Winner of the JerseyArts.com 2009 People's Choice Award for favorite Professional Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse has been opening the curtain on top-quality musical theater and plays since its debut in 1938. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a Tony Award-winning musical comedy, follows the travails of a group of young students participating in their countywide spell off. With hilarious tunes and frequent fourth wall demolition, the musical expertly tickles audience funny femurs while filling their ears with the harmonious euphony of the Tony-nominated score. Groupon buyers will leave the theater with a Paper Mill Playhouse cup (a $5 value), allowing patrons of the arts to signal their theater affiliation to rival gangs of symphony and museum cup holders.
One of the nation's most esteemed Shakespeare outfits, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has brought the playwright's work to life for the past half-century. But the troupe takes its name more as an inspiration than a strict limit, also mounting productions of other classics by writers such as Thornton Wilder and Noël Coward. Once a summer, the company takes to the College of Saint Elizabeth's outdoor amphitheater—modeled after Athens' Theater of Dionysius, a favorite venue for Shakespeare performances in Greece—to present the bard's work in the way he intended: alive under the open sky.
Playwrights Theatre stages productions of up-and-coming plays each year through its New Play Development program. The 2010–2011 season keeps the theatre's long-standing commitment to fresh ars theatrica with three works: Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods by Tammy Ryan, MoM A Rock Concert Musical by Richard Caliban, and Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Julie Jensen. Your season subscription to Playwrights Theatre entitles you to view all three performances, receive a 50% discount on two tickets for family or friends, gain admittance to opening-night parties, and attend post-show talkbacks about new-play development and the inside story on plays. You'll also receive a pass to the FORUM staged reading series, enough to attend a reading of each of the series' 13 new plays and discuss the material with artists in an intimate setting.
In town for one performance only, The Fab Four—The Ultimate Beatles Tribute sends audiences on a time-bending trip to the 1960s soundtracked by the lads from Liverpool’s greatest hits and die-hard fan favorites. Emceed by an actor channeling Ed Sullivan, the multimedia production boasts a talented cast showing off their uncanny impersonations of John, Paul, George, and MacGyver. Live note-for-note re-creations of the group’s classic hits include renditions of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life,” and “Hey Jude.” With three costume changes, the show covers the Beatles' developing style, from the early days through Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to their brief stint as country band Uncle Ringo and the Hungry Blues. The touring production plays the palatial St. George Theatre, where the baroque furnishings offer plenty of murals, tiled fountains, and sculpted figures to keep eyes entertained before the show.
Gatherings blossom into full-blown galas under the ministrations of Fun-4-All Entertainment’s party accoutrements, such as balloon artists, live bands, and cotton-candy machines. The party supply service’s portable miniature golf courses let putters perfect their strokes anywhere, and its vast inflatable screens hook up to DVD-players or gaming consoles to furnish outdoor movie nights or gaming tournaments. Further party accessories nestle in Fun-4-All’s supply shop, which includes a range of items from noisemakers and rainbow-hued hats to sunglasses ideal for the best party activity of all, safely staring into your favorite lamp.
Art of the Stand-Up Comic brings together a quintet of gut-busting talents who elicit laughter in one evening of tag-team hilarity. Carole Montgomery shows off the wickedly deadpan sarcasm that has won her gigs on Comedy Central, ABC, and MTV, whereas the author of The Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing, Jim Mendrinos, tickles ribs with wry observational rants. Voice actor extraordinaire Brian Scott McFadden has lent his talents to such films as Ice Age II and Robots and interlaces high-energy monologues with hilarious impressions and characters. Also taking the stage, the youngest female comic to ever perform on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, Liz Miele, mixes self-deprecating sarcasm with cutting insight, and Lori Sommer shows off the improvisational powers that led her to cofound the renowned Red Tie Mafia Improv Troupe.