“Jersey Voices” is Chatham Community Players’ annual celebration of New Jersey playwrights and actors, with a small-plates meal of seven one-act plays, currently in its 24th season, and this year’s selection of seven works means the producers were very busy! Producers Andrea Young and Bob Denmark read more than a hundred plays to find the best of the best-ival for this festival.
I find favorites every time I go, and this year the winners of the most moving were Jerrod Bogard’s “Foster,” featuring Melinda DelPizzo as Jen, Jean Curas as Carla, and Derek Simmons as Duane. Imagine a situation where a family has parented a foster child for years and something happens to shake them to their core. This is a hard, clear-eyed look at the reality of social work and what it means to do your best to do good. Directed by Joann Lopresti Scanlon, with Assistant Director Eleanor Anderson, its memory will linger with you. Tom Tunnington’s “The Rub of the Green” is a brilliant exploration of what it means to survive, when others have not. Elizabeth Rogers’ direction illuminates the heart of darkness, with Howard Fischer as Pop and Bradley Carrington as two sides of a coin minted in the late 1960s, and this is the one that has been present for me since I saw it. Brilliant writing abounds in this evening, start to finish.
On the lighter side, my sarcastic bent was satisfied with the triumph of misunderstanding in “Free Pass” by Tom Baum. Arnold Buchiane directs widower Waylon (Gordon Wiener) in navigating the shoals of the free market dating, seen as he interacts with Tara (Cheryl Sarkaria). Deft and mordantly funny, I found this thoroughly enjoyable. By far my favorite though is Luigi Jannuzzi’s diabolically clever “Squirrel Tames Human,” directed by Kevern Cameron, features Chip Prestera as, well, Chip and Paula Ehrenberg as Junior. This one needs to be seen to be believed and each of these pairs the twists of O. Henry with the wry comedy of James Thurber. Combine this amazing front of house talent with Steve Stubelt’s lighting, Joe DeVico’s sound design, and Roy Pancirov’s sets, and you’ve got a show!
Hit up the website this weekend for the next–it’s the last for this whistlestop tour of plays. For tickets and more information, visit Chatham Community Players’ website at www.ChathamPlayers.org
. “Jersey Voices” closes on Sunday, August 5, so get your tickets NOW!