Arts & Entertainment

Press Releases

Very Special "Music Man, Jr." Features Performers with and Without Disabilities

f4aa37272babad18a4f6_Music_Man_3.jpg
Appearing in a scene from the play are (left to right) Dianna Sims, Tonya Hopson, Sara Law, Annie Johnson and Will Zimmerman.  Credits: Gregory D.V. Holmes
406ef9ca860dd8eafbdb_Music_Man_1.jpg
The cast of a very special "Music Man, Jr." consisted of more than 80 performers with and without disabilities. Credits: Gregory D.V. Holmes
7a7c9b40f7bbd7f51c78_Music_Man_2.jpg
Joshua and Melody Lucas. Credits: Gregory D.V. Holmes
f4aa37272babad18a4f6_Music_Man_3.jpg

 “The Music Man, Jr.” is not only a familiar and foot-tapping stage musical. The production is a challenge for the performers, as well. Dialogue is rapid-fire, many songs require intricate syncopation and tight harmonies and the large crowd scenes when all of River City is seemingly on stage call for exact timing.

For three nights last weekend, June 24-26, the CAU Community Players rose to the challenge and delivered rousing, crowd-pleasing performances at Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield. What makes their performances even more remarkable is that the troupe is made up of actors with disabilities and those without.

The CAU Community Players was formed in 2012 to allow members of Community Access Unlimited (CAU) to engage in the pleasures of acting, singing and dancing side-by-side with people from the wider community and to be judged for their talents and dedication to performing rather than their different abilities.  This year's cast included more than 80 members from Union County and neighboring counties, some of whom receive services from CAU and other participants who live in the community.

Sign Up for E-News

CAU is a statewide Elizabeth-based nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently in the community, providing supports in areas including housing, vocational skills and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation.

“The Music Man, Jr.,” based on the award-winning musical by Meredith Wilson, was the CAU Players’ sixth production. The play, set in the early 20th century when women wore long dresses and wide hats, men wore tailored suits, spats and bowler hats and news traveled by stage coach and train, centers around the efforts of “Professor” Harold Hill, a traveling salesman with a shady reputation, to form a band in River City, Iowa.

Hill plans to sell uniforms and instruments to the townsfolk then abscond with the money. Yet when he falls in love with Marian Paroo, the local librarian, his motives change and he wins over Marian and the town while helping Paroo's younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness.

From the opening scene of “The Music Man,” which features a crew of traveling salesmen speaking in rhythm of a steam train picking up speed, cruising and then slowing down, to the frantic yakking of the towns’ women  in “Pick-a-Little,” or the rousing “Seventy-Six Trombones,” the cast expertly delivered strong performances that elicited cheers and standing ovations from the audience.

“The dialogue is rapid-fire and difficult,” said Marguerite Modero, director the CAU Community Players and the agency's Academy of Continuing Education. “But they accepted the challenge and succeeded.”

More important, she said, each actor was personally challenged to raise their skills to higher levels and the play became “a transforming experience for each of them. Through their stage work, they learn more about themselves and become braver, more secure in themselves and more willing to take a risk.”

Modero said “The Music Man, Jr.” was chosen for this year's production because of the transformative nature of the play. Characters learn about themselves and grow and change, she said. This is a play that celebrates personal  growth, social awareness and change, she added.

Actor James Crawford, who played a Townsperson, was excited about having his first opportunity to dance on stage.

“Dancing was great," he said. "I practiced my part."

Brother and sister Joshua and Melody Lucas both performed for their first time with the CAU Community Players. Joshua, with his costume resplendent with suspenders featuring musical notes, was excited by his singing role.

Melody, one of the River City women, costumed in a flowing long dress and straw hat, said she enjoyed her role as one of a group of women whose importance to the play was measured by their ability to gossip (“Pick-A-Little”) and grow and change as they saw the band become real.

Strawberri Lucas, Joshua's and Melody's mother, said, "Both loved working in a group, enjoyed the teamwork, loved changing costumes and memorizing lines. Both definitely want to be in the next show.”

Sara Law, a veteran of all six of CAU’s musicals who portrayed Alma Hix, one of the Pick-a-Little ladies, said the part called for concentration and attention to detail because of the speed at which the group’s key song is performed.

William Zimmerman said the role of Professor Harold Hill was challenging.

“I had to find the balance between playing him as a sneaky, untrustworthy salesman and still show his good side,” he said.

His performance displayed this understanding. Hill’s swaggering walk was bolstered by the schemes that rolled so easily off his tongue before being replaced with humility and tenderness when his feelings for Marian became evident.

For Modero, the success of the play is not just the audiences’ enthusiastic response but the excitement and growth shown by her performers as they faced the challenges and succeeded.

About Community Access Unlimited

Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating its 37th year in 2016, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little support and no voice in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil right. CAU currently serves more than 6,000 individuals and families, with the number served growing each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at www.caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

22nd Annual Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Steps Off March 10

February 23, 2018

UNION, NJ — Twenty-one years after the first Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade stepped off on Morris Avenue the tradition continues on Saturday, March 10 at 1 p.m. sharp with thousands of marchers and spectators gathering to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.

This year’s Grand Marshal, John McPartlan of Scotch Plains, will lead the march of bagpipe ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update

February 15, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

I first want to congratulate Nick Calello and David Went for their promotions to patrol officers in the Westfield Police Department. I’d also like to welcome and congratulate new Patrol Officer Fortunato Riga, who joins the police department this week upon his ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_9cfec6f1d81f034823a4_1d4v9602

Sat, February 24, 1:00 PM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Free Kids Expo and Water Safety Event

Arts & Entertainment Health & Wellness

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

Grand Summit Hotel, Summit

The Burlesque Ball

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Carousel_image_2e2e4830042112095f66_94f09724857a937db1ac_d6404e0a-7afd-4279-b56f-19b0f9b2138c

Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Open House

Westfield Police Blotter: Man Steals 60 Pairs of Pants from Downtown Store & More

February 21, 2018

February 14, 2018 10:53 p.m.

Officers Gill and Weiss arrested Luis Murillo, age 30, of Rahway, NJ, for two outstanding warrants out of Westfield Municipal Court ($500) and Woodbridge Municipal Court ($500) pursuant to a motor vehicle stop in Scotch Plans Township. Subject was transported to headquarters, processed and released after posting requisite bail.

 

February 15, 2018 5:24 ...

Lance to Speaker Ryan: Bring Background Check Bill Up for a Vote

February 23, 2018

Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today led 18 Republican lawmakers in a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan calling for H.R. 4477 – the Fix NICS Act, to come up for a vote as a standalone measure.  The Fix NICS Act reauthorizes the National Criminal Instant Background Check System and institutes compliance certification measures and penalties for failing to comply.  ...

The Missing Moses

A seemingly dubious distinction belongs to this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20–30:10). It is the only reading in the Torah — from the first Parshah of the book of Exodus (in which he is born) until the end of the book of Numbers — where the name of Moses is not mentioned. Tetzaveh’s opening words are V’atah ...

‘Month of Hope’ at Wilson School

Inspired by the HOPE Week Initiative introduced in 2009 by the New York Yankees, Mr. Joseph Malanga, principal of Wilson School and a fan of the American League professional ballclub, declared January the “Month of Hope” at Wilson.

Malanga called on the school’s faculty Acts of Kindness Committee to choose the charitable organizations to be recipients of the weekly donation ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Would the Stock Market Affect Your Home Purchase?

"Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy night." ("All About Eve.") While most people misquote this as "It's going to be a bumpy ride," the actual quote works better for the movie. Bette Davis delivers this with the classic style that made her one of the most loved actresses of her generation.

Well for the stock market it’s been a wild bumpy ...

Good News in NJ for Veterans

Beginning in the 2017 tax year, New Jersey will give an additional $3,000 exemption for military veterans. You are eligible to claim this exemption NJ state income tax return if you are a military veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States on or before the last day of the tax year.

 

The ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 13, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Love Craft Beer But Hate the Tour? State Assembly Moves to Make it Easier for You to Belly Up to the Bar

Good news is a brew for New Jersey craft beer advocates. In February 2018, the New Jersey Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee paved the way for the introduction of Bill A2196, which would remove a current licensing rule requiring breweries and distilleries to provide a tour of their facilities before serving alcoholic beverages to consumers. Currently, breweries holding a ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Is FAANG Long in the Tooth?

Investors love to rally around a stock story. Today it’s all about the FAANG stocks. Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOG) are a major reason why the S&P 500 rallied so much in 2017. Mr. Market is convinced the FAANGs are impervious to a sell-off. “Its different this time” is ringing loud and clear, but will the outcome really be that ...

Imagine a Chatham Toboggan Ride from the Top of Fairmount Avenue to Main Street

Did you know….
there was a time when Chatham kids could ice skate from downtown Chatham all the way to Florham Park? And that a toboggan ride could last from the top of Fairmount Avenue down to Main Street and beyond?

Those were the days!

This was back in the early to mid-1900s. The Passaic River meandered through grassy meadows and woods on the north side of Chatham. The marshy ...

Obituaries

Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

NBA Star Dennis Rodman Enjoys Life in Livingston

February 23, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Dennis Rodman’s friends say he is “living like a Livingston kid” while he is in town doing an outpatient program for Turning Point Rehab Center.

Livingston native Chris “Vo” Volo, an agent for Prince Marketing Group, has been representing Rodman for seven years and the two quickly became ...