A REVISIT TO THE COMPANY'S DEBUT PERFORMANCE 14 YEARS AGO
Just in time for Halloween – it’s time to Let’s Do The Time Warp Again!
Ocean Grove’s NENAproductions Theater Project opens its 14th season with a revisit to Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show at Jersey Shore Arts Center, located at 66 S. Main Street.
Running 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Oct. 22, there will be a 3 p.m. performance on October 23.
Rocky Horror was the first production the theater group presented when in launched at the now shuttered legendary Fast Lane nightclub. A year later, the company took up permanent residency at the Jersey Shore Arts Center.
“When we first began, there were really no theater companies in Asbury Park at all,” co founder Nick Montesano said. “At that time we were kind of embraced but overlooked.”
That challenge continues today as the small company vies to attract audiences in a market that has seen a growth in theater companies along the Jersey Shore.
Through the years, the small, all volunteer company has taken on some controversial if not risqué productions, including Corpus Cristi, The Laramie Project, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Sweeney Todd, Equus and Assassins.
NENA was the first local theater to produce Rent, Avenue Q, Spelling B, and in the spring will be the first community theater in the area to produce Peter and the Starcatcher.
And, this time around producers Nick Montesano, Arnold Teixeira, and Jeff Brown are bringing their debut production back with an uptick in the larger than life experience.
In the cast are two of the original production’s performers; there will an onstage rock orchestra; and participation bags encourage the cult classic’s traditional costumed audience participation.
The productions is directed and designed by Nick Montesano with musical direction by Jeff Brown and choreography by Anthony Giorgio.
Jason B. Schmidt [at right], the well known Bea Arthur aficionado, portrays the sweet transvestite – Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Neal Zucker makes his NENA debut as Rocky Horror, Amanda Munice returns as Janet, Andrew Young as Brad, Jessica Berger Vitalo as Magenta, Cody Banks as Riff Raff, Carly Cosentino as Columbia, Jennifer Nelson as Eddie, and Arnold Teixeira returns this time around as Dr. Scott. Bill Reinhardt is The Narrator.
Tickets are $25, available by calling 732-988-1007 or visiting www.ticketleap.com. Due to mature themes and language, parental discretion is strongly advised.
NENAProductions next project will be the March production of the five-time Tony Winning Peter and the Starcatcher. For more information, visit www.nenaproductions.org.
Below is the Asbury Park Sun’s interview with cofounder Nick Montesano:
Sun: What made you decide to start a theater company?
Montesano: Just two friends who wanted to a theater company on our own, making our own choices…My goal with every show, is that there is still a story to be told and if that story is told, people embrace your work.
Sun: What made you choose Rocky Horror for your debut production?
Montesano [shown at right with partner Arnold Teixeira]: Actually, it’s because we found the venue first. Our first three shows that first season was at the Fast Lane. And because of the nature of the Fast Lane, which was a bar, we thought Rocky Horror would be perfect.
Sun: What are the challenges of being a small theater company? Do you see a resurgence of community theater goers?
Montesano: Well actually one of the biggest challenges now is that there are community theaters everywhere. But what’s funny is that being here 14 years, people still don’t know that we are here. One of the biggest challenges is that we have a very small group of people running this theater.
Sun: What keeps you going year after year?
Montesano: Truly it’s the passion for the art. For me personally, directing and designing is so fulfilling. It’s really a love of it all, because as long as the shows continue to pay for themselves, we’re good.
Sun: What’s different about the Rocky Horror production this time around?
Montesano: This time around, we are on a full stage and it’s a fully realized production in terms of costume, set, and orchestra. The first time we did it, it was so raw and gutsy. If we were nothing else, we were brave. We were very unlimited in what we had to watch out for and felt like we could do whatever we wanted and we did.
This time around it’s in another venue, it’s more cleanly staged, and we’ve spent more money. We have found a new way to present it, we think. What we’ve learned technically has brought this production to a totally other place. Each cast, the original and this one, has their own personality that works full out for the show. We’ve invited the original cast to come to the show and be our guests. And, we are encouraging participation. We are selling participation bags, so people don’t even have to prep, they can just walk in and purchase bags and be apart of it.