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BWW Review: The Chatham Community Players Hosts 27TH Annual JERSEY VOICES One-Act Festival

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JERSEY VOICES One-Act Festival in Chatham

BWW Review: The Chatham Community Players Hosts 27TH Annual JERSEY VOICES  One-Act Festival

The Chatham Community Players hosts its 27th annual Jersey Voices One-Act Festival. This year's production includes seven original short plays written by New Jersey playwrights.

Sitting in a theater, watching a live performance is something I, along with so many others, I had not done in over a year and it was wonderful to be back at Chatham Playhouse in the audience. Producer Jessica Phelan welcomed us with such enthusiastic energy, an overall excitement filled the air. The lights faded to black and the music had started for the first one act that was set to begin and there we were, finally, after more than a year. I truly enjoy Chatham Playhouse's yearly "Jersey Voices One-Act Festival" and this year did not disappoint.

The opening one act "Cloud Illusions" by Amber Kusching of Cherry Hill and directed by Arnold Buchiane of Summit, tells the story of two people who meet unexpectedly and help give each other a moment of clarity and peace. "Cloud Illusions" features Anna McCabe of Morristown and Chip Prestera of Stirling who's characters onstage reminds us in the audience that random acts of kindness can change someone's life, even if it's just a simple "Hello" or "Are you okay?" And even if you've never met before. While this one act deals with a topic that is heavy, the ingredients of of McCabe and Prestera's charming comedic timing, Kusching's writing and Buchiane's directing all mixed together gives the audience moments of levity in this sad but sweet piece.

"Bernice's Birthday" by Brigid Amos formerly of Montvale was directed by Joann Lopresti Scanlon of Chatham with assistant director Eleanor Anderson of Florham Park. This play features Fred Dennehy (Lloyd) of Cranbury, Jean Kuras (Bernice) of Glen Ridge and David Romankow (Musician) of Gillette. are an older married couple who are spending a day in the city to celebrate Bernice's birthday, but not without tension. Lloyd is very strict when it comes to money, so when a young musician tries to serenade Bernice with a few songs outside, and Bernice has to ask Lloyd for a mere $5, argument ensues. Dennehy plays a terrific curmudgeon to Kuras' heartbreaking Bernice. The strain between the couple onstage was a true to life portrayal of a couple who have been married for decades.

"A Dave with Destiny" by Ken Preuss, formerly of Bloomfield, is directed by Elizabeth Rogers of West Orange. This cast includes Jason Kruk of Madison and Jessica Phelan. Dave (Kruk) and Destiny (Phelan) bump into each other and are trying to figure out why they look familiar to one another. Phelan and Kruk's chemistry work really well especially at the end when this charming piece builds up to a climactic moment that is quickly wrapped up in a comedic finale. Phelan jumped in last minute and had only 4 rehearsals, which you would never know watching her performance.

"Bigger Than Pretend," by Robin Rice formerly of Ridgewood, was directed by Jackie Jacobi of Metuchen. Lauri MacMillan of Rockaway and Gloria Lamoureux of Succasunna star in this dramatic piece. MacMillan and Lamoureux portray a homeless couple trying to get through the hardships they face every day. The friendship between the characters MacMillan and Lamoureux play is sad, but sweet and the actors really make the audience feel for them.

John A.C.Kennedy of Springfield directed "My Dad is Bald," which was written by Minjae Kim of Princeton. Kyle Cao of Livingston and Wasif Sami of Hillsborough play two high school friends, Xinghong and Genjiro (respectively), who get into deep conversations while playing basketball, which they really did onstage. These two actors' performances are not to be missed as their characters help one another navigate normal teenage issues, but mostly as Sami's character helps Cao's character, who is grappling with his current family situation.

"A Benevolent Alliance of Mourners" by Ken Preuss formerly of Bloomfield, directed by Lionel Ruland of Parsippany, is a sad but touching one act. This piece features Sarah DeVizio of Morristown and Megan Pereira of Morristown. This piece tells the story of Danielle (DeVizio) who is home for the funeral of her friend, meets funeral singer Ellie (Pereira) outside the church and the two unexpectedly connect. DeVizio and Pereira's performances are beautiful in this tear jerker.

The comedic piece, "The Villager Photo" by Charles Grayson of Netcong, is directed by William Michael Harper of Roseland. Matt McCarthy of Chatham plays a recent Pulitzer-prize winning photographer who meets up with a high level intelligence officer, played by David Romankow of Gillette, who demands to know the secret behind the amazing photo and chaos ensues. Between McCarthy bringing his character's guilty conscious to light, and Romankow's intense questioning, their comedic timing was perfect for this one act.

Future performance dates are August 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. and August 15 at 7 p.m.. All performances are held at the Chatham Playhouse 23 North Passaic Ave Chatham, NJ. All Tickets are $15. To access the theater's online ticketing service, simply go to ccp.booktix.com. For more information, call the box office at (973) 635-7363 or go to www.chathamplayers.org. It is highly recommended that tickets be purchased in advance. Audience members who have not been fully vaccinated MUST properly wear a mask at all times while in the theater. Patrons with special needs requiring seating accommodations should contact the Playhouse at least 24 hours prior to the performance. Without prior notice, accommodations cannot be guaranteed.

Next up at Chatham Playhouse is Donald Margulies' A Time Stands Still in October.

Photo Credit: Joe DeVico


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