CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Arts & Entertainment
the disciples. This is most important. It is confusing to have an actor play one of the speakers, and then disappear, not to be seen for the rest of the performance.
When John the Baptist arrives onstage singing “Prepare Ye”, the thinkers/ disciples should rejoice in the excitement of what is to come, passionately running forward to be baptized. What happened at CDC was odd. A large group of people came forward and began to dance.
Unfortunately, it was a stilted, “look at us, this is a song, so we are dancing now” sort of dance. It completely broke the magic and read untrue.
“Prepare Ye,” is not a dance number, it is the realization of Jesus’ divination and a celebration of love. Movement is necessary, yes, but it should come from the heart. The dancing should be a ceremony. It should feel like, “I am so joyous right now, I must leap into the air!” It cannot come across artificially, as in “this is a big number, folks, so we’re gonna dance!”
The show began on this synthetic note, and it ruined the spirit of the piece. There was no connection between these people and Jesus, so it weakened the bond that is the very throughline of the story. When Jesus ultimately says goodbye to these followers, it is meant to be touching and deeply, deeply sad. At the performance that I attended at CDC, it felt fake and “acted.” And that is horribly injurious to a production of Godspell.
Without getting into specifics, a lot of the song and dance numbers felt “staged.” The parables were often cute, but could have been much clearer and far more inventive. There is so much room to be innovative with a show like this, but this production was rather unimaginative and unpolished. It was hard to understand, as this was a very talented cast and one could easily see that they all had the right stuff to present this piece in the spirit that it was intended.
The finale was also unnerving. The ensemble surrounded Jesus on the cross, writhing and swaying in agony, but not one moment of it felt real. I have seen productions of Godspell where the cast is wailing in pain as they realize that they have killed their leader. Done properly, the finale can rip your heart out. It felt cold and rehearsed at CDC.
This is not the fault of the cast. There were many fine performers on that stage who truly committed to what they were doing. All cast members were charming, particularly Rick Brown as John/ Judas, John Schweska as Jesus, and tribe members Melissa Loderstedt, Matthew Nazzaro, who had a glorious voice, Molly Frieri, Ginger Burd, Tiffany Wilson, F. J. DeRobertis, Matthew Beams and Sandy Howard. Ed Wittel was also delightful as a strolling minstrel who participated in most of the performance, adding music and song.
I do encourage people to go see this production. It is not a bad rendition in any way. It just could have been tighter, more focused and true. CDC is a terrific company and I look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.
Godspell was directed and choreographed by Janice Lynn, and musically directed by Alissa Corritore. CCD veteran Liz Howard, produced, and Art Kusiv stage managed the production. It will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p. m. until October 28.
Meet The Parents
One Popcorn, Poor • Two Popcorns, Fair • Three Popcorns, Good • Four Popcorns, Excellent
By Michael S. Goldberger
Maybe it’s the menace Robert De Niro’s characters are capable of summoning that enraptures our sense of humor so efficiently when he stars in a comedy.
Perhaps we are relieved and simultaneously enthralled at the prospect of all that potential energy being harnessed for the creation of laughter instead of threat. It’s a transporting release. There is always the disquieting possibility that within De Niro’s latest persona there lurks a Crazy Charlie (Mean Streets).
Imagine if he were your dad and you wanted to bring home your latest significant other. Which is why he’s perfect in the often hilarious Meet The Parents.
He’s Jack Byrnes, the comfortably ensconced master of a picturesque manse in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Surrounded by two daughters in their 20s, a teenaged son and an adoring wife (Blythe Danner), he is the epitome of American prosperity. He says he’s retired from the rare flower business. But we know better. How else would you explain the lie detector in his secret basement hideaway?
That’s precisely what’s puzzling Ben Stiller as the visiting boyfriend, Greg, when his snooping ways take him down to his host’s hidden catacombs. Needless to mention, he is caught. And thus begins a series of uneasy confrontations as potential fatherinlaw and possible soninlaw square off in ritualistic combat. At issue is the fair hand of Pam, nicely played by Teri Polo.
Like De Niro’s last comedic outing,
Analyze This (1999), Meet The Parents is funnier than it has any right to be. The script by Jim Herzfeld and John Hamburg is inspired, but not ingenious. And while the shtick that the dueling future inlaws lay down is quite convivial, it is also often predictable.
Yet a happy synergy of buoyant elements makes director Jay Roach’s zany effort more comical than the sum of its jokes. Plus the filmmaker exhibits a facility for filling his scenario with supportive comic business.
For instance, there’s the matter of Greg’s last name. Suffice it to note, it shares a pronunciation with a German fighter aircraft, other than Messerschmitt. And because just the slightest typographical error would doubtless compromise the standards of this fine family newspaper, it won’t be printed here.
But Vaudevillelike references to Greg’s homonymic handle form one of the film’s several running gags. Like the goodnatured jabs about his Jewish heritage or Jack’s uncharacteristic adoration for his peculiarly trained cat, Mr. Jinks, they humorously serve as mini subtexts.
However, Meet The Parents enjoys the good fortune of possessing that comic je ne sais quoi that ferries it past the limits of its simple comedic structure. Like a comedian who happily goes on a roll after providentially winning the audience’s approval, Mr. Roach’s rather standard effort is inspired to burst for the fences once viewers buy into its preposterous plot and get into the rhythms of its very own insanity. Think about it. What bridegroomtobe would still stick around after being manacled to a polygraph machine and then mercilessly interrogated by his intended’s demonic father?
You see, Ben Stiller’s Greg, like the string of lovably intrepid shlumpfs who
have graced the silver screen before him, is a modern update of the classic comic suitor. Cast from the very template that the likes of Chaplin, Keaton and Arbuckle etched in celluloid, the hopeless romantic is no quitter.
He banks on the quixotic theory that, whatever the circumstances, love will out. So what if he’s a male nurse seeking entree into a family chockfull of doctor soninlaws. Who cares if his utterly reprehensible last name is virtually unpronounceable? And what harm is a little teteatete with an overly zealous future fatherinlaw? It won’t kill him. Will it?
You’d have no problem answering that question if the antagonist were represented by anyone other than Robert De Niro. He poses just the right question mark. Unlike Harrison Ford’s unwieldy journey from leading man to character actor as evidenced in What Lies Beneath (2000), the transition fits De Niro like the proverbial old shoe. And because he appears to be genuinely enjoying his thespic change of venue, it makes his Devilish fomentations all the more diverting.
Bearing the brunt of this inquisitorial assault, Stiller does his comedyteam parents proud. Adroitly making the underdog the hero, he wisely leaves just enough doubt about Greg to keep the viewer slightly off balance. What he and De Niro lack in natural chemistry, they make up for in skill and talent.
But bottom line, this is a farce. Hence while the love story aspect of the tale has its sweet moments, as in any number of Marx Brothers movies it is merely a prop in the employ of that purpose. In fact, Miss Polo as the well scrubbed and winsome WASP princess is quite reminiscent of the typically unwitting ingenue of that era. And Blythe Danner as her mom is every bit the breathless observer that Margaret Dumont perennially portrayed for the boys.
So, the question is, how funny is it? Well, it’s no Something About Mary
(1998). But you can figure on one true roar, two or three legitimate guffaws, six hearty laughs, a dozen or so cackles, a steady stream of heh, hehs and countless approving nods. Which doubtless makes
Meet The Parents worthy of your funny bone’s acquaintance.
* * * * *
Meet The Parents, rated PG13, is a Universal Pictures and Dreamworks Pictures release directed by Jay Roach and stars Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller and Teri Polo. Running time: 105 minutes.
The Fabulous Greaseband, Big Joe Henry to Perform At National Guard Armory
CRANFORD – The Cranford PBA Local No. 52 will host an evening of music and dance on Saturday, October 21, at 7 p. m. at the National Guard Armory in Westfield with The Fabulous Greaseband and special guest Big Joe Henry from New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio.
For over 20 years, the Greaseband has performed to sellout audiences receiving rave reviews nationwide. A staple of Jersey Shore nightlife, the Greaseband features hits from 40 years of Rock and Roll. The band has performed at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, New York Stock Exchange, Giants Stadium and the White House.
The Greaseband has shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen, Cindy Lauper and the Beach Boys, among others.
Tickets are $35 each. Adult beverages, food, wine, soda and assorted chips are included. Doors open at 7 p. m. with showtime at 9 p. m. Tables for 10 will be reserved on a first come first served basis. Tickets should be reserved early.
All proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit the sick, death and welfare fund of Cranford PBA Local No. 52.
For more information and to order tickets, please call Sergeant Frank Hanley at (908) 7097344 or Lieutenant Steve Wilde at (908) 7097358.
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a pile of green turtlenecks that fell on the floor while dodging a display rack of delicate Lenox figurines nearby. Half of the time, my cousin must yell across the store, “Do these boots look good on me?” while I’m outside the store because I can’t get through it. Meanwhile, the store clerks are scowling because I’m trying to answer her in a loud, yet reasonable tone.
To these inconsiderate and inhospitable store owners I plead – “Get a conscious and widen the aisles. Someday, it will be your turn to steer the ship through these choppy waters.”
Sample Area’s Finest Cuisine During Taste of Westfield
WESTFIELD — A Taste of Westfield is set for Sunday, October 29, from 6 to 9 p. m. at Temple EmanuEl located at 756 East Broad Street, Westfield.
This fundraising event will feature a sampling of all the best restaurants, bakeries and caterers in Westfield and its neighboring communities. Samples range from appetizers, side dishes and main courses in French, Italian, Continental American, Chinese, etc.
Desserts will include gourmet pastries, cakes, cookies and homemade chocolates. Each participant will receive a glass of complementary wine and gourmet coffees will be served with desserts.
Taste of Westfield benefits First Night Westfield, the town’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration.
Tickets are $35 per person if purchased in advance, and $50 per person at the door.
The Westfield Y is offering a Kids Night Out at the same time for parents with children ages 310. Kids Night Out tickets are $12 per child. Children participating at the Kids Night Out will start with dinner with the choice of pizza or chicken nuggets, drinks and desserts. Age appropriate activities will be offered for the rest of the evening ranging from movies, arts and crafts, organized sports and games.
Tickets for A Taste of Westfield and Kids Night Out are now on sale at the Westfield Y, 220 Clark Street in Westfield. Please call (908) 2332700 for more information.
heavyweights such as Sony through the ad agency Young & Rubicam, CocaCola via Leo Burnett International and MasterCard through McCann Erickson. Past accounts also include Levi’s, McDonalds, Kellogg’s, Nike, Pepsi, Bell South, FOX Sports, America OnLine, ESPN, MTV and Disney.
According to Mr. Librati, the commercial is expected to air within a few weeks.
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Commercial Mystery, Sci Fi Writers
To Visit Town Book Store
WESTFIELD – The Town Book Store of Westfield will host two author appearances this weekend.
On Saturday, October 21, from 11 a. m. to 1 p. m., Jonathan Harrington will be in the store to promote his newest mystery, “Death of Cousin Rose.” Copies of Mr. Harrington’s first book, “Second Sorrowful Mystery,” will also be available.
New Jersey author Russel Like will be in the store to promote his science fiction book, “After the Blue.” Without profanity and adult situations, Mr. Like has penned an ideal story for children at adult reading levels.
For those who cannot attend, autographed copies of these books may be reserved by calling The Town Book Store at (908) 2333535.
A Review of Local Concerts
Celticfusion Blends Music, Dance at State Theatre
By DAVID PALLADINO
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
NEW BRUNSWICK — Liam Harney’s melding of traditional Celtic music and dance with modern styles was combined in his
Celticfusion, which was featured last week at the State Theatre in New Brunswick.
The production recreated a somewhat stylized history of Irish influence on prevalent American dance styles such as classical and jazz. The merging of the styles ranging from pure, traditional Celtic antecedents to modern American mixed styles. Not just another
Riverdance, Celticfusion focused more heavily on these nontraditional pieces.
For example, one of the many dance numbers included dual dancing between traditional Irish stepdancers and modern jazz dancers. The sequence ended with both styles melding to create a new modern version.
Other numbers featured pure ballet and jazz styles including the Dance of Death segment of the Banshees during the plague time.
An enjoyable evening of diversified styles was enjoyed by the near capacity audience which sincerely appreciated the top notch dancers who were primarily drawn from California. Eight awesome male and 30 female dancers were fea tured.
Solo musical numbers were weak and oftentimes inappropriate. The miscast black narrator/ singer, who opened the concert, did not possess the correct voice or style for creating a believable CelticCore sound of circa 1850’s Ireland.
The prerecorded, tinny sounding music was turned up a bit too loud which did not enhance the sometimes echochamber like acoustics of the State Theatre.
The California troupe of Mr. Harney has been touring the country for the past several months. Harney is a world champion Irish step dancer who has starred in the London Production of Riverdance
and the Irish dance musical WAVES.
Harney’s talents were combined with Kevin Patterson, the modern dance style Director and Choreographer of the production. Patterson also choreographed Harney’s moves in Riverdance.
For information or tickets to productions staged at the State Theatre, please call (732) 2467469; (877) STATE11; or visit www. StateTheatreNJ. org.
RECOMMENDED OCTOBER CONCERTS
AT STATE THEATRE
19 Thu. 8 p. m. Ballet Nacional de Caracas
20 Fri 8 p. m. Philharmonia of Nations
21 Sat. 3 p. m. Peter Pan
7 p. m. Peter Pan
22 Sun. 7 p. m. Paul Anka
24 Tues. 8 p. m. Veriovka Ukranian National Song and Dance
26 Thu. 8 p. m. Die Fledermaus Western Opera Theater
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