February 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM
CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Community Players enter their 90th year of producing local theater with the literary classic and Tony Award-winning play, “THE GRAPES OF WRATH” by Frank Galati, from the novel by John Steinbeck. Frank Licato from Weehawken directs.
“The Grapes of Wrath,” a story about the devastating impact of the Great Depression, is striking similar notes and themes to today’s economic climate. Surviving the drought of the 1930s Dust Bowl only to see their home repossessed by the bank, the Joad family embark on a agonizing and heartbreaking trek from Oklahoma to California, intending to restart their lives as migrant farm workers. Their arrival in this “promised land,” however, brings its own test of the human spirit. "This is, overall, a thrilling theatrical achievement that gets its power from the still sharp relevance of its human message..." - New York Post.
Director Frank Licato added "We have a tendency to think of the story as a historical document, but nothing could be further from the truth. It remains at the heart of who we are as society, and questions what our priorities are. Some of these questions are just as pragmatic today as they were then; certainly for migrant workers, but Steinbeck, like any great artist, uses the specific to depict the universal. This is no museum piece and I hope that we can surround the Joads’ story with elements which challenge the audience to see beyond the familiar trappings of the period and to look at the images that reflect back at us today."
The large and talented cast includes actors from all around New Jersey. The Joad family consists of Dale Monroe of Hackettstown as Tom, Debbie Bernstein from Maplewood as Ma, Tom Hodge from Denville as Pa, Arnold Buchiane of Summit as Grandpa, Jeslyn Wheeless of Summit as Grandma, Amanda Prieto of Madison as Rose of Sharon, Thom Wolfe from Florham Park as Al, Ian McGonigle from Jersey City as Noah, Jacqueline Pothier from Summit and Bridget McGarry from Chatham share the role of Ruthie, Jaron Cole from Madison as Winfield and Steve Gabe from Madison as Uncle John. Other in the cast include Jeff Maschi from Milltown as Rev Jim Casy, Scott Tyler of Whippany as Connie, Anna McCabe from Morristown as Aggie Wainwright, and comprising the Ensemble are Frank Bläeuer from Hewitt, Victor Gallo from North Caldwell , Rory Hoban from Morristown, Charlotte Jusinski from Chatham, Shanna Levine Phelps from Livingston, Diane Lotti from New Providence, Chip Prestera from Stirling, Theo Errig from Summit and Liz Royce from Cedar Grove.
Adapted for the stage by Frank Galati, "The Grapes of Wrath" premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, and later transferred to the West End and Broadway. There it was nominated for eight Tony Awards, winning two for Best Direction and Best Play. Frank Rich of "The New York Times" declared the play "... majestic... leaves one feeling that the generosity of spirit Steinbeck saw in a brutal country is not so much lost as waiting once more to be found." Known for his sympathetic humor and keen social perception, John Steinbeck wrote "The Grapes of Wrath" in 1939 after seeing the devastation that blanked the country during the Great Depression. The novel won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and was a cornerstone to the Nobel Prize in Literature he was awarded in 1962.
Performance dates are March 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8PM and March 11 at 3PM. All performances are at the Chatham Playhouse, 23 North Passaic Avenue, in Chatham. Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for youth/senior.
To access the theater’s online ticketing service, simply go to http://www.chathamplayers.org/tickets.htm and click on the “TicketLeap” logo. The service is available 24 hours a day, and tickets can be purchased online up until three hours prior to curtain on the day of a performance. The box office will begin accepting phone reservations on February 24 at (973) 635-7363. For information regarding box office hours, please call the box office number listed above.