Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rave Reviews for Clever Little Lies

Jim Stanek, Greg Mullavey, and Marlo Thomas; photo by T. Charles Erickson

"A first rate cast...Genuinely funny.
Marlo Thomas effortlessly handles the script's dry's poignant
ending is particularly affecting"
-The New York Times

“…be prepared for some extraordinarily good theater…” – Asbury Park Press

“…audiences should not miss an opportunity to see this jewel of a performance!”
 “[DiPietro] crafts a neat stage quartet, which is brilliantly led by Marlo Thomas…”
- The Star Ledger

 "Once again, David Saint does what he has done going on two decades -- finding great new works, casting the best actors one could imagine and directing with amazing skill.  No wonder George Street has become a breeding ground for successful Broadway productions." - NJ Hills
“Don’t miss it!”  - Out in Jersey

“…playwright Joe DiPietro avoids easy answers and provides entertainment as well as food for thought.” 
- The Star-Ledger

“An outrageously funny comedy, "Clever Little Lies" offers more than just laughs.”

“A hit!  Clever Little Lies is a beautifully written and performed story of secrets and confessions of love, marriage and fidelity.”
“Marlo Thomas headlines the four-person cast, shouldering the heft of the play with graceful strength and a biting sense of humor. “  -
“Marlo Thomas gives a sparkling performance.”  -
“…clever, insightful comedy…” –
“Marlo Thomas delights in world premiere Clever Little Lies.” –
“With this play, George Street has produced yet another winner in what is sure to be a banner 40th-anniversary year.” – The Princeton Packet

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Broadway Legends Fashion Show Held October 27

 Friends and supporters of New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse will be donning costumes from legendary Broadway shows in a special event, Sunday, October 27 at 5 pm.  The “Broadway Legends Fashion Show” will feature a number of local celebrities sporting the extraordinary, eye-popping costumes from hit shows such as Evita, Hairspray, Mame, Man of La Mancha, Camelot, Phantom of the Opera and others.   It’s costume cacophony as this unique event marks a rare opportunity for audiences to see these costumes up close and personal –all on the same stage!

In addition to the costumes on the runway, patrons attending the show have the opportunity to purchase auction bids for evening bags promoting “a night on the town,” decked out with theatre tickets, restaurant gift cards and hotel stays – and one lucky winner will take home a diamond cocktail ring, valued at $1500.

The Broadway Legends Fashion Show and the evening bag raffle will take place Sunday, October 27 at The Heldrich, located on Livingston Avenue, directly across the street from George Street Playhouse.  Tickets for this benefit event are $100 for adults, $50 for youth aged 11-17.  Tickets are available through the George Street Playhouse Box Office, 732-246-7717 or via the GSP website.  All proceeds of the event will benefit George Street Playhouse’s mainstage and educational programming.

George Street Playhouse Artistic Director David Saint serves as Master of Ceremonies.  Local residents scheduled to strut the catwalk are: Patrick Albanesius; Karen Barnes of Woodbridge;  Karl Chase of New Brunswick; Lucy Devlin; Alice DeVoe and Gordon DeVoe  of New Brunswick;  Macie Fuscaldo; Betsy Garlatti of New Brunswick; Daniel Giannascoli; Rev. John Graf of Bedminster;  Liz and Suzen Hance of Monroe Township; Molly Holtz; Carol, Dominic and Juliana Menniti of East Hanover; Lisa Moro and Emma, Grace and Luke Voorhees of Bedminster; Kirby Mosely; Tracey O’Reggio; Faelen Paladino of Skillman; Jack and Doris Paster of Red Bank; Sam Schwartzman Patrick; Elizabeth Schwartzman; Jocelyn Schwartzman of East Brunswick; Sophia Schwartzman; Robin Suydam of Somerset; Lora Tremayne of Piscataway; Gabrielle Vajtay of Somerset; and Michele Wolansky of Warminster, PA.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An Actress, a Director and a Power Struggle


“Venus in Fur” is a smart, seriously sexy comedy by David Ives that has steamed up three successive New York playhouses in recent seasons. The George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, where the play is currently onstage, is among the dozen regional companies that have put it on their 2013 schedules, with good reason.

The playwright’s serio-comic depiction of an increasingly heated encounter between a theater director and an unknown actress in a rehearsal hall delves into aspects of power, both sexual and psychological, even as it touches on issues of personal identity, literary theory, feminism and mythology.

Don’t let all that scare you. “Venus in Fur” is a provocatively funny play that begins on a light note, as Thomas, an earnest writer-director, prepares to leave the shabby studio where he has been auditioning actresses for his stage adaptation of “Venus in Fur,” without success. Arriving unexpectedly out of a thunderstorm is Vanda, a brash nobody who claims she has an appointment to read for the leading role.

Although the cheerfully crass Vanda appears wildly unsuited for the part of a 19th-century aristocrat, she persuades a reluctant Thomas to hear her out. Script in hand, Vanda instantly sheds her brassy manners and magically assumes the cultivated tones and regal bearing of all the Barrymores rolled into one.

As the actress and the director talk about the text and begin to act it out, the audience learns the essentials of “Venus in Fur,” Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s scandalous 1870 novel about a European patrician who willingly becomes the slave of an imperious beauty.

“Basically, it’s S-and-M porn,” says Vanda, while Thomas claims it is serious literature.
When Vanda and Thomas get deeper into the story’s exotic and erotic role playing — the actress has brought thrift shop clothes for them to dress up in — it becomes apparent that Vanda is taking control of the intimate situation and Thomas is increasingly unable to resist her will.

By the time the 90-minute play is over, some may suspect that Vanda is literally not of this world. Others may believe she is simply an extremely manipulative individual. Whichever, it is fun to observe Vanda evolve from a dizzy thespian into a dominating personality. It is also a pleasure to laugh at Mr. Ives’s dialogue and then be compelled by the couple’s fervid power struggles upon a ratty chaise longue.

The admirable George Street production, which will travel to the Philadelphia Theater Company this month, is directed by Kip Fagan, who recently staged the Off Broadway play “The Revisionist,” with Vanessa Redgrave and Jesse Eisenberg.

Perhaps working with Ms. Redgrave helped Mr. Fagan to infuse his leading lady here, Jenni Putney, with the surprising refinement that transforms Vanda whenever she enacts the play within the play. Ms. Putney believably achieves Vanda’s initial shift into a higher gear, and from that point on her performance subtly grows in authority.

Mark Alhadeff, who portrays Thomas, was an understudy in the role in the Broadway production, and he ably traces his character’s double spiral into delicious subjugation. The statuesque Ms. Putney, often clad in little more than a black bustier, a brief leather skirt and steep heels as Vanda, displays a smoldering rapport with Mr. Alhadeff’s shorter, rather scruffy Thomas.

Mr. Fagan paces the comedy briskly for the most part, but slows down the tempo when Vanda and Thomas face off for the play’s final interludes. The setting for the grubby rehearsal hall, designed by Jason Simms, is a lofty space with brick walls, wood planking and a battered tin ceiling that becomes darkly intimate through Thom Weaver’s lighting. In such persuasive circumstances, “Venus in Fur” proves a seductive entertainment for sophisticated adults.

“Venus in Fur,” by David Ives, is at the George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, through May 18. Information: (732) 246-7717 or

photo by T. Charles Erickson


Friday, March 8, 2013

Q & A with Victoria Stewart

Q: In your own words, what is Rich Girl about?
It’s a romantic comedy about money and the effect it has on relationships. We’re at this point in American history where everyone is looking at what they have and what they don’t have, so I was interested in looking at this one person whose life revolves around money. Eve, the mother character, is a financial guru and she has this job where she thinks and talks about money all the time. I wanted to know how that would affect her personal life.

When I was doing research for this, I was really interested in Suze Orman, who’s one of the more popular financial talking heads. One of her key points is how women deal with money—how often women give money away instead of saving, giving it to friends or boyfriends. In many ways I think it’s because women have an anxiety about money; they don’t want to take responsibility for it.

Another thing Suze Orman talks about is how the first lessons you learn about money are through your parents’ relationship to their own finances. The play is loosely based on the Henry James novel Washington Square, and James’ female characters often inherit their money, and then they don’t know what to do with all the power that they have. And I feel that that’s true with Claudine, the daughter character. Her wealth has always been this burden; it separates her from other people. But because the wealth is her mother’s, the money defines her but is not part of her.

Claudine’s relationship to her wealth couldn’t be more different from her mother’s. Because obviously her mother has gained power from money whereas Claudine’s very passive and can’t figure out what she wants to do with her life—until she finds Henry, and then he’s what she wants to do with her life. It’s the only time she’s ever gone against her mother’s wishes, and it’s the first real choice Claudine has ever made.

Q: Did the play come about because of the financial crisis, or was that just a coincidence?
I started it before the mortgage crisis [in 2008], but I did a huge amount of the work after the crash. Often you write a play because you want to explore something you know nothing about. I’m a pretty typical person with my own finances; I’m lackadaisical about them, and I don’t know as much as I should. So money was something I was interested in exploring as a topic. And then the crash happened and suddenly everybody was obsessed with their 401(k)s and whether or not their lifestyles were sustainable.

Q: How did you get started as a playwright?
I was actually a professional stage manager for a long time, right out of college. I’d worked on a lot of new plays with the playwright in the room—plays by Paula Vogel, Naomi Wallace, David Rabe—but writing plays seemed beyond my reach.

So I was working on this Peter Sellars opera in Europe, when out of nowhere, in one week, I got my first idea for a play and my grandfather died, leaving me a little bit of money, just enough to change my life. Suddenly, I could afford grad school. So I made this really funky switch, where I decided, “Okay, I’m going to go to grad school for playwriting.” I wrote the play that I had had the idea for, applied to grad school with that one play, and got into Iowa. And became a playwright!

Q: What do you like in a play?
I’m drawn to any kind of theater that makes me lean forward and wonder what’s going to happen next. And in terms of what I personally like writing, I like writing for certain actors, and I really love writing thorny and complicated characters. I usually start with a character and move outward from there. So that character-driven work really excites me.

Partially because I was a stage manager, I have fairly broad taste. I grew up watching a lot of avant-garde theater, so I’m intrigued by that, but I love story, and I love narrative. So plays that can do both of those things—mix a sense of theatricality and a sense of story and narrative—make me really happy.

 Interview courtesy of the Playwrights' Center, which supported the development of Rich Girl.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rave Reviews for Good People

"Stunning...Rollicking Humor....
Theater doesn't get better than this."-Asbury Park Press

"Important, Timely, and Hilarious"

"An Outstanding Production"

"This is a powehouse of a play you shouldn't miss"
"Brilliant....Five Star Entertainment"
"It is doubtful that George Street Theater audiences will see a finer contemporary play or experience a more splendid production this season...masterfully directed" 


"Great theatre with a great cast"-Out in