some of these unanswered questions,” he writes. Co-starring in the play with Ms. Alexander are Robert Cuccioli (whose Broadway credits include the title roles in Jekyll & Hyde) as Angelo and Gareth Saxe as Monty. Directing is Edwin Sherin, who also helmed the play in Pittsburgh.

”We were really astonished at the response of the audience,” she says. “We thought we had a good play, but in Pittsburgh... we were sold out by the last two weeks, totally sold out. Word of mouth was incredible, the reviews were great, and the audiences responded so emotionally. And there are a lot of laughs, so it’s a great time in the theater I think.”

Friday, October 9, 2009

Alison Fraser Comes Back, Comes Back

Alison recently spoke to Playbill.com about her return to George Street Playhouse and had such nice things to say about her experience working here, we're happy to share it. Alison Fraser, who recently brought much warmth and humor to the role of stripper Tessie Tura in the Patti LuPone revival of Gypsy, is that rare theatrical creature who moves easily between musical comedy and drama. Although her Broadway outings have mostly been in musicals — including Tony-nominated turns in Romance/Romance and The Secret Garden — her work at regional theatres around the country has included many dramatic turns. Luckily, audiences now have the pleasure of catching both the actress and the singer in the George Street Playhouse's production of Arthur Laurents' Come Back, Come Back, Wherever You Are, which is playing a limited engagement at the New Jersey venue through Nov. 1. The world premiere, which also features Tony Award winner Shirley Knight, casts Fraser as a nightclub singer coping with the loss of her husband and allows the gifted artist the chance to wrap her voice around a few standards. Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with Fraser about her newest role, her return to the classroom and her plans for the future; that interview follows.

Question: How did this role in Come Back, Come Back, Wherever You Are come about?
Alison Fraser: You know, it was amazing. I was on the Cape, and I was busy feeling sorry for myself, thinking, "Ah well, that was it. That was my career. I'll never get another job again." [Laughs.] And, [George Street Playhouse artistic director] David Saint called me and said that a role had become available in Arthur Laurents' new piece and would I like to have at it? I'm like, "Oh, my God!" Sometimes, ever so wonderfully, there is spring. All of a sudden I had this beautiful artistic opportunity ahead of me working with basically my favorite people in show business. I love the George Street Playhouse. I definitely regard it as my artistic home, and I'm crazy about David Saint. And, of course, Arthur is a huge influence on me in my life and in my career.

Question: I know you worked with Laurents in Gypsy. Had you worked with him before that?
Fraser: No, Gypsy was the first time. We had known each other before that, though, because he is very good friends with David Saint. He had come to see me, I believe, in Gunmetal Blues, the last show I did at the George Street Playhouse a few years ago. He came to see me, and we started having dinner together and one day he said, "Would you like to be my Tessie Tura?" You don't really think twice about that. You go, "Well this is a show that's out there somewhere in the ether," little realizing that this is Arthur Laurents, and he gets things done! So lo and behold I got the call for the show, and we were blessed enough to turn it into a Broadway run, and I got to work with Patti LuPone, Boyd Gaines, Laura Benanti.

Question: Looking back on the Gypsy experience, does anything stand out in your mind?
Fraser: Well, Patti's a goddess. Her work ethic is absolutely superb. She absolutely raised the bar for everybody in that company. Watching the two of them, Arthur and Patti, work together was a great joy. You just saw these amazing minds melding and coming up with fabulous fireworks in the theatre. And watching Laura and Boyd… everybody was good. I'm working with Jim Bracchitta again, and Jim was in [Gypsy], too. And, I think the first time we were in the Broadway theatre looking around and hearing for how many kids it was their first Broadway experience. Oddly enough, it was Bill Raymond's first Broadway experience, too, and of course he's been a stalwart on the Off-Broadway scene for years with Mabou Mines, and he's big on TV and movies, but it was his Broadway debut. So it was thrilling to see how many indelible memories Arthur gave to me with this wonderful crew of singer/dancer/actors.

Fraser: Obviously, it's much more concentrated. My part is very large — I'm in every scene but one. In Gypsy you just have that fabulous 20-minute chunk and the rest of the time Marilyn Caskey and I would be reading "The Aeneid" out loud to each other in the dressing room. I don't know if you know this, but I go to Fordham University. I was having trouble concentrating backstage. I think I was taking a classics course, and I was having trouble reading "The Iliad." And then my sister Laurie, who basically knows everything, said, "Try reading it out loud." And I said, "Okay great." So I started reading it very, very softly to myself in the dressing room, and Marilyn said, "Let's just read it to each other." It was like the Aging Strippers Reading Club. [Laughs.] We wound up going through about 15 books in the year that we were on Broadway. We did "Anna Karenina," "Tale of Two Cities," "Great Expectations," we did "The Iliad," "The Odyssey," "The Aeneid," "Jason and the Search of the Golden Fleece." It was really astonishing how much literature you can get through if you have an houreveryday. The point is I wasn't needed onstage a hell of a lot. What was there was choice, as Spencer Tracy said to Katharine Hepburn, but [it was] sparse.

This show I'm much more in demand as far as my time is concerned. I have very little downtime. And the downtime that I have is spent changing, because I have fabulous clothes! . . . It's also a very deep subject. It's about loss and life after loss and what you need to maintain a meaningful existence when the most important thing in your life has been taken away from you, and admitting to yourself that you do need human contact and you need help getting through devastating emotional loss. Both Arthur and I, of course, went through that. And Shirley, too, Shirley Knight — goddess! I can't believe I'm actually working with her. She's been like my favorite actress since — I think Kennedy's Children was the second Broadway show I ever saw in New York. When David [Saint] told me who I was working with I was like, "You're kidding! You are kidding!" She always has been one of my favorites, probably my favorite. She's just so smart and so lovely. She's really the Patti of this piece. She really raises the bar, and it's thrilling to be a witness to that clockwork mind. It's amazing. It's like, "Wow, that woman is really thinking about what she's doing."

Question: How have rehearsals been going so far?
Fraser: It's a joy. You wouldn't think it would be a joy to get on a train and go out to New Jersey, not that New Jersey isn't a lovely state! [Laughs.] But I so look forward to work everyday. What is more blessed than that? I love my job, and already I'm experiencing pangs of regret that it's going to be over. It's like having this fabulous love affair. It can't last, and it's like, "Damn!" This is the horrible part of the ephemeral nature of theatre. Every show closes, except Phantom of the Opera and, I guess, The Mousetrap? But most theatre does [close] and already I'm going, "Oh, my God, I'm going to be so sad when this isn't a part of my everyday experience." I really love it. I just think it's a beautiful play, perfectly cast. Leslie Lyles and John Carter, man. Oh, my God, he's just great. It's also so wonderful sitting and watching, say, John Carter, who is an older gentleman, and Shirley, who has been around awhile, and, of course, Arthur, who is 92… You sit around and you think, "Wow, this is where I want to be when I am their age. I want to be productive and excited to have new experiences and to bring my experience to the table but to be completely open to new experiences." I'm sitting at this table listening to Arthur and Shirley talking . . . and then John, who famously worked with Edward Albee. I feel so privileged to be listening to them. I want to learn as much as I can from them. I want their essence to rub off on me somehow. Each one of the three of them — they are very wise and people with huge hearts.

Question: Tell me a little bit more about Sara, the character you're playing.
Fraser: Sara is a singer. She's quite a successful cabaret singer. She had a wonderful marriage to an extraordinary man, and he died of cancer. Of course, it's very similar to my life. I was married to a marvelous man [composer Rusty Magee], who died of cancer. She is just coming out of that shell period where, like a turtle, you've retreated to your shell. She's poking her head out of that shell and going, "How am I going to live the rest of my life?" She really has to come to terms with not only herself but also her family and a new love or maybe I should call it a "new like." Jim Bracchitta plays my love interest, and of course that's lots of fun because he's been a friend for years and years and years. I think that some people might be shocked by some of the wisdom that is imparted in this play. People do move on. People do have sexual urges despite having had an incredible marriage. Oddly enough, the bereaved can be censured for those natural urges. It was quite shocking to me, after Rusty died, when I started dating again. I was looked askance on. It was like, "Oh, really? Walk a mile in my shoes! After three years of cancer, you definitely need a few good days."

Question: How difficult is it reliving your experience through the character?
Fraser: Every once in awhile it really hits me because Arthur's way with words is so pointed, so focused. And, Arthur knows my story. My story is similar to Arthur's. The great loves of our lives had the same cancer doctor. They were in the same neurology unit at Sloan-Kettering. We can swap war stories. I think, for the most part, I can be objective. Also, it's so intensely Arthur's story, of course filtered through these lovely fictional characters. I have to say I think that the Rusty experience only deepens it. I don't think it makes it harder. Read more here

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shirley Knight Interview in the Home News Tribune

Shirley Knight brings spontaneity to stage

by Charles Paolino, October 4, 2009

Shirley Knight is in the cast of Arthur Laurents' new play, but she will not give a single performance.

The actress — a Tony and Emmy winner and an Oscar nominee — will appear at George Street Playhouse in Laurents' drama "Come Back, Come Back, Wherever You Are."

She will create the role of Marion, a psychological therapist who — along with the other four characters in the play — is trying to cope with the implications of the death of her charismatic son, Paolo.

The others are Sara, a professional singer — played by Alison Fraser — who was married to Paolo for 27 years; Richard — played by John Carter — who was Paolo's father; Michelle — played by Leslie Lyles — Paolo's disaffected sister; and Dougal — played by Jim Bracchitta — who competes with Paolo's lingering influence as he courts Sara.

Laurents, 92, who will direct this production, has woven into the play both the kind of introspective and unblinking discourse that has characterized most of his works and an underlying conviction that love is the most important factor in a human life.

The playwright, who has recently directed the Broadway revival of "West Side Story," for which he wrote the book, has introduced several plays and dozens of new characters on the George Street stage.

As Shirley Knight gives life to one of his newest characters, she said, she will approach the opportunity with a mindset that is necessary if Marion is to be spontaneous and, therefore, credible.

"I never give a performance," the 73-year-old actress said. "Each night, I have another rehearsal. And that is essential because if you just do a rerun of what you did the night before or the week before or on opening night, it would be unbelievably boring."

When she appears onstage at any time during the run of this play, Knight said, she won't be acting Marion so much as she will be Marion. And that will mean that she won't anticipate what will occur, no matter how many times she has heard it.

"There really is only one pure state of acting," she said, "and that's that you don't know what you're going to say, you don't know what you're going to do. You don't know what the other person is going to say or do. You don't know where the play is going. You have to do a play as if you haven't read the play.

"Now, of course, you have read the play — but you cannot be in that state of knowing. You have to be in the state of going absolutely from moment to moment."

Read the complete interview here!

Alison Fraser and Shirley Knight photo by T. Charles Erickson

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mail Bag: Letters to David Saint

One thing we love at George Street Playhouse is when hear from our audience. It's part of what makes theatre a two way conversation and partly why this blog exists! After every preview of a show, we host talk backs with the creative team of the production, moderated by David Saint, our Artistic Director. We have a very vocal audience and I thought it would be great to share a recent letter from David Saint's desk:

"I would like to express my appreciation for your outstanding production of The Toxic Avenger, which perhaps was one of the best and most entertaining shows ever featured at the George Street Playhouse, regardless of genre. Not only were the book, music and lyrics unbelievable, the casting and performances were superb as well. If ever there was a production that embodied excellence in every way (and deserves an encore) it was The Toxic Avenger, which was simply a brilliant and totally satisfying piece of theatre.

The other show I saw and enjoyed was the world premiere of Arthur Laurents' New Year's Eve, with Marlo Thomas and Keith Carradine heading up a solid cast. Mr. Laurents' keen unblinking eye for irony and the maturity and depth of his observations of the human condition made the play extremely successful both as an entertainment and cause for reflection.

Thanks to you, George Street audiences are now being challenged as well as entertained! Which means that the product is alive, vibrant, engaging and (most importantly) thoroughly entertaining. And that is about as good it gets!

M.A. Smith"
Got a thought on your mind? We'd love to hear from you. Feel free to post it on the blog and we will try to respond as quickly as possible. Hope to see you at the theatre.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Starting the Season and Making a Splash

We're deep into rehearsals for Come Back, Come Back Wherever You Are and are working on some exciting projects to promote the show. While it would be predictable for this first blog entry of the 2009 - 2010 season to start talking about it, I plan to leave the talking to some other folks. So those of you who waited all summer (you know who you are!) to read a new GSP Blog entry about the first show will just have to wait a bit longer. Instead, below is a blog entry Wendy Liscow at the Geraldine Dodge Foundation just posted about our book club program for 2nd show, A Moon to Dance By. This is the third season GSP staff will travel to over a dozen area book clubs to discuss a book related to a specific theatrical production on our stage. We're very grateful to the Dodge Foundation for the millions of support they give to the arts in New Jersey, and thrilled to have this program featured.

Xtreme Book Club Idea Makes Connections

By Wendy Liscow, Program Officer, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Last week I wrote about the importance of recognizing and instilling public value for the arts. So how do we do this? Are there things you are doing as an organization or as an individual that are helping people recognize the importance of the arts in their lives?

Cultural institutions often approach the task of creating value by working to engage people in an experience that goes beyond the basic activity of witnessing the final product of a creative process. They look for ways to deepen the practice of viewing a play, dance, music event, or exhibition by finding unique ways to connect to the lives of their patrons. This requires ingenuity and thinking outside the standard marketing tactics box.

For example, over the past three years, the George Street Playhouse has been connecting their audiences to theatre through an innovative Book Club Package that converts the theatre viewing experience into a three-step engagement. Through a “Reading, Talking, Seeing” process they enhance a book discussion group’s ability to transform the solitary reading practice into a communal activity that takes the words off the page and live onto the stage. And, as an enthusiastic book club member, I am willing to bet it will be even more fun!
Read the rest of this entry

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Auction benefits Education Scholarships

Admit it, you secretly love to browse ebay in hopes of winning something... anything really. I mean, who doesn't love to win prizes. Now you can win exciting stuff and help deserving young people attend theatre classes at George Street Playhouse in the Education Scholarship Auction. It works like ebay, only goes directly to our scholarship fund instead of some seller in east jibip.

Over the last five years, George Street Playhouse Academy has grown from fifty students to over 800. We have students who have gone on to be leads in their school plays, star students at the universities of their choosing and even on to
national films. GSP has always had the policy to serve all who come, but for a number of our students and future students, theatre classes may no longer be within financial reach. GSP gives away $30,000 in scholarships each year.

So if you have a desire to
cruise Cayuga Lake in central New York, know what's in store for your future, travel around the country, or even dress up like the village people, now's your chance! But hurry, the auction ends Monday June 15th!

Follow us on twitter for exciting auction updates!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

David Bryan performs at CD signing

Here's a clip of David Bryan's performance at our Toxic Avenger CD Signing Party. David Saint, our artistic director held a Q & A with over 100 people in attendance in celebration of the CD's nationwide release and the production's win for Best Off Broadway Musical by the Outer Critics Circle Awards.

Monday, May 4, 2009

When Art Imitates Life

In Arthur Laurents’ play, New Year’s Eve Marlo Thomas, plays Isabel a famous actress married to an award-winning playwright, whose daughter follows her family’s theatrical roots. In addition to several actors in the production, here’s a look at some other theatrical dynasties:

The Barrymores are perhaps one of the most famous American theatrical dynasties who, for three generations and well over a hundred years, provided America with important actors, particularly John and Ethel Barrymore. John Barrymore’s granddaughter, is actress, Drew Barrymore.

The Redgrave Family spans five generations of actors, directors, and writers. Vanessa Redgrave married director Tony Richardson, and gave birth to actress Joely Richardson and the late Tony® Award Winning Actress Natasha Richardson. Lynn Redgrave starred opposite her sister, Vanessa in London in Chekhov’s Three Sisters and received an Academy Award nomination for Gods and Monsters. Natasha Richardson was married to actor, Liam Neeson.

Bruce Paltrow was a stage, television, and film director who married Emmy and Tony Award winning actress Blythe Danner in 1969. Their daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow is married to Chris Martin, the lead singer of the rock band Coldplay

Actress and playwright Anne Meara is married to actor Jerry Stiller. Their son, actor, director, producer Ben Stiller is married to actress Christine Taylor. They also have a daughter, actress Amy Stiller.

Tony and Emmy Award winner Rosemary Harris is best known to audiences today as Aunt May in the Spiderman trilogy. She was married to director Ellis Rabb. Rabb directed Harris in 1975 in a Broadway production of The Royal Family, a parody of the life and careers of John and Ethel Barrymore. Harris has a daughter from her second marriage to author John Ehle, actress Jennifer Ehle who won a Tony® for her performance in Tom Stoppard’s Coast of Utopia.

Actor Alan Arkin has three sons who are all actors -- Matthew, Adam, and Anthony Arkin. Adam Arkin has appeared on and off Broadway and on television in Chicago Hope .Matthew Arkin is known to George Street Playhouse audiences for his roles in The Scene and this season’s Sight Unseen and has appeared off-Broadway in Dinner with Friends. Anthony Arkin is also an actor of stage and film.

Natasha Gregson Wagner who currently plays Samantha in New Year’s Eve is the daughter of actress Natalie Wood and producer Richard Gregson. Wood is best known for her films of Gypsy, West Side Story, From Here to Eternity, and Splendor in the Grass. Following Wood’s divorce from Gregson, she remarried actor Robert Wagner who adopted Natasha after Wood’s death. Robert Wagner is now married to actress Jill St. John

Actreess Marlo Thomas who returns to George Street Playhouse following the success of Roger is Dead is the daughter of actor Danny Thomas. Danny Thomas starred in the sitcom Make Room for Daddy and is the founder of St. Jude's Childrens Hospital. Ms. Thomas is married to talk show host Phil Donahue. Ms. Thomas's brother Tony Thomas is a film and television producer of Blossom, Empty Nest, The Golden Girls and Dead Poet's Society.

Keith Carradine is the son of actor John Carradine and part of a family that includes actors David Carradine and Robert Carradine. John Carradine appeared in film, TV, and stage with performances including the film The Grapes of Wrath, the TV series The Munsters, and stage appearances in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Tobacco Road. Tony Award Winning Actress Martha Plimpton is Keith Carradine’s daughter.

Can you name others?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Are you Tweeting?

Interactive marketing outlets known as Web 2.0 are really popular with nonprofit theatre lately. Want proof? You can pretty much find your favorite theatre on Facebook or Youtube (especially if your favorite theater, is George Street Playhouse). Now for all you who follow this blog, you can "tweet" with us! If you don't know what that means, it might be time to find out!

Follow George Street on Twitter

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Setting the Stage

Take a look at the the work our fantastic scene shop does to bring our designers' work to reality.

New Years Eve by Arthur Laurents
Directed by David Saint
Scenic Design by James Youmans
Lighting Design by Joe Saint
Complete set photo by T.Charles Erickson

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Interview with Marlo Thomas and Natasha Gregson Wagner


Two experienced actresses whose parents were performers, may have some special insight into their roles in Arthur Laurents' new play, "New Year's Eve."

Marlo Thomas and Natasha Gregson Wagner — one the child of Danny Thomas, the other of Natalie Wood — play mother and daughter, both actresses, in the play that will have its world premiere this week at the George Street Playhouse.

But both actresses feel that the play, while it has a theatrical setting, reflects on experiences that affect people in every walk of life.

The play concerns a complex of relationships — personal and sexual — among six characters: Isabel, a successful stage actress whose career is winding down; Gil, her husband and a leading playwright; Sam, their daughter and a soap-opera star; Justin, Gil's accountant and, openly, his lover; and Mikey, an optometrist and Sam's boyfriend.

Thomas, who caused a sensation at George Street last season with her performance in Elaine May's play "Roger is Dead," was asked by Laurents to play Isabel; Wagner, whose extensive career up to now has been in movies and television, plays Sam.

The rest of the ensemble includes award-winning actors Keith Carradine as Gil and Peter Frechette as Justin, and Walter Belenky as Mikey.

The director is George Street artistic director David Saint.

An important element in this play is Sam's impending transition from a soap opera to the legitimate stage, an event Isabel witnesses after being told by a director that she was "too old" for a role written for her by Gil.

The effect of this moment, Thomas said, is to reveal feelings that have not been clearly articulated in a family that talks around issues more than about them.

"That's a big part of our family," said Wagner, referring to the characters. "They don't ask the questions — I don't think they're big on therapy."

"The mother is dealing with the loss of her powers," Thomas said, "and so, on the face of it, the first reading of it, you might think that she's competitive with the daughter."

In fact, Wagner said, Laurents emphasized at a rehearsal how the relationship appeared on its surface, even to the women engaged in it.

"There are times when it is contentious," Wagner said, "and Arthur wanted it to be more aggressive and — what did he call it? — as if we were in a boxing match.'

"But as you dig deeper into the play," Thomas said, "you realize that she wants to live through this daughter, and she wants this daughter, not just to hold up her banner because it will in some way flatter her or immortalize her — but because she really does love this daughter and wants her to experience the joy of talent."

This play is not all about Isabel and Sam but about layers of relationships among all the characters, one affecting the next, as they do, Thomas said, in the world at large:

"Everybody's dealing with these relationships," she said, " a mother and a daughter, a father and a daughter, a husband and a wife, a daughter coming of age and taking her place, seeing who her parents are in the world — I mean those are things that all families are doing."

Thomas and Wagner said they were impressed by the degree to which the 91-year-old Laurents — who directed the current Broadway revival of his classic "West Side Story" — has developed authentic characters in "New Year's Eve."

"He's so insightful," Thomas said, "on every single relationship, whether it's mother-daughter, or daughter-father, or husband and wife. Whoever it is, he's got an answer for all of it that's very deep. And that's not just because he's the writer, but because he is really psychologically equipped to talk about and think about and develop these kinds of people. That's why the play's so complicated."

The character of Sam is no less complicated than the rest, and Wagner — with a substantial resume of movie and television appearances since the early '90s — is tackling this part as her stage debut.

"I've never done a play," she said. "This is my first foray. I'm excited, I'm grateful to have the opportunity, and I'm very aware of the value of working with these talented people."

Wagner — who has been reading Eva Le Gallienne's 1966 biography of the innovative Italian actress Eleonora Duse — said the impetus for taking to the stage herself was her studies with famed acting coach Larry Moss at his studio in Los Angeles.

"I had been taking classes for three years, working with great playwrights, saying their words, and I realized this was something I wanted to do," Wagner said. "Larry Moss encouraged me to do a play, so he gave me the technique and the confidence to try this."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Liz Smith reports about New Year's Eve

The following article is from today's blog entry from famed former Page Six columnist Liz Smith:

FLASH! One of wOw’s most distinguished own — the actress Marlo Thomas — will open on Friday, April 17, in New Brunswick, New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse.

In almost the same moment that his revival of “West Side Story” opened to raves on Broadway, the writer-director Arthur Laurents is letting his new play, “New Year’s Eve,” be presented for a run there through May 10.

Arthur’s co-director for "West Side Story,” David Saint, is also directing “New Year’s Eve,” and friends tell me that when Mr. Laurents, age 91, isn’t off skiing and jumping about, he is in New Brunswick checking out his latest project.

I don’t have to remind you who Marlo Thomas is. (She is now “that woman” of the famous TV show “That Girl.”) Starring with Marlo are actors Keith Carradine, Peter Frechette and Walter Belenky. Notable in the cast is the beautiful daughter of the late film star, Natalie Wood. Natasha Gregson Wagner auditioned and won her role.

This production came about because, some time ago, playwright Laurents went over to the George Street Playhouse to see Elaine May’s play, “Roger Is Dead.” There, he simply fell in love with Marlo Thomas and decided she’d be perfect for “New Year’s Eve.”

Arthur Laurents is famous for not suffering fools gladly and speaking his mind. I have been a friend of his simply forever; we go back to the 1950s. But I was delighted and amused when Marlo told me how she feels about Arthur. “He has been so sweet!” she laughed. Ok, I’m going to New Jersey on the 17th to check this out!

Tickets at the George Street Playhouse range from $28 to $66, so this is a good chance for the theater-loving public in New York and New Jersey!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Final Week, New Video

Now's your last chance to see Miche Braden and The Devil's Music! Performances end this sunday at 3pm. Below is a clip of "Hot Time in the Ole Town Tonight"

Friday, March 20, 2009

GSP TV: Entertainment Tonight & MSNBC

Arthur Laurents' production of West Side Story opened last night at The Palace Theatre. New Year's Eve stars Marlo Thomas and Keith Carradine were on the red carpet as well as last season's Roger is Dead director and playwright Elaine May. Keith and Marlo spoke with Entertainment Tonight before the show. Arthur also spoke recently with Mike Taibbi on NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams about the historic revival. Both videos below!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Toxie Takes Manhattan - Media Coverage

Tthe best selling musical ever to play George Street Playhouse, The Toxic Avenger begins performances at New World Stages in New York City March 18th. The Off-Broadway cast includes three actors who appeared in the show in October, Nick Cordero as Toxie, Demond Green as Black Dude, and Nancy Opel as the Mayor. Newcomers to the cast are Sara Chase and Matthew Saldivar.

They all
recently recorded the Original Cast Album on Monday March 9th at Avatar Studios! Toxic composer, lyricist, and keyboardist of Bon Jovi, David Bryan served as the producer of the Album (which will feature liner notes by Artistic Director David Saint, and Lloyd Kaufman).

Fans of the show can pre-order their CD at George Street Playhouse in person or by calling the box office at 732-246-7717.

David Bryan recently spoke with the Home News Tribune about the recording,
the move off Broadway and the upcoming Broadway debut of another DiPietro/Bryan collaboration- Memphis.

NY1 also covered Toxie's move to Manhattan. You can watch a clip of the coverage right here which includes an interview with Toxie himself, Nick Cordero.

Finally, for all you blog lovers,take a behind the scenes look at rehearsals and check out Joe DiPietro's blog right here

Photo courtesy of Playbill.com posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Something's Coming...

Our Artistic Director David Saint has been quite busy lately, juggling production meetings and auditions for New Year's Eve and rehearsals in New York, working with upcoming New Year's Eve playwright and director of the current West Side Story revival, Arthur Laurents.

Saint and Laurents have collaborated eight prior times at George Street including 2 Lives, Jolson Sings Again, and Venecia.

Here's an excerpt from a recent interview with Star Ledger's new magazine Inside Jersey, with David about the landmark production:

"With a young and mostly Latino cast led by newcomer Josefina Scaglione in the role of Maria, the show opens at Broadway's Palace Theatre March 19 and it is grittier and more realistic than past versions of the Romeo and Juliet tale.

"What Arthur has worked so hard on is to find what is fresh and new and at the same time to present the same powerful classic," says David Saint, artistic director of the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick and associate director of the show.

The idea of performing in English and Spanish came from Laurents' late partner Tom Hatcher, who attended a South American production done completely in Spanish. Allowing the Sharks to speak in their own language not only differentiates the two gangs, but also elevates the status of the Puerto Ricans, making the conflict seem richer and the two sides more evenly matched. The idea was called "a stroke of genius" by one critic who reviewed the five-week pre-Broadway engagement at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., which ended in January.

While the Spanish dialogue gives the production an interesting authenticity, it also complicates it. And that's fine with its creators, says Saint. "The world has changed, theater has changed. This is a multilingual world. Sometimes you have to communicate and . . . sometimes there is a gap of understanding."

The show has had two previous revivals, in 1964 and 1980. In addition to his full-time duties as artistic director of George Street Playhouse, Saint has been working as associate director of "West Side Story" since March 2007, when auditions for the cast began. His selection as Laurents' right-hand man makes sense, given that the two artists have collaborated on eight plays in the last decade. Many have been at George Street, which Laurents describes in his Playbill biography as his "favorite theater."

The partnership continues next month, when Laurents premieres his new comedy "New Year's Eve" starring Marlo Thomas at George Street. Saint will direct"

photo by Joan Marcus, posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lady can sing the Blues

Here's a sneak peak from The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith. The production stars Miche Braden as Bessie Smith. The show is currently in tech rehearsals towards previews which begin March 3rd.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cake and Matthew Arkin

Two exciting opportunities for a blog entry today that I've included them both.

The First:
Jersey Arts.com producer Christopher Benincasa meets up with actor Matthew Arkin to talk about his role in Sight Unseen. So be sure to check that out here!

And if you still need a reason to see Sight Unseen this week. Here it is....


The perfect Valentine's Day event: a great offer for this weekend's performances. Two Tickets to
Sight Unseen and our delicious "Two fork cake" before the show or at intermission for $50 per couple. Our marketing folks came up with a catchy little package name, so call the box office or order the "Just 2 Sweet" package online.

(Since I've had them all, I can definitely say that the cake is quite enjoyable.)

posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chime In!

The reviews for Sight Unseen are out and you only have one more week to see it!

Read the reviews in the

Home News Tribune
says "GSP's Sight Unseen is a work of art".

Recorder Newspapers
urges, "
Theatergoers should make every effort to see this excellent production of a brilliant play"

Princeton Packet writes "With an absolutely smashing cast under the direction of David Saint (who we must thank for bringing this to George Street), Sight Unseen is a rousing must-see. And I dare say it would even repay seeing twice.".

The staff has been working overtime and speaking with audiences before and after the show leading insightful, thought-provoking discussions. Want to take part? Join us at 7pm tomorrow for a discussion before the show, or after performances this week.

Have you seen the show?! Have a question or comment to share? Let us know right here and be featured on our blog.

Monday, January 26, 2009

GSP TV: Matthew Arkin Interview

Joe Vierno from Edison Onstage recently interviewed Matthew Arkin, who plays Jonathan Waxman in Sight Unseen. Take a look!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sights on the Scene

In conjunction with the production of Sight Unseen which opens tonight, GSP has invited Collaborative Arts, a local arts organization, to install an exhibition reflecting the work of former and current student artists, many of which have strong ties to Mason Gross School of the Arts and the New Brunswick community.

Collaborative Arts’ Leanne Catena has organized an exhibition that explores a diversity of style and color, but asserts the honesty and earnestness of the young artist’s voice. The artists included in this exhibition are Kaitlin Deering, Robert Mermet, Danielle Ramirez, Jon Sykes, Marie Nyguist, Elizabeth Santana, and Cynthia Yurcisin. These talented artists along with Waxman’s character continuously revisit issues of identity, authorship, and artistic integrity within their work and themselves. This exhibition was created in the spirit of Sight Unseen, a production that sympathizes with that struggle.
Based in New Brunswick, Collaborative Arts has a vision of a shared experience between artists and their community that not only creates opportunities for artists but that also encourages forward-thinking art practices. The composition of coLAB Arts is made through a combination of artists, a public with common interests, and a team that is committed to building a community of creativity. A goal of coLAB Arts is to not single-handedly operate projects of its own design, but to focus on cultural and artistic interests of the community while remaining true to the principal that art finds its own direction and artists are faced with their individual concerns that are reflective and progressive to the community to which these artists live and work in.

About the artists on display:

Kaitlin Deering was born in March of 1985 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She lived in Oklahoma for twelve years with her parents and three younger sisters. At age twelve her family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where they would live for four years, and then Chatham, Illinois for the following two years. In July of 2001 she relocated to New Jersey and has lived there ever since. She is currently residing in Highland Park. She has studied painting under Melvin Leipzig, Mark Stockton, and Cindy-Stockton-Moore. She has been painting since 2004 and as of 2009 has completed over one hundred works.

Robert Mermet was born on August 27, 1984 and grew up in a small town in New Jersey. He attended Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts, where he received a BFA in visual arts with a concentration in film and video. He currently resides in Highland Park, NJ with significant other, painter, Kaitlin Deering.

Marie Nyquist is a twenty-year-old painter from Morris County. She concentrates her subject matter on figure studies and portraiture using mainly oil, ink, and watercolor to convey her realist style. She has also worked with ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, papermaking, and bookbinding.

Danielle Ramirez is in her third year at Mason Gross School of the Arts. She

started as a graphic design major but has since moved to painting and drawing where she feels greater emotional connection to her work. In her spare time she likes to knit and crochet toys.

Elizabeth Santana graduated from Middlesex County College in 2003, where she received an Associates Degree in Fine Arts. She is currently a senior at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, where she is concentrating on sculpture, painting, and ceramics. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Alfa Art Gallery (2008), Women Center (2007), and Center Gallery at MCC (2005, 2006, 2007). Her artwork is permanently featured at River Bank Arts in Stockton, NJ. Elizabeth has also taught various sculpture workshops during the Artist Residence weekend at Purnel School (2007), and during the Teen Arts Festival at Middlesex County College (2007-2008).

Jon Sykes is a painter, sculptor, and graphic designer. He graduated with honors from Brookdale Community College in 2006 with his Associates in Art, and will graduate from Rutgers Mason Gross in May 2009 with his Bachelors of Fine Arts. His passion for the arts is shown by the diversity of his work, ranging from paintings and collage to steel and ceramics. Humor, depth, and personal growth are some of the main ideas of his work. His work has been featured at the Phillip J. Levin Theater, the Mason Gross Galleries, and the Zimmerli Museum. He has been published in the Humanities Review out of St. John's University in Queens, New York. Jon is currently studying with Thomas Nozkowski and preparing for his senior thesis, involving spray paint on stretched canvas.

Since graduating from The School of the Arts, The University of South Florida (Tampa), Cynthia Yurcisin has taken additional studies at the School of Visual Arts (NYC) and Brookdale College (Lincroft) in the pursuit of a creative life. She is continuing this pursuit under the tutelage of Grace Graupe-Pillard (NYC). In any of her works, Ms. Yurcisin has utilized life models, photographs, dreams, music, readings, intuition, hunches and accidents to achieve a desired result. Known for her jewelry design and handmade one-of-a-kind pieces, Ms. Yurcisin has established herself as a creative problem solver whose portfolio includes clothing and costume design, photography, drawing, painting, and assemblage.

Make plans to see the show and join us for the opening on January 30th with free wine and food following that evening’s production of Sight Unseen.