South Orange's interACT Theatre Productions presents the 1939 play Present Laughter this March at the Baird Center. The cast and crew, led by director John A.C. Kennedy of Springfield, are excited to perform the classic Noel Coward comedy for three weekends starting this Friday, March 4, and closing Saturday, March 19.
Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 4 p.m. Online tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students with ID. Tickets can be purchased at interactproductions.tix.com.
The cast includes Heidi Hart, Julie Jin and Pat Tine of Maplewood, Kristin Bennett of Montville, Michael Sundburg of Warren, Trevor Jones of Wyckoff, Ted Cancila of Hoboken, Howard Fischer of Berkley Heights, Lorraine Ford DeMan of Rutherford, Babette Godefroy of Brooklyn, NY, and Hugh Davies of New York, NY. Davies stars as the charismatic, yet dramatic, troublemaker Garry Essendine, a character Coward wrote to explore the conflicts and absurdities of middle age.
Described by Coward himself as “a series of semi-autobiographical pyrotechnics,’’ the play follows the many women – and at least one man – beguiled by Garry Essendine. Garry juggles his close group of assistants, business partners, and confidantes, plus a couple ladies who want to seduce him, and also a crazed young playwright who invites himself on Garry’s upcoming journey to Africa. The script is full of quotable lines that are just as hilarious and witty today as they were way back when.
Present Laughter has been produced four different times on Broadway, including a 1996 run starring Columbia High School graduate Frank Langella, and many more productions have occurred in London. When it was first produced, critics hailed the show as “the best comedy of its kind and generation.”
Joining director Kennedy behind the scenes are: Kimberly Mullaney of Maplewood and Elena Svitavsky of South Orange produce, Elizabeth Rogers of West Orange stage manages, Alex Poage of Berkely Heights assistant stage manages, Dan Schulz of Montclair handles costumes, Zach Pizza of Weehawken is the lighting designer, and Ryan Bundy of South Plainfield is the sound designer.
Starting with this production, interACT Theatre Productions has partnered with the organization New Jersey Youth Corps (NJYC) to build the sets at the Baird Center’s Theater on Three. The organization is a year-round program for young adults aged 16 to 25 who left high school without earning their diplomas. NJYC supports these individuals’ efforts to earn their diplomas while also developing essential employment skills through meaningful community services. NJYC students have come to the Baird multiple times recently to build, clean, organize, and generally learn new skills that pertain to set and theatre design. This partnership was made by long-time friend and interACT member Laura Brenden, who met the NJYC director Gary Patnosh at the Jersey Explorer Children’s Museum in East Orange where the NJYC students work. More information about New Jersey Youth Corps can be found at www.njcu.edu/youthcorps/.
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