BWW Review: BLACK TOM ISLAND at Premiere Stages is an Emotive and Excellent Historical Play

BWW Review: BLACK TOM ISLAND at Premiere Stages is an Emotive and Excellent Historical Play

"This is not the America Martin and Ewa came for."

By Father Oskar Prosco in Black Tom Island

Martin Casella's world premiere play, Black Tom Island is now being presented by Premiere Stages through October 21. Based on an actual 1916 terrorist attack in Jersey City, the show will have audiences captivated from the first minute to the last. It is performed on the Kean University campus in the 1882 Carriage House of Liberty Hall Museum, an authentic venue. With the inspired direction of the Premiere Stages' Producing Artistic Director, John J. Wooten, history meets the best in theater. Get your tickets and experience Black Tom Island.

Ewa and Martin are Slovakian immigrants who have come to the United States to escape the ravages of World War I. The loving, young married couple is overjoyed to be expecting their first child, yet the two of them have very different visions for their future. Martin's company is on strike and he is working a second job as a night watchman. He feels dejected and wishes to return to their home country while Ewa has hopes for a better future in America. Martin becomes desperate when German agents offer him a large sum of money to participate in a terror plot. The plans are in place but Ewa insists that he report the covert communication to law enforcement. The story becomes complex when an explosion rocks the area and Martin does not return home. Ewa faces an uncertain future and takes sanctuary at the local Catholic Church with Father Oskar Prosco. There, she is interrogated by Tim McMillan from the Pinkerton Agency about Martin's whereabouts. While the story is set a century ago, it is very relevant. The struggles of immigrants and the horrors of terrorism are well depicted in this suspenseful, enthralling production.

BWW Review: BLACK TOM ISLAND at Premiere Stages is an Emotive and Excellent Historical Play

To say that the cast is outstanding would be an understatement. The four actors master Martin Casella's finely crafted dialogue. They include Mason Hensley as Martin Babek; Jenna Krasowski as Ewa Babek; Damian Buzzerio as Father Oskar Prosco; and Bart Shatto as Tim McMillan. The characters of Martin, Ewa, and Father Prosco speak both in English and their native language, yet the interchanges flow seamlessly. The show's emotionally charged scenes are impeccably portrayed by this very talented troupe.

BWW Review: BLACK TOM ISLAND at Premiere Stages is an Emotive and Excellent Historical Play

The Creative Team has transformed the Carriage House into an ideal performance venue for Black Tom Island. They include scenic design by Bethanie Wampol Watson; costume design by Deanna Smith; lighting design by Zack Gage; and sound design by Matthew Boyle. Alexis Krayniak is the Props Master; Dale Smallwood is the Production Stage Manager and Heather Ber is the Assistant Stage Manager.

Black Tom Island was originally commissioned over a two-year cycle through Premiere's Liberty Live Commission. This is a show that will appeal to a broad audience that includes history buffs, theatre aficionados, and those who enjoy intrigue and a captivating story. Don't miss it!

Black Tom Island runs for 90 minutes with no intermission. It will be performed through October 21 at various times. The production is held in the 1882 Carriage House at Liberty Hall Museum on the grounds of Kean University in Union. To purchase tickets, please call the box Office at 908.737.7469 or visit Premiere Stages web site at

Photo Credit: Mike Peters

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