Ocean Grove, New Jersey is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also noted for its abundant examples of Victorian architecture.
Over the last seven year it has also become known as the home to NENA Productions Theater Project, one of New Jersey's most successful and progressive community theater companies. NENA productions whose acting board of directors consists of founders Nick Montessano, Arnold Texiera and Donna Glasser is now in its 7th season as a thriving NJ community theater company.
NENA'S 2009/2010 season opens with the much anticipated Johnathan Larson musical Rent, a show that is very close to the heart of director and producer Nick Montesano who has seen the show on stage 33 times in five cities on both sides of the Atlantic. As a Renthead, he slept on 41st Street outside the Nederlander Theater to get $20 seats several times during the original run of the show. The cast and crew of NENA's production of Rent recently took a field trip to see Anthony Rapp, the original Mark in Rent perform in a show he wrote about his experiences with Rent. Following the show the NENA folks chatted with Rapp and then moved on to their own celebration at Life Cafe.
Rent runs Fridays and Saturdays October 23-31st at 8:00pm and Sunday November 1st at 3:00pm at the Jersey Shore Arts Center, Main St and Main Ave at the entrance to Ocean Grove.
Tickets are $20 via www.ticketleap.com or by calling 732 988-1007. On Saturday October 24th there will be a post show talk back with Fredi Walker-Browne who played Joanne in the original Broadway Cast.
NENA Productions was founded in the fall of 2002 when they mounted The Rocky Horror Show LIVE at the Fast Lane in Asbury Park as their very first show.
They completed a somewhat controversial season at that venue that included Terrance McNally's Corpus Christi, which was boycotted due to it�s content with threats to the venue owners for allowing the production. The 2002 season successfully closed with the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman.
In the summer of 2003 NENA was approached to produce a season at the Jersey Shore Arts Center in the town of Ocean Grove and has been in the in house theater group ever since.
NENA tries hard to produce unusual pieces, some seldom done, some newly released and most with a story or lesson appropriate to the community. They have produced the works of Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and most notably Stephen Sondheim. Producing Sondheim's seldom done Merrily We Roll Along helped gain NENA recognition and critical acclaim including multiple Perry Award nominations, but their production of Sweeney Todd seemed to finally put them on the map as a successful and viable community theater.
n 2005 when they produced The Laramie Project, NENA again found a controversial reaction from the community but started a history of post performance talkbacks by having Romaine Patterson, friend to Matthew Shepard as a guest speaker.
The community has embraced NENA's productions of Into the Woods, Urinetown and particularly Cabaret (which was produced during Ocean Grove's
turmoil ridden year when the gay marriage issue was at the forefront in the town and the use of church related spaces was denied to same sex couples).
They produce an annual children's show in the Jersey Shore Arts center which is presented for free as part of the Christmas celebration at the
In the past few years they have also traveled the children's shows to the Monmouth County Park system.
NENA productions occasionally has readings of new scripts to showcase playwrights and offer them the chance to just 'hear' their work for development. These readings occur at The Starving Artist at Days restaurant. They have also produced readings of The Normal Heart, The Most Fabulous Story and All Tied Up in Love as benefits for The Center in Asbury Park.