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SOPAC Forms Midtown Direct Rep Theater Company

The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) today announced the formation of Midtown Direct Rep, a new theater company in residence comprised of a group of accomplished theater artists who call Maplewood/South Orange home.

With the formation of Midtown Direct Rep, Maplewood/South Orange Broadway locals now have a theatrical home close to home, and SOPAC has a resident theater company comprised of seasoned Broadway veterans. With perhaps more professional theater artists per capita than any other suburb of NYC, Maplewood/South Orange has the unique distinction of being where Broadway comes home to sleep. To date, these talented Broadway performers, directors, musicians, and producers have lacked a local outlet for their theatrical endeavors. Likewise, SOPAC, the state-of-the-art, 400+ seat theater and performance venue, has never worked with a resident theater company dedicated to producing new theatrical work.

According to Jeremy Dobrish, Midtown Direct Rep Co-Artistic Director, "Midtown Direct Rep was formed because there's an incredible amount of theater talent that has chosen to make their homes in this area, and we wanted to be able to do great work with other professionals within our own community at a state of the art facility like SOPAC."

"It's always been our desire for SOPAC to join hands with local talent," says Ondine Landa Abramson, Executive Director of SOPAC. "We're thrilled this is coming to fruition!"

The first two productions of the New Theatre Company will be staged readings of two new musicals. "Rated P," a sketch comedy musical about parenthood, celebrates the wonders and lunacy of raising kids from conception to college. Warning: Rated-P may not be suitable for people considering parenthood. Book & Lyrics by Maplewood resident Sandy Rustin, Music and Lyrics by Dan Lipton & David Rossmer, and directed by Maplewood resident Jeremy Dobrish, the local cast of Broadway stars includes Michelle Federer (Wicked), David Josefsberg (Alter Boyz), Charlie Pollock (9 to 5), and JoAnna Young (The Drowsy Chaperone). "Rated P" will have a staged reading on Wednesday, August 18 & Thursday, August 19 at 8PM.

The second Midtown Direct Rep production will be a staged reading of "The Girl in the Frame." In this fast-paced musical comedy, a tiny New York apartment gets even smaller as a young couple's wildest fantasies burst to life. A hunky fireman and the impossibly attractive "girl next door" turn one couple's cold feet into a fun and sexy parable of modern love. Book, Lyrics & Music by Jeremy Desmon and directed by Maplewood resident Jeremy Dobrish, the local cast of Broadway stars includes Becky Gulsvig (Legally Blonde), David Josefsberg (Alter Boyz), Christiane Noll (Ragtime, Tony Nominee), and Charlie Pollock (9 to 5). The staged reading of "The Girl in the Frame" will take place on Wednesday, September 1 and Thursday, August 2 at 8PM.

Both readings will take place at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC).  Tickets are $15 each.  Two shows for $20.  Call 973.313.ARTS (2787), visit the SOPAC Box Office, or purchase online at

Co-Artistic Directors Jeremy Dobrish and Sandy Rustin are joined by Acting Company Members: Kelly Bishop, Catherine Brunell, Lori Chase, Adam Dannheisser, Joel de la Fuente, Michelle Federer, Rosena Hill, David Josefsberg, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jamie LaVerdiere, Christiane Noll, Chris Peterson, Charlie Pollock, Thom Christopher Warren, Jennifer West, and JoAnna Young. Company members have starred in the Broadway productions of "9 To 5," "Big River," "Billy Elliott," "Chicago," "The Drowsy Chaperone," "Full Monty," "Les Miserables," "Mary Poppins," "Ragtime," "Rock Of Ages," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Urinetown," "The Wedding Singer," "Wicked," and more. The Associate Board is comprised of: Shannon Bonds, Tracy Burns, Josh Coakley, Evan Fleischer, Lily Hung, Gayle Seay, Scott Seay, Jeffrey Shubart, and Vanessa Pollock.

Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The multidisciplinary arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages. To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC-a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory. SOPAC is also a home for Seton Hall University Arts Council's performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz N' the Hall performances, and Seton Hall Theatre productions.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.

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