Premiere Stages at Kean University to Present JANICE UNDERWATER, 9/4-21

Premiere Stages at Kean University will present the winner of its 2014 Play Festival, Janice Underwater by Hillside native Tom Matthew Wolfe, September 4 - 21 in Kean University's Zella Fry Theatre. Directed by Jade King Carroll, this delightfully quirky new play tells the story of Janice, who has a sneaking suspicion that she's losing her mind. While waiting for the results of genetic testing that could confirm her fears, Janice struggles to hold it together and pursue her art in the city. With the help of an attractive but troubled super, a devoted brother, and visions of her mentally ill mother, will Janice find her way home? Selected from over 400 submissions as the winner of Premiere's annual competition for unproduced scripts by area playwrights, Janice Underwater received a developmental reading earlier this spring, delighting audiences with its recognizable characters and locales.

"It is always a bonus when we have the opportunity to produce works that capture the flavor of the local community. Tom's play provides the right blend of humor and topicality, while affording audiences a thought-provoking look into the life of a well-meaning but slightly off-kilter heroine" stated John J. Wooten, Premiere Stages' producing artistic director.

Playwright Tom Matthew Wolfe, who was born in Newark and grew up in Hillside, is a founding member of Blue Roses Productions and 'Wright On! Playwrights Group. His plays include Stray Cats, a Seven Devils finalist; God's Cigarette (EST Memberfest); This Is How We Emerge, a semifinalist for the 2013 Premiere Stages Play Festival, as well as the renowned O'Neill Theater Center; Harborside (Samuel French Festival); and Facing the Window (Samuel French Festival; EST Marathon finalist).

"As a kid back in the '80s, I used to ride my dirt bike to Kean and trek through the campus," stated Mr. Wolfe. "When I wrote this play, I never considered that it might get produced so close to where the New Jersey scenes take place. My mother lives in North Arlington, so the Pulaski Skyway is still a part of my life. I grew up near the train tracks at the dead end of Long Avenue and threw many rocks at the boxcars and rails. All these locations are meaningful for me, whatever power they hold within the play. It's so cool that these places will be familiar to much of the audience."

Director Carroll's credits include: A Raisin In The Sun (Juilliard) and Trouble in Mind (Two River Theater). Jade is a TCG New Generations Future Leader Award recipient and was presented the Paul Green Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Professional from the National Theatre Conference and The Estate of August Wilson.

Janice Underwater features actress Amy Staats in the title role of Janice. A member of the acclaimed Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York, her recent credits at EST include Waking Up by Cori Thomas, directed by Tea Alagic, and Sluts of Sutton Drive by Josh Conkel, directed by Lila Neugebauer. The cast also includes Broadway veteran Daren Kelly (Deathtrap, Crazy for You, South Pacific); audience favorite Susan Louise O'Connor, last seen at Premiere Stages in The Good Counselor, and a Theatre World Award winner for Blithe Spirit on Broadway; Ryan Barry, who has appeared on television's "Blue Bloods" and "Unforgettable"; celebrated regional theatre actor Eddie Boroevich, a fellow member of EST; and Daniel Pellicano, who memorably played the troubled teen Jacob in Premiere's critically acclaimed production of The Beautiful Dark in 2013.

Janice Underwater runs Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 3:00 pm, with post-show discussions to follow select matinee performances. Tickets are $30 standard, $20 for senior citizens and Kean alumni, and $15 for students and patrons with disabilities. Significant discounts for groups of 10 or more apply. To make reservations or order a season brochure, please call the Kean Stage Box Office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) or visit Premiere Stages online at

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