Arts & Entertainment

West Orange Resident is Starring as Tracey Turnblad in Livingston Community Players' "Hairspray"

West Orange resident LauraMarie Rondinella is starring as Tracey Turnblad in Livingston Community Players' "Hairspray." Credits: Livingston Community Players

LIVINGSTON, NJ — West Orange resident LauraMarie Rondinella is starring as Tracey Turnblad in the Nov. 14 (7:30 p.m.); Nov. 15 (2 p.m.); Nov.20 (7:30 p.m.); Nov. 21 (7:30 p.m.); and Nov. 22 (2 p.m.) Livingston Community Players’ version of “Hairspray,” which is taking place at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, 11 Broadlawn Drive in Livingston. While she has performed in a number of tours and regional shows and won the 2009 NJAct Perry Award Nomination as “Gertrude” in Seussical the Musical and was the 2010 NJAct Perry Award Winner for “Stepsister Grace” in Cinderella—none have come with the pressure of being the show to “make or break” the local theater company, like this one.

“This show could make or break us,” said Livingston resident Phyllis Meranus, the community theater’s president, who has 13 years of LCP hits under her belt. “We’re in survival mode but we want to stay. You are supporting your hometown community theater and not every town is lucky enough to have one. However we need a home.”

When the curtains open on the 14th, LCP hopes to fill the seats. Tickets, which can be purchased HERE, by calling 973-743-0976 or at the door, are: Students/Seniors $20 or Adults $25.

Sign Up for E-News

And, LCP has some friends in high places in their corner. Marc Shaiman, who wrote the music to the original Broadway show and the lyrics along with Scott Wittman, attended the final dress rehearsal of “Hairspray.” He spoke to the cast “encouraging those that wish to pursue a career in theater.” He also “told some lovely theater stories, and then hit the piano with the cast onstage and accompanied them with the opening number, “You Can't Stop the Beat,” according to Meranus.

“It was a wonderful experience for all of us,” said Meranus.

Sponsored by Regal Bank, the Livingston Town Council, the Livingston Board of Education, the Department of Senior Youth and Leisure Services, LCP, a member of the Arts Council of Livingston, is bringing 1960s Baltimore to the Livingston stage. According to Meranus, this year’s production is an upbeat, up-tempo, contemporary change of pace directed by Bernard J. Solomon, who has had much experience with this particular musical.

“We have a wonderful director who is a director extraordinaire,” said Meranus. “This cast is extraordinarily talented because this director and [musical director] did not settle. This is probably going to be our best since the Chorus Line, which was spectacular.”

Following a personal request from former Livingston mayor Steve Santola, Meranus and Livingston’s Lois Dyer and Perry award winner Music Director Ilene Greenbaum of Livingston revived LCP in 2003, after being on hiatus for nearly a decade, with a production of “Annie” that packed the house night after night. Now LCP is facing the same difficulties it did just before it went under in the mid-1990s.

With a production timeline spanning over 50 years since it began as a choral program in the 1940s, LCP is one of the oldest community theaters in New Jersey. Due to lack of volunteer leadership and rising costs of the productions, the organization became dormant in the mid-90s until it was reborn in 2003. In 2015, LCP is experiencing similar complications.

A cast of more than 30 members from Livingston and surrounding towns including West Orange, an 11-piece orchestra and highly-experienced directors, producers and music directors have been rehearsing for hours each week. While the township sponsor LCP, and they were able to do all rehearsals but one at the Northland Community Center, they do not have a permanent home for performances. According to Meranus, “this makes it very difficult, having to use a school that has its own busy schedule.”

Meranus, who was an avid LCP performer from the time she moved to Livingston in 1968 until she revived it as president, said she is determined to keep LCP afloat. She also said, however, that LCP needs help from the community in order to do so. Livingston Vision 20/20 Committee member Alan Karpas, a close friend of LCP, has discussed the committee’s hope to build a Cultural Center for all of the Livingston arts for the Livingston Symphony Orchestra, Children's Theatre of Livingston, LCP, Arts Council of Livingston and more.

The Players, who recently performed numbers from “Hairspray” for Art at the Oval on Oct. 3, hope to get the community’s support going forward. The cast and crew also performed at the Livingston Mall on Oct. 25, offering the community another opportunity to preview the upcoming musical.

“I have performed with LCP since the age of 10 and every time it is a fun, professional and rewarding experience,” said cast member and Livingston resident Gaby Margolies. “’Hairspray’ is an especially enjoyable and unassumingly topical story that the entire community would benefit from seeing.”

LauraMarie Rondinella’s other credits include the following: Tour: Surflight-To-Go & Missoula Children’s Theatre. Regional: “Tracy”/Hairspray (2012 Moss Hart Grand Trophy Award Winner), “Wendy-Jo”/Footloose, “Taylor McKessie”/Disney’s High School Musical! (Northern Lights Playhouse, WI). Other Credits: “Cathy”/The Last 5 Years, “Witch”/Into the Woods, “Grizabella”/CATS, “Gertrude”/Seussical the Musical (2009 NJAct Perry Award Nomination) & “Stepsister Grace”/Cinderella (2010 NJAct Perry Award Winner). Laura holds a BA in Theatre Performance.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

Evolve Cycle And Fitness Presale Happening Now!

May 18, 2018

CALDWELL, NJ - Evolve Cycle and Fitness is now offering 10 classes for only $90. That’s only $9 a class when you purchase before its official Grand Opening on Friday, June 1, 2018. 

Only two weeks left to take advantage of this limited time offer! Call Martha at 973-979-5919 or click here to sign up.

Evolve Cycle and Fitness is a Premier Fitness Boutique ...

Save Up To 20% at CNP Treasures

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Are you still looking for the perfect gift for your mom or that special someone in your life for Mother's Day? Then CNP Treasures has you covered! Save up to 20% at CNP Treasures located at 14 Northfield Ave in West Orange.

Come by this weekend so we can help you find the perfect gift! Offer expires Sunday, May ...

Montclair HS Student Reported Sexual Assault in All-Gender Bathroom, Officials Say

May 17, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - According to published reports on Wednesday, Montclair Police officials are investigating allegations of sexual assault reported to have occurred in a bathroom at Montclair High School.

Montclair police officials state that officers received a report about an incident at the high school of a sexual nature that occurred around 3:18 p.m. on Monday. The ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, May 28, 8:00 PM

West Orange High School, West Orange

Board of Education Meeting

Community Calendar Education


Tue, May 29

Essex County

Primary – Vote by Mail deadline


Tue, May 29, 6:30 PM

Council Chambers, West Orange

Township Council Meeting

Clarifying Points Made in Article About WOHS Air Quality Issues

May 14, 2018

Dear Editor, 

I am the advisor to West Orange High School's student newspaper, The Pioneer. My Editor-in-Chief, Anna Favetta, is the student who researched the topic and wrote the article bringing this issue to light. She worked on the article for 4 months before she had adequate and proper information for it to go to print. 

An article on the BOE presentation of the ...

What It Means to Me - A Baseball Story

We are all in amazement of the dedication and talent of our young West Orange athletes. One of the goals of our youth sports programs is to develop our players so they are ready for high school and are prepared for success at that next level of play. Throughout the course of the year we will be featuring some of our talented young athletes and coaches. This week we have the perspective of ...

West Orange On Three!

The spring season is in full swing, and we are excited to debut this new column focusing on all things youth sports!  We thought we would kick things off with an overview of the programs West Orange has to offer, and then go behind the scenes to see what makes youth sports tick.

West Orange Police Athletic League (PAL) and Mountain Top League (MTL), together with the West Orange ...

Summer 2018 Events at the West Orange Public Library

May 15, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Beginning in June, the West Orange Public Library will offer the following events for area residents of all ages:

Dinosaurs’ Rock!                                             

Monday, June 11, 4:00 p.m.

Field Station Dinosaur visits with the ...

10-Year-Old Cancer Patient Receives Donation from Randolph Hockey Family

May 21, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ — While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real-life battles off the ice, there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.

Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the members of the Randolph varsity hockey team, when they came together to ...

A Royal Pain

I went to a big wedding over the weekend.  It was in England.

I like to think I was invited, but according to the Royal Guards and the Thames Valley Police I was not.  But more about that later.

You see, not too long ago I received an evite addressed to me from H&  Curiously, it was in my spam folder with a warning message. For an evite it was pretty ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...