Review: THE ROSENBERG/STRANGE FRUIT PROJECT at NJ Rep Captivates Audiences


By: Mar. 13, 2023
Review: THE ROSENBERG/STRANGE FRUIT PROJECT at NJ Rep Captivates Audiences

New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep) in Long Branch is now presenting the world premiere of The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project through April 2nd. This engaging show is written and performed by John Jiler with musical accompaniment by clarinetist, Lee Odom. The production features superb direction by Margarett Perry.

The play tells of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's son, Robert who was orphaned after his parents were convicted for espionage and executed. At the age of six, Robert and his older brother were adopted by the Meeropol family. Abe Meeropol was a teacher who crafted poetry and wrote Billie Holiday's hit song, "Strange Fruit." The show addresses the Rosenbergs' trial, prevailing attitudes about communism, along with facts about Robert's feelings, his education, legal career, and activism.

Review: THE ROSENBERG/STRANGE FRUIT PROJECT at NJ Rep Captivates Audiences

With an impressive record of publications and performances, John Jiler proves to be a master storyteller on the NJ Rep stage. He seamlessly changes roles to bring The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project to life as he portrays young Robert Rosenberg; his mother, Ethel; the trial's presiding judge, Irving Kaufman; W.E.B. Dubois; and others. Jiler's well-crafted prose also lends insights into the social and political climate of the times. The clarinet music performed by the talented composer and band leader, Lee Odom makes the production all the more captivating. The music is perfectly placed to illuminate the story.

The Production Team has done a top job to set the overall mood for the show. The Team includes scenic design and props by Jessica Parks; costume design, Patricia E. Doherty; lighting design, Jill Nagle; and sound design, Nick Simone. Kristin Pfeifer is the Production Stage Manager; Rachael Malloy, Assistant Stage Manager; Janey Huber, Assistant Lighting Designer and Assistant Director; James Lockhart; Master Electrician; Brian Snyder; Technical Director; Donna Stiles; Scenic Design Assistant; and Blake Robinson, Props Assistant.

Review: THE ROSENBERG/STRANGE FRUIT PROJECT at NJ Rep Captivates Audiences

The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project is a gem of a production. It will appeal to people who are interested in history, social issues, and those who want to enjoy a excellent theatrical performance with outstanding music.

NJ Rep was founded in 1997 by the Company's Artistic Director Suzanne Barabas and Executive Producer, Gabor Barabas. The theater's mission is to develop and produce new plays and to make a lasting contribution to the American Stage. The theater has the distinction of having many of its plays produced by other theaters totaling over 200 subsequent productions in the U.S. and overseas. We applaud the entire Company as it succeeds at their important artistic mission.

New Jersey Repertory Company located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch. The theater entrance is in the rear of the building with plenty of free parking and its only blocks away from Pier Village with many dining opportunities. Performances of The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project are available through April 2 on Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm & 8pm; and Sundays at 2pm. Patrons can purchase tickets by visiting or calling 732.229.3166. Tickets are $35-$60. Season subscriptions to NJ Rep are currently available.

Photo Credit: Andrea Phox Photography