When Tony Award Winner Norbert Leo Butz sneaks into a show at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, you know it’s going to be a good one!
On Monday, October 1, Midtown Direct Rep, SOPAC’s theatre company in residence, comprised of the hidden Broadway talents that call Maplewood/South Orange home, presented “Broadway’s Night Off.” Show goers packed SOPAC from the entrance to the second floor, bidding in the silent auction for prizes like pilates classes, voice lessons and performance packages consisting of tickets and tours to shows such as Wicked, Mary Poppins and Phantom of the Opera.
As the lights flickered signaling to enter the theatre, the excitement grew. With no props, no back drop, just microphones and a small orchestra, Midtown Direct Rep’s Co-Artistic Directors, Jeremy Dobrish and Sandy Rustin, introduced the show in a theatrical manner, explaining the story as a day in the life of an actor from Maplewood/ South Orange. The opening half represented the morning stress of waking up and getting the children to school, followed by going to auditions in the city. The closing half continued with coming home, making sure everything’s in order, and, if you’re lucky, performing.
The show was a rollercoaster ride of emotions from Ron Bohmer and Sandra Joseph’s romantic performance of “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera (the show where they meet and fell in love), to Mitch Greenberg and Michael St. John’s comedic, two man rendition of “Mister Cellophane” from Chicago. Janeece Freeman’s astonishing performance of “Home” from the musical The Wiz, and David Josefsberg’s high intensity performance of “Parent Teacher Conference” from Rated P for Parenthood, caused a never-ending applause.
With so much talent it’s no wonder Midtown Direct Rep has several shows planned at SOPAC in 2012 and 2013. As a Maplewood resident and SOPAC intern, it is fascinating to know that this area contains so much talent. The next time I’m in the Bagel Chateau, The Village Trattoria, or walking my dog in Memorial Park, I’ll ponder whether or not I’m in the presence of Broadway stars.