Arts & Entertainment

Hilltop Players Production of 'Suite Surrender' Opens Nov. 16, at Governor Livingston High School

Gabby Perez and Bridget Lynn. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Gabby Perez, Bridget Lynn and Joe Elefante. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Credits: Barbara Rybolt

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – ‘Suite Surrender,’ a play by Michael McKeever, is in the final days of rehearsal by the Hilltop Players at Governor Livingston High School in the Kenneth Stiefel Auditorium.

TAPinto Berkeley Heights dropped by the auditorium on Monday and talked to Director Joe Elefante and members of the cast of this farce which is set in the 1940s, during World War II. All the action on stage takes place in the newly renovated Presidential Suite of the Palm Springs Royale Hotel.

Elefante said, “This is the first New Jersey performance by a public high school” of 'Suite Surrender.' The show features a “great ensemble cast,” so there are no leads. There are, however “two casts, which is very exciting,” he said, then described the play as “very funny and very different than anything I’ve done before.” Elefante turned the interview over to Jason Procaccini, who plays Otis the bellhop, and Bridget Lynn, who plays Athena Sinclair, then dashed off up the stairs to talk to members of the technical crew, then back down the stairs to talk to the stage crew.

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Bridget and Jason are both members of the “Blue” cast, which also features Bella Barbosa, Sommer Campbell, Jon Nazar, Gabby Perez-Santalla, Jimmy Pitingolo, Gio Staricco and Cecilia Wolf.

While they talked to TAPinto, on stage Set Designer Louis Pitingolo put masking tape on the walls, so Stage Crew Member Mitchell Szalus could paint in the details of the decorative molding in the Presidential Suite.  From time to time, other members of the crew popped in and out and to adjust scenery or ask a question or,  in the case of Lukas Daugis and Maddy Reilly, dance across the stage.



Jason described his role as, “a very goofy character. He’s a good guy, (and he has) a lot of silences while other people are talking, which gives me the opportunity to fill with fun acting. That’s my favorite thing to do on stage.” He fills those silences with funny faces, double takes, rolling eyes and other wacky stuff, including tripping while carrying Mr. Boodles, a dog, and tossing him…never mind. Spoilers!

Bridget, who plays Athena Sinclair, said her character is “Really fun. She’s a Diva and bosses everyone around.” It’s a type of role, “I’ve never played before. She’s kind of mean.”  Athena Sinclair “fills up the room when she enters and has lots of confidence,” Bridget said. 

Athena Sinclair is one of two Hollywood Divas, the other being Claudia McFadden, who are in the midst of a feud. No one know why they are feuding, but it’s so bad the last time they were on stage together they got into a hair-pulling fight. Both are scheduled to perform at a fund-raising event for the soldiers at the hotel. The manager has made sure each Diva has a suite in different parts of the hotel so they won’t run into each other. Even their performances are scheduled so that they don’t ever cross paths.  The best laid plans …

Claudia Mcfadden arrives at her suite in style, with her secretary, and settles in to one of the bedrooms. Not long after, Athena Sinclair and her secretary arrive and Sinclair chooses a room on the west side of the suite. Neither Diva sees the other or even realizes the other is in the suite. Slowly, but surely, the hotel manager realizes what is going on. The two bellboys, manager and others add to the mayhem as those in the know try to keep the Divas apart, while dealing with the wrong color roses, wrong luggage, a gossip columnist, and the socialite/ wife of the hotel’s board chairman. Cast members enter and leave the suite – usually at an inopportune time. As an encounter between the two women begins to seem inevitable, more chaos is provided by Naval personnel on shore leave at the hotel; a love interest; Mr. Boodles and a fire or two. There’s only one way to find out what happens -- attend the play.

The rollicking comedy opens Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. and continues through Saturday.

The Red cast includes Renee Barbosa, Josh Bezerra, Maycee Campano, Rebecca Candeloro, Tim Koubek, Tommy Leick, Olivia Mastria, Bret O’Brien and Allie Pedicini. The Red cast opens the run at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, and closes it at the 7:30 p.m. performance on Saturday, Nov. 18.

The Blue cast will present the 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17 performance and the 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, show.

Tickets are $12 for adults; students and senior citizen tickets are $10 each and may be purchased here.

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